Thursday, January 26, 2012

Patatas Bravas

I think that I could go to tapas restaurants just for the patatas bravas.  I enjoy tapas but as a self-defined "selective eater" who does not eat seafood or pork, the selection of dishes that I find appealing is small at best.  There are a few dishes that are exceptions but for the most part when I go to a tapas place I am most looking forward to eating the patatas bravas.

Of course, I began to question why I never tried making them myself.  Honestly, I was a little nervous about the aioli sauce.  I had visions of myself making mayonnaise from scratch and ending up sick because I did not do it correctly.  I will continue to leave home made mayonnaise to the professionals.  Instead, I found a recipe for aoili using store bought mayonnaise and I decided to give it a try.  The sauce was actually simple and came out really well.  I served the potatoes with a chili sauce that I have at home; I did not make it from scratch.  So yes, a disclaimer--this is a simplified version of patatas bravas but I am really happy with the way that they turned out.

Patatas Bravas
Makes 4 portions

For the aioli sauce:

1/2 teaspoon salt
2 medium sized cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup olive oil

1. In a blender or food processor combine all of the ingredients and blend until smooth.

For the potatoes:

3 baking potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 inch long cubes
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup of vegetable oil

1.  In a large pot, pour the potato cubes and cover with water.  Bring the water to a boil and cook for 3-5 minutes. 

2.  Drain the water and transfer the potatoes to a large frying pan.  Add the vegetable oil and the spices and cook for 15-20 minutes over medium heat until the potatoes are soft enough to poke a fork through them.

3.  Pour the potatoes over paper towels and allow the liquid to drain.

4.  Serve the potatoes warm with aioli and chili sauce.



Monday, January 23, 2012

Mexican Wedding Cookies

I first tried these cookies in December when Alyssa received them during the blogger cookie swap. Although, I had never tasted them before, apparently many others have. My boyfriend said that they reminded him of cookies that his mother used to bake during his childhood in Turkey.  Friends that tried them said that the cookies tasted similar to desserts that are typical to Italian cuisine. I will call them Mexican Wedding Cookies here but maybe you know them by a different name?

These cookies taste light and sweet and salty at the same time.  The saltiness of the butter stands out for me when I eat the cookies and I quickly decided that I would make a batch for myself.  The cookies are really easy to make and I am really happy with the way that they turned out.  Considering that they are common across various cultures, I hope to try different variations of this same recipe and search for my favorite!

Makes about 20-24 cookies

3/4 cups shortening
1/4 cup butter
(alternatively substitute the top 2 ingredients and just use 1 cup of butter)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vanilla
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups AP flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans

1.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Line a large baking tray with parchment paper.

2.  In a large bowl, blend together the butter, shortening, salt, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon.

3.  Add the flour and the pecan and mix until they are incorporated.  (The batter will be dry and crumbling).

4.  Take teaspoons of batter and shape them in your palm so that they stay together.  Place the cookies on the baking sheet and bake for 20-22 minutes.

5.  Sprinkle powdered sugar on top of the freshly baked cookies.


~ Rona

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Apple Cinnamon Rolls

I remember when I was younger and we took family trips to the mall.  There were some days when we would order a large cinnamon roll from Cinnabon and go home and share it between four people.  Now, when I walk past Cinnabon in a mall food court, I must admit that the smell does tempt me but when I think about all the calories packed into one small dessert, I manage to resist.

However, I came across this recipe on a blog, I could caved in to my Cinnabon craving!  This roll seemed like the prefect combination of sweet without too many calories. Since I always have a supply of puff pastry in my freezer, I made these the very next morning for breakfast.  With the baked apple in the middle they are almost like a mix of an apple pie and a cinnamon roll.  Seriously, it was the perfect breakfast.  I want to make them again and I don't end up eating all of them on my own!

Adapted from the Food Coma.

Makes 9 rolls

1 sheet of puff pastry
1 apple, peeled, cored, and chopped into thin, long pieces
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Thaw out your puff pastry ahead of time, in the refrigerator. 

2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Melt the butter in a bowl and use a pastry brush to coat the unfolded sheet of puff pastry.

3.  In a small bowl combine half of the powdered sugar and the cinnamon.  Sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon mixture onto the puff pastry.

4.  Place the apple slices at one end and roll up the puff pastry into a log shape.  Cut into one inch thick pieces and place on a baking sheet.

5.  Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until the dough is golden brown.

6.  Make a glaze for the rolls by mixing together the remaining melted butter with the remaining powdered sugar.  Pour over the rolls when they first come out of the oven and serve warm.



Monday, January 16, 2012

S'mores Cheesecake

I had been thinking to make cheesecake from scratch for some time now.  I was a little bit discouraged because Alyssa and I tried to make cheesecake a year ago and failed.  We had expected the process to be simple but somehow the filling did not work and we had to throw it out.  But hey, you never learn if you don't try, right?

Well, in a recent trip to Costco I bought a 3 pound brick of cream cheese.  I eat half a bagel for breakfast several days a week but there was no way that I would be able to finish that monster sized cream cheese on just bagels alone.  So yesterday I finally gathered myself and decided to make a cheesecake.

I had purchased graham crackers and marshmallows recently thinking to make s'mores but came up with the s'more cheesecake idea instead.  I took the filling recipe from the cream cheese box, found the graham cracker crust recipe online, and just decide to throw in the marshmallows and chocolate to spice it up.  Granted this could have been a disaster considering that I had not successfully made cheesecake before but luckily it came out well.

What I learned from the experience is that the marshmallows will bubble up and they come through the cream cheese.  Not a problem for taste but not the best for presentation.  I think that using mini-marshmallows instead of these jumbo ones would solve that.  Also, the cake was a little sweet for me, perfect with unsweetened tea, but sweet when eaten alone.  I think that chopping the chocolate more finely and using less of it would take care of that.  But the good news is that I have finally overcome my fear of making cheesecake and failing!  Now, I just hope this wasn't a fluke and my next cake will taste just as good! 

S'mores Cheesecake
Makes one 9-inch cake

For the crust:
1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
5 tablespoons of melted butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon of cocoa powder

For the s'mores filling:

1/4-1/2 cup of finely chopped chocolate (depending on how much you like chocolate/sweetness)

For the cheesecake cake filling:
1 pound of cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
2 eggs

The Crust:

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  In a medium sized bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, sugar, and graham cracker crumbs.  Pour the melted butter over the mixture and toss with a fork until the crumbs are moist.

2.  Pour the crumbs into a 9 inch springform pan.  Press the graham cracker mixture over the bottom and on the sides to form an even thickness crust.  Bake for 10 minutes and then transfer the pan into the fridge to cool.

Cream Cheese Filling:

3.  In a large bowl combine the vanilla, cream cheese, and sugar.  Using an electric mixture, beat the mixture together to soften the cream cheese.

4.  Add the 2 eggs and mix on low speed until the mixture is combine.

The Cake:

6.  Take the pan out of the oven and line the bottom of the crust with marshmallows (I had large ones so I tore them in half and covered the crust).

7.  Sprinkle the bottom with the chopped chocolate.

8.  Pour the cream cheese filling on top of the marshmallow layer and spread it evenly across the cake.

9.  Bake at 325 degrees for 40 minutes, until the center of the cake has solidified (with the marshmallows coming through it may not look solidified but I took it out after 40 minutes and the cake was perfect).

10.  Cool the cake in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours before serving.



Sunday, January 8, 2012

Russian-Style Napoleon

When it comes to sweets, I'm much more of a savory girl myself. I'd usually choose the bag of salty chips over the cupcake, but there's something about Napoleon that I can't resist. The Napoleon I usually eat is from local Russian food stores, but of course every culture has embraced this cake (with good reason.) Recently, my mom has started to make her own simple version of Russian-style Napoleon which is what I have for you here today. It's simple to make, as are a lot of the recipes I post, so I highly recommend trying it!

Exhibit A: Layers of cream upon cookies upon cream upon more cookies.


1 pack Kedem tea biscuits
1 large egg
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup cold milk
1 tbsp flour
Vanilla extract
Jameson Irish Whiskey (doesn't specifically have to be Jameson)
2 tbsp butter


To make cream for Napoleon: 

1) In a medium sized bowl, whisk together sugar and egg.

2) Add the flour and 1/3 of your cold milk, and continue to whisk.

3) Boil the remaining 2/3 cup of milk in a medium-sized sauce pan. When the milk is boiling, add the sugar mixture from the previous steps and simmer until the mixture thickens. Be sure to constantly stir the mixture, but do not let it boil. The mixture thickens fast so this step should only take a few minutes.

4) Remove your creamy mixture from the heat, and add a few drops of vanilla extract and a bit of whiskey for additional flavor. Add your butter and mix until the butter melts.

To make Napoleon layers:

1) Lay out a 3x3 base of cookies in a rectangular dish and spread the cream over it. Repeat this step for two more layers of cookies, making a total of three layers. You should have used 27 cookies. The resulting piece of cake will be about 8'' by 5".

2) To make the cake more decorative, crush 2-3 biscuits that remain in your pack and spread the crumbs over the top layer of cream.

3) Let  the cake cool in the fridge for a few hours before serving. For aesthetic purposes, you can trim the uneven edges of the cookies, but this is not necessary.

See--piece of cake! (Hah.)


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Persimmon Cookies

My mom loves persimmons but they are only in season for a few short weeks in December and January.  As soon as December rolls around she is on a mission to find as many persimmons before their short season comes to an end.  Sometimes we end up with so many that is just not possible to eat them all before they start spoiling.  When they start to get too soft and black spots start appearing on the skin, I know that they are perfect for persimmon cookies! 

The recipe for these cookies was adapted from a sticker that is sometimes placed on persimmons in stores.  I actually have several stickers that I kept over the years hiding in random places.  I had never made the cookies before but I am really happy with the results.  They are soft and sweet and have just the right amount of spices.  Best of all, they are easy to make and have a melt in your mouth quality to them.  I want to make them again with the last few persimmons of the season!




Makes about 32 cookies

1 cup persimmon pulp (from 2 large persimmons)
2 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoom nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup margarine or butter
1 egg
1 cup sugar

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Dissolve the baking soda in persimmon pulp and set aside.

3.  Sift the flour, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt together and set aside.

4.  Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy and then beat in the egg.

5.  Stir all three mixtures together until combined.  Drop teaspoons of the batter onto a well greased baking sheet.  Cook for 10-12 minutes until the edges of the cookies are just starting to brown.



Sunday, January 1, 2012

To A New Year and To Inspiration!

Happy New Year everyone!  And a HUGE thank you to everyone who has taken the time to stop by and comment to us!  We love hearing from you!

Since starting Two Minds Cook Alike last year, Alyssa and I have been growing and evolving along with the blog.  Both of us really enjoy cooking but we often do not have time to spend preparing a fancy meal.  So we try to share recipes that aren't too complicated even for those people who may not enjoy cooking!  We love it when our recipes inspire you to get into the kitchen and make the item for yourself! 

Of course, as I consider the time and effort that went into the blog over the past few months, I have also been thinking of some goals for improvement over the next year:

1. Eat healthier and include more healthy recipes on the blog!
2. Post more frequently!
3. Continue to interact with our readers and include more posts about what you want to read!
4. Improve the quality of posts with better pictures and by presenting food in new and creative ways!

Speaking of my last goal, I am constantly looking for new ideas on how to photograph and present the food that I cook and share on this blog. There are so many great food blogs out there with beautiful pictures. I always want to make the food look as appealing as it tastes and to really stand out in pictures.  I think that a lot of the cute ways for presenting food can also serve the dual purpose of decorations.  Here are some of my inspirations:

I bought these cake domes recently because I thought that they would be a cute way to show off any cookies or desserts that I made.  I have actually been using one to store my ever growing jewelry collection thanks to chloe + isabel. The other one has not been used for food yet :)

Both of these items can be found in my good friend Annie's etsy shop where she sells many great vintage items!  I love these two items because of the natural wood.  I think that they easily transition from serving as a decoration to a dinner party or to staging great blog posts.

Cake stands, cake stands, and more cake stands.  It doesn't matter if they are clear, colorful, or made of milk glass. What can I say?  I love all of them! 

Source: pinterest 

Chalkboard trays!

Source: pinterest

Milk Glass bowls

Source:  Etsy, pinterest

Thanks for reading!