Wednesday, March 31, 2010


If you've landed here, hooray! But may I take you some where else?

Laptops and Stovetops no longer updates this blog site as of February 2010.

FOR ALL NEW POSTS, please go to the new and fabulous

Thanks for stopping by San Diego or where ever you're from and I can't wait to catch up on the new site.

Rachel 'Tha Pizza Cutta' Joyce

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Champagne & Roses Verrines Valentine's Dessert

You can count me among those that revel in the Valentine's Day pageantry, but its not because I am looking for love in gift-and-dinner form. Its because I love to express love, and on this heartfelt occasion I do it the best way I know how-sweets. Last year I had lots o'down time following a minor yet necessary laser-zapping, so I went on a chocolate truffle journey and passed my personally crafted confections around to my closest loved ones as Valentine's gifts. Great fun was had by all trying the different truffle flavors and finding their favorite one, but this year with a little help from Spiegelau Glassware my sweet token of Valentine's love is meant only for two in my twist on Champagne & Roses with my Champagne & Roses Verrines Valentine's Dessert. This dessert for lovers features a Spiegelau Vino Grande Champagne Flute playing a different role this year as a dish acting as the long and sexy vessel for the decadent layered dessert of Champagne Marinated Fruit followed by Pink Champagne Cake and topped with a light and lovey Champagne Mousse. And if that's not enough to knock your lover's socks off, how about tantalizing them with some Champagne Chocolate & Cashew Covered Fruit on the side? Feeding each other just got a whole lot juicier.

When Spiegelau Glassware approached me about featuring their product for a Valentine's post, I knew I wanted to do something totally different and modern. Last summer I posted a Peaches-n-Cream with Sesame Cookie dessert which I served in large latte cups and large wine glasses for friends at a dinner party in my home. Completely unbeknownst to me the artful presentation of an appetizer or dessert in a cup or glassware in French is called, "Verrines." My good friend Mathilde Cuisine left me a comment educating me on my accidental French awesomeness last year, and the excitement of my culinary achievement has carried over all these months ahead sparking the flame that is the white hot Champagne & Roses Verrines Valentine's Dessert.

I will forewarn your foodies & foodettes, this is an intricate dessert to create. Thankfully, the mousse can and should be made up to 48 hours ahead of time so by the time you read this post you can get started constructing your sensual Champagne & Roses Verrines Valentine's Dessert for your Be Mine tonight. Essentially, there are four edible parts and 1 semi-edible part: marinated fruit bits and whole fruits, marinated and chocolate covered whole fruits, pink champagne cake, champagne mousse, and the decorative faux royal icing roses. Let's first get down and dirty starting with the champagne mousse and cake.

Pink Champagne Cake
Adapted from Simply Decorated's version of Cuisine at Home's Recipe.
  • 2 1/2 cups sifted flour; cake flour is preferred if you have it. I did not and it was all good.
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed and softened.
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup brut sparkling wine
  • 1/4 cup regular whipping cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 6 drops red or pink food coloring
  • 6 egg whites
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 9-inch round cake pans or 1 9x4 round cake pan and a 9" loaf pan with parchment paper and coat with nonstick spray. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  2. Cream butter and granulated sugar in a stand mixer until mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Combine 3/4 cup sparkling wine, cream, and vanilla.
  3. Add flour and wine mixtures alternately to butter mixture, combining well after each addition. Start with the flour mixture and end with the flour mixture.
  4. Tint batter with red food coloring and using a rubber spatula, mix the coloring into the batter until you've reached a consistent color of pink.
  5. Beat egg whites in a separate bowl with clean beaters until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes.
  6. Fold egg whites into cake batter in thirds, stopping as soon as whites are incorporated.
  7. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans.
  8. Bake cakes until a toothpick inserted in the center has only or or two crumbs on it, about 30 minutes. Cool cakes in pans for 10 minutes, then turn cakes out onto a rack to cool completely.

Champagne Mousse from
I read A LOT of mousse recipes before deciding on this one. It is only slightly adapted here in my version.
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 tblsp white sugar
  • 2/3 cup champagne
  • 1/2 tsp gelatin
  • 1 tblsp water
  • 1/2 regular whipping cream, or heavy if you have it.
  1. Whip the cream until it reaches soft peaks. If you're using a mixer, on medium speed it should only take 2-3 minutes and refrigerate.
  2. Combine the yolks and sugar in a glass or stainless steel bowland whisk thoroughly until the mixture whitens. Add the champagne and whisk together completely.
  3. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and cook, beating constantly until the mixture thickens to the consistency of a light hollandaise sauce.
  4. Remove from heat and continue whisking for about 1 minute. Set aside and allow to cool.
  5. Combine the gelatin and water in a small bowl and let stand for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin. Heat the softened gelatin mixture until the gelatin dissolves and the liquid clears.
  6. Whisk the dissolved gelatin into the champagne mixture. Then fold in the whipped cream with the aid of a rubber spatula.
  7. Chill for at least 24 hours before piping or spooning the mousse into champagne glasses.

Champagne Marinated Fruit
  • 1/2 Bosch Pear
  • 8-10 medium fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup champagne
  • 3 tblsp white sugar
  • 2-3 drops of lemon juice
  1. Wash and dry fruits. Half the pear, and halve the halves. Cut spears from quarters. You should have at least 8. Using a paring knife, remove the inner core from each spear.
  2. Put fruits in a shallow dish and sprinkle sugar on top of fruits. Add the champagne and lemon juice. Cover and let sit 20 minutes.
  3. Remove 3/4 of the fruit from the marinade and set aside to dry.
  4. Leave the remaining whole fruit in the dish and put in the refrigerator to continue the marinating process.
  5. When its time to build the dessert, finely dice 1/4 cup of strawberries and pears.

Building the Champagne & Roses Verrines Valentine's Dessert
What you'll Need:
  • 2 Spiegelau Vino Grande Champagne Flutes
  • 4 rounds of Pink Champagne Cake
  • 4 tsp. of diced marinated fruit bits
  • 8 tblsp of Champagne Mousse
  • 2 Royal Icing Pink Roses
  • 2 Floral Wires
  • 2" round pastry or biscuit cutter
  • pastry bag if you have one
  1. Bend and cut a floral wire into a 2 petal stem, apprx. 6" in length.
  2. I bought the royal icing roses with a hole pre-cut in the bottom from D&G Occasions. If you want to replicate my faux roses, find the closest bakery and party outlet store near you. Call first to save on the gas too!
  3. Place the royal icing rose on top of the floral wire stem and set aside.
  4. Using a 2" round pastry or biscuit cutter, carefully cut out 4 cake rounds from the whole round baked cake. *If you also make a loaf, don't cut the rounds out of that! Serve that at at different time. Slices of champagne cake would be perfect on Sunday for a Valentine's Day Brunch-in-Bed.*
  5. Put 1 tsp of marinated fruit bits in the bottom of each glass followed by a round of pink champagne cake. Using your fingers to squeeze the cake round in. Don't worry, the Spiegelau flutes can take it!
  6. Pipe or place 2 tblsp. of mousse on top of the first cake round. Place another cake round on the mousse, followed by 2 more tblsp. of mouse and topped with fruit bits. Insert the faux rose into the dessert until it holds steady.
  7. Viola! Your work of edible love art is ready for nibbling.

If you like the idea of this post, but not all of the work I totally understand! You can still achieve the Champagne & Roses twist theme by doing the Champagne Chocolate & Cashew Covered Fruit only! "But how?" you wonder aloud. I'll tell you. A.- Of course by marinating the fruit quickly in champagne you achieve the 'champagne' part of the theme. Feel free also to serve the fruit along with leftover champagne, but something much nicer than the Cook's Brut I baked with here. B.-Did you know that strawberries, also from France originally, are part of the Rose family? Well indeed they are! GUYS, this is the perfect homemade gift for your lucky and better half. First it is the easiest dessert on planet Earth to make. Its wrapped in chocolate for the bad-in-us-femms, but it is fruit for the good-in-us-femms, and you made it with your own two hands which can only mean you truly, truly love and adore your significant other.

Therefore, in advance, "You're very welcome." Also, "You owe me."

Champagne Chocolate & Cashew Covered Fruit
  • 4-6 whole champagne marinated strawberries
  • 4-6 whole champagne marinated bosch pear spears
  • 8 oz. Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup chopped cashews
  • Chopped mint for garnish
  1. Make sure your fruits are dry! The chocolate will not stick if there is alcohol on the surface.
  2. Pre-chop cashews. I like to put them in a ziploc bag and wail on them with my meat tenderizer. It helps with stress. Put chopped cashews in a small, shallow bowl.
  3. Prep a baking sheet or rectangle tupperware by lining it with parchment paper.
  4. Start up your double-boiler and bring the water to a boil. In a stainless steel or glass pot or bowl, melt 8 oz. of milk chocolate.
  5. Bring the melted chocolate back to your station where the fruit, nuts, and baking sheet are prepped.
  6. Roll your fruit in the melted chocolate and then dip one side into the nuts.
  7. Transfer immediately to the parchment paper.
  8. Repeat and then place baking sheet into the refrigerator until the chocolate firms up; about an hour.
It doesn't get any easier than that, and think of this the next time you pay upwards of $20 for something you can whip up at home for $10!

If you decide to serve the constructed and sophisticated Champagne & Roses Verinnes Valentine's Dessert or if you're serving just the fruits as your simply sexy sweet, be sure to make up a beautiful tray to chauffeur your handmade dessert oozing of love directly to your Valentine where ever they may be; in bed, lounging on the living room floor, soaking up some bubbles in the tub-you get the idea! Happy Valentine's Day. I heart you all!


To my dearest Foodies & Food-ettes,

I know I have been neary a figment of a food blogger since my last post, but rest assured I've been busy in the kitchen at the stovetop and at my laptop getting WWW.LAPTOPSAND
STOVETOPS.COM ready for her public debut! (You can do there now, but we are not done so please pardon the dust).

This site has been a work of love and I hope you all enjoy the vibe as well as all the delicious food! In the interest of keeping vintage alive, this site will not be taken down so readers can link to and access these original blogspot posts. Thanks for keeping L&S alive and encouraging me to grow both at the stovetop and the laptop. Mucho besos!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Creamy Potato & Broccoli Soup for 6 More Weeks of Winter

Good ole' Punxsutawney Phil woke up this morning, had a hot cup of coffee, read some of today's news online, and pumped out a few perfect push-ups before having a shower, a shave, and a mirror-power-pep-talk preparing for his most important day of the year-Groundhog's Day. Turns out Phil did indeed see his shadow today indicting this cold winter will last well into March, and if you live in the DC-VA area you are already being graced with the Ice Queen's touch in excess of 6 inches of snow predicted to fall over night. Pouring it on a little thick, aren't we Phil?

When the temperatures drop and frost is in the air, what is the one dish we all instinctively crave? If you said soup you are right! Hooray! Gold Star! Mario Kart! Wii! Sorry, I got a little excited and ahead of myself there. Back to soup. Soup is a miracle of mankind's survival techniques. Nearly every food can be transformed into soup; it's the remedy for breathing new life into leftover ingredients and can embody tremendous flavor in just one spoonful. In addition to the frigid winter weather, I also recently had the painful experience of having all four of my wisdom teeth extracted rendering my diet to soft foods only, i.e. soup and other soup-like foods like yogurt, grits (bleh, I can't believe I ate them but I did), and pudding. But not all soups are created equal when you are searching for optimal softness. Any soups with chunks or noodles are immediately disqualified because they require chewing. Too spicy and too rich soups like bisques are also out of the running due to their fierce strike on your mouth's open wounds. Miso soup is a superb soft soup as the tofu easily melts and the seaweed also dissolves quickly. But I wasn't about to pay sushi restaurant prices for a daily supply of miso and I sure as ish wasn't making it from scratch in my state, so I did the sensible thing, looked into my crisper to find all the ingredients I needed to cook a velvety smooth Creamy Potato & Broccoli Soup.

(I thought the ingredients looked pretty.)

Serving Size: 4 quarts
  • 3 tblsp butter
  • 1 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1 full head of broccoli, chopped (and stem)
  • 6 ribs of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 2-21/2 pounds of russet Idaho potatoes, skinned and cubed
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 5 cups boiling water
  • Regular Cream
  • *Optional : 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese

  1. Melt butter in a large stock pot (at least 6 quarts).
  2. Cook finely chopped onion, celery, and carrot in the melted butter for 4 minutes over medium heat.
  3. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer.
  4. Start adding potatoes.
  5. Add boiling water and the rest of the potatoes.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Let simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes. First 10 minute cook un-covered, and cover for the last 10 minutes.
  8. At 15 minutes in, add broccoli to cook in the stock for the last 5 minutes.
  9. Take off heat and in 1/4s add the mixture to a food processor or blender to puree.
  10. Puree until you reach a velvety texture.
  11. Add the puree back to the stock pot and taste.
  12. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  13. Pour 1 turn around the pot with the cream and mix in using a wooden spoon.
  14. Optional* Add 3 cups of cheddar cheese if you want a cheesy soup and let melt all the way before serving.
  15. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and slurp away those wintry cold and wisdom teeth extraction blues.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Eat Local this Week in Orlando!

Eat Local Week is going on right now in area estab - lishments all around Orlando who use local ingredients in their cuisine or sell them at their markets. Eat Local Week is sponsored by Slow Food Orlando, a chapter of Slow Food USA and the idea is simple, spread the word and go patron the eateries who patron our local farmer's and artisans. Let's create a strong local food community! Coincidentally, I covered a handful of establishments in 2009 which are already a part of the Slow Food Orlando Movement. Check out my coverage of those eateries and more on Eat Local Week in Orlando!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Twice-Baked Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Potato Skins

I seriously can not get enough of the Creamy Buffalo Chicken Dip tested for I've had the dip form, the BBQ Pizza form, and now the twice-baked, twice-delicious potato skin form. I think this dip may have nine lives, and I intend to uncover and cook all nine of them. But for now, let's chat about these twice-baked potato skins.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of having all four of my wisdom extracted in one foul swoop! Gnarled teeth be gone! Due to my post-op condition, I am limited to only to a soft foods diet and I have to avoid hot temperatures. Total appetite bummer. To combat the sadness that is not eating what I want when I want, I decided to turn the frown upside down and make some soft foods I would love. Yea! Kitchen crafting to distract my mind from a swollen, painful face and deadly boredom! One of those soft foods I would love was supposed to be Rosemary Green Onion Blue Cheese Mashed Potatoes; which would have probably been a lovely and simple dish I could have prepared and enjoyed with relatively light pain. But of course after staring at my pretty little organic Idaho potatoes I thought what a shame it would be to annihilate the petite yet voluptuous, round potato shape. Then, upon examining the contents of my fridge, my eye caught the leftover Creamy Buffalo Chicken Dip and the Twice-Baked Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Potato Skins were on like Tron, or even on like Donkey Kong. I. E., it was on.

To kick off this dish, I wanted to bump up the skins' flavor a bit on their own so I whipped up a quick herb crust with fresh rosemary, dried basil, dried thyme, sea salt, coarse black pepper, butter, and bread crumbs to cover the outer portion of the skins. I mixed the potato flesh carefully eradicated from their skins with some butter and heaping tablespoons of the already made Creamy Buffalo Chicken Dip and mashed the dickens of all that together. When the skins were finished baking, I began to build my tower-o-flavor. First, blue cheese crumbles followed by the buffalo chicken dip infused mashed potatoes. Topping this potato skin tower-o-flavor I used cheddar cheese crumbles, pre-cooked bacon pieces, and a lavish line of Sriarchi. For the tippy-top topping to enhance flavor, texture, and color are fresh scallions, or green onions.

My, oh my, I couldn't wait to house all 6 of the skins I twice-baked, but oh woe was me! Even though the potato skins were soft they still required a large bite and chewing that caused me deep, dreadful pain. I struggled through two skins when I had to give in and make oatmeal so I wouldn't pass out from starvation. Luckily Pete enjoyed the skins very much and polished them off calming my ego from a total soft food fail.

Twice-Baked Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Potato Skins
Serving Size: 6 skins, appetizer for 2 people.
  • 3 medium organic Idaho Potatoes
  • 2 heaping tblsp. of Creamy Buffalo Chicken Dip
  • 2 tblsp. canola oil
  • 1 tsp. sea salt + sprinklings
  • 1 tsp. coarse black pepper
  • 1 tblsp. fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried time
  • 2 tblsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • cheddar cheese crumbs
  • blue cheese crumbs
  • pre-cooked bacon
  • 2 fresh green onions, chopped.
  • 2 tsp. Sriarchi hot sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Wash, dry, and then poke potatoes all over with a fork. Wrap in paper towels and microwave on high for 9-1o minutes or until fully cooked.
  3. Let potatoes cool a few minutes so they can be handled more easily.
  4. Cut cooked potatoes in half vertically.
  5. Using a pairing knife, carefully extract the potato flesh from each half leaving the skin in tact and stable enough to stand up.
  6. Put the potato flesh in a separate bowl.
  7. In a small dish, melt the 1 tblsp. of butter. Mix in the bread crumbs and butter with your fingers. Mix in all the herbs and seasonings.
  8. Brush the in and outside of the skins with canola oil. Season the inside with sea salt and coarse black pepper.
  9. Roll the outside of the skins in the herb seasonings. Place the coated skins inside-down on a baking sheet.
  1. Bake at 450F for 18 minutes.
  2. Remove from oven and lower heat to 400F.
  3. In the bowl with the reserved potato flesh and 1 tblsp. of butter and microwave for 30 seconds. Mash the butter and potato together. Add the Buffalo Chicken Dip and 2 tsp. of Sriarchi and mash all together.
  4. In the baked skins, first add blue cheese crumbles inside the skin. Follow with the mashed potato/buffalo chicken dip mixture. Make mounds. Finish with sprinklings of cheddar cheese, more blue cheese crumbles, pre-cooked bacon, and a last line of Sriarchi.
  5. Bake at 400F for 12-14 minutes. Garnish with fresh sliced green onion and serve!

My God, I can not wait until I can eat like a real foodie again.

P.S. - I ate grits today for dinner, and enjoyed them. (Holds head in hand in utter disbelief). Now you know I am desperate.