Friday, December 21, 2007

Dead-Simple Chocolate Walnut Fudge

This originally appeared as "15-minute Chocolate Walnut Fudge" in Cook's Illustrated, recipe by David Pazmino. I made a batch of it last year to give as gifts to the kids on my list, and it was so good and was met with such enthusiastic squealing (!) that I think I'm going to have to make it again this year...

Yield: 49 pieces

16 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped fine
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Note: Don't omit the walnuts, which are crucial to the fudge's texture.

Line bottom of an 8-inch square pan with foil, leaving 1-inch overhanging at two opposite sides of pan. Spray foil with nonstick cooking spray.

Toss chocolates, baking soda and salt in medium heatproof bowl until baking soda is evenly distributed. Stir in sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. Set bowl over 4-quart saucepan containing 2 cups simmering water. Stir with rubber spatula until chocolate is almost fully melted and few small pieces remain, 2 to 4 minutes.

Remove bowl from heat and continue to stir until chocolate is fully melted and mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes. Stir in walnuts. Transfer fudge to prepared pan and spread in even layer with spatula. Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours. Remove fudge from pan using foil and cut into squares.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Rack of Lamb Persillade

3 small or 2 large racks of lamb, frenched
Good olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups loosely packed fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon chopped garlic cloves (3 cloves)
1 cup fresh white bread crumbs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Place the racks in a roasting pan, fat side up. Rub the tops with olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Roast the lamb for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the parsley and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until they're both finely minced. Add the bread crumbs and lemon zest and process for a second until combined.

Take the lamb out of the oven and quickly press the parsley mixture on top of the meat. Drizzle with the melted butter and return immediately to the oven and roast for another 15 minutes.

Take the lamb out of the oven and cover with aluminum foil. Allow it to rest for 15 minutes, cut in double chops, and serve.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Cranberry-Orange Vodka

Raves all around when we handed out bottles of this bright, potent, flavorful stuff as presents last year. Time to make a new batch. (Recipe by Michael Chiarello)

1 pound cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split
2 oranges, peels cut into 2-inch strips
1 (750-ml) bottle vodka

To serve:
1 bottle tonic water
Lime slices, for garnish

Place cranberries, sugar and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Place pan over medium heat and stir. Simmer cranberry mixture until the berries burst, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Place orange peels in a large glass container with an airtight lid, or large mason jars with lids. Pour vodka over the orange peels.

Allow the cranberry mixture to cool. Pour the cooled mixture into the glass container(s). Cover tightly and set aside for 1 week. After 1 week, strain out the cranberries and orange peels and pour mixture into a clean bottle, using a funnel. Store vodka in the refrigerator.

To serve: Pour 2 ounces of vodka mixture over ice in a tall glass and top with tonic water. Garnish with a slice of lime.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Bobo's Bread Pudding

Check out this month's Sugar High Fridays roundup at

I have a student who's a pastry chef, and she sent me this outstanding bread pudding recipe today. It got me thinking about bread pudding again, in all of its permutations. In the mid '90s I was working in the kitchen at a certain restaurant in NYC; and over that holiday season we must have turned out easily a thousand of the restaurant's signature bread puddings. The "myth of authenticity" was that the bread pudding recipe had come directly from the sous chef's Italian grandmother; but after quite a lot of drinks at the bar one night, the sous chef confessed to me that it wasn't his grandmother's recipe at all. He explained that when the restaurant first opened, the chefs all agreed that they wanted bread pudding on the menu, but, as often happened, no one could agree on how they wanted it to taste. They tested and re-tested recipes without reaching any consensus, until finally the sous chef came in one day and said "this is the bread pudding you have to try -- its my grandmother's recipe." Then he handed them a plate of the exact same fabulous bread pudding he had been feeding them for weeks, and the chefs all emphatically agreed that "grandma's" recipe was the authentic version they had been searching for all along.
For me, "the sous chef's grandmother's recipe" is still the bread pudding I love most -- full of chocolate and raisins and cinnamon, and served warm in a big towering hunk of fluffy melting goodness. But this caramel apple version is fantastic too. I'll be making it for sure.

3 eggs and 2 yolks
10 ½ oz. sugar
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cinnamon
2 ½ oz. butter melted
9 oz. milk
9 oz. heavy cream
4 oz. raisins (soaked with rum or brandy at least 4 hours or overnight)
5 cups bread

(Caramel Apple mixture (optional) See below

Butter a medium baking dish
Cut the bread into cubes about 1 ½ inches big and toss with the raisins and any leftover liquor
Combine the milk and cream
Lightly whisk the eggs and egg yolks together then stir in the sugar, vanilla and spices.
Whisk the milk mixture into the eggs slowly trying not to create a lot of foam.
Whisk the melted butter into the above mixture.
Pour the custard over the bread and press down to submerge the bread.
Cover the pudding with plastic wrap and let soak overnight. You can place a dish on top of the plastic to keep the bread under the custard.
Preheat the oven to 325˚ and bake the bread pudding until it puffs up a little and is set in the center. Do not over bake it. Serve warm.

My student Susan writes:
I like to cook sugar to a caramel and pour it into the baking dish then I saute apple wedges in butter and sugar and line the bottom of the baking dish with them. If I do it this way I soak the bread in a separate container and pour it on top of the caramel and apples right before I bake it.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Eggplant Parmesan

3 medium-large eggplants, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
Olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 28-ounce can no-salt plum tomatoes or crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, or as needed
1/3 cup fine dry bread crumbs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves, optional.

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Brush both sides of eggplant slices with oil, and place in a single layer on two or more baking sheets. Bake until undersides are golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes, then turn and bake until other sides are lightly browned. Set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.
2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and add onion. Sauté until soft, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and dried oregano and sauté another 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and their juices, breaking up whole tomatoes with your hands. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Add vinegar, basil and salt and pepper to taste. Into a 9-by-9-inch, 10-by-5-inch or 10-by-6-inch baking pan, spoon a small amount of tomato sauce, then add a thin scattering of parmigiano, then a single layer of eggplant. Repeat until all ingredients are used, ending with a little sauce and a sprinkling of parmigiano. In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs and oregano, if using, with just enough olive oil to moisten. Sprinkle on top. If desired, recipe can be made to this point and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before baking.
4. Bake until eggplant mixture is bubbly and center is hot, 30 to 45 minutes depending on size of pan and thickness of layers. Remove from heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Recipe can also be reheated.
Yield: 4 to 5 main dish servings.

Individual Apricot Souffles with Bitter Chocolate Sauce

This recipe ran in the Times last year, and I served it for dessert on New Year's Eve, as the end of a five course banquet. Completely fabulous.

10 ounces dried apricots
4 tablespoons melted butter
3 tablespoons plus ½ cup sugar
4 ounces high-quality unsweetened chocolate (99 percent cacao)
4 tablespoons light corn syrup
4 tablespoons Tokaji aszu or grand marnier
1 teaspoon almond extract
10 large egg whites at room temperature.

1. Place apricots in a bowl, pour in just enough hot water to cover them and set aside to soak 2 hours. Brush 6 1-cup soufflé dishes or ramekins with butter and dust with 3 tablespoons sugar. Set aside on a baking sheet.

2. Melt chocolate over low heat. Stir in corn syrup and ½ cup water. Cook briefly, until well combined. Transfer to a serving bowl and set aside.

3. When apricots are soft and have absorbed most of the soaking water, drain and purée in a food processor. Place in a very large bowl and stir in wine and almond extract. Heat oven to 375 degrees.

4. Beat egg whites by machine, using a whisk attachment, until very softly peaked. Gradually beat in remaining ½ cup sugar until whites are very glossy, hold their shape but are not rigid. Stir one-fourth of whites into apricot mixture and fold in the rest. Divide among soufflé dishes, place in oven on baking sheet and bake about 15 minutes, until lightly browned on top. Serve, with room temperature chocolate sauce on the side.

Yield: 6 servings.

Spoonbread For Two

Bill's been asking about spoonbread again. I hadn't made it since last year, that poor guy! I imagined that I could probably cut the recipe down to yield exactly two golden brown ramekins worth, and it worked out just fine. Just ten minutes to stir together. Let it snow...

1/4c cup cornmeal
1 cup 2 % milk
Pinch of salt
Scant 1/8 cup sugar
1/2 tablespoon butter, plus more for buttering the dish and serving
1 egg, separated

**These take a much longer time in the oven than you might guess. The first batch were in for an hour and fifteen minutes and were still a little too wet inside. Next time I'm going to raise the heat to 400 degrees and see what happens. I might also try cooking them inside a bain marie. Works for souffles...

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the cornmeal into half of the milk and set aside. In a small bowl, beat the egg white until soft peaks form. Set aside. In a small pot, scald the other half of the milk and stir the cornmeal mixture into it, whisking over medium heat until the mixture has thickened, about 8 minutes. Off the heat, stir the sugar, salt and butter into the cornmeal mixture. Let cool for a few minutes and stir in the egg yolk. Gently fold in the egg white. Divide the mixture between two well buttered 8 or 6 ounce ramekins. Bake until tops are brown and crusty, and the inside is fluffy and set, approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Cod with Kale, White Beans and Lemon Vinaigrette

This is Bill's favorite thing that I make, and tonight we actually made it together for the first time. (Favorite quote from the sous chef: "I made zest!") No picture, sadly, because we scarfed it down hot out of the pan. Originally this was a Union Square Cafe recipe, with radicchio and celery and leeks instead of the vegetables used here. (Both versions are included below.) I made it last New Year's Eve as part of a five course meal that changed our relationship, or at least marked a deep change in it. Since this dish is now part of our New Year's tradition, we're going to start making it with black-eyed peas instead of white beans. Black-eyed peas and greens for New Year's, but still "hoity toity" enough to appease Bill's champagne tastes -- who could have imagined it? The lemon vinaigrette is now a staple in our house; bright and fresh and good on everything.

Lemon Vinaigrette:
1 T finely chopped lemon zest
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 T minced garlic
1 t kosher salt
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped parsley or cilantro

Cod and Bean Salad

2 cups cooked white beans or black eyed peas (1 can)
4 T extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups celery thinly sliced
2 cups leek rounds (white and light green parts only) washed well, and thinly sliced
(or substitute chopped yellow onions and 2 cloves of thinly sliced garlic)
3 heads radicchio, quartered, and leaves separated and cut in half OR an equal amount of chopped fresh kale
1/2 t kosher salt
1/4 t ground pepper
4 6-ounce cod filets
1 T flour
1 t garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
Extra parsley or cilantro for garnish

1. Combine the vinaigrette ingredients in a jar. Close and shake until emulsified. Set aside.
2. In a large saute pan, saute the vegetables in the olive oil over low heat until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Turn heat to high, add the raddichio or kale, and cook until the leaves are wilted. Transfer vegetables to a bowl and toss with the beans and 1 cup of the vinaigrette, while still warm. Season with half of the salt and pepper. Set aside.
Season cod filets with the remaining salt, pepper and garlic powder. Dredge the filets in the flour. Heat the remaining 2 T olive oil in a saute pan. Cook filets over high heat until golden, 4 - 5 minutes per side. Arrange cod on a platter on top of the warm bean salad. Spoon the remaining vinaigrette over the cod and serve, garnished with parsley or cilantro.
Serves 4

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Portobello Parmigiano

These mushrooms disappeared in the blink of an eye. Incredibly tasty.

4 portobello mushroom caps
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Tomato sauce
Monterey jack cheese, sliced thin
Grated parmesan cheese
Chopped parsley, for garnish
4 slices of toast, rubbed with a cut clove of garlic

Preheat the broiler.
Brush the mushrooms liberally with olive oil on both sides and season both sides with salt and pepper. Broil the mushrooms for about five minutes on each side, finishing gill side up. Divide the garlic among the caps and broil for another minute until the garlic is fragrant and golden. Remove from the broiler, and turn the heat down to 400 degrees. Spread a thick layer of tomato sauce over the bottom of a pyrex baking dish large enough to hold all of the mushrooms. Nestle the mushrooms into the sauce and top with the sliced cheese. Sprinkle parmesan over all, and bake until the cheese is melted and slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve with garlic toast to mop up the sauce.
Serves 2

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Potato Latkes

I still fill up on childhood food nostalgia every time Channukah rolls around. I made latkes tonight, but Bill, having never tasted them before and having no memories of gathering as a family to light the menorah and sing and open presents, etc, really didn't see what the big deal was. He did eat the latkes, though, with applesauce and sour cream. I'm still not sure how we're going to work this part out.

2 potatoes
1 onion
1/2 cup matzoh meal
1 egg
garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste
vegetable oil for frying
Applesauce and sour cream for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a food processor, process the potatoes and onion until finely minced. Do not overprocess or the potatoes will be gummy. In a large bowl, combine the potato-onion mixturee with the rest of the ingredients. Heat some oil in a saute pan. Fry one test latke and taste it, making any adjustments in seasoning to the rest of the latke mixture at this point if necessary. Fry in batches, and keep the cooked latkes warm on a sheet pan layered with paper towels in the oven until all of the latkes are cooked. Serve warm with applesauce and sour cream.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Giada's Balsamic Chicken

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 to 1/3 c. olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (4-pound) whole chicken, cut into pieces
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 T lemon zest
2 T chopped fresh parsley leaves

Whisk the vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper in small bowl to blend. Combine the vinaigrette and chicken pieces in a large resealable plastic bag; seal the bag and toss to coat. Refrigerate, turning the chicken pieces occasionally, for at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Remove chicken from the bag and arrange the chicken pieces on a large greased baking dish. Roast until the chicken is just cooked through, about 1 hour. If your chicken browns too quickly, cover it with foil for the remaining cooking time.

Transfer the chicken to a serving platter. Place the baking dish on a burner over medium-low heat. Whisk the chicken broth into the pan drippings, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the baking sheet with a wooden spoon and mixing them into the broth and pan drippings. Reduce to desired thickness (I usually let it go about 10 minutes, to get very very thick).

Drizzle the pan drippings over the chicken. Scatter the lemon zest and parsley over the chicken, and serve.

Cary's Leaf Lettuce Salad with Orange, Fennel and Red Onion (with Green Olive Dressing)

This is my go-to party salad. People tend to want the details (for which I cannot take any credit), so here they are. This recipe -- Moroccan-inspired, refreshing and dead-simple -- comes out of Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby's Lettuce in Your Kitchen, which is one of my favorite cookbooks by two of my favorite cooks. I've added extra spices over time, as reflected here:

For the dressing:
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup pitted and coarsely chopped green olives
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 T coriander seeds, toasted in a saute pan OR 1 T ground coriander
1 t ground cinnamon
1 T ground cumin
1 t ras al hanout (optional)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For the salad:
1 large head leaf lettuce (Bibb, Boston, red leaf, etc)washed and dried and leaves torn in half
2 seedless naval oranges, peeled and sliced horizontally into thin slices
1 medium red onion, peeld, halved, and halves very thinly sliced
1 large bulb of fennel, fronds and root end trimmed off, and rest of bulb very finely sliced lengthwise
Extra salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

In a small bowl, combine all dressing ingredients, and whisk well.
In a large bowl, combine the salad ingredients. Add salt and pepper. Stir the dressing well, and add just enough to moisten the ingredients. Toss well, and serve with a little extra dressing on top.
Serves 4 to 6.

White Bean and Spinach Soup

There goes the last of the last of the turkey stock. Now I'm in full-on jam-making mode for the holidays, and Thanksgiving is a already a distant dream, even just one week later. This hearty, satisfying soup -- a kind of brothy, tomato-less minestrone -- will keep us going through the snowy work week ahead. Next time I would use red beans instead of white, spinach fusilli instead of whole wheat and ham instead of turkey, just to make it prettier to look at, but the flavor doesn't need any adjustment at all. I'm baking a loaf of bread to go with the soup, and the house smells pretty great. I know this isn't a very politically correct thing for a modern gal to say, but the truth is, I'd be perfectly happy to stay home and cook for my family all day. This is what I love.

2 T olive oil
5 cloves garlic, sliced thin
3-4 stalks of celery, cut into large dice, about 1 cup
1 cup carrots, cut into large dice
1/2 a large Spanish onion, cut into large dice, about 1 cup
1 quart plus 1 pint turkey stock
1 can white beans
1 cup, leftover cooked turkey, chopped into large dice
2 large handfuls of fresh baby spinach, washed and julienned
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1 T garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cooked whole wheat fusilli or elbow macaroni
Freshly grated parmesan cheese

In a large pot, saute the first five ingredients until they start to soften. (I start the carrots ahead of the other vegetables so everything finishes cooking at the same time) Add the turkey stock and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer, adding the beans and turkey, until the vegetables are cooked to the desired consistency. Add the spinach, parsley and spices and adjust for seasoning. Just before serving, add the pasta, to taste, and serve with grated cheese alongside.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Turkey Chowder

I started out following Jasper White's recipe for turkey chowder this evening, but quickly strayed from the text. In my humble opinion, the results were magnificent. I used lean turkey bacon instead of pork, cut way down on the butter, added sherry for greater depth of flavor, used a little leftover turkey gravy as a thickener instead of heavy cream, and threw in some chopped garlic and fresh herbs for a little extra oomph. I think its pretty safe to say that its no longer Jasper White's chowder...

1 teaspoon unsalted butter
4 ounces turkey bacon, cut into large dice
1 large yellow onion, cut into large dice
3 stalks of celery, cut into 1/2 inch slices
3 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed, coarsely chopped
6 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
3 sprigs of fresh oregano, leaves removed, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 pounds new potatoes, cut into large dice
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1/4 cup dry sherry
4 cups of turkey stock
1 lb leftover turkey meat, shredded
1 1/2 cups turkey gravy (or whole milk)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

In a large pot, brown the turkey bacon in the butter. Add the onion and celery and sweat the vegetables until they soften a bit but do not brown. Add the fresh herbs, garlic and potatoes. Raise the heat to medium high and add the sherry, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the stock. It should just barely cover the potatoes. Cook vigorously until the potatoes are cooked through but still hold their shape, about 10 minutes. Add the shredded turkey and simmer until heated through. Add the gravy or milk and adjust the seasoning to taste. Garnish with parsley and serve hot with some crusty bread.

Turkey Stock

Man, I love Thanksgiving. Its a great excuse to cook for a whole week straight. This recipe makes a very rich and flavorful stock.

1 turkey carcass, broken into pieces, along with any left over juices or gravy
1 T olive oil
Coarsely chop the following vegetables:
2 large onions
6 cloves of garlic
4 ribs of celery
1/2 cup carrots
1/2 cup turnips
1/2 cup
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

Either roast the 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
4 sprigs of fresh oregano
1 T black peppercorns
2 cubes of chicken boullion
2 bay leaves
3 T garlic powder
salt, to taste
1 cup white wine
11 cups water, or enough to cover all ingredients

Roast the carcass in a 400 degree oven until the bones are browned. Set aside. Saute all of the vegetables in the oil in a large stock pot over high heat for just a few minutes, until they begin to release some moisture. Add the rest of the ingredients. Bring the stock to a boil and then simmer it, partially covered, for 3 hours. Strain the stock and skim off the fat.
Makes 8-10 cups of stock.

Turkey Hash

This hash turned out so beautifully. Bill's been talking about turkey hash since the week before Thanksgiving; before there were even leftovers to work with! My cousin Doug's magical gravy pushed it over the top.

1 small potato, cut into small dice
1/2 a yellow onion
1 small red pepper, chopped into small dice
1 clove of garlic, sliced thin
1 cup chopped leftover turkey
vegetable oil
1/8 cup chopped fresh oregano
Salt and pepper, to taste
Leftover turkey gravy (or catsup) for serving

Cook the potato in boiling salted water until tender. Drain and set aside. Meanwhile, saute the vegetables in a small amount of oil in a large pan until they are soft. Turn the heat up to medium high, add a little extra oil, and then add the reserved potatoes and turkey. Cook until the hash has a nice sear to it. Add the oregano and adjust for seasoning. Serve hot with gravy over the top and scrambled eggs alongside, or in a bowl with poached/fried eggs on top.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Bittersweet Chocolate Pecan Pie

I made this pie (from Gourmet magazine) for our day-after-Thanksgiving celebration with my family this year. It couldn't have been easier to put together, and i was very happy with the results. Its a kind of sophisticated take on a familiar comfort food, and I love how the bitter undertones wake the other flavors up and bring them out. Bill scarfed the last of this pie for lunch the next day and he normally has a pretty serious pecan pie aversion. I'll be making this again.


1 (3 1/2 to 4-ounces) fine-quality 60% - 70%-cacao bittersweet chocolate bar, finely chopped
Pastry dough
2 cups pecan halves (7 ounces), toasted and cooled
3 large eggs
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup dark corn syrup

Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle.

Melt chocolate in a metal bowl set over barely simmering water, stirring. Remove from heat. (Or melt it in a bowl in the microwave, in 20 second intervals.)

Roll out dough into a 13-inch round on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim excess dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Fold overhang under and press against rim of pie plate, then crimp decoratively.

Spread chocolate in bottom of pie shell with back of spoon and let it set, then cover with pecans.

Whisk together eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a bowl, then whisk in corn syrup and pour over pecans.

Bake pie until filling is puffed and crust is golden, 50 to 60 minutes. (If pie is browning too fast after 30 minutes, loosely cover with foil.) Cool pie on a rack to warm or room temperature. Serve with whipped cream.

Joan Hassol's Strawberry Jam

Joan Hassol's book changed my life as a home cook. I've spent more blissfully meditative hours making jam over the last eight years since Well Preserved was published than I ever could have imagined or predicted. There is something completely satisfying about jam-making, and Joan's account of cooking as a spiritual practice, and as a way to increase awareness of the seasons, of our immediate environment, struck a deep chord with me. She lives and cooks and forages for wild berries on Cape Cod, right near where I spent the happiest parts of my childhood, so her book evokes all of that for me as well.

5 1/2 cups washed, hulled strawberries (about 1 rounded quart)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 1 3/4-ounce packages powdered pectin
7 cups sugar
1/3 cup Triple Sec liqueur (optional).

1. Sterilize your jars: Wash 8 8-ounce (1 cup) jars with new one-piece lids in hot, soapy water and rinse well. Place jars on a rack in a large kettle (jars must not touch the bottom of the kettle). Fill the kettle with water until the jars are completely covered. Bring to a boil and boil 15 minutes. Leave jars in the hot water, removing them individually with tongs as you fill them. Place lids in a large saucepan covered with water. Bring to a boil and boil 5 minutes. Leave lids in water, removing as you need them.

2. Meanwhile, working in small batches, process the strawberries in a food processor until finely chopped, or chop them by hand. Place berries and lemon juice in a large nonreactive kettle and bring to a boil. Stir in the pectin. Return to a boil and slowly stir in the sugar. Stir in the Triple Sec. Bring to a boil again and boil for 1 minute. Pour the hot jam into the jars, leaving 1/8 of an inch below the lip of each. Wipe the rims with a clean, damp towel and screw the lids on tightly. Invert the jars on a clean surface and leave 5 minutes. Turn right side up and cool. Store in a cool, dark place.

Yield: About 8 8-ounce jars.

Carolina Brunschweig's Apple Butter

I love The Wednesday Chef's blog. She makes testing recipes and writing about food look easy. And its SO nice to know I'm not the only one who treats the Dining Out section like some kind of personal astrological guide for how I should spend my weekend. Of course, since I'm supposed to be making great progress on my Ph.D. coursework this weekend, nothing seems more appealing than starting a huge sticky project in the kitchen. Over the next two weeks I'll kick off my annual canning frenzy of putting up jams and preserves to give as holiday presents, and the apple butter recipe on The Wednesday Chef's blog seems like a perfect starting point. I usually use Joan Hassol's apple butter recipe from Well Preserved; but I'm going to deviate from tradition this year and give this recipe a whirl. Last year I baked a batch of apple butter in a roasting pan in the oven. That way, I only had to stir it every twenty minutes or so, instead of standing over the stove for two hours. I may use that method again this year.

4 pounds of apples, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks
Roughly 1/2 gallon of apple cider
2 cups of sugar (I cut this to 1 and 1/4 cups of sugar)
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (I would do just 1 teaspoon next time)
1/2 teaspoon cloves (and I'd do a little less than 1/2 teaspoon next time)
Juice of one lemon

1. Heat oven to 225 and place jars (but not lids) on the baking racks. Jars will need to stay in the oven for at least 20 minutes. Wash the lids with hot water and let them dry completely on a clean towel.

2. In a big, heavy pot over medium heat add the apples and enough apple cider to just cover the apples. Bring to a simmer. A bit of a foam will form, you want to skim that off a couple of times. Cook the apples until they are tender throughout, roughly 20-30 minutes. Take the apples off the heat, let them cool for a couple minutes, and then puree in a blender in small batches (don't fill the blender over half full with the hot liquid or you will have a mess) or with an immersion blender directly in the pot. The puree should be the consistency of a thin applesauce.

3. Put the puree back in the big pot over medium heat. Bring puree to a simmer (you need it to hit 220F on candy thermometer). Then, while stirring, slowly sprinkle in the sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and lemon juice. Continue to simmer over medium/med-low heat. It takes quite a while from this point until the apple butter reduces and really thickens up, anywhere from 1 to 2 hours (try to keep it around 220F). Make sure you stir regularly, you don't want it to burn or cook to the bottom of the pot. You are looking for the apple butter to thicken up and darken. Towards the end it gets a bit messy, the simmer becoming more lava-like - it also sounds different, lots of plop and slop noises and lots of spattering coming from the pot. Remove from heat.

4. Fill your your biggest, deepest pot with water and bring to a rolling boil. The water level will need to cover the jars.

5. Using tongs carefully remove each jar from the oven and fill to within 1/4 inch of the top with the apple butter. Wipe off rims with a clean dry paper towel. Place a dry lid on each jar and close tightly. Using tongs place each of the jars in the boiling water and boil for 10 minutes. Cool on a rack, upside down for the first fifteen minutes, and then right side up until the jars are cool.

Orangette's Cranberry Chutney

I saw this on Orangette's lovely site.
It looked too special not to "clip out" and save in our family cookbook. When I start making this year's Channukah/Xmas presents, I'm going to include a few jars of this gorgeous ruby-red chutney for people to eat on sandwiches, on toast, with goat cheese, or just by the spoonfull.

24 ounces apricot preserves
¾ cup raspberry vinegar, or ¾ cup white distilled vinegar plus 1 ½ tsp raspberry preserves
A pinch of salt
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ cup Grand Marnier
2 bags fresh cranberries
½ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 ¼ cups dried tart cherries

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the apricot preserves, raspberry vinegar (or vinegar and raspberry preserves), salt, cloves, and Grand Marnier. Stir to mix, and place over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, and continue to cook – it will bubble aggressively, and you should stir regularly to keep it from scorching – for about 10-15 minutes, or until it has thickened slightly. Reduce the heat to medium, add the cranberries, and cook until they are soft but not popped. [I know that they’re ready when I hear one or two of them pop; that’s a good indicator that most of them must be getting pretty soft.] Add the ginger and cherries, stir well, and remove from the heat. Cool completely before serving. The chutney will thicken considerably as it cools.

Yield: 8-10 servings

Simple Sandwich Bread

This is the Hertzberg recipe from the NY Times, that claims to be even easier than Bittman's NKB. Just in time to make turkey sandwiches. Unable to resist meddling, I used half whole wheat flour on the first test. I also halved the recipe. Both of these factors may have influenced my results. The bread was tasty but it didn't rise as much as I would have liked. It also didn't yield nearly enough dough to make two substantial loaves, as projected in the recipe. It made two very short and narrow loaves. I'm going to keep fiddling with it. It certainly is easy enough, tastes pretty good, and might make a nice soft sandwich bread alternative to Bittman's superlative crusty loaf every once in a while.

**Tried it again a week later, using the full recipe and only 1/3 whole wheat flour. I also baked it on a pizza stone instead of trying to fit in in a loaf pan like I did the first time. Lovely, soft sandwich loaf. Easy as can be. Yields 2 large loaves.

1 1/2 tablespoons yeast (active-dry)
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, more for dusting dough

1. In a large bowl or plastic container, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees). Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. Dough will be loose. Cover, but not with an airtight lid. Let dough rise at room temperature 2 hours (or up to 5 hours).

2. Bake at this point or refrigerate, covered, for as long as two weeks. When ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on dough and cut off a grapefruit-size piece with serrated knife. Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom. Put dough on pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal; let rest 40 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it.

3. Place broiler pan on bottom of oven. Place baking stone on middle rack and turn oven to 450 degrees; heat stone at that temperature for 20 minutes.

4. Dust dough with flour, slash the top with serrated or very sharp knife three times. Slide onto stone. Pour one cup hot water into broiler pan and shut oven quickly to trap steam. Bake until well browned, about 30 minutes. Cool completely.

Variation: If not using stone, stretch rounded dough into oval and place in a greased, nonstick loaf pan. Let rest 40 minutes if fresh, an extra hour if refrigerated. Heat oven to 450 degrees for 5 minutes. Place pan on middle rack.

Bittman's No-knead Bread

I know, I know. Its Jim Lahey's bread. Bittman just published the recipe. Try telling Bill that. I'm finally getting around to trying the recipe that everyone's been talking about for a year!
Yields one 1 1/2 pound loaf

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


So these are pastelillos if you're from Puerto Rico, and empanadas if you're from anywhere else. My friend Maya taught me how to make them when we were about 15 years old. I make them for parties all the time, and people love them. They're also a super economical way to feed a group of folks. My aunt Linda has suggested on numerous occasions that I could probably get rich pushing an empanada cart.

1 lb ground beef
2 teaspoon plus one tablespoon of olive oil
1 onion, diced medium
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 green pepper, diced small
1/2 red pepper, diced small
1/2 cup pimento stuffed olives, chopped (or more, to taste)
1/2 cup raisins
fire roasted tomato sauce or sofrito tomato paste -- about a cup
ground cumin
cayenne pepper
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
30 Goya frozen discos para empanadas, thawed.

Heat the teaspoon of olive oil in a large saute pan, and sear the ground beef, breaking it up as it sears. Take it off the heat while the meat is still undercooked in places. you want the flavor of the sear, but you don't want the meat to overcook. Set the meat aside in a large bowl, and wash out the pan. Return the saute pan to the stove and heat the remaining tablespoon of oil to saute the onions, peppers and garlic together until the vegetables begin to soften - about 4 minutes. Add the spices and the tomato sauce. Cook for a few minutes. Take the vegetables off the heat and add them to the meat in the bowl. Add the olives and raisins. Taste for seasoning. The mixture should be extremely flavorful and moist, and even tending towards being a little overseasoned is fine, because the empanada dough will tone the seasoning down a little bit. The filling can be made the night before and sit covered in the refrigerator. Taste for seasoning again before filling the empanadas. Fold in the cilantro just before filling the discos.

On a cutting board, take each disco and stretch or roll it out. Pile a heaping scoop of the filling on one half of the dough. Pull the other half of the dough over the filling and press the edges together to make a half circle. The edges must be tightly crimped together. Take a fork and crimp around the edge to make a decorative border.

Heat the oil in a large pan until it is hot. Add the empanadas, 3 OR 4 at time, and fry them until they are brown on one side, about 1 minute. Turn them over carefully and brown on the other side. Remove the empanadas from the oil with a slotted spatula and let drain on paper towels, adding more empanadas to the oil until they are all fried. Serve hot.

Yield: 30 empanadas

Saturday, November 17, 2007


When we first met and Bill found out that I used to cook for a living, he told me that there was this one dish that his grandmother Viola (who was a fabulous cook) used to make for him when he was a boy, that was still his favorite thing in the world to eat. He complained that since it was an old fashioned kind of food, it was hard to find anyone who knew how to make it anymore. I bet him that I could guess what that hard-to-find favorite food was if he would tell me where his grandmother was from. He said she was from Virginia, I blurted out "spoonbread!" and the rest, as they say, is history. He later told me that he almost fell off his chair when I nailed it on the first guess, but he played it pretty cool at the time. I serve this with our homemade strawberry jam, and lots of butter.

4 eggs, separated
1 cup cornmeal (preferably arrowhead mills)
3 - 4 cups whole milk (it depends on the kind of cornmeal you use. The finer grinds will absorb more liquid. If you use the larger amount of liquid, the baking time will be increased by about fifteen minutes)
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar or more, to taste
2 Tbs sweet butter, plus more for buttering the dish and serving

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 1 and 1/2 quart baking dish. In a large bowl, whip the egg whites until medium peaks form. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the cornmeal and 1 and 1/2 cups milk. In a pan, scald the remaining milk and then add the cornmeal mixture to it, whisking constantly until it begins to thicken, about 8 minutes.
Remove from the heat. Add the salt, sugar and butter. Stir in the egg yolks, one at a time. Fold in the egg whites. Pour into the baking dish. Bake for about 1 hour. The top will be a deep crusty brown, the spoonbread will be puffed up like a cornmeal souffle, and a toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean.
Serves 6

Friday, November 16, 2007

Apple Jalousie

This recipe by Kimberly Musibay came right out of the pages of Taunton's Fine Cooking. Its one of those rare magazine recipes that I didn't have to tamper with at all. I've made it a few times now, including this year as my contribution to Thanksgiving with Bill's family. Gorgeous. Foolproof. It has to be served warm, in order to get the full effect.

1-1/4 to 1-1/2 lb. Granny Smith apples (about 3 medium), peeled, halved lengthwise, cored, and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
3 Tbs. granulated sugar
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
Pinch freshly grated or ground nutmeg
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out with the back of a knife (reserve the seeds)
1 large egg
1 sheet frozen packaged puff pastry (Pepperidge Farm brand), thawed overnight in the fridge or according to package instructions
Flour for rolling out the dough
1 tsp. demerara, turbinado, or granulated sugar
Crème fraîche, whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream for serving

Make the filling:

In a large bowl, toss the apples with the brown sugar, granulated sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg.

In a 12-inch skillet, melt the butter over medium heat until the milk solids turn golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the vanilla seeds, and stir. Carefully add the apple mixture to the skillet; with a heatproof rubber spatula, scrape all the sugar and spices from the bowl into the skillet. Stir the apples to coat them with the butter and then spread them in a fairly even layer. Return the pan to medium heat and cook, stirring gently with the spatula every few minutes (try not to break the apple slices), until the apples are tender but not mushy (taste one) and still hold their shape, and the juices have cooked down to a fairly thick, brown, bubbling syrup, 10 to 13 minutes. Scrape the apples into a wide shallow dish or onto a baking sheet to cool completely before assembling the jalousie.
Assemble the jalousie:

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment. In a small bowl, make an egg wash by beating the egg with 1 Tbs. water until well combined.

Unfold the puff pastry dough on a floured surface, and gently pinch together any seams that have split. With a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 12x14-inch rectangle. With a sharp knife, cut the rectangle in half lengthwise to form two 6x14-inch rectangles. Use a long spatula to help you move one of the dough rectangles onto the parchment-lined baking sheet.

Use a pastry brush to brush a 1-inch border of egg wash around the perimeter of the dough. (Save the remaining egg wash.) Arrange the fruit in a 4-inch-wide strip down the length of the dough. (I like to shingle the apple slices in a thick herringbone pattern down the length of the dough; you may need to make a double layer of apples.) Some syrupy apple juices will likely remain in the dish; spoon 2 to 3 Tbs. over the apples. If some of the liquid seeps onto the egg-washed border, don’t worry about it.

Lightly dust the remaining piece of puff pastry with flour and then gently fold it in half lengthwise; don’t crease the fold. Using a sharp knife, cut 1-1/2-inch-long slashes at 1-inch intervals along the folded side of the dough; leave at least a 1-inch border on the remaining three sides. Do not unfold the dough. Using a long spatula, gently lift the folded strip and position it over the fruit-filled dough rectangle, matching up the straight edges.
Slash along the folded side.

Gently unfold the top piece of dough and stretch it over the filling, matching the straight edges all the way around the perimeter of the dough. Press the edges gently with your fingertips to seal the dough, and then, with a fork, very gently crimp the edges of the dough all the way around the pastry.
Unfold the dough over the filling.
Bake the jalousie:

Chill the assembled jalousie for 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F.

Right before baking, brush the top of the jalousie with a very light coating of the remaining egg wash (you won’t need it all) and sprinkle with the demerara, turbinado, or granulated sugar.

Bake for 15 minutes and then rotate the baking sheet. Continue baking until the pastry is puffed, deep golden brown on top, and light golden brown on the bottom—use a spatula to gently lift the jalousie so you can peek underneath—another 10 to 15 minutes. Immediately transfer the jalousie from the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool for at least 45 minutes. (Instead of trying to move the hot jalousie with a spatula, lift the parchment to move the jalousie to the rack and then carefully slide the paper out from under the pastry.)

Serve the jalousie slightly warm with crème fraîche, lightly sweetened whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream.
The jalousie is best served the day it’s made, but it will keep, wrapped well in aluminum foil, for three days. You can reheat it in a 325°F oven for 5 minutes before serving.
Serves eight.Yields one 6x14-inch pastry
From Fine Cooking 84, pp. 56-57
photos: Scott Phillips

Weeknight Paella

Since Bill is enamored with all things Bittman these days, I took Bittman's "quick paella" recipe and tweaked it a bit in order to come up with this dish. It was verrrrrrry tasty and easy to make, taking less than 30 minutes to complete from start to finish.

2 cups shrimp shell stock or clam juice or chicken stock, or some combination of the above
pinch of saffron or 1 teaspoon of bijol or tumeric
1 link chorizo or andouille sausage, sliced into thick coins
4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 teaspoon pimenton
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup arborio rice
1 cup raw peeled shrimp
6-8 littleneck clams
1/2 cup frozen green peas, defrosted
1 pimento, julienned
Minced fresh cilantro, for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Warm the stock in the microwave along with the saffron. Place an ovenproof 10- or 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat and add the sausage until it browns slightly and renders some of its fat. Saute the garlic until golden. Add the olive oil. A minute later, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes. Add the paprika and cumin and cook 1 minute more.

2. Add the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until glossy, just 1 or 2 minutes. Add the warm stock, taking care to avoid the rising steam. Arrange the shrimp, clams and peas in the skillet, nestled into the rice. Transfer the skillet to the oven.

3. Bake about 15 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is dry on top. If the rice is undercooked at all, add another 1/4 cup of liquid, cover the dish and let it sit for ten minutes. Taste for salt, then garnish with cilantro and serve immediately.
Serves 4

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Three Bean and Beef Chili

I adapted this recipe from Ellie Krieger, a nutritionist who has a healthy cooking show on the Food Network.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced (1 cup)
1 red bell pepper, diced (1 cup)
2 stalks of celery, diced (1/2 cup)
3 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 pound extra-lean ground beef (90 percent lean)
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, seeded and minced
1 teaspoons adobo sauce from the can of chipotles
Salt to taste
1 (15.5-ounce) can white or black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15.5-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15.5-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Heat the oil in large pot or Dutch oven over moderate heat. Add the onion, bell pepper and celery, cover and cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the cumin and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the ground beef; raise the heat to high and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until the meat is no longer pink. Stir in the tomatoes, water, tomato sauce, chipotle and adobo sauce, oregano and salt. Cook, partially covered, stirring from time to time, for 30 minutes. Stir in the beans and cilantro and continue cooking, partially covered, 20 minutes longer. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Serves about 8. We served this with diced avocado and leftover raita. it definitely needs some kind of cooling crema up against the spicy chile.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Apple Compote

We eat this for breakfast constantly, usually on top of Irish oatmeal. Cold compote transforms hot cereal into something extraordinary.

4 apples, peeled, cored, chopped into large dice
3/4 cup dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, etc)
1/2 cup apple juice or cider, or cranberry juice. Fuji apple juice tastes best.
Liberal amount of ground cinammon (a pinch of allspice, cloves or nutmeg would also be great)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Honey, to taste -- about 1/3 cup
1 teaspoon or so of butter

Saute all ingredients except for the butter together in a large saute pan. Even though the apples are technically stewing in the juice, keep them moving and rotating constantly, until they soften, but well before they reach the stage of losing their integrity. Adjust for seasoning. Off the heat, swirl in the butter. Let cool. Makes a little less than 1 quart.

Cucumber Fennel Raita

I called my friend Leslie Satin for a consult before setting out to make up a raita recipe. She makes a wonderful coconut banana raita, so I knew she'd have good advice about how to proceed. This came out terrific -- cool and refreshing against the spice-rubbed fish.

1 cup Greek yogurt, stirred
1/2 of a medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped into tiny dice
1/4 cup fennel, chopped into tiny dice
1/8 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 garlic clove, mashed into a paste
kosher salt, to taste

Combine all ingredients. Serves two as an accompaniment.

Fruit Crisp

The picture doesn't do this fruit crisp justice in any way. Bill's doctor recently told him that his cholesterol had to come down, so we've been overhauling our cooking and eating habits. Hard to believe this delicious homey comfort food is so packed full of nutritional goodness. It tastes like pie.

Mixture One:
2 cups fruit (we used thawed frozen peaches the first time, because that's what we had on hand, but its totally flexible. Fresh apples worked even better the following week.)
1/2 cup dried fruit -- cranberries, raisins, etc
1/4 cup juice
dash of vanilla extract
pinch of cornstarch
1/8 cup sugar

Mixture Two:
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/8 cup vegetable oil (or a little more)
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup ground flax seed (or chopped nuts would do as well)
pinch or two of flour
liberal amount of ground cinammon

Preheat the oven to 375. Lightly oil a small baking dish. Combine all ingredients in Mixture One and spread evenly in the pan. Combine all of the ingredients in mixture two. It should be moist and crumbly. Spread the crisp topping over the fruit in the pan. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown and the fruit juices are bubbling up from underneath. This was better after it had had time to sit and cool off. The topping became pleasantly chewy.
Serves three. This would be terrific with ice cream, of course.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Baked garlic fries

These fries are addictive. (You wouldn't think they were good for you, too.) I made a first batch of them last week as a side dish and then Bill spontaneously whipped them up for breakfast today, unable to wait until dinner.

3 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/3" by 1/3" sticks
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
Coarse salt, pepper to taste

Preheat to 425°F. Pat potato strips dry with paper towels. Combine potatoes and oil in large bowl; tossing to coat well. Divide potatoes between 2 large baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake until potatoes are deep golden brown, turning and rearranging potatoes every fifteen minutes, for about 40 - 45 minutes total.
Transfer potatoes to bowl. Toss with parsley, garlic and coarse salt.

Serves 2-3.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Thai Shrimp Curry

This is my take on a classic Thai yellow curry. So quick, so satisfying, sooooo fiery hot. This dish was half inspired by the curry soup at Mee Noodle in midtown. But this is much, much better.

1/2 cup basmati rice
1 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon olive oil
salt to taste

1 small (4 oz) can yellow curry paste
1 can coconut milk
2 cups chicken stock
1 large potato, peeled and sliced into 1/8 inch slices
1 carrot, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
3/4 cup frozen baby peas
12 shrimp, shelled and deveined
4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1/2 can baby corn, each corn sliced into 3 pieces
2 scallions, sliced into thin rings
large handful fresh cilantro and fresh basil, coarsely chopped
2 lemon wedges

Cook the rice in the chicken stock, oil and salt. While the rice is cooking, stir the curry paste, coconut milk and chicken stock together in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and add the potatoes and carrots. Let the liquid come back up to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 - 12 minutes, or until the potatoes are not quite cooked through. Add the peas, stir and let come back up to a low boil. Add the shrimp, garlic, baby corn and scallions and cook for an additional 3 - 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped herbs at the last minute. Serve over rice with a generous squeeze of lemon. Serves two.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Outer Cape Blueberry Cobbler

We're on vacation with my family in Cape Cod for a week, renting a house in Wellfleet. Bill and I spent an hour gathering tiny wild blueberries along the bike trails by the Marconi Station. They baked up beautifully into this intensely delicious cobbler. P-Town artist Joan Cobb Marsh gave me this recipe a few years ago (she makes her cobbler with peaches) and I've made it regularly ever since. It works with any kind of fruit as long as you use about 4 cups of it. Guests fight over the leftovers. I even made it with frozen peaches once, and it was still outstanding. The science behind the dish seems counterintuitive at first: i.e., you would think that heaping the fruit on top of the batter would result in a big pile of mush, but the batter rises as the fruit falls, and 50 minutes after you stick it in the oven, the layers have all sorted themselves out, ending up with a delicate top crust and pillowy middle with a cohesive pie-like filling in between.

1 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter: melted
4 cups fresh blueberries, or frozen blueberries, thawed but not drained, tossed with 2 T sugar. (If the berries are fresh, wash and pick over them well before using.)
Stir together sugar, flour and baking powder; add milk and butter and mix with a wire whisk or beater until well blended. Pour batter evenly into a greased 2 quart square baking dish. (You can also use a rectangular disposable pan as we did in the photo. The cobbler will be flatter and thinner, but just as good.) Add berries and their juice on top of the batter, distributing them evenly but keeping an outer edge of batter all the way around. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool a little bit before serving -- at least 20 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. Serves 8 - 10.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Shrimp Salamanca

I brought several kinds of the Spanish smoked paprika called pimentón home with me from a trip to Salamanca.
The pimentón adds incredible smoky depth of flavor to this dish, which would just be a straightforwardly lemony, briny shrimp piccata without it. Bill licked his fingers and groaned as he ate this, so it seems worth preserving.

Spice mixture:
Spanish smoked paprika (mild or spicy)
Garlic powder

1 pound U-16 shrimp, shelled and deveined
Olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1/2 cup lemon juice (about 1 1/2 lemons)
about 1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup capers
1 T chopped lemon zest
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1 T unsalted butter
3 cups cooked brown rice

Make a spice mixture out of the cornstarch, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Taste it and adjust for seasoning. It should be salty and full of flavor. There should be about 3/4 cup of it altogether.
Pat the shrimp dry and coat them liberally with the spice mixture. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a nonstick pan over medium high heat. Brown the shrimp on one side, about 2 minutes, adding the sliced garlic 1 minute into the cooking time, and taking care that the garlic doesn't burn. Turn the shrimp over and add the capers, lemon juice and white wine. Bring to a boil and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Let cook until the shrimp are cooked through. Stir in the parsley and lemon zest. Adjust for seasoning. Add a little sugar if the sauce is too sour. Off the heat, swirl in the butter. Serve hot over rice, topping each serving with a final dusting of smoked paprika. Serves two.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Penne with Broccoli and Sausage

The test of blogworthiness in a dish: we couldn't stop eating it. This is a lighter version of a dish they used to make at Carmine's restaurant in New York when I worked there in the mid-90s.

1 very small head broccoli, chopped into small pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
3 cloves fresh garlic, sliced thin
1/4 cup good olive oil
2 chicken or turkey sausages, sliced thickly on the bias (I used sun dried tomato chicken sausages this time)
1/2 cup canned chicken broth
Generous pinch of red pepper flakes
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly grated parmesan cheese
Chopped Italian parsley
Handful of roasted garlic cloves
1/2 box of penne or ziti

Set a pot of salted water to boil in a pot big enough to fit the pasta. Cook the pasta and broccoli. There are two ways to do this. Either set a bamboo steamer filled with broccoli over the pot in which the pasta is cooking (my preferred method) or add the broccoli in with the pasta when the pasta is about 4 minutes from being done. Either way, the broccoli should be cooked through but still firm enough that it won't turn to mush in the pan, and the pasta should be al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, brown the turkey sausage in a large saute pan over high heat, and when it is brown add the sliced garlic and cook just until the garlic is golden. Add red pepper flakes and salt, and de-glaze the pan with the chicken stock.

Once the pasta is cooked, combine all ingredients in the saute pan, adding parsley, roasted garlic cloves and a blizzard of good grated cheese. Taste for seasoning. I sometimes add in a little of the pasta cooking liquid if it isn't brothy enough.
Bill went back for thirds, and there was a Hieronymus-sized portion left over anyway.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

The most expensive steak in the history of relationships

Filet Mignon au Poivre
New calphalon pan
Smoke-filled kitchen
Hastily opened window
Disappearing air conditioner
Horrible crash in the alley

Blueberry Pancakes

Since Bill has very sweetly asked me to make these pancakes for breakfast twice this week, and has devoured each batch with loud and emphatic declarations of his good fortune, this seems like a fabulous way to kick off the chronicle of our upcoming marriage and the merging/emerging of our families and our lives in recipes.

To keep the historical record accurate, I will confess that (years of experience as a professional cook in fancy restaurants notwithstanding) I did set off a minor explosion in the kitchen while whipping up the first batch of these pancakes, involving turning the flame up under the wrong burner on Bill's still-new-to-me-stove, and inadvertently heating a glass mixing bowl to the point of combustion, sending shards of glass hurtling in all directions at high speeds. Bill was entirely good-natured about it, probably because it was almost a non-event compared to what happened a few weeks ago when I dropped his air conditioner out the window while cooking The Most Expensive Steak in the History of Relationships...
But more on that another time.

Traditionally, these would be buttermilk blueberry pancakes, but we didn't have any buttermilk and didn't feel like foraging for it, so here's what I came up with:

Dry Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 heaping teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon ground flax seed

Wet Ingredients
1 egg plus 1 egg white
2 heaping tablespoons of thick yogurt stirred into skim milk to equal one cup of liquid or a tiny bit more
1/8 cup melted unsalted butter, plus some for frying
dash of vanilla extract

3/4 cup blueberries

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Stir the wet ingredients (except for the berries) together in a separate bowl or large measuring cup. Combine the dry and the wet ingredients and stir into a lumpy batter. Don't overmix.

Heat a small amount of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Ladle 1/4 cup of batter onto the skillet and dot with some of the blueberries, keeping the berries towards the center of the pancake so they are easy to flip. Cook for a minute or two minute on each side.They should be well-browned. the batter is thick, so it takes some care to be sure that they're cooked through.

Serve hot with maple syrup.
This recipe served two perfectly the other day when we were really hungry. It could have served us AND Hieronymus today. It just depends. Bill recommended that they be referred to forthwith as "The Blueberry Pancakes of Rightousness."