Cooking Basics..Everything you need to know about cooking

This summer I spent with a week with my Granny and Nonno, you see Granny likes to be called Granny and Nonno likes to go with his Italian roots and be called Nonno Nonno- Grandfather.

Anyways, my Granny has a true love for cooking. She is an amazing baker as well as a chef. Her kitchen is very well stocked. She said to me, “Would you like to bake a cheesecake?” Of course I wanted to bake a cheesecake but replied, “I would like to, but I don’t want you to have to go to the grocery store.” She replied, “Oh no don’t worry, I have all of the ingredients!” Now I don’t know about you guys, but if I’m planning to make a cheesecake, I have to run to the grocery store, get the cream cheese and the graham cracker crumbs and everything else! But nooo, Granny has her kitchen stocked! Oh and one more thing about Granny and her well-stocked kitchen, she has at least 4 pounds of butter available at all times. ‘Nuff said!

This week we made several things: shrimp scampi served on homemade linguine pasta, tabouille salad with homemade pita bread, Maryland crab cakes, Mongolian beef, cinnamon rolls (which are in the fridge right now, we’re baking them tomorrow), and pirogues cooked with butter and onions! I have never made so many delicious things in one week! Don’t worry, I’ll give you most of the recipes!

Now now, the cream puffs! The cream puffs are so cute and easy to make! Just bake ’em, and scoop out the little doughy part in the center, let that cool, then put in the custard! The custard is ah-mazing! It’s really just a creamy vanilla pudding, but I think custard sounds more fancy, don’t ya agree? The custard does require tempering, yes you’re enemy right? Well worry no longer about tempering! It is very easy (especially if you have a little helper to pour out half of the hot custard into the eggs). My secret for tempering: Make sure you’re already whisking your eggs and then when the custard comes on, give it a nice little whisk, pour it back in the pot, and you’re good! Leaving without any scratches! 🙂   Pictures of cream puffs coming soon!

Cream Puffs (Recipe from Betty Crocker Cookbook)

You Will Need:
– 1 cup water

1/2 cup butter (one stick)
– 1 cup all-purpose flour

– 4 eggs

– 1 recipe custard filling (if you really, I mean really don’t want to make the filling yourself…you can use a pudding mix..)


1. Heat oven to 400° degrees. Heat water and butter to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in flour.

2. Stir over low heat (you can’t leave here, you gotta stand by) until the mixture forms into a ball for about 1 minute.

3. Beat in eggs (I use an electric mixer), one at a time, continue beating until smooth. Drop dough by scant 1/4 cup cupfuls about three inches apart NOTE: If you need smaller ones for a party, just use a spoon to spoon out the dough.(if not using a sillpat, make sure to grease your pan). Bake for 35-40 minutes (they will look puffed and golden).

4. Cut off tops, and pull out any signs of soft dough in the middle (be careful not to break the cream puffs)

5. Let cool.

Custard (If you don’t want to make the custard, just use a pudding mix)

You Will need:

– 1/3 cup sugar

–  2 tablespoons cornstarch

– 1/8 tsp salt

– 2 cups milk

– 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten

– 2 tb butter, softened

– 2 tsp vanilla extract


1. Mix sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan. Gradually stir in milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils.

2. Now, make sure you are whisking your egg yolks already, and add in half of the custard. Stir the mixture into the saucepan. Boul and stir one minute, remove from heat. Stir in butter and vanilla, set aside to cool.

3. Fill chilled cream puffs with chilled pudding. Sprinkle with powdered sugar (these are served cold)

Oh and I have one more recipe for Tabboli/Tabouli/Tabbouleh/Tabouleh(so many different ways to spell it)

It was pretty good the first day, and the second day, woah, it got even better after it had time for the flavors to really marinade. Soo, I would say make it the day before for the best results.

Tabboli/Tabouli/Tabbouleh/Tabouleh Salad

You Will Need:

– 2 cups fine bulgar (#1 grind)

– 2 cups boiling water

– 1 bunch green onion, sliced finely

– 1 medium onion, chopped finely

– 1 bunch parsley, stems removed

– 1 bunch fresh mint lives

– 2 large tomatoes, chopped, or 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered

– 1/4 cup olive oil (Extra-Virgin of course)

– 1/4 cup red wine vinegar

– 1 lemons, juiced

– 1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce Read the rest of this entry »


{August 1, 2010}   Homemade Pop Tarts!

Hey everyone! I haven’t really cooked anything since I’ve been back from sleep-away camp, so I was very excited to hop in the kitchen and crank out some pop tarts. There’s just something about a flaky-buttery pie crust with a strawberry filling. Of course you can play with the fillings, but I liked keeping it simple with some strawberry jam. I tweaked a pie crust recipe from All Recipes, and I was pretty happy with it! Feel free to use your favorite pie crust recipe as well! I found this pie crust VERY easy, unlike most pie crusts I’ve tried, and fun to work with! Now, I did have one little trick up my sleeve to make this crust very flaky. COLD EVERYTHING. The night before, I put the rolling pin in the fridge so it would be nice and cold! However, you can also put it in the freezer (the day of) for about 15 minutes if you don’t have time to prep the night before.  This recipe is very, very easy, just roll out the dough, fill it with jam, and you’re good!  When I made this, it made 3 pop tarts, which was good, but I will double it for you guys! Also, I’m going on vacation tomorrow, so I will be gone for a couple fo days!

Homemade Pop Tarts

Makes: 12 pop tarts

For the dough (adapted from All Recipes)

– 2 1/2 cups flour

– 1/2 tsp salt

– 1 tb sugar

– 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) butter, cold and cubed

– 1/2 cup water (you may need more)


– Strawberry Jam

To Finish:

Egg wash– 1 egg whisked with 1 tsp milk or water

Sugar– 1 tsp for each pop tart


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees,

2. In a meduim bowl whisk flour, salt, and sugar. “Cut” cold butter into mixture. Note: I just used a potato masher! “Cut” until the pieces of butter are very small.

3. Add in 1/2 cup water. The dough will probably need about 1 tablespoon more water, but don’t add until you’ve stireed in the 1/2 cup water and see it needs more water. Put the dough into 2 balls. Place dough in the fridge for 10 minutes, so it can firm up a little.

4. Lightly flour a surface. Form the dough  into a some sort of a rectangle. (See below)

5. Roll out the dough into a rectangle.

6. When you have a rectangle shape, trim off the excess pie pieces so you have a perfect little rectangle.

7. Try to cut equal rectangle, trimming off pieces so the rectangles are equal.

8. Fill each rectangle with a scant 1 tablespoon strawberry filling, if you put anymore, the filling will ooze out!

9. Place one rectangle over each rectangle, and brush with the egg wash and sprinkle over 1 tsp sugar.

9. Bake for 20- 25 minutes.

Happy eating! 🙂

This weekend, I decided it would be nice to bake something special since I am going away to camp for 5 days tomorrow ! I will be gone for a week but I pinky promise to make something amazingly awesome when I get back! Also, guess what? When I get back I plan on submitting a video to the Wendy Williams Show so I could be on cooking for Wendy! 🙂 Anyway, on to the bagels. They were amazing fresh out of the oven with a little bit of butter. Let’s just say, I will be making them again! This is my own recipe, so if you do use this recipe on your blog or somewhere, please credit me! 🙂

Homemade Asiago and Chive Bagels

Yields 5 large bagels or 10 mini bagels (I did some large and same mini)

You Will Need:
– 3 1/2 cups bread flour, plus extra for dusting your surface

– 1 1/2 cups water for dough

– 3/4 cup warm (not boiling, or this will kill the yeast) water for yeast mixture

– 1/2 cup asiago cheese, shredded

– 1/4 cup finely chopped chives

– 1 tsp garlic salt

– 1 tsp sugar

– egg wash (1 egg + 1 tsp water)


1. Combine the 1/4 cup warm water with yeast and sugar, mix and let sit for 5 minutes.

2. In a large bowl combine bread flour,  1 1/2 cups water, yeast mixture, Asiago cheese, and chives, making sure to blend everything in.

3. Divide dough into 5 pieces. Let rise, covered, for 10 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

5. For mini bagels: Divide ball in half. Once each piece is in a nice ball, poke your finger through the circle and stretch it out a little. In the pic below, its not really close up so you can’t really see the holes.

6. Boil some water (enough to hold at least 3 mini bagels or 2 full size-ones) and add in bagels. Boil for 1 minute.

7. Put on a greased pan, brush with egg wash, and bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown!

et cetera