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Happy Easter, A Chocolate Banana Vegan Tart

Happy Holidays to everyone, Easter, Passover or just celebrate that Spring is finally here.  Honestly, it has not really felt like Spring with blustery cold and snow and unfortunately more in the forecast for this week. I see signs of the change of seasons everywhere, flowers popping up, longer daylight, warmer weather trying to take hold.

I often make pie dough and will line a tart pan and freeze, this tart is delicious, no animal products were used in making it but you can easily adapt using cream for the ganache and whipped cream to top it. The ganache was made with dark chocolate, sweetened condensed coconut milk and coconut milk. The whipped topping is made by simply refrigerating a can of coconut milk, the cream will rise to the top and become solid. All you have to do is scoop it out and whip it with sweetener and flavoring.

Chocolate Tart (Vegan)

Pie crust ( use your favorite recipe or commercially prepared)

4 oz dark chocolate (I used vegan chocolate)

1/4 cup sweetened condensed coconut milk

1/4 cup coconut milk (Note: for non vegan or regular ganache use 1/2 cup heavy cream)

1 banana sliced

coconut or regular whipped cream

Toasted coconut (optional)

Place a can of coconut milk in the refrigerator before you begin or even better the night before. The coconut cream will separate from the liquid and you will use that (saving the liquid for another recipe)

Heat oven to 400 degree’s. Place pie dough in 8 or 9 inch tart pan. You are going to blind bake the pie crust, place a sheet of parchment on top and fill the pan with pie weights or beans or whatever you like to use. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, remove parchment and weights and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool. Note: the oven should be quite hot, I baked the first tart shell at 375 and even with pie weights it shrunk down the sides.

Ganache

Heat the coconut milk or heavy cream to scalding. Place the chocolate in a small bowl and pour the hot cream over the chocolate, let sit for 5 minutes and stir until the chocolate is melted and the ganache is smooth and shiny. Pour into the cooled tart shell and refrigerate until set, approximately 1-2 hours or overnight.

To serve

Place sliced banana on top of the chocolate. Scoop the coconut cream from the cold can of coconut milk. Whip with electric mixer adding sugar to taste and flavoring of your choice (vanilla)  or you can add 2 tbs of the sweetened condensed coconut milk that is left from making the ganache. Heat oven to 350 and toast flaked coconut until golden brown, watch it closely it will burn and only takes a few minutes. Spread some of the whipped cream (coconut or other) on top of the banana’s and sprinkle with toasted coconut.

Happy Easter from Percy and Jenna Rose!

Jenna Rose And Some Baking

Well so much has been happening I haven’t posted in a while. My new normal has been much harder than I anticipated with regards to Percy and his health issues. The diabetes has ravaged his little body and he is now almost completely blind and very feeble. I can’t leave him unattended for fear he will fall and hurt himself and besides having to give him insulin every day the new challenges to keep him safe have been daunting. Work has also been very busy and I am having to try to arrange my schedule around caring for Percy and when I have to leave for more than an hour I have to hire a pet sitter, it gives me peace of mind knowing he is safe.

I had mentioned in a previous post that my dear friend had passed away suddenly from complications from diabetes. She was one of the founders of our Instagram pug group and had a little pug named Jenna Rose. When Irene passed her husband could not care for Jenna and Irene’s daughter could not take her either, it broke their hearts but for Jenna’s safety she could not have her in her home, you see she has two big German Shepherds that were not fond of Jenna.  I was honored that Irene’s family asked me if I would adopt her, Jenna lived with Irene and her husband Pete in Bowler Wisconsin on a big property with lots of acreage and a population of 325 people in the town. Jenna’s adventure began last week when my friends, my pug family, selflessly devised a plan to get Jenna to Brooklyn, NY. It was a labor of love that spanned almost 1400 miles. In a nutshell Irene’s daughter’s (Misty) husband and her daughter loaded Jenna in a truck and drove her to Fairfield Ohio where they met Carrie, Jenna was handed to her and she drove her to Verona Pennsylvania where she met Corrine who took her to New Jersey where she met Mary and she drove Jenna to Brooklyn. Quite an ordeal and a big adventure for this little girl. She is 6 years old and the sweetest little pug you will ever meet. You have to understand how amazing this was, selfless people who gave of their time and all for love. You see we all were close friends of Irene and would do anything for her. We just wish we she were still with us!

Jenna Rose arrived on Saturday evening a country girl now living in the big city. It’s an adjustment for her and for Percy but they are both doing great. Things are starting to fall into place and I am beginning to adjust as well to everything. Jenna loves it here, she loves Percy and Percy is really starting to love her as well.

I have been cooking sporadically but nothing to speak of really. I did make brownies the other day, a recipe from the new cookbook Bravetart by Stella Parks, and they are awesome. I cannot post the recipe without permission, I’m sorry but if you are in the market for an amazing cookbook I highly recommend. I also made a cake and tried my hand at decorating, it’s something I have to work on but the cake turned out great and I think with some practice I could get fairly good at it. The problem with practice is who would eat all that cake, I would be as big as a house.

Percy and Jenna cheek to cheek

Brownies

chocolate cake with mascarpone buttercream

Once again I have 2 pugs, black and fawn, well apricot really just like Izzy and Nando. More to come….

Quick Update

Well, just when I felt like I was getting back on track the rug kind of got pulled out from under me.  It has been a bad few weeks, a very dear friend died suddenly which left me in profound sadness and shock. She is someone I never met personally, we met on Instagram. You are probably saying how can you form a close friendship with someone you have never actually met, well let me tell you it can and did happen. You all know that I am an animal lover and I have a particular slightly obsessive love of pugs. Irene was one of the co founders of our pug group on Instagram and for the last almost 2 years there was not a day that went by that we didn’t chat. We planned events and she was the driving force behind all the charity work that we do, raising money to help pet owners who cannot afford Veterinary care for their pets and sending wheelchairs to pups that are unable to walk. She made a difference and the world was a much better place with her in it. I miss her terribly.

Irene Coyer

The one two punch came when I noticed Percy was not doing well, he was drinking excessively and his eyes looked infected. Our wonderful doctor made a house call and Percy has infected eyes and a corneal abrasion but he was also diagnosed with Diabetes and ketoacidosis. Diabetes I have had experience with since Nando was diabetic and I treated him for almost 8 years. The ketoacidosis is new to me and it can be deadly if untreated. We are giving him fluids, antibiotics and now he is on insulin.

Torture for Percy!

Sorry to be a Debby downer but things have not been great. Hoping next week will be better and I will start cooking again. Thank you all for sticking with me through good times and bad. Thank you all!

 

Happy Valentines Day-The Elusive Macaron And Percy’s Gotcha Day

Making a perfect macaron has eluded me for years. My first attempt was a big fail as was my second attempt. The first time I tried the French method where you add a warm sugar syrup to the egg whites with the mixer running is not a good idea for me, I have sugar strings flying everywhere and the macaron didn’t develop feet and were flat and pretty bad. The second time I used a recipe I found on Martha Stewart, there were steps and ingredients missing and I think amounts were off so another fail. Not being one to give up I found a Martha Stewart video with a recipe and I had a feeling this one would work. I followed the instructions to the letter, now there was one very important step (letting the macaron sit for about an hour before baking so they develop a skin) this was omitted, but having done research I knew to add that and by jove they turned out. They are not perfectly sized, some are a bit misshapen it will take some time to really master the piping of the batter but not bad!

Macaron are tricky, and following directions and measuring/weighing is really important. This recipe is very specific, I didn’t deviate at all. These delicious and delicate French cookies have been on my bucket list for a while, after my first fail I became discouraged and decided not to even try it again for a while. I am going to give you step by step instructions and if you follow you too can make macaron.

February 13 was also a very special day, it was the 2 year anniversary of when Percy came to live with me, his gotcha day. He is doing very well and is my best friend and the most amazing dog. Happy gotcha day Mr. P!!  You can view Martha’s recipe and video by clicking here.

French Macaron

Recipe by Martha Stewart

Makes 1 dozen

2 large egg whites at room temperature

1/4 cup granulated sugar

pinch of salt

71 grams finely ground almond flour (NOTE: you can use blanched slivered almonds and make your own flour) approximately 2/3 cup

117 grams powdered sugar – approximately 1 cup

gel food color if desired (start with one drop and add more depending on how deep you want the color)

Place almond flour (if using sliced almonds process first to a fine powder and then add the powdered sugar)  and confectioners sugar in food processor and process until mixed thoroughly and the almond flour is finely ground. Pour through a sieve and if you have more than a tablespoon of the mixture left in the sieve, place that in the processor and give it a good whiz and pour through the sieve again. Set aside. It is very important to remove any larger pieces of almond, it should be very very fine.

Heat oven to 350,  make sure rack is in the bottom third of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Pour the egg whites, granulated sugar and salt in stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Beat on 4 (setting) for 2 minutes, turn up the speed to 6 and beat another 2 minutes, change speed to 8 and beat another 2 minutes. At this time add the food coloring and mix to combine. Remove bowl from the mixer and add all of the flour sugar mixture at once. Using a spatula fold from bottom swiping up 37 times, the batter will loosen. It’s important to do this 37 times according to Martha who got it from an expert.

Folded 37 times and ready to pipe

Fit a pastry bag with a 3/8 inch round tip (Ateco #804) place inside a tall glass (believe me this is important since the opening of the tip is quite large the batter will leak out. Pour the batter into the bag (tip down) and secure.  Carefully pipe a small amount (about 3/4 inch) on the parchment spacing each about 2 inches apart. Tap the pan twice lifting a couple of inches and dropping onto the counter. Leave the macaron to sit for an hour even a little longer is fine. It’s important for them to develop a skin, you can actually see the change the top will become dull and look quite different once the skin develops it traps moisture in while baking making them puff and develop feet.

Bake in the 350 degree oven for 13 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit on the sheet pan until cooled. Carefully remove the rounds, they are delicate so work gingerly. Turn over every other one as you will pipe some filling on the bottom and sandwich the other on top. The macaron should have developed feet see photo below.

the curly edge is called feet

I had some of the French buttercream and a little ganache leftover from the other cake and thought it would make a nice filling. I put the buttercream into the mixer added 1 ounce melted dark chocolate and 2 tbs of the ganache and whipped it. After you pipe a dollop of the filling onto the cookie place the other cookie on top and VERY gently press down so that the filling reaches the edge of the cookie.

You can fill with ganache, jam or buttercream. Nutella would also be delicious. You can add flavoring or different colors to the macaron shells, to make chocolate all you have to do is remove 1/4 cup of the almond flour and replace with unsweetened cocoa powder. I plan on experimenting with different flavors and colors.

Percy with his monogrammed bandana Happy Gotcha day Buddy!!

Mini Chocolate Sponge Cakes With Buttercream Frosting

This is a simple chocolate sponge cake, the one I have always and will always use because it never fails, NEVER. So easy to make and the cake is tender and soft but still maintains the sponge like quality that, well makes it sponge cake. It’s made on a half sheet pan and is the recipe I used for my Brooklyn Blackout Semifreddo cake that was posted on Food52 and also featured in their cookbook “Ice cream and Friends”. For this little dessert I cut out small ( 3.5 inch) round layers and filled with the super simple French Buttercream that I used in the Dacquoise last year. I layered 3 rounds per mini cake and the sheet cake will give you 4 mini three layer mini cakes and don’t throw out the scraps you can freeze them and make something with them.

Cake

  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Place milk and butter in glass measuring cup and microwave for 45 seconds or until butter is melted. Using stand mixer with wire whisk or electric mixer whip the eggs and sugar on med/high for approximately 8 minutes or until the mixture is pale yellow, tripled in volume and thick, with the machine running slowly add the heated milk and butter. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Fold into the egg mixture, there should be no lumps. Fold in the vanilla. Grease a 1/2 sheet pan, lay parchment sheet and grease the parchment, and sprinkle with sugar. Pour batter into the pan, spread so that it is evenly distributed and bake for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes in the pan run a knife around the edges to loosen then invert onto wire rack, remove parchment and let cool completely.

Buttercream

Recipe (doubled) food52 – Merrill Stubbs

12 oz soft unsalted butter

4 egg yolks

1 1/3 cup confectioners or powdered sugar

2 tbs vanilla extract

Put all the ingredients in the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat until thick, silky and spreadable. Thats it, so easy!!

Chocolate Caramel Ganache

1/3 cup heavy cream

2.5 oz dark and milk chocolate chopped

2 tbs caramel sauce (I had some homemade caramel sauce in the refrigerator but you can use whatever is your favorite this is optional).

1-2 tbs clear karo syrup

Bring cream to scalding, add chocolate and caramel sauce and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth and glossy, stir in the karo syrup. Let cool to room temperature before pouring on cake.

 

 

Guest Post- Cherry Chocolate Scones

I was thrilled when Mollie,  The Frugal Hausfrau agreed to do a guest post. I am a big fan, she is a wonderfully talented cook, take a look at her creations on her blog, you will see why I am so in love with her recipes. Down home and elegant, budget conscience, approachable, ok I’ll stop now, thank you Mollie for sharing these incredible scones they look so delicious! Take it away Mollie….

When Suzanne said she might like a guest post or two, I was all over it – and knew exactly what I wanted to make. I just had it in my head that Scones with Dried Cherries & Dark Chocolate might cheer her up a bit. They’d be great with coffee or black tea and such a fun treat for a weekend breakfast.

I started out with one recipe and I don’t know if it was the recipe or me, but it was pretty mediocre. Then I tried another and it was too cakey. A scone is a scone is a scone, and cake? That’s just not a scone. A scone should be good, but have a certain sensibility about it.

I remembered that King Arthur had a scone recipe I have been meaning to try. (They mentioned a scone pan, too, that I ordered and I love it and used it – that’s how long it took me to make these scones!) So on to the King Arthur recipe.

The first time I forgot the baking powder. It was like a Shortbread Scone. A Shrone? There might be some possibilities in that idea, lol!

So finally, the final rendition. And I learned a few things along my journey! I used two chocolates because I ran out of the chocolate I was initially using and it the scones were so much better.

You can stick with one kind of chocolate if you’d like, but I’d highly recommend chopping some good chocolate and combining it with Nestle’s Chocolate Chunks or at least with their dark chocolate chips. I was thinking of striping these scones with a little glaze, but they’re just so good as is!

The two chocolates melted and acted differently and it was like a perfect alchemy with the soft and chewy dried cherries. So at long last, here’s the recipe as I made it. Check with King Arthur for all their suggested variations and many tips. This recipe is excellent and Suzanne, I hope you love these!

King Arthur’s Scones

2 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour or Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour

1/3 cup sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 cup cold butter

1/2 cup roughly chopped dried cherries

1/2 cup Nestle’s chocolate chunks

3 to 4 ounces good dark chocolate, roughly chunked

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract or the flavoring of your choice

1/2 cup to 2/3 cup half and half (see note)

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.

Work in the butter just until the mixture is unevenly crumbly; it’s OK for some larger chunks of butter to remain unincorporated.

Stir in the dried cherries and chocolate.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla and half and half.

Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until mixture starts to hold together. Dump out and carefully pinch and pull the dough until all is incorporated.

Sprinkle a bit of flour atop a baking sheet.

Divide dough in half and place each half on the baking sheet. Form each into a five to six-inch circle about 3/4’s of an inch high. If using a scone pan, see note, below.

Brush each circle with milk, and sprinkle with coarse white sparkling sugar or cinnamon sugar, if desired.

Using a knife or bench knife that you’ve run under cold water, slice each circle into 6 wedges.

Carefully pull the wedges away from the center to separate them just a bit; there should be about 1/2″ space between them, at their outer edges.

For best texture and highest rise, place the pan of scones in the freezer for 30 minutes, uncovered. Chilling the scones relaxes the gluten in the flour, which makes the scones more tender and allows them to rise higher. It also chills the fat, which will make the scones a bit flakier. While the scones are chilling, preheat the oven to 425°F.

Bake the scones for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they’re golden brown. When you pull one away from the others, it should look baked all the way through; the edge shouldn’t look wet or unbaked.

Remove the scones from the oven, and cool briefly on the pan. Serve warm. They’re delicious as is, but add butter and/or jam, if you like.

When the scones are completely cool, wrap them in plastic and store at room temperature for up to several days. To reheat room-temperature scones, place on a baking sheet, tent lightly with foil, and warm in a preheated 350°F oven for about 10 minutes.

Notes:

Since the scones I baked were baked in January, when the humidity is low and flour is dry, these scones used the full amount of liquid.

If using a scone pan, the full amount of dough will fit into the pan. I found 1/2 cup scoop worked well to distribute the dough in the eight slots. There’s no need to freeze the dough. For these particular scones, I did not brush with butter or sprinkle with sugar.

Boston Cream Pie

 

It’s almost Valentines Day and in the days leading up to this day that celebrates love I am going to post a few recipes for desserts.  The first is Boston Cream Pie which is one of my all time favorite desserts, I love it, can’t resist it and I think that if I could pick only one dessert that I couldn’t live without this would be it. As a child this was the cake I always picked for my birthday, there was a bakery in my home town that made one of the best and my Mom after we moved from there developed a cake recipe just so she could make me this cake. I didn’t use the recipe for Tender Yellow Cake for this dessert however, I recently purchased a new cookbook “Bravetart” by Stella Parks and decided to try her recipe for the cake. Before putting the recipe on the blog I checked and it was published on the internet by Food and Wine. I have to say I love this cookbook, Stella has taken so many iconic American treats (it’s like a trip down memory lane) and developed them so that you can make them at home, the goodness of a Hostess Twinkie or cupcake or Little Debbie snack cake without all the additives, love it!

Boston Cream Pie is a cake not a pie and I am not sure why they call it pie not cake but whats in a name anyway, it’s wonderful. The original recipe uses sponge cake, a vanilla pudding or pastry cream filling and it is covered with a wonderful chocolate ganache although there seems to be debate as to whether or not the original actually had the chocolate glaze. Simple and unadorned, nothing intricate about it but the sum of all it’s parts makes an absolutely delicious dessert.

Instead of the pudding in the book I used my favorite pastry cream recipe which always holds up beautifully.  I sometimes have problems with corn starch based fillings, they often are not stiff enough and I didn’t want to take a chance having never used that recipe before. I have a lot of egg whites left over so an angel food cake will be in the works soon.

The cake is moist and a cross between a sponge and yellow cake. Next time I will mix some milk chocolate with the dark for the ganache because I like it just a little sweeter but it is still very good even with only dark.  I kept the cake in the refrigerator overnight so it was cold when I poured the ganache on and the chocolate kind of stopped in its tracks and I had to spread it, I recommend bringing the cake to room temperature before pouring the ganache so you get that smooth mirror like finish.

Boston Cream Pie

The Cake – Recipe by Stella Parks in “Bravetart”

Makes one 2 layer 8 inch cake

2 cups (8 oz) bleached cake flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 1/3 cup sugar

1/4 tsp kosher salt (I used a heaping 1/4 tsp)

1 tbs vanilla extract

3/4 cup egg yolks (from approximately 12 large eggs) It was 11 eggs for me depends on size

4 tbs unsalted butter, melted (I used salted butter)

1 cup milk at room temperature

Oven rack should be in the middle of the oven. Heat to 350 degree’s. Line 2 8″x3″ round cake pans with parchment and grease with cooking spray (like Pam). Sift flour into a medium bowl and whisk in baking powder.

Combine sugar, vanilla and egg yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix on low to moisten and then increase the speed to medium high and whip until thick, light and doubled in volume, approximately 6 minutes. Reduce speed to medium low and drizzle in butter followed by the milk. Once added shut off the mixer, detach the bowl and gently incorporate the flour with a balloon whisk Fold the thin batter with a flexible spatula once or twice  from the bottom up. Divide between prepared cake pans.

Bake until cakes are lightly browned and firm approximately 20 minutes. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then gently loosen and invert onto cooling racks. Place the pans over the cakes to trap steam and cool to room temperature. NOTE: my cakes took almost 30 minutes to get a light (golden brown)

Once cakes have cooled slice a little off the tops of each layer (so the pudding will soak into the cake. Place one layer on cake stand and spread a generous amount of the pudding and place the other layer on top. Cover and let sit at least 2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

Ganache

1/3 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) dark chocolate roughly chopped

Bring cream to a simmer, remove from heat and add the chocolate. Let sit for 5 minutes and then whisk until thick and creamy. Refrigerate for about 25 minutes don’t let it cool completely the ganache must still be a bit warm. Pour over the cake, let set and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Red Onion Tart with Chestnuts and Blue Cheese

Ronit is an incredibly talented chef and when she Kindly offered to allow me to reblog one of her posts I knew exactly which one I would pick. I have been meaning to make this tart, it looks and sounds amazing and I decided it would be nice to keep with the onion theme. Thank you Ronit for this delicious recipe.

Tasty Eats

While I bake tasty onion tarts quite often, the one I have here turned out even tastier than usual. What made it so very tasty lies in the addition of roasted chestnuts to the dough, and flavoring the filling with a bit of mustard, along with blue cheese and rosemary. This combination of flavors and textures took the plain onion tart into another level. Try it and enjoy.

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French Onion Soup

It has been a very long time since I have had a bowl of French Onion Soup, it’s one of my favorites but I rarely eat it. I don’t think I’ve ever made it either, at least that I can remember. This soup is not traditional, French onion soup is made using beef stock. Instead of beef stock I made a mushroom stock and honestly you cannot tell the difference. The stock was made a few days in advance by simply simmering dried mushrooms (I used cepe) with onion and carrot, strain and store in the refrigerator. I simmered it for about 4 hours so it was rich and meaty (without the meat). The soup came together pretty quickly, caramelizing the onions took a little time, about 30 minutes. All together it took a little over an hour to put this together. You can use commercially prepared broth of course, beef or vegetable and I am sure it would be just as good. The star of the show is the caramelized onions which give this soup it’s distinctive flavor. I served with wine, Syrah from Pug Wine, couldn’t resist the cute pug on the label and the wine is wonderful.

Mushroom Broth

4 oz dried mushrooms (shiitake, cepe or whatever you want to use)

8 cups water

1 onion peeled and cut in half

1 carrot peeled and cut in half

Season with salt and pepper if you like, I didn’t

Place all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil, turn heat down to simmer and let cook uncovered for about 4 hours. Let cool, strain and place in lidded jar and refrigerate until ready to use. Save the strained mushrooms and freeze, you can use them for mushroom soup.

French Onion Soup

serves 3-4

4 small onions peeled and thinly sliced

4 tbs butter

2 sprigs thyme

1 bay leaf

1 tsp sugar

2 tsp flour

1/2 cup wine (white or red)

4 cups mushroom stock (or whatever you want to use)

1 1/2 cup water

salt and pepper to taste

baguette cut into slices

Gruyere, comte or raclette cut into think slices (I used raclette)

Some grated parmigiana

Caramelized onions

Melt butter in saucepan and add the onions, thyme and bay leaf and sugar . Cook stirring frequently on medium high heat. When onions are soft and starting to brown reduce heat to low and let cook until caramelized stirring frequently takes about 30 minutes.

Making the Soup

Add the flour to the onions and cook for approximately 1 minute, add the wine and when it starts bubbling add the stock and water. Cook on medium heat for approximately 30 minutes. Soup will thicken slightly. While soup is cooking heat the oven to 350 degree’s place the bread on a baking sheet and toast for about 15 minutes turning over after about 8-10 minutes. Remove bread from the oven and turn on the broiler.

Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs, ladle soup in bowls, add toasted bread one or two slices depending on the size of the bread. Top with the sliced cheese and sprinkle with a little parmigiana.

Place the bowls on baking sheet and broil for about 8 minutes until cheese bubbles and is lightly browned. Remove from oven let cool for a couple of minutes and serve.

Have to show a photo of the bottle of wine, love the label and the wine is so good.

pug Syrah from pug wine

Guest Post- Beet and Gorgonzola Cheese Pearled Barley with Cream Sauce

The first guest post is from my good friend Mimi whose gorgeous blog Chef Mimi blog  has inspired and delighted me for a long time. She is an amazing cook, prolific writer and world traveller and her delicious recipes are beautifully executed, photographed and I know eagerly gobbled up by her family. I am a big fan of risotto and love her take on it using barley and beets and creamy gorgonzola. Without further ado here is Mimi’s wonderful recipe, thank you so much for writing this post for my blog. Please pay Mimi a visit and if you want to print out this recipe you can do so from her blog.

When I first read through Eataly, the cookbook, this recipe caught my attention. It’s risotto made with barley, flavored with beets, and topped with a Gorgonzola cream! Plus, it was really pretty.

The Eataly cookbook, featuring “300 landmark recipes highlighting the best of contemporary Italian home cooking,” is a hefty volume. I’ve already made one recipe for the blog, and although it was poorly written, which seems crazy these days, it turned out great.

Maybe the Italians don’t follow the same recipe protocol as we do here in the United States? I assumed it was a universal thing, but who knows?

In any case, I knew I just had to try this recipe. Full disclosure, however, I substituted feta for the Gorgonzola.

Beet and Gorgonzola Cheese Pearled Barley with Cream Sauce
(that’s the actual name of the recipe in the book)

9 ounces pearled barley
2 cooked beets, cut into cubes
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Generous 2 cups vegetable broth
7 ounces white wine
5 ounces Gorgonzola, cut into cubes
1 3/4 ounces whipping cream
2 ounces butter, cut into cubes
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese
Salt
A few thyme sprigs to garnish (optional)

Soak the barley in a large bowl of cold water for 2 hours. Rinse and drain well.

Put the beets, 2 tablespoons of the oil, a pinch of salt, and 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon of the broth into a food processor and blend to a purée.

Pour the remaining broth into a pan and bring to a simmer. Keep over a low heat while you make the risotto.

Put the drained barley into a pan, add the remaining oil and a pinch of salt, and toast the barley over medium heat for 6 minutes, stirring continuously.

Add the wine and cook for a few minutes until the wine has evaporated, then add a ladleful of the broth.

Cook the barley over medium heat for about 30 minutes, gradually adding in more broth, a ladleful at a time, until all of the liquid is absorbed by the barley, adding the beet puree 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time.


Meanwhile, put half the Gorgonzola and the cream into a food processor and blend to make a light, creamy sauce.

Once the barley is cooked, remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan, the remaining Gorgonzola, and the butter.

Divide among individual serving dishes, flattening the surface with the back of a spoon. Drizzle a spiral of Gorgonzola cream sauce over the top of each dish and garnish with a drizzle of oil and some thyme leaves. (I obviously didn’t use thyme leaves.)

I served the barley and beet risotto with some rosé to make the meal even more festive. Or, at least, pink!

This risotto, although really not a risotto, is absolutely fabulous. I was surprised there was no onion or garlic, but it’s more about the taste of the grain, plus the broth and cheeses.

I know this would also be really good with Gorgonzola, but the feta cream was outstanding with the beet-flavored risotto.

 

Beet and Gorgonzola Cheese Pearled Barley with Cream Sauce

9 ounces pearled barley
2 cooked beets, cut into cubes
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Generous 2 cups vegetable broth
7 ounces white wine
5 ounces Gorgonzola, cut into cubes
1 3/4 ounces whipping cream
2 ounces butter, cut into cubes
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese
Salt
A few thyme sprigs to garnish (optional)

Soak the barley in a large bowl of cold water for 2 hours. Rinse and drain well.

Put the beets, 2 tablespoons of the oil, a pinch of salt, and 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon of the broth into a food processor and blend to a purée.

Pour the remaining broth into a pan and bring to a simmer. Keep over a low heat while you make the risotto.

Put the drained barley into a pan, add the remaining oil and a pinch of salt, and toast the barley over medium heat for 6 minutes, stirring continuously.

Add the wine and cook for a few minutes until the wine has evaporated, then add a ladleful of the broth.

Cook the barley over medium heat for about 30 minutes, gradually adding in more broth, a ladleful at a time, until all of the liquid is absorbed by the barley, adding the beet puree 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time.

Meanwhile, put half the Gorgonzola and the cream into a food processor and blend to make a light, creamy sauce.

Once the barley is cooked, remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan, the remaining Gorgonzola, and the butter.

Divide among individual serving dishes, flattening the surface with the back of a spoon. Drizzle a spiral of Gorgonzola cream sauce over the top of each dish and garnish with a drizzle of oil and some thyme leaves.