About The Saturday Chef

Midwest, United States
I am NOT a professional chef. I am what I affectionately dub a Saturday Chef—a weekend warrior of the culinary variety, fortified by the education I have gleaned from two high school cooking classes, the Food Network and my own gastronomical experiments. While I’m not ashamed to spend all day making bagels by hand, and proudly call myself a foodie, I’m not a food snob. I enjoy an Extra Value Meal as much as the next girl. My culinary escapades are still relegated to the weekends, but my love for cooking is stronger than ever, galvanized by more successes than failures, and the beautiful fact that the more I cook, the more people there are to feed. So please stay tuned for fun recipes, inevitable disasters and hopefully, a lot of good food.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Chocolate Cheesecake Cupcakes


I have already spoken about the Power of Ganche, how I believe it has the ability to heal many things.  Life, especially in these charged times, can be hard.  It’s hard dealing with things like prolonged unemployment and all of the frustration that comes with it.  I have been without a paying job for more months than I can share without shame, and some days—usually the ones when I know a job I was cautiously excited about is filled—are especially maddening. 
Early one morning, I stumbled across a peppy, can-do woman hosting a Food Network show called “Chic and Easy.” She whipped up these cupcakes in a flourish of movement and optimism. 
At a more reasonable hour, I did the same, needing to accomplish something that day.  The result was one of the best desserts I’ve ever had.  They were rich and decadent and not overly sweet.  I don’t like messing with sticky frosting, because I manage to get it everywhere, but coating these fudgy gems was a mess-less breeze. 
So when life is bearing down a little too hard, try out these Chocolate Cheesecake Cupcakes and let the ganache do its job.


Chocolate Cheesecake Cupcakes with Ganache Frosting
by Mary Nolan


1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt 6 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
1 egg, at room temperature
2/3 cup milk, at room temperature

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons mini semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons chopped pecans

Ganache frosting, recipe follows


Place rack in the middle of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
Line 12 muffin cups with cupcake papers.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt, and set aside. Using a mixer, cream the butter and 3/4 cup sugar until pale yellow, about 1 minute. Add the egg and stir until just combined. Gently add half of the flour mixture and stir until just incorporated. Mix in the milk. Add the remaining flour mixture and stir until combined. Set aside.
In a small bowl, mix together the cream cheese, 2 tablespoons sugar, and vanilla.
Stir in the chocolate chips and pecans.
Fill prepared cupcake liners with enough chocolate batter to just cover the bottom. Add a dollop of the cream cheese filling to each (about a tablespoon), then top with remaining batter.  Filling cream cheese filling should not be visible.
Bake for 20 minutes. Let cupcakes stand in the pan for 3 minutes and then remove and allow to cool completely on a rack.
Dip each cupcake into the ganache, forming an even layer of frosting. Top with chopped pecans if you wish.  Place in the refrigerator to set, about 15 minutes.

Ganache Frosting:
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder, optional
Place a heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water, and whisk together the chocolate, cream, and espresso powder (if using). Continue whisking until chocolate is melted and the mixture is thick, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.

Photo Crisis Averted!

You could only imagine my surprise when I checked out my blog one day on my brand new, awesome iPhone, and discovered that all of my pictures had been replaced with a really annoying "Bandwidth Exceeded" image (it's worse than the Twitter Fail Whale).  Apparently people took my photos and a really hot animation of "Supernatural's" Jared Padalecki doing shirtless chin-ups and linked them to their own sites without uploaded it to a separate account, thus draining my bandwidth.  Grrrrrr.

All of that unpleasantness has been remedied, so enjoy the restored pictures and recipes.  A new post will be up ASAP, and it's an awesome one!

Kira, Saturday Chef

Monday, June 6, 2011

Veggies At Last: Asian Chicken Salad

I was perusing my blog last week, tweaking older recipes and deleting some embarrassing ones, and I noticed that there was nary a vegetable side dish or entrée posted.  And I worried if people thought that I didn’t like vegetables or if I had scurvy.

While I don’t crave the sweet crunch of a carrot, I am pretty partial to vegetables.  Thus, I immediately looked for a scrumptious veggie-only dish to post.
For the record, I actually love salad, especially a good Greek one with no anchovies and lots of feta and black olives.  But I digress. This salad is different as it uses Napa Cabbage, which is a new, and pretty awesome, ingredient for me.   I really loved the idea of using a peeler to shave ribbons of carrots and how the whole thing came together rather quickly with the work of my Ginsus.  This salad is very refreshing and sweet, and while I didn’t photograph it with the low mein noodles, they are the perfect addition of crunch and texture.  The dressing is tangy and a little sweet, and compliments all ingredients wonderfully. 

Don’t worry, fellow Saturday Chefs, this might be the first veggie-centric post, but it will not be the last!  

Asian Chicken Salad
Adapted from recipe by Giada De Laurentiis
1 large carrot, peeled
3 cups shredded napa cabbage, about ½ of a cabbage
3 cups shredded romaine lettuce, from 1 small romaine heart
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and deveined, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, chopped
2 cups chicken breasts, cooked
Chow Mein Noodles, optional
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
Black Pepper, optional

For the salad: Using a vegetable peeler, shave the carrot and add to a large salad bowl. Stir in the cabbage, lettuce, red bell pepper, mint, and chicken. *If you're a vegetarian, just nix the chicken.
For the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar until smooth.  Season with pepper, to taste, if using.
Plate salad in a mound, spoon a bit of the dressing over the salad and toss. Garnish with the chow mein noodles and serve.
Chef’s Note:  I only dress an entire salad if I know the majority of it will be eaten.  Otherwise, I just dress the salad on the plates just before serving.