Archive for July, 2014

Brown Sugar Peach Cobbler (darn close to grandma Barbara’s version)

10 peaches, peeled and sliced

1/3 cup flour         1 heaping Tablespoon of cornstarch

1/2 cup white sugar         1/2 cup brown sugar       1/4 tsp Vietnamese Cinnamon

1/4 cup butter                    Pie crust enough for 3 crusts

1 egg and water….scramble the egg and add a tiny bit of water, then mix.  This is used to brush on top of cobbler.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Score an x through the skin on the bottom of each peach.  Bring a LARGE pot of water to a boil and gently drop each peach in and leave about 30 seconds.  Then move the peach into a large bowl of ICE water and the skins will easily peel after that.

IMG_5169The picture above shows the peaches post skinning.  You can see how much scoring I did on one of them.  Some were scored deeper than others.

Mix up the flour, cinnamon, cornstarch, white sugar, brown sugar and butter.  Mix to make a crumbly mixture.


To make it easy I use frozen pie crust.  I let three of them thaw and turn out one gently into the bottom of a large casserole dish.  It will break up a bit, but just smoosh it back together to make a kind of sort of pastry layer.  I baked it for 6 minutes in a 400 degree oven.  Then I turned out the next pie crust onto one of the parchment papers the pie crusts came with and smooshed it out to the same sort of size.  This time I baked it for 10 minutes.  I want it baked more so it doesn’t turn to gooey dough as the middle layer of the cobbler.   I turn out the third layer but don’t bake it before placing on top of cobbler for final bake.  (You can use any size pan you have for the amount of your peaches…or any fruit that you would like to use)

IMG_5168 IMG_5167The crusts smooshed out to fit the square dish are not pretty and that’s just okay. I use a fork to prick the crusts so they won’t bubble up while baking.

Once those two layers are partially baked I put one layer of sliced peaches on top of the bottom crust.  Then I sprinkle the peaches with half the crumb mixture.  Then gently place the 10 minute baked crust on top of the the fruit/crumb layer.  Then repeat with more peaches and the last layer of crumbs.  Finally gently lay the last pressed out pie crust on top.  Below is a picture of the frozen pie crust that I thawed turned over onto the parchment paper.  Then I just smoosh it out.

IMG_5175 IMG_5178

And on must use Trader Joe’s Cinnamon Sugar Grinder mix

on top of the egg washed crust before baking it.

And this is what it looks like when you transfer the prebaked middle crust onto the first layer of fruit.  IT BREAKS….but who cares, its not going to be seen and I don’t even care about pretty for the top crust.  Its the flavor people….and GLORY IS THIS A WONDROUS COBBLER.

IMG_5173 IMG_5180

Brush with egg/water mixture and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees for another 30 minutes.

And this is what comes out of the oven….this glorious messy peachy wonder.  It didn’t actually come out missing a big corner, but when a good friend comes over as its coming out of the oven you just HAVE to send some home with her.

IMG_5181For years my husband talked about his grandmothers cobbler and how amazing it was.  It took me some years of growing into being a baker to figure out my own version since there was no written recipe.  Two years ago I figured out how to prebake two of the crust layers so they weren’t a soggy NASTY mess.  Then I made a peach pie with some brown sugar, really GOOD cinnamon and some nutmeg and I do believe that I have matched the elusive “Grandma Barbara’s Cobbler”.  It has only taken me 32 years of marriage and really I gave up a long time ago trying to make what my husband remembered because I was no where near her version.  Bless my hubby’s heart, he loved what I made but would still talk about HER cobbler.  Its a good thing!




Chocolate Graham Cracker Cupcakes with Toasted Marshmallow


Cupcake batter:

  • 2¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs (from about 20 squares)
  • ⅓ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped


  • 8 large egg whites
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two standard muffin tins with cupcake liners; set aside. Sift 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix ingredients together on low speed.

In a large bowl, mix together eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Add to flour mixture and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl and continue mixing on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add boiling water and stir to combine; set cake batter aside.

Place graham cracker crumbs, remaining ¼ cup sugar, and melted butter in a large bowl; stir until well combined. Place 1 tablespoon graham cracker mixture into the bottom of each prepared muffin cup. Use the bottom of a small glass to pack crumbs into the bottom of each cupcake liner. Reserve remaining graham cracker mixture for topping.

Place 2 teaspoons chocolate in each muffin cup. Transfer muffin tins to oven and bake until the edges of the graham cracker mixture are golden, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and fill each muffin cup three-quarters full with cake batter. Sprinkle each with remaining chocolate and graham cracker mixture. Return to oven and bake, rotating pans halfway through baking, until tops are firm and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer muffin tins to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan and let cool completely.

To make the frosting, place egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer. Set over a saucepan with simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer bowl to electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat, starting on low speed, gradually increasing to high, until stiff, glossy peaks form, 5 to 7 minutes. Add vanilla and mix until combined. Use immediately.

Transfer frosting to a large pastry bag fitted with a large plain round or French tip. Pipe frosting in a spiral motion on each cupcake. Transfer cupcakes to a baking sheet. Using a kitchen torch, lightly brown the frosting, taking care not to burn the cupcake liners. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to two days.

Sprinkles’ Key Lime Cupcakes

Cupcake batter

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse salt
  • ½ cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons key lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon key lime zest
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, firm but not cold
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 3½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon key lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon key lime zest
  • ½ teaspoon milk (only if necessary)

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a small bowl, mix together milk, vanilla, key lime zest, and 1 tablespoon of lime juice; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just blended. With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the milk mixture; mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.

Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake until tops are just dry to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes. Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool completely. Use a toothpick or skewer to poke the tops of the cupcakes with holes. Use pastry brush to brush remaining lime juice over the top of the cupcake.

Let cupcakes dry slightly before topping with key lime frosting. To make the frosting, beat together butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed and slowly add confectioners’ sugar; beat until well combined. Add vanilla, key lime juice and zest; mix until just blended. Do not over-mix, or frosting will incorporate too much air. Frosting consistency should be dense and creamy, like ice cream. Frosts over one dozen.

  • Cupcake
  • 1½ cups self-rising flour
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar (approximately 1 pound)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons milk

Directions: First, make the cupcakes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers. In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about three-quarters full.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

For the icing, in large bowl, cream butter with electric mixer. Add vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.

Tamarind Chicken



2014-0218_clara_chicken-40-cloves-garlic-007Serves 4

  • 4 leg quarters
  • 3/4 cups tamarind cooking pulp
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 lime, zested
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese five spice (I use Reims from La Boîte Epice)
  1. Place the ingredients in a large Ziploc or seal-able bowl. Mix until combined, add chicken, and marinate for 4 to 6 hours. Rotate the chicken in the marinade every so often.
  2. Set up the grill for direct/indirect heat. We do this by making a semi circle of charcoal. You’ll know when the grill is hot but not too hot when you can count to 3 with your hand over the fire.
  3. Remove the chicken from the marinade. Sear the chicken skin side down for about 4 to 5 minutes until crispy. You may pour the excess marinade over the legs at this point. Turn the legs over and cook skin side up for another 2 minutes over the high heat, then move them to the cooler side of the grill, but still near the coals for indirect heat, put the grill lid on and cook for about 25 minutes. They are done when the internal temperature reaches 160°F.


Serves 6

6 whole chicken legs
2 teaspoons kosher salt
40 cloves garlic (you’ll need about 3 bulbs), peeled
4 stalks celery, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly ground nutmeg
4 sprigs Italian parsley
1/4 cup dry vermouth
1/3 cup (homemade or low sodium) chicken stock
Crusty bread or toast for serving

Heat the oven to 375ºF. Season the chicken legs all over with the salt. Arrange them, skin side up, in a single layer in an ovenproof baking dish with a tight-fitting lid.
Scatter the garlic and celery into the gaps between the chicken pieces, and then drizzle everything with the olive oil. Grind some black pepper and a bit of nutmeg over the chicken and vegetables and arrange the parsley on top.
Pour in the vermouth and the chicken stock. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and put on the lid. Bake the chicken for an hour to an hour and 15 minutes, without removing the lid until the hour mark. When the chicken is really tender, and the garlic is soft enough to spread, remove the dish from the oven.
Serve the chicken in shallow bowls with plenty of the fragrant sauce; spread the softened garlic on the bread and then dunk it into the sauce as you eat your chicken.