Sunday, January 21, 2018

Baking a Better Cake With Bacon!

No, you don't have to read that twice, there's bacon on this cake.  Caroline Wright, who wrote the cookbook Cake Magic, stopped by Tonia's Kitchen to talk about her Maple Bacon and Chocolate Cake, that includes a simple syrup with bacon cooked in.  The combination of the bacon fat combined with the sweetness of the cake makes for an amazing taste combination that really compliments the sweet and the savory.  They say there's nothing bacon can't make better, Caroline proved they're Wright!

Recipes by Caroline Wright, Cake Magic, and Workman Publishing and photos courtesy of Waterbury Publications, photographer Ken Carlson.  

Friday, January 19, 2018

Small Size, Big Flavor!

Sliders may be small, but there's a lot you can do with them! Katherine Alford with the Food Network and the Cooking Channel says that's one of the inspirations behind their new cookbook, Chopped. Katherine told Tonia's Kitchen the basis of the book is to get people thinking beyond the ordinary, but right there in front of them, when it comes to ingredients.  Case in point, the book's recipe for Pork Sliders, which instead of breadcrumbs of panko, calls for a crushed pretzel coating, and a sauce made from bread and butter pickles. Alford says not only are those sliders delicious, they're very easy to make!

  • 3 cups pretzel crackers, finely crushed (1 1/4 cups crushed pretzels)
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat or all-purpose flour
  • Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons chopped bread-and-butter pickles, plus 24 whole slices
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 1 small pork tenderloin (about 1 pound)
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 12 slider rolls
  • Iceberg lettuce leaves, for garnish
PREPARE THE BREADING: Stir the pretzel crumbs, flour, and 1 teaspoon salt together in a 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Whisk the eggs and mustard in a medium bowl.

MAKE A SAUCE: Combine the mayonnaise, chopped pickles, horseradish, and hot sauce in a small bowl.

BREAD THE PORK: Cut the pork tenderloin crosswise into 12 even pieces about 3/4 inch thick. Lay the pieces between sheets of plastic wrap and pound with a mallet until flattened into rounds roughly 2 1/2 inches in diameter and 1/4 inch thick. Press both sides of the pork into the pretzel flour, then dip each piece into the beaten eggs and again in the pretzel flour, until generously coated.

FRY THE PORK: Heat 1/4 inch of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering (about 375 degrees F). Line a plate with paper towels. Shallow-fry half of the pork cutlets until golden brown on each side, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to the prepared plate to drain. Season generously with salt. Repeat with the remaining cutlets.

SERVE: Toast the rolls if desired and put a pork cutlet on each roll. Top each piece of pork with 1 rounded teaspoon sauce, 2 pickle slices, and a piece of lettuce.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Gluten Gone! From this Lasagna

We can't ignore it, a number of gluten-free offerings, while well-meaning, just aren't up to snuff when it comes to replicating the texture, the appearance and, most importantly, the taste of their gluten breathren.  That's particularly true with pasta dishes and especially with lasagna.  But enter Yankee Magazine and editor Amy Traverso.  She stopped by Tonia's Kitchen to talk about their recipe for a special Zucchini Lasagna with Tomatoes and Mozzarella. Amy told Tonia the recipe takes really no longer than regular lasagna, but she does note you need to pre-cook the zucchini to ensure there's no water on it.  Still, when you try it, chances are good, you won't miss the gluten!

  • 2–3 large zucchini (about 1½ pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 2 cups canned diced tomatoes with their juice, divided
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, very thinly sliced into ribbons, divided
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella (packed in water), cut into very thin slices, divided
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 5 ounces ripe tomatoes, very thinly sliced


Preheat the oven to 400° and set a rack to about 5 inches below the heating element. Cut the ends off the zucchini. Cut each zucchini in half crosswise, then lengthwise into slices about 1/4-inch thick.

Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil into each of two rimmed baking sheets, and use your fingers to spread it around evenly. Arrange the zucchini slices in a single layer on the sheets, turning once to coat with oil. Sprinkle each sheet with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Roast until the slices sizzle and begin to brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

Pour 1 cup of the diced tomatoes on the bottom of an 11x7-inch (or 6- to 8-cup) baking dish, and stir in all of the rosemary and 1 tablespoon of the basil. Arrange half of the cooked zucchini slices on top of the sauce in a solid layer. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1 tablespoon of the basil. Spoon the remaining cup of diced tomatoes on top; then place half of the mozzarella on top and sprinkle with half of the Parmesan. Top with the remaining zucchini. Sprinkle with the remaining salt and basil. Layer the fresh tomato slices on top; then top with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan. (You can make this several hours ahead of time; cover and refrigerate until ready to bake. Bring to room temperature before baking.) Cover tightly with foil and bake (still at 400°) on the middle rack 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is golden, about 40 minutes more.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

There's No Floundering When It Comes to the Flavor of this Fish

In fact, this dish might be one of the most flavorful fish you've ever had! Mary Ann Esposito came by Tonia's Kitchen to talk about her stuffed, baked fish bundles.  Sounds complicated right?  Not really says Mary Ann, who's behind the cookbook Ciao! Italian Family Classics.  She told Tonia she takes flounder filets, along with fresh spinach, onion, olive oil, capers, sun dried tomatoes and (optional) garlic to create a simple, yet delicious take on what could be just another baked fish dish.

16 ounce package fresh spinach, stemmed and washed
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Filippo Berio extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1 pound flounder fillets at least 3 1/2 inches wide and 6 inches long
2 peeled garlic cloves, finely minced
2 tablespoons plus 3/4 cup heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 425F.

Cook the spinach in a pot, with a cover with no additional water, until it is wilted. Drain in a colander and squeeze out most of the water. Set aside.

Pour 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in the pot used to wilt the spinach and add the pine nuts. Toast them over medium heat until they begin to brown. Stir in the spinach, salt, celery salt and the 2 tablespoons heavy cream. Mix well. Transfer the mixture to a bowl to cool slightly.

Brush 1 tablespoon of the remaining olive oil in a 9 x 10 or 12-inch baking dish.

Divide and spread the spinach filling on each of the flounder fillets. Roll each up like a jelly roll and place in the baking dish. (You may use toothpicks to help keep the fish firmly rolled up. Remember to remove them before serving.) Salt and pepper the fillets and bake for 10-12 minutes or just until the fish flakes easily with a fork. When the fish are cooked, remove the dish from the oven and tent it with foil to keep warm.

Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil in a small saucepan and cook the minced garlic over medium heat until the garlic begins to soften; do not let it brown. Lower the heat and slowly pour in the cream and cook the sauce covered for 3 minutes. Uncover and add salt to taste.

Serve the fish with some of the sauce poured over the top.

Note: Garnish with sorrel or spinach leaves and cherry tomatoes for color or a lemon, orange or lime slice.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Got a Cold? Here's Another Way to Fight It!

It's called Elderberry, and it's got the wisdom of the least when it comes to fighting colds and flu.  Rosemary Gladstar, who wrote the new cookbook Medicinal Herbs, talked to Tonia's Kitchen about Elderberries and how they work to warm the body when its cold outside.  Rosemary told Tonia about the ways she prepares Elderberry to work as a tonic, in fighting what makes you sick.  She says Elderberry syrup, taken as a shot in the morning really works wonders with your body.

1 cup fresh or ½ cup dried Elderberries
3 cups Water
1 cup Honey

1. Place the berries in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer over low heat for 30 to 45 minutes.
2. Smash the berries. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer and add 1 cup of honey, or adjust to taste.
3. Bottle the syrup and store in the refrigerator, where it will keep for 2 to 3 months.

Caution: Use only blue/black elderberries; the red ones are potentially toxic.

Monday, January 15, 2018

More Maple! And a Fancy Name to Boot.

And the name of this fantastic sweet is called Affogato.  Simply made, it's a scoop of vanilla ice cream, combined with a shot of hot espresso. Amy Traverso, with Yankee Magazine, stopped by Tonia's Kitchen to talk about this recipe, which really isn't much to write down!  Amy told Tonia there's a lot of flavorful combinations here, including the robust flavor of the espresso, brought together with the richness of the ice cream.  Don't forget about the hot and cold offsets either! It sounds great, but taking it a step further, Amy says they've found that adding maple syrup to the mix really makes it even better.  Try it and see!

  • 4 large scoops vanilla gelato or vanilla ice cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup, warmed in microwave
  • 1/2 cup hot freshly brewed dark-roast coffee or espresso
  • Garnish: 1/2 teaspoon Tonewood maple flakes (optional)


Chill four small glasses or bowls in the freezer at least 15 minutes. Put 1 scoop of ice cream in each bowl. Stir the warmed maple syrup into the coffee and pour over the ice cream. Top with maple flakes if desired.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Stuff That Cookie!

This is a big one!  Cookbook author Elinor Klivens, who wrote Big Fat Cookies, told Tonia's Kitchen about her recipe for Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies, and stuffed they are!  Elinor told Tonia she starts with an all brown sugar dough, and standard chocolate chip cookie ingredients.  She then sets aside one cup of extra chocolate chips, takes 2 tablespoons of dough and balls them on a cookie sheet.  Eleanor then adds the chocolate chips and places two more tablespoons of dough on top of that. She describes it kind of like a chocolate chip sandwich.  When it's all baked, it's delicious!

  • 2 cups (280g) unbleached all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (226g/2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened for about 30 minutes
  • 1 1/2 cups (240g) packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large cold eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups (505g/18 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

  • 1
    Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 175°C/350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

  • 2 Sift the flour, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and brown sugar until smoothly blended, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until blended, about 1 minute. The mixture may look slightly curdled. On low speed, add the flour mixture, mixing just until incorporated. Mix in 2 cups (336g) of the chocolate chips.
  • 3 Roll 2 tablespoons of dough between the palms of your hands into a ball, flatten it slightly to make a 2-inch (5cm) disk and place on one of the prepared baking sheets. Repeat to make a total of 16 disks, placing 8 on each baking sheet and spacing them 4 inches (10cm) apart. Leaving a 1/4-inch (6mm) plain edge, lightly press 1 tablespoon* of the remaining chocolate chips onto each disk. Using the remaining dough, make 16 more disks, placing one on top of each chocolate-chip-topped disk. Press the dough disks gently to cover any of the chocolate chip filling that shows around the edges.
  • 4 Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the edges are lightly browned but the centers are still pale golden, about 15 minutes. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, then use a wide metal spatula to transfer them to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm (the filling will be soft and melted) or at room temperature.
  • 5 The cookies can be stored in a tightly covered container at room temperature for up to 4 days.
  • 6 * I ended up using less than 1 tablespoon of chips – it was difficult placing all that amount of chocolate inside each disk of cookie dough