Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I Believe in Fondue!

We love to do fondue at our house. It's a New Year's Eve tradition and a special event that we have once or twice a year.

Here is a list of my favorite fondue recipes:

* Flaming Turtle Fondue
Chocolate Mallow Fondue
* Bittersweet Chocolate Fondue
* Bailey's Irish Cream Chocolate Fondue
* White Chocolate Orange Fondue
* Melting Pot Cheese Fondue
* Coq Au Vin Fondue
Bourguignonne Fondue

Some of our favorite "dippers" for chocolate include:
* Strawberries
* Bananas
* Fresh Pineapple
* Marshmallows
* Mandarin Oranges
* Pretzel rods
* Pound cake
* Angel Food cake
* Cheesecake squares
* Brownie squares

For the cheese fondue:
* Granny Smith apples
* Good bread chunks
* Pretzel rods
* Baby carrots

For the meat fondue we usually stick to steak and chicken, but also like to do veggies like:
* Mushrooms
* Peppers
* Zucchini

What do you "fondue?"

Flaming Turtle Fondue

This one is a Melting Pot knock-off recipe I made for my Real Moms group. I tripled the recipe, but I should NOT have tripled the rum.  It was quite impressive, but took awhile for the flames to burn out. Each time I stirred it they would flare up again! So, go with a little rum, for show, but be careful.


    • 2 ounces melted milk chocolate
    • 2 ounces caramel sundae syrup
    • 1 ounce chopped pecans
    • 1/3 ounce one fifty one rum (may substitute with other flambe liquor)


  1. Using a double boiler fondue pot, heat mixture of chocolate and caramel to a temperature no greater than 135°F
  2. Stir frequently. (For thinner chocolate, slowly add whole milk while stirring until desired consistency is reached.)
  3. Slowly pour rum into fondue pot.
  4. Ignite liquor by touching lighted match to edge of pot.
  5. After flame burns, sprinkle nuts over chocolate mixture.
  6. Serve at 120°F with assorted fruits, marshmallows, cheesecake, brownies and more.

Bourguignonne Fondue

This is "fancy" for oil fondue.

Basically, you heat up some canola or peanut oil in your fondue pot and cook the meats and vegetables in that. Like always, make sure your meats are cooked through so you don't get sick!

Coq Au Vin Fondue

This is another Melting Pot copycat recipe, found on


    • 3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
    • 1/2 cup Burgundy wine
    • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
    • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
    • 2 green onions, sliced


  1. Heat vegetable stock in fondue pot until it begins to simmer.
  2. Add all other ingredients, bring to simmer.
  3. Place individual pieces of desired meat or veggies on fondue fork and put in pot until correct temperature has been reached. Lobster and shrimp may take under a minute to cook while beef and pork will take slightly longer. Take the necessary precautions so you don't eat raw meat.

Melting Pot Cheese Fondue

This is Julie's recipe for the Melting's Pot beer and cheese fondue. The consistency is always a little thick, but it is incredibly delicious. I would double or triple this for a crowd!

1/2 cup Coors beer
1-2 tsp minced garlic
4-6 oz. cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp swiss cheese
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp powdered mustard (dry spice)
1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper

White Chocolate Orange Fondue

This is from my dear friend Kara P! It is always the first one to run out. SOOO yummy!


  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 12 oz white chocolate (baking or chips)
  • 1 Tbsp Triple Sec
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla


  • Warm cream slowly, then add chocolate and stir until melted. Add liqueur, zest and vanilla.

Chocolate Mallow Fondue

Taken from Taste of Home Dec/Jan 2001.


  • 2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow creme
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pineapple or banana chunks, apple slices, marshmallows, cubed angel food or pound cake


  • In a microwave, microwave the first five ingredients just until melted; whisk until smooth. Transfer to a fondue pot and keep warm. Serve with fruit and/or cake. Yield: 4 cups.

Bittersweet Chocolate Fondue

Another recipe I've had for many years.

* 10 oz. bittersweet chocolate
* 1/3 c. heavy cream
* 3 tbsp. liqueur, brandy or rum (optional)

Melt chocolate with cream in double boiler or in microwave. Blend until smooth. Stir in liqueur - or additional 3 tbsp cream.

Bailey's Irish Cream Chocolate Fondue

I've had this one for years - not sure where it came from. It's Doug's favorite chocolate fondue.

9 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 c. sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla
1/2 c. cream or milk
1/2 c. Bailey's

Monday, March 28, 2011

Mustard-Roasted Fish or Chicken

I adapted this recipe from Barefoot Contessa. She used it on fish and I made it with chicken breasts. It was very tasty and good enough for company.

4 (8-ounce) fish fillets such as red snapper or 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces good mayonnaise
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons drained capers

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. (You can also use an ovenproof baking dish.) Place the fish fillets skin side down on the sheet pan. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

Combine the mayonnaise, 2 mustards, shallots, capers, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Spoon the sauce evenly over the fish fillets, making sure the fish is completely covered. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes ( you will need to bake 30-40 minutes for chicken), depending on the thickness of the fish, until it's barely done. (The fish will flake easily at the thickest part when it's done.) Be sure not to overcook it! Serve hot or at room temperature with the sauce from the pan spooned over the top.

Strawberry Shortcake

This is our new favorite shortcake from Paula Deen. Use a regular yellow cake mix and instead of the water add the same amount of buttermilk. Follow the rest of the directions on the cake mix, but it does finish baking a five minutes sooner than the regular cake. The buttermilk makes the cake heavier and almost crunchy.

Raspberry Sauce from Barefoot Contessa

This sauce is very easy and has a gourmet taste. I don't bother putting it into a food processor. We serve it over fruit salad, strawberrries and shortcake.

1 half-pint fresh raspberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 cup seedless raspberry jam (12 ounces)
1 tablespoon framboise liqueur (I used Brandy

Combine the raspberries, sugar, and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 4 minutes. Pour the cooked raspberries, jam, and framboise into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until very smooth. Chill.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Favorite Banana Bread

Flour is one of Boston's best bakeries known for their Throwdown winning sticky buns and other delicious treats. I've happily been making my through their new cookbook which contains excellent step by step directions and grown up spins on junk food classics: homemade pop tarts or oreos anyone? Bananas are one of the few fruits (maybe the only one?) I don't like to eat straight out of the peel, but I love them in shakes, cakes and bread. In fact, I love banana bread with a scary passion. For years, I had an excellent recipe I swore by but I'm sucker for a new recipe so when I saw this one I had to try it. Yum! I've made it with whole wheat flour (or half whole wheat half all-purpose ratio) with great results. There are few things I've tweaked about it (4 instead of 3 1/2 bananas and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon instead of 1/4 - see cook's notes) but otherwise I stick to Joanne Chang's cookbook recipe.

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I use 1/2 teaspoon because I LOVE cinnamon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 4 bananas, very ripe, mashed
  • 2 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted and chopped (optional)


Set oven to 325 degrees F. Line the bottom of a loaf pan with parchment paper.

In a bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Using a stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment (or a handheld mixer) beat sugar and eggs on medium speed until light and fluffy - 5 minutes (if you use a handheld mixer this step takes 8 minutes). On low speed drizzle in oil - don't pour it in all at once. Adding should take about 1 minute. Add mashed bananas, creme fraiche, and vanilla and continue mixing on low speed until just combined. Fold in dry ingredients and nuts just until combined. Pour into a lined loaf pan, place on middle oven rack and bake for about 1 hour - 1 1/4 hours or until golden brown and springs back on top.

My notes: The cooking time is still a work in progress for me. I felt like it got too brown on the sides when it was 325 for 1-1.25 hours. Next time I'm going to experiment with a 350 temp and 45 minute baking time. I might even place a cookie sheet underneath to prevent browning.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Fauxtisserie Chicken

Our Best Bites has a neat approach to roasting a chicken in your crock pot. The chicken rests on rolled up balls of foil to promote air circulation and prevent the bottom of the chicken from getting dry and over-cooked.  I tried this out over the weekend with great results!  Check out their post for step-by-step photos and a more detailed recipe.

At $3.49 for the chicken, a $.99 garlic bulb and $1.99 for a box of fresh thyme, this came out to the same cost as a grocery store rotisserie chicken, price-wise. Taste-wise, it was way better. The meat fell off the bones and it was seasoned just the way I like it.  In the summertime, when we are growing our own herbs it would be more cost-effective.  (In all fairness, the leftover fresh herbs and garlic can be used for some yummy roasted potatoes to go along with this for a great side-dish...)


1 whole chicken
Seasoning salt
5-6 whole garlic cloves, peeled
Fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, and/or sage)

Make 3 balls of aluminum foil and place them in the bottom of your slow cooker. These hold the chicken off the bottom so the hot air can circulate all around the chicken and so it’s not stewing in its own juices.

Rinse chicken, including the cavity, and pat dry with paper towels. Place the chicken on its back so the breast is facing up and the legs are on the plate. Pull the skin up all around the chicken.  Slice a few garlic cloves in half lengthwise and stick them under the skin. You can also arrange a couple sprigs of fresh herbs under the skin. This makes a very pretty chicken when it’s all cooked and adds a lot of flavor.

Rub salt-based seasoning VERY liberally onto the skin of the chicken. Place chicken breast-up on the foil in the slow cooker, cover, turn heat to low, and leave it alone for 7-8 hours.

Throwdown's Toasted Coconut Cake

Throwdown's Toasted Coconut Cake with Coconut Filling and Coconut Buttercream

My favorite ever Throwdown was the Coconut Cake episode, where Bobby Flay has to challenge his favorite coconut cake baker.  Doug says it's the only one where Bobby  seems genuinely dismayed about winning!  This cake just looks A-MAZ-ING.  I've always wanted to make it.  Ron's 63rd birthday seemed like a perfect opportunity, so I gave it a whack.

Here is the link to the food network recipe (it's a long one).  This is not a quick, easy or light recipe. It's time-consuming, advanced and fattening!  But it was so worth it...

So it looks like a giant cheese ball until you cut it:

The custard between the layers is heavenly! Marcia, the girls and I literally liked the bowl clean of this stuff:


Toasted Coconut:

  • 2 cups sweetened flaked coconut

Coconut Simple Syrup:

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Coconut Custard:

  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons coconut rum (recommended: Malibu)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Coconut Filling:

  • 3/4 cup coconut custard (recipe above), cold
  • 3/4 cup very cold heavy cream

Coconut Buttercream:

  • 3 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 3/4 cup coconut custard (recipe above) (cold)
  • Pinch fine sea salt


  • 2 tablespoons softened butter, for pans
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour, plus more for pans
  • 1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces, slightly cold

For the toasted coconut:


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Spread the coconut evenly onto a baking sheet and toast until lightly golden brown, stirring once, 8 to 10 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the coconut sit in the oven until very dry and crunchy, about 15 minutes longer.

For the simple syrup:

Bring water and sugar to a boil. Stir in the coconut, remove from the heat and let sit for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours. Strain the liquid into a clean saucepan, bring to a boil and let cook until the mixture is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Let cool.
Combine the milks and vanilla bean and seeds in a medium nonreactive saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat.
Whisk together the yolks, sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl. Slowly whisk the warm milk into the egg mixture then return the mixture to the pot over medium heat and bring to a boil, whisking constantly, until thickened. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and whisk in the rum and vanilla extract. Let cool to room temperature then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours.

For the filling:

Combine the custard and cream in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form.

For the buttercream:

Beat the butter and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the coconut custard and salt and beat until combined and smooth.

For the cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour 2 (9 by 2-inch) round cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper.
Whisk together the milk, egg whites, vanilla bean seeds and vanilla extract in a medium bowl.
In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. With mixerrunning at low speed, add the butter, one piece at a time and continue beating until mixture resembles moist crumbs. Add all but 1/2 cup of milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed until the mixture is pale and fluffy, about 1 1/2 minutes. With mixer on low speed, add remaining 1/2 cup of the milk mixture, increase speed to medium and beat 30 seconds more. Scrape sides of bowl and mix for 20 seconds longer. Divide the batter evenly between the cakes pan and smooth the tops using a rubber spatula.
Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 22 to 24 minutes. Cool in the pan on baking rack for 10 minutes. Run a small knife around the side of the pan and invert cakes onto the baking rack, removing parchment paper, and let cool completely, about 45 minutes.

To Assemble:

Using a long serrated knife, slice each cake horizontally into 2 layers. Reserve 1 of the flat bottom layers for the top of the cake. Place another layer on a cardboard round cut side up and brush with some of the coconut simple syrup. Spoon 1/3 of the coconut filling onto the cake and using a small offset metal spatula, spread it into an even layer, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge of the cake. Repeat with 2 more layers. Brush the cut side of the reserved cake layer with the remaining syrup. Place the layer cut side down on top of the cake.
Frost the sides and top of the cake with the buttercream. Pat the coconut onto the sides of the cake and sprinkle the remaining coconut on the top of the cake.