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Citrus Torte finished with Marsala Cream...Yum!!!!

Citrus Almond Torte

Yep as you can see I am cooking for pleasure again, well wait I think I need to rephrase that.  I am always cooking for pleasure.  Most days of the week I can’t believe I get paid to cook in the environment I do.  Getting into the food service profession as a career finally has been the best decision I have ever made in my life.  Back to what I mean by cooking for pleasure.  At Westmont I do my best to be as creative and stickler for quality as possible, but given the size of the portioning and ingredients given to work with, plus the time allotted I at times find myself producing a product I am less then proud of.  Still I do the best I can.  

  For a long time I had no one to cook for but myself leaving me severely unmotivated.  Given the clean up and effort I just could not bring myself to do it.  It is for that reason I started having weekly dinner parties here at the Lisanti Palace.  For starters it brings back the grandiose family sit down dinners I grew up accustomed to as a youngster and second it allows me to try out possible recipes for my my restaurant I hope to open someday.  Look for a blog on that really soon.  

These dinners have allowed me to try out all sorts of items, from entree’s to appetizers to sides to even dessert.  Some of the recipes are family secrets and I wont give them here.   Others I have taken from different sources and tweaked them to my liking.  Those are the ones I will post here on SurfingRuinedMyLife.net.  Please don’t feel disgruntled and instead respect the integrity of recipes passed down through my family from Naples, Italy for generations for as long as anyone in my family can remember. 

I know the last five recipes or so have been desserts, but that is an area that has always been weak for me and one I am slowly getting a handle on.  Also the dessert category of Recipe D’Jour was lacking and I wanted to beef it up before the eventual redesign I am working on for this entire blog (that too is another blog for another day).  This Citrus Almond Torte is one that is rather simple to create, wont break your bank and can be made in a reasonable amount of time.  Did I mention it is rather tasty as well. 

Serving Size: 8-10
Total Cost: $11.50
Prep Time: 35mins
Cook Time: 45mins
Cool Time: 1hr 30mins

Ingredient List:

  • Torte
    • Butter – 4oz (room temperature)
    • Sugar – 3/4 Cup
    • Large Egg – 1
    • Egg Yolk – 2
    • Almonds – 1 cup (toasted, ground)
    • All Purpose Flour – 1/2 Cup
    • Orange Juice – 2 Table Spoons
    • Lemon Juice – 2 Table Spoons
    • Orange Zest – 1 Table Spoon
    • Lemon Zest – 1 Table Spoon
    • Coriander – 1 Tea Spoon
    • Salt – Pinch
    • Egg Whites – 2
  • Marsala Cream
    • Chilled Whipping Cream – 1 Cup
    • Confectionery Sugar – 2 Table Spoons
    • Marsala Wine – 2 Table Spoons
  • Orange Sauce
    • Orange Juice – 1 Cup
    • Corn Starch – 1 1/2 Table Spoons
    • Sugar – 1/4 Cup
    • Orange Zest – 1 Table Spoon

Step 1: Get Your Ingredients for the Torte Together – Take two eggs and separate the yolks from the whites, you will need both parts at different times so do not throw away either.  Zest both your lemon and orange.  Use actual fruit for your juices needed.   Whip egg whites till stiff but not dry, make sure if your using an electric mixer beater is clean.  Preheat oven to 375 F.  Butter and lightly dust with flour an 8inch springform pan.

Step 2: Mix Ingredients – Beat butter in a large bowl until fluffy.  Cut the butter into small manageable pieces to make process easier.  Gradually add sugar till blended. Add the whole egg, then the yolks one at a time beating well after each addition.  At low speed beat in almonds, flour, orange juice, lemon juice, lemon zest, orange zest, coriander and salt.  Be sure to scrape down bowl as many times as necessary in order to have a conform mixture.  Fold egg whites into batter in two equal parts.

The finished batter.

Step 3: Bake in Oven – Pour batter into your springform pan, place in oven preheated to 375F for 40 minutes or until you can put a tooth pick inside its center and it comes out clean.  Cool at room temperature for an hour and a half.

Torte after coming out of the oven.

Step 4: Make Marsala Cream – Beat whipping cream and confectionery sugar till soft peaks form.  Mix in Marsala. Refrigerate if holding

Step 5: Make Orange Sauce – Whisk orange juice and cornstarch in bowl till cornstarch is completely dissolved.  Melt butter in heavy sauce pan over medium flame.  Whisk in sugar, orange zest and orange juice cornstarch mixture.  Whisk until sauce boils and thickens, should take around five minutes.  Remove from flame and cool.  Refrigerate if holding more then a few hours.

Step 6: Serving Options – When serving this Citrus Torte you have several options.  First and the simplest way is to cover the top of the torte with powdered sugar and then if desired serve either the Marsala Cream or Orange Sauce or both on the side.  Second you can use the Orange Sauce as the topping of the Torte.  To do this just drizzle entire Torte in Sauce till you get the desired covering (pictured below).  Finally you can use the Marsala Cream to actually Ice the Torte as shown in the opening picture and then serve the orange sauce on the side or if you are plating it by the slice I like to drizzle the sauce over the middle of the slice after it has been placed on its side.

Torte Served with just the Orange Sauce.

 

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Cheese Cake slice with orange slice roses

Hows that for a fatty slice of goodness? Yum!

American Style Cheese Cake

This is sort of a family recipe although not in the same respect as my grandmother’s Italian recipes that have been passed down orally through my family for generations.  I believe my father,who actually makes some of the best cheese cakes despite an overall average at best culinary proficiency,  picked this recipe up from a cook book years and years ago and has perfected it.  We have an actual family recipe for an Italian cheese cake, but that will have to wait for another installment of Recipe D’Jour .

In an effort to allow me to cook fine meals (I love the work I do at Westmont, but considering the quality of ingredients purchased, amount of time and help allotted and immense size of portioning there is only so much I can do in terms of emanation) and try out potential menu items for my at the moment fictional restaurant I am playing around with the idea of opening  by the time I am 35.  Currently it is moving from the dream to the planning/feasibility stage, but that is another blog for certainly another day.  I began having dinner parties with a wide array of invitees.  These parties usually feature an entree and dessert.

Most times I have my guests bring the dessert.  This week I had this woman coming who’s parents have a winery in Paso Robles and promised to bring their best vintage of syrah.  She mentioned at a previous dinner event that she had a soft spot for cheese cake.  I think we all know how much I appreciate good wine and I have been looking to make this cheese cake for sometime.  Thus my motivation is your gain with a new recipe here on surfingruinedmylife.net.

Serving Size: 8-12
Total Cost: $17.50

Prep Time: 30mins
Cook Time: 1hr
Cool Time: 6hrs

Ingredient List:

    • Crust
      •  Graham Cracker Crumbs – 2 Cups
      • Butter – 8 Tablespoons
      • Cinnamon – 1 Teaspoon
    • Filling
      • Cream Cheese – 24 oz (Block)
      • Sour Cream- 16 oz
      • Heavy Cream 8 oz
      • Eggs – 4 (large)
      • Sugar – 1 1/2 Cups

Step 1: Combine all ingredients for the filling –  Using an electric mixer combine all ingredients for the filling making sure your end product is a uniform thick cream.

The filling ingredients before mixing.

The filling after being well blended.

Step 3: Make the crust – Cut butter up into small chunks and combine with the graham cracker crumbs till you have a uniform consistency through out.  Crust should feel greasy and not be crumby.  Take crust and flatten it into the bottom of a round 10″ springform pan.

The crust flattened into the springform pan.

Step 3: Pour filling into springform pan – Slowly pour cheese cake filling made in step 1 into the spring form pan on top of the crust.

Step 4: Bake cheese cake  – Preheat oven to 350 F and place springform pan into it.  Bake for around 55 minutes to an hour or until top is  golden brown in color.

Step 5: Cool – Cooling is an arduous task for this particular dessert.  If it is cooled too fast the cake will fall and crack.  After cake is fully cooked turn off oven and let the cake sit in the cooling oven for around an hour.  Remove cake from oven and allow to cool at room temperature for another hour.   Cover cake with plastic wrap.  Be sure to make a hole to allow for heat to escape and place into the refrigerator.  refrigerate for around four to six hours before serving.

Step 6: Serve and Enjoy! – Remove the side of the springform pan and enjoy.

Cheese Cake,

Yummy, yeah I cracked mine, cooled it a little too fast, but I needed it for a dinner party that was happening less then six hours from when I finished the cake. I would recommend cooking it the night before. Cracked or not it still tasted amazing.

 

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Chocolate Strawberry Tart

 mmm…Chocolate and even better Strawberries!!!  I know I have for years put my nose up to baking, but these days I find when I am really stressed out I bake. For whatever reason baking relaxes me.  I think it is because of how much focus it takes to get the recipe correct.  When you cook you can throw a little bit of this and that and save the dish, but when you bake it has to be exact to the umpteenth degree and if you mess up there is no saving it.  It is that level of focus that allows me to take my mind off of whatever problems I am having at that time.

I made this dessert back in mid July to impress a date.  Dinner ended up being so filling, Egg Plant Rollatini with Angel Hair Pasta in my families age old Marinara Sauce with Garlic Bread, that we never made it to dessert, instead moving right on to a nice bottle of Prosecco on the beach while basking in the beautiful lighting of a full moon.  It was quite the spread, although I would later find out from that unappreciative bitch that as she put it “my cooking was trash”.  Whatever (see yesterdays blog The State of Lisanti Land Address all about Whatever).

Anyway this Tart is bound to impress any female you decide to bake it for.  I mean it has a splendid strawberry walnut crust filled with a rich chocolate strawberry filling topped with fresh strawberries.  It’s a girls best friend.  Pair it with a bottle of Moscato D’Asti or a Champagne or Prosecco and you are bound to have a good night.  Maybe that is where I blew it, not taking the tart with me to the beach.  In hindsight I am glad I did not cause that chick was definitely not worth it.  Its rather tasty and somewhat simple to make although a bit time consuming.

Serving Size: 8
Total Cost: $13.75
Prep Time: 1 hr
Bake Time 25 mins
Rest Time: 2 hrs

Ingredient List:

  • Crust
    • All Purpose Flour – 1 cup
    • Sugar – 3 table spoons
    • Salt – ¼ tea spoon
    • Walnuts – 1 ½ oz
    • Unsalted Butter – ½ cup (chilled)
    • Egg Yolk – 2 yolks
    • Strawberry Jam – 1/3 cup
  • Filling
    • Whipping Cream – ¾ cup plus 2 table spoons
    • Semisweet Chocolate – 6 oz (chopped)
    • Strawberry Jam – 1/3 cup
    • Strawberries – 2x 1 pt basket (hulled and halfed)

 Step 1: Mix ingredients for your crust: In a food processor mince walnuts till they are a sand like composure.  In a large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, salt and processed walnuts.  Add in butter.  Make sure to break the butter up into tiny pieces before addition to the mixture.  Mix by hand or with an electric mixer (I used an electric mixer) till it resembles a coarse meal.  Add Yolks and Strawberry Jam and mix until moist clumps form. Gather dough into a ball and flatten into a disk.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Your meal like conformity of dry ingredients and butter.

Your rough dough after adding jam and egg yolks

Your dough disk pre-cooling

Step 2: Form Crust: Preheat Oven to 375 degrees F.  Butter a 9” diameter pan with removable bottom if possible, you can use a fixed bottom pan if it is all you have, I did.  Roll out your chilled dough between two sheets of wax paper to around an 11” diameter.  Remove top sheet of wax paper. Turn you dough upside down so that the wax paper on the bottom is now on the top and firmly press it inside the pan till it fits snug.  Remove paper and trim the edges of your crust so that it just comes over the pan.  Fold edges  just over the top of pan.  Freeze crust for 15 minutes.  Bake 25 minutes or till golden brown.  Spread another 1/3 cup of Jam over the crust and bake another 4 minutes till jam sets. Remove from oven and allow to cool at room temperature.

Crust pre-baking

Step 3: Make Filling: Heat cream in heavy small saucepan on a medium flame until bubbles appear around edge of pot.  Remove from flame and add chocolate.  Stir till completely melted and blended with cream.  Cool until mixture is beginning to thicken, stirring occasionally.  It should still be pourable, probably around 40 to 50 minutes.  Pour Chocolate filling into crust. Refrigerate for at least two hours till filling solidifies.

Chocolate filling poured into my very sad looking crust. I suck at crusts still, but they are getting better.

Step 4: Arrange Strawberries: Cut the tops off of all berries and then half them.  This can be down while you wait for step three to finish.  Arrange on top of tart as shown in the picture or whatever way your little heart desires.  Enjoy.

Now Tell me that does not look to die for. Still think this wont get you laid?

Just in case you were wondering what the Lisanti Land kitchen where all of these master pieces get cooked up in looked like here it is. Pretty gnarly huh?

 

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mmm...wonderful Potato Knishes

Potato Knishes

Potato Knishes are one of my favorite side dishes.  Nothing pairs better with a big thick hot dog, kielbasa or corn beef sandwich.  I used go to this grimy but renowned deli in New York City called Katz Delicatessen (I believe there was a myspace blog on it at one point).  They made a killer corn beef sandwich and their round knishes were almost as big as my head.  The sandwiches are great too.  Enough about Katz though, find the blog on Myspace if your still jones’in for more on that.

 

Jewish Russian immigrants first brought the knish to the United States circa 1900.  Back in the New York/New Jersey area you can get knishes just about everywhere.  They are sold frozen and even sometimes fresh in the average supermarket.  Here in California I found them nearly impossible to come by, especially here in Santa Barbara.  After an exhausting search I gave up looking and decided to learn to make them myself.  I must say my knishes did not come out too shabby either.  Here is my now perfected potato knish recipe.

Total Cost – $6.87

Feeds about 6-8 People (yields about six medium sized Knishes)

Ingredient List:

  • Potatoes – 6 (I used russets, but the variety does not matter)
  • Vegetable Oil – ¼ cup
  • Salt – 1 ½ teaspoon
  • Baking Powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Flour – 3 cups
  • Pepper – ½ teaspoon
  • Butter – ½ cup
  • Onion – 1 diced
  • Cold Water – ½ cup
  • Egg – 1

 

Step 1: Cook Potatoes Peel potatoes and cut into even chunks.  Place chunks into a pot of boiling water for 15 to 20 minutes or until soft.  Strain in colander.

Step 2: Mash PotatoesAfter straining put potatoes back into boiling pot from step 1 and mash them up with a potato masher, fork, ricer.  Measure out 1 cup of the mashed potatoes for your dough.  Leave the rest in pot for the filling.

Step 3: Make DoughIn a bowl, add the baking powder to the flour. Whisk them together. Add about one-third of the flour mixture to the mashed potatoes put aside in step 2 and mix. In sections, add in all the flour.  Break the three cups into individual one cup portions to accomplish this successfully.  Next, make a small well in the center of the bowl. Pour the cold water right into well. Knead the dough with your hands till you have a nice firm ball. Finally place a wet cloth or towel on top of the dough, and let it sit for 30 minutes to proof.

Your finished dough prior to proofing.

Step 4: Make Potato FillingMeanwhile, cut and peel the onion. Dice it into small pieces. Then melt the butter in a pan on high flame. Add the onions and sauté until they are soft, but not yet brown. Pour the onions into a mixing bowl (separate from your now proofing dough). Add 1 ½ cups of mashed potatoes, ½ teaspoon of salt, and ¼ teaspoon of pepper to bowl. Combine everything together. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Your Potato/Onion mix filling.

Step 5: Roll Out Dough and Form Knishes – Place flour on a flat surface and a rolling pin. Take a handful of dough and flatten it down on floured surface. With rolling pin roll out the dough, flipping it over occasionally, so it is one-quarter of an inch thick.

Rolling out the dough.

  • Round Knishes – Create a circular cut out from the dough rolled. A small bowl can be used as a template.  Place filling in the center and pull all sides into center over filling and pinch closed into a tepee like top.
  • Square Knishes – Create a square cut out from the dough rolled.  Place filling into the center of square and fold over short sides.  Next fold over long sides and mold with a little water to close up edges and corners.

A Round (Left) and Square (Right) knish.

Step 6: Bake KnishesPlace finished knishes onto a baking pan lined with parchment paper or treated with nonstick baking spray.  Beat one egg and brush it over the tops of each knish.  Bake at 425F for twenty to twenty five minutes.  Check for doneness when egg turns a golden brown color.

 

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MMM mmm Good!

Making Hash Browns from Scratch

Hash browns are probably one of my favorite things about breakfast and I love all things about breakfast. Well maybe not grits all that much, but that maybe be a result of me not being brought up in the South.  The beauty of hash browns is that they are simple, cheap and fast to make.  Follow these instructions and you will have a perfect breakfast side dish to go with anything.  Pair it up with my French Toast for the ultimate breakfast.

Total Cost: $2

Feeds two people

Ingredient List:

  • Potatoes – 2 (Shredded, 1 potato per person)
  • Butter – 1 ½ Tablespoon
  • Salt – to taste
  • Pepper – to taste
  • Vegetable Oil – 1 teaspoon
  • Onions (optional, I don’t use them, but have seen it done that way, diced)

 

Step 1: Prep PotatoesPeel potatoes making sure to pick any brown or black spots out of it.  Shred potato on the large grate of a cheese grater.  Pat dry finished shredded potatoes with a towel.  If you are going to use onions dice it and mix it in with shredded potatoes.

Shredded Potatoes post toweling

Step 2: Fry Shredded PotatoesMelt one tablespoon of butter in a teaspoon of vegetable oil in a large frying pan.  When butter is completely dissolved add shredded potatoes and flatten out so it is less then an 1/8 inch thick.  Let fry on a little more then medium flame for about 5-8 minutes or until bottom side begins to brown.  While that is happening cut a ½ tablespoon of butter and break it into small pieces.  Put pieces sporadically on top of shredded potatoes.  Add Salt and Pepper as well.  When the bottom is cooked to your liking (I Like mine a little darker than golden brown) Flip hash brown over.  Now if you are cooking a lot of potatoes you may want to chop your hash brown into equal portioned squares with a metal spatula and flip each square individually. If you are only making the two person portion here then it is more then possible to flip entire hash brown. Salt and pepper the now browned topside and let sit on burner for another 5-8 minutes till the bottom is a similar quality as the one you just did.

This is how the hash brown should look when it is flattened in the pot.

Step 3:  ServeCut hash brown in half with a spatula or remove the portions you made in step 2 onto a plate with a paper towel or napkin on it to absorb any excess grease.  Then enjoyJ

 

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Cornish Hen ready for the eating…mmmm citrus!

Creating a Tasty Citrus Brine

This weeks Recipe D’Jour I am going to enlighten you on how to create a very tasty citrus Brine Marinade that goes great with all poultry and pork.  First off a brine is a water based mixture that contains two parts sugar to one part salt.  By using a brine you will have a scrumptious marinade that will spice up any dinner.  There all types of brines but for today’s purposes we are going to focus on a citrus brine.

Total Cost/Feeds: Depends on what your going to brine

  • Turkey – $22, feeds 8-10 people with sides
  • Chicken – $14, feeds 4-6 people with sides
  • Pork Lion – $10, feeds 4-6 people with sides
  • Cornish Hen –  $8, feeds two people with sides

Ingredient List: (use the proportions on this recipe and increase as needed to the size of the meat you plan to brine.  Keep in mind that the meat should be completely submerged in the brine.  This recipe makes about a gallon of brine.)

  • Meat to Brine
  • Salt – 1 1/2 cups
  • Sugar – 1 cup
  • Water – 1 gallon
  • Pepper – 1 teaspoon
  • Oregano – 1 teaspoon
  • Basil – 1 teaspoon
  • Thyme – 4 oz (Fresh)
  • Sage – ½ teaspoon (Dry)
  • Orange – 2
  • Lemon – 3
  • Lime – 1
  • Lemon Herb Seasoning or Lemon Zest
  • Parsley – 3 oz (Minced)

Step 1: Create a brineIn a large container big enough to completely cover your meat combine 2 parts sugar to one part salt in water.  Stir well.  Should taste like a sugary salt water.  It will taste rather gross but should taste more sweet then salty.  I have four cups to two but you may want to adjust according to taste and size of meat you are going to marinade.  Obviously it has to be proportional to the water and you are going use more water with a turkey then a Cornish hen.

Step 2: Marinate MeatIn the container from step1 add Thyme, lemons, lime and oranges.  Be sure to cut fruit in half and squeeze juice into brine after which insert the left post-squeezed fruit as well.  Whisk till it is mixed.  Then add meat you wish to marinade and let sit in refrigerator for 8-12 hours.

A Pork Roast in the Marinade process.

Step 4: Dry Rub MeatRemove meat from marinade and place in a baking pan.  In a bowl add spices, Salt, Pepper, Oregano, Basil, Sage, Lemon zest (which you can get off the left over lemon ends from the brine) and parsley or you can buy a prefabricated lemon and herb seasoning.  Pour over meat in pan and rub around in it till completely covered in spices.  Put about a quarter of an inch of Brine in baking pan with meat to keep it moist and help to absorb more flavor.

Step 5: Bake – Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and bake for whatever the proper amount of time for what you are cooking.  Chicken, a little over an hour, pork loin about the same, hens just under an hour, turkey about two and half hours.

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Mango Salsa

Mmmmm...Mango Salsa shown over a baked pork chop with white rice.

Mango Salsa is such a gourmet type of spread.  Whenever I hear the phrase thrown out I always think of some fancy restaurant using it as a toping for some work of food art.  Well in all truth creating a delicious mango salsa is super easy, rather in expensive and is sure to bring a positive light and many complements to any meal.  Use this with pork, poultry, seafood, beef, rice, chips, just about anything you’re in the mood to spice up.

Total Cost: $6.35

Feeds 4 – 6 people

Ingredient List:

  • Cumin – 1 table spoon
  • Oregano – 1 teaspoon
  • Salt – 1 table spoon
  • Pepper – 1 teaspoon
  • Cilantro – 4 oz (minced)
  • Lemon Juice – 2 oz
  • Apple cider vinegar – 2 oz
  • Mangos – 8oz (chopped)
  • Red Onion – ¼ diced
  • Red pepper – ½ diced
  • Jalapeno Peppers – 2 diced
  • Garlic – 1 clove (minced)
  • Sugar – 1 teaspoon
  • Tomato – 2 (diced)
  • Chili Powder – 1 teaspoon

 

Step 1: Prep Fruit and VegetablesDice up red onion, red pepper, tomatoes and mangos.  As far as the mangos go you can buy fresh mangos, cut them off the pit and then dice it up or you can buy pre cubed frozen mango and dice that smaller to fit your salsa.  I prefer the frozen mango chunks for ease.  Of course nothing is going to beat the taste of a fresh mango, but it is a bit work husking it from the pit and then dicing it.  Next take the jalapenos (I use the mildest because Im a little girl when it comes to hot spices, but you can select yours accordingly), cut in half, chop the top off, then remove all the seeds and insides with a spoon.  Dice the remaining jalapeno shell.  Mince the cilantro and garlic.  Place all prepped ingredients in a medium size bowl.

 

Step 2: Mix Wet IngredientsIn a measuring cup measure out and mix the apple cider vinegar and lemon juice (can be used from fresh lemons, but not necessary.  I currently have a lemon tree in my back yard so I have the pleasure of fresh lemons whenever I so desire).  Add the Cumin, Oregano, Salt, Pepper, Sugar, and Chili Powder and stir.

 

Step 3: Put it all togetherPour your concoction from step 2 in with your diced fruits and vegetables from step one and thoroughly stir together with a spoon.  Serve over whatever you wish to enjoy it with. 

Your finished Mango Salsa.

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