Monday, February 28, 2011

Charcutepalooza: Pasta with Pancetta and Chickpeas

The final pancetta
So the Charcutepalooza challenges roll on. I currently have a massive 5-pound beef brisket hanging out in my fridge and several very large bone-in pork chops from the local farm. That is a whole lot of meat for a family who really doesn't eat that much of it on a weekly basis. I feel like this challenge has taught me to appreciate good meat more in smaller quantities. I think anyone and everyone should get on board with that.

You see for Charcutepalooza, we're supposed to post on the 15th of every month. I got my bacon done in time (see here and here), but the pancetta still had to dry for a week or more before I could enjoy that yumminess. Now I present it to you, dear readers.

The pancetta before the cure.
So out of the cure it came, and fearing rolling it (and frankly it was a fat, yet thin piece of pork belly, I wasn't getting a good roll on it) - I wrapped it in cheesecloth and hung from a nail hammered into a floor beam in my basement. I have to say, I felt pretty giddy about that fact that meat was actually hanging in my basement. So much so, when the husband came home from class, I told him, "You have to go downstairs and look at my meat". That sounds awful right? Luckily, my husband knows I'm nuts and went down to proclaim, "I can't believe there's meat hanging in our basement." He's such a good sport, that husband.

The hanging pancetta
 Seriously, I've said it before when I put together homemade bacon for my Maple Bacon Cheddar Scones and my Bacon and Parsnip Quiche, store-bought has nothing on this home-cured stuff. The pancetta coming out of the cure smelled amazing, it's taste, only surpassed that. Pancetta in the store can be lacking in flavor and expensive. This, will last you for quite a bit and will bring a depth to your dishes you can't even imagine.

I wanted something simple for my first dish using all this porky goodness. I love pancetta in any kind of pasta dish. I know it brings a depth to beans, to vegetables, but I love it wrapped around some lovely strands of pasta. I wanted to use a traditional white bean for this pasta, but alas, I was out.

It's cold with freezing rain here in New England this morning and there was no way in hell I was going out in that until I absolutely had to. So, as always, I modified and the result was pretty tasty, even if it's not exactly what I was going for. Either way, enjoy and consider joining us for Charcutepalooza. It's a jolly good time so far!

Oh and quick moment of self-promotion here, because I haven't done it in a while. You can follow Lighter and Local on twitter (if you don't it's @kimmybingham) and if you want tasty morsels to pop up in your Facebook feed, you can find me there as well. Just "like" the Lighter and Local page! You can always subscribe in an RSS reader or by email - check the side of your screen here for all the links. And please, never fear emailing me. I love to hear from all of you!

The pancetta, sliced

Pasta with Pancetta and Chickpeas
Serves: 4

1/2 cup pancetta, diced
2 small shallots (or 1 large), roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup chickpeas (if using canned, drained and rinsed)
1/2 pound pasta of your choosing (I used thick spaghetti)
salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese for serving

Get your water going for your pasta, throw a little kosher salt in there to get it really going. Cook according to directions, drain, set aside.

Dice up your pancetta in pretty little chunks.

Now, in a large skillet (large enough to hold the pasta in the end) - place your pancetta and turn up the heat to medium to medium-high and fry it up. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate.

Let the skillet cool a bit and wipe out a little bit of the pancetta grease, leaving some behind. Now, heat skillet back up to medium heat and add your shallots. Cook 3-4 minutes until they're softened. Next, add your garlic and cook until fragrant, do not burn that garlic, you'll regret it later. Now, add your two teaspoons of olive oil, chickpeas, and pancetta, and cook 2-3 minutes until they warm up. The reason we're adding the olive oil so late is because we don't want a ton of it to cook off, we want it to coat the pasta we're going to add. Salt and pepper this mixture to your taste

Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Now add your pasta to the skillet, folding in the pancetta mixture until everything is coated. Pin It

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Apple Cognac Tarts with Maple Glaze and N. Shore Bloggers Weekend Picks

Sometimes what happens in my kitchen is a happy accident. These are the happiest accident I've had in a long time. I had pie crust dough, I wanted to make mini quiches out of them. So, I popped the dough into a muffin tin and threw it in the oven to pre-bake a bit. Sadly, I didn't put enough dough in each spot and I came out with what was more like a tart shell than something that could hold quiche. I covered them up, put them aside, and dreamt about what I'd do.

So I had little pie tart crusts, I had leftover maple glaze from my Maple Bacon Cheddar Scones. I had 1 or 2 apples still leftover in my stash. I also have a liquor cabinet full of delicacies. In my brain, I knew some combination of all these things, plus a few additions would probably turn out something pretty tasty.

Thus - the apple cognac tart was born.

Apple Cognac Tart with Maple Glaze
Makes: 1 dozen tarts

1 9-inch pie crust (homemade, pre-made, whatever you'd like)
1 large apple, peeled and diced
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cognac

Maple Glaze:
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and butter up a muffin tin sheet.

Roll out your pie crust. Using a cookie cutter or a juice glass, cut out small rounds and place each in tin. Prick the center of each with a fork. Put into the oven and bake until slightly golden, about 10 minutes. Take out of oven, set aside to cool in the muffin pan. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

While those cute little tart shells are cooling, make your filling. In a large bowl, combine diced apple, brown sugar and cognac. Stir to combine. Spoon into each tart shell (still in the muffin pan), making sure it's not overflowing.

Pop the tarts in the oven for about 12-15 minutes or until the tart crust looks golden brown and the apples have softened a bit. Take out of oven, allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then pop each out with a small spoon and cool another 5 minutes on a wire baking rack.

While those tarts are baking, whip up the maple glaze. Whisk together powdered sugar, milk and maple syrup until combined. Brush glaze over each tart. Don't be shy here. You can use a heavy hand because the glaze will end up holding the apple mixture to the pie crust.

Feel free to eat up one of those babies right now, or allow to cool and pass them out to all your friends.

North Shore Bloggers Consortium Picks of the Weekend 2/25-2/27

Sorry for the smaller picks this week, it's been a little crazy busy, but these two are fabulous if you get the chance to go!

Saturday 2/26
CSA Day at the Winter Farmers’ Market
141 Rollins Road, Rollinsford, NH

This is, of course, near and dear to my heart. Find out how to support your local farms and eat amazing local produce all spring and summer long!

Coming this Saturday, February 26th, to Rollinsford is CSA Day at the Winter Farmers’ Market at Wentworth Greenhouses. The Winter Farmers’ Market will feature the opportunity to learn more about CSAs in the Seacoast area and speak directly with CSA farmers, in addition to 40+ producers and vendors offering an array of local food. Community Supported Agriculture offers a terrific way for people to get a steady supply of local food directly from the producers.

 Learn more about the participating farms at the Seacoast Eat Local website:

Sunday 2/27
Wild Bites Wine Dinner
36 Main Street
Amesbury, MA 01913-2807

6 p.m.

Join as Chef Tony and his wife Joan take you through four courses and dessert paired perfectly with various Italian wines. The evening is always filled with fun, laughter and of course amazing Italian food. The cost is $75 per person (wine included). Call for reservations: (978) 792-5051 for more info.

Check out what the rest of the North Shore Bloggers have to offer!
Check out what the rest of the North Shore Bloggers Consortium has to offer this weekend:

Check out Joey C’s Picks on Good Morning Gloucester here.

Media giant Seth gives up the best of Lynn at Lynn Happens.

The wonderful Jane Ward has some great ideas, over at Food and Fiction.

North Shore Kid: Weekend Picks

Choices from all over New England at The Two Palaverers. Pin It

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Charcutepalooza: The Bacon Brunch 2, Parsnip and Bacon Quiche

I told you there was going to be more bacon. In fact, there's plenty of it. So much so, that I finally had to slice up what was left of my maple and savory bacon and give it to the freezer so my heart can have a respite from the goodness of it. I've told you I'm taking part in Charcutepalooza, if you don't know too much about it, give a read to my Maple Bacon Cheddar Scones post and that should fill you in. You could also make up the scones, this quiche, add a few side items and have yourself a fabulous bacon brunch!

Quiche is a go-to dish in our house. There's always a pie crust, or at least the ingredients to make it, on hand. Eggs from one our several local farms are usually plentiful. Local and fresh vegetables are usually overflowing our produce bin. You can basically design a hearty weeknight dinner with a substantial quiche and a simple salad or soup on the side with very little. You know what we have a lot of? Homemade bacon.  And parsnips from my Winter CSA from Heron Pond Farm in NH. So they are the stars in this simple winter weeknight quiche.

Parsnip and Bacon Quiche
Makes: 8 servings (1 slice)
Base quiche recipe adapted from Emeril's Quiche Lorraine

1 pie crust (you can buy, or use whatever homemade recipe you'd like)
6 ounces thick cut bacon, cut into narrow strips (like lardons)
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 1/4 cup half and half (you can use milk, but you won't get the custard-like consistency)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
pinch of freshly grated (or just ground) nutmeg
1 cup shredded cheddar (I used Cabot's double-double shredded of mild and extra sharp)
1/2 cup diced parsnip (about 2 medium-large, cleaned and peeled)

Roll out your pie crust so it's large enough to drape over the sides, and fit into a 9-inch pie pan (you can use a fluted tart pan here too). Refrigerate for 30 minutes (it can be more as well). Take your eggs out of the fridge now as well so they can come up to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line the pie crust with parchment paper (use parchment, wax burns) and fill with pie weights (or like me, use dried beans). Bake until crust is set about 12-14 minutes. Remove parchment paper and beans or weights, and pop crust back into the oven another 8-10 minutes until crust is golden brown. Take out of oven and leave out on a baking rack to cool. Leave your oven on.

homemade savory bacon
 Now while your crust is baking up. Take your thin strips of bacon (homemade bacon is so pretty) and cook until crisp. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate and set aside to cool. Once cool, chop into smaller pieces.

Now in large bowl, take your eggs, yolks and half and half and beat it all up. Add the remaining ingredients (salt, pepper, nutmeg, cheddar, parsnip and finally, bacon) and whisk to make sure everything is combined. Pour mixture into your cooled pie crust.

Bake until the custard is puffed, golden but still slightly wiggly in the center about 30-35 minutes. Take out of oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for a bit before serving.
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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Winter CSA Cooking: Winter Harvest Meatloaf Bites and N. Shore Weekend Picks

You might just be asking, "Where's the bacon?". No worries, more bacon is on the way. In fact, I have so much bacon I have to spread it out, otherwise those who don't treasure the treat as much as I do may get sick of my singing its praises.

This recipe is near and dear to my heart because it featured a litany of locally-sourced foods. That is why this is my entry into a fabulous CONTEST. Yes, I said contest, with prizes. Our Cook Quest is dedicated to bringing a spotlight on the local food movement, and help local farmers and businesses succeed. Here's the deal, you have until MONDAY to enter this lovely competition featuring one or more local ingredients. The full rules and the PRIZE list are here. Please enter, it's a great chance to get involved and help local folks and therefore help out the community you live in.

I digress, however, why is this such a big deal? For those of you just joining us, Lighter and Local is less about lighter in calorie foods (but we sure try) and more about the lighter side of eating local. It's something I've talked about in length in the past. You see, I want everyone out there to figure out some way to get involved in the local movement, but it does not have to be all or nothing.

My pantry and refrigerator still have plenty of non-local products in them. There is no shame in that. We are not superwomen, or supermen, or superpugs in this household. I still need pasta, French cheese and Italian wine. Do I try to buy all these things from local purveyors? Of course I do. Do I still make a run to my local grocery store once a week. Yes, I do. Would you find some boxes and containers of processed foods in my house? Guilty on that count as well. Baby steps towards a larger goal.

Here's the deal. Getting into the local food movement can be as simple as choosing local or regional products in your grocery store to get started. You can move into the local farmers' markets from there and then maybe a CSA at a farm of your choosing. You can start with produce, then maybe cheese, and finally meat. There is very little, if any right now, non-local produce or meat in this house. Produce comes from the Winter CSA, meat from various local farms. It doesn't have to be about politics or the environmental good (and there's plenty, I could go on and on) that you're doing until YOU want it to be. Start off with the premise of better food, and grow from there.

I'm lucky to live in New England where this movement has taken off with amazing momentum. I can buy flour, cheese, butter and dairy from Vermont and Massachusetts right in the normal grocery store. I also understand that other parts of the country haven't hopped on board yet. It takes research and a love of your community and maybe a little hard work to pull off. Through making the switch to local products I've met so many wonderful people in my little area that I would have never met before.

I'll get off my soapbox now and give you this awesome husband-approved recipe. It's made from some fabulous local ingredients. The ground beef and pork, and the parsley, come from Tendercrop Farm in Newbury, MA. The carrots, parsnips, onions and garlic come from our Winter CSA share at Heron Pond Farm in South Hampton, NH. The milk and cheese are from Vermont dairy farmers.  And please, if you have a great recipe made from local ingredients you'd like to share, please check Our Cook Quest out.

Winter Harvest Meatloaf Bites
Makes: 9 "bites"

1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon Franks Red Hot Sauce (or similar)
1.5 tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 springs of fresh thyme
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs (or saltines, or homemade breadcrumbs)
1/8 cup milk
1 large egg
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped fine
2 large parsnips, peeled and chopped fine (I threw the carrots and parsnips into a food processor and gave them a whirl)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar (as always I love Cabot's extra sharp)
1 puff pastry sheet, defrosted (if you'd like to make your own, please go ahead, I'm not that talented. You can also use pie dough here if you'd like)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Put that 1 teaspoon of olive oil into a large skillet and heat it up over medium heat. Add your onion, cook for 2-3 minutes, add garlic and cook until fragrant, another 30 seconds. Set it aside. Now turn the heat up to medium high, and add ground beef and pork. Cook until just about browned, set aside too cool.

In a large bowl, combine cooled onion, garlic, ground beef and pork with all the rest of the ingredients from salt down to the 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar. You can use a spoon to combine everything, I use my hands, it mixes so much easier.

Now take a muffin pan, grease it and set aside. Take your thawed puff pastry sheet cutting it length-wise along the folds and into three. Now, cut those three long pieces into three longer pieces, you'll end up with 9.

Place each of those rectangles of pastry dough into the muffin tins, letting the corners hang over each tin. Now spoon about a tablespoon and a half of your meat mixture into each. Go back and continue to fill until the mixture is all set.

Pop into the oven and bake for 15-17 minutes until your pastry is nicely browned.  

North Shore Bloggers Consortium Weekend Picks 2/18-2/20

Friday 2/18
Free Wine tasting at New England Wine and Spirits
4-7 p.m.
155 State St
Newburyport MA, 01950

New England Wine and Spirits always has a great selection  of wines to try on Friday afternoons/evening. Check them out!

Saturday 2/19
The Wonder and the Wow of Bald Eagles
Sat, February 19, 10:00am – 12:30pm
Where: Joppa Flats Education Center, One Plum Island Turnpike, Newburyport, MA. 
Fee: $17. Preregistration is required.
2nd Annual We're Pouring Cats and Dogs
Busa Wine & Spirits, 21 Trader's Way Salem, MA
Help animals and drink wine at the same time. Sample wines with cats or dogs on the label for a donation to the Northeast Animal Shelter. The Northeast Animal Shelter is amazing. It's a no-kill shelter. They can always use donations, but they're particularly looking for gift cards to Pet Supply Stores, Home Depot and supermarkets. Canned dog & cat food (no salmon for cats) is needed; Nutro brand for dry puppy, dog, kitten and cat food.  

Check out the rest of the picks from other bloggers in the area!

Check out Joey C’s Picks on Good Morning Gloucester here.

Media giant Seth gives up the best of Lynn at Lynn Happens.

North Shore Kid: Weekend Picks

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Charcutepalooza: The Bacon Brunch, Maple Bacon Cheddar Scones

My homemade maple bacon.

Charcutepalooza. If you follow the food scene, you know what it is. It's a year-long celebration of meat. It's to embrace all things related to home curing. It's well over 200 bloggers brought together by Cathy of Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Kitchen and Kim of The Yummy Mummy. It's a beautiful thing.

I hopped on board late, picking up when the second challenge was announced (the first was duck prosciutto, look for it in the coming months). This challenge (the salt cure) not only enticed me, but the husband. You know he's a self-professed bacon fanatic. So, when he heard I was considering making my own bacon, he, of course was on board.

Now, all the newbie questions and fears came to mind. Will I poison myself? Will I poison someone else? Will I accidentally spill toxic pink curing salt all over the floor and kill the pugs? *ALL* of these fears are silly. I bought the bible for home curers - Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman. Michael put all my fears to rest. Seriously, curing meat for longer life is an ancient tradition, one ANYONE, and I
mean ANYONE can pull off at home.

I grabbed my copy of Charcuterie, ordered my pink salt and then emailed Kellie Brook Farm in Greenland, NH (about 20 minutes from my house) for my pork belly. Tim Rocha there could not have been nicer. He dropped off my beautiful 7-pound pork belly where I pick my CSA share up and I was off.

I sliced that baby into three. I made a maple bacon and a savory one. I also tackled the pancetta but that's still hanging, so you'll have to wait for that. I made my basic cure, I trimmed then dredged my belly in it and off it went into my massive zip lock bags to cure in the fridge for a week.

Ready to cure in the fridge
Every day I would go in, flip the bags, rub the cure in tenderly, like they were the most precious things in the world. I love my bacon, I didn't want to lose it. After about 8-9 day days, it had firmed up and was ready to head into the oven to roast. I would have loved to smoke it, but I don't have the means to pick up a smoker at the moment. I would learn, this doesn't matter. What came out of that oven was the most amazing bacon I have ever had the pleasure to put in my mouth.

Slicing it up.
 Seriously, I cannot tell you enough that you've never had bacon unless you've made it at home. The taste, it's just not legal. It does come out a little salty I found, but a little blanching a la Michael Ruhlman's suggestion worked perfectly to take the salty edge off.

This Charcutepalooza Challenge for February will end up being done in three parts, there's just too much bacon-y goodness to go around.  The first two parts will be known as "The Bacon Brunch". I begin with the maple bacon, because frankly, it's my favorite so far. Maybe the pancetta will blow me away, but for right now, I give you a scone that's just not right. I mean, "not right" in a good way. Hide the children and the husband, you're going to want a plate of these for your own.

Maple Bacon Cheddar Scones
Base scone recipe from Cooking Light
Makes: 12 scones

2 cups all-purpose flour (9 ounces)
3 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg white
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 thick slices of maple bacon
1/2 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (I used Cabot's Extra Sharp)

Glaze: (for a more savory scone, just skip the glaze)
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Now, let's get to the bacon shall we? Let's fry that loveliness up.

 Now let's chop it up into nice little pieces.

Now take those little morsels of goodness, transfer them to a paper-towel lined plate so they dry up just a bit.

Now, let's continue on making our scones, shall we?

In a large bowl, combine your flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, baking powder and salt and whisk it all up. Now, transfer that mixture to a food processor (or you can keep it in the bowl if you're going to cut in the butter by hand with a pastry blender or two knives) and add your chilled butter in there. Pulse several times until the butter is incorporated, making the mixture look like coarse cornmeal.

Now transfer that mixture back to your large bowl and add your milk, vanilla, egg white and maple syrup into the mix. Stir until just moist. Now, add your diced bacon and your cheese and knead until both are fully incorporated.

Ready for the oven.
Now, I'm lucky enough to have been gifted with a beautiful cast iron scone pan. It was given to me by my mom's late best friend. We miss her. Bringing out that scone pan today put a smile on my face. You can either use something like this and just spread the dough out like I did in each section or you can do the following:

Pat dough into an 8-inch circle on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cut dough into 12 wedges, cutting into but not through dough.

Whichever way you choose, you're now ready to pop your scone pan or your baking sheet into the oven. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, or until the tops are golden. Transfer to a wire baking rack to cool.

Beautifully golden.
While your scones are baking, prepare the glaze. Whisk together powdered sugar, milk and maple syrup until combined. Once your scones have cooled a bit, you can brush the glaze over each scone to your hearts desire and then enjoy!

Applying the glaze.
I warn you about these scones. The sweetness of local maple syrup, the bite of Cabot's Extra Sharp Cheddar and the saltiness of the bacon will make this ridicilously difficult to stop at just one.

Oh, and we are NOT done with bacon, not at all....

Savory Bacon

What's that you ask? Oh that's the savory slab of bacon I made. It's going to be the other part of brunch, a winter quiche. And that's not all...

Pancetta before the cure.
Look at that beautiful pancetta. It's coming soon as well. There will be a year of meat in this house, filled with fun, and some amazing bloggers met along the way in the challenge that is Charcutepalooza. Pin It

Thursday, February 10, 2011

White Chocolate Kahlua Tart and North Shore Picks of the Weekend

Sometimes you just need Kahlua and cake. This little tart was an afterthought when I had leftover batter from making my Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Cupcakes. I saw leftover goodness in my mixing bowl, spied my tart pan and a bag of white chocolate chips and went to work. The end result was something I couldn't keep my hands off of. Now, my crew of taste testers (ahem, co-workers) went for the cupcakes, but I decided they were missing out on this tart, which sat silently by the tray of cupcakes. Whatever. More for me.

This is one of those desserts that if you leave it around, you'll find yourself breaking off little pieces of it and mowing on its fudgy yumminess. I saved this for Valentine's Day weekend because I think it would be the icing on the cake (pun intended) to a lovely little homemade holiday dinner between sweethearts at home.

I cannot go any further without thanking the wonderful David Lebovitz again for this Devil's Food Cake recipe. As is, it's perfect, but it lends itself well to adaptions and additions. In this case, adding alcohol takes it from light and moist, to a decadent fudge consistency.

White Chocolate Kahlua Tart
Base cake recipe adapted from David Lebovitz's Devil's Food Cake
Frosting is Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Frosting
Serves: 8-12

4.5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup cake flour (97.5 grams)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
2 ounces (1/2 a stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1/4 cup strong coffee (or water)
1/4 cup whole or low-fat milk
1 tablespoon Kahlua
1/4 cup white chocolate chips

1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1.5 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

as many white chocolate chips as you'd like

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and butter up your tart pan and set it aside.

Now, sift together the cocoa powder, cake flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder into a bowl. In the bowl of a standing mixer, or by hand, beat together the butter and sugar about minuted until it becomes smooth and creamy. Add the egg and beat until fully incorporated.

In a glass measuring cup or bowl, mix together the coffee and the milk. Stir half the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, add the coffee/milk mixture and then stir in the other half of the dry ingredients. Finally add your Kahlua and by hand, fold in your chocolate chips.

Pour your batter into your prepared tart pan. Place tart pan on a baking sheet (to catch spill over) and bake for 12-14 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool on a wire baking rack.

Now for the frosting, melt your butter, stir in your cocoa, and alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beat with an electric mixer until you have spreading consistency. Stir in your vanilla.

Once the tart is cooled, spread frosting over the top, and pipe (or just frost) the edges. Sprinkle with white chocolate chips and serve it on up!

Weekend Picks for 2/11-2/13 from the North Shore Bloggers Consortium

Friday 2/11

Newburyport Education Foundation Charity Texas Hold 'Em Tournament
Location: Masonic Temple Association, 31 Green St, Newburyport, MA
Time: 7:00PM Friday, February 11th

$100 buy in gets automatically entered into $500 raffle. $1,500 first prize if we get 100+ people. Free food, cash bar, 50/50 raffle, auction items, great time! to register. It all goes towards helping out the Education Foundation. Looks like a blast for a chilly Friday night for all you poker fiends out there!

Mirror Ball Goes to the Winery
Location: Zorvino Winery, 226 Main Street Sandown, NH
Time: 6-9 p.m. 

If you haven't gotten a chance to pick up Newburyport native, Joel Brown's book "Mirror Ball", do it. In fact, on Friday night at the Zorvino Winery in Sandown, NH from 6-9pm you can join Joel and three dozen other local authors to check it all out. It's free to get in, with a free wine-tasting and cash bar. If you sign up on Zorvino's website you can also be entered into a drawing for a private wine-tasting. Some of the money will go to local libraries. If you want more info - check out Joel's website:

Saturday 2/12

Free chocolate and wine tasting at Jewell Towne Vineyards
Location: 183 Whitehall Rd. South Hampton, New Hampshire 03827
Time: 12-4pm

I love Jewell Towne - they're always coming up with fabulous little tastings to make your weekend more fun: This week for Valentine's Day - wine and chocolate:

Indulge in Wine and Chocolate! This Saturday, February 12, from 12-4pm, we will be pairing a selection of Jewell Towne wines with a variety of Lindt chocolates to celebrate Valentines Day! This event is complimentary and no reservations are needed! Join us! 

Free Tasting at Grand Trunk, Old World Market
Location: 53 Pleasant Street
Time: 3-5 p.m.

They've got great suggestions for cheese, chocolate and caviar this week and you can stop by on Saturday from 3-5 for this week's featured free tasting.

Wine Focus: Dos Familias Wine tasting : Join us this Saturday for a tasting of a couple of new Spanish wines from Southern Spain in the Bullas wine growing region. The importer will be here tasting some of his wines from 2:30-5:30pm. We will be tasting a juicy structured, full bodied Rosé and several of his red wines that range from smooth medium bodied to full oak aged reds that are very drinkable!

Sunday 2/13 

Love stories of Newburyport, dinner and music

Location: Joseph's Winter Street Cafe, 24 Winter Street Newburyport, MA
Time: 5 p.m.

A night hosted by the Historical Society of Old Newbury that features love stories, dinner and music. The society's curator Jay Williamson will spin takes of great local love affairs while you dine from a specially created menu for the evening and listen to some live music. Cost is $55 and reservations are required. Call 978-462-2681 to make yours.
The Historical Society of Old Newbury will host a special presentation to help prepare for Valentine's Day.

Check out what the rest of the North Shore Bloggers Consortium has to offer this weekend: 

Media giant Seth gives up the best of Lynn at Lynn Happens.

The wonderful Jane Ward has some great ideas, over at Food and Fiction.

North Shore Dish spices things up with their weekend picks here North Shore Dish

Choices from all over New England at The Two Palaverers.
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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Winter CSA Cooking: Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

When your Winter CSA gives you more carrots than you know what to do with, you make carrot cake. In this case, you adapt your carrot cake recipe to make whoopie pies, because well, that's what you do. I love carrots, so do the pugs and the husband, but at some point I found my produce bin overwhelmed with them. Luckily, this lovely recipe calls for two cups of the orange wonder, shredded.

After the bacon-loving husband, comes my co-workers in terms of my test subjects. I know exactly who will ask if I have treats today (ahem, weather guy, sports guy and photojournalist who I will not name).  My friend, Mr. Weatherman, gently reminded me that he loved carrot cake. I hadn't made it in a while, but I had an idea. Cut the tethers on that sheet cake (too messy for work), spin some cinnamon into my favorite frosting and let it roll. I had happy co-workers last night.

You know me, I'm not one to chat about calories and fat. I believe in everything in moderation (although my current level of "in-shapeness" would say I've been overindulging). This recipe is NOT good for you, please don't mistake any of the following statements for that. However, it is better for you. It's base is a Cooking Light recipe (linked below) that I've modified here and there. You can make this one with all low-fat ingredients (except for the butter, for the love of all that's holy, use real butter when baking if you can), and it will still turn out beautifully.

Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
Base recipes adapted from Cooking Light
Makes 18 whoopie pies

9 tablespoons butter, softened
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour (250 grams)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
dash of ground cloves and nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk (remember you can always "make" buttermilk, Google how to make it at home, you'll never buy it again)
2 cups finely shredded carrot

1/2 cup (4 ounces) block-style fat-free cream cheese
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups powdered sugar.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Now you've got two options with this - butter up muffin tins and make carrot cake muffins, which you'll cut in half and sandwich frosting in the middle. The other option is to line two baking sheets with parchment paper and scoop the batter in individual little spots to make "pies" for a thinner-type whoopie pie.

Take your butter, your brown sugar, and your regular sugar and throw it in a large bowl. Beat on medium speed until it's all combined. Add your eggs and egg white. Do it one at a time until the mixture gets all fluffy. Finally, get your 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract in there, beat it up.

Weigh or measure out your flour (I can't recommend starting to weigh your flour enough, less dishes, more accurate). Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon salt, stirring with a whisk. Switch off adding flour mixture and buttermilk to sugar mixture, start and end with flour mixture.. Stir in carrot.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins OR using a tablespoon make little drops of the batter onto your parchment-lined baking sheets. If you're using muffin tins, pop those in the oven for about 12-14 minutes, until a toothpick stuck into the center comes out clean. If you're using the baking sheets, baked for about 10 minutes until they spring back when you press your finger lightly into the center.

Now for the frosting -  place the cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, 2 teaspoons of vanilla, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a large bowl, beat with a mixer on medium speed. Start adding your 2 cups powdered sugar slowly. Do this on a low speed.

Once your frosting is whipped up, either cut your carrot cake "muffins" in half and spread frosting onto each half and sandwich together, or do the same for your "pies". Store in the fridge, since you are dealing with cream cheese here. Pin It

Monday, February 7, 2011

A "Super" Sunday - Boston Brunchers: Dorado Tacos and Meatball Subs

My day started with this....
...and ended with this.
Super Bowl Sunday, whether you hate or love the teams involved, you can certainly get behind the food. Yes, this is game-day food with all the fixings. It will make you run to the gym screaming on Monday morning, but it's certainly worth it. You get two for the price of one in this post today. First, a look at this month's Boston Brunchers event and then very yummy meatball subs to bring it on home.

February Boston Brunchers - Dorado Tacos, Brookline
This month's brunchers
I love meeting other bloggers, especially ones right in my area. The lovely Boston Brunchers group is a perfect way to do that over extremely yummy brunch food. This month, I was lucky enough to win one of the free spots for February's event at Dorado Tacos, so my breakfast bill was taken care of by the kind folks at Dorado (which, of course disclaimer, does not in any way influence my opinion of said establishment).

Huevos Rancheros? Don't mind if I do. You see Dorado Tacos is this sunny, cute little establishment just steps away from the main part of Coolidge Corner in Brookline. Their normal fare is tacos and the like, served up with yummy teas, Mexican sodas and yes, even beer. They do brunch, however, and it's not to be missed. Their prices are perfect and the Huevos (first picture in this post), with eggs served sunny side up and copious amounts of black beans will keep you going all day long. The amount of heat in this dish is perfect. I love me some spice, and I didn't have to douse it in hot sauce, which to me, means it's done very well. I have to make a stop back for their lunch/dinner fare. I have a feeling I'd fall in love.

As always, these brunches are always great to meet new friends and catch up with others. A huge thanks to Lara, Brian, Josh, Amanda Megan, Meesh, Katherine, Katy, Justin , Nicole, Jacki, KathyEmily , Athena, and of course Boston Brunchers organizer, Renee, for such a fabulous morning! Dorado Tacos & Cemitas on Urbanspoon

Super Bowl Meatball Subs 

You know you want them. Full on flavor, calories and a lovely Sunday night treat. The meatballs take next to nothing to prepare and whip up in a flash. If you're making your own sauce (as I do), this one might be better saved for a weekend night. You're on your own for the sauce, I used my family's recipe and I'm not sure I'm ready to share that one yet with the world. Any type of simply marinara sauce works well with this, whether you have a favorite jarred or you make it up at home. I used local beef and pork from Tendercrop Farm in Newbury, MA, the onions and garlic are from Heron Pond Farm in South Hampton, NH and even the mozzarella is of New England, from Connecticut.

Super Bowl Meatball Subs
Serves: 4-6
A mash-up with adaptations from: The Pioneer Woman Cooks and A Cozy Kitchen

1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup milk
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/4 cup olive oil

Marinara Sauce (about a jar's worth)
6 sub rolls
Mozzarella or Provolone Cheese

 First, take all the ingredients up until the egg and get it all into a large bowl. Now, you can use a large spoon, but I prefer my (very clean) hands to mix this all up with. Once it's all combined, form it into about 16-18 meatballs or as many as you like depending on what size you're into. Put the little guys on a baking sheet and put in the fridge if you're not going to make them right away.

Now, heat that 1/4 cup of olive oil up in a skillet (with higher sides) or saucepan over medium-high heat. Once shimmering, get those meatballs in there to brown, turning them so all sides look pretty.

Now, I want you to pour your marinara sauce over all those nicely browned meatball. Put the lid on it and simmer away for about 15-20 minutes so they really take on the flavor of the sauce. When they've got about 5 minutes left, get your sub rolls all ready and slice up your fresh mozzarella (or whatever you prefer). Ladle a some of those meatballs and sauce into the sub roll, top with the cheese and a little more sauce. Now, you can stick these under a broiler to toast up for a minute or two, or just allow the sauce to melt the cheese on top like we do. Either way, they're tasty, so enjoy! Pin It