Tag Archive | "Nutella"

Make This Sponge Cake Your Own

Whip the batter for a long time to make your cake fluffier.

Here’s a great recipe from Pam Anderson’s “Perfect One-Dish Dinners” (Houghton Mifflin, $32) in which you can let your creativity run wild. Who wouldn’t like a spongy cake with raspberry filling and a sprinkling of powdered sugar on top? But why stop there? When I tested the recipe, I used a jar of homemade peach-pineapple preserves that friends had made, and it provided just as good a filling. Instead of sprinkling the top with powdered sugar, though, I added a citrus glaze made with powdered sugar and citrus-infused vodka. A chocolate drizzle with that raspberry filling would work. Nutella instead of jam would work. Add crushed hazelnuts to the raspberry jam would work. The possibilities are endless.

“Although not ‘technically’ instant, this simple from-scratch cake — the recipe courtesy of my son-in-law’s grandmother — is utter perfection,” Anderson writes. “If you want to substitute all-purpose flour for the self-rising flour, whisk 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt into the flour.”

Nanny’s Victoria Sponge

1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
Powdered sugar, for sprinkling

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans.

Nanny's Victoria Sponge with a glaze.

Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. Alternately add eggs and flour in thirds, beating until each is thoroughly incorporated before adding the next third. Beat in 1 tablespoon warm water and vanilla. Divide batter between prepared pans.

Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, let stand for a couple of minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool to room temperature. Spread top of one cake with jam and top with remaining cake. Dust with powdered sugar, slice and serve.

Makes 8 servings.

From “Perfect One-Dish Dinners” by Pam Anderson


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Make Your Own Ice Cream Sandwiches

Chocolate-Hazelnut Ice Cream Sandwich

From the moment I cracked open a copy of Pam Anderson’s “Perfect One-Dish Dinners: All You Need for Easy Get-Togethers” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $32), I started a list of ingredients I needed to pick up in order to make dish after dish. At the top of the list was her recipe for Chocolate-Hazelnut Ice Cream Sandwiches.

These go together quickly, largely because they are a mix of store-bought ingredients. Take a chocolate cookie, a pint of chocolate ice cream, Nutella and some roasted hazelnuts and you are all set.

That is, if you can find the ingredients.

Anderson recommends Nabisco Famous chocolate wafers, but the store didn’t have them. Instead, I bought a package of chocolate chocolate chip cookies from the bakery. I only had a little Nocciolata, a chocolate-hazelnut spread that I prefer to Nutella (it can be found at, enough to make one sandwich. Then I started to use peanut butter and jellies, especially raspberry and apricot. Toasted almonds, pine nuts and pecans work as well as hazelnuts, too.

In other words, make these sensational summer treats any way you like them. A lemon cookie with lemon curd and vanilla ice cream plus some candy sprinkles would definitely be welcome in 90-degree heat. So would a sugar cookie with strawberry ice cream and almonds on the side.

Just remember what Anderson says, “The cookie should not be too thick, too hard, or too brittle. Sandwiches can be double wrapped and frozen for up to 1 week.”

Chocolate-Hazelnut Ice Cream Sandwiches

1 cup chopped hazelnuts
1/3 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread (Nutella)
16 chocolate wafers, preferably Nabisco Famous
1 pint premium chocolate ice cream

Spread ice cream on the hazelnut-spread side of the cookie.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place nuts in a shallow baking pan large enough to hold them in a single layer; bake until fragrant and golden, 10 to 12  minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, smear a portion of hazelnut spread over one side of each wafer; set aside. Scoop 8 ice cream balls, a scant 3 tablespoons in size, and set on baking sheet in freezer until ready to assemble.

To assemble, set an ice cream ball on the hazelnut-spread side of each of 8 cookies; cap with remaining cookies, hazelnut-spread side down, and press to make a sandwich.

Roll sides of each ice cream sandwich in chopped hazelnuts. Double wrap in plastic and place in freezer until ready to serve.

Makes 8 servings.

From “Perfect One-Dish Dinners: All You Need for Easy Get-Togethers” by Pam Anderson.

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Heavenly Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

Make your own version of Nutella.

Have you ever wanted to make your own Nutella, that rich, creamy mixture of chocolate and hazelnuts? Now you can, with this recipe from “Nuts in the Kitchen” (William Morrow, $21.99), Susan Herrmann Loomis’ latest cookbook.

“I add 5 tablespoons of cocoa to the mixture, which gives it a very satisfying chocolate and hazelnut flavor — you may want to add a bit more or a bit less,” she writes. “I call for a neutral oil here, which gives it a lovely spreadable consistency. If you leave out the oil — which I do on occasion — the flavor is still the same, but it is a bit more solid and less easy to spread.

“Finally, don’t expect the completely smooth texture of commercial Nutella here. Think of this as the ‘crunchy’ version!”

You can also vary this recipe to your tastes. If you, like many, find the flavor of Nutella too sweet, cut back on the sugar and taste it, adjusting to your preferences. Or up the salt, to about 1/4 teaspoon, to bring out the flavor of the nuts and the cocoa powder.

Miniature jars of this would make excellent holiday gifts.

Heavenly Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

2 cups hazelnuts
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup good quality unsweetened dark cocoa powder, such as Valrhona or Scharffen Berger
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons canola oil or more if necessary (optional)


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spread the hazelnuts on a jelly-roll pan and toast them until you can smell them, about 10 minutes. Remove them from the oven and place them in a cotton towel. Scrub and roll them around in the towel to remove the skins.

When the hazelnuts are skinned (don’t be concerned if you cannot remove all the skin — just do the best you can), place the hazelnuts in a food processor and process until the nuts make a smooth paste, which will take some time, about 10 minutes. Add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder and process again until all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Add the salt, process, and if the mixture is very dry, add the canola oil while the machine is running. Taste for seasoning. If the mixture is very warm, let it cool completely before transferring to a jar and sealing it. It will keep for about 1 month in a cool, dark spot.

Makes about 2 cups.

From “Nuts in the Kitchen” by Susan Herrmann Loomis

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Tre Trattoria: Italian Done Well, Casually

tre5We headed over to Tre Trattoria, Jason Dady’s family-style Italian restaurant on Broadway, after an evening concert last weekend. They were obviously closing up shop. But seeing our apprehensive faces, the hostess took pity on us and let us in for dinner.

The fact that we actually found a good restaurant that would feed three of us at the hour of (gasp) 10 p.m. was as positive an experience as the food that followed.

So, for a moment, let me call out to restaurateurs: Draw straws, take turns, or do a rotation — but lots of us would give a great big cheer if a few good restaurants in downtown or close to it would stay open for late diners, especially on weekends.

Food: 4
Service: 4
Value: 4

Rating scale:
5: Extraordinary
4: Excellent
3: Good
2: Fair
1: Poor

As I ask this question, I know the likely answer — if the business isn’t there, they can’t afford to keep the doors open. I like to think, though, that San Antonio’s culinary growth might soon translate to better options for late-night dining. The key is support from customers.

Happy to be seated, we quickly decided on small plates of salads and appetizers.

The house-cured pastrami and prosciutto, accompanied by long, crisp grissini, were freshly sliced. The flavors were as porky, nutty, mellow and salty as we’d hoped for. On the side we also shared a plate of cannellini beans, tossed in olive oil and the lemony gremolata, as well as bits of diced salami. An order of roasted golden beets offered a respite of sweetness from all the salt and oil.

Two of us ordered Tre’s green salads, looking for a fresh counterpart to the sliced meats.  A special salad, though, most impressed us. It was a mix of fresh fruit — melon, pickled peaches, Rainier cherries and sliced cucumber. The coolness of the fresh fruit, the basil and mint in the olive oil dressing, worked well together. A crowning touch of sour cream added a smooth finish to this refreshing creation.

tre2The appeal of the family-style meals called to us. We’ve always enjoyed the Tuscan rib-eye and the fish selections. But this night the pasta called with a louder voice. The tagliatelle with wild mushrooms satisfied two of us.  There were plenty of mushrooms and homemade pasta in a flavorful but not overly assertive sauce. Another order, the gnocchi, had a crisply fried outside coating, but the center was tender and creamy.

Tre’s dense pistachio gelato was dessert. No green food coloring or almond flavoring here — the gelato is pure pistachio and cream. One just needs to slow down, savor and enjoy the unadorned flavor.

On a busy lunchtime a few days later I returned. The parking lot on the south side of the restaurant was filled, as was the parking lot on the other side of the Boardwalk facing Broadway.

If this has happened to you, here’s a tip. If you drive all the way up to the northern-most side of the lot (going toward Hildebrand Avenue), take a left, then drive back. Usually there is plenty of parking. A short walk up to a boardwalk behind the shops will take you right up to Tre’s side patio.

I met two friends and we agreed that it was hot enough that we could easily sit there in air-conditioned comfort and drink icy mojitos the rest of the day. We didn’t, but I did order an Italian mojito. Basil and mint worked just fine together with the rum and lime and the sugar level was appealingly modest.

We supplemented our cold drinks with appetizer olives, then moved on to one of the chef’s pizzas. The ultra-thin crust was perfectly crisp, contrasting with the topping of house-made ricotta, sharply pickled onions and prosciutto. It was just about perfect.

tre7A salmon fillet was a special of the day. I loved the salmon, which was very well-seared, but I was completely seduced by the taste and texture of the creamy risotto it rested upon.

No cans were opened for a friend’s order of linguine and clams. The homemade pastas with the butter sauce was topped with fresh clams in shells. This dish is something to come back for.

Dessert was the Nutella x 3 and the lemon parfait with berries and almond clusters. The latter is a whimsical take on a breakfast product, but the similarity ends with the creamy, rich lemon parfait, the generous amount of fresh berries and sweet almond crumbles.

All we can say about the signature chocolate dessert, Nutella x 3, is that it will take care of that chocolate craving. A dense chocolaty cake, covered with chocolate sauce is served next to a mound of cool, creamy chocolate mousse. That’s a dessert.

Tre is modestly expensive, but the quality of food and service, the drinks, wine menu and setting, make it worth a visit. I can almost guarantee you’ll go back.



tre1Tre Trattoria
4003 Broadway
(210) 805-0333
Lunch, dinner: Mon.-Sat.

$ = $10 and under for 1 entrée
$$ = $10-$20
$$$ = $20-$30
$$$$ = $30 and more\

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