Magi-Cake®strips really work!

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No dome, no crisp edges, even browning and baking all over! So easy to use–just soak a strip in water then pin it around the sides of the cake pan, pop it in the oven, and wait for cake. Today,  I made a Cocoa Layer Cake for Lek’s birthday.

Cocoa Layer Cake (original baker unknown)
Prep time: 25 minutes
Baking time: 25 minutes
Cooling and frosting time: 60 minutes

170g or 3/4 cup butter at 60˚F
281g caster sugar or 250g (1 1/4 cups) granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
150g or 1 1/2 cups cake flour
4 oz or 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (volume)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350˚F/180˚C. Butter and flour two 9 inch round cake pans.

Cake Baker’s Notes: To prepare the pans I melted 1 tablespoon butter and mixed in 1 tablespoon flour. I brushed this mixture all over the bottom and sides of the pans. You can also use two 8 inch round pans or one 13×9 inch oblong cake pan.

In a large bowl, beat butter 10 seconds on medium high speed. Scrape down the bowl. On medium speed, gradually add sugar (1 minute). Increase speed to medium high and continue beating 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl once halfway through. Slowly (1-1 1/2 minutes) beat in eggs and vanilla until blended.

Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl. Add flour mixture to egg mixture alternately with milk, starting and ending with flour. Beat until blended. Pour batter into prepared pans. Gently tap on the counter-top to eliminate air bubbles. Smooth tops.

Bake in preheated oven 25-35 minutes or until the centers spring back when lightly pressed. Cool in pans on wire racks 5 minutes. Remove from pans. Cool completely on wire racks. Fill and frost as desired. I recommend half a recipe of Ina Garten’s chocolate buttercream frosting.

Cocoa Layer Cake
Cocoa Layer Cake

 

 

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pantry pancakes

whole wheat strawberry pancake

For sometime now, I’ve been experimenting outside my comfort zone with my own variations on recipes–a fusion, so to speak, between the original and my own tastes and preferences. That’s how I came up with a fusion between Thai style basil chicken and shepherd’s pie a few summers ago.

Necessity, it is said, is the mother of pancakes. I didn’t have any all purpose flour. I had one large egg, whole wheat and cake flours, lots of strawberries, and a deep reluctance to use butter. Still, I can’t throw things in a bowl et voilà, it’s a meal. I guess you could say I’m not ready to give up exact measurements! So inspired by Foodie Pam’s strawberry pancake recipe, I made up this delicious breakfast pancake using what I had on hand in my pantry. The pancake turned out filling, fluffy, and oh-so fine with a little maple syrup drizzled all over it.

Whole Wheat Strawberry Pancakes

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

Ingredients
1 large egg
1 cup nonfat milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon almond oil
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cake flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
Cooking spray

Preparation
In a large bowl, beat the egg. Add the milk, vanilla, and oil. Blend well. Add wheat flour, cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir until well combined. Fold in the strawberries.

Spray cooking spray in a 10 inch skillet. Heat over medium heat until the skillet sizzles when a drop of water touches the surface. Pour half cup of batter in the center of the skillet, spread it a little bit,  and cook until little bubbles appear in the surface. Flip. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until the underside is browned, and the top of the pancake, when pressed, is firm to the touch, but not “squidgy” as Nigella would admonish.

What do you have in your pantry to make these pancakes? Here are my suggested ingredient swaps:

  • Canola, vegetable, or extra virgin olive oil
  • Almond extract to ramp up the almond flavor
  • Blueberries
  • Chopped banana
  • Whole milk for nonfat
  • Sprinkle cinnamon sugar or confectioner’s sugar on top
  • Serve with chopped fresh fruit sprinkled with a little stevia, if you like

plum-berry galette

Plum-Berry Galette

I hate to waste food! Don’t you? So I made these mini-galettes because I had some  fruit that nobody wanted to eat and I couldn’t throw it away. This recipe is a combination of two recipes, one from Swerve magazine and the other from the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook.  I liked the Swerve because the crust is made from frozen puff pastry and was therefore easy to make. The Martha Stewart recipe I liked for the sweetness. 

6 frozen puff pastry squares, thawed
all purpose flour for dusting
1 plum, seeded and chopped into large chunks
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup strawberries, sliced
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
dash of salt
1 large  egg white
1 tablespoon milk

Preheat oven 375˚F. Prepare a large baking tray and line it with a silicone mat or a sheet of parchment paper.

Put fruit in a medium bowl.  In a measuring cup, combine sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add to the fruit and toss gently. Set aside.

On a well floured board, roll out each dough square until it is about 4″ square. Mound the fruit in the middle of the pastry. There should be a border of about 2 inches. Fold up the edges and make pleats. It doesn’t have to be neat; it should look rustic. Pick up the “packet” and place it on the prepared baking tray. If it is too hard to pick up with your fingers, use a large spatula.

Brush the pastry edges with a mixture of egg white and milk.

Place the tray in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden and flaky. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Slide the galettes off the mat/parchment onto the cooling rack to cool completely.

creamy delicious strawberry ice cream–without an ice cream maker

I don’t have an ice cream maker.

I also don’t have a microwave oven and I don’t have a television. But am I missing anything? Absolutely not! I made this ice cream using fresh cream and strawberries without an ice cream maker. It was quick and easy to make, however, the freezing part took twelve hours. So eating it requires a little patience. If you want it for dessert that evening, then make it in the morning.  Aside from the usual cream, fruit, and condensed milk, this recipe calls for some unexpected ingredients, like white chocolate chips and vodka, which you never taste in the ice cream. It wasn’t as creamy as I had hoped, and I don’t understand the alchemy let alone the chemistry of ice cream making, but it tastes just like fresh strawberry ice cream. The folks at America’s Test Kitchen call it

Magic Strawberry Ice Cream
Makes one quart

INGREDIENTS
8 ounces fresh strawberries, hulled (1 1/2 cups) [Cook’s Note: frozen thawed strawberries can be substituted for fresh]
1/2  cup sweetened condensed milk
1 ounce white chocolate chips
1  tablespoon vodka
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream, chilled

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Process strawberries in food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds (puree should measure about 3⁄4 cup). Microwave sweetened condensed milk, white chocolate chips, and vodka in large bowl until chocolate melts, about 1 minute, whisking halfway through cooking. Whisk in strawberry puree, vanilla, and salt.

Cook’s Note: In lieu of a microwave, I melted the chocolate chips into the vodka and condensed milk in a double boiler. I made a double boiler out of a saucepan and a small glass mixing bowl which rested on the rim just above half a pan of water. First bring the water to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Stir the milk, chips, and vodka until the chips melt. The condensed milk mixture will thin. Be careful and use a pot holder to remove the hot bowl from the saucepan.

2. Using a stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip cream on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form, 1 to 3 minutes. Whisk one-third of whipped cream into strawberry mixture, then gently fold in remaining whipped cream, 1 scoop at a time, until combined. Freeze in airtight container until firm, 6-12 hours, depending on the freezer. The ice cream will keep in the freezer for up to 2 weeks–if it lasts that long!  Serve.

Cook’s Note: I should have added I don’t have a fancy (read: Kitchenaid) stand mixer either. I used a Black and Decker hand held mixer (cost me Canadian $15.00 three years ago) with a whisk attachment to whip the cream. You’ll know you have soft peaks when you raise the beaters and the peaks just bend over.

It’s gai yang, but where’s the khao neow and somtam?

We’ve been good, AJ and I. Since we’ve been back in New York City on the low carb-low fat diet we haven’t had skin, chicken skin that is, for the last four months. It was time for a treat. I figured if I’m going to break the diet, then I should make it worthwhile. I decided to make  gai yang or roast chicken, Thai style, because I found this recipe on America’s Test Kitchen. It didn’t disappoint; the flavors were authentic, the chicken juicy. It just wasn’t fiery enough!

Purists will know that gai yang is traditionally served with papaya salad (somtam)and sticky rice (khao neow). Well, I  committed a heresy. Instead of papaya salad, we had a spinach, strawberry, and hearts of palm salad with lemon-poppy seed dressing. Instead of the sticky rice, I made stir-fried baby bok choy in garlic and ginger and seasoned it with Maggi sauce. Thus, I assuaged the guilt with some low calorie veggie sides.

The original recipe called for grilling on an outdoor barbecue. But since I live in a city apartment, I have parted ways from the original and broiled/baked the chicken instead. I have also added two chilies to the dipping sauce. What’s a dipping sauce without some heat?

Gai Yang or Thai Style Roast Chicken

Ingredients

Chicken and Brine

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup table salt
  • 4 split bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts about 12 ounces each (I used 1 chicken breast and 2 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs)

Dipping Sauce

  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 small cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (1 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lime juice from 2 to 3 limes
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 chilies, chopped (optional)

Rub

  • 12 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (1/4 cup)
  • 1 piece fresh ginger (about 2 inches), minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup lime juice from 2 to 3 limes
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Instructions

1. To brine the chicken: Dissolve sugar and salt in 2 quarts cold water in large container or bowl; submerge chicken in brine and refrigerate at least 30 minutes but not longer than 1 hour. Rinse chicken under cool running water and pat dry with paper towels.
2. For the dipping sauce: Whisk ingredients in small bowl until sugar dissolves. Let stand 1 hour at room temperature to allow flavors to meld.
3. To make and apply the rub: Combine all rub ingredients in small bowl; work mixture with fingers to thoroughly combine. Slide fingers between skin and meat to loosen skin, taking care not to detach skin. Rub about 2 tablespoons mixture under skin. Thoroughly rub even layer of mixture onto all exterior surfaces, including bottom and sides. Repeat with remaining chicken pieces. Place chicken in medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate while preparing grill.
4. To broil the chicken: Cover the broiling pan with foil for easy clean up. Spray with cooking spray. Place the chicken pieces skin side up and broil 10 minutes or until the skin is golden or blackened. Turn the heat to 350˚F and put the pan in the oven to finish cooking, about 15-20 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165˚F  160˚F on an instant read thermometer.

strawberry, spinach, and hearts of palm salad

My cousin Cathy got a tin of hearts of palm so she wrote our cousins’ group wondering how to serve it. I had this recipe on my Wait List to try and her SOS just prodded me out of procrastination mode. This is Paula Deen’s recipe but I tweaked it. Now I’m not fond of hearts of palm. To me it has a metallic taste, which probably comes from the tin can.  Nevertheless, I found this salad to be quite delicious. The strawberries were tart and the salad dressing had just the right proportion of sweetness to tartness that totally disguised the metallic taste of the hearts of palm. So on St. Valentine’s Day, show you love somebody–but not with chocolate, with strawberries, spinach and hearts of palm!

Ingredients

For the salad dressing
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar (reduced from 3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used EVOO and reduced the amount of oil  from 1 cup)
1/2 small red onion, grated
1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon paprika

For the salad
1 1/2 pounds fresh baby spinach (I added some mixed greens to the spinach)
1 can hearts of palm, drained and chopped
2 cups strawberries, stemmed and sliced
1 cup chopped walnuts or almonds (optional)

Directions
Prepare the dressing.  Combine the vinegar, sugar, lemon juice, and salt in a small non-reactive saucepan and heat over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, stirring frequently. Remove pan from heat and let cool to room temperature. When cooled, whisk in the oil, onion, poppy seeds, dry mustard and paprika until thoroughly combined. Set dressing aside.

Assemble the salad ingredients. In a salad bowl, combine the spinach, hearts of palm, strawberries, and nuts, if using. When ready to serve, add some of the dressing, and toss gently. Serve the remaining dressing alongside the salad so diners may add more, if desired.

orange angel food cake with caramel sauce and four berry-kiwi fruit compote

Angel food cakes are indeed light and airy but they are tricky to make. This is my second attempt since the first didn’t have the required brown crumb on the outside nor was its height to my satisfaction. I think this version is a little better but could have been higher. The trick is not to make the egg whites deflate when you are adding the flour. I think the trick also entails using a thin rubber spatula, which is becoming harder to find because silicone spatulas are becoming more and more common. The silicone spatula I have is too thick for such a delicate job. I found this recipe on the Bon Appetit site and tweaked it a bit because of the lack of availability of some of the ingredients for the fruit compote.  I must add, though, that this caramel sauce is deliciously sweet and spicy!

Orange Angel Food Cake with Caramel Sauce and Four Berry-Kiwi Fruit Compote

INGREDIENTS
CARAMEL SAUCE
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 cup heavy whipping cream (half pint)
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
Pinch of salt

CAKE
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 cup cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups egg whites (about 9 large)
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 cup superfine sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated orange peel from 1 medium orange
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

FOUR BERRY-KIWI FRUIT COMPOTE
1 cup raspberries
1 cup blueberries
1 cup blackberries
1 cup strawberries, sliced
2 kiwi, peeled, quartered lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
1/4-1/2 cup powdered sugar or to taste

PREPARATION
SAUCE First, combine the sugar and 1/3 cup water in heavy medium saucepan. I ran out of white sugar so I made it up with brown sugar. If you use brown sugar, be careful it doesn’t burn. Stir the sugar-water mixture over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high; boil without stirring until syrup is deep amber, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan, about 5 minutes. If you use brown sugar, the syrup will become darker but that’s okay. Remove the syrup from the heat source. Slowly add cream. The recipe says the mixture will bubble vigorously but mine didn’t, which makes me suspicious that Bon Appetit forgot to include the sauce temperatures. Place the pan over low heat; stir until caramel bits dissolve and sauce is smooth. In the absence of temperatures, I stirred until the sauce thickened. Remove the sauce from the heat source; add butter, cardamom, and pinch of salt; stir until the butter melts and is incorporated. Cool the sauce. DO AHEAD The caramel sauce can be made 1 week ahead. Cover the sauce and chill it in the refrigerator. Bring it to room temperature or re-warm over low heat before serving.

Cake Baker’s Note: I wish the recipe had included temperatures along with the description. It would have made for a more accurate result. Anyway, I found this in an article titled “The Science of Caramel” ( http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Cookbook:Caramel). Basically, a caramel sauce is a sugar solution.

The stages of a sugar solution are generally described by the solution’s behavior when dropped into cold water:

  • Thread Stage (230-234°F) – the solution thickens into syrupy threads when you pull a spoon out.
  • Soft Ball Stage (234-240°F) – the solution can be pressed into a soft gooey ball. Used to make soft chewy candies like taffy.
  • Firm Ball Stage (244-250°F) – the solution can be pressed into a firm ball. Used to make caramels.
  • Hard Ball Stage (250°F) – the solution can be pressed into a dense, slightly malleable ball. Used to make harder chewy candies.
  • Soft Crack Stage (270°F) – the solution solidifies into a glass-like solid that slowly bends under light pressure.
  • Hard Crack Stage (300°F) – the solution solidifies into a hard glass-like solid that breaks or cracks under pressure. Used to make hard candies and brittles.
  • Caramel Stage (310-349°F) – An advanced crack stage, defined by the development of an amber color that becomes tan, brown and eventually dark brown as the temperature continues to rise. Also defined by the development of caramel flavors which becomes deeper, less sweet and more bitter as it darkens.
  • Burned Stage (350°F) – The sugar smokes and eventually turns black. It is completely oxidized (burned) and inedible.

I wonder if brown sugar would have reached the caramel stage sooner? I wonder if the cooks at America’s Test Kitchen have turned  their famously methodical (some would say anal retentive) attention to this problem? Don’t get me wrong! I love ATK. It’s just that I couldn’t test recipes umpteen times just to get a perfectly chewy chocolate chip cookie. I can’t bear to waste food. I keep thinking of my mother, “eat your food! people are starving in America!” (Actually she said China. I just put that in there to mix things up.) Anyway, I digress. Here is the cake part of the recipe.

CAKE Preheat oven to 350°F.

Sifting the dry ingredients. Sift powdered sugar, flour, and salt 3 times. To do this, spread a sheet of waxed or parchment paper on the counter with  a large bowl next to it, and sift the sugar mixture onto the sheet. Rest the sieve on top of the bowl. Pick up the edges of the sheet and pour it into the sieve over the bowl. Place the sheet back on the counter top. Pick up the sieve and sift the sugar mixture over the sheet.  Repeat two more times. (Am I being just a tad too specific here?)

Separating the egg whites. It’s best to separate the eggs when cold. Then allow whites to come to room temperature. This takes about 30 minutes.

Whipping the egg whites. Using the electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat egg whites in a large bowl until foamy, about 1 minute. Add cream of tartar then beat until whites are opaque and soft peaks form, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium high. Gradually add superfine sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until whites are thick and shiny and fluffy peaks form (peaks should droop over gently; do not over-beat). This should take 1-3 minutes.

This is what the meringue looks like when it has been whipped. It could be stiffer since the peaks on the beaters are still soft.

Adding flavorings and flour mixture. Add orange peel and vanilla to the whipped egg whites; beat just until blended. Sift 1/4 cup of flour mixture over whites. Using a large rubber spatula (preferable to silicone since the batter is delicate), gently fold flour mixture into whites. Repeat with remaining flour mixture 1/4 cup at a time.

Cake Baker’s Note: To fold in flour, cut with the edge of the spatula down the middle. Scraping along the bottom, bring the spatula under the flour to the side of the bowl. Fold the batter over the flour. Turn the bowl one-quarter turn. Repeat: cut, fold, turn until all the flour is incorporated. See this  YouTube video for a folding demonstration.

Baking the cake. Scrape the batter into an ungreased 10-inch-diameter (NOT non-stick) angel food cake pan with removable bottom and 4-inch-high sides (preferably with feet). Smooth the top. Gently tap the pan on the counter to remove any large air bubbles. Bake the cake until golden and springy to touch, about 50-55 minutes. Immediately invert the pan onto work surface if the pan has feet, or invert the center tube of the pan onto the neck of a bottle or funnel. Cool the cake completely, 1-2 hours.

Unmolding the cake. The common way to do this is to use a thin blade knife to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan and around the pan’s funnel. However, Bon Appetit recommends that you gently tap the bottom edge of the pan on the work surface while rotating the pan until cake loosens. Transfer the cake to a platter. DO AHEAD This cake can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover with a cake dome and let it stand at room temperature.

COMPOTE Put all the fruit into a colander and sprinkle on the powdered confectioner’s sugar. Toss gently to combine. To do this I simply shake the fruit in the colander over the sink. That way, if any fruit falls out, I can rinse it and put it back in the colander. Raspberries are extremely delicate so the less handling of them the better. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover and chill.

Serving. Slice the cake with a thin serrated knife. Transfer to plates. Spoon compote alongside each slice. Top the slice with caramel. This cake has a wonderful sugary orange-y smell. Mmm-mm.

agua fresca: fruit-infused water

I wandered into the Home Goods on Columbus Avenue to get out of the rain on Sunday afternoon. I found this pitcher called a fruit-infuser. If you’ve ever had Hint water at Starbucks you’ll know what this is. Like everything at Starbucks, fruit-infused water is expensive. You could make your own espresso at home but part of the Starbucks experience is enjoying it at one of their tables. However, why would you pay for water? That’s why making your own fruit-infused water is not only fun, well, you’re saving money too!

The infuser pitcher comes with two tubes. One is filled with water then frozen and is used to chill the pitcher’s contents. The other tube is the one you see here. It has slits all over it. To try it out, I bought some strawberries (They were on sale 2/$5.00 too). I cut up the strawberries and put them in the tube. The tube goes in the pitcher then I filled it up with filtered water. Then I put the pitcher in the fridge and waited. I had to go on the internet to see how long it takes to infuse the fruit in the water. One website Bohemian Revolution, said two hours. After two hours, the drink was lightly flavored and barely colored. Delicious and refreshing poured over ice cubes. After six hours, the water had turned the color of rosé wine and the strawberry flavor was intense. So good.

Sunday Dinner, March 13, 2011

Today’s main course is my take on America’s Test Kitchen’s take on the French recipe for stuffed chicken breast roll. I served it with  green beans amandine, and for dessert, strawberry cream pie. That’s my take on Diane Mott Davidson’s recipe called Strawberry Super Pie. I also made sure I had all ingredients prepped before I started cooking and assembling. Taking the time to prep everything is a good idea because sometimes you combine ingredients quickly!

Stuffed Chicken Roulade
I’ve got men in my house who eschew chicken breast. So I adapted this recipe by using boneless, skinless chicken thighs.

INGREDIENTS
4 boneless,skinless chicken breasts (I used 1 breast and 4 boneless, skinless thighs)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
10 ounces white mushrooms,trimmed,wiped clean,and sliced thin (1 cup)
1 small leek,white part halved lengthwise, washed, and chopped (about 1 cup)
2 medium garlic cloves,minced or pressed through garlic press (Use large, more garlic is better!)
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (Be generous and use a teaspoon)
1 tablespoon juice from 1 lemon
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Chinese Rice Cooking Wine)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves (I used cilantro and minced it fine)
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth (I used vegetable broth)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the chicken. Butterfly the chicken breast. Put one hand over the hump of the breast and lift your fingers. Slice the chicken breast horizontally in half, so that the breast opens up like a book. Put the chicken breast in a zipper lock bag or between two sheets of plastic. Pound it to 1/4 inch thickness. Remove from the plastic and trim until the breast is approximately 8×5 inches. Set aside the trimmings. Repeat for the boneless, skinless thighs. Trim any excess meat or fat from the thighs. Discard fat and set aside the trimmings. You should get about 1/2 cup of trimmings. Put the trimmings in a food processor bowl and puree for 20 seconds. Remove the meat to a medium bowl. Do not rinse the workbowl of the food processor.

Prepare the stuffing. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12 inch skillet. When the oil shimmers, add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until they brown, about 8-11 minutes. Add the 1 tablespoon oil and the leeks. I used chopped onion because I couldn’t find leeks at the supermarket. Cook about 2-4 minutes or until the onions turns transparent. Add the garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice to the mushroom mixture and cook until all moisture has evaporated, about 30 seconds.

Transfer mixture to the bowl of the food processor. Return the empty skillet to heat and add the wine, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom. Remove from heat. Pour wine into a small bowl and set aside. Rinse and dry skillet with paper toweling.

Pulse the mushroom mixture 5 times in 1-second bursts. Scrape contents into the reserved pureed meat and add 1 1/2 teaspoons minced parsley, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Mix well.

Assemble and cook the roulades. Cut 12 pieces of twine, each about 12 inches long. With the short end of each fillet away from you, put about 2 tablespoons of the stuffing in the center of the thigh fillet, leaving a border. I did the breast last and used up the remaining stuffing. Roll away from you. Tie each roll; twice for the thighs and three times for the breast. Trim excess string.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil and fry each roll 2 minutes on each side for a total of 8 minutes. Add the broth and the white wine. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer 12-18 minutes. I turned each roll about halfway through the cooking time. Remove the rolls to a plate and tent with foil. The internal temperature should be 163˚F.

To the liquid in the pan, add the Dijon mustard, whisking it in. Increase heat to high and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any brown bits. Reduce liquid to about 1/2 cup, about 7-10 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add butter, remaining parsley, 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Because I had used Chinese wine, it was a little too sour so I added a teaspoon of sugar.

Slice into rounds and pour sauce on top. Serve with my version of

Green Beans Amandine
1 pound fresh green beans, washed, ends trimmed
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Blanche the green beans in boiling salted water. After about 4 minutes they turn bright green. Drain and rinse in cold water to set the color. This means you’ll have to heat up the green beans before serving but it looks so pretty and won’t change to that putrid olive green color once it cools.

In a 10-inch skillet, melt the butter and add the almonds. Fry until golden brown. Heat up the green beans in the microwave–about 60 seconds. Scrape the almonds on top. Sprinkle with lemon juice and add salt and pepper to taste. Simple and delicious!

Strawberry Cream Pie
I should have been warned; beginning with that graceless name “Strawberry Super Pie” this recipe was going to be a problem. I should always be suspicious when a cook resorts to hyperbole.  The problem was the crust. Though the dough spread fine in the pie dish, it puffed up and shrank on baking, and became a hard almond cookie.

Crust
12 tablespoons (3/4 cup or 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup chopped almonds, optional (pecans in original recipe)

Topping
2 pounds strawberries, divided
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch

Filling
1 1/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 pound (1/2 cup) cream cheese, softened
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven 375˚F. One 10-inch glass pie plate, buttered.

Make the crust. Mix melted butter with flour, confectioners’ sugar, and nuts. Press into the prepared pie plate. Bake 25 minutes or until light brown. Allow to cool completely. [Notes: I should have pressed the dough up the sides and onto the rim. I was too conservative with the bottom and was afraid it would have holes in it. Thinner would have been better.]

Make the topping. Mash enough strawberries to make 1 cup. Cut tops off the rest of the strawberries and set aside. Place mashed berries in a saucepan and add water. Mix sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add to crushed berry mixture and bring to a boil on top of the stove, stirring. Boil about 1 minute or until clear and thickened. Set aside to cool.

Make the filling. Whip cream until stiff. In another bowl, beat cream cheese with vanilla and confectioners’ sugar. Carefully fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture. Spread in cooled crust and refrigerate. [Notes: Refrigerate how long? I put it in the freezer for ½ hour to firm up the cream cheese filling. It could have used at least 2 hours in the refrigerator, I think. ]

Assemble pie. When crushed berry mixture is cool, pie can be assembled. Stand whole (or halved, if you prefer) strawberries on top of cream filling, cut side down. When entire filling is covered with whole berries, carefully spoon cooled crushed berry mixture over all. Cream filling should not be seen between whole berries. Once the crevices have been filled, do not overload the pie with the crushed berry mixture, as it will just drip over the sides. Any leftover crushed berry mixture can be served on toast or scones. [Notes: The filling came up to the top of the rim because the crust was thick. I sliced the berries thinly and layered them on top of the filling then poured the topping on top of the berry layers.]