Thursday, October 28, 2004

Easy Savarin

Savarin is not a dessert you see much anymore. It is a yeast cake soaked with rum (yum!)--sort of like a big Ba-ba Rum. It is usually a pain to make, but I've developed an almost fool-proof way to do it in the food processor. It's a great dessert to bring to someone's home.

1 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 cups flour (you made need a little more)
1/2 cup eggs
6 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoons salt
heavy cream for serving

Egg glaze: 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon milk

Syrup: 1 1/3 cups water, combined with 1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup good-quality dark rum

Glaze: 1/2 cup apricot jam, 2 tablespoon sugar, and green and red candied fruit

Make a sponge, by adding the yeast to 1/4 warm water and stirring in 2 tablespoons of flour (measured from the 1 1/2 cups)--blend the flour into the liquid until no lumps remain. Cover the sponge and let it stand for 20 minutes in a mildly warm place.

Place flour, yeast-sponge mixture, sugar, salt, eggs, and butter, cut-up into small pieces in your food-processor, and process for about 30 seconds or until the dough is well blended. Dough should be extremely loose.

Remove (or more like pour out--you may have to add a tiny bit of flour but add as little as possible; although the dough is very loose at this point, take care beacuse it will firm up as it rises; in other words, the flour will continue to absorp water throughout the rising process) dough from processor bowl, place in a bowl, and let rise until double to triple in size. A turned-off gas oven is a good place for proofing dough. I always covered my bowl with plastic wrap. If you don't have a gas oven, place a bowl of steaming water in your electric oven to warm it up.

Pour the dough into a greased savarin mold (a savarin mold is a mold with a whole in its center--kind of like a Jello mold) and let it rise until double to triple.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush top of cake with egg glaze, and bake on the middle shelf for 25 to 30 minutes. Just before cake comes out, make the rum syrup by boiling water and sugar for 5 minutes, then adding rum after it has cooled for 5 minutes.

Unmold the cake, and then put it back in the mold and prick it all over with a toothpick. Pour 3 to 4 tablespoons of the rum syrup over the cake. Let it soak in for a few minutes, and then unmold it again and place it on a rack. Prick it again and soak it with half the remaining syrup.

Boil the jam with the sugar and strain. Brush over the cake and decorate it with candied fruit. Gently whip heavy cream and sweeten with a little sugar. Serve each slice with a dallop of cream.

Serves 10

Wild Rice-Sausage Casserole

from Kathleen Sanders out of The Pleasure of Your Company by Diana Von Welanetz

Fall is definitely in the air in Northern California these days--we've gotten into the low 40s these past few nights. This time of year seems to use Thanksgiving as its pole star. As we change seasons we move naturally into heartier fare.

I was looking through some of my old photocopied recipes this morning, when I stumbled upon one of my favorite winter meals: Wild Rice-Sausage Casserole. Its preparation is easy, it makes a ton, and it keeps well in the refrigerator for about one-week, that is if you are lucky enough to have any left-over after the first few days. It is one of those kind of meals that cries out to you, "Eat me, now" for as long as it is in the frig.

1 1/2 cups wild rice, cooked

My preferred method for cooking wild rice is to cook it like pasta, i.e., in a large amount of boiling water. Additionally, I change the water twice (drain the rice, and re-fill the pot with boiling water). This method rids the rice of any "dirty" taste. I don't recall how long it takes to cook, but cook it until it is tender (probably at least 30 minutes, perhaps more--but you will know when it is done because the grains will crack open and be tender).

While the rice is cooking, place 2 one-pound fourteen-ounce cans of whole tomatoes with their liquid into a large saucepan; using a kitchen spoon, chop them coarsely against the side of the pan. Add 1 medium onion, finely chopped, 2 teaspoons of salt, 2 teaspoons of sugar, and simmer, uncovered for 30 minutes.

While the tomatoes are cooking, gently sauté 1 1/2 pounds of bulk pork sausage (I use 3/4 pound hot and 3/4 pound mild--tried to find a good quality sausage seasoned with whole fennel seed). After the sausage is cooked taste it and if it is not well-seasoned, add a little marjoram, sage, summer savory, thyme and pepper.

Slice 1 pound of cremini (or white button) mushrooms. Melt 2 tablespoon butter in a skillet and add the mushrooms. Sprinkle them with a little salt and a 1/2 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice. Sauté them in a covered skillet over medium-high heat until they give off some of their moisture. Now, uncover the pan and continue cooking for another 3 minutes or so, until almost all the moisture in the pan has evaporated.

In a large casserole (preferrably, a heavy cast-iron type with a lid), combine the drained wild rice, warm tomato mixture, sautéd drained sausage, cooked mushrooms, and about 1 cup of imported Italian Pine nuts (don't buy the imports from South America). Taste for salt and pepper, and adjust accordingly.

To serve, heat the casserole covered for about 20 to 30 minutes in a 325 degree oven.

This this can be made ahead; it also freezes nicely.

Serves 12

Monday, October 25, 2004

Keeping Mashed Potatoes Hot

Every cook knows it gets a little frantic before Thanksgiving-type meals. There is so much to do and unfortunately a lot of it seem to be at the last minute.

But how would you like to make your potatoes a hour or so before the meal? Now you can if you own a crock pot.

Boil russet potatoes in an open sauce pan covered by 1 inch of water (I neither salt the water nor cut peel the potatoes at this stage).

When the potatoes are done, peel them (the peel easily lift off with the tip of a paring knife at this stage), place them in a ricer and rice them directly into your crock pot, which you have turned on low.

When they are riced gently stir in the melted butter and then most of the warmed half-and-half. Add salt and a little prepared horseradish (a yummy addition). Now add the remaining half-and-half but don't stir it in. Put the lid on, maybe cracking it ever so slightly, and keep it on medium. They should hold this way for at least an hour. When you are ready to serve, add the scallions and give it a gentle stir. NB: no new bowl is needed for the table, just remove the stone insert and serve directly from that.

Caveat: The more you stir, the more gluey your potatoes will get. Stir as gently and as little as possible.


2 pounds russet potatoes, unpeeled and scrubbed
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 to 1 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1/4 cup grated fresh horseradish (optional)
3 medium scallions, green parts only, minced
1 cup half-and-half, warm

Place potatoes in large saucepan with water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to boil over high heat, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until potatoes are just tender (paring knife can be slipped into and out of potato with very little resistance), 20 to 30 minutes. Drain.

Set ricer over now-empty but still-warm saucepan (or warm crock pot). Spear potato with dinner fork, then peel off skin with paring knife; repeat with remaining potatoes. Working in batches, cut peeled potatoes into rough chunks and drop into hopper of ricer.

Stir butter into potatoes until just incorporated. Sprinkle salt and pepper over potatoes. Whisk horseradish and scallions into warm half-and-half; add mixture to potatoes and stir until just combined.

Serves 4

Pecan Pie a la SOX

from Cook's Illustrated

I made Jim a Pecan pie for his birthday, but almost nothing about that pie impressed us. (I forgot to ask Kevin how he liked it, but I bet he didn't find it wonderful.) I used the recipe on the back of the Karo syrup jar, thinking that it was "the standard" for a traditional pie, and that that was what Jim was used to, wanted. It consisted of 1 cup of corn syrup, 1 cup of white sugar, 3 eggs, 2 tablespoons of butter, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and 1 1/4 cups pecans, all mixed together and then baked for about an hour at 350 degrees. The pie turned out to be a mass of not-to-tasty pecan-laced jelly. Yesterday afternoon, while waiting for the event of the century (the SOX' win, of course), I noticed that I still had one pie shell in the freezer, so I thought, "Why not look for another--have you ever noticed that the reason ANOTHER is not preceded by an article is because it seems to have one built in (an + other)?--recipe and give it a second try!". (I guess SOX is plural, so the possessive would just need an apostrophe.)

I did, and what I came up with yielded a much different, and very much preferred product: a pie of the century appropriate for a SOX victory. NB: Do break the pecans up and toast them well. Also, if you don't wait the requisite 4 hours before consuming, your pie will exude a bit.

1 9-inch baked pie shell
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups pecans (8 ounces), toasted and chopped into small pieces

Adjust oven rack to center position, and heat oven to 275 degrees. Place pie shell in oven if not already warm.

Melt butter in medium heatproof bowl set in skillet of water maintained at just below simmer. Remove bowl from skillet; mix in sugar and salt with wooden spoon until butter is absorbed. Beat in eggs, then corn syrup and vanilla. Return bowl to hot water; stir until mixture is shiny and warm to the touch, about 130 degrees. Remove from heat; stir in pecans.

Pour mixture into warm shell; bake until center feels set yet soft, like gelatin, when gently pressed, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer pie to rack; let cool completely, at least 4 hours.

Brined Porked Chops

from Cook's Illustrated

Last night we tried out a simplified brining method on our pork chops.

We placed 3/4 cup Diamond Crystal kosher salt, 6 tablespoon sugar, and 3 quarts of water in a 2.5 gallon zip lock bag. It dissolved on its own--without heating--in a few minutes. Into the bag placed 2 center-cut loin chops (about one and three-quarters inches thick), squeezed out its air, then placed it in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

When the hour was up we fired up the gas BBQ to maxium and let it pre-heat for 15 minutes. Meanwhile we rinsed off our chops, patted them dry, and gave them a little rub with a teaspoon of canola oil (we wanted to make sure they didn't stick to the grate).

Next, we turned off all but one of the BBQ burners and placed the chops over the lit burner for 4 minutes on each side (keeping the lid closed, of course). After they were nicely browned on both sides (they had beautiful large brown stripes), we moved them over to an unlit burner and continued to cook them for another 5 minutes on each side (NB: we keep the original burner burning throughout the cooking process).

Now, we removed them from the BBQ and let them them have a rest for about 10 minutes under a lose aluminum tent (this resting time is crucial because it allows their juices to recede).

They were juicy and perfectly cooked (I took their temperature when they came off the grill: they measured 135 degrees--after their rest they read a little over 140).

My only criticism concerns the type of chop: center-cut RIB chops are definitely more flavorful than their center-cut LOIN relatives. The difference between the two, in fact, was so pronounced that if the market didn't have any rib chops that day I would delay making the dish until I could obtain them.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Perfect Asparagus

from Cook's Illustrated

Steam them on a basket-type steamer for 5 minutes or so (until done). Make sure the water is boiling before you lower the basket into the pot (and be careful not to burn yourself)--I use a 6 quart pot with a tight fitting lid.

You will have perfect asparagus (no sog and and full flavor) by this method.

Best Oven-fried French Fries

from Cook's Illustrated, January 2004

Take care to cut the potatoes into evenly sized wedges so that all of the pieces will cook at about the same rate. Although it isn't required, a nonstick baking sheet works particularly well for this recipe. It not only keeps the fries from sticking to the pan but, because of its dark color, encourages deep and even browning. Whether you choose a nonstick baking sheet or a regular baking sheet, make sure that it is heavy duty. The intense heat of the oven may cause lighter pans to warp.

Serves 3 to 4
3 russet potatoes (about 8 ounces each), peeled, each potato cut lengthwise into 10 to 12 evenly sized wedges
5 tablespoons vegetable oil or peanut oil
Table salt and ground black pepper

1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position; heat oven to 475 degrees. Place potatoes in large bowl and cover with hot tap water; soak 10 minutes. Meanwhile, coat 18 by 12-inch heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet (see note) with 4 tablespoons oil and sprinkle evenly with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; set aside.

2. Drain potatoes. Spread potatoes out on triple layer of paper towels and thoroughly pat dry with additional paper towels. Rinse and wipe out now-empty bowl; return potatoes to bowl and toss with remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Arrange potatoes in single layer on prepared baking sheet; cover tightly with foil and bake 5 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until bottoms of potatoes are spotty golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating baking sheet after 10 minutes. Using metal spatula and tongs, scrape to loosen potatoes from pan, then flip each wedge, keeping potatoes in single layer. Continue baking until fries are golden and crisp, 5 to 15 minutes longer, rotating pan as needed if fries are browning unevenly.

3. Transfer fries to second baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste and serve.


Trader Joe's sells the best watercress: pre-washed and ready to use in a 3 oz. bag.

Four-Cheese Pasta

from Cook's Illustrated

This method followed to a "t" will yield a pasta that is neither gooey, gluey, heavy, bland, nor greasy. The final dish will have a cheese flavor that is pronounced and balanced. This dish is everything that you always hoped a pasta with such a name might be.

With your oven rack in the middle position, pre-heat your oven to 500 degrees.

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil, add 1 pound penne (apparently the best-tasting brand is Ronzoni) and 1 tablespoon salt. Cook until it is slightly undercooked (opaque but slightly underdone at the center).

Make a topping by combining 3 or 4 slices of bread (with crusts) pulsed crumbs in a food processor, 1/4 teaspoon table salt, and 1/4 (1/2 ounce) Parmesan cheese.

Grate 4 ounces Italian Fontina (the Ilalian variety is creamer), 3 ounces Gorgonzola, 1 ounce Pecorino, and 1/2 ounce Parmesan. Place cheeses in a large bowl.

Make a sauce by melting 2 teaspoons butter, to which 2 teaspoon of flour is added (cook for a minute before adding cream) and 1 1/2 cups heavy cream. Simmer the sauce over low heat for a few minutes to cook the flour, then stir in 1/4 teaspoon table salt. Remove from heat but put a lid on it to keep it warm.

When pasta is 'done', drain for about 5 seconds, then dump the slightly damp pasta ontop of the cheese, adding the sauce next. Don't stir yet, just cover the bowl with foil and wait 3 minues.

Now stir the cheese-pasta-sauce mixture until the cheese is melted.

Pour into a large, rectangular glass baking dish, top with bread-crumb mixture, pressing down on it slightly, and bake for about 7 minutes until top is golden-brown.

Serves 6 as a main course

Using Kosher Salt

4 tablespoons of table salt = 6 tablespoon of Morton's Kosher salt = 8 tablespoons of Diamond Crystal Kosher salt

Pot Roast

from Cook's Illustrated

We made a pot roast last night, and Jim remarked that it was better than his mother's and that, in fact, it was the best he had ever had.

1 pot roast, about 3 pounds, seasoned with salt and pepper

We used a chuck shoulder pot roast because that is what Jim bought at Costco; however, the recipe recommended using a blade roast or a 7-bone roast, and that is what I will do next time.

Adjust your oven rack to the middle position and heat to 300 degrees. While it is preheating, heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven and brown the roast on both sides (about 4 or 5 minutes per side). When your roast is brown, reduce your heat to medium and remove it to a platter. Add 1 chopped carrot, 1 chopped celery rib, and 1 chopped medium onion to the pan and saute them until they are beginning to brown (about 6 to 8 minutes). Now add two cloves of minced garlic and 2 teaspoons of sugar and cook for another 30 seconds. Return the roast to the pan. Add 1 cup of reduced-sodium beef broth and 1 cup of reduced-sodium chicken broth to the pan and enough water so that liquid comes to the half-way mark on the roast (apparently, the use of equal parts of beef and chicken broth, is the perfect combination to obtaining an authentic "pot-roast" flavor). Bring the liquid to a simmer, and then cover with a piece of foil and the lid (the foil prevents steam from escaping from the lid), and place in the oven.

Cook for 3 1/2 hours, turning the meat over every half hour.

Remove meat from pan and place on a cutting board (tent with foil to keep it warm). Reduce cooking liquid to 1 1/2 cups (if desired, you may strain the vegetables from it). When reduced, add 1/4 cup red wine and then reduce again to 1 1/2 cups. Slice meat and arrange it on a platter, then spoon a little of the reduced 'gravy' on it.

Serves 4 - 6.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Oven-fried Potatoes

Preheat oven to 425.

Pour 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a black, cast-iron frying pan.

Cut into quarters, sixths, or eighths, 2 large Russet baking potatoes.


Place them in the frying pan, and bake for about one-half hour; turn the potatoes and continue to bake until golden-brown.

(If you rinse the potatoes, they will stick to the pan; un-rinsed, they don't stick.)

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Pureéd Butternut Squash Soup

2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 piece (2 inches) fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 3/4 pounds small butternut squash, prepared and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
Coarse salt and ground pepper
Sour cream
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add ginger, garlic, and squash; cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in 4 cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer until squash is tender, 20 minutes.
Purée soup in two batches. When blending hot foods, allow the heat to escape to prevent splattering. Remove the cap from the hole of the blender’s lid, and cover with a dish towel. Stir in juice and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Serve hot, with sour cream and pepper.

Serves 4

Almond Cake with Berries

4 ounces almond paste (1/3 cup tightly packed)
3/4 cup sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (reserve 1/2 teaspoon for cake pan)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
Dash of salt
1 cup cake flour (5-6 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons whiskey, rum, or cognac
1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 pounds berries or other available fruits
1/2 cup good apricot jam, diluted with 2/3 cup water
8-10 mint leaves
1 cup sour cream or crème fraîche for serving

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the almond paste, sugar, butter, and vanilla in a food processor and process for about 10 seconds. Add the eggs, milk, and salt and process for 5 seconds. Add the flour and the baking powder and process for another 5 to 10 seconds, or until smooth.

Butter an 8-inch round cake pan (2 inches deep) with the reserved 1/2 teaspoon butter. Pour the cake batter into the pan and bake for 45 minutes. Cool on a rack. At serving time, place the cake on a serving platter.

For the syrup
Combine the ingredients in a small bowl.

Using a spoon or pastry brush, moisten the cake with the syrup. Scatter the berries on top of and around the cake. Spoon on the diluted apricot jam and garnish with the mint leaves. Serve with the crème fraîche or sour cream. You can make it ahead
or early in the day, or make several cakes and wrap them well for the freezer (defrost, still in their wrappings, in the refrigerator).

To make a large cake for a special occasion--birthday, wedding, or the like--triple the recipe and bake in different-size cake pans, perhaps 12 inch, 8 inch, and 5 inch. Brush the largest layer with one third of the syrup, center the second largest layer on top and brush with one third of the syrup, and top with the smallest cake layer. Brush with the remaining syrup and scatter the berries over the layers. Spoon the diluted apricot jam over the berries and cake and garnish with the mint leaves and/or edible flowers. Serve with crème fraîche or sour cream.

Serves: 6-8

Oven Baked Salmon

with Sun Dried Tomato and Salsa Mayonnaise

1 teaspoon canola oil
1 large salmon fillet, skinless and boneless (about 3 pounds)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
About 1 cup combined bread crumbs and ground hazelnuts (from 1 slice bread and 1/4 cup hazelnuts processed in a food processor)

Salsa Mayonnaise
2 ounces sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil (about 3/4 cup)
3/8 cup fresh store-bought salsa
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh herbs (a mixture of parsley, tarragon, chives, and chervil)

Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Oil the platter you will use for cooking and serving the salmon with the canola oil. Arrange the salmon on the platter and sprinkle it with a little salt and pepper. Turn the salmon over and sprinkle it with a little more salt and pepper. Sprinkle the hazelnut-crumb mixture on top of the fillet.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the salmon is barely cooked.

Meanwhile, for the mayonnaise:
Put the sun-dried tomatoes and their oil in a food processor with the salsa. Process until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl and mix in the salt, mayonnaise, and chives. When the salmon is done, remove it from the oven and sprinkle the chopped herbs on top. Serve warm or at room temperature with the sauce.

The fish can be made 1 to 2 hours ahead and the sauce can be made up to 1 day before and refrigerated.

Serves 12

Banana Bread

Emeril Lagasse, 2003

10 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon butter
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large bananas)
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups cake flour
3/4 plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup toasted, chopped walnuts (optional...I personally hate nuts in my baked goods)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a 9 1/4 by 5 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan with 1 teaspoon of the butter.

Puree the bananas, sour cream, eggs and vanilla in a food processor.

Sift the cake flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fixed with a whisk attachment. Add the remaining 10 tablespoons butter and mix on medium-low speed until blended, about 30 seconds. Add the banana mixture in 3 batches, scraping the sides of the bowl and mixing on medium speed between each addition. Fold in the nuts.

Pour into the loaf pan. Bake until lightly browned and bread bounces back to the touch, about 1 hour 10 minutes. If the bread starts to look too brown during the baking process, loosely cover it with foil. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto wire rack to cool completely. To make lower fat, omit the butter; the recipe comes out just fine without it!

Makes 1 loaf

Hot Jalapeno Crab Dip

Everyday Is A Party Cookbook by Emeril Lagasse

1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/2 cup chopped pickled jalapenos
1/4 pound Monterey Jack cheese with jalapenos, grated
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
1 recipe Toasted Croutons, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the crabmeat, garlic, jalapenos, Monterey Jack, Worcestershire, hot sauce, salt, and mayonnaise in a medium-size mixing bowl. Toss gently to mix. Spoon the mixture into a medium-size mixing bowl. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese evenly on the top of the crabmeat mixture. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for about 5 minutes before serving with the croutons.

1 loaf French bread (about 8 inches in diameter and 15 inches long), ends trimmed and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices
5 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the bread slices on the baking sheet and brush them with half of the olive oil, then sprinkle them with 1/8 teaspoon of the salt and 1/8 teaspoon of the black pepper. Turn the slices over, and brush them with the remaining oil, and sprinkle with the remaining salt and pepper. Bake for about 6 minutes, then turn the baking sheet around in the oven to ensure even browning. Bake until the croutons are lightly browned, about 6 more minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before serving.

Makes about 32 croutons

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Steak with Onions and Wine

Steak with Onions and Wine

2 small onions
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
2 thick beef fillet steaks (about 7 ounces each)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp cold butter
1/2 cup dry red wine

Preheat the oven on it's lowest setting (180-200 degrees F). Peel and halve the onions and thinly slice. Grind the peppercorns coarsely in a pepper-mill.

Pat the steaks dry with paper towels. In a skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until it's very hot. Throw in the steaks and sear them for about 2 minutes, until the underside no longer stubbornly clings to the bottom of the pan. Turn the steaks (do: use a spatula; don't: use sharp prongs).

Add 1 tbsp of the butter to the pan and continue to pan-fry the steaks for another 2, 6, or 8 minutes, depending on how you like them done inside: almost raw, pink, or cooked through, respectively. Take the steaks out of the pan, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Put them on a plate and keep them warm in the oven.

Stir the onions into the hot fat in the pan and sauté them until browned. Add the red wine and bring to a boil. Then, cut the remaining 1 tbsp butter into little pieces and stir it vigorously into the onions. Lightly season the onion sauce with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the steaks.

Serves 2

D.O.P. Marinara Sauce

From Rebecca Maggi

4 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 large can Cento brand San Marazano D. O. P. whole tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup white wine
1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
3/4 pound dried spaghetti noodles

Saute garlic in olive oil until soft (be careful not to get the oil too hot because garlic burns easily, and burnt garlic is not good eats!). Add the tomatoes along with their liquid, the wine, the basil, and red pepper flakes. Cook uncovered, stirring frequently over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes until it thickens a little. Just before serving, add a handful of chopped fresh parsley.

Cook spaghetti in boiling, salted water until al dente, and then drain (don't rinse because the starch helps the sauce stick to the noodles).

Serve over spaghetti noodles, with plenty of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Serves 2

Apple & Butternut Squash Soup

From Joyce Calanchini

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large onions, chopped
2 tablespoons curry powder
5 cups chicken stock
1 large butternut squash (approximately 8 cups)*
1 firm, tart apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

*Puncture squash and pre-cook in a microwave until soft enough to peel and chop easily.

In a heavy skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent, approximately 5 minutes. Add the curry powder and cook for another 5 minutes. Add half the stock and bring to a boil.

Transfer the mixture to a soup kettle, add the squash and apple, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the everything is tender. Stir occasionally to prevent the vegetables from sticking to the pan. Strain the soup and reserve the liquid. Place the pulp in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until pureed.

Return the puree, reserved liquid, cream and remaining chicken stock to a clean soup kettle and bring to a simmer.

Ladle the soup into warm soup bowls and sprinkle with parsley.

Serves 10

Spinach Salad recommendation

Trader Joe's

Baby Spinch with cranberries, candied pecans, Miner's blue cheese, & raspberry vinaigrette

Oven-baked Risotto

from Everyday Foods, Issue 2

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
3/4 cup arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In an oven-proof saucepan or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, and cook, stirring, until it begins to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Add rice, and cook, stirring to coat grains with oil, about 1 minute.

Stir in wine (drink the rest while cooking), and cook until completely evaporated, about 1 minute. Stir in stock, 1 1/2 cups water, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; bring to a boil. Cover, and bake until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 25 minutes.

Remove pan from oven. Stir in another 1/2 to 3/4 cup water (the consistency of the risotto should be creamy), the butter, cheese and parsley. Serve immediately because risotto doesn't hold--it gets gooey.

When you stir in these last ingredients, you can also add a small quanity of frozen, early peas. I think this dish is best made in a porceline on enamel Dutch oven. (Eventhough, it doesn't hold, it is good re-heated the next day in the microwave.)

Serves 4

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Oriental Chinese Chicken Salad

From Diana Martens

Combine to make dressing:

1 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Combine and toast in a 325 oven for about 20 minutes:

2 packages Top Ramen (any flavor-discard flavoring package), broken up
1/3 cup sesame seeds (untoasted)
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Place in a bowl:

1 head green cabbage, thinly sliced (you can also add some Mache)
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
Shredded meat from 1 roasted chicken

Place cabbage, green onions, and chicken in a large bowl.

Top with toasted mixture, pour on dressing, and toss with a pasta fork.

Kevin and I thought that the Asian Eggplant Salad dressing was very nice on this salad--the garlic being a nice addition! Also I make up a whole jar of the crunchies (enough for 2 or 3 salads) and store them.

Serves 4

Instant Vegetable Soup

from Fast Food My Way by Jacques Pepin

5 cups water
1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup shredded peeled carrot
1 cup shredded onion
1 cup shredded white button mushrooms
1/3 cup minced scallions
2 cups coarsely chopped salad greens
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons instant grits
4 teaspoon unsalted butter or olive oil
1 cup shredded Swiss (Gruyere) cheese

Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add all the vegetables to the boiling water along with the salt. Bring the soup back to a boil and boil, uncovered, for 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle the grits on top of the soup, reduce the heat to low, and cook gently for 2 to 3 minutes.

Serves 6

Place cheese in bottom of soup bowls and ladle soup ontop. Finish each bowl with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil or butter.

Serves 4

Asian Eggplant Salad

from Fast Food My Way by Jacques Pepin

2 small, firm eggplants (about 1 1/4 pounds)
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablesppons soy sauce
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon Frank's Red-hot sauce
8 cups watercress

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel the eggplants and slice them into thin strips on a mandoline.
Spread the canola oil on one or two cookie sheets (spray them with Pam if they are not non-stick), then arrange the eggplant slices on top. Press lightly on the strips to coat them with the oil, then turn them over so that they are lightly oiled on both sides. Bake them for 20 to 25 minutes, until the strips are soft and very lightly browned.

Serves 4

Mix the soy sauce, garlic, sugar, sesame oil, olive oil, and hot sauce together for the dressing.

Spread the watercress on a large plater, and fold the eggplant strips into thirds, placing them on the watercress. Just before serving pour the dressing over the eggplant and watercress.

Mache is a nice addition to the watercress.

Serves 4

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