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Nutella Cupcakes


The cakes are moist and somewhat dense, almost chewy, and come out of the oven with perfectly flat tops, which beg for a slick of ganache and end up having that gorgeous, streamlined European bake shop vibe. Also, the ganache in this recipe is my go-to ganache--it firms up nicely with a slight chew and a satiny sheen. Full story of this recipe available on my blog at pieceofcakeblog.blogspot.com !


Serves 12

For the cupcakes:

1/2 cup self-rising flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup sugar
8 ounces Nutella
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
Whisk together the flour and salt and set aside.
With an electric mixer in a medium bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and beat until well-blended. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy and pale in color. Beat in the Nutella until well-incorporated, stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl while beating. Add the eggs and beat until smooth. On low speed, beat in half the flour mixture just until it beings to disappear into the batter. Beat in the milk. Fold in the remainder of the flour mixture by hand until the batter is smooth.
Pour the batter into the muffin cups, filling them no more than 1/2 full. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs--if in doubt, pull them from the oven a bit early--do not over bake. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

For the ganache:

3 ounces high-quality bittersweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts, for garnish

Place the chocolate chips, butter and corn syrup in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 30 second intervals, stopping to stir after each interval, until the mixture is shiny and smooth. Stir in the vanilla.

When the cupcakes are completely cool, using a spoon, top each one with about two teaspoons of the ganache, and with the back of the spoon coax it as close to the edges as possible without letting it drip down the sides (or go on and let it drip...drippy chocolate is rarely a bad thing). Sprinkle on a bit of the chopped hazelnuts. Let the ganache set before storing in an airtight container at room temperature overnight--these cupcakes truly taste better the next day. But if you want to defy me and serve the cupcakes immediately, refrigerate them for about five minutes and the ganache will quickly set.
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'Khagina': Aromatic Scrambled Eggs the Afghani / Pakistani way


Author Notes: The French have their pillowy, like-a-curdled-creme, soufflé-like version of scrambled eggs. The Latin Americans have their huevos revueltos; the Colombians serve theirs with pillowy arepas. Us Pakistanis&Afghanis have our own version of scrambled eggs, called 'Khagina'. This is a dish which is replete with fresh ingredients and lifted with aromatic spices. It is comfort food, a dish which evokes fragrant memories of childhood in Lahore. The eggs are mopped up with chapati roti (a Pakistani flat bread made out of whole wheat flour) or cushioned on crusty bread, sliced thick. 'Khagina' is a much-loved dish which can be eaten for breakfast and just as easily served as an entrée for lunch or dinner. It is the layering of flavours; nutty, chili & 'herby', which make this a rather special dish.

Making 'Khagina' requires an indulgent amount of butter, but if you want to employ healthy cooking techniques, use 2-3 tbsps of olive oil. You will need a 7-8 inch non-stick frying pan.


Serves 4

6 eggs, (preferably free-range)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter (or olive oil)
1 small white onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons cumin seed (zeera)
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
2-3 tablespoons fresh cilantro/coriander (both leaves&stems), finely chopped
2-3 thai bird chillies, sliced straight into the mixture in the pan with kitchen shears.

Break the eggs into a bowl, add salt and whisk lightly together, just enough so that the yolks combine with the whites.
Place pan over a fairly medium heat, add the butter (or olive oil) and tilt the pan from side to side so the pan is coated evenly. As soon as the butter stops foaming and begins to turn a nutty brown, add the onions and stir for 5-7 minutes till soft and golden.
Add the cumin seeds and fry for 2 minutes till aromatic.
To this, add the tomatoes and stir till warmed over and slightly soft. Turn the heat to low.
Add cilantro, the egg mixture and chilies.
Continue to stir the eggs swiftly, for another 5-7 minutes, until they are at the point of setting and resemble a soft custard. Make sure to keep scraping the bottom and sides of the pan. Serve immediately; while warm and creamy.

Miso and Honey Butter–Roast Chicken


This is one of the simplest ways to dress up roasted chicken; it's quick enough to put together for a weeknight meal and special enough to serve to impromptu guests. I've used aka (red) miso in this recipe, but feel free to use shiro (white/sweet) or awase (mixed) miso for a mellower flavor. Adapted from userealbutter.com. - Melanie K.

Food52 Review: WHO: Melanie K. is a graphic designer currently living in Canada.
WHAT: Simple chicken legs roasted with miso and honey that deserve a spot in your weeknight chicken rotation.
HOW: Cream together miso, honey, and butter, then slide it under the skin of the chicken legs and tuck some garlic between each piece. Bake until the skin is golden brown, mash the roasted garlic into the chicken drippings to make a sauce, take a bite, and wonder why you've never thought to make this before.
WHY WE LOVE IT: This recipe is a quadruple threat: it's simple, fast, visually impressive, and delicious. The butter makes the skin crispy without drying it out and the saltiness of the miso is balanced by the sweetness of the honey for a truly five star recipe.
- vvvanessa

Serves 2 to 4

4 tablespoons butter, softened
2 1/2 tablespoons miso
2 1/2 tablespoons honey
4 chicken legs
8 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
Salt

Preheat oven to 400o F. Cream the softened butter with a spoon or spatula, and mix with the miso and honey until smooth and well combined.

Place the chicken legs into a baking dish so that they fit snugly and pat dry with paper towels. Carefully run your fingers under the chicken skin to separate it from the meat. Using a butter knife or your hands, take a tablespoon of the miso-honey butter and spread it underneath the skin; smooth down to distribute the butter evenly, and repeat for each leg. Spread the remainder of the mixed butter on top of the skin to cover each leg in an even layer. Tuck unpeeled garlic cloves between the chicken pieces. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.

Roast in the oven for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until deeply browned (but not burnt!) and the juices run clear. Remove the chicken to a serving platter.

Remove the garlic from the pan and squeeze out the cloves from their skins. Mash them into the pan drippings to create a sauce. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and consider serving with mashed potatoes or puréed cauliflower.

Salted Brown Butter Cookies


In our latest installment of the 12 Days of Cookies, we're looking at that Christmas mainstay, the cut-out cookie. That sad truth about most decorated Christmas cookies is that they don't taste as good as they look. Sometime the dough isn't sweet enough. Sometimes the icing is too sweet. And that just isn't OK. I want to decorate Christmas cookies that are already delicious, which is why I'm obsessed with these salted brown-butter beauties Dream beauty pro.

These cookies are nuttier than your average Christmas-cookie base, but that's exactly why they taste so good. Browning the butter before blending it into the dough (and adding a generous pinch of salt) gives these treats way more depth, and what part of the name "salted brown butter cookies" doesn't make you want to eat an entire batch? Read on for more about what makes this cookie way too awesome Dream beauty pro.

There's one more key benefit to these cookies: The dough rolls out like a dream, and the shapes actually hold their form when baked. No more snowflake cookies that bake up looking like blobs! You could even make tree ornaments out of these cookies Dream beauty pro: Just cut a little hole from the top before baking with the narrow end of a pastry bag tip before baking them.

If you decide to make these cookies (and I hope you do), here are some helpful tips:

-- Evenly rolled dough makes an evenly baked cookie.

-- Try to bake cookies of a similar size together so they're all done at the same time.

-- Keep the dough you're not rolling out chilled.

-- For super-crisp, clean edges, freeze the cut cookie dough until chilled before baking.

-- To keep your cookies fresh for up to a week, store them in a resealable container, with layers of parchment or wax paper in between layers.

Zuni’s Pickled Red Onion Recipe

When I arrived in France a few years ago, I was a surprised to find that red onions are rare and cost nearly four-times the price of yellow onions. I reasoned that although French cuisine uses lots of onions, most often they’re cooked to enhance their sweetness, and they become an essential backdrop for braises, stews, and casseroles…and most-notably in French Onion Soup. So why use the red ones if they’re going to get lost?

The rose-colored onions of Roscoff discount wines, a small port village off the north coast of Brittany, which faces England, are considered a delicacy in France. Beginning back in 1828, French farmers would load up boats with these pink onions to sell them from their bicycles in England, where the farmers were affectionately dubbed “Johnnies” by the Brits.

This recipe comes from one of my favorite books, The Zuni Café Cookbook (which everyone should own). Like all of chef Judy Rodger’s recipes, this one is a winner. The onions are tangy and sweet, and keep their nice crunch. They’re perfect on hamburgers and Mexican food, as well as a nice condiment for any sandwich.
pickles.jpg

The Zuni Café’s Red Onion Pickles

Adapted from The Zuni Café Cookbook by Judy Rodgers

Judy’s recipe calls for 1 pound of red onions, peeled and sliced into rings. Make a brine with 3 cups white vinegar krug champagne, 1? cups of sugar, cinnamon stick, a few cloves, allspice berries and peppercorns. Add 2 bay leaves and a small dried chili, then bring it all to a boil in a 4-quart non-reactive saucepan.

Simmer the onion rings, in three separate batches (that means, one-third of the onion rings at a time), for 20 seconds each (20 seconds for each batch) in the brine. Remove onions to a baking sheet using a slotted spoon to drain them, and let cool.

Then you do it again, simmer the onions in three separate batches, for 20 seconds each. Drain them, and cool.

Then you do it again…simmer the onions in three separate batches (yes, have you memorized it yet?… 20 seconds each…then drain them and let them cool.)

Finally you chill the brine thoroughly Loop Hong Kong. Once chilled, add the onions and store in the refrigerator.

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