Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Loretta Kelley's Sugar Cookies

from Loretta Kelley

For cookie dough:

In an electric mixer, blend 1 1/2 cups margarine or butter with 2 cups regular sugar, 4 eggs, and 2 tablespoons vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix 5 cups flour, 2 teaspoon salt, and 2 teaspoon baking powder. Gradually add the flour mixture to the sugar-egg mixture in the electric mixer. Chill the resulting dough for 2 hours in the refrigerator.

Roll dough out about 1/3 inch thick on a floured board. Cut into shapes, flouring cookie cutter anew with each cut.

Bake cookies on air cookie sheets for 6 - 8 minutes (do not over-bake; cookies should be soft inside).

Cool cookies on rack with paper underneath to catch frosting.

For frosting (two frostings):

First frosting is just powdered sugar thinned with a few drops of milk, beaten with a spoon.

When cookies are completely cool, apply first frosting; frosting should thick enough so that you can't see the cookies through it but not so thick that it doesn't run over the side. After it is applied let cookies thoroughly dry. If sprinkles are wanted they must be applied when this frosting is still wet or they won't stick.

Second frosting is about 2 pounds powdered sugar plus 2 hunks of crisco (2 spatula's worth; approx. 1/2 cup) beaten in electric mixer bowl with a little vanilla; add a little milk to it by drops until texture is really thick ribbon-like (beater will be full of icing when lifted up).

Fill pastry sleeve (closed tip with mini holes) and outline trees, bells, &c with squiggles and crossbars; candy canes are lined diagonally. Leaf tip can be used too. For coloring, use the paste-type.

Get Wilton's basic book for how to make the various decorations.

Kelley Hoffman's Notes: This is a really EXCELLENT dough to work with - it rolls out without much fuss…and after you’ve done the first roll, the scraps are easy to combine and re-roll. As long as you handle the dough gently and don’t work the dough too much, the cookies from the second and third roll come out tender!

My kitchen-aid bowl is not big enough to make the full recipe in one go, so I generally cut the recipe in half and make the dough in two batches. The dough may seem a little sticky and wet when it is finished– that is just what you want! Once refrigerated, it will be very easy to rollout!

My tip for perfectly shaped cookies when using a cookie cutter is to roll the dough out directly onto a piece of parchment paper that is roughly the size of your baking sheet, cut the cookies, and then peel away the excess dough on the outside of the shape. I usually make the parchment a little long on one end, so I can hold the sheet between my stomach and the counter edge while I'm rolling. Because you don't have to handle the "shapes" once they're formed, all your cookies will be uniform!

I’ve tried baking these cookies at a couple different temperatures. If you’re in a hurry, you can bake the cookies at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes…but they brown really quickly, so make sure you keep a close eye on the cookies (so they don’t burn). Since I am always multi-tasking, I prefer a slightly lower temperature, so I have a little more flexibility (meaning the cookies don’t brown as fast, so if I’m not there right when the buzzer goes off, the cookies aren’t burned). I generally prefer to bake these cookies at 375 for 12-15 minutes (for large cookies). Smaller cookies may need less time.

This recipe makes about 40 large cookies using a 6 inch-tall cookie cutter. You could probably get more out of the dough by using smaller cookie cutters.

This is a double frosted cookie. For the first frosting, use about ½ of a 1 pound box of powered sugar and 3-4 TBS of milk. If using gel food coloring, usually the tip of a small spoon with coloring is enough to give the first frosting a bright color. I generally lay the cookies out on wax paper on the counter and “paint” the frosting on with a pastry brush.

For the second frosting, which is piped out using a pastry bag, I use a 2 pound bag of powdered sugar and 12 TBS of milk. This amount of frosting should be enough to generously decorate 40 large cookies. I generally subdivide the frosting into 2-3 bowls and make a few different colors of frosting.

These cookies keep well in the freezer. This is especially great for a party or the holidays – as you can bake and decorate them ahead of time (I’ve had no problems baking them up to a month in advance). As a general rule of thumb, you can keep most bread, cookies, and cakes in the freezer without any deterioration up to 6 months if tightly wrapped. Before freezing, if I’ve frosted the cookies, I usually let them dry for several hours on the counter, so I won’t crush the frosting when I stack them in a freezable container.

Loretta Kelley's Potato Soup

from Loretta Kelley

1 5-pound bag of Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
2 large onions, finely chopped
3 ribs of celery, finely sliced
2 packages Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix
whole milk or buttermilk (if buttermilk is used omit or use less of the dressing)
16 ounces sour cream
frozen corn (optional)
cooked bacon (optional)
parsley, finely chopped (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste (watch it because the dressing is salty)

Cook potatoes and onions in water just to cover until nearly cooked. If you don't have too much water in your potatoes, just add the dressing mix, stirring it in until it dissolves directly to the pot without draining the water out. Then add the sour cream, and enough milk/buttermilk to achieve the right consistency. Cook the soup on low (so it doesn't curdle) until potatoes are fully cooked and it smooths out (soup make look a little globby in the beginning after the sour cream is added). This soup freezes well.

Serves 12

Monday, December 13, 2004


This is a yummy vegetable. It kind of looks like a small pineapple (its shape, that is). I peeled it, cut it into wedges, tossed it will a little olive oil, and baked it in a 425 degree oven. It was excellent, tasting very clean and something inbetween potatoes and celery. It is also call celery root. I will make it again. It is a really nice change from potatoes.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Really Crisp Pork Cutlets

8 boneless pork cutlets
2 eggs
oil for sauteing (canola or peanut)
flour for dredging
salt and pepper
panko bread crumbs
2 lemons, cut into wedges

Beat eggs with 1 tablespoon oil in a pie dish. Place flour in a second pie dish and panko crumbs in a third.

Pound pork cutlets to 1/2 inch thickness. Season both sides with salt and pepper, then dip in flour and shake off excess. Now, place cutlets in egg mixture and finally in crumbs, pressing crumbs into cutlets. Let dry 5 to 10 minutes on a wire rack.

Heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a large heavy frying pan. When oil is shimmering, saute pork cutlets on each side for about 3 minutes. Turn only once. Check to make sure they are golden brown (not burnt).

Serve with lemon wedges.

Serves 4

Friday, December 10, 2004

Short Ribs Braised in Red Wine

with Bacon, Parsnips, and Pearl Onions

from Cook's Illustrated

If braising and serving the ribs on the same day, bypass cooling the ribs in the braising liquid; instead, remove them from the pot straight out of the oven, strain the liquid, then let it settle so that the fat separates to the top. With a wide shallow spoon, skim off as much fat as possible and continue with the recipe. Though this recipe and the one that follows call for widely available English-style short ribs, both recipes will also work with flanken-style short ribs. Serve the short ribs over noodles or mashed potatoes.

6 pounds bone-in English-style short ribs, trimmed of excess fat and silver skin, or bone-in flanken-style short ribs
table salt 
ground black pepper
3 cups dry red wine (full-bodied)
3 large onions, chopped medium
2 medium carrots, chopped medium
1 large rib of celery, chopped medium
9 medium cloves of garlic, chopped (about 3 tablespoons)
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour 
4 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 ounces)
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary 
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme  
3 bay leaves 
1 teaspoon tomato paste 

Bacon, Pearl Onion, and Parsnip Garnish

6 slices of bacon (about 6 ounces), cut into 1/4-inch pieces
8 ounces frozen pearl onions (do not thaw)
4 medium parsnips (about 10 ounces), peeled and cut diagonally into 3/4-inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar 
1/4 teaspoon table salt 
6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley  

The bacon-onion-parsnip garnish adds color, flavor, and texture.

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Arrange short ribs bone-side down in single layer in large flameproof roasting pan; season with salt and pepper. Roast until meat begins to brown, about 45 minutes; drain off all liquid and fat with bulb baster. Return pan to oven and continue to cook until meat is well browned, 15 to 20 minutes longer. (For flanken-style short ribs, arrange ribs in single layer in large roasting pan; season with salt and pepper. Roast until meat begins to brown, about 45 minutes; drain off all liquid and fat with baster. Return pan to oven and continue to cook until browned, about 8 minutes; using tongs, flip each piece and cook until second side is browned, about 8 minutes longer). Transfer ribs to large plate; set aside. Drain off fat to small bowl and reserve. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees. Place roasting pan on two stovetop burners set at medium heat; add wine and bring to simmer, scraping up browned bits with wooden spoon. Set roasting pan with wine aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons reserved fat in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat; add onions, carrots, and celery. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until vegetables soften, about 12 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in flour until combined, about 45 seconds. Stir in wine from roasting pan, chicken stock, tomatoes, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, tomato paste, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to boil and add short ribs, completely submerging meat in liquid; return to boil, cover, place in oven, and simmer until ribs are tender, about 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Transfer pot to wire rack and cool, partially covered, until warm, about 2 hours.

Transfer ribs from pot to large plate, removing excess vegetables that may cling to meat; discard loose bones that have fallen away from meat. Strain braising liquid into medium bowl, pressing out liquid from solids; discard solids. Cover ribs and liquid separately with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. (Can be refrigerated up to 3 days.)

To prepare garnish and finish dish: In Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until just crisp, 8 to 10 minutes; remove with slotted spoon to plate lined with paper towel. Add to Dutch oven pearl onions, parsnips, sugar, and salt; increase heat to high and sauté, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Spoon off and discard solidified fat from reserved braising liquid. Add defatted liquid and bring to simmer, stirring occasionally; adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Submerge ribs in liquid, return to simmer. Reduce heat to medium and cook, partially covered, until ribs are heated through and vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes longer; gently stir in bacon. Divide ribs and sauce among individual bowls, sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon parsley, and serve.

Serves 6

Thursday, December 09, 2004

English Trifle: A Reigning Classic

from Food & Wine magazine, December 1984

I can't tell you how many times I've looked through stack and stacks of
different cooking magazines trying to find this recipe. I made another
attempt today and finally located it in an issue without a cover or an

A celebration in England is usually graced with a trifle as the
reigning dessert. A holiday feast would very likely boast a grand
version presented in an elegant bowl of lead crystal. It would be the
hostess' favorite concoction, which would no doubt contain sherry or
brandy, and chopped nuts, ratafia biscuits or macaroons, custard, heavy
cream and possibly raspberries in season. The recipe below is a Winter
version. Prepare the ladyfingers and macaroons in advance, but wait to
assemble the ingredients until a few hours ahead on the day on which it
is to be served.



2 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange liqueur
1 tablespoon grated orange zest


3 navel oranges
About 18 ladyfingers (recipe follows)
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
6 tablespoon medium-dry sherry
5 60 6 dozen macaroons (recipe follow)
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoon chopped walnuts (I omit these)
1 cup heavy cream

To make the custard: In a heavy medium saucepan, combine 2 cups of the
milk with the sugar. Heat to boiling, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

In a medium bowl, mix the remaining 1 1/2 cups milk and the cornstarch
until it forms a smooth paste. Stir in the boiling milk, scrape the
mixture back into the saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat.
Cook, stirring, until thickened and smooth, about 1 minute. Remove from
the heat.

In a small bowl, mix the egg yolks and vanilla until blended. Gradually
stir in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture. Immediately stir back
into the remaining milk mixture in the saucepan; the egg yolks will
thicken slightly on contact with the hot liquid.

Scrape the custard into a bowl and beat or whisk until cooled. This
lightens the custard and prevents a skin from forming. Stir in the
orange liqueur and orange zest.

To assemble the trifle: With a microplane, from 1 of the oranges
coarsely grate enough to measure 1 tablespoon; set aside for garnish.
Using a small sharp knife, peel the oranges and cut on either side of
the dividing membranes to remove each section without any skin. Spread
the flat sides of the ladyfingers with jam.

Arrange about 6 of the ladyfingers, jam-side up, in the bottom of a
2-quart deep glass bowl or souffle dish. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoon of
Sherry. Scatter about one-third of the orange sections over the
ladyfingers and top evenly with about 1 dozen of the macaroons.
Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of the nuts and spoon on one-third of the custard
to complete the first layer of the trifle. Repeat 2 more times to make
3 layers. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours, until chilled.

Shortly before serving, whip the cream, then cover the surface of the
trifle with it. Decorate with the remaining 2 tablespoons walnuts, the
orange zest and about a dozen of the remaining macaroons.

Serves 10


These will keep well stored in an airtight container at room
temperature for several days or frozen for several months.

3 eggs, separated
8 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon orange-flower water or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

Preheat the oven to 350. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.
Gradually beat in 3 tablespoons of the granulated sugar and continue to
beat until stiff peaks form.

Beat the egg yolks with the remaining 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
until the mixture is thick enough to fall back in a ribbon when the
beaters are lifted, about 3 minutes.

Stir the orange-flower water into the egg yolk mixture. Fold in the
flour until blended. Fold in the beaten egg whites until no streaks of
white remain; do not over-mix.

Using a pastry bag with a plain 3/4-inch (#9) tip, pipe narrow 3-inch
strips of the batter onto a large parchment-lined or buttered and
floured baking sheet. Shift the confectioners' sugar over the
ladyfingers. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden. Let cool.

Makes about 18


Since high humidity softens crisp macaroon, make them on a dry day.
They may be stored for several days in an airtight container.

2 egg whites
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup ground almonds (about 2 ounces)

Preheat the oven to 325. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.
Gradually beat in the sugar, then fold in the almonds.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment. Drop 1/2 teaspoonfuls of the
mixture about 1 inch apart onto the sheet.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and immediately reduce the
temperature to 200. Bake for 2 hours. Turn off the heat and let the
macaroons dry in the closed oven until crisp throughout, preferably

Makes 5 to 6 dozen

Hollandaise Sauce

from Abby Mandel's Cuisinart Classroom

3 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon warm water, if needed
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper if desired
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted (Pulgra unsalted would be an excellent
2 tablespoons lemon juice
a healthy dash of cayenne

Place egg yolks in blender with dry mustard. With blender running,
incorporate butter by pouring in a thin stream. Add salt, lemon juice,
and cayenne. Add water, if needed, to thin. Serve immediately, or place
in a warmed thermos for later use.

Makes about 1 1/8 cups.

Shallot Butter Sauce

for Pan-seared Steaks

From Cook's Illustrated

Absolutely magnificent; we thought we were in a restaurant!

2 large shallots, minced (about 1/3 cup)
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, minced
salt and pepper

Pan-sear steaks. To same skillet used to cook steaks (do not clean skillet or discard accumlated fat, if any), add shallots and cook over low heat until softened, about 1 minute. Turn heat to medium-low; stir in butter, scraping up browned bits on pan bottom with wooden spoon. When butter is just melted, stir in lemon juice and parsley; season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon sauce over steaks and serve immediately.

I used my pan cast-iron pan. I cooked the steak (one 1-pound Coleman bone-on rib-eye, about 1 inch thick--I'd much rather cook one bigger, thicker steak than two smaller ones) for about 4 minutes on each side in a smoking hot pan, and then removed it to a platter and let it rest loosely with foil while I prepared the sauce. I also used Pulgra unsalted butter, which, I think, made a difference in this kind of sauce. The finished dish had a lovely aroma of butter and shallots. Jim and I split the steak and the dogs shared the bone. Everyone was satisfied; in fact, we couldn't remember ever having had a better steak. I served the steak with steamed broccoli and oven-fried French fries (recipe posted earlier).


Chickpea-Tahini Spread

From Jane Brody's Good Food Cookbook

1 large onion, minced
2 cloved minced garlic*
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups cooked chickpeas (garbanzos), rinsed and drained
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy
salt to taste
1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)
1/2 cup sesame seeds, toasted and ground

Saute onion and garlic in oil until soft. Set mixture aside.

In a blender, puree chickpeas with onion and garlic, lemon juice, soy
sauce, salt, tahini, and sesame seeds. Serve with fresh or toasted pita

Makes 3 cups.

*Make sure you remove any green sprouts from the center of the garlic;
green sprouts, garlic which is sprouting, make the garlic 'hot' and
bitter tasting.

Baba Ghanoush

Eggplant-Tahini Spread

from Jane Brody's Good Food Cookbook

2 pounds eggplant, whole and unpeeled
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1/4 cup finely minced onion
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Prick eggplant in several places with a fork, place on baking sheet and
broil in preheated broiler for about 20 minutes, turning several times
so that skin chars on all side. Let eggplant cool.

When eggplant is cool enough to handle, cut in half and scrape out
flesh into a bowl; discard skin and mash eggplant with tahini, lemon
juice, garlic, onion, salt, and pepper. Cover mixture and refrigerate.

Before serving, spread spread with oil and minced parsley. Serve with
fresh or toasted pita bread.

Makes 2 1/2 cups.

Quick Curried Chicken

from Jane Brody's Good Food Cookbook

3 pounds skinless chicken thighs
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter plus a little canola oil
1 medium-large onion, finely chopped (3/4 cup)
1/2 cup finely chopped celery (1 large stalk)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons Madras curry powder
1 bay leaf
1 large apple, diced
1 medium banana, sliced
2 taspoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup milk (skim or low-fat OK)

Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a heavy skillet with a cover,
heat butter mixed with a little oil and brown chicken lightly on both
sides. Add onion, celery, and garlic to skillet, and cook for a few
minutes until softened but not brown. Sprinkle contents of skillet with
curry powder, then add bay leaf, apple and banana. Cook for 5 minutes

Stir in tomatoe paste and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover
skillet and cook for about 15 minutes until chicken is tender.

Remove chicken from skillet and set aside to keep warm. Remove bay leaf
and discard.

In a blender, puree remaining contents of skillet (do not over-aerate).
Return puree to skillet, stir in milk, then add chicken. Bring sauce
just to a boil and serve over rice.

Serves 4

Rice, Corn, and Cheese Casserole

from Jane Brody's Good Food Cookbook

3 cups cooked white rice (1 cup raw)
1 10-ounce package frozen corn
1 small onion, finely chopped (1/3 cup)
2 cups grated sharp cheddar (6 ounces)
1 1/2 cups milk (skim or low-fat is OK)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except paprika, and
mmix well. Pour ingredients into rectangular glass pyrex dish, sprayed
with Pam. Sprinkle with paprika and bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 to
45 minutes.

Serves 8

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Chicken Tandoori

from An Invitation to Indian Chicken by Madhur Jaffrey

The chicken in this recipe should be marinated for about 24 hours. Assuming that most peoplelike both dark and light meat, the recipe allocates one whole leg and half a breast for each person. For best results, cut up your own chickens and choose birds that are 3 pounds each (you will need 3 whole chickens if you do this).

1 medium-sized onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
6 whole cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
a piece of fresh ginger, about 2 inches long and 1 inch wide, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons lemon juice
8 ounces plain yogurt
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon garam marsala (see Tandoori lamb for recipe)
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black papper
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 chicken legs with thighs
3 whole chicken breasts with bone intact, halved

1 medium-sized onion
2 lemons
extra lemon juice

Make the marinade first. Put the chopped onions, garlic, ginger, and lemon juice in an electric blender, and blend to a smooth paste, about 1 minutes at high speed. Place this in a bowl large enough to accomodate the chicken. Add the yogurt, coriander, cumin, turmeric, garam masala, mace, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, olice oil, salt, balck pepper, and cayenne. Mix thoroughly.

Skin the chicken. With a sharp knife make 3 diagonal slashes on each breast section, going halfway down to the bone. Make 2 diagonal slashes on each thigh, also going halfway down to the bone. With the point of a sharp knife, make 4 or 5 jabs on each drumstick.

Put the chicken in the marinade and rub the marinade into the slashes with your fingers. Cover and leave refrigerated for 24 hours. Turn 4 or 5 times while childen is marinating.

About 1 1/2 hours before serving, light your charcoal. It should take 20 to 30 minutes to get red hot. Place the grill on its lowest notch.

Peel the onion for garnishing and slice it paper-thin. Separate the rings and set in a small bowl of ice water, cover, and refrigerate.

When the fire is hot, lft, out the chicken pieces and place on the grill. Cook about 7 or 8 minutes on each side, then raise the grill a few notches to cook more slowly for another 15 to 20 minutes on each side. Baste with marinade as you cook.

To serve: Warm a large platter. Place the chicken pieces on it. Drain the water from the onion rings and lay tjem on top of the chicken. Quarter the lemons lengthwise and place them around the chicken. The chicken tastes very good with extra lemon juice squeezed onit.

This chicken is considered a delicacy and can be served at a banquet.

Serves 6

Leg of Lamb Tandoori

from An Invitation to Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey

Butterfly a whole leg of lamb and cut off all the fat (you can buy the leg already butterflied but it still takes some time and a sharp knife to get the fat off it), then marinate it for 24 hours. You have to make your own garam masala to achieve the authentic tandoori flavor. Grind all your spices from seeds; the extra step is definitely worth it. Garam masala is also used in the Tandoori chicken recipe.

1 leg of lamb, 8-9 pounds, butterflied, fat removed
1 medium-sized onions, coarsely chopped
fresh ginger, 3-inches long and 1-inch wide
5-7 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
2/3 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground tumeric
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup olive oil
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 - 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Put the chopped onion, ginger, garlic, and 4 tablespoons of the lemon juice in a blender and blend at high speed to get a smooth paste.

In a large nonmetallic bowl (or pot) put the paste from the blender and all the other ingredients except the meat.

Carefully cut off all fat and tissue from the meat, and with the point of a knife make losts of jabs in it on both side. Put the meat in the marinade paste and massage it making more cuts if needed to get the paste rubbed way into the meat. Cover the container and leave refrigerated for 24 hours. Turn the meat and massage it 3 or 4 times during this period.

Light the fire on your BBQ. When hot, place your grill at the lowest notich. Lift meat from bowl (leaving marinade) and place on grill. Sear 5 to 8 minutes on each side. Now raise the grill to its topmost notch and cook about 20 mintues on each side. Brush frequently with the reserved marinade. Cook until the meat is medium (still has a touch of pink) or the spices won't get a chance to cook through (most Indians like their meat on the well-done side). If you are using a gas grill, heat the grill to its maximum, sear the meat on both sides and then lower the heat and continue to cook--everyone's BBQ cooks differently so you have to learn how to achieve the proper result by trial and error. The meat should look slightly charred/nicely browned when it is completely finished.

To serve, slice thinly on the diagonal as you would a London broil.

Serves 10

Garam Masala

25 cardamom pods (use seeds only)
1/2 cup whole black peppercorns
1/3 cup whole cumin seeds
1/4 cup whole corriander seeds
3 sticks of cinnamon, each about 3 inches long
4-6 whole cloves

Combine all ingredients and grind very fine using an electric blender.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Vegetable Soup & Corn Dumplings

from Everyday Cooking with Jacques Pepin

Vegetable Soup

4 ounces salt pork or bacon, or 1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups diced onions
1 1/2 cups diced celery (the leafy part is the most flavorful)
2 cups loosely packed sliced scallions and leeks, mixed
1 medium-sized green pepper, seeded and diced (2/3 cups)
9 cups water
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 cup diced carrots
1 1/2 cups unpeeled and diced eggplant*
1 1/2 cups peeled and diced butternut squash
1 cup peeled and diced kohlrabi
1 1/2 cups peeled and diced potatoes
1 1/2 cups diced zuchinni
1 cup cut-up string beans
1 cup lettuce leaves
2 cups spinach leaves

Cut the salt pork or bacon into 1/2-inch pieces. Fry them in a large pot until they sizzle. Cook for 5 or 6 minutes over medium heat until the pieces are nicely srisp and brown. Add the onions, celery, scallions, and green pepper and saute for 2 or 3 minutes.

Add the water, salt, and remaining vegetables except the lettuce and spinach. Bring to a boil. Lower th heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes. Add the lettuce and spinach, and cook for another 15 minutes.


1 cup basil or parsley leaves, or a mixture of both
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/34 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 chop olive oil

Puree all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor until smooth. Stir the pistou into the soup and bring to a boil.

Baked Corn Dumplings

1/2 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons oil

In a bowl combine all ingredients except oil and mix well. Oil one or two large cookie sheets and place large tablespoons of mixture on top. You should have approximately 16 dumplings. Sprinkle the top with remaining oil and bake in 375 oven for 13 to 15 minutes.

Place the dujplings in the soup 1 or 2 minutes before serving so that they absorb some of the liquid and get soft. Or pass them separately.

Serves 8-10.

*Apparently, male eggplants are less seedy and less bitter than females; male eggplants have a nearly flat stem 'navel', whereas females have one that is more indented.

Stew of Chicken Wings

from Everyday Cooking with Jacques Pepin

You can use any left-overs for a rice pancake.

3 1/2 pounds chicken wings
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup chopped onions
3/4 cup sliced wscallions
1 1/2 cups short-grained rice
3 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon oregano
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed (2 teaspoons)
1 cup tomatoes, seeded and cubed
3/4 cup zucchini cut into 1/4-inch dice
3/4 cup peas
1/2 cup diced green or red sweet papper
Tabasco sauce or Frank's Red Hot Sauce*

Twist the chicken wings, tucking the tip of the wing under, making them more compact so they take less space and brown more evenly on both sides.

Heat the butter in a large Dutch oven. When it is hot and foaming, add the chicken wings, flat side down. Do not crowd the pan too much. If the chicken wings don't fit in one layer, use another skillet. Cook without disturbing on medium heat until they become very crusty and brown, them flip to the other side. The wings will release some fat, which helps the browing. Cook for abour 12 to 14 minutes so they are nicely browned on all side. if you have used an extra skillet, combine all the pieces in the large port. Put 1/2 cup water in the extra skillet to melt the solidified juice in the bottom, and add to the water to be added to the dish.

Add the onions and scallions to the pot and saute for 1 minute. Add the rice and mix well so that it is coated with the fat. Add the water, salt, pepper, paprika, turmeric, oregano, and garlic and stir carefully. Bring to a boil, stirring once in a while. As soon as it boils, cover, reduce the heat to very low, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes, zucchini, peas, and red pepper, Cover again, and cook for another 10 minutes. Serve with or without Tabasco sauce (*I much prefer Frank's Red Hot Sauce).

Serves 6.

Rice Pancake

Pan-fry leftover rice to make a good, crusty rice cake. The bits of vegetables an dmeat in it make the dish particulary good. Rice holds better than pasta shells; therefore, no eggs need to be mixed in. However, a fried egg on top the the rice pancake is excellent.

Heat 1/4 cup vegetable oil in a nonstick skillet about 8 inches in diameter. Add the rice and pack by pressing it down with the back of a spoon. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes or until nicely browned. Flip over and cook another 5 minutes on the other side. it should be cruchy. Slide onto a plate and serve with fried eggs.

Chicken Liver Pate

from Everyday Cooking with Jacques Pepin

I'm not fond of chicken livers, but I've made this pate dozens of times; it is delcious and easy, and has a beautiful aspic decoration.

1 pound chicken livers
2/3 cup thinly sliced onions
1 clove garlic, crushed (1/2 teaspoon)
2 bay leaves, crushed
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 cup water
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons Cognac
1 piece of tomato skin and green of scallion for decoration
1 envelope unflavored gelatin

Place the livers, onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, water, and 1 teaspoon salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook at a bare simmer for 7 to 8 minutes.

Take out the solids with a slotted spoon and place them in the bowl of a food processor with metal blade. (Reserve and strain the liquid to make the aspic.) Start processing the liver, adding the butter piece by piece. Finally, add the second teaspoon salt, the pepper, and Cognac and process for 2 more minutes so that th emixture is very creamy and completely smooth. If the mixture looks broken down, with visible fat, let it cool in the refrigerator for about 1 hour to harden the butter, then process again until the mixture is creamy and smooth.

Pour into a mold. Decorate or refrigerate to set.

To decorate: Blanch the piece of scallion in boiling water for 10 to 15 seconds until it wilts, then cool it under cold water. The blanching flattens it and makes it pliable, and the cold water sets the color and prevents yellowing.

Lay it flat on the table, and pat it dry with paper towels. Cut some strips from the leaves, and arrange them on the border of the pate to make a "frame" for the decoration.

Cut some leaves into pointed, thin strips to make stems. Arrange them on top of the pate, and set them by pressing the tig of your fingers or the point of a knife.

Use different sizes of leaves and shades of green. Fold some of the larger "leaves," make others into long stems, and some into tiny lozenges.

Place a tiny bit of green at the end of each stem to make a calyx for the flower, and place them at the ends of the stems.

Use the small trimmings to make the willowlike wildflower. One small piece of tomato skin is enough for the whole pate. Refrigerate the pate while you prepare the aspic.

To make the aspic: combine the strained cup of liquid from the liver and the gelatin in a saucepan. Stire gently over heat until the mixture almost comes to a boil and the gelatin is completely melted. Place the saucepan on ice, and stir until the liquid becomes very syrupy. At this stage the aspic is shiny and glistening, and about to set.

Take pate out of the refrigerator, and pour and spread 3 or 4 tablespoons of aspic on top. The layer of aspic should should be approximately 1/4 inch thick. It sets the decor, prevents it from drying out, and gives the effect of a beautiful stained-glass window. Serve with melba toast.

To make melba toast: Toast thin-sliced bread in the toaster. As soon as it comes out, trim the slices on all four sides and slide your knife into the soft area between the botttom and top crusts, separating the bread into two extremely think layers. It is not necessary to toast the white side.

Serves 12 as an appetizer.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Santa Barbara Pot Stickers

from Pacific Flavors by Hugh Carpenter

When we lived in Minneapolis, I took a class from Hugh Carpenter. One of the recipes I learned to make was these spicy pot stickers. I've served this dish to company a number of times and actually had the guests forming the pot stickers!

12 ounces spinach trimmed (or use one box of frozen chopped spinach)
2 green onions
2/3 pound ground pork
2 teaspoons finely minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange peel
1 egg
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon Chinese chili sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt (you may want to leave this out until you make sure the dish isn't too salty)
24 won ton skins
cornstarch for dusting
2 tablespoons peanut oil

1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons dry sherry
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon hoisin sauce
1/2 teaspoon Chinese chili sauce
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoon finely grated orange peel

Drop the spinach leaves into 1 quart rapidly boiling water. when leaves wilt (about 10 seconds) drain and rinse under cold water. Squeeze out water (if you are using frozen spinach, squeeze it dry), then mince by hand. Mince green onions. Combine spinach, green onions, pork, ginger, orange peel, egg, soy sauce, chili sauce and salt. Mix thoroughly.

Within 5 hours of cooking, fold filling into dumplings.

To cook: place a 12-inch non-stick skillet over high heat. Add oil and immediately add dumplings. Fry dumplings iunti bottoms become dark golden, about 2 minutes. Pour in orange sauce. Immediately cover pan, reduce heat to medium, and steam dumplings until they are firm to the touch (about 2 minutes).

Remove cover. Over high heat, continue frying dumplings until sauce reduces completely (about 1 minute). While cooking, shake the pan so that the dumplings are glazed all over with the sauce. Tip out onto a heated serving platter.

Serves 6

*These dumplinngs can be frozen. Cook frozen dumplings over medium heat until dark golden (about 3 minutes). Because they take longer to cook, you may have to add a little water to the frying pan during the steaming stage.

Notes on ingredients:

Chinese chili sauce: best brands are Cock Brand Delicious Hot Chili Garlic Sauce and Szechuan Chili Sauce
Hoisin sauce: no oriental condiment varies so much in quality from brand to brand. Buy only Koon Chun Hoisin Sauce
Oyster sauce: Lee Kum Kee Oyster Flavored Sauce (best) or Old Brand Oyster Sauce
Light soy sauce: Superior Soy Sauce (not Soy Superior)

Roasted Eggplant Soup

from A Taste of San Francisco, John Ash & Company

I've tried three different recipes for this soup, but this one, with its unusual preparation, is by far the best.

3 medium eggplants, about 1 pound each
1/3 cup olive oil, plus extra for the baking sheet
2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup shallots, minced
2 cups red bell peppers, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons garlic, minced
2 quarts chicken stock (best to have home-made for this recipe)
3 cups peeled, seeded, and diced tomatoes (fresh are best)
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
creme fraiche for garnish

Preheat oven to 450. Slice peeled eggplant into rounds and lay on oiled baking sheet. Heat 1/3 cup oil in large saute pan and saute onions, shallots, bell pepper, and garlic until soft but not brown (about 6 minutes). Spread mixture on top of eggplant rounds and roast for 15 to 20 mintues, or until eggplant is oft. Watch carefully so that topping does not burn--it should be toasty brown.

Puree eggplant mixture in a blender with stock, tomato, and seasonings (be careful not to over-aerate mixture). Gently reheat and coreect seasoning. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with a dallop of creme fraiche.

Serves 6-8.

Frozen Asparagus and Peas

Both the frozen asparagus and the frozen petit peas from Trader Joes are pretty decent in a pinch.

Plain Chicken Breasts

I had a couple boneless, skinless chicken breast pieces (e.g. the tenderloins) left over from another recipe. I put them in a smallish baking dish, which I had sprayed with Pam, and poured a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce and 1/4 cup of white vermouth over them. Then I covered them loosely and popped them in a 350 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes until they were just done. They were pretty good, moist and tender with a slight soy flavor. Not bad at all.

Sea Bass Provencal en Papillote

from Good Friends, Great Dinners by Susan Costner

1/2 cup dry white wine
1/8 teaspoon safroon threads (about 12 threads)
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
6 6-ounce sea bass fillets, bones removed
12 medium-sized shrimp
1 medium-sized carrot, julienned
1 medium-sized zucchini, julienned
12 small mushroom, sliced
2 medium-sized ripe tomatoes, cut into strips
6 sprigs thyme

In a small saucepan, bring the wine to a simmer. Crumble the saffron threads and add them to the saucepan; simmer for 2-3 minues. Stir in the lemon juice, butter, and garlic. Remove from the heat and keep warm.

Cut out 6 circles of parchment much larger then fish fillets (about 16 inches in diameter). Brush with melted butter on on side of each circle. Arrange a fish fillet, 2 shrimp, and some of the vegetables on top of the fish on the buttered side of the circle. Pour about 1 tablespoon of the warm wine broth over the fish and place a sprig of thyme on top.

Fod the paper over to enclose the fish and vegetables. Start folding and twisting the edge of the papillote to make a pleated edge all around. Insert a starw into the open end to fill it with air. The air space allows moisture to rise and fall back on the fish, making it very moist. Quickly remove the straw and twist the end of the paper tightly closed. Place the papillotes side by side on baking sheets. (The packets can be prepared in the morning and refrigerated until you are read to bake them. )

Preheat the oven to 500. Bake the fish for 8 to 10 minutes, depending on their thickness. Serve in the paper, cutting a large cross in each.

French bread goes great with this dish because you can sop up the liquid with it.

Serves 6.

Black Bean Enchiladas

from The Greens Cookbook by Deborah Madison

3 cups Black Bean Chili
Tomatillo Sauce (about 3 cups--a double recipe)
1/2 cup canola oil
12 corn tortillas (don't use the smallest size, get medium sized ones)
6 ounces Muenster or Monterey Jack cheese, grated (I prefer muenster)
sprigs of cilantro, for garnish

Prepare the black bean chili and tomatillo sauce recipe variation which cooks the red onions.

Heat the oil in a large skillet until a tortilla will sizzle when it is put in. Lightly fry the tortillas on each side, about 20 - 30 seconds, not so long that they become crisp, and set them on paper toweling to drain.

Preheat oven to 400. Oil a 9-by-13 inch baking pan, and spread 1/2 cup of the sauce over the bottom. Put another 1/2 cup or so of the sauce aside. Coat each tortilla on both sides with the sauce; then put 1/2 cup of chili and a couple tablespoons of cheese in a strip down the middle of the tortilla, and roll the tortilla around the filling. Place them seam side down in the bakijng pan in a single layer. When they are all assumbled, brush the tops with the remaining sauce.

Bake the enchiladas until heated through, 15-20 minutes. Garnish with sprigs of cilantro, and serve with Salsa Picante, if desired.

Salsa Picante

from The Greens Cookbook by Deborah Madison

4 medium tomatoes (about 1 pound)
1/2 small red onion
2 to 4 tablespoons cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, roughtly chopped
1 to 2 serrano or jalapeno chilies
rice wine vinegar to taste

Bring a small pan of water toa boil, immerse the tomatoes for a count of ten, and immediately set them in a bowl of cold water. cut out the cores, then remove the skins and squeeze out the seeds. Or, for a more rustic salsa, simply wash the tomatoes and chop them.

Blend the onion, cilantro, and garlic together with a little of the tomato for about 20 seconds; then add the rest of the tomato and blend very briefly, retaining some texture.

Mince or puree the chili and add it, to taste, to the sauce. Season with salt and a 1/4 teaspoon or more vinegar to bring up the flavors.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

Tomatillo Sauce

from The Greens Cookbook by Deborah Madison

1 pound fresh tomatillos
1/2 small red onion, very finely diced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 serrano or other hot green chilies, seeded and finely chopped
4 tablespoons cilantro leaved, chopped
sugar, if necessary
mild vinegar to taste

Bring a pan of water to a boil. After removing the papery husks from the tomatillos, add them to the pan, and lower the heat. Simmer them gently for about 20 minutes or less; do not let them split. As they rise to the surface, it will be necessary to turn them so that they cook all over. When the tomatillos are done cooking, drain them in a collander.

Sauté red onion in a little oil until slightly soft.

Place the onion, garlic, chilies, and cilantro in your blender (be careful not to overfill--you may have to do this in two batches) and blend the tomatillos to make a coarse textured puree (do not overaerate). As you blend them add a pinch or two of sugar. Taste and season with salt and a few drops to 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar.

Makes 1 1/2 cups (Double the recipe if making the enchiladas)

Black Bean Chili

from The Greens Cookbook by Deborah Madison

2 cups black beans, soaked overnight (no need if you use a pressure cooker)
2 bay leaf
4 teaspoons cumin seeds
4 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
4 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I use 1 teaspoon because I like it hot)
1 chili negro or ancho chili, for chili powder, or 2 to 3 tablespoons chili powder (see separate post about how to make your own--I use the ground powder of just the chilies)
3 tablespoon canola oil
3 medium yellow onions, diced into 1/4-inch squares
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
28 ounce can of diced tomatoes, juice reserved
1 to 2 teaspoon chopped chipotle chili (from can of Chipotle in Adobe Sauce)--I omit because I don't care for Chipotle)
about 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
4 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
Garnishes:(if you are making the enchiladas, you don't need the garnishes)
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup muenster cheese or Monterey Jack, grated
Green chilies: 2 poblano or Anaheim, roasted, peeled, and diced
1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
6 sprigs cilantro

Sort through beans and remove any stones. Rinse well, cover generously with water, and let soak overnight. Next day, drain beans, cover with fresh water by a couple of inches, and bring to boil with the bay leaf. Lower heat and let beans simmer while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Heat a small heavy skillet over medium heat. Add cumin seeds, and when begins to color, add oregano leaves, shaking the pan frequently so the herbs don't scorch. As soon as the fragrance is strong and robust, remove pan from the heat and add paprika and cayenne. Give everything a quick stir; then remove from pan--the paprika and the cayenne only need a few seconds to toast. Grind in a mill or mortar or blender to make a coarse powder. This method of heating the spices really brings out their flavor.

Preheat oven to 375. To make chili powder, put dried chili in the oven for 3-5 minutes to dry out. Cool it briefly; then remove the stem, seeds, and veins. Tear the pod into small pieces and grind into a powder.

Heat oil in large skillet, and saute onions over medium heat until softened. Add garlic, salt, and ground herbs and chili powder, and cook another 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, their juice, and about 1 teaspoon of the chilpotle chili. Simmer everything together for 15 minutes, add this mixture to the beans and, if necessary, enough water so beans are covered by at least 1 inch. Continue cooking beqans slowly until they are soft, an hour or longer, or pressure cook them for 30 minutes at 15 pounds' pressure. Keep an eye on the water level and add more, if needed, to keep the beans amply covered. (Unsoaked beans require 45 mins in pressure cooker. Add about water to cover by about 2 inches--approximately 6 cups. If you end up with too much liquid boil it down and then add back to beans.)

When beans are cooked, taste them, and add more chilpotle chili if desired. Season to taste with vinegar, additional salt if needed, and the chopped cilantro.

Prepare the chili garnish by roasting them over the flame of a gas burner until blackened. Then throw them in a paper bag and let them steam for 10 minutes. After they have steamed, scrape off the charred skin and dice.

Makes 8 cups.

I just finished making a double batch of Black Bean Chili from the Green's Cookbook and made a number of observations about the recipe. I have notated them on the blog, but thought those of you who own the cookbook might want to print this email out and put it in the cookbook for future reference.

1. I think using the pressure cooker is the best method; the cooking time is 45 minutes once it comes to full pressure. Also, just make everything in the same pot: cook the onions, throw in the spices and let them cook for a few minutes, then add tomatoes and beans, put the lid on and cook it. No need to dirty two pans. Also there is no need to soak the beans overnight.

2. You can double the amount of beans (2 cups dried = 1 pound so a double recipe = 2 pounds dried turtle beans), but you DON'T have to double rest of the ingredients. Just make sure that you have the beans covered by about 2 1/2 inches of liquid.

3. Freeze extra beans in 3 cup quantities; 3 cups fits nicely in 1 quart Ziploc bags--3 cups of cooked beans, which is just the right amount for a batch of the enchiladas.

4. The Chipolte chili specified in the recipe comes in a can (Chipotle in Adobe Sauce). You find it in the Mexican section of the market, and once you open it, it will keep almost indefinitely in a container in your refrigerator. I found this information in the back of the cookbook. I can't tell you how many cans of this stuff I've opened only to throw most of it away, because you only use 1 or 2 of these chilis and there must be at least 12 in each can.

5. Make a big batch of your own chili powder and use it (an option in the recipe).


6. Use the cooked onion version of the Tomatillo Sauce.

7. I had a problem with my black beans when I attempted to make this on Saturday--I didn't use the pressure cooker and the beans refused to soften up; I think my hard beans were the result of being "old" rather than not being pressure cooked, so a word to the wise: don't make it with beans that have been sitting around for several years.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

The King of Blenders

If you've ever ordered a smoothie at a juice bar or coffeehouse, it was probably made in a Vita-Mix. With a powerful motor and a high price tag, the Vita-Mix ($379.95 at http://www.surlatable.com/) is both the ultimate blender and a trophy appliance for any well-equipped kitchen. To put the Vita-Mix's superior capabilities into perspective, consider that the average food processor runs at 1 horsepower, a chainsaw at 3 to 4 horsepower, and a push lawn mower at 4 to 6 horsepower. The 2 horsepower Vita-Mix is truly the king of blenders.

Hazelnut Ice-cream

Gelato di nocciola

from The Second Italian Cookbook by Marcella Hazan

This is a delicious ice-cream (don't worry Amy, you will like the hazelnuts in this dish!). I first made it when we lived in Dallas. It was so hot that day that I couldn't get my truffles, which I planned to serve with it, to the right consistency (temperature) to mold them. I finally gave up and put a-to-loose-to-mold-truffle into the bottom of a champagne glass topped with the gelatio di nociola and called ith hazel nut ice-cream with truffle sauce!

4 ounces shelled hazelnuts
1 1/3 cups whole milk
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Toast the hazel nuts under the broiler for 4 or 5 minutes, turning them frequently. Skin them by rubbing them one against the other, while still fairly hot. Grind them in your blender (the food processor doesn't produce quite the right consistency).

Warm-up the milk in a saucepan over medium heat until the edge is ringed with tiny bubbles. Turn off the heat at once and put in the hazelnut paste, mix thoroughly, and cover the pan. Allow to cool completely.

Line a strainer with cheese cloth and set it over a bowl. Pour the hazelnut-milk mixture into the strainer and press as much of it as will go through into the bowl. You will find that, since it is rather thick, only a small amount will pass through. At this point, roll-up the ends of the cloth, tightly compressing the nut-milk mixture within. Suspend the muslin over the bowl and squeeze gently, forcing as much of the contents as will come (caveat: be careful because if you exert too much pressure the cloth will burst and it will go everywhere--something that, unfortunately, happened to Dad at least twice).

In another bowl, beat the egg yalks and sugar until the yolks are pale and foamy. Add the strained nut-milk mixture to the eggs, mixing it in a little at a time.

Pour everything into the top part of a double boiler. Turn on the heat to medium. Stir constantly and cook for 3 to 4 minutes after the water in the lower half has started to bubble.

Pour into a bowl and allow to cool completely. When cool, chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, then freeze in your ice-cream freezer.

Serves 4

Beef Carbonnade

Belgian Beer & Onion Stew

from Cook's Illustrated

The meat in this dish literally melts in your mouth; part of the secret is getting the meat really well seared. You can make it in the morning and reheat it later. I'm sure it freeze well too. I froze a small portion by putting it into a little Food-saver bag, freezing the bag and then food-saving it (you can't food-save liquids in bags unless they are frozen).

3 1/2 pounds top blade steak***, 1 inch thick, trimmed of gristle and fat and cut into 1-inch pieces
table salt and ground black pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil 
2 pounds yellow onions (about 3 medium)******
1 tablespoon tomato paste 
2 medium cloves of garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth**** 
3/4 cup low-sodium beef broth 
1 1/2 cups beer 12-ounce bottle or can**
4 sprigs fresh thyme, tied with kitchen twine*
2 bay leaves 
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 pound egg noodles*****

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 300 degrees. Dry beef thoroughly with paper towels, then season generously with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke; add about one-third of beef to pot. Cook without moving pieces until well browned, 2 to 3 minutes; using tongs, turn each piece and continue cooking until second side is well browned, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer browned beef to medium bowl. Repeat with additional 2 teaspoons oil and half of remaining beef. (If drippings in bottom of pot are very dark, add about 1/2 cup of above-listed chicken or beef broth and scrape pan bottom with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits; pour liquid into bowl with browned beef, then proceed.) Repeat once more with 2 teaspoons oil and remaining beef.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to now-empty Dutch oven; reduce heat to medium-low. Add onions, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and tomato paste; cook, scraping bottom of pot with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits, until onions have released some moisture, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are lightly browned, 12 to 14 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add flour and stir until onions are evenly coated and flour is lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in broths, scraping pan bottom to loosen browned bits; stir in beer, thyme, bay, vinegar, browned beef with any accumulated juices, and salt and pepper to taste. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to full simmer, stirring occasionally; cover partially, then place pot in oven. Cook until fork inserted into beef meets little resistance, about 2 hours.

Discard thyme and bay. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper to taste and serve. (Can be cooled and refrigerated in airtight container for up to 4 days; reheat over medium-low heat.)

Serve over boiled, buttered egg noodles.

Serves 6.

*I've recently starting buying fresh thyme at the market every week; it is a really nice herb to have around, adding a touch something interesting to many dishes.

**Best choice is Chimay Pères Trappistes Ale-Première--the Belgians have had this right the whole time. This traditional Trappist ale is "rich and robust" and brings out a "very deep flavor" with a "dark chocolate finish" in the Carbonnade.

***I got a 7 blade pot roast and cut it up.

****Apparently, the Swanson's chicken or beef broth packaged in the box is less processed and more flavorful than its canned variety.

*****The quality & taste of egg noodles varies a lot. Here are the ratings:

BLACK FOREST GIRL EXTRA BROAD: "Thick, full body," "plain, clean taste;"
LIGHT AND FLUFFY EXTRA WIDE: "Nice egg finish," "not too rich;"
PENNSYLVANIA DUTCH HOMESTYLE: "Nice texture," "not bad;"
MUELLER'S HEARTY: "Clean wheat flavor," "pasty surface;"
BARILLA EXTRA WIDE: "Terrible flavor," "bordering on tough;"
DAVINCI EXTRA WIDE: "Fake and wheaty," "a sticky mess;" and,
MANISCHEWITZ WIDE: "Heavy, limp, lifeless," "slightly plastic flavor."

******I sliced mine with a mandoline. Caveat: don't slice them too thin; they have to sustain a long cooking.

Chocolate-dipped Coconut Macaroons Pyramids

from Cook's Illustrated

I'm not fond of coconut, but these are really good and very pretty.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and spray with Pam (this receipe will make 4 cookie sheets worth)

In a large bowl, whisk to combine:

1 cup cream of coconut
(found in the drink section of the market)
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
4 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a medium-sized bowl, toss with fingertips, breaking up any clumps:

3 cups sweetened shredded coconut
(8 ounces--this is a little more than one package)
3 cups unsweetened, shredded coconut
(buy this stuff sold in the health-food section--it is a lot drier and also called “desiccated” coconut)

Pour the liquid mix into the coconut and mix well with a spatula. Refrigerate for 15 -30 minutes.

Drop heaping tablespoons of batter (I use a mini disher for this) onto parchment-lined cookie sheets, spacing them about 1-inch apart. Form cookies into little pyramids (have a bowl of water handy to moisten fingers to keep things from sticking). Bake for about 15 minutes switching them half-way through. Make sure they are quite brown and set.

Cool on cookie sheets for about 3 minutes then remove with a metal spatual to a wire rack and continue to cool for another 30 minutes.

Melt semi-sweet chocolate bits in a bowl placed over simmering water. Carefully dip bottoms of macaroons into to melted chocolate removing any excess with your fingers. Refigerate on parchment until chocolate has set. Do not store in an air-tight container; air-tight container cause the macaroons to get wet and sticky. Actually these are really only good the day you make them so don't make more than you plan to eat that day. The batter will keep for several days in the refrigerator.

Makes 48

Since Cream of Coconut comes in 12 ounce cans, you are left with 1/2 cup. I suggest increasing the recipe by adding an additional cup of each of the coconuts and a bit more corn syrup so that you don't have any leftovers. I haven't done this yet, but the recipe isn't very touchy and I think it would work out fine.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Emeril's Russian Dressing

From Emeril on Food TV

Delicious on corned-beef or ice-berg lettuce.

1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup chili sauce
1 tablespoon minced yellow onion
1 tablespoon minced celery
1 tablespoon minced parsley
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon Emeril's Red Pepper Sauce, or other hot sauce
Pinch sugar

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients and whisk until well blended. Adjust the seasoning to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Makes 1 1/2 cups

Xmas and Food 911

Tyler Florence (Food 911) made a great looking meal today:

Roast Loin of Pork with Baked Apples and Cider Gravy

Celery Root and Potato Mash with Horseradish

I've never used celery root; it isn't celery, but some big bulb, which looks really yummy.

Chicken Marsala

from Cook's Illustrated

This dish has a wonderfully-balanced sauce with a great sheen.

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to about 1/4 inch thick
flour for dredging
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 1/2 ounces pancetta (about 3 slices), cut into pieces 1 inch long and 1/8 inch wide
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 1/2 cups sweet marsala wine (make sure you have the sweet variety)
1 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
4 tablespoon unsalted butter, sliced into 4 tabs
2 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley

Place a medium-sized platter in oven and heat to 200 degrees

Heat 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Meanwhile, dry chicken breasts, dredge with flour, and season with salt and pepper (remove excess flour) Add oil to hot skillet and heat until shimmering. Place floured cutlets in single layer in skillet and cook until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Using tongs, flip cutlets and cook on second side until golden brown and meat feels firm when pressed with finger, about 2-3 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to heated platter and return to oven.

Return skillet to low heat and add pancetta; sauté, stirring occasionally and scraping pan bottom to loosen browned bits until pancetta is brown and crisp, about 4 minutes. With slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towel--lined plate. Add mushrooms and increase heat to medium-high; sauté, stirring occasionally and scraping pan bottom, until liquid released by mushrooms evaporates and mushrooms begin to brown, about 8 minutes. Add garlic, tomato paste, and cooked pancetta; sauté while stirring until tomato paste begins to brown, about 1 minute. Off heat, add Marsala; return pan to high heat and simmer vigorously, scraping browned bits from pan bottom, until sauce is slightly syrupy and reduced to about 1 1/4 cups, about 5 minutes. Off heat, add lemon juice and any accumulated juices from chicken; whisk in butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and stir in parsley. Pour sauce over chicken and serve immediately.

Serves 4

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Best Chili

from Cook's Illustrated

Good choices for condiments include diced fresh tomatoes, diced avocado, sliced scallions, chopped red onion, chopped cilantro leaves, sour cream, and shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese. If you are a fan of spicy food, consider using a little more of the red pepper flakes or cayenne--or both. The flavor of the chili improves with age; if possible, make it a day or up to five days in advance and reheat before serving. Leftovers can be frozen for up to a month.

Makes about 3 quarts, serving 8 to 10
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or corn oil
2 medium onions , chopped fine (about 2 cups)
1 red bell pepper , cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 tablespoons)
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 pounds 85% lean ground beef
2 (15-ounce) cans red kidney beans , drained and rinsed
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes , with juice
1 can (28 ounces) tomato puree
Table salt
2 limes , cut into wedges

1. Heat oil in large heavy-bottomed nonreactive Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking, 3 to 4 minutes. Add onions, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, pepper flakes, oregano, and cayenne; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and add half the beef; cook, breaking up pieces with wooden spoon, until no longer pink and just beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add remaining beef and cook, breaking up pieces with wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 3 to 4 minutes.

2. Add beans, tomatoes, tomato puree, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Remove cover and continue to simmer 1 hour longer, stirring occasionally (if chili begins to stick to bottom of pot, stir in 1/2 cup water and continue to simmer), until beef is tender and chili is dark, rich, and slightly thickened. Adjust seasoning with additional salt. Serve with lime wedges and condiments if desired.

Slow Cooker Option: At the end of step 1, transfer the cooked beef mixture to a slow cooker; add the rest of the ingredients as directed in step 2. Cook the chili on the high setting for four hours.

Blog Archive