Paganini's Pantry (163)

Friday, 22 August 2014 05:27

Caprese Quinoa Salad

Serves 6

2 cups quinoa
2 ½ cups water
1 cup fresh mozzarella, diced
2 cups tomatoes, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 recipe of herb pesto

Boil water and add quinoa.  Allow to cook until quinoa is al dente.  Drain any excess water. Cool quinoa. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and toss with vinaigrette.


Pesto Vinaigrette
2 garlic cloves
3 cups fresh basil
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ cup olive oil
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar

In a food processor, mince the garlic.  Add the basil, nuts, and cheese.  Slowly add the olive oil until the sauce is desired consistency (you may use more or less of the oil). Add vinegar and allow mixture to blend.  Toss with salad

Serves 8

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. honey
2Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper
2 portobello mushrooms, cleaned & de-stemmed
2 zucchini, sliced into ribbons
2 yellow squash, sliced into ribbons
1 each red & yellow sweet peppers, washed
4 Roma tomatoes, halved & seeded
6 green onions, washed &trimmed
1 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Prepare vinaigrette by incorporating olive oil, balsamic, honey, salt and pepper. Toss vegetables with prepared dressing and marinate for 30 minutes.

Place vegetables on the grill, cut side down, and grill until they become soft and start to wrinkle. Remove from the grill and cut vegetables into 1-inch pieces. Toss prepared vegetables with dressing. Sprinkle with fresh basil and Parmigiano before serving.

Friday, 08 August 2014 07:37

Coconut Flan

Serves 8

2 cups whole milk
1 cup coconut milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla bean paste
1 cup superfine sugar
1/4 cup water
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks

To make superfine sugar, take 1 cup granulated sugar and process in a food processor to grind down to a superfine grain.

Take eight  individual soufflé cups and butter the inside to prevent sticking. Set aside. 

To make what will become the caramel of the caramel flan, in a clean, non-reactive saucepan put remaining half cup of sugar with the water.  Stir just to incorporate the sugar into the water to dissolve it.  You may want a little extra water with a pastry brush to remove sugar crystals from the sides of the pan.  Once the sugar is dissolved, stop stirring and allow the sugar mixture to heat up and turn golden brown.  You want to remove the mixture from the heat just before you think it is done or you may over cook the sugar.  Immediately dip pan in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.

Pour the caramel into the 8 prepared soufflé cups. Set aside.

Heat milk, coconut milk and vanilla extract in a non-reactive saucepan until just simmering. Add 1/2 cup of superfine sugar.  Remove from heat.   

In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs and egg yolks.  Take milk mixture and slowly liaison the two mixtures to prevent the eggs from scrambling.  Then marry completely.  Pour mixtures into the soufflé cups. 

Place the cups into a baking dish with sides.  Pour water into the dish to go half way up the outside of the soufflé cups.  Very important not to get water into the soufflé cups.  Place the baking dish in the oven to bake slowly at 325° for 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours.

Flan is done when a clean knife inserted into the center of the mixture comes out clean and the mixture giggles firmly.

Remove pan from oven and remove flans from pan.  Allow the flans to cool covered overnight in the refrigerator. 

When ready to serve the flans, run a flat metal spatula around the edges to release.  You can quickly heat the bottoms of the cups with a blow torch to release the caramel. Turn the cup upside down on a dish and release.

Friday, 01 August 2014 05:34

Polenta Cake

Caramel Sauce

Makes 1 cup

2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup heavy cream

Use a larger pan then you think you will need as the mixture will bubble up when the cream is added.  In a non-reactive saucepan, heat sugar, water, and lemon juice.  Allow mixture to melt and as cooking turn a golden caramel color.  Pull sugar mixture off the heat and add heavy cream.  Be careful as mixture will bubble violently.  Mix in cream then add mixture back on the stove and allow to thicken slightly. 


Polenta Cake

Serves 8-12

The texture of this cake is wonderful, especially if you use freshly milled corn. The longer the corn sits after being ground, the more it loses its sweet flavor and becomes starchy. Keep cornmeal in the freezer.

8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. granulated sugar
8 large egg yolks
1/2 orange, grated zest
1/2 lemon, grated zest
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste
1 cup un-blanched almonds
1/2 cup potato starch
1 cup fine stone-ground cornmeal
1 tsp. baking powder
8 large egg whites
Confectioners' sugar


Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter and line with parchment paper a 9-inch cake pan.

Place butter, ½ cup sugar, egg yolks and citrus zests in large bowl. Add vanilla paste. Beat until light and creamy.

In food processor, combine nuts, starch, cornmeal, and baking powder. Process until finely milled. 

Beat egg whites with remaining ¼ tsp. sugar until they form soft peaks. Gently fold dry ingredients and 1/2 of beaten egg whites into butter mixture, fold in remaining whites just until incorporated. Gently scrape batter into pan.

Bake until cake is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, usually about 25-35 minutes. Do not over bake.

Cool cake briefly in pan on wire rack. Run the tip of knife around the sides of cake to loosen it from pan; invert onto rack. Let it cool overnight.

Friday, 25 July 2014 05:52

Kenkucky Bourbon Profiteroles


Yield:  1 1/2 pounds

1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, unsalted
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar (for sweet puffs)
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
4 large eggs (5 eggs if needed)

Bring liquid to a boil with the butter.

Remove from heat and add the flour all at once, beating with a spoon until smooth.

Return to heat for a few minutes or until the dough begins to dry out. This mixture is called a panade.           

Remove from heat and beat with a mixer until the heat begins to dissipate. Then beat in the eggs one at a time. Be sure egg is completely incorporated and beat until smooth. Start with 4 eggs and only add the fifth egg if the batter is too stiff. It should droop off the side of the spatula if lifted out of the bowl. 

Fit a pastry bag with the tip of your choice and fill with the pâte à choux.

On a lightly greased or buttered sheet (or parchment paper), pipe out the desired shape.

Beat egg with water for an egg wash. Brush tops with egg wash, taking care not to drip down the side to the baking sheet as this would inhibit the rapid rise of the puffs.

Bake the puffs at 425 degrees for 5-7 minutes then turn the oven down to 350 degrees F and  bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until golden brown and feel and sound hollow on the inside. 



Yield: 3 1/2 cups

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup fine quality chocolate, chopped small and evenly
2 oz. unsalted butter

Heat whipping cream in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan or on top of a bain marie.

Remove saucepan from heat and add chocolate and butter.

Allow chocolate to melt slowly, stirring occasionally, until smooth.

Cool slightly.  Dip tops of cream puffs in chocolate to coat. 


Bourbon Pastry Cream

1/4 cup corn starch
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoon Kentucky Bourbon
6 large egg yolks
16 oz. whole milk
1/8 tsp. salt

In a non-reactive saucepan heat milk to just boiling. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl whisk together corn starch, sugar, yolks, vanilla extract, Bourbon, and salt.  Make sure items are well blended.

Liaison the milk into the egg mixture slowly to prevent curdling.

Pour incorporated mixture into non-reactive saucepan and slowly heat mixture, making sure to stir constantly to prevent premature cooking of egg yolks.

Allow mixture to thicken to pudding consistency.  Remove immediately from pan to prevent further cooking.  Cool in ice bath to stop the cooking process.

Place plastic wrap on surface of cream and place in refrigerator to cool. 

Thursday, 17 July 2014 12:49

Blueberry Lemon Tart

1/2 cup sugar


1 Tbsp. lemon zest, grated

4 eggs

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 pint fresh blueberries

Powdered sugar for garnish


In a mixer with the paddle attachment, blend the sugar and zest together thoroughly.  Add the eggs.  Mix until well combined, but do not whip.

Mix in first the lemon juice and then the cream.  Pass the mixture through a strainer if desired.  Pour the strained filling into the partially baked tart shell. Scatter a scant ¼ cup of fresh blueberries throughout the filling.   Bake at 325° until the filling is set, about 10-15 minutes.

Top with fresh blueberries and dust with powdered sugar to serve.



Tart Shell


For Pate Sucre:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 pkg. vanilla sugar

4 lg. egg yolks

1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks


In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, vanilla sugar and salt until combined.

Add butter chucks, process until mixture resembles cornmeal. Pulse as you add yolks until dough start to come together.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and blend dough by pushing it away with the heel of your hand and gathering it up with a pastry scraper into a ball.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap, flatten it into a disk and chill for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface with a rolling pin to 1/8-inch thickness. Place a small piece of pastry over the tartlet shell pan. Press the pastry gently into the pan and run the rolling pin over the top to cut the edges of the pastry.

Line tart with parchment paper and weigh down with pie weights. Bake in preheated oven at 350°F for 6 to 8 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack.


Friday, 11 July 2014 05:34

Simple Deviled Eggs

Makes 12 halves

7 hard boiled eggs
2 Tablespoons real mayonnaise
1 1/2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon celery seeds
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder (Coleman's)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
extra paprika to sprinkle in eggs for garnish

Carefully cut eggs in half lengthwise.  Set whites aside.

Place egg yolks in a small mixing bowl with mayonnaise, vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, celery seeds, paprika, mustard powder, garlic powder, and pepper.  With a fork whisk ingredients together until well blended.

Chill filling in refrigerator for 5 minutes.  Place 12 egg white halves on serving platter. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt over empty egg white halves. Using a piping bag and star tip or just a small ice cream scoop, fill the cavity of each egg white half (I find I'm always a little short on filling which is why I boil an extra egg and use the yolk from it and not the white.  The bonus hard boiled white is a great treat for my dog).

Chill eggs in refrigerator for a minimum of 15 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with extra paprika just before serving.

Thursday, 12 June 2014 09:30

Cheddar Cheese Crab Dip

10 oz. canned cooked crab meat, drained & shredded
8 oz. cream cheese
6 oz. cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/ 4 scallions, washed and diced

In a double boiler, melt cream cheese and cheddar cheese, stirring together.  Add crab meat, parmesan cheese, and lemon juice. Stir to combine.  Sprinkle scallions on top and serve with toasted crostini.

Friday, 06 June 2014 07:20

Summer Vegetable Quiche

1 prepared tart shell, partially baked
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup roasted red pepper, small, chopped
2 zucchini, small, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
4 lg. eggs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 cup milk
1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese

Preheat oven to 375.

In a large saute pan, heat oil. Add onion and cook until transparent. Add garlic and spinach and cook until most of the liquid from the spinach is evaporated. Add zucchini and red pepper until just heated through. Drain off excess liquid.

Beat the eggs in a bowl and add Parmesan, milk and goat cheese. Add the spinach mixture into the shell. Pour egg mixture over and fill to the top of shell.

Bake on a sheet pan in the middle of the oven for 20 to 30 minutes or until egg is firm and set.


Pate Brisee
Yield: 8 tartlet shells

2 cups all purpose flour
8 Tbsp. butter, chopped and chilled
2 egg yolks
3/4 tsp. salt
5 to 6 Tbsp. cold water

Sift flour onto a flat surface and make a large well in the center. Place butter, egg yolk, salt and small amount of water in well and quickly work with fingertips until partly mixed.

Using fingertips of both hands, gradually work in flour to form coarse crumbs. If crumbs are dry, and add more water, a few drops at a time. Press dough into a ball - it should be soft but not sticky.

Lightly flour working surface and blend dough by pushing it away with the hell of your hand and gather it up with either a scraper or a spatula. Dough should be smooth and pliable and should peel easily from working surface. Press into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Wrapped dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and in the freezer for 6 months. Roll out and place into a 9 inch tart pan. Weigh down shell with pie weights. Partially bake the shell for 10-12 minutes until dough begins to harden but not all the way cooked. Remove shell from oven and remove weights.

Thursday, 29 May 2014 13:32

Basil Goat Cheese Gelato

Makes 1 quart


1/4 cup minced fresh basil
4 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup goat cheese

Place egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl and whisk until mixture is pale yellow and thick.  Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat the cream and milk, goat cheese, and basil to an almost boil. Remove and strain out and discard basil. Allow milk mixture to cool slightly.

Gradually whisk cream into the egg mixture, adding slowly and whisking constantly to prevent cooking the eggs.  Return mixture to saucepan and cook gently, stirring constantly until mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon.  Do not boil.

Strain mixture, cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until completely cold.

Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.



1 quart fresh strawberries, sliced
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice

Combine ingredients in a bowl and let macerate for 30 minutes.  Serve with ice cream.

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