Sophie’s Coconut Custard Pie

A beautiful, yet easy pie with a nice rich, tropical flavor for all you coconut-lovers like me that’s perfect for a family birthday party. Enjoy.

1 9″ Graham Cracker Crust

1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour

1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar

1/4 Stick Butter or Margarine, Melted

4 Whole Eggs

1 Cup Milk

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, butter, eggs, milk, vanilla, and sweetened coconut, and pour into crust.

3. Bake for 45-50 minutes.

4. Remove from oven, and enjoy.

Yields: 1 coconut custard pie

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Sophie’s Sweet And Spicy Beef Empanadas

Mexican meat pies with a great balance of flavors that taste just like the ones you buy. Enjoy.

2 9″ Pie Crusts

All Purpose Flour

1 lb Ground Beef

1/4 Onion, Peeled And Diced

2 Garlic Cloves, Peeled And Minced

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Sazón, to taste

Tomato Paste

Sweet Chili Sauce

Raisins (optional)

1 Whole Egg, Beaten

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

2. Take the pie crust out of the shell, and press it together. Flatten out the dough on a clean work surface that has been sprinkled with some flour to prevent it from sticking, and, using a bowl as your guide, use a knife to cut it into circles.

3. Oil a pan, and add garlic. Sauté until slightly browned, add onion, and let cook.

4. Add ground beef, crumble it, and season with salt and pepper and sazón. Brown it, and stir in tomato paste and sweet chili sauce.

5. Drain on a paper towel, and set aside.

6. Spoon some filling into the center of each circle, and place a few raisins (if using) on them. Fold it in half, and press it down on the edges so the ends stick to each other. Press down on the center to slightly flatten the filling, seal the edges by crimping them with a fork, and continue doing that with the rest of the circles and the remaining filling.

7. Use a pastry brush or your finger to brush the tops of the empanadas with the beaten egg, and place them in two baking tins.

8. Bake for 10 minutes.

9. Remove from oven, let cool, and enjoy.

Yields: 6 empanadas

Sophie’s Turkey Pad Thai-Inspired Bánh Mi Burgers With Rice “Noodle” And Pickled Vegetable Slaw And Sweet Chili Mayo

A classic Vietnamese sandwich transformed into a burger with my own little twists that’s just as flavorful. Enjoy.

4 Hamburger Buns

1 lb Ground Turkey

Coconut Milk

Fish Sauce, to taste

Granulated Sugar, to taste

Lemon Zest

Fresh Mint Leaves, Washed And Chopped

Lime Juice

Sesame Oil

Hoisin Sauce, to taste

Salt and Pepper, to taste

2 Garlic Cloves, Peeled And Grated

Chinese Five-Spice Powder, to taste

Rice Paper Wrappers, Cut Into Strips

Warm Water

1 Cup Carrots, Washed, Peeled, Halved Widthwise, And Julienned

Radishes, Washed And Thinly Sliced

Bean Sprouts

Green Peppers, Washed, Seeded, And Sliced

1/4 head Red Cabbage, Washed, Cored, And Grated

2 Scallions, Washed And Thinly Sliced

Fresh Cilantro Leaves, Washed And Chopped

Water

Rice Vinegar, to taste

Granulated Sugar, to taste

Salt, to taste

Fresh Ginger Root, Peeled And Chopped, to taste

Sesame Seeds

Mayonnaise

Sweet Chili Sauce

1/2 Stick Butter or Margarine, Softened

For the original burgers:

1. In a medium bowl, combine ground turkey, coconut milk, fish sauce, granulated sugar, lemon zest, chopped fresh mint leaves, lime juice, sesame oil, hoisin sauce, salt and pepper, grated garlic, and Chinese five-spice powder with your hands, and form into patties.

2. Heat oil in a cast iron skillet, cook the burgers, bottom-sides down, until those sides are brown, and flip. Repeat with the other sides down, and cover when and if necessary to cook the insides.

3. Uncover, remove from pan, and set aside.

For the pickled vegetables:

1. In a saucepan, dissolve granulated sugar and salt in water and rice vinegar, stir in chopped fresh ginger and sesame seeds, and bring to a boil. Bring the mixture to a simmer, place julienned carrots, thinly sliced radishes, bean sprouts, and sliced green peppers into a medium bowl, and pour the pickling liquid over them. Let sit for at least 30 minutes.

For the slaw:

1. Soak rice paper strips in warm water until soft and workable, using your hands to move them around as they soak. This should take about 20 seconds or so.

2. Drain pickled vegetables, and discard pickled ginger. Pour back into the bowl, and stir in grated red cabbage, thinly sliced scallions, chopped fresh cilantro leaves, and rice “noodles”.

For the sweet chili mayo:

1. In a small bowl, combine mayo and sweet chili sauce.

For the finished burgers:

1. Spread 1/4 stick of butter on the cut side of each hamburger bun.

3. Toast them, butter-side down, in a cast iron skillet until warm.

4. Spread sweet chili mayo on toasted buns, top half with the cooked turkey mixture and pickled “noodle” and vegetable slaw, and flip the other halves onto them. Press the burgers down, so they stay together, and enjoy.

Yields: 4 turkey pad-thai inspired bánh mi burgers with rice “noodle” and pickled vegetable slaw and sweet chili mayo

Sophie’s Spiced Carrot Cake Muffins With Sweet Potato Filling And Spiced Oat And Nut Streusel

Sweet, creamy, and crunchy muffins with loads of flavor inspired by a Round 1 challenge on an episode of Bakers vs. Fakers. Enjoy.

2 Cups All Purpose Flour, Divided Use

1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar

1/2 tsp Salt, Divided Use

2 tsp Baking Powder

Ground Cinnamon, to taste

Ground Nutmeg, to taste

1 Whole Egg

1 Cup, plus 2 Tbsp Whole Milk or Half And Half or Heavy Cream

1 1/2 tsp Distilled White Vinegar

1 Tbsp Honey

Molasses

1/2 Cup Pineapple Juice

1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/4 Cup Carrot, Washed And Grated

1/4 Cup Crushed Pineapple, Drained

1/2 can Sweet Potato Purée

Greek Yogurt

Coconut Cream

Applesauce

Maple Syrup

Dates, Pitted

3/4 Stick Cold Butter or Margarine, Cut Into Cubes

1/4 Cup Packed Dark Brown Sugar

Rolled Oats

Walnuts, Roasted, Salted, And Chopped

Sweetened Coconut

For the original muffins:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a medium bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of flour, granulated sugar, 1/4 tsp of salt, baking powder, some ground cinnamon, and some ground nutmeg.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, whole milk, vinegar, honey, molasses, pineapple juice, and vanilla, and beat into dry mixture.

4. Squeeze moisture out of grated carrot, and fold it and crushed pineapple into the batter. Grease muffin cups inside muffin pan with olive oil cooking spray, and divide the batter between the cups as equally and accurately as possible, stopping when the batter is almost to the top of the cup.

5. Bake until golden brown.

6. Remove from oven, and set aside.

For the sweet potato filling:

1. In a food processor, grind together sweet potato puree, Greek yogurt, coconut cream, applesauce, maple syrup, and dates until smooth.

For the spiced oat and nut streusel:

1. In a small bowl, combine remaining flour, brown sugar, remaining salt, some more ground cinnamon, some more ground nutmeg, rolled oats, chopped walnuts, sweetened coconut, and butter with a pastry cutter until course crumbs form.

For the finished muffins:

1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F on broil.

2. Scoop out the center of each muffin, and spoon some of the sweet potato filling inside. Press the scooped-out centers back on top, and sprinkle each with some of the streusel.

3. Bake until the streusel is nice and golden brown on each.

4. Remove from oven, and enjoy.

Yields: a dozen muffins

Sophie’s Southern Caprese With Thai Vinaigrette

A caprese salad platter with my own version of classic Southern fried green tomatoes, no basil, and an Asian-influenced vinaigrette instead of the usual balsamic vinegar. Enjoy.

Green Tomatoes, Washed And Sliced

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Yellow Cornmeal

1 Burrata Ball, Sliced

Hoisin Sauce, to taste

Fish Sauce, to taste

Granulated Sugar, to taste

Sweet Chili Sauce

Liquid Smoke

Lemon Zest

Fresh Ginger Root, Peeled And Grated, to taste

For the original caprese:

1. Season the green tomato slices with salt and pepper and cornmeal.

2. Heat a cast iron skillet, and lightly sear the green tomato slices on both sides.

3. Remove from skillet, lay on a rectangular platter with burrata cheese slices in between, slightly overlapping them and each other, and set aside.

For the Thai vinaigrette:

1. In a small bowl, combine hoisin sauce, fish sauce, granulated sugar, sweet chili sauce, liquid smoke, salt and pepper, lemon zest, and grated fresh ginger root.

For the finished caprese:

1. Drizzle Thai vinaigrette in lines over caprese, and enjoy.

Yields: 1 Southern caprese with Thai vinaigrette

Sophie’s Dark Chocolate Cookie Cake With Yellow Royal Icing And White Chocolate Chips

A chocolatey combination of two favorite desserts that can be personalized for someone special. Enjoy.

1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour

2 Cups Brown Sugar

1/4 tsp Salt

1/2 tsp Baking Soda

1 Stick Butter or Margarine, Softened

2 Whole Eggs

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Dark Chocolate Chips

1 Tbsp, plus 1 tsp Meringue Powder

4 1/2 Cups Confectioners’ Sugar, Sifted

4 Tbsp Water

Yellow Gel Food Coloring

White Chocolate Chips

For the original cookie cake:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.

3. Add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla.

4. In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking soda.

5. Pour in dry ingredients a little bit at a time, let the mixer go until everything is incorporated, and fold in dark chocolate chips.

6. Press into a well greased cake pan.

7. Bake for about 20 minutes.

8. Remove from oven, let cool, and set aside.

For the yellow royal icing:

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip meringue powder, sifted Confectioners’ sugar, water, and yellow gel food coloring until it reaches a toothpaste consistency. If you are having trouble reaching the right consistency, you can adjust the amount of Confectioners’ sugar and water.

For the finished cookie cake:

1. Pour the yellow royal icing into a squeeze bottle, and gently squeeze to pipe on whatever decorations you want. Sprinkle on white chocolate chips, cut, and enjoy.

Yields: 1 dark chocolate cookie cake with yellow royal icing and white chocolate chips

Sophie’s Garlic-Balsamic-Roasted Tomato Gazpacho

A classic cold summer soup turned nice and warm to ward off the winter chill with red grape tomatoes roasted in the oven with minced garlic and balsamic vinegar. Enjoy.

Red Grape Tomatoes, Washed

2 Garlic Cloves, Peeled And Minced

Balsamic Vinegar

1/8 Onion, Washed And Quartered

4 stalks Celery, Washed And Quartered, Divided Use

1 Red Sweet Pepper, Washed, Seeded, And Sliced

1 Orange Sweet Pepper, Washed, Seeded, And Sliced

1 Yellow Sweet Pepper, Washed, Seeded, And Sliced

Salt and Pepper, to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F on broil.

2. Combine tomatoes and minced garlic on a baking sheet, and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

3. Bake until slightly black and soft.

4. In a food processor, grind together roasted tomatoes with their juices, quartered onion, 2 stalks of celery, red sweet pepper, orange sweet pepper, and yellow sweet pepper until puréed but still chunky, and season with salt and pepper.

5. Pour into a bowl, garnish with remaining celery, and enjoy.

Yields: 1 serving

Sophie’s Resolution Fruit Tart With Spiced Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream And Apricot Jam Glaze

A colorful summer dessert transformed for winter that still looks and tastes as good. Enjoy.

1 Cup All Purpose Flour

1/2 Cup, plus 1 Tbsp Granulated Sugar, Divided Use

1/2 tsp Salt

1 1/4 Sticks Cold Butter or Margarine, Cut Into Cubes

1 Whole Egg

1/4 Cup Ice Water

1 Cup Milk

1/4 Cup Cornstarch

4 Egg Yolks

1 Madagascar Vanilla Bean, Caviar Scraped

Ground Cinnamon, to taste

Ground Nutmeg, to taste

Strawberries, Washed And Hulled

Raspberries, Washed

Blueberries, Washed

Kiwi, Washed, Peeled, And Diced

Star Fruit, Washed And Sliced

Apricot Jam or Saucy Susan Peach Apricot or Orange

Water

For the tart crust:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In medium bowl, combine flour, 1 Tbsp of granulated sugar, salt, and butter with a pastry cutter until course crumbs form.

3. Slowly knead in whole egg and ice water a tablespoon at a time until the mixture comes together to form a dough, and form into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap, and chill the dough for about 20 minutes in the refrigerator.

4. Remove from refrigerator, unwrap, and press into a tart pan.

5. Bake for about 17 minutes.

6. Remove from oven, and let cool.

For the spiced vanilla bean pastry cream:

1. In a saucepan, combine milk, 1/4 cup of granulated sugar, caviar from vanilla bean and vanilla bean pod, ground cinnamon, and ground nutmeg, and bring to a boil.

2. In a small bowl, beat egg yolks, remaining granulated sugar, and cornstarch until thick and pale yellow in color.

3. Pour some of the hot milk into the egg mixture to temper them, and add the milk-egg mixture to the rest of the hot milk mixture so that the eggs do not scramble, stirring the mixture until everything is incorporated.

4. Cook slowly, stirring constantly, until thick, and it reaches a temperature of 160 degrees F, turn off the heat, and stir in butter. Let cool, strain into a bowl, and set aside.

For the apricot jam glaze:

1. In a small bowl, combine apricot jam and water.

For the finished tart:

1. Pour spiced vanilla bean pastry cream into tart crust, and top with fruit, placing star fruit on top or in the center depending on how you arrange everything. Lightly brush fruit with apricot jam glaze, and place on a cake stand. Cut, and enjoy.

Yields: 1 resolution fruit tart with spiced vanilla bean pastry cream and apricot jam glaze

Sophie’s Dulce De Leche-Spice Genoise Cake Bread Pudding With White Chocolate Custard And Orange Essence “Snow”

A nice chocolatey bread pudding filled with winter flavors and made with love. Enjoy.

2 Cups All Purpose Flour

1 Cup Packed Dark Brown Sugar

1/2 tsp Salt

10 Whole Eggs, Divided Use

Molasses

Dulce De Leche

Ground Cinnamon, to taste

Ground Nutmeg, to taste

Ground Ginger, to taste

Allspice, to taste

1 1/4 Sticks, plus 2 tsp Butter or Margarine, Softened

1 Cup Whole Milk or Half And Half or Heavy Cream

1 Cup Granulated Sugar

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

White Chocolate, Melted

Tapioca Maltodextrin

Orange Oil

For the dulce de leche-spice genoise cake:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Set up a double boiler. On the bottom, place a saucepan filled with water over the stove. On the top, place a small bowl filled with 6 whole eggs and brown sugar.

3. Cook slowly, stirring constantly, until it reaches the ribbon stage, and turn off the heat.

4. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer, and beat it until thick and pale orange in color.

5. Sift flour and salt over it in three additions, and fold in each one.

6. Melt butter with molasses, dulce de leche, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground ginger, and allspice in a pan over the stove, and fold it into the batter.

7. Pour the cake into a well greased cake pan, and bake for about 35 minutes. Do not open the oven while it is baking in order to keep the temperature stable. Unstable temperature can cause the cakes to sink. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean when the cake is done.

8. Remove from oven and let cool. Run a serrated knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it, and set aside.

9. Let sit out overnight, uncovered, to dry out slightly.

10. The next day, preheat the oven to 500 degrees F on broil.

11. Crumble the cake into a well greased baking tin.

12. Bake until toasted.

13. Remove from oven, and set aside.

For the custard:

1. In a small bowl, combine eggs, whole milk, granulated sugar, vanilla, and melted white chocolate.

For the orange essence “snow”:

1. In a food processor, grind together tapioca maltodextrin and orange oil until it becomes a dry sandy powder.

For the finished bread pudding:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Pour custard over stale crumbled cake.

3. Bake on the bottom rack for about 40 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean when the bread pudding is done.

4. Remove from oven, and let cool. Sprinkle on orange essence “snow”, cut, and enjoy.

Yields: 1 dulce de leche-spice genoise cake bread pudding with white chocolate custard and orange essence “snow”

Sophie’s Black And White Cookies

My version of those classic cakey vanilla and chocolate cookies you love to buy at NYC bakeries that, while it looks and is less authentic than the original, actually might taste better. Enjoy.

2 Cups All Purpose Flour

1 1/3 Cups Granulated Sugar

1/4 tsp Salt

1 1/4 tsp Baking Soda

2 Sticks Butter or Margarine, Softened

2 Whole Eggs

1/4 Cup, plus more Milk

1 tsp, plus more Vanilla Extract

1 tsp Lemon Extract

Confectioners Sugar

Dark Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy.

3. Add eggs, one at a time, a dash of milk, 1 tsp of vanilla, and lemon.

4. In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking soda.

5. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and milk into the batter, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.

6. Scoop onto two well greased baking sheets.

7. Bake for 9 minutes.

8. Remove from oven, and let cool.

9. In a small bowl, combine some Confectioners sugar, some milk, and some vanilla. Pour half of it into another bowl, and stir some cocoa powder into that half. They should be thick but pourable.

10. Spread vanilla glaze on half of each cookie, and spread chocolate glaze on the other half. Let the glazes set, and enjoy.

Yields: about 2 dozen cookies