Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Batata Harra

literally translated: Spicy Potatoes

These potatoes are great when you are getting bored with the same old side dishes; they are intensely flavorful and completely different than a typical potato dish. I like to make these if my hubby and I are going to have leftovers because it spices things up and adds some much needed freshness to what would otherwise be a recycled meal.

The amount of Cayenne I add makes these only slightly spicy; you can add more Cayenne pepper or less if you are a wimp (that's okay because I am a bit of a wimp when it comes to spiciness so I won't judge you). You can even substitute Parsley instead of Cilantro for a different flavor.

Here are a few tips:

  • I've made these with Russet and Yellow potatoes successfully so any potato should work.
  • These are really garlicky so adjust as needed. If you don't care for Garlic I'd recommend going with 1-2 cloves not 4!
  • These are so flavorful they tend to compete with a well seasoned main dish so don't serve them with one. I usually serve them with leftovers or some marinated chicken but your mileage may vary. They'd be really great with some hamburgers off the grill and cut in wedges instead of cubes. Yumm!

Recipe for Batata Harra
adapted from "The New Book of Middle Eastern Food" by Claudia Roden

5-7 Red Potatoes cut into chunks
1/2 tsp. Red Cayenne Pepper
4 cloves minced Garlic
fresh ground Pepper to taste
1 1/4 tsp. Salt (adjust to taste)
1/8-1/4 cup Olive Oil
juice of half a Lemon
1/2 cup of finely chopped Cilantro

Place potatoes on a cookie sheet covered with greased aluminum foil. Bake in the oven until they are cooked through and slightly crispy on the outside, about 30 minutes at 400 degrees Farenheit.

When the potatoes have about five minutes left, add the oil, garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil, lemon juice and cayenne into a large skillet. Cook on low until the garlic is cooked, then add the cilantro and mix together well. Finally add the potatoes into the pan and combine them. Serve immediately.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tiramisu Cupcakes

I made these for a work potluck and they were a huge success. Everyone wolfed them down and went for seconds. I found the recipe online and these cupcakes are even made from *gasp* a boxed mix. They do take a lot of elbow grease and determination but they technically aren't hard to make, just labor intensive. It took me five hours of pretty constant work to make 22 of them but they really were worth it. They had a completely different flavor and were much tastier than any cupcake I'd ever eaten.

I have a few tips for you all if you decide to make this recipe (learn from my mistakes pretty please!!)

1. If you are planning to pipe the frosting on top; double the butter/cream cheese frosting. If you are just going to spread it with a knife, a single batch should be sufficient. I ran out of frosting midway through and had to run out and buy more cream cheese. Then I had to mix the frosting up by hand once again. I think whipping the second batch of frosting gave me mild carpal tunnel. I swear one of these days I will buy a mixer and be cool and wrist pain free like the rest of America.

2. Do poke more than three holes in the tops of the cupcakes with a fork. About five or six should do. Three wasn’t adequate enough to allow the coffee mixture to soak in.

3. Don’t try and just pipe the filling into the cupcakes without some form of a hole. Without a hole all I could get to fit into the cupcake was about one microgram of the tasty filling and then it splooshed out the top; it would have been a complete tease.

"Oh wow these cupcakes have filling, this is so great! Wait where'd the filling go?!? I swear I just tasted some! Wahhh!!!"

Little teaser bits of filling are a disappointment and you don't want your cupcakes to disappoint. I solved the problem of too little filling by using an apple corer and removing a good chunk of the center of the cupcake and then filling it.

4. Tiramisu is supposed to be a coffee soaked dessert, now I don’t like squishy but my first tester cupcake was dry with the tiniest tease of the coffee, it wasn’t even damp. Tiramisu has to be damp. So I solved this by putting a good amount of the coffee mixture on the bottom and sides of the apple corer hole, then filling it with the Mascarpone/whipped cream mixture. I didn’t even bother re-plugging the hole with the core because if you’ve ever had traditional Tiramisu you would know that it’s normally about 50:50 lady fingers and mascarpone mixture. Therefore leaving the hole filled with the filling and not re-plugging brings the cake/filling and frosting ratio to a much more pleasing 60:40.

5. Use aluminum cupcake holders, paper ones will get soggy.

Tiramisu Cupcakes

Recipe from here (Makes 24 cupcakes):


* 1 (18 1/4 ounce) package white cake mix prepared as directed on box. I used Duncan Hines extra moist french vanilla cake mix.

Liquid Coffee Layer

* 2/3 cup water, boiling
* 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
* 1 1/2 tablespoons instant coffee

Mascarpone Filling

* 1 cup mascarpone cheese (from tub)
* 3 tablespoons Kahlua (or coffee extract)
* 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
* 1 (8 ounce) container french vanilla cool whip or regular cool whip with some vanilla extract added in.

Frosting (double this if you are going to be piping the frosting on top)

* 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
* 1/2 cup butter, softened
* 2 cups confectioners' sugar
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* chocolate shavings or cocoa powder (to garnish)


1. Make Mascarpone filling mix first & allow to chill 4-6 hours or overnight.

2. Mascarpone filling: Beat mascarpone, Kahlua and condensed milk until well blended. Fold in cool whip. Chill 4-6 hours.

3. Prepare cupcakes as directed on box of white cake mix & bake accordingly. While these are baking prepare the liquid coffee as below.

4. Liquid Coffee: Boil 2/3 cup water in microwave (or boil on stove) and stir in instant coffee then powdered sugar & allow to cool to tepid.. Once cooled, use a fork to poke holes into cupcakes so that they will absorb the liquid coffee & then brush liquid coffee onto each cupcake using silicone baking brush.

5. Fill pastry/icing bag with Mascarpone filling & inject about 1 spoonful via bag directly into top-center of each cupcake.

6. Prepare Cream Cheese/Buttercream Frosting: Beat butter and cream cheese until creamy with hand mixer on low. Slowly add powdered sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add vanilla and increase mixer to medium. Blend until frosting is fluffy.

7. Frost each cupcake with frosting & garnish with chocolate shavings (use dark chocolate bar & cheese grater).