April 2013


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Have you noticed the recent resurgence of Rolos? Of course, the classic commercial is still a favorite: “You can roll a Rolo to your pal. It’s chocolate-covered car-a-mel!” It brought me back to the chocolate Rolo cookies I’d tucked away in my recipe files ten years ago and never made. I grabbed a bag of super-cute Rolo minis at the supermarket and was looking forward to making these cookies finally.

Then my balloon landed. “I don’t like chocolate cookies,” said my #1 taster. Whattt? How is that even possible?!

Undaunted, I was determined to make those Rolo minis work. My chocolate chip cookies (CCCs for short) are a big hit around here. I thought I might bake some happiness by wrapping that dough around the Rolos for a caramel CCC twist. What say we let it roll? 😀

ROLO CCCs

Start with your favorite chocolate chip cookie dough. I originally left out the chocolate chunks, but learned along the way: the dough will be much tastier with finely chopped dark chocolate in it. So, please chop 1/4 cup of your favorite dark chocolate as finely as you can (to the point some of it will be almost powdery) and add it to your dough.

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Now, if you’re a patient person, store the dough in the fridge for at least 12 hours. Or if your patience approaches sainthood, try holding out for 24-36 hours. Take a peek at the CCC recipe above for the backstory on why it’s worth the wait.

Of course, you can get rollin’ with the Rolos anytime. Take 1 tablespoon of cookie dough.

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Smoosh a Rolo mini right in the middle.

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Roll it nice-nice so the candy’s hidden and you have a perfect little ball. Repeat. About 30 times.

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Now, you see these have no finely chopped chocolate on them. I quickly fixed that by rolling ’em like truffles. Et voilà!

Perhaps you’ll have more dough than I had. Somehow, gobs of it mysteriously made their way to my mouth. MOO. You should have at least 30 cookies, maybe more if you’re less prone to quality control. It’s not easy being a perfectionist. 😉

Space them out on your cookie sheet–they’ll spread as they bake. Three across worked out great for me. Bake at 350 degrees F for 11-14 minutes (14 in my oven yields a crispy cookie, subtract a minute or two to keep ’em chewy). Sprinkle with schmantzy finishing salt when you take them out of the oven if you’re so inclined.

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Up till I made this soup myself, I had never eaten Buffalo chicken soup before. But my curiosity was piqued when one of our friends made it recently. That was all good and fine till I learned it was made from canned cream-of-something and rotisserie chicken. Hmm. I thought, “I can do better than that,” so off to the kitchen I went and came up with this! I can’t compare it, of course, but I was very happy with how it came out. And, if the weather in your neck of the woods is anything like it’s been here in the Land of Steady Habits of late (extended periods of cooler, windier and grayer than it should be!), you may have noticed it’s excellent weather for nice, comforting soup like this. Andiamo, let’s shuffle off to Buffalo!

BUFFALO CHICKEN SOUP

3 carrots (guess how we cut them? HA HA HA!)
3 stalks celery
½ large sweet onion
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic
½ stick butter, salted (1/4 cup)
¾ – 1 pound chicken, cubed
4 tablespoons flour to form a roux with the butter/veggies/chicken
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot
1 cup shredded cheddar (I like Cabot’s Seriously Sharp)
Salt & pepper to taste

In a large stockpot, melt butter. Cook the celery, onion, carrots and jalapeno in melted butter till tender.  Add chicken; cook till chicken is not pink. Stir in flour to form a roux.

Stir in broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add milk, Frank’s Red Hot and shredded cheddar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. When the cheese has melted and soup has thickened slightly, it’s time to eat!

And there we have it–homemade goodness in a bowl. “I believe in the sunshine, even when it rains!” How about you, amici? “I feel it–and I believe it!” 🙂

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I’ve been longing to give Vietnamese coffee gelato a whirl for a while. It’s a natural flavor choice for Katty’s Kitchen–my base gelato recipe is made with that magical ingredient, sweetened condensed milk, just like Vietnamese iced coffee. If you like a nice, strong Vietnamese iced coffee,  you’re gonna love this gelato recipe. I solemnly swear!

As anyone who knows this kat personally can attest, I rarely lack for extra energy. So, I steer clear of caffeine and stick to decaf, but feel free to fire up with high test if you like the extra boost. It’ll keep ya jumpin’ east of Java! I use Café du Monde as they do in many Vietnamese restaurants in my area. I can’t remember where I bought it, but I’m willing to bet you’ll find it locally at A Dong Supermarket in Elmwood’s Shield Street Plaza or Kien Oriental Market on Park Street in Hartford. If not, check with your local Vietnamese restaurant to see where they get their coffee.

Oh, and while we’re going local, I’d like to send a special shout-out to my friend Michele, whose glorious yard-fresh (yeah, talk about free-range!) eggs yolks made this gelato eggs-tra special EGGS-CELLENT!

VIETNAMESE COFFEE GELATO

1¼ cups whole milk + ¼ cup after milk is infused (I’m very fond of Arethusa Farm these days—from Litchfield, CT)
¼ cup heavy cream
1 can sweetened condensed milk
4 large egg yolks (thank you, Michele!)
¼ cup Café du Monde ground coffee
pinch salt

Heat 1¼ cups milk, heavy cream and coffee grounds on medium to  medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, till small bubbles form at edge of pan. Remove from heat. Remove from the heat, cover and let steep for 30 minutes. Strain through a tea strainer. Yup, a tea strainer. Just be patient and stir the grounds as you go. It works! This yields a very thick coffee concentrate.

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1 ¼ cups is what I measured after it had infused, so I added ¼ whole milk back to the mixture to bring us back to 1 ½ cups of dairy.

Beat together egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk till smooth. Temper egg mixture by slowly adding to hot milk, whisking constantly. Cook over medium-high heat and continue to whisk until mixture reaches 160 degrees F. Do not let it boil!

Strain through fine-mesh sieve into clean bowl, let cool to room temperature. Stir in salt. You can make an ice bath to speed up the process. Chill custard overnight or at least four hours.

Just before turning the chilled custard into your ice cream maker, place the custard and the dasher from your machine into the freezer for up to 20 minutes. It makes the custard nice and thick. Next, it’s time for the spin cycle: process according to your ice cream machine’s directions. Enjoy!

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As promised in part 1 of this tale, I riffed on Aunt Ellen’s recipe to come up with a sweet noodle kugel. If you roll on the sweet side of the street, you may be drawn to this version with brown sugar, cinnamon, raisins, dried apricots and tart cherry preserves. I guess you could call it dessert, but I also called it breakfast for several days.

SWEET NOODLE KUGEL
1 pound full-fat cottage cheese, small curd
1 pound full-fat sour cream
(See a pattern emerging here?)
8 oz. cream cheese, softened (Neufchâtel is fine and welcome at the otherwise full-fat party)
4 large eggs
12 oz. bag of egg noodles

1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
½ cup golden raisins*
½ cup apricots, diced*
¼ cup tart cherry preserves
½ cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt

*Soak in hot water before you start combining everything.

Topping
½ stick salted butter for topping
crushed cornflakes on top
1 teaspoonful or more light brown sugar to sprinkle over the cornflakes

Butter a deep baking dish (my 10 x 13″ one does the trick nicely), preheat oven to 375 degrees F and set aside.

Using a stand mixer, whisk cream cheese with vanilla and almond extracts. Add eggs, whisk to combine. Add cottage cheese and sour cream.

Boil noodles according to package instructions, drain. Combine noodles with eggs, cottage cheese and sour cream mixture. Drain raisins and apricots, add to noodles with tart cherry preserves, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

Fill baking dish with noodle kugel. Crush cornflakes over top. Dot with butter. Be generous–I use almost half a stick. Sprinkle a teaspoon or so of light brown sugar evenly over the cornflakes. Once again, you’ll want to be sure your oven rack is right in the middle. Bake at 375 degrees F for 1 hour. Take a peek around 50 minutes to make sure the top isn’t burning–just in case your oven runs any hotter than mine. If need be, cover top with foil. I didn’t have to do this–hopefully, you won’t either.

Ah, kugel, sweet kugel. How sweet it is! Na zdrowie! L’chaim!