Recipe: Daring Bakers Challenge: Chai Spice Cinnamon Buns with Maple Glaze

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This Daring Bakers challenge proves that I am still a New Englander at heart. With this Daring Bakers challenge and fall here (I can feel it even if I can’t see it here in Florida), my mind was brought back to those wonderful autumn days in New England. Days filled eating products made with sweet, local, maple goodness, pastries enjoyed with Maple Lattes or very often a warming cup of steaming hot Chai Tea. I have been yearning for the tastes of fall and I guess I am feeling inspired since it is only a few weeks until Roberto and I head to New England to visit family and friends during our most favorite season of the year. So this pastry is an ode to Autumn in New England.

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In this challenge: Cinnamon Buns and or Sticky Buns we were allowed certain modifications, like changing around the spices. I have always enjoyed cinnamon buns over the years, but it is not a treat I often allow myself to indulge. Therefore, I decided since I am being forced to make them for this challenge, I might as well do them up in total Jenn fashion.

I love Cardamom, so I knew that I wanted this to be the focal spice in my cinnamon buns. See anything wrong with that statement: Cardamom as the focal point for Cinnamon buns? So clearly I needed to add cinnamon to the spice mix – it is afterall in the NAME of the pastry! Anyway, this being fall and with me already in the Chai Tea/ New England mindset I thought if I add a bit of ginger then I am really doing all the spices that go into Chai. What goes so well with Chai in my mind? Maple. So a plan came together straight from my New England Soul: adding pure VT maple syrup to my fondant glaze and topping the buns with toasted almond slices. I hope you enjoy these!
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Last Call For Entries! Royal Foodie Joust!

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Entries are due for this month’s Royal Foodie Joust tomorrow evening! Please don’t forget to post yours! The ingredients are Pears, White Chocolate and Lavendar!

Click here to post your entry.

Voting begins on October 1st!

Recipe: Mushroom and Yogurt Tart

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Mushrooms were on sale this week – two for one. There was some phyllo dough in the fridge needing use. Recently I saw Michael Chiarello make a mushroom tart and a plan came together. I love mushrooms, they are rich and satisfying and can easily be the focal point of any dinner as they are a wonderful and healthy substitute for meat. They stand up to spicy and flavorful sauces and give an earthy balance to anything you can cook up. This tart was savory and delicious. I ate two pieces and easily could have had more because it tasted so good. The fresh pepper and nutmeg gave the mushrooms even more earthiness and went well with the tangy-ness of the Greek yogurt. This is a perfect dish for those crisp fall days that are upon us!

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Recipe: Papaya and Avocado Salad

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Happy Autumn Everyone! Wow, time is really flying! I have so busy working these past few weeks, I forgot that I still had this summer-y recipe waiting in the wings to get posted. Roberto and I are heading for a much needed vacation to New England to visit friends and family the second week of October and so I have been working feverishly hard on the Genesis project – typing out recipes, meeting with food vendors, collaborating with the menu design, etc. I have also been invited to participate in a very exciting blog event – I will reveal more about that later. But anyway, here is the long awaited second part to my Giada De Laurentiis tribute. Although the ingredients are summer, the colors are fall! Enjoy everyone!

I adore papaya – it has probably become my favorite fruit of all time – it has a wonderful creamy texture and is not too sweet but not at all bitter. I love eating it straight for breakfast or with a dollop of cardamom whipped cream for dessert. Paired in this salad with another creamy flavor of mine – avocado and you have a winning combination. The colors are beautiful and the flavors are simple. This is what makes this recipe great.
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Recipe: Mango Stuffed French Toast: Inside The Mind of a Leftover Queen

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We needed to go to the store BAD. There was just nothing in the house to eat. I could hear an echo in the fridge when I closed the door for about the 5th time, hoping that if I opened it again, I would find inspiration in the worst of times. Afterall, what kind of Leftover Queen was I if I was not able to find SOMETHING to eat! It was lunch hour and our stomachs were growling. I needed to make something, that was obvious, but what? Open the fridge…AGAIN… stare for a few minutes MORE. I was beginning to feel rather stumped and annoyed with myself for lacking all this food creativity. Hurumph.

Wait. Today was the day that my Honey Hazelnut Semifreddo had been made and we had leftover eggs that did not whip properly and they needed to be used – not gonna waste 3 egg whites on my watch! There was also some bread in the fridge and cream cheese, thoughts of lunch were beginning to form. Somewhere recently we had heard about stuffed French toast and it sounded really good, but we needed something else to round out this meal. One quick look in the freezer and there it was – Frozen mango! Perfect. Mango Stuffed French Toast!
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Recipe: Honey-Hazelnut Semi-Freddo

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As everyone here knows I am in love with Nocciola Gelato (Hazelnut Italian style ice cream). It is a craving that can never be fulfilled. I always have room for it and I am always searching for it. There are no gelaterias where I live. I do not have an ice cream maker, even though ice cream is by far my favorite dessert. Though you can make home made ice cream without an ice cream maker, it is time consuming. So being that my life has become very busy as of late, I wanted the taste of hazelnut gelato without a lot of the fuss! Then it dawned on me, Semi-Freddo! Freddo means cold in Italian, so Semi-Freddo is basically what it says, kind of cold. It has the creamy soft consistency of gelato, but none of the hassle in making it. I served mine with a dollop of Arance Sanguinelle (Blood Orange) Sorbetto and a shortbread cookie make from the leftovers of the DB tart.
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Recipe: Zucchini Cake – a proud family tradition…

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Apparently I am not the only Leftover Queen in my family. This much has been clear from the day I sat down and thought about where my food inspiration comes from. I was taught by a whole generation of Leftover Queens. In reality my love of leftovers comes from the resourcefulness of the older generation of my family – people who lived during The Great Depression and know what it is to get creative with what you have. These people were also Italian immigrants or children of Italian immigrants and therefore had the tenacity to make delicious creations from the bare bones. Everyone in my family of my grandparent’s generation had a garden. The garden was a place of great pride, a place where one could go and see the fruits of their labor, quite literally. It was the place where provided for and fed your family. It was a way of bringing a part of the Old Country to America with them, a little bit of security. One of the pictures that held a special place at the forefront of my grandmother’s dining room was of my Pap and his brother, my great uncle Sammy holding vegetables out in the garden. It was an old black and white picture and they were probably in their 40’s, two brothers proudly sharing their bounty.

This recipe comes from my Aunt Theresa – one of the many proud bakers in my family. Here is to keeping those proud traditions alive.

This cake was made from the leftovers of Zucchini Fritters with Chipotle Harissa Yogurt.
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Blessings

I am very honored to say that this little blog I started less than 6 months ago is currently being featured on Yahoo Food. I feel very lucky and privledged!

I have also been very busy lately as I have taken on another consulting project. I am the culinary consultant for a new juice bar and cafe that is opening up here in downtown Ocala. It will be called Genesis: Heaven and Health. I am creating unique recipes and menu items for the cafe and am helping the owners get their business started!

Roberto and I have also set a date for our wedding – April 19, 2008.

It is a very exciting time!

So I just want to take this moment to thank everyone for their support of this blog!