Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Chocolate Caramel Tart UPdate

It worked, it worked!!  After my last post, I checked up on the tart after I’d stuck it in the fridge for three hours and it finally set!  I briefly touched the chocolate shell last night to make sure it set, and I was uberly pleased!  I came home tonight and found that a little mouse had delved into my chocolate tart!


So before the little mouse took more of it, I served myself up a piece to try out the new recipe.




Oh man, I must say it was deliciously worth the wait!  MigL (I mean, the little mouse) didn’t care for the caramel.  I, on the other hand, loved the caramel!  It definitely reminded me of a Twix bar, just with a much harder shell/crust.  I used Ghirardelli chocolate for the top layer.  We both agreed that the chocolate was a bit too strong by itself, but paired with the crust, they actually surprisingly balanced each other out.  MigL is such a chocoholic.  He would be more than happy to have just the crust and chocolate.  I’ll have to try that method out soon.  I’m sure he’ll eat much more of it than I will when I make it that way.  However this was definitely the best dessert I’ve ever had; I’ll have to keep this in my repertoire!

Did I mention that I caught the stove on fire while I was baking the crust?  I saw smoke coming out from one of the back burners of the stove, so I peered over it, opened the oven and voila!  Two pieces of crust that had fallen onto the very bottom of the oven were on fire!  I swiftly moved the burning bread out of the way with a knife.  Fire averted!  Phew!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Chiles Rellenos, Chocolate Caramel Tart with Sea Salt and Rice Pudding

Yesterday was an unbelievably great morning for breakfast!  I can’t believe I’ve never made poached eggs!  The moment felt like when Julie Powell tasted eggs for the first time in Julie & Julia.   Sometimes cooking works out great the first time, and in this case, I’m glad it turned out divine!  I paired my poached egg with toast and some green salsa.  Yum!



I’m also happy to report that I made the Chocolate Caramel Tart with Sea Salt yesterday like I promised.  However, the chocolate still looks like soup. Meh.  I placed it in the refrigerator about 3 hours ago and I hope it hardens soon!  I’m so eager to take a bite out of it! 


I was super ecstatic when I realized I had made caramel – I LOVE caramel!


A lovely glazed layer of chocolate on top of the caramel.

I also found a recipe for stuffed peppers, or in my case, a new and improved way of making Chiles Rellenos.  It’s super easy!


Refried Bean Poblanos with Cheese

Prep: 2 minutes
Cooking time: 6 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
Serving size: 2 stuffed chile halves

4  medium poblano chiles, halved and seeded
1  (16-ounce) can fat-free refried beans
1  (8.8-ounce) pouch microwaveable cooked long-grain rice (such as Uncle Ben's Original Ready Rice)
1/2  cup  picante sauce
1  cup  (4 ounces) preshredded reduced-fat 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese
Chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Place chile halves, cut sides up, on a round microwave-safe plate. Cover with wax paper; microwave at HIGH 3 minutes.

While chiles cook, combine beans, rice, and picante sauce in a medium bowl, stirring well. Spoon bean mixture evenly into chile halves. Cover with wax paper; microwave at HIGH 2 minutes. Uncover chiles, sprinkle each half with 2 tablespoons cheese, and microwave at HIGH 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese melts. Sprinkle evenly with cilantro, if desired.

Latin Cook’s notes
I didn’t have Poblano peppers, so I used Pasilla peppers; I also figured I’d use up the Jasmine Rice I’d previously made instead of buying some microwave long-grain rice.  I used green salsa instead of Picante – there seems to be much less salt in the green sauce.  Plus we’ve found that it’s tastier than the red salsas.  However, the dish was incredibly tasty and super easy to make.  Just be careful – this dish will be hot (temperature wise) when you take it out of the microwave.  The next time I make it, I think I’ll take the seeds out of the Pasilla pepper.  It was a bit too spicy for MigL; I, on the other hand, loved the spicy kick.

I also made some Caribbean Coconut Rice Pudding.  See recipe below.


1/2 cup Jasmine Rice
2 cups whole milk
2 cups coconut milk
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp raisins
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Wash the rice thoroughly in several changes of water, put in a deep pot.  Add milk, coconut milk and rice, bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and cook milk gently boiling for 1 hour or until the rice is thoroughly cooked and the milk has thickened to a pudding consistency.  Add sugar and vanilla extract, cook about another 5 minutes.  Distribute the pudding into 4 serving dishes and garnish with raisins and coconut flakes.  Chill for 1 hour before serving.

Latin Cook’s notes
I used Golden Star Jasmine Rice for the rice pudding.  I didn’t have whole milk on hand, so I used 1% and used light coconut milk.  I forgot to add raisins at the very end for garnish!  Oh well. I was incredibly excited that I’d made rice pudding for the first time :)

For tonight’s dinner I made my mother-in-law’s famous Stuffed Zucchini.  They turned out perfect!  I was a bit worried I’d forgotten an ingredient and I’d meant to write down the recipe while she was here visiting us for the 4th of July weekend.


Need to get to bed – it’s going to be a long day tomorrow!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

African Curried Coconut Soup with Chickpeas

I was having a hankering for curry today and initially went to look through my Modern Spice cookbook that I won through a blog.  I was a bit disappointed there weren’t any curry recipes.  So after browsing online I looked through some recipes at Epicurious.com and came across an African Curried Coconut Soup with Chickpeas and decided this would be the recipe that would be for tonight’s dinner.  During my browsing quest, I also found a Curried Smoke Chicken and Wild Rice Salad and a Zucchini Curry that I definitely want to try soon!




African Curried Coconut Soup with Chickpeas


2 tbsp canola oil
1 medium onion (about 6 ounces), chopped
1 medium red bell pepper (about 6 ounces), chopped
1 jalapeño chili, seeded and finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 (15-oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup chopped tomatoes, seeded and peeled, fresh or canned
1 tsp mild curry powder
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 (14-oz) can light coconut milk
3/4 cup cooked white or brown rice
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro or parsley (optional)


In a medium stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and chili; cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Add the broth, chickpeas, tomatoes, curry powder, salt, and black pepper; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Latin cook’s notes

When you think of curry, the first term you might think of is “spicy”.  This dish didn’t have the usual spice you would have thought. I was completely amazed at how the coconut added such a subtle flavor, yet it enveloped the entire dish and deterred any hotness from the jalapeno; and I appreciated that the spices weren’t overpowering.  Once I added the soup on top of the Basmati rice, oh my!  It was the perfect dish.  I actually didn’t add the rice to the soup as suggested in the directions.  Once I served myself some rice, I added the “soup” on top of the rice.  There was a party definitely going on in my mouth!  I was very pleased to hear from the hubby that this dish is another he would eat again if I made it in the future.   I also popped some Trader Joe’s Garlic Naan into the oven.  Now that makes a complete meal.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dessert quest: Option 1 – Chocolate Caramel Tart with Sea Salt

In yesterday’s post I mentioned that I’m on a quest to find my “No matter how my day’s been, this will make my day spectacularly better” dessert.

I was looking through some dessert blogs and came across a Chocolate Caramel Tart with Sea Salt dessert.  I’m coming around more to chocolate.  I love caramel.  The blogger calls it a Twix Tart.  I love Twix.  I like a little bit of crust.  THIS sounds like my kind of dessert!

I’ve realized that I, in comparison to MigL, am a messy eater.  I’m perfectly OK with food spilling out the sides (especially with sandwiches, although it is annoying at times), but as long as I’m enjoying it, it’s A-OK.  MigL, on the other hand, would prefer to have his food in those sectioned plates….  No thanks.  Bring on the mess.

So when I saw the following picture on Dessert First, my mouth began to water.  Mmmm, buttery crust.  Chocolate.  Oozy caramel.

chocolate caramel tart with sea salt

Umm, yes please.  I would like another.  OK, really, I hope not because I’d like to keep the calories in check.  But so far it looks amazingly delicious!

I’ll try to make this dessert this weekend and let you know whether or not this dessert is a keeper and my new go-to dessert; although, it sounds like the crust will take a bit of work.  I suppose I’ll know soon enough whether it’s worth it!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Chicken wars

I made two types of chicken tonight – I hope one of them turns out.

Chicken 1 – Mediterranean Lemon Chicken


Chicken 2 – Balsamic Chicken with Mushrooms


You see, the reason I say “I hope it turns out tonight” is because I have this love/hate relationship with chicken.  Sometimes it turns out great and other times I want to strangle/beat the crap out of the chicken myself, throw it away and continue cursing at the chicken that never turned out, as was the case for the dreadful Balsamic Chicken.  Nice idea, terrible execution.  Not that I didn’t want to execute the chicken anyway.  “I can’t believe you stupid chicken!  Ugggghhhh!!  Why aren’t you done already?  It’s already been an hour and a half.  How much longer do you need until you’re not raw?!  I need answers and I need them NOW!  Why does my spoon keep disappearing?” 

It’s chicken sh*t (pun intended) when they tell you to brown the chicken for 3 minutes on both sides (and that’s all the cooking this supposed chicken needs).  How the heck is that really done?  Hello, get REAL!  Every time I try that method, and I do mean every time, I get crusty brown raw chicken.  Disgusting.

I’m having an Amelia Bedelia moment.  You know what I need?  I need to find a dessert that I can make exquisitely well, no matter how fattening it is.  At the end of the day, no matter what’s happened, I can make that something and make my day a whole lot better.  Cheesecake comes to mind for now, but lately I haven’t been that big of a fan like I used to be.   Don’t you think Julia Child had her moments? I’m sure Julie Powell had her moments too.  I’m sure they must have had something that made a bad day turn into a fantastical one.  Yep.  Fantastical.  And wonderful.  This next week I shall look for my fantastical moment. 

By the way, I had a great day at work.  We’ve been planning for an event for a few months we have mostly every year (a wine grape grower dinner converted into a luncheon) and had loads of fun.  After the event ended, a few of us went out and celebrated.  The event was draining, nevertheless fun.  And I even got to come home early and I went out for ice cream with MigL.  Hooray!

The funny thing about the Mediterranean Lemon Chicken is that yesterday, I asked MigL to find a chicken recipe he’d like to have for dinner.  By the time I got home last night, he’d already e-mailed it to me, but I was way too tired too cook.  After I got home tonight, I found a recipe I thought might turn out, since I had some extra uncooked chicken.  Killing two birds with one stone, so to speak, and not have to cook the next day.  Well, at least one of the birds turned out well.

I forgot I used the eggs I had for last night’s breakfast for dinner.  Rats.  Now I can’t make the German Chocolate cake I wanted to tonight.  Uggghh!!!!  At least I still have some coffee cake cupcakes left over. Yum!


Mediterranean Lemon Chicken


1 lemon
2 tsp dried oregano
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
6 chicken legs


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

In a 9x13 inch baking dish, grate the peel from 1/2 the lemon, squeeze out the juice (about 1/4 cup) and add to peel with the oregano, garlic, oil, salt and pepper. Stir until mixed.

Remove skin from chicken pieces and discard. Coat chicken pieces with the lemon mixture and arrange, bone side up, in the baking dish. Cover dish and bake for 20 minutes. Turn and baste chicken.

Reduce heat to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) and bake uncovered, basting every 10 minutes, for about 30 more minutes. Serve chicken with pan juices.

Latin Cook’s notes

This dish had a nice balance of lemon & spices.  Even though it felt like Thanksgiving (basting the chicken), it was worth the extra effort.  Thanks for the idea, Honey!

Balsamic chicken with Mushrooms


2 tsp vegetable oil
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 large garlic clove(s), crushed
1 pound(s) uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, four 4-oz pieces
2 cup(s) mushroom(s), small, halved
1/3 cup(s) canned chicken broth
1/4 tsp dried thyme, crumbled 


In a nonstick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of oil.

In a medium bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of vinegar, the mustard and garlic. Add chicken and turn to coat.

Transfer chicken and marinade to skillet. Sauté chicken until cooked through, about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer chicken to a platter and keep warm.

Heat remaining teaspoon of oil in skillet. Sauté mushrooms for 1 minute. Add broth, thyme and remaining tablespoon of vinegar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are deep brown, about 2 minutes longer.

Serve chicken topped with mushrooms.

Latin Cook’s notes

Suck it.  Let me know how it turns out for you.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

MIA Updates

I know I haven’t been blogging for a little while.  I’ve been dealing with some family issues lately but I hope to be back to blogging sooner than later.

Did you notice the new blog re-design?  I wanted to give my blog a makeover; and I’m so happy with the results!

Fourth of July was incredibly fun, but very exhausting.  My in-laws came up for a few days and we had a blast showing them around Berkeley and San Francisco. We went to visit the Pampanito, Aquarium of the Bay, stopped for a photo-op of a pizzeria and drove down Lombard Street.

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Waiting for food at Cafe Valparaiso, a Chilean restaurant in Berkeley.

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The women of the family :)

007 (2) Pollo Bahia - Boneless chicken thigh sautéed in coconut milk, tomatoes, onion, bell peppers, and white wine. Served with rice and black beans.  It was Uh-mazingly delicious!

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My MIL saw the name of this pizza place and we HAD to stop, pick up a menu and take a picture.  Too bad we didn’t have enough time to actually eat some of this Orgasmica Pizza!

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Visiting the Pampanito.


Taking a very quick SF picture – it was super windy and cold!

015 Celebrating MIL’s birthday with a massage and a fun weekend involving fun hats.

Tonight I’m going with my good friend to go see Rihanna!  Someone at work was giving away a pair of free tickets to Rihanna’s concert and couldn’t go because of her nieces wedding.  Too bad for her, but hooray for me!

Croissant Heaven

This post was written 6/1.

I had the best newest coffee this afternoon!  I decided to be adventurous on an insanely weather-wise day (hard rain, hail, a bit of wind and somewhat sunny) and try a new coffee drink at Starbucks.  The blends of my new favorite coffee were superb!  The mixture of caramel, espresso and milk for my nonfat Caramel Macchiato were divine and perfect for wacky weather Saturday.


Croissant photo courtesy of http://www.anspach.eu/bistrorante/

A good friend of mine challenged me find a healthy croissant.  I LOVE croissants.  If calories didn’t exist, I’d eat them with an egg sandwich for breakfast and a regular sandwich for lunch.  Actually I bake the pre-made Pillsbury croissants with bits of chocolate chips for an instant treat!  But be careful, those little devils are addicting!  And you can’t have just one.  They’re all you can ask for in just a few little bites.  Let me tell you it’s an out-of-this-world experience.  The warm, buttery taste of the croissant as it makes its way into your mouth, the softness of how it feels as you secure the croissant so it doesn’t fall out of your hand, and the chocolate….oh, the chocolate!  OK, seriously, I’m not a big chocolate fan/eater, but this is seriously one of my absolute favorite treats!

So I’m on a quest to find and make a healthy croissant, with added chocolate chips of course!

Did you know there’s a new Cooking Channel?  It’s completely separate from Food Network, but FN has this special 2nd show.  I’m really bummed I can’t watch it (as the Cooking Channel was previously known as the Fine Living Network).  I suppose I’ll have to stick to FN. Boo!

Usher's new single - It's fantastical!

Have I mentioned how much I LOVE Usher's new single ft. Pitbull, "DJ Got Us Falling in Love Again"?? LOOVE!

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