Easy Chocolate Ganache

Chocolate Ganache | Pinky's Pantry
Chocolate Ganache is used as a filling, a frosting, or a glaze for cakes and pastries. It’s very easy to prepare. This recipe is wonderful made with a good quality chocolate like Scharffenberger chocolate, but it’s just as good made with chocolate chips.

Make sure the chopping board, bowl, and utensils you use are completely dry because water will cause the chocolate to seize when it’s melted. Also when working with ganache, bear in mind that while it’s warm, it’s liquid and pourable, but it thickens and firms as it cools. If you need to soften it, just pop it in the microwave for a few seconds and stir.

EASY CHOCOLATE GANACHE

  • 8 ozs. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (or chocolate chips)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter (optional)
  1. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
  2. In a heavy saucepan, heat cream and butter until it just comes to a simmer.
  3. Pour hot cream over chocolate and let sit for a couple of minutes.
  4. Slowly stir with a wire whisk until smooth. Don’t whisk vigorously. You don’t want to whip air into it.

NOTE:

  • This recipe makes enough ganache to cover one 9-inch cake.
  • The ganache may be made up to 1 week ahead. Refrigerate in an airtight container and bring to room temperature before using.
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Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Pineapple Upside Down Cake | Pinky's Pantry
My mom used to make this cake for us all the time when we were growing up. Pineapple Upside Down Cake is an old-fashioned cake that sort of died down in popularity over the years. It’s delicious, though, and definitely deserves a comeback. I’ve altered my Mom’s original recipe to make the cake more moist and added more pineapple to it, but the basic recipe is still hers. It’s easy to prepare and my family loves it judging by how quickly it disappears every time I serve it!

PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE

  • ⅔ cup butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 20-oz. can pineapple slices, drained and juice reserved
  • 1 8-oz. can pineapple slices, drained and juice reserved (optional)
  • 1 jar maraschino cherries
  • 2½ cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 16 Tbsp. reserved pineapple juice from the cans
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1½ cup white sugar
  • 5 eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Place butter in a 9×13-inch cake pan and put it in the oven to melt the butter.
  3. When butter is melted, remove pan from oven.
  4. Sprinkle brown sugar over melted butter. Spread evenly with a rubber spatula.
  5. Arrange pineapple slices over the butter-brown sugar mixture in any pattern you want. You can leave the slices whole or cut them in halves or quarters to make a fancier design.
  6. Cut a few maraschino cherries in half and nestle them, cut side up, around the pineapple slices in the cake pan. You can leave the cherries whole if you want, but my mom always cut them in half. Probably to save money.
  7. In a medium bowl, stir flour, baking powder, and salt together.
  8. In a small bowl, stir pineapple juice and vanilla together.
  9. With an electric mixer, beat softened butter and white sugar on high until thick and light colored.
  10. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well-combined.
  11. Reduce speed to low and beat in the flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with the pineapple juice mixture until just incorporated.
  12. Pour cake batter evenly over the pineapple slices in the cake pan, smoothing the top with a rubber spatula.
  13. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until cake springs back when pressed down lightly on top.
  14. Allow cake to cool for 10-15 minutes, then turn it out onto a rectangular plate. If a pineapple gets left behind in the pan, just pick it up with a metal spatula and flip it over onto the spot it came from on the cake.

NOTE:  You only need one 20-oz. can of pineapple, but if you want to completely cover the top of the cake with pineapple rings like I have pictured, you’ll find one can is about 2 slices shy. My family likes a lot of pineapple so I add the second smaller can, but if you don’t want to bother with that, you can make do with one 20-oz. can and just space the slices farther apart so they’re evenly distributed. Bear in mind, if you do decide to use just one 20-oz. can of pineapple slices, you might be a little short on the pineapple juice. Different brands have different amounts. If you’re short, just add enough water or cooking oil to make 16 tablespoons.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Spaghetti alla Carbonara | Pinky's Pantry
Spaghetti alla Carbonara is one of the most delicious pasta dishes the Italians make. With just four main ingredients, it’s a breeze to prepare. People worry about having raw eggs in the sauce, though I think the eggs cook with the heat from the spaghetti. I’ve never had a problem, but if you’re really concerned, you could use pasteurized eggs or omit the eggs altogether.

Traditionally, Spaghetti alla Carbonara is made with guanciale. Guanciale is an Italian bacon made from pork cheeks or jowls. It’s delicious, but unfortunately, I can’t get guanciale where I live. Thankfully, you can substitute bacon or pancetta. Half a pound of bacon is good for a pound of pasta, but my family likes lots of bacon so I use a whole pound. I never have leftovers when I make this dish.

SPAGHETTI ALLA CARBONARA

  • 1 lb. spaghetti noodles (can also use fettucine or linguine)
  • 1 lb. bacon (or pancetta or guanciale), sliced into ½-inch strips
  • ½ small onion, diced
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1½ cups freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. salt, plus extra for the boiling water
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. While waiting for the water to boil, set another large pot over medium heat and fry the bacon until crispy; then remove bacon from pot with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper-towel lined plate.
  3. In the same pot, sauté the onions in the bacon grease until the onions become translucent; remove pot from heat and add the bacon back in with the onions.
  4. When the water in the first pot is boiling briskly, add the spaghetti and cook until al dente.
  5. While the spaghetti is boiling, prepare the sauce. It’s important to make the sauce while the pasta is cooking to ensure that the noodles will be hot when the sauce is done. The heat from the noodles is what cooks the raw eggs in the sauce.
  6. To make the sauce, beat the eggs in a bowl with a fork; then stir in the parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.
  7. Drain the cooked pasta well, reserving ½ cup of the pasta cooking water.
  8. Slowly drizzle the reserved hot pasta water into the egg mixture, mixing well. This tempers the eggs, so you don’t end up with scrambled eggs.
  9. Add the hot, drained spaghetti to the pot with the bacon and onions; then pour the egg mixture over the pasta and toss until the noodles are well-coated with the sauce.
  10. Taste the spaghetti and adjust the seasonings. Depending on the pork you used, you may need to add more salt.

Cocoflan Cake

Cocoflan Cake | Pinky's Pantry
This cake is a play on my Chocoflan Cake. I was making a Chocoflan Cake for Cinco de Mayo and I started thinking how fun it would be to make a coconut flavored flan cake, so I went out to buy ingredients for a test drive. It took a few trial runs over the next few weekends, but eventually my Cocoflan Cake was born! Thankfully my family doesn’t mind being the guinea pigs who have to taste and EAT all my kitchen experiments.

I like how this final version turned out. The dessert isn’t overly sweet, the cake is moist, and the flan is smooth and creamy. It looks like a lot of steps, but if you read through the recipe, it’s really not hard to do. Give it a try and you’ll see what I mean.
Cocoflan Cake | Pinky's Pantry

COCOFLAN CAKE

Macapuno Topping:

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup macapuno, you can add more if you like

Leche Flan:

  • 4 ozs. (½ box) cream cheese
  • 1 can (14 oz.) condensed milk
  • 1 can (13.5 oz.) unsweetened coconut milk
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut extract

Coconut Cake:

  • 1½ cups all­-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 small can (5.4 oz.) cream of coconut
  • 2 tsp. coconut extract
  • ½ cup butter, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  1. Prepare a water bath by placing a roasting pan half full of water into the oven.
  2. Turn oven on to 350ºF to preheat.
  3. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and place on stove over low heat.
  4. Let come to a boil and continue to cook until sugar starts to caramelize. Watch it carefully! The sugar can burn in an instant.
  5. Once the sugar starts turning reddish brown, take it off the heat immediately. It will continue to darken and you don’t want it getting bitter.
  6. Pour the sugar syrup into a bundt pan and swirl the bundt pan around so the bottom gets evenly coated with the sugar syrup. Be careful. The bundt pan will get very hot so use oven mitts!
  7. Distribute the macapuno evenly over the sugar syrup.
  8. Set the bundt pan aside to cool.
  9. To prepare flan mixture, place cream cheese in a medium bowl and heat in microwave for about 30 seconds so the cream cheese becomes very soft.
  10. Add the condensed milk to the softened cream cheese and whisk together with a wire whisk until well-blended.
  11. Add the coconut milk, eggs, and coconut extract, whisking together well.
  12. Set flan mixture aside while you prepare the cake batter.
  13. To make the cake batter, whisk together flour, baking powder, and baking soda.
  14. In a small bowl, stir the cream of coconut and coconut extract together.
  15. With an electric mixer set on high speed, beat butter and coconut oil together until smooth.
  16. Slowly add sugar, continuing to beat until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.
  17. Reduce speed to medium and add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  18. Reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with 2 batches of cream­ of­ coconut mixture.
  19. Beat until just combined.
  20. Pour the cake batter on top of the macapuno-sugar syrup in the bundt pan, smoothing the batter evenly with a rubber spatula.
  21. Slowly pour the flan mixture through a sieve over the cake batter. Don’t worry if it sinks or causes the batter to separate in clumps.
  22. Cover bundt pan tightly with a piece of tin foil and place into water bath in oven.
  23. Bake for 1 hour, then remove foil and bake uncovered for 30 minutes more or until cake springs back when touched lightly in the center.
  24. Remove from water bath and allow to cool to room temperature; then place in refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
  25. To serve, invert cake onto a large cake plate or serving platter.

NOTES:

  • This cake is best prepared a day or two in advance and kept chilled in the fridge until ready to serve.
  • Macapuno is a Filipino delicacy. It’s basically shredded young coconut that’s been cooked in syrup to preserve it. It’s sold in jars in Asian food markets. If you can’t find macapuno, you can omit it from this recipe.

Stir-Fry Chicken in Black Bean Sauce

Chicken in Black Bean Sauce | Pinky's Pantry
This is one of the easiest chicken dishes you can make. My local grocery stocks jars of black bean garlic sauce, but you can also find it in Asian food stores. Black bean sauce is a common condiment in Chinese cuisine. It’s made from fermented black soy beans and is really delicious, though extremely salty so use it sparingly. A little does go a long way with black bean sauce. It’s best to start with a tablespoon at a time, tasting and adding a little more at the end if you need to.

STIR-FRY CHICKEN IN BLACK BEAN SAUCE

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut in cubes
  • ½ small onion, cut into a half-inch dice
  • 1 bell pepper, cut into a half-inch dice
  • 3 tbsp. black bean garlic sauce, or to taste
  1. Heat a little bit of cooking oil in a wok or frying pan.
  2. Add chicken and 1 tablespoon black bean sauce and stir fry until chicken is half cooked.
  3. Add onions and 1 more tablespoon black bean sauce, continuing to stir fry for another minute.
  4. Finally add bell pepper and remaining 1 tablespoon black bean sauce, and stir fry until bell pepper is crisp-tender.
  5. Taste for seasoning, and stir in a little more black bean sauce if desired.
  6. Serve with hot white rice.

Hot Clam Dip in Bread Bowl

Hot Clam Dip | Pinky's Pantry
This is an old recipe that I’ve had for many years. I got it from one of my old cookbooks, but sadly, I don’t remember which one. Probably a Junior League cookbook. Clam Dip is rich, creamy, and utterly delicious. I haven’t tried making it with low-fat cream cheese or mayo, but I don’t see why you couldn’t if you felt inclined to try cutting down on the calories. Let me tell you though, calories or not, this dip is worth every scrumptious bite!

HOT CLAM DIP IN BREAD BOWL

  • 1 (1½-lb.) unsliced round bread bowl
  • 2 (8-oz.) pkgs. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
  • a couple of dashes tabasco sauce, or to taste (optional)
  • 4 (6½-oz.) cans minced clams, drained
  • 4 large green onions, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Slice top 2 inches off bread and reserve for lid.
  3. Cut out insides of bread, leaving a 1-inch-thick shell.
  4. Tear cut-out bread into pieces to use for dipping.
  5. With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, mayonnaise, worcestershire sauce, and tabasco (if using) in large bowl until well-blended.
  6. Stir in clams and green onions.
  7. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Pour filling into bread bowl.
  9. Place reserved lid on bread.
  10. Wrap bread tightly in 2 layers of heavy-duty foil and place on cookie sheet.
  11. Bake until filling is very hot and bread is crusty, about 1 hour.
  12. Unwrap bread and place on serving tray.
  13. Remove lid and lean lid against bread at angle for a pretty presentation.
  14. Lid can later be cut into cubes for dipping.

NOTE:  If you don’t feel like doing the whole bread bowl thing, or you just can’t find a bread bowl, you can skip it (like I did in the photo above). Just beat the cream cheese, mayonnaise, worcestershire sauce, and tabasco together in a microwave-safe bowl until smooth. Microwave for 3 minutes or until cream cheese mixture is hot, stopping to stir every 30 seconds. Stir in drained clams and green onions. Microwave 30 seconds more. Stir well and serve with sliced baguette bread for dipping.

Basic Pancakes

Basic Pancakes | Pinky's Pantry
This is my mom’s pancake recipe. She always said that pancakes were the easiest breakfast to make. And the easiest recipe to remember. In fact, you didn’t really need a recipe according to Mom. It was just “1-1-1.” One of everything except for the salt which you cut in half. Funny thing….. Mom was right! Not only is this an easy recipe to make, but it makes delicious, fluffy pancakes. The trick is not to overmix the batter. You want to gently stir the flour and baking powder into the liquid ingredients until the flour is just moistened and you’ve broken up any large lumps. Little lumps are okay. As Mom put it, “don’t worry about it. They’ll disappear during cooking.”

This recipe makes about 4 pancakes (more if you make small ones) but the nice thing is that you can easily double, triple or quadruple the recipe if you’re feeding more than two people. Set out some butter and syrup and have at it!

BASIC PANCAKES

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup whole milk (substitute buttermilk for buttermilk pancakes)
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  1. In a medium bowl, beat the egg, milk, sugar, and salt together until well-blended.
  2. Add the flour and baking powder, and stir until just combined. Don’t overmix! You want your batter to be lumpy.
  3. Let the batter rest for about 10 minutes to give any lumps a chance to absorb some moisture.
  4. While the batter’s resting, preheat your griddle to 375°F.
  5. Spread a little butter or margarine on the griddle and pour a scoop of batter onto it. Try not to put too much batter. Remember, the bigger the pancake, the harder it is to flip. You want about  1/3 cup of batter per pancake.
  6. When the pancake is starting to get filled with bubbles and the edges start looking dry, that’s your sign that it’s time to flip the pancake over.
  7. After you flip it over, it takes only a minute or two for the other side to cook.
  8. Serve warm with butter and syrup.

VARIATIONS:  You can add things like blueberries, sliced bananas, chocolate chips, chopped nuts, etc. to the pancake batter for a variation on the basic recipe.

Salade Niçoise with Lemon-Thyme Vinaigrette

Salade Niçoise | Pinky's Pantry
I’m sick as a dog. I caught that terrible flu that’s been going around. I had a fever of 103° and felt pretty darn miserable. Finally got rid of the flu, but my doctor says I now have bronchitis, not to mention I’m wheezing like an old asthmatic. Sigh….. Anyway, since I’ve been laid up in bed, I thought this would be a good time to catch up on the blog and post some of my recipes that have been sitting in draft form waiting for a little tweaking or something before being published, so don’t be surprised to see several posts come out all at once.

Salade Niçoise (pronounced ni swaz) is one of my all-time favorite salads. I believe it originated in France and my understanding is the original is made with anchovies, but never having been to Nice, I can’t say for sure. Every time I’ve had it, it’s been made with tuna and my family likes it that way so I just keep it up — though personally, I wouldn’t mind anchovies. Hey! I happen to like the little guys! Anyway, classic niçoise salad typically has boiled potatoes, green beans, and niçoise olives, but there again from my readings it seems that boiled veggies are frowned upon in some areas of France. Whatever. I happen to think the boiled potatoes and green beans are the best part of this salad! Anyway, give it a try. I guarantee you’ll love it!

SALADE NIÇOISE

(Makes 4 servings)

  • 12 ozs. boston, bibb, or butter lettuce
  • 16 baby yellow potatoes
  • 4 large eggs
  • 10 ozs. haricots verts or slender green beans, trimmed
  • 2 cans (5½ oz. each) tuna packed in olive oil, drained
  • 20 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/2 cup niçoise or Kalamata olives, cut in half
  1. Fill a bowl with ice and water and set it aside. You may have to replenish the ice and/or water as needed.
  2. Place potatoes in a medium saucepan, add enough water to cover the potatoes and add a teaspoon of salt.
  3. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are fork tender.
  4. Using a slotted spoon, transfer potatoes to the ice water bath to stop cooking.
  5. When potatoes are cool, remove from ice water, cut in half, and set aside.
  6. Place eggs in a medium saucepan and add enough cold water to cover eggs by one inch.
  7. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  8. Let cook for 6-7 minutes until eggs are hard boiled.
  9. Remove eggs with a slotted spoon and plunge into ice water to stop cooking.
  10. When eggs are cool, remove from ice water, peel, and set aside.
  11. Add fresh water to the saucepan and bring it to a boil again.
  12. Add the green beans and blanch till they’re bright green, about 1 minute.
  13. Remove green beans with a slotted spoon and plunge into ice water to stop cooking.
  14. Once green beans are cool, remove from ice water, and set aside.
  15. Divide the lettuce equally into 4 salad bowls.
  16. Top each with 4 potatoes cut in half, 1/4 of the green beans, 5 tomatoes cut in half, 1 egg cut into 4 wedges, 1/4 of the olives, and half a can of tuna.
  17. Drizzle lemon-thyme dressing over each salad.

LEMON-THYME VINAIGRETTE

  • zest of 1 lemon
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ⅛ tsp. pepper
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  1. In a small bowl, combine lemon zest, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, shallot, thyme, sugar, salt, and pepper with a wire whisk until well combined.
  2. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, whisking constantly until emulsified.
  3. Dressing will keep in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

NOTE:  We like our dressing with a touch of sweetness, but if you want the dressing to be less sweet, feel free to cut the sugar in half or omit it altogether. 

Slow Cooker Hawaiian Pulled Pork

Hawaiian Pulled Pork | Pinky's Pantry
I was watching The Kitchen on Food TV last week and I saw Katie Lee make this pulled pork recipe. It looked delicious so I decided to try making it for Superbowl Sunday. It was really good. I served it in dinner rolls topped with coleslaw for yummy sliders. I liked it because it was different from the usual barbecue pulled pork. I think this recipe will become a family favorite. I’m definitely going to be making it again!

SLOW COOKER HAWAIIAN PULLED PORK`

  • 5 lbs. boneless pork butt or shoulder
  • 1 Tbsp. onion powder
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 can (8 ozs.) crushed pineapple
  • ½ cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  1. In a small bowl, mix the onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  2. Rub the mixture all over the pork.
  3. Put the pork in a slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.
  4. Shred the pork with 2 forks, removing any large pieces of fat.
  5. Pour the broth into a fat separator or skim off the fat.
  6. In a bowl, whisk 2 cups of the skimmed broth with the crushed pineapple, hoisin sauce, honey, soy sauce, and vinegar.
  7. Put the pork back in the slow cooker and stir in the sauce.
  8. Cook on low for 1 more hour.
  9. Serve the pulled pork on Hawaiian buns topped with coleslaw.

[Adapted from Food TV]

Basic Drop Biscuits

Drop Bisciuts | Pinky's Pantry
Drop biscuits are some of the easiest biscuits to make because you don’t have to roll them out or cut them with a biscuit cutter which makes for less equipment to use and less handling. Remember, the more you handle your dough, the tougher your biscuits turn out so you want to handle your dough as little as possible. These biscuits are Old Goat Honey’s favorite because he loves how they’re all crispy on the outside but chewy inside. I love making ham and cheddar drop biscuits, like the ones I have pictured, and serving them with eggs and coffee for breakfast.
Drop Bisciuts | Pinky's Pantry

BASIC DROP BISCUITS

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup cold buttermilk (can substitute milk)
  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter, for brushing on top (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt together in a large bowl.
  3. In a small bowl, melt 1/2 cup butter in the microwave and let cool about 5 minutes.
  4. Pour melted butter and buttermilk into flour mixture and stir just till mixture comes together. You’ll have a soft, sticky dough.
  5. Drop about 1/3 cup of batter onto prepared baking sheet, about 1½ inches apart.
  6. Bake for 8-12 minutes or until tops are golden brown and crisp.
  7. Take biscuits out of oven and immediately brush tops with 2 tablespoons melted butter, if desired.

VARIATIONS:  You can add things to the dry ingredients like ½ cup shredded cheese, or ½ cup chopped ham, or ½ cup crumbled bacon, or ¼ cup minced herbs, etc., alone or in combination with each other, before combining with the wet ingredients. You may have to increase the buttermilk to moisten the dough some more if you add other ingredients.

NOTE:  For the biscuits pictured, I added ½ cup shredded cheddar, ½ cup minced ham, 2 chopped green onion stalks, and about another ½ cup buttermilk.