Wednesday, October 28, 2020

People Love This Puppy Chow!


Yes, you read that right.  This super spooky Halloween treat can be (and should only be) enjoyed by humans.  Sally McKenney, who wrote the new cookbook Sally's Candy Edition, stopped by Tonia's Kitchen to talk about this delightfully frightful snack.  Sally told Tonia that she starts with Chex Cereal, powdered sugar, peanut butter and chocolate.  She then adds Pretzel M&Ms and mini pretzel twists.  It takes all of 10 minutes, and it'll give your Trick or Treaters a little something unique! Find out more on Sally's website


Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes
Makes: about 11 cups (643g)

Puppy chow is a sweet snack mix (for humans) often combining chocolate, peanut butter, Chex™ cereal, and confectioners’ sugar. I’m a puppy chow freak and I urge you to make this version immediately. Between the peanut butter and chocolate, this is the perfect place to add crunchy pretzels and salty sweet Pretzel M&M’s®.

8 cups (216g) Rice Chex™ cereal
1 cup (182g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup (130g) creamy peanut butter
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1½ cups (180g) confectioners’ sugar
1 cup (160g) Pretzel M&M’s®
2 cups (85g) mini pretzel twists

1 Pour the cereal into a very large bowl. Set aside.

2 Melt the chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter in a large saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until smooth, about 5 minutes. Pour mixture over cereal and stir very gently to coat—gently so you do not break up the cereal.

Pour the confectioners’ sugar into a large zipped-top bag. Add the cereal. Seal the bag and shake until all of the cereal is coated with sugar. Pour the coated cereal back into the large bowl. Stir in the M&M’s® and pretzels. Discard any excess confectioners’ sugar.

MAKE-AHEAD TIP: Store the snack mix in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020



Here's one neat adult treat for Halloween.  Sally McKenney, who wrote the new cookbook Sally's Candy Addition came by to talk about her Chai Tea Latte Truffles.  Sally says not only are they elegant and delectable, they're also very simple to make!  Sally told Tonia the recipe is based on white chocolate, and combined with several ingredients.  It doesn't actually contain tea, but you'll never guess that! Find out more on Sally's website.

14oz (397g) white chocolate, coarsely chopped
¾ cup (180ml) heavy cream
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp vanilla extract

¼ tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp (25g) sugar
18oz (510g) semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Special Equipment
double boiler (optional)
dipping tool (optional)

1 Make the filling: Place white chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Set aside.

2 Pour heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and cloves. Whisking occasionally, heat until the cream just begins to boil. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla extract. Pour hot mixture over the white chocolate. Gently begin stirring with a wooden spoon in one direction. Do not forcefully stir. Once the mixture is completely smooth, cover with plastic wrap pressed on the top of the mixture. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour, then transfer to the refrigerator for 5–6 more hours. After chilling, the ganache mixture will be smooth and a little soft, but still manageable by hand.

3 Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside. Remove ganache from the refrigerator. Measure 1 teaspoon, roll between your hands into a ball, and place on the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining ganache.

4 Make the coating: Combine the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside. Melt or temper the semi-sweet chocolate.

5 Line another baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Remove 1–2 truffles from the refrigerator, keeping the rest chilled. Working with one truffle at a time, dip completely into the chocolate using a dipping tool (or fork). Place onto the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Repeat with rest of truffles. Allow the chocolate to completely set at room temperature before serving.

If you’re planning to make truffles ahead of time for the holidays or other events, here are some helpful make ahead tips:
If you coat the truffles in chocolate (tempered or not), allow the coating to set, then layer the truffles between sheets of parchment or wax paper in an airtight container. You can put the truffles into mini cupcake/muffin liners if you like.

If you use tempered chocolate, store the truffles in the manner described above at room temperature in a cool, dry place for up to 1 week. Do not freeze truffles coated in tempered chocolate. Rather, freeze the uncoated balls between sheets of parchment or wax paper in an airtight container; thaw overnight in the refrigerator and then coat before serving.

If you decide to simply use melted chocolate that has not been tempered, store the truffles in the manner described in tip number 1 in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Frozen truffles can be thawed overnight in the refrigerator before serving, though coated truffles straight from the freezer are equally delicious!

If you make truffles that are not coated in chocolate, like Red Wine Truffles (page 80) or Lemon Cream Pie Truffles (page 88), store and freeze them by following the instructions for truffles coated in chocolate that has not been tempered.

Sally Says: You’ll find yourself in a sticky situation when handling these truffles. The ganache filling is soft and will stick to your hands as you roll. As I recommended on page 71 (The Rolling), wipe your hands with a paper towel after rolling each truffle to make the process go more smoothly. In step 5, removing only a couple truffles from the refrigerator at a time for dipping while keeping the rest chilled will allow the truffles to stay firm, which will make dunking them into the chocolate easier.

Monday, October 26, 2020

The No-Cheese Quiche, That Doesn't Miss The Cheese


Yes it's true!  You don't need cheese to make a great quiche.  In fact, Nick Malgieri, who wrote the cookbook Pastry, told Tonia's Kitchen that he might just have to show up in your kitchen to stop you...if you dare use cheese!  Just kidding, but Nick does say his filling is made up of nothing more than heavy cream, or crème fresh, eggs beaten and salt, pepper and nutmeg.  The crust, he says, is key. He uses flour, salt, baking powder, lots of butter and eggs blended in a food processor.  Nick told Tonia you shouldn't pre-bake the crust, and you won't have to if you use the bottom rack of your oven.  Chances are, you'll never miss the cheese!

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Fit the pie crust into a quiche pan or 9-inch pie dish, and cover the crust with a sheet of aluminum foil. Fill the crust with pie weights or dried beans.

  • Bake the crust in the preheated oven just until the edges begin to turn golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and take out the pie weights and aluminum foil.

  • Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat, and cook the bacon until browned, stirring frequently, about 7 minutes. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain, then sprinkle the bacon into the partially-baked crust. Whisk the cream, eggs, salt, black pepper, and nutmeg together in a bowl, and pour into the crust.

  • Return to oven, and bake until the filling is set in the middle and the quiche is puffy and golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Allow to cool until warm, about 1 hour, to serve.

Friday, October 23, 2020



We continue our tour of Italy and authentic Italian cooking, courtesy Tonia's Kitchen guest Jack Bishop. He wrote the foreword for the new cookbook from National Geographic: Tasting Italy. This time, Jack takes us south to the Rome region and talks with Tonia about Gnocchi. But here's a twist, instead of using potato flour, Jack says he uses semolina. That's gives the dish a consistency that's almost like polenta. Serve as a side dish, or maybe as part of a casserole.

  • 6 cups milk
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups semolina flour
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, plus more for greasing
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for grating
  • 3 egg yolks, lightly beaten

  1. In a large saucepan, heat milk
    over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally to prevent scorching, until steaming. Season well with salt. While whisking constantly, sprinkle in semolina in a fine shower to prevent lumps; the mixture will thicken and become difficult to whisk. Once all semolina is added, lower heat to medium-low, switch to a stiff rubber spatula or wooden spoon and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until a sticky, dough-like mass forms and begins to pull away from sides of saucepan, 10 to 15 minutes; make sure to stir deep into corners and all over bottom of saucepan to prevent scorching. Remove from heat.
  2. 2.
    Stir in 4 tablespoons of butter until melted and thoroughly incorporated. Stir in cheese until melted and thoroughly incorporated. Scrape in egg yolks and stir until thoroughly incorporated.
  3. 3.
    Scrape semolina dough into a buttered rimmed baking sheet. Using a wet rubber spatula or wet clean hands, and re-wetting frequently to prevent sticking, press and smooth semolina dough into an even layer about 1/2 inch thick. It's okay if the dough does not fully reach all edges of the baking sheet, as long as it's even throughout. Press plastic wrap against the surface and refrigerate until set, at least 40 minutes and up to overnight.
  4. 4.
    Preheat oven to 450°F. Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter or similarly sized glass, cut semolina into rounds (scraps can be saved and refrigerated for up to 4 days: deep fry in oil for a snack, or assemble in a smaller baking dish to make a mini version of this dish). Grease a large baking dish or ovenproof skillet with butter. Using a thin metal spatula, scrape each semolina round from the baking sheet and arrange in an overlapping pattern in the prepared dish or skillet.
  5. 5.
    Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter and drizzle all over semolina gnocchi. Grate Parmigiano-Reggiano generously all over. Bake until gnocchi are sizzling hot and browned on top, about 15 minutes. Serve, passing more grated cheese at the table.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

More Than Spaghetti and Meatballs


Traditional Italian Food is so much more than tomato sauce and pasta. Today, Tonia's Kitchen explores the less well-known, but still delicious tastes of Italy. Jack Bishop, the Chief Creative Officer of America's Test Kitchen, who wrote the forward in the new cookbook from National Geographic: Tasting Italy, told Tonia about a region in the central part of the country that produces what he calls a "beautiful" bowl of soup.  Bishop is talking about Farro and Vegetable soup. Farro, for those not familiar, is a hard, whole-grain wheat that cooks up spectacularly! Start by putting the Farro berries in a blender to break them down, then add the other ingredients. Jack says he loves the soup because of its authenticity, and of course, it's taste!

  • 2 cups farro
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium clove of garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 ounces pancetta or guanciale, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 or 3 crumbled sage leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup canned plum tomatoes, crushed and chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 to 8 cups of good-quality beef stock
  • Torn parlsey leaves, Extra-Virgin Olive Oil and grated Parmigano-Reggiano or Grana Padano for garnish
  1. Place the farro in a large bowl and cover it with one quart of cold water. Let the farro soak for two hours, then drain it, discarding the water.

  2. Heat the oil in a large stockpot and add the garlic clove. Let the garlic sizzle and cook in the oil until it begins to turn golden brown, then remove it. Add the diced onion and pancetta to the oil, stirring it well. Season this mixture with a pinch of salt and stir, sautéing on low heat until the onions and pancetta soften and turn translucent at the edges. Stir in the herbs and sauté for another minute. Do not allow the mixture to brown.
  3. 3.
    Add the tomatoes to the pot and stir, then add the farro, 4 cups of the stock, and 1 cup of water. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer, then cover the soup and lower the heat. Simmer the soup covered for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes. As the moisture absorbs, add more stock to the pot, a cup or so at a time, keeping the grains loose and suspended in liquid.
  4. 4.
    When the farro is tender, the soup is done. Allow it to cool for about 30 minutes in the pot. Remove about 2 cups of the soup to a blender container and puree it smooth. Stir the pureed mixture into the soup, and add more stock if necessary. The soup should not be thick or gloppy, but loose and liquid.
  5. 5.
    Return the soup to the heat before serving; garnish with parsley, a dribble of olive oil and a grating of cheese.