Monday, February 16, 2009

Coconut Cupcakes

A Valentine's Day treat for Jeffrey.

I do not like coconut. I've long suspected what I don't like is the texture - that stringy, papery ickiness. Bleh.

I like the flavor of coconut, though. Like what Debbie said at Smitten Kitchen.

I liked these cupcakes - a whole lot - because they don't have shredded yuk of coconut in the cake batter. I sprinkled some of the cupcakes with coconut and left some bare. The ones with thick icing and no coconut were divine. The cake is nice and moist and the frosting is cream cheese frosting - full and rich.


1 (18.25-ounce) package white cake mix
3 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup cream of coconut
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line about two dozen cupcake pans with paper liners.

Combine all ingredients and mix for four minutes. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake according to package directions and cool on wire rack.


8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cream of coconut (there should be just that much left in the can, if not, use milk)
4 cups confectioners sugar
shredded coconut

Combine the cream cheese, vanilla, cream of coconut, and confectioners sugar. Add a bit of milk to smooth out the mixture. Beat until well combined.

Frost cupcakes and top with shredded coconut if desired.

Tortellini Filled With Smoked Chicken and Goat Cheese

For Valentine's Day, Jeffrey and I gave each other a shiny fire-engine-red pasta maker.

Our Valentine's night dinner was homemade tortellini.

To make pasta:

3 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the eggs and oil to combine.

In a small bowl, stir together flour and salt. Add the flour and process until the mixture forms a ball.

If the dough feels too sticky, add a bit more flour. The dough should be smooth, elastic, supple - not dry.

Remove the dough from the food processor and cover with plastic wrap; let rest for 20 to 30 minutes at room temperature.

In the meantime make the filling:

1 cup finely chopped smoked chicken
scant 1/4 cup onion and chive cream cheese spread
1 to 2 ounces goat cheese
sprinkle of Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese

Stir together and set aside.

Divide dough into fourths.

Wrap three pieces in plastic wrap to prevent dough from drying out. Set aside at room temperature. Flatten the remaining piece in a rectangle about the samd width as the pasta machine rollers. Flour the rollers of the pasta machine!

Roll the dough through one time. Fold the rectangle into thirds and feed it through 6 to 8 more times, folding it into a rectangle each time.

Tighten the rollers of the pasta machine one notch and feed through without folding. Repeat, tightening the rollers one notch each time. Repeat the process for the remaining three pieces of dough. Along in there, you may need to dust the rollers with flour to keep the dough moving smoothly through the rollers.

To make tortellini:

Cut circles with a 2-inch round cutter.

Use a pastry brush to lightly moisten the outer edges of the circles with water. Spoon a bit - like not much - of filling in the center of each circle. Fold over and press edges together to seal.

Bring the two pointed ends together and seal. Place on a flour-dusted baking sheet and let dry for 5 to 10 minutes before cooking.

Bring 4 to 6 quarts of water to boil, salt liberally, and add the tortellini. They need to cook only 2 or 3 minutes.

We served ours with a purchased marinara sauce topped with grated Parmesan.

We rounded out the meal with a salad of spring greens, garlic bread, and red wine.

Baked Potato Salad

If you want something quick and easy that is low calorie, low fat, and low in carbs, this is NOT it.

It is delicious but, you know, it oughta be.

Baked Potato Salad from A La Carte Alley in Cleveland, Miss.

10 oz cream cheese, softened
2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 lbs bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/3 cup green onions, chopped
1/2 cup creamy Italian dressing
dash Worcestershire sauce
1 t pepper
1/2 t salt
1 t garlic powder
6 large baking potatoes, baked, cooled and in peel

Combine cream cheese and sour cream in large bowl, stirring well. Add mayonnaise and next seven ingredients. Stir well. Cube or slice potatoes into 1/2 inch pieces. Stir into cream cheese/mayo mixture. Chill. Keeps well for several days.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Rosemary and Red Wine Pork Tenderloin

Tender and flavorful and juicy.

Trim fat and silver skin from a tenderloin that weighs about 2 pounds. Using an injector, inject red wine into tenderloin. (We melted and injected two ice cubes' worth.) Season liberally with minced fresh rosemary - about 1/4 cup - and Montreal Steak Seasoning. It makes almost a crust on the tenderloin.

Marinate for several hours or overnight.

Grill for about 40 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

Let sit at room temperature for several minutes before slicing and serving.

We'll make this again. It'd be a hit at dinner parties and cocktail parties, too, served with yeast rolls and assorted spreads.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Gauntlet Is Thrown

I've known The Fiance for over a year now. That's at least 56 oportunities for lazy weekend breakfasts that haven't been realized. In fact, he has never had biscuits I've baked. He's been giving me a hard time, implying that he needs to make sure they're "worthy" before we can get married.

I'm like, "Dude. I've written two books about southern cooking. Do you seriously think I don't know how to make biscuits?"

Then again, the entire time he's known me the only biscuits I've made were the cheddar garlic kind.

Truth be told, I don't think baking biscuits is a big deal. I have no special secret southern family biscuit recipe. I use the one on the back of the Martha White Self Rising Flour package.

I like my biscuits thin and crunchy. Most everyone loves KFC biscuits? Bleh. All that pillowey doughy stuff I made his biscuits fluffier and mine thinner.

The verdict?

Mmm, mmm good.

My biscuits are at the top of the photo, nice and flat. With each butter- and fig-preserve-laden bite you get a nice crunch of biscuity goodness. His are near the bottom of the photo - thicker and fluffier. He said they were good.

Buttermilk Biscuits

2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
dash salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk

Note: This recipe called for 2 teaspoons sugar. The hell? I didn't put sugar.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, salt, and baking soda. Cut in shortening until mixture looks like fine crumbs. Add buttermilk a litle bit at a time until dough rounds up into a ball.

Place dough on lightly floured surface. Knead gently. Roll out until about 1/2-inch thick (or thinner, as you like). Cut with floured biscuit cutter. Place on ungreased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.