Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Amazing Five-Hour Duck



This was just ridiculously good.
From The 150 Best American Recipes: Indispensable Dishes from Legendary Chefs
and Undiscovered Cooks
by Fran McCullough and Molly Stevens
(Reprinted in Cook's Illustrated)

1 Pekin (Long Island) duck, wing tips cut off (not necessary, but more elegant)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 small handful of thyme sprigs

"Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and set a rack in the middle level.

Remove the giblets from the duck; save the giblets and wing tips for stock, if you like. Dry the duck well with paper towels. Remove any loose globs of yellow fat from the two cavities. Rub the large cavity with salt and pepper and the garlic and put the thyme in it. With a small sharp paring knife, make dozens of slits all over the duck, piercing the skin and fat but being careful not to pierce the flesh. The easiest way to do this is to insert the knife on the diagonal, not straight in.

Put the duck breast side up on a rack (a cake cooling rack is fine) set on a jelly-roll pan and put it in the oven. Every hour for 4 hours, take the pan out of the oven, pierce the duck all over with the knife, and turn it over. Each time, pour off the fat in the pan.

After 4 hours, increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees (see note). Sprinkle the duck with salt and pepper and cook for about 1 hour longer, or until the skin is crisp and browned. Let rest for 20 minutes before serving.


Mindy Heiferling suggests taking the duck in a couple of Asian directions. For a Chinese duck, put peeled, chopped fresh ginger, scallions, and garlic in the cavity and brush the duck during the last hour of cooking with a mixture of hoisin sauce, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, and a little honey. For a Thai duck, put chopped fresh lemongrass, fresh cilantro, and garlic in the cavity and brush during the last hour with a mix of Thai curry paste, unsweetened coconut milk, and lime juice."

Blackberry Vinaigrette


1/2 cup Ripe Blackberries, pureed and strained
Balsamic Vinegar
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Agave Syrup
Salt and Pepper
(to taste)

Field Salad


This was one exciting little salad, and so pretty to look at. I wish we had gotten a good pic. Next time.

Ingredients:
Endive spears
Baby arugula
Half a bulb of fennel, sliced very thin
Handful of ripe blackberries
Crumbled goat cheese
Candied pecans
Chopped chives
Blackberry vinaigrette

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Microwave Mixed-Fruit Marmalade


If John were here, I could shout "Dude! I made marmalade in the microwave! Without any pectin!" and I he would really get just how exciting that is, and would also not mind at all that I still go around yelling "dude!" at my age. Everyone should have a friend like that, I say.

I improvised this recipe after first looking at a few microwave preserve variations online and then surveying the landscape of citrus fruit that was beginning to lose its shape in the fridge. All of the online recipes called for equal parts fruit to sugar, which sounded like too much; so I cut down on the sugar, but ended up cooking the mixture about twice as long as recommended just to get it to thicken. No matter; I couldn't be more pleased with the results.

1 red grapefruit
1 naval orange
1 lemon
1 1/2 cups sugar
Zest all of the fruit. Mince the zest finely and reserve. Cut the pith away from the fruit and cut the fruit into small chunks, removing any seeds. Pulse the chunks of fruit in a food processor until uniformly blended. Pour the fruit into a 4 cup pyrex measuring cup with a pour spout. Add the sugar and reserved zest, mix well, and cook on high in the microwave for 8 minutes. Continue to cook at 2 minute intervals until the marmalade is slightly thickened. Can according to your favorite canning method.
Makes 3 8-ounce jars

Monday, December 29, 2008

Helen Boltz's Spoonbread


The Kansas Heritage website boldly proclaims that "Helen Boltz's spoon bread is the best that Kansas Cooking has to offer" Well, we'll just see about that now, won't we...

1qt milk
1 cup corn meal
1 1/2 t salt
2 T butter
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Heat milk and gradually stir in corn meal mixed
with salt. Cook, stirring, until smooth and thick. Cover, cook until mushy.
Add butter.Meanwhile, in another bowl mix the eggs until well
blended. Then stir slowly into the mush.

Pour into a well greased 1 1/2 qt bowl and bake uncovered at 425 degrees
for 50 to 55 minutes. Serve immediately, with lots of butter.

If you are lucky it will serve 4 or 5. Generally one or two can demolish this dish.
Photo by Ian Smith

Friday, December 26, 2008

Slow-Cooked Turkey with Pecans and Cranberry Mostarda


Now...what to do with all that lovely mostarda...

Spice rub:
1/4 cup dried minced onion
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons kosher salt
OR
1 envelope onion soup mix

1 (3 to 4 lb) skin-on boneless turkey breast, fully thawed
11 oz. cranberry mostarda
1 bag frozen pearl onions
1 cup pecan halves

Rub the spices all over the turkey breast. Brown the turkey breast, skin side down, in a heavy saute pan, 8 minutes. Place the turkey breast in the slow cooker, on top of the frozen onions. Mix the mostarda and pecan pieces together and spoon over the turkey. Cook for 6 to 8 hours on the low setting, occasionally spooning some of the mostarda mixture back over the turkey breast. Taste the sauce and adjust for seasoning before serving.

Serves 6 - 8

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Lemon Chess Pie with Blackberry Compote


This pie was a hit at xmas. My mother-in-law was completely blissed out while eating it, and that's really why we bake, after all, isn't it? I'd like to get the pie to slice a little more cleanly next time. (More cornmeal? Next time I'll try 3 tablespoons. More eggs? Dunno. We'll see)
The blackberry compote is essential to the dish, and such a welcome, unexpected flavor -- like a sudden burst of sun-drenched-August-well-being right smack in the dead of winter. The compote comes from a recipe in Gourmet magazine, but the chess pie recipe is all mine. Gourmet makes their lemon chess with buttermilk and six eggs and a coconut shortbread crust, and I'll certainly get around to trying all of those variations at some point -- but for now, I'm very happy with my lemon pie.

1 9 inch pie shell
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup half and half
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornmeal
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
Zest of 2 lemons, finely grated
Blackberry compote

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a mixing bowl, cream together sugar and butter. Beat in eggs, milk and vanilla. Add flour, cornmeal, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Mix until smooth. Pour mixture into prepared pie crust. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until set in center. Cool completely and serve chilled or at room temperature, with blackberry compote.

Blackberry Compote:

1/2 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 whole allspice
3 cups fresh or frozen blackberries (1 1/2 pints)

Preparation

Bring water, sugar, juice, and allspice to a boil in a small saucepan over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil until reduced to about 1/4 cup. Cool syrup to lukewarm and discard allspice. Purée 2 cups blackberries with all of syrup in a blender. Force purée through a fine sieve into a bowl to remove seeds. Stir remaining cup berries into sauce.


(Photo by Romulo Yanes)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Mario's Cranberry Mostarda


I've become mildly obsessed with mostarda, since Bill brought a couple of jars of the stuff home from Milan. John and I conjured up this first batch together in the sinkless-and-still-under-construction kitchen tonight. So much fun.

2 cups water
2 cups granulated sugar
1 lb fresh cranberries
3 tbsp Colman’s dry mustard
1 tsp mustard oil
2 tbsp black mustard seeds
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, ground cayenne to taste

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar and 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add the cranberries and cook over high heat for 10 minutes, or until the cranberries begin to burst.

While the cranberries are cooking, place the mustard in a small bowl and add just enough water to form a thin paste.
In a saucepan, heat the mustard oil to smoking, add the mustard seeds, cover tightly until popped and fragrant. Allow to cool slightly. Add the mustard oil, seeds, salt and peppers to the Colman's mixture. Stir this mixture into the berries and cook over high heat until the mixture is thick and syrupy, 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. The mostarda can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week. It can also be canned.

Prep time: well under an hour.

Yield: 4 cups.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Joan Nathan's Hummus


1 cup dried chickpeas
1 cup tahina
1/2 cup lemon juice, or to taste
2 cloves garlic, or to taste
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons pine nuts
Dash of paprika or sumac
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or cilantro



1. Put the raw chickpeas in a bowl with cold water to cover and soak overnight.
2. Drain and rinse the chickpeas, then place them in a heavy pot with enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, then simmer, partially covered, for about an hour or until the chickpeas are soft and the skin begins to separate. Add more water as needed.
3. Drain the chickpeas, reserving about 1-1/2cups of the cooking liquid. Set aside 1/4cup of the cooked chickpeas for garnish. In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, process the remaining chickpeas with the tahina, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, and at least 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking liquid. If the hummus is too thick, add more reserved cooking liquid or water until you have a paste-like consistency.
4. Heat a frying pan and add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Spread the pine nuts in the pan and stir-fry, browning on all sides.
5. To serve, transfer the hummus to a large, flat plate, and with the back of a spoon make a slight depression in the center. Drizzle the remaining olive oil on top and sprinkle the reserved chickpeas, pine nuts, paprika or sumac, and parsley or cilantro over the surface.
6. Serve with cut-up raw vegetables and warm pita cut into wedges


YIELD: About four cups, or six-to-eight servings

Syrian Red Lentil Soup


This is one of Bill's faves. I think he likes the drama of the presentation (red sumac thumbprints, a dollop of Greek yogurt, chopped fresh cilantro against a bright yellow background) almost as much as the taste. Its delicious too.

2 cups red lentils
3 quarts of chicken stock
6 cloves of garlic
2 t ground coriander
1 t kosher salt
2 T vegetable oil
chopped cilantro, mint, lemon wedges, Greek yogurt, ground cumin and crushed red pepper for garnish

Simmer lentils in chicken stock for 40 minutes, until soft.
In a mortar, pound the garlic, coriander, oil and salt to a paste. Add to soup and simmer for another 20 minutes.
Garnish with cilantro, mint, cumin, sumac and crushed red pepper, as desired.
Serve with lemon wedges, a dollop of yogurt and warm bread.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Potaje de Garbanzos (Cuban Chickpea Stew) Slow Cooker Version


1 lb. dried garbanzo beans, soaked overnight, water discarded, rinsed and picked through.
2 quarts chicken broth
2 chicken boullion cubes, or, preferably, a packet of sazon with achiote
2 links of chorizo, sliced ¾" thick
1 1/2 cups sofrito
2 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced in ½" rounds
3 cloves garlic, peeled, mashed and finely minced
½ cup tomato paste
2 teaspoons paprika
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 bay leaves
1/2 lb flank steak, cut into large chunks
1 small ham hock or part of a smoked turkey drumstick
handful of chopped cilantro
Ground black pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a 4 quart slow cooker, adding additional water as needed, to cover all ingredients. Cook on low for 6 - 8 hours. Adjust seasoning. Remove bay leaves and ham hock or turkey drum. Serve with crusty bread for dunking.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Syrian Tomato-Rice Soup with Kibbeh


I took a great many liberties with a recipe for tomato rice soup in the Jewish/Syrian cookbook Aromas of Aleppo, and then adapted the results to the slow cooker. Completely fabulous and incredibly easy.

Tomato Paste
1/2 cup white rice
2 1/2 quarts beef or chicken broth
2 cloves of garlic, mashed to a paste

1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 t allspice
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t cayenne
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste
1 t olive oil
2 t raw white rice
handful of chopped fresh cilantro, plus additional for garnish

Combine tomato paste and broth in the ceramic insert of a 4 quart slow cooker. Add the rice and garlic, and set the cooker on low.

In a mixing bowl, combine the beef, spices, rice and chopped cilantro, mixing well, until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Form into 15 meatballs (kibbeh) and drop them gently into the broth in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours, turning the heat up to high during the last 30 minutes of cooking time. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with warm bread. Serves 6

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Nancy Silverton's Hot Fudge Sauce


7 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into 2-inch pieces
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tablespoon instant coffee granules
3 tablespoons Cognac or brandy

1. Melt chocolate pieces in large stainless steel mixing bowl (or top of double boiler) over saucepan of gently simmering water. Be sure water does not touch bottom of mixing bowl to prevent chocolate from burning. Turn off heat and keep warm over warm water until ready to use.

2. Bring sugar, corn syrup, water, cocoa powder and instant coffee to boil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly to dissolve cocoa powder and sugar and to prevent burning on bottom of pan.

3. Whisk in melted chocolate. Boil hot fudge for few minutes to reduce to consistency you desire. It should be quite viscous and surface should have glossy shine. Cool slightly and beat in Cognac or brandy.

Slow Cooker Poulet Yassa



The kitchen still isn't finished, but I'm happily cooking away in my electric slow cooker, in the meantime. Poulet Yassa is one of our Senegalese favorites, and we were both pretty thrilled with this slow cooker variation. Spicy, lemony and rich.

3 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs
Juice of 3 lemons
Salt or Maggi seasoning, to taste
Cayenne pepper, to taste
4 cloves of garlic, minced
5 yellow onions, sliced into thick half moons
2 T Dijon mustard
knob of butter

Combine all ingredients (except the butter) in the slow cooker ceramic insert. Marinate for at least 12 - 18 hours, turning the chicken pieces a few times if possible.
Brown the chicken in a saute pan, skin side down, for 5 to 7 minutes.
Place the onion mixture in the bottom of a 4 quart slow cooker, and stack the chicken pieces on top. Cook on low for 5 - 6 hours. Remove chicken and keep warm on a serving plate. Transfer the onions and accumulated juices to a large saucepan and reduce over high heat until all the liquid has evaporated, about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Off the heat, swirl the butter into the onion mixture. Serve chicken over rice or couscous, topped with the onion mixture. Serves 4

Friday, December 5, 2008

Slow Cooker Boeuf Bourguignon


Adapted from Rick Rodgers

1 lb baby carrots
1 lb pearl onions
4 ounces of slab bacon, cut into 2 inch strips
2 lbs beef bottom round, cut into chunks
1 Tbs vegetable oil
10 oz mushrooms, quartered
4 shallots, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dry red wine
1 cup beef broth
2 Tbs tomato paste
2 Tbs chopped parsley
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs flour
salt and pepper, to taste
Place the carrots and the onions in the slow cooker.

In a large skillet, brown the bacon. Remove and ad to slow cooker. Brown the beef in the skillet full of bacon drippings. Brown the beef on all sides. Transfer the beef to the slow cooker and season with pepper.

Into the skillet, add the mushrooms and shallots. Cook, stirring often until the mushrooms gave given off their liquid and are beginning to brown. Add the garlic and cook for a minute. Transfer all to the slow cooker.

Add the red wine, broth, tomato paste and spices to the skillet. Cook over medium heat for one minute, scrapping up any browned bits. Pour over ingredients in the slow cooker.

Cover the cooker. Set heat to low and cook for 8 hours. With a slotted spoon, discard the bay leaf. Transfer the meat and vegetables to serving platter and cover to keep warm. In a saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat and add the flour. Cook for one minute, do not let brown. Slowly whisk in the liquid from the crock pot. Cook until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Pour sauce over the meat and vegetables. Serve immediately.

Serves 6

Toad-in-the-Hole


My first solo apartment was up in Rhinebeck, NY, where I floundered through nine strange and lonely months after dropping out of college, halfway through my junior year. I was up there working with emotionally disturbed adolescent girls at The Astor Home for Children, and trying to live through a string of phenomenally bad choices. The kids (all too damaged to find homes in foster care) left an unhealable wound in my heart; and I still think of them, often. It was soul-crushing work, really, and I found myself in need of comfort almost all the time. (Which is how I came to fall back into old bad habits, drinking and smoking much too much for a while, but that's another story.)

I found refuge at the Copper Kettle II - a diner where I ate lunch or breakfast almost every day before my shift, and where the ancient waitresses looked after me and kept the tuna melts and lemon pie coming all through that long, snowy winter and cold, rainy spring. (By the time summer came I was starting to search for an exit, and fall found me back on the UWS.)

Toad-in-the-Hole, a Copper Kettle breakfast special, is pure Americana. To me it seemed almost exotic, I guess - the epitome of the non-Jewish, working class Hudson Valley where everything was different from the world I had known growing up. I made Toad-in-the-Hole for Bill this morning, tucking a little chopped ham under the egg and grating some fresh parmesan over the top. Still a marvelous, welcome comfort after all these years.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Molly’s Tarte Tatin

I got this recipe off the Smitten Kitchen site, which I love. I missed the part about using salted butter and the tart was overly sweet as a result. There was also too much liquid by far. I'll keep working on it, and I'll probably only use half the amount of butter in the recipe next time. Minor quibbles notwithstanding, as a fancy birthday surprise for my mom, it absolutely did the trick.

Crust
1 stick plus two tablespoons cold salted butter (5 ounces), cut into cubes and chilled in the freezer
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
1 1/2 cup flour
3 to 6 tablespoons ice water

Filling
8-10 medium apples
1 stick (4 ounces) salted butter
1 cup sugar

Prepare Crust: I always use the food processor for this. Pre-mix the flour and sugar in the food processor container, and cube the butter on a plate. Then put the dry ingredients and the butter in the freezer for a while. This will get everything, including the blade and container, nice and chilled. The colder everything is, the flakier and more tender your crust will be. Prepare about 1/3 cup ice water and refrigerate.

After you’ve chilled everything for at least 20 minutes, add the cubes of butter to dry ingredients and pulse until the largest pieces of butter are no bigger than tiny peas.

Add the ice water a little at a time, processing just until the dough starts to come together into a mass. (it won’t quite be a “ball,” and it won‘t look smooth–you don’t want to overprocess it!) Turn out onto well-floured surface and pat together into a ball. Don’t handle the dough too much, or the warmth of your hands will start to melt the butter. Flour the top of the dough and use rolling pin to quickly press and roll the dough out into a 10 to 11-inch circle. Keep turning the dough as you do this to make sure it doesn’t stick to the rolling surface. Throw more flour underneath the dough if necessary. Check the crust to make sure it’s just big enough to cover the top of your tarte tatin pan. Move the crust onto a piece of parchment paper or onto a floured rimless baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Prepare filling: Preheat oven to 375° F.

Peel, core and quarter the apples. Don’t cut them into smaller pieces than quarters–the quarters shrink considerably during cooking. You can squeeze a bit of lemon on them, but it’s not necessary.

Over low heat in a heavy, ovenproof skillet measuring 7 to 8 inches across the bottom and 10 to 11 inches across the top, melt the stick of butter. Remove from heat, add the sugar and stir until blended.

Shake/tap the pan so the butter-sugar mixture distributes evenly across the bottom. Arrange apple quarters in pan, first making a circle inside the edge of the pan. Place them on their sides and overlap them so you can fit as many as possible. Then fill the center of the pan; you may have some apple left over. Keep at least one extra apple quarter on hand–when you turn the apples over, they may have shrunk to the extent that you’ll need to cheat and fill in the space with an extra piece. This one piece won’t get quite as caramelized as the other pieces, but don’t worry–it will still cook through and no one will notice.

Return your pan to the stovetop on high heat. Let boil for 10 to 12 minutes or until the juices in the pan turn from golden in color to dark amber. Remove from heat. With the tip of a sharp knife, turn apple slices over, keeping them in their original places. If necessary, add an extra slice of apple to keep your arrangement intact. Return to the stovetop on high heat once more. Let cook another 5 minutes and then remove from heat.

Place the crust on top of the apples and brush off excess flour. Tuck edges under slightly, along the inside of the pan, being careful not to burn fingers. You can use your knife.

Bake in oven until the top of the crust is golden-brown in color, about 25-35 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack about 30 minutes.

Run a sharp knife along the inside edge of the pan. Place a plate or other serving dish on top of the pan and quickly flip over the whole shebang so the Tarte Tatin drops down onto the plate. The pan will still be hot, so use potholders and be careful. If there are any pieces of apple left behind in the pan or otherwise out of place, carefully put them back where they are supposed to be.
This keeps well for about a day at room temperature; if you have to refrigerate it, warm it up slightly before serving for optimum enjoyment

Sunday, October 26, 2008

"Arroz Con Cosas" Omelette


I haven't been cooking since our kitchen was ripped out a couple of weeks ago. It has yet to be put back together. The stove is now finally connected again, but washing pans in the (newly painted, easily scratched) bathtub is a drag, so we've had almost a month of restaurant take-out.

Of course, if you have to live on take-out, Harlem is not a bad place to be. We order from Floridita a lot. Their asopao makes me irrationally happy, and I could eat their yellow rice all day long. Just perfect.

This morning, unable to take it anymore, I finally had to cook, and improvised this omelette around some of that precious leftover yellow rice from Floridita. I figured, the Japanese make rice omelettes, why shouldn't there be a Cuban version? The result was one of those greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts moments. Simple, but heavy on the mmmmmmmm factor, and it got our day off to a very nice start.

Ingredients:

Nonstick cooking spray or vegetable oil
1/3 cup chopped chorizo
1 cup leftover yellow rice, brought to room temperature
handful of chopped Italian parsley
1 small carton original eggbeaters
2 T grated Parmesan cheese
1 slice Muenster cheese, chopped into small dice

Heat a saute pan over medium heat. Coat the pan with cooking spray or oil, and saute the chorizo until it starts to brown slightly. Lower the heat to low, add the rice and saute until heated through. Add the parsley and stir to combine. In a separate bowl mix together the eggbeaters an Parmesan cheese. Raise the heat to medium. Pour the egg mixture over the rice and scatter the Muenster cheese over the top. Cook until the eggs are just barely set. Fold in half and serve.

Serves 2

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Fire Island Biscuits and Sausage Gravy


These are cream biscuits and they defy all reason, all logic, all traditional biscuit wisdom. Manhandle them - they like it a little rough. No need to break out the pastry blender, since there's no fat to cut into flour or any of the fussy, anxiety-provoking techniques traditionally associated with biscuit-making. Just a bowl, a spoon and a baking sheet. They come together in a flash and they are delicious.

INGREDIENTS
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour , plus extra for the counter
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Stir in the cream with a wooden spoon until dough forms, about 30 seconds. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and gather into a ball. Knead the dough briefly until smooth, about 30 seconds.
3. Shape the dough into a 3/4-inch-thick circle. Cut biscuits into rounds or wedges. Place rounds or wedges on parchment-lined baking sheet. (The baking sheet can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 2 hours.) Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Serve with sausage gravy.

SAUSAGE GRAVY

INGREDIENTS:
1 hot Italian sausage, crumbled
1/2 yellow onion, diced small
1 T flour
The tiny amount of cream left over from the pint used to make the biscuits
Skim milk, to taste

Saute the crumbled sausage and onion in a small pan until the sausage is almost cooked through and the onion is translucent. Add flour and cook over medium heat for two minutes, stirring. Add the cream and continue to cook until the flour has lost its raw taste, adding additional skim milk if the gravy seems too thick. Adjust the seasoning and serve hot.
Makes 6 biscuits and just enough gravy

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Craig Claibourne's Sunflower, MS Spoonbread


"Craig Claiborne was the pioneering food editor of the New York Times food section, having started it in 1957. Claiborne was originally from Sunflower, Mississippi, where his mother and the family's cooks served up this basic soufflé-style cornbread." Adapted from The Cornbread Gospels by Crescent Dragonwagon.

Craig Claiborne was one of my early influences. I read the food section in the Sunday Times religiously, and bought the Chinese Cookbook Craig wrote with Virginia Lee while I was still in high school, determined to teach myself how to cook. Wish I had known him.

Ingredients

Vegetable oil cooking spray
3 cups milk
1 1/2 cups sifted stone-ground yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, separated
2 teaspoons baking powder
Procedure

1. Preheat oven to 350°F, and spray a deep 1 1/2- to 2-quart baking dish with oil.

2. Bring the milk to a boil in a medium saucepan, preferably nonstick. Gradually pour in the cornmeal with one hand, whisking with the other, creating a very thick mixture. Reduce heat; add the butter and salt. Continue cooking over low heat, stirring almost constantly, for 10 minutes.

3. Remove the cooked mush from the stove; transfer it to a medium-size heat-proof bowl. Let the mush cool to lukewarm, about 20 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, place the egg yolks in a small bowl and the whites in a large, high-sided, nonplastic bowl. When the mush is lukewarm, beat yolks vigorously with a fork, then whip baking powder into them and quickly mix yolks into the mush, making sure yolk mixture is thoroughly incorporated.

5. Beat egg whites until stiff and glossy. Gently fold them into mush; transfer batter to prepared baking dish.

6. Bake until a knife inserted into center comes out barely clean, about 40 minutes. The spoonbread will have risen slightly, and its top will be irregular, with small deeply golden-brown patches. Serve immediately.

Serves 6

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wedding Spoonbread Redux



We got married on Sunday, in upstate New York, with our friends and families beaming all around us. The ceremony was the culmination of an indelibly memorable weekend. Our friend Tim Connor summed it up beautifully here.
(Have you seen Tim's installation of photo light boxes on display at the Atlantic/Pacific station in Brooklyn? Drop what you're doing and go see it, for god's sake! You'll leave inspired.)

At the end of the wedding we gave out little favor bags with the spoonbread recipe and pots of homemade strawberry jam. John and Karen tested the recipe today and sent me pictures of their luscious heart-shaped spoonbread, along with a few important modifications, which are reflected below: essentially,the J-K version is twice as sweet as the standard, and baked a little longer than usual. (Sort of like John, come to think of it...)
Ingredients:
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)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup honey 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 over low heat, 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 the batter into the baking dish. Bake for about 65 minutes. Try not to open the oven during baking. The top will be a deep crusty brown, and a toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean. Serve hot, with butter and jam.
Serves 6
(Wedding photo by Frank Jump)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Kirsti's Norwegian "Soggy Cake" (Blotekake)

My cousin Kirsti made this traditional marzipan-robed marvel of a layer cake for my cousin Erica's birthday yesterday. A blotekake consists of three layers of rich sponge cake (sukkerbrod), separated only by whipped cream and a filling of berries macerated in sugar. Once the layered tiers are covered in whipped cream, the entire cake is wrapped in a very thin sheet of marzipan and decorated with berries. SO good...

Kirsti's Eplekake


My cousin Kirsti, a talented baker, brought a version of this beautiful Norwegian Apple Cake to a family picnic up in Woodstock a few years ago. Its moist and sweet, and packed with twice as many apples as you normally find in an apple cake. The cake, which is completely satisfying, comes together in less than half an hour. Pretty amazing.

10 T butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 t baking powder
1 cup flour
4-6 apples
1 t vanilla sugar
cinnamon to taste, sliced almonds to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Cream together butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs, one at a time.
In another bowl, sift the flour and mix together with the cup of sugar and baking powder. Combine the dry ingredient mixture with the wet ingredients. Spray a cake pan with Wondra spray. Turn the cake batter into the greased pan.
Peel and core the apples, and cut each one into 8 wedges lengthwise. Working in a circular patter, submerge as many apple wedges as possible into the batter.
Mix together cinnamon and vanilla sugar and sprinkle on top of the cake. Decorate with almond slices if desired. Bake until fragrant and golden brown - perhaps 45 minutes to an hour.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Spicy Lemon Garlic Green Beans


1 pound of green beans, trimmed
Scant 1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Juice and minced zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon Thai roasted red chili paste

Cook beans in large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, melt the butter with the oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic; stir for one minute, or until the garlic is fragrant. Add beans and toss. Stir in parsley, lemon juice, lemon zest and chili paste. Saute for 3 - 4 minutes or until heated through. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer to a platter and serve hot.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Lebanese Tahini Dressing



Rich and lemony, with loads of flavor. This dressing (my attempt at using up the half empty jar of tahini in the fridge) brightens up everything from grilled chicken to vegetable salads to sandwich wraps. I like it best slathered all over a warm round of lavash...

4 garlic cloves, minced to a paste
Juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup tahini
1 T Ground cumin, or to taste
1 T Ground coriander, or to taste
1 T Spanish paprika, or to taste
2 T Ground sumac, or to taste
Pinch of cinammon
1/2 cup freshly chopped parsley and/or cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 2 cups

Monday, July 28, 2008

Mandarin Salmon


I was talking on the phone the whole time I put together this salmon dinner, which turned out to be major hit. Wish I had paid closer attention to what I was doing...next time I'll measure everything.

1 8 ounce Salmon Filet
6 Asparagus Spears, washed and trimmed

Marinade:
Hoisin Sauce
Soy Sauce
Sesame Oil
Honey
Dijon Mustard
Garlic Powder
Powdered Ginger

Line a baking pan with aluminum foil. Line up the asparagus spears on the foil and lay the salmon filet on top of the bed of asparagus. Pour the marinade over the salmon and let sit for 15 minutes or up to one hour. Fold the aluminum foil around the fish and crimp into an airtight package. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until medium.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Gloria Burger


Of course, this is really the Mar-a-lago turkey burger that rose to fame on Oprah's top ten list, but Gloria wanted me to test it, so I've clipped the recipe and renamed it, as a first step.

* 1/4 cup scallions, thinly sliced
* 1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
* 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
* 1/8 cup canola oil
* 4 pounds ground turkey breast
* 2 Tbsp. salt
* 1 Tbsp. black pepper
* 2 tsp. chipotle Tabasco™
* 1 lemon, juice and grated zest
* 1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped
* 1/4 cup Major Grey's Chutney, pureed


Sauté the scallions, celery and apples in the canola oil until tender. Let cool.

Place the ground turkey in a large mixing bowl. Add sautéed items and the remaining ingredients. Shape into eight 8-ounce burgers. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

Season the turkey burgers with salt and pepper. Place on a preheated, lightly oiled grill. Grill each side for 7 minutes until meat is thoroughly cooked. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Serve with a side of Mar-a-Lago Pear Chutney and your favorite toasted bread, pita or hamburger roll.

Mar-a-lago Pear Chutney
NGREDIENTS

* 1 Anjou pear, peeled and diced
* 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
* 1 tsp. sea salt
* 1 1/2 cups Major Grey's Chutney
* 1/4 cup dried currants or raisins


Preheat oven to 350°.

Toss the diced pears with the cinnamon and salt. Bake on a parchment-lined cookie sheet for 10 minutes.

Cool and mix with the chutney and currants or raisins.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Apple Tart with Frangipane


Tart apples paired with crumbly almond frangipane and fresh, buttery puff pastry form a classical French combination that I've been meaning to play around with for a while now. I've made a few minor changes (most notably substituting almond pie filling for the super expensive and hard to find frangipane) and I'm probably going to tweak the dessert further in future trials, but for a first attempt (and considering that I was flying blind with no recipe to work from) this actually came very close to being exactly what I had in mind. The tarts disappeared in the blink of an eye at the family barbecue -- always a good sign.

1 box Dufour puff pastry, thawed
1/2 can Solo almond pie filling
3-4 large apples, peeled, cored and sliced as thin as possible
1 T cold butter, cut into small pieces
2 t vanilla sugar
1/4 cup apricot jam, thinned witha little water and heated to form a syrup

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Roll out the puff pastry on a piece of parchment paper and trim the edges so that it is a neat and even rectangle. Transfer pastry on parchment to a baking sheet.
With a knife, cut a 3/4 inch border all the way around the perimeter. Dock the entire space within the border with a fork.
Spread the almond filling over the docked pastry, leaving the border uncovered. Fan the apple slices on top of filling. Dot with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the pastry is cooked all the way through.
Brush the apple slices with the apricot jam. Serve warm.

Giant Popovers with Strawberry Butter


My mother-in-law has been nostalgic for her mom's popovers lately, so I broke out the popover pan for the first time in twelve years. I remember the approximate date because the circumstances were, um... memorable, involving a batch of popovers and a raucous band of hungry Buddhist monks (don't ask!)
Anyway, the first batch for Gloria turned out dreamy. I was pretty thrilled.
There are many different camps of opinion when it comes to popover methodology, and bakers get so shrill and pushy when the topic comes up, that I probably wouldn't be able to do the debate justice in just a few words: cold oven, hot oven, etc, etc. As a result of all the wildly differing opinions, I actually have no idea what the science of the dish actually demands; but since this particular method worked so well for me, I'm going to record it.
The strawberry butter couldn't have been simpler (sweet butter whipped with some pureed fresh strawberries and a dollop of honey), and it pushes the flavors completely over the top. This recipe is designed for the Chicago brand 4 cup popover pan

1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cup milk
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 even pieces
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Oil or spray popover pan. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and set rack in middle of oven. Preheat popover pan in oven for 2 minutes. Blend flour, salt, eggs, milk and melted butter until mixture is the consistency of heavy cream, about 1 to 2 minutes. (A hand mixer is great for this.) The batter can be made ahead of time and refrigerated, but the batter must be at room temperature before baking.

Place 1 small piece of butter in each cup, and return pan to heated oven for one minute.
Fill each cup half full with batter and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce temperature to 300 degrees and continue baking for 20 minutes.
Serve HOT. Popovers are best straight from the oven.
Makes 4 giant popovers

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Warm Sausage and White Bean Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette


I added a whole lot of flavor-packed ingredients to this entree salad, including the "healthy fried onions" that I've been crowing about (steamed in the microwave and then browned in a dry nonstick pan), and to his great embarrassment, Bill all but licked the plate.

2 Bruce Aidells Sundried Tomato Chicken Sausages
1/2 yellow onion
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced into thick strips
salad greens
1 roasted beet, sliced into half moons
1/4 bulb of fennel, sliced into half moons
1 scallion, sliced thin
white beans
cucumber
kalamata olives
garlic
balsamic vinegar

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Jaden's Citrus-Soy Fish Fillets with Soba (or shirataki) Noodles


This recipe is brought to you courtesy of the marvelous and talented Jaden, aka Steamy Kitchen. I would add a little chili paste next time, a drop or two of sesame oil, and maybe some chopped cilantro instead of the parsley we had kicking around in the vegetable bin. Lately when I make noodle dishes, I make regular pasta for Bill and shirataki noodles for myself. I'm pretty much addicted to them.

serves 4

4 fish fillets
salt & fresh ground pepper
6 oz. dried soba noodles

Citrus Soy Sauce:
1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 tbl lemon juice
2 tbl honey
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp rice wine or dry sherry
1 tsp lemon zest
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper and garlic powder for seasoning the fish

Boil soba noodles according to directions on package. Remember to generously salt your boiling water. Drain, set aside. While soba noodles are cooking, combine sauce ingredients in small saucepan and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. The sauce should be bright, sweet and slightly tart. Season fish fillets generously with salt and pepper and garlic powder. Heat a large, non-stick pan with 2 tbl cooking oil over med-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add fillets and fry 3 minutes. Flip fish and fry another 2 minutes, take a quick peek by poking the thickest part of the fish and add another minute if needed. Serve fish over bed of soba noodles. Pour Citrus-Soy over fish.

Shrimp and Broccoli Lo Mein with Cashews


A happy accident, this noodle dish. I went to re-create the shrimp and snow peas with cashews from a few weeks ago, but accidentally grabbed the oyster sauce instead of the hoisin when I reached into the fridge. The change resulted in a totally different dish, and, it turned out, a completely delicious quick dinner. Its light and full of good lean protein and vegetables without tasking "healthy." I ate it with shirataki noodles, and Bill had lo mein. Not a pretty dish per se, but totally satisfying and way better than Chinese take out.

2 T cooking oil
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 inch fresh ginger, minced or 1 t dried ground ginger
1/3 red onion, sliced into thin strips or 2 scallions, sliced into thin rings
1 cup raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 full head of broccoli, steamed briefly but not fully cooked
1 cup chicken stock
2-4 hefty glugs of oyster sauce, or to taste
1/4 cup soy sauce, or to taste
1/2 cup salted, roasted cashews
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 package shirataki noodles or lo mein noodles, cooked and heated through

Heat the oil in a saute pan or wok. Saute the garlic, ginger and onion or white scallion rings until they are fragrant. Add the shrimp and broccoli and toss to combine. Add 3/4 of the chicken stock and the hoisin sauce. Saute until the shrimp are cooked through. Add the cashews, green scallion rings and cook just until heated through. Add the cornstarch mixed with the remaining chicken stock and bring to a boil just until thickened. Serve hot over noodles. Garnish with green scallion rings.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Linguine Frutti di Mare


So every month when Saveur shows up, I hand the magazine to Bill and say "pick one thing you want me to cook out of this." And this month he went straight to the linguini with seafood. Its the kind of dish he's always happy to eat. I cut the amount of oil down to almost nothing, tossed in a couple of clams and a little crushed red pepper. I substituted whole wheat linguine for the white stuff too..

SERVES 2
Kosher salt, to taste
8 oz. dried whole wheat linguine
1⁄8 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1⁄2 cup chopped red bell pepper
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
pinch of red pepper flakes
1⁄3 cup white wine
1/3 cup chicken stock or clam juice, warmed up
8 mussels, scrubbed and debearded
8 littleneck clams, scrubbed
1⁄2 cup halved cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
8 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
8 leaves basil, torn, plus more for garnish
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1⁄2 cup grated asiago cheese
4 lemon wedges


1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add linguine; cook until al dente, 8–10 minutes. Drain pasta; reserve 1⁄4 cup pasta water.


2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a 12" skillet over medium-high heat. Add green and red peppers, garlic, and onion; cook until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add wine, stock, mussels and clams; cook, covered, until mussels open, about 2 minutes. Add reserved pasta water, tomatoes, butter, and shrimp and cook, stirring, until shrimp are just pink, about 1 minute. Add cooked linguine, toss to combine, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens and clings to pasta. Stir in basil and season with salt and pepper. Divide pasta between bowls. Sprinkle with more basil, asiago, and garnish with lemon wedges.


This recipe was first published in Saveur in Issue #112
Photo by Andre Baranowsky

Brown Sugar Buttermilk Pie


Also from this month's Saveur, comes a recipe for a plain buttermilk chess pie. I loved the warm chocolate chess and lemon chess pies we used to serve at Virgil's Real BBQ, so I clipped this mostly out of nostalgia. We'll see how BT feels about it.
Photo by James Oseland
SERVES 8


A variation of this classic Southern custard pie, also known as Jefferson Davis pie, is served at Boone Tavern in Berea, Kentucky.


3⁄4 cup plus 1 tbsp. flour
1⁄2 tbsp. plus 2⁄3 cup sugar
1 tsp. fine salt
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, diced
2⁄3 cup packed light brown sugar
2⁄3 cup buttermilk
1⁄2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
4 egg yolks plus 1 egg


1. Put the flour, 1⁄2 tbsp. sugar, and 1⁄2 tsp. salt into a food processor and pulse to combine. Add 6 tbsp. of the butter and pulse until pea-size pieces have formed. Drizzle in 2–3 tbsp. ice water; pulse until dough just comes together. Turn dough out onto a floured surface; form into a ball. Flatten into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 1 hour.


2. On a floured surface, roll dough into a 12" circle about 1⁄8" thick; transfer to a 9" pie pan. Trim dough, leaving a 1⁄2" overhang; fold edges under. Flute edges with fingers. Chill for 1 hour.


3. Heat oven to 325°. Pour water into a 4-quart saucepan to a depth of 1"; bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Whisk together remaining sugar and salt, brown sugar, buttermilk, nutmeg, egg yolks, and egg. Set bowl over saucepan. Add remaining butter; cook, whisking frequently, until smooth and warm, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool for 5 minutes. Pour mixture into chilled pie shell. Bake until center is just set, 45–50 minutes. Transfer pie to cooling rack; let cool completely before serving, about 2 hours.


This recipe was first published in Saveur in Issue #112

Boone Tavern Spoonbread


I clipped this recipe and photo out of the current issue of Saveuer, and I'll get around to testing it eventually, but at first glance I'm pretty skeptical. First, there's the thorny issue of white vs. yellow cornmeal. And then there's the question of method -- the paddle attachment?? Really?? And finally, there's the matter of the photo not accurately reflecting the recipe. (Where's the parchment paper?) For now, I'll stick with the tried and true.

SERVES 6–8


This starter, one of the most popular offerings at Boone Tavern, which has featured the specialty for more than 60 years, is a creamy-centered corn bread pudding that rises like a soufflé.


4 tbsp. unsalted butter (1 tbsp. softened,
3 tbsp. melted)
3 cups milk
1 1⁄4 cups finely ground white cornmeal
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. fine salt
2 eggs, well beaten


1. Grease a 9" round cake pan with some of the softened butter. Cut out a parchment paper circle to fit inside the pan, nestle it into the bottom, and grease the paper with the remaining softened butter. Set the prepared pan aside.


2. In a 2-quart saucepan, bring the milk to a boil, whisking occasionally, over high heat. While whisking, pour in the cornmeal in a steady stream. Whisk vigorously to incorporate the cornmeal, for about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to let the cornmeal mixture cool to room temperature.


3. Heat oven to 350°. Transfer the cornmeal mixture to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the remaining butter, baking powder, salt, and eggs and mix on medium speed until uniform and aerated, about 15 minutes.


4. Pour cornmeal batter into the prepared pan and bake until golden brown and puffy and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Serve immediately.


This recipe was first published in Saveur in Issue #112

Friday, May 23, 2008

Perfect (And Healthy!) Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes


I'll say it again: Ellie Krieger rocks the show.
I'm loving cooking my way through both of her books right now, as I continue on in my quest to lighten up. Ellie is an upbeat and wonderfully creative nutritionist, and her cooking is spot on, too.
This here is an amalgam of two of her lightened comfort food recipes: Parmesan Mashed Potatoes and Sour Cream Smashed Potatoes. I say: why not both at once?

Ingredients
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, diced unpeeled
1/2 cup low-fat sour cream or buttermilk
1/2 cup skim milk
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
Salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.

While potatoes are cooking place buttermilk and milk into a small saucepan and cook over a very low heat until just warm. Be careful not to boil or milk will curdle.

Drain the potatoes, add the warmed milk and mash together to desired consistency. Stir in cheese and salt. Top with the butter and let it melt.

Sauteed Beet Greens


Not much of a real "recipe" to record, but since this is for Hieronymus and posterity, the technique is worth preserving. These are so very tasty, and exactly how both we like our greens: garlicky, vinegary, hot-saucy, smokey and fresh.

Ingredients:

olive oil
1 slice of ham or bacon or prosciutto, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, sliced thin

Greens from one bunch of fresh beets, large veins removed, chopped into small pieces
kosher salt and pepper, to taste
2 good glugs of chicken stock
1 quick glug of vinegar
Frank's hot sauce, to taste

Saute the chopped ham in the olive oil for a minute or two. Reduce the heat, add the garlic and saute, watching closely to make sure it doesn't brown too quickly. Raise the heat and add the greens. Stir and season. Add the chicken stock and vinegar and cook just until the greens are cooked through. Add hot sauce to taste.

Serves 2

Spiced Pork Chops


These are the famous spiced chops from Home Restaurant in NY, with only a couple of changes on my part; the most important being the real necessity of brining the chops before cooking them, so they stay moist and juicy under all that high heat. I also added a little brown sugar to the rub. It rounds out the spice mix and makes for good caramelization.
We ate this with sauteed beet greens, sour cream mashed potatoes and a big salad. Happy Memorial Day Weekend, family...

Brine:
1 qt cold water
1/4 cup kosher salt
2 T sugar

Ingredients:
Olive Oil
2 double thick center cut pork chops (12 oz)
Ground black pepper

Spice Mix:
Equal parts toasted ground cumin, coriander and mustard seed.
A couple of teaspoons of brown sugar

Brine the chops for a few hours before cooking them (at least 2, not more than 8)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Rinse the pork chops well, pat them dry, and in a wide shallow bowl, coat them generously with the spice mixture. They will not need additional salt. Add pepper to taste.
In an ovenproof saute pan, brown the chops in olive oil just until nicely browned on all sides. Put the pan with the chops in the oven and bake until done -- approximately 15 minutes, depending on the size of the chops. The best thing to do is check the temperature on an instant read thermometer. Pull it out at 150 degrees and let it rest for 5 - 10 minutes.
Serves 2

Jeremy Jackson's Velvet Spoonbread


Have you not read this book yet? Its an absolute must read. The best kind of food writing, and on a subject very dear to our hearts.
"One part mush, one part soufflé, and one part cornbread, spoonbread has no equal. Long a staple in southern cuisine, spoonbread has largely failed to find a broader audience. But it deserves more. It accompanies a wide variety of dishes with ease, and often is the main course itself. You're just as likely to encounter it at breakfast as at dinner. Put butter on it and drizzle it with maple syrup or honey. Eat it with applesauce and eggs. Or serve it with ham and redeye gravy."

Ingredients:

1 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk

Instructions:

1. Preheat your oven to 375°F. Grease a 2-quart baking dish with vegetable shortening or nonstick cooking spray.

2. Pour 1 ½ cups boiling water over the cornmeal in a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the butter and let it melt while you separate the eggs. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and salt into the cornmeal mixture. Gradually whisk in the milk. Allow the mixture to sit 20 minutes while the cornmeal absorbs the milk.

3. Separately beat the egg whites until they form very stiff peaks, then gradually fold the cornmeal mixture into the egg whites until everything is combined.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish. Put it in the oven and immediately lower the oven temperature to 350°F. Bake for 65 to 75 minutes, until set.

Applesauce Sour Cream Pancakes


I've been meaning to play with the CI multigrain pancake recipe for a while, but I never seem to find the time to make ground muesli flour and all that other stuff.
The recipe below reflects my first attempt at applesauce sour cream pancakes, using whole wheat flour and flax seed. I essentially took our blueberry pancake recipe and lightened it: substituting apple sauce for all of the melted butter, and switching out some of the white flour for King Arthur's white whole wheat. I tried to include some of the flavors I associate with apple sauce sour cream coffee cake. Not too shabby!
I'm going to work on some candied ginger apple butter to go with.

Dry Ingredients
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup white whole wheat flour
1/3 cup brown sugar, sifted
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Wet Ingredients
1 egg plus 2 egg whites (separated, whites beaten to soft peaks)
2 heaping tablespoons of thick yogurt or lowfat sour cream stirred into skim milk to equal one cup of liquid or a tiny bit more
1/4 cup applesauce
shot of maple syrup
dash of vanilla extract
Butter or nonstick cooking spray

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

Heat a small amount of butter in a skillet over medium heat or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Ladle 1/4 cup of batter onto the skillet for each pancake. Cook for a minute or two on each side. They should be well-browned.

Serve hot with maple syrup, butter, chopped fruit and sausages.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

CI Almost No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread












I watched the video over at Breadtopia.com at least three times, but still managed to add too much liquid to this first batch of almost-no-knead bread, a la Cook's Illustrated, so the results were a little bit off. I also need to invest in a cloche and a kitchen scale. I'll try it again using precise measurements and the right equipment, but I have to say, this first round was really pretty good. It certainly tasted better than your average whole wheat bread. Bill loved the crust. His verdict:
"This is good in all kinds of ways."

2 cups (10 ounces) all purpose or bread flour
1 cup (5 ounces) whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat)
1/4 tsp. instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. honey (or 2 Tbs. raw sugar)
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. (7 ounces) water at room temp
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. (3 ounces) mild flavored lager
1 Tbs. white vinegar


Preheat the oven with Dutch oven or Cloche inside to 500 degrees. Reduce temperature to 425 when the bread dough goes in and bake covered for 30 minutes. Then remove cover and bake an additional 15 minutes or until the internal bread temperature reaches about 200 degrees.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Oatmeal Wheat Bread


More baking experiments this week. In this round, I halved the recipe and may have used a pan that was a little too big. The bread was light and crusty and extremely fragrant, and didn't taste like "health bread" at all. My one quibble with this first loaf was that it was a little bit squat and dense in appearance. Not quite the tall, perfect loaf touted in Gourmet (pictured, right).
This is probably going to take a little tinkering. Bill is happily doing his part: munching away on sandwich after sandwich, offering positive assessments of each new round of fresh bread, and generally being his sunny, hungry self. (I know he's really not-so-secretly hoping that all of this baking is going to lead up to pies in his future, if he's patient.)

2 cups whole milk
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking) plus additional for topping
1/2 cup warm water (105-115°F)
2 tablespoons active dry yeast (from 3 packages)
1/2 cup mild honey
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus additional for buttering pans
3 cups stone-ground whole-wheat flour
About 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
Vegetable oil for oiling bowl
1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Heat milk in a 1 1/2- to 2-quart saucepan over low heat until hot but not boiling, then remove pan from heat and stir in oats. Let stand, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until cooled to warm.

Stir together water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon honey in a small bowl; let stand until foamy, 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn't foam, discard and start over with new yeast.) Stir yeast mixture, melted butter, and remaining honey into cooled oatmeal.

Stir together whole-wheat flour, 1 1/2 cups unbleached flour, and salt in a large bowl. Add oat mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. Turn out onto a well-floured surface and knead with floured hands, adding just enough of remaining unbleached flour to keep from sticking, until dough is smooth, soft, and elastic, about 10 minutes (dough will be slightly sticky). Form dough into a ball and transfer to an oiled large bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel; let rise at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Lightly butter loaf pans. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead several times to remove air. Divide dough in half and shape each half into a loaf, then place 1 loaf in each buttered pan, seam side down, tucking ends gently to fit. Cover loaf pans loosely with a kitchen towel and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly brush tops of loaves with some of egg wash and sprinkle with oats, then bake until bread is golden and loaves sound hollow when tapped on bottom, 35 to 40 minutes. (Remove 1 loaf from pan to test for doneness. Run a knife around edge of pan to loosen.)

Remove bread from pans and transfer to a rack to cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.

Crazy Fruit Salad


I've been making Jane Bordy's citrus salad for years. The first time I made it my cousin Erica said "Ruthie! This salad is crazy! Its absolutely delicious!" And so its been my "crazy salad" ever since.

Its fabulous: pretty and refreshing and unexpectedly delicious.
Today I made a version with other fruits: Asian pear, cantaloupe, green grapes, bananas, poached cranberries, and no citrus at all. Equally good, and still crazy after all these years.

The recipe is something like:
1 ruby red grapefruit, peel and pith cut away, and sliced crosswise into thin rounds
2 navel oranges, peel and pith cut away, and sliced crosswise into thin rounds
a few ounces of dried cranberries, poached in simple syrup and cooled
a few ounces of dried apricots, poached in simple syrup and cooled

Toss together the citrus slices in a large bowl. Add the apricots and their syrup and stir. Scatter the cranberries over all.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Giada's Fusilli with Sun Dried Tomatoes, Artichokes and Sausage


We eat a whole lot of Fairway's grilled artichoke hearts around here. They're just one of those tastes I constantly crave, and always find satisfying. Meanwhile, Bill, for his part, would happily put sun dried tomatoes in pretty much everything (if he had his way) -- so this simple, tasty pasta lets us both have exactly what we want.

I've added a little chopped Citterio Fresco Rosmarino Ham to Giada's recipe, and that one change added tremendous depth of flavor. Prosciutto would do just as well. When there aren't any fresh herbs around, I substitute that great Fairway pizza seasoning blend of dried basil, oregano, red pepper, garlic etc.

3/4 cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, sliced, 2 tablespoons of oil reserved
1 pound spicy Italian turkey sausages, sliced
Small amount chopped rosmarino ham.
2 (8-ounce) packages frozen artichoke hearts
6 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
16 ounces whole wheat fusilli or penne
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan, plus additional for garnish
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
8 ounces water-packed fresh mozzarella, drained and cubed, optional
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat the oil reserved from the tomatoes in a heavy large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the sausages and cook until brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer the sausage to a bowl. Add the artichokes and garlic to the same skillet, and saute over medium heat until the garlic is tender, about 2 minutes. Add the broth, wine, and sun-dried tomatoes. Boil over medium-high heat until the sauce reduces slightly, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the fusilli in boiling water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta (do not rinse). Add the pasta, sausage, 1/2 cup Parmesan, basil, and parsley to the artichoke mixture. Toss until the sauce is almost absorbed by the pasta. Scatter the mozzarella on top. Season, to taste with salt and pepper. Serve, passing the additional Parmesan cheese alongside.
Serves 6

Vietnamese Ginger Chicken


I'm on a roll! Great meals all week.
Bill's a very happy camper.
I guess I should start thinking about trying to fit into a wedding dress one of these days...
This flavorful chicken was my humble attempt at replicating the gorgeous ginger chicken Lan Tran Cao turns out down at V Cafe. Man, that woman can cook.

12 oz raw chicken, sliced into scallops
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. chopped garlic
2 tsp. chopped shallots
2 tsp. julienned fresh ginger
4 tsp. vegetable oil

Spicy Honey Lime Sauce
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 Tbsp. Soy sauce
2 Tbsp. Honey
2 Tbsp. Lime juice
1 tsp. Thai chili sauce

Marinate chicken in a mixing bowl with the salt, pepper, sugar, soy and sesame oil. Allow to marinate, in the refrigerator, for at least 30 minutes. Heat a medium sauté pan over high heat. Add the vegetable oil and sauté the shallots until lightly brown. Next add garlic, chicken, ginger and sauté until chicken is fully cooked. Transfer to plate. Spoon the Kaffir-Honey-Lime Sauce over the chicken and serve with steamed rice.
Serves 2-3

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Chinese Stir-Fried Shrimp with Snow Peas and Cashews


Oh, yum...
This weeknight experiment -- an amalgam of two stir fries I often crave: Cantonese Shrimp with Snow Peas and Ginger Chicken with Cashews -- came out even better than I expected. Full of gingery heat and sweet shrimp; crunchy snow peas and velvet cashews. Oh - and quick! And healthy!
Keepin' it.

2 T cooking oil
5 cloves garlic, sliced
ginger, minced
2 scallions, sliced into thin rings. White and green parts separated.
2 cups shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 1/2 cups snow peas, blanched
1 cup chicken stock
1 hefty glug of hoisin sauce
1/2 cup salted, roasted cashews
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Heat the oil in a saute pan or wok. Saute the garlic, ginger and white scallion rings until they are fragrant. Add the shrimp and snow peas and toss to combine. Add 3/4 of the chicken stock and the hoisin sauce. Saute until the shrimp are cooked through. Add the cashews, green scallion rings and cook just until heated through. Add the cornstarch mixed with the remaining chicken stock and bring to a boil just until thickened.
Serve over rice.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Steak and Semi-German Potato Salad


There was a request for steak salad for dinner tonight. The results were very memorable - a good example of how a dish can somehow magically exceed the sum of its component parts.
I started with a composed salad of mixed greens and herbs, endive, fennel, cherry tomatoes, minced red onion, and grilled marinated artichokes as the foundation. Then I took a hot baked Yukon Gold potato and sliced it up and tossed the slices with a squeeze of lemon juice and a few tablespoons of mustard vinaigrette and then layered the warm dressed potatoes on top of the composed salad. I sliced and heated the leftover steak and fanned out the slices on top of the potatoes, pouring the accumulated steak juices over everything, and voila! A little extra vinaigrette on the side, and dinner was served...

Monday, May 12, 2008

Cod and Asparagus En Papillote


This came together in a flash.
Light, easy, elegant, quick. I might put the fish on a bed of very thinly sliced potatoes and shallots next time, and steam it all together.

3/4 lb cod filets
1/4 t minced lemon zest
Salt and freshly ground pepper and (believe it or not) Fairway's pizza seasoning to taste
3 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
1 pat of butter
juice from 1 half a lemon
1 short glug of white wine
lemon slices
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
8 - 10 spears of asparagus

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place fish on a large square of parchment paper or tin foil, on top of a baking sheet.
Smear with zest and spices, sprinkle with lemon juice and wine. Arrange the asparagus around the fish and scatter the garlic and butter over all. Place the lemon slices over the fish and stre the chopped cilantro over everything. Tightly crimp the foil so the packet is air tight. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
Serves 2

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Vietnamese Steak


Oh...my...god...
This was insanely good. This precise mix of flavors: charred, salty and rich, is pretty much exactly what you want to taste when you're craving steak. The recipe came out of a back issue of Saveur. In Vietnamese its called Thit Bo Bit-Tet (pronounced Teet Baw Beet-teht).
Photo by Andre Baranowsky

3 tbsp. Maggi seasoning sauce
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 top sirloin steak (about 1 1/2 lbs. in all)
Rice

1. Stir together Maggi seasoning sauce, oil, pepper, and garlic in a wide, shallow dish. Add steak; rub all over with marinade. Cover; let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2. Remove steak from marinade; scrape off most of the garlic. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add steak and cook until well browned, 3–4 minutes; flip steak and cook until medium rare, 2–3 minutes more.

3. Transfer steak to a cutting board; tent with foil. Thinly slice both steaks across the grain. Serve with rice, and any accumulated juices.

Serves 2-3