Friday, November 25, 2005

Quick Homemade Chicken Stock

From Cook's Illustrated

This makes an excellent stock although I didn't think it was particularly quick.

This stock can be refrigerated in airtight containers for up to 4 days or frozen for 4 to 6 months.

Makes about 2 quarts
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion , chopped medium
4 pounds whole chicken legs or backs and wingtips, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 quarts water (boiling)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 bay leaves

For a Turkish-style garnish, mix 2 teaspoons sweet paprika and 3 tablespoons melted butter, then swirt a bit on the surface of each serving.

1. Heat oil in large stockpot over medium-high heat until shimmering; add onion and cook until slightly softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer onion to large bowl. Brown chicken in two batches, cooking on each hside until lightly browned, about 5 minutes per side; transfer to bowl with onions. Transfer cooked chicken to bowl with onion. Return onion and chicken to pot. Reduce heat to low, cover, and sweat until chicken releases its juices, about 20 minutes. Increase heat to high; add boiling water, salt, and bay leaves. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low; cover and sim

mer slowly until stock is rich and flavorful, about 20 minutes, skimming foam off surface, if desired.

2. Strain broth and discard solids. Before using, defat stock. After stock has been refrigerated, the fat hardens on the surface and is very easy to remove with a spoon. To defat hot stock, we recommend using a ladle or fat separator.

Parker House Rolls a la Ruth Schmidt

from Bobby Flay & Ruth Schmidt

This recipe made a great Parker House rol; it was just what we had in mind! The dough was soft and satiny, and made a tender, flavorful roll that wasn't sweet inspite of the sugar in the recipe. Jim did a great job forming & baking them.

6 cups all-purpose flour (about)
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 packages active dry yeast
1 cup margarine or butter (2 sticks), softened
1 large egg

In a large bowl, combine 2 1/4 cups flour, sugar, salt, and yeast; add 1/2 cup margarine or butter (1 stick). With mixer at low speed, gradually pour 2 cups hot tap water (120 degrees F to 130 degrees F.) into dry ingredients. Add egg; increase speed to medium; beat 2 minutes, scraping bowl with rubber spatula. Beat in 3/4 cup flour or enough to make a thick batter; continue beating 2 minutes, occasionally scraping bowl. With spoon, stir in enough additional flour (about 2 1/2 cups) to make a soft dough.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, working in more flour (about 1/2 cup) while kneading. Shape dough into a ball and place in greased large bowl, turning over so that top of dough is greased. Cover with towel; let rise in warm place (80 to 85 degrees F.) until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. (Dough is doubled when 2 fingers pressed into dough leave a dent.)

Punch down dough by pushing down the center or dough with fist, then pushing edges of dough into center. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead lightly to make smooth ball, cover with bowl for 15 minutes, and let dough rest.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. (We used the convection oven at 375 degrees.)

In 17 1/4-inch by 11 1/2-inch roasting pan, over low heat, melt remaining 1/2 cup margarine or butter; tilt pan to grease bottom.

On lightly floured surface with floured rolling pin, roll dough 1/2 inch thick. With floured 2 3/4-inch round cutter, cut dough into circles. Holding dough circle by the edge, dip both sides into melted margarine or butter pan; fold in half. Arrange folded dough in rows in pans, each nearly touching the other. Cover pan with towel; let dough rise in warm place until doubled, about 40 minutes. (Dad didn't dip the sides into butter; he simple put a pat of butter on the round before folded it in half--this is the way his mother did it.)
Bake rolls for 15 to 18 minutes until browned.

Sweet Potato Pie with Crunchy Cranberry Topping

from Florence Tyler

I really liked the topping & the crust, but didn't think the pie itself was that interesting. The topping would be great on a lot of other desserts.

2 pounds sweet potatoes, for 1 1/2 cups puree
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
Pinch salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small chunks
2 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed
1 egg white, lightly beaten

1/2 cup pecans
1 (8-ounce) package frozen cranberries
1 (2.3-ounce) package amaretto cookies (about 12), such as Amaretti di Saronno

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Prick the sweet potatoes with a fork and bake them until they are soft, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and set aside until they are cool enough to handle.

While the potatoes are cooking make the pastry: combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and mix with a pastry blender or your hands until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Pour in the ice water and work it in to bind the dough until it holds together without being too wet or sticky. Squeeze a small amount together, if it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 teaspoon at a time. Form the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes.

Sprinkle the counter and a rolling pin lightly with flour. Roll the dough out into a 10-inch circle. Carefully roll the dough up onto the pin and lay it inside a 9-inch pie pan. Press the dough firmly into the bottom and sides so it fits tightly. Trim the excess dough around the rim and pinch the edges to form a border. Place a piece of parchment paper over the crust and fill with uncooked beans or pie weights. Bake the pie crust until it sets, about 20 minutes. Remove the parchment and beans. Brush the bottom with the beaten egg white and set aside.

While the crust is cooking make the filling: When cool enough to handle, peel the sweet potatoes and puree the pulp in a food processor with 1/2 stick butter and a pinch of salt. Measure 1 1/2 cups puree into a bowl. In another bowl beat the eggs and sugar until the sugar has melted. Add the eggs to the sweet potato puree and whisk well. Add the cream, orange zest, cinnamon, and nutmeg and stir well to combine. Pour the mixture into the pie shell. Place the pie pan on a sturdy cookie sheet to catch any spills. Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F and bake until the pie is set but still jiggles slightly, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool.

Meanwhile, put the pecans on a baking sheet and bake them with the pie for about 10 minutes to toast them. Remove them from the oven and let them cool. Thaw the cranberries in a strainer set over a bowl to catch the liquid. Put the cookies, pecans, and cranberries into a food processor and pulse them a few times until they are coarsely chopped. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the cooled pie and serve immediately.

Roast Crisped-Skin Turkey

From Cook's Illustrated

We prefer to roast small turkeys, no more than 14 pounds gross weight, because they cook more evenly than large birds. If you prefer, halve the amount of salt in the brine and brine 12 hours or overnight. When you remove the turkey from the oven to rotate it, be sure to close the oven door to prevent heat loss.

Serves 10 to 12

4 cups kosher salt or 2 cups table salt
1 turkey (12 to 14 pounds gross weight), rinsed thoroughly; giblets, neck, and tailpiece removed and reserved for gravy (see related recipe)
3 medium onions, chopped coarse
2 small carrots, chopped coarse
2 ribs celery, chopped coarse
6 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

An overnight stay in the refrigerator produced a bird with crackling crisp skin.

1. Dissolve salt in 2 gallons cold water in large stockpot or clean bucket. Add turkey and refrigerate or set in very cool spot (about 40 degrees) for 4 to 6 hours.

NB: do not brine if using a Kosher Turkey

2. Remove turkey from salt water and rinse well under cool running water. Pat dry inside and out with paper towels. Place turkey breast-side up on flat wire rack set over rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan and refrigerate, uncovered, 8 to 24 hours.

3. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss one-third of onions, carrots, and celery with 2 sprigs thyme and 1 tablespoon butter in medium bowl; fill cavity with mixture. Tuck wings behind back, following illustrations 1 through 3 below, truss turkey.

4. Scatter remaining vegetables and thyme in shallow roasting pan; pour 1 cup water over vegetables. Prepare V-rack following illustration 4, below. Brush turkey breast with butter, then set turkey breast-side down on foil-lined V-rack. Brush back of turkey with butter. Roast 45 minutes.

5. Remove roasting pan with turkey from oven; brush back with butter. Using thick wads of paper towels or potholders, rotate turkey leg/wing--side up. If liquid in bottom of roasting pan has evaporated, add 1/2 cup water. Roast 15 minutes longer.

6. Remove roasting pan with turkey from oven, brush exposed surfaces with butter, and, using thick wads of paper towels or potholders, rotate turkey second leg/wing-side up; roast for 15 minutes longer.

7. Remove roasting pan with turkey from oven, brush exposed surfaces with butter and, using thick wads of paper towels or potholders, rotate turkey breast-side up. Roast until thickest part of breast registers 165 degrees and thickest part of thigh registers 170 to 175 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 30 to 45 minutes longer. Move turkey from rack to carving board and let rest about 20 to 30 minutes. Carve and serve with gravy, if desired.

Salad wtih Herbed Baked Goat Cheese and Vinaigrette

from Cook's Illustrated

NB: choose a goat cheese with a little stronger flavor than you normally select because baking the cheese seems to lighten its flavor.

Herbed Baked Goat Cheese
3 ounces Melba toasts, white (about 2 cups) (Melba toast was an excellent choice)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
12 ounces goat cheese, firm
extra-virgin olive oil

Vinaigrette and Salad
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (I might use part rice-wine vinegar next time)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced shallot
1/4 teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (I used Walnut oil)
1 tablespoon fresh chives (sprinkled on salad greens)
Ground black pepper
14 cups hearty greens (mixed), washed and dried (I used Watercress, but would use Arugula next time)

1. For Goat Cheese: In food processor, process Melba toasts to fine even crumbs, about 1 1/2 minutes; transfer crumbs to medium bowl and stir in pepper. Whisk eggs and mustard in medium bowl until combined. Combine thyme and chives in small bowl.

2. Using kitchen twine or dental floss, divide cheese into 12 evenly sized pieces. Roll each piece into a ball; roll each ball in herbs to coat lightly. Transfer 6 pieces to egg mixture, turn each piece to coat; transfer to Melba crumbs and turn each piece to coat, pressing crumbs into cheese. Flatten each ball into disk about 1 1/2 inches wide and 1 inch thick and set on baking sheet. Repeat process with remaining 6 pieces cheese. Freeze cheese until firm, about 30 minutes. (Cheese may be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and frozen up to 1 week.) Adjust oven rack to uppermost position; heat to 475 degrees.

3. Remove cheese from freezer and brush tops and sides evenly with olive oil. Bake until crumbs are golden brown and cheese is slightly soft, 7 to 9 minutes (or 9 to 12 minutes if cheese is completely frozen). Using thin metal spatula, transfer cheese to paper towel-lined plate and cool 3 minutes.

4. For Salad: While goat cheese is baking, combine vinegar, mustard, shallot, and salt in small bowl. Whisking constantly, drizzle in olive oil; season to taste with pepper.

5. Place greens in large bowl, drizzle vinaigrette over, and toss to coat. Divide greens among individual plates; place 2 rounds goat cheese on each salad. Serve immediately.

Thanksgiving 2005

A Distributed Feast!

Kevin called it a "Distributed Feast" because we ate all day!


Roasted almonds

Vertical tasting of Murphy's vs. Guiness (Murphy's won)
Salad wtih Herbed Baked Goat Cheese and Vinaigrette


Peel & Eat Shrimp with Horseradish Cocktail sauce
Manhattans w/Agostura Bitters (Bitters are an excellent stomatic--they are also tauted to be a cure for flatulence)


Roast Crisped-Skin Turkey

Gravy made with Quick Chicken Stock (with either brined or Kosher birds you really have to watch the salt content--I used a combination of the dripping from the turkey & the Quick Stock & it was almost too salty; next time I think I'll use mostly my stock because it is less salty). BTW: this is a great recipe for stock.

Mashed Potatoes

The next day we made a gratin from the leftovers: 4 cups mashed potatoes, 3 eggs, 2/3 cup grated Guyere cheese. Place the potatoes, eggs & most of the cheese in the food processor & blend just to combine. Place in a greased au gratin dishes & sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 35 minutes.

Green Bean Casserole

This is a great casserole, but requires a lot of attention to pull off. I can't do it justice when trying to manage the gravy & other last minute dishes. Next time I won't make it unless there is someone else in the kitchen who can give it the loving care it demands.

Bread Stuffing with Sage and Thyme

I didn't put enough Sage in the stuffing; I've added a note to the recipe for next year. Also, I cooked it is too big a glass dish (13 x 9).

Tart Cranberry Dipping Sauce
Simple Cranberry Sauce

I combined the two sauces after the dinner, and they were great as one!

Parker House Rolls (a la Ruth Schmidt)

This recipe made a great Parker House rol; it was just what we had in mind! The dough was soft and satiny, and made a tender, flavorful roll that wasn't sweet inspite of the sugar in the recipe. Jim did a great job forming & baking them.

Hess Selection 2001 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon


Sweet Potato Pie with Crunchy Cranberry Topping

We loved the topping & the crust, but were unimpressed by the pie. This topping on a pumpkin pie would be great. The next day we had some pie with Hagaan-Das Pistachio ice cream--fantastic ice cream!--.

Calvados & Cognac

We did a vertical tasting with no decisive victor--one preferred one; the others, the other; some couldn't taste the apples; one didn't know Calvados was distilled from apples & was made in Normandy--and this person probably isn't who you think it is!).

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Herb Roasted Turkey Breast with Pan Gravy

From Rachael Ray
Serves 6-8

Although sage is the herb most used with turkey, I love the flavor and aroma of fresh bay (laurel) leaves. Fresh bay leaves are now widely available in supermarkets. Since the leaves are a bit woody, and no fun to eat, I baste my turkey with bay-infused butter and roast the breasts right on top of the leaves, which perfumes the meat.

1 small (golf-ball sized) onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 lemon, scrubbed clean
12 fresh sage leaves
Large handful fresh flat-leaf parsley (about 1/2 cup, from 12 stems)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling pan
1 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
6 fresh bay leaves
4 tablespoons butter
2 boneless turkey breast halves, skin on (about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds each)
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup apple or regular brandy (recommended: Calvados)
2 to 3 cups apple cider
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Oil a roasting pan and set it aside.

Put the onion into the bowl of a mini food processor. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the zest from the lemon in thin strips, being careful not to cut into the bitter white pith. Add the lemon zest to the food processor and reserve the whole lemon for another use. Chop the onion and lemon zest until fine. Add the sage, parsley, olive oil, and 1 teaspoon salt and pulse until it forms a coarse paste.

Put 2 of the bay leaves and the butter into a small pan and heat over medium-low heat until the butter is bubbling. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Put the turkey breasts on a work surface. Carefully run your fingers between the skin and the flesh from 1 end, being careful not to pull it completely off, creating a pocket. Season the turkey breasts generously with salt and pepper. Stuff half of the herb paste under the skin of each breast, and spread it evenly under the skin. Transfer the breasts to the roasting pan, and slide 2 bay leaves underneath each one. (The heat of the pan will release the bay leaf oils and flavor the breast.) Using a pastry brush, baste the breasts with half of the bay butter. Place the turkey in the oven and immediately decrease the temperature to 400 degrees F. After 20 minutes, baste the turkey breasts with the remaining butter, and roast for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until cooked through, and a thermometer placed in the thickest part of the breast registers 170 degrees F.

Remove from the oven, transfer to a platter, cover, and let rest for 10 minutes before carving while you make the gravy.

Put the roasting pan over the burner on medium heat. Sprinkle the flour over the pan juices, and cook, stirring, for a few minutes. Add the apple brandy, and scrape the pan to lift the bits that are stuck to the bottom. Cook for a minute to burn off the alcohol, then, while stirring, pour in the apple cider. Bring to a simmer, and stir until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.

Slice the turkey breast on the diagonal, and serve with warm gravy.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Crab Cakes in Red Sauce

from Jacques Pepin's Fast Food My Way

This is delicious as an appetizer or a main course. It is made with pasturized crab meat. The best brand is Phillip's Crab meat (Costco). I serve them with an arugula salad and some of the Red Sauce which doubles as a dressing.

Salmon in Mirin

from Jacques Pepin's Fast Food My Way

I've prepared this dish at least 4 times; until the last time, I used Murakan unseasoned rice wine vinegar instead of Mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine). I didn't realize I was using the wrong ingredient. Much to my surprize, I much prefer this dish made with the rice wine vinegar!

Rack of Lamb

from Julia Child's The Way to Cook

1 trimmed rack of lamb (about 7 ribs weighing about 1 1/2 lbs.)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped fine
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive or peanut oil
1/4 cup fresh white bread crumbs
1 tablespoon melted butter

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees with the shelf in the upper-middle position.

Frenching the ribs: From the fat-covered top side, trace a line ac ross the ribs halfway from the bone ends to the meat; cut down through it to the rib bones. Remove the fatty lower layer to expose the lower part of the ribs. Cut and scrape the meat from around the rib bones.

Removing cap meat: starting at the heavier end of the rack, cut and lft off the fatty layer, leaving a thin covering over the eye of the meat. When you are finished your rack should have nicely defined, long rib bones and a round core of meat with only a thin layer of fat around the core (Julia says, "a labor of love" and I concur).

Whisk the mustard, rosemary, lemon juice, and then the oil, to make a mayonnaise-like cream.

Score the fat on the side of the racks lightly mkaing shallow crisscross knife marks. Leaving the rib ends free, paint the mustard mixture over the tops and side of the rack. Fold a double strip of foil over the rid end so they won't burn. (Ma be prepared to this point a day in advance; refrigerate covered.)

Roasting--about 30 minutes at 500 and 400 degrees: Roast the lamb for 10 minutes at 500 to sear. Reduce the thermostat to 400, rapidly spread the bread crumbs over the top fat, drizzle on the butter, and return to the oven. Roast another 20 minutes, to rosy-rare (125 degrees); the meat will be just lightly springy when pressed.

Rest before carving: remove from the oven and let rest 5 minutes (lightly tent with foil).

Serving: lay the rack on a little watercress or arugula and cut into 1-rib portions.

Serves 2.

Sunday, October 16, 2005


Adapted from Jacques Pepin's book, Fast-Food My Way

Serves 6-8

2 bags angel hair coleslaw
1 cup freshly grated carrot
1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tsp poppy seeds
2 tbs sugar
3/4 tsp table salt
1/2 teaspoon Frank's Red Hot Original, Cayenne Pepper Sauce

Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly in a bowl and refrigerate a minimum of 20 minutes. This coleslaw is best served after one hour of refrigeration but will keep up to two days.

Note: When kept longer, it renders some liquid.

Pan-Seared, Thick-Cut Pork Chops

from Cooks Illustrated Online, September 1999
Serves 4

This is a very similiar cooking technique to AB's Pan-Seared Rib Eye; the result is a crispy, caramelized pork chop that is tender and juicy. Roroc and I like to make these for breakfast and serve them with homemade applesauce on Sunday mornings.

3/4 cup dark brown sugar (lightly packed)
1/4 cup kosher salt
4 bone-in rib loin pork chops (12-ounces each), 1 1/2-inches-thick
2 tablespoons canola oil

In a gallon-sized zipper-lock plastic bag, dissolve sugar and salt in room-temperature water. Add pork chops and then seal bag, pressing out as much air as possible; refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes, but not more than 1 hour. Remove chops from brine, and dry thoroughly with paper towels.

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees.

When oven is hot, heat oil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet (I prefer my enameled cast iron Le Creuset) over medium high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Place chops in skillet; cook until well-browned and nice crust has formed on surface, about 3-4 minutes (there is no need to salt and pepper the chops as the brine will sufficiently season the meat). Turn chops over with tongs; cook until well-browned and a nice crust has formed on second side, about 3-4 minutes longer.

Turn the chops over again and transfer the skillet to the preheated oven. Roast 4-5 minutes, and turn the chops. Roast 4-5 more minutes and remove from the oven.

On a platter or a plate with a small plate turned upside down in the center, transfer the chops and lay them at an angle so that the juice will run off; cover loosely with foil (be sure not to wrap foil tightly around meat), and let rest about 5 minutes. (Check internal temperature; it should register at least 145 degrees).

Serve on warmed plates and enjoy!

Note: If the chops aren’t being cooked immediately after brining, simply wipe off the excess brine, place the them on a wire rack set on top of a rimmed sheet pan, and keep them in the refrigerator, uncovered, to air dry for up to 3 hours.

Basic Applesauce

from Everyday Food - October 2005
Delicious when served with Pan-Seared Pork Chops

Makes 4 cups; Prep time: 20 minutes; Total time: 45 minutes

3 pounds apples (try a combination of Gala, Golden Delicious, and McIntosh)
1 cinnamon stick
4 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup water
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (optional)

Peel, core, and cut apples into 1/2-inch-thick slices . In a large saucepan (I use my signed Paul La Rocca Fissler saucier), combine apples with cinnamon stick, sugar, and water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until apples are tender, 30 to 35 minutes. (If sauce begins to stick to the bottom of the pan, add 2 to 4 tablespoons more water.)

Remove from heat; discard cinnamon stick. Stir in 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice. If apples are still mostly intact and not yet a sauce, continue to stir and break-up slices with a wooden spoon until the consistency is a chunky sauce.

Note: Because Apples are typically high in pesticides, I would recommend you use organic apples if possible.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Cream Cheese Frittata

Cream Cheese Frittata
from Everyday Food - October 2005

Serves 2-3 people

2 tsp olive oil
2 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 small red bell pepper, ribs and seeds discarded, chopped into 1 inch pieces
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, minced
3 large eggs
1/4 cup half-and-half
4 ounces cream cheese (1/2 bar), cubed
2 ounces cheddar cheese (1/2 cup), shredded
2 slices white sandwich bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (1 cup)
coarse salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat oil ini a small (8 inch) oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Cook mushrooms, bell pepper, onion, and garlic until almost tender, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl and let cool slightly (reserve skillet).

To mixture in bowl, add eggs, half-and-half, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, bread, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; stil until combined. (There may be a few chunks of cream cheese remaining).

Pour egg mixture into reserved skillet; bake until set, about 30 minutes. Heat broiler, and broil until top is golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting into wedges and serving.

Serve this Italian-style baked omelet for breakfast or with a green salad for lunch.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Mia-style Tacos

by Kelley Schmidt

1/2 pound of pot roast or brisket in cooking liquid
Queso Fresco, cumbled
Poblano Pepper, roasted, seeded, and cut into thin strips
Flour Tortillas
Canola Oil

Shred the meat and simmer it on the stove until it is hot. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add one or two teaspoons of canola oil to the skillet and rub a flour tortilla around the bottom of the pan to coat the bottom with oil. Immediately add a small amount of meat and cheese along with three slices of poblano pepper. When the bottom of the tortilla looks brown and crisp, immediately fold the tortilla in half and serve. Roroc likes to eat his with a fresh slice of avocado.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Fruit Cobbler


2 pints or 1 ¾ pound fresh fruit, stemmed, pitted and/or peeled and quartered.
½ cup sugar (more if the fruit is sour)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch to ½ teaspoon of one of the following: cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, or allspice


½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
½ cup sugar
1 egg yolk
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9 x 6 baking dish with non-stick spray.

To prepare the filling, mix the sugar and cornstarch and any dry spices in a medium bowl. Add the fruit with its juices and toss to coat. Place fruit in the baking dish.

To prepare the topping, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and set aside. In a medium bowl, beat butter and sugar until well combined. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture and stir until just combined. Drop dough by heaping tablespoons onto prepared fruit.

Bake for 45-55 minutes until golden brown.

Serves 4-6

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Alton Brown's Seared Tuna

1/2 cup dark soy sauce
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup dry wasabi powder
2 pounds tuna loin, cut into 2 pieces
1/2 cup sesame seeds
2 tablespoons peanut oil

In a non-reactive bowl combine soy, honey, and wasabi powder. Reserve 1/4 cup for dipping sauce. Roll each piece of tuna in this mixture to coat evenly. Marinate from 1 hour to overnight. Remove the tuna from the marinade and discard the marinade.
On a plate, lay the sesame seeds. Roll the tuna in the seeds to evenly coat.
Fire up the chimney and top with a well-oiled grate. Sear for 15 to 30 seconds per side or to desired temperature. Remove to rack and rest for 3 minutes. Cover with foil or plastic wrap to achieve carry over cooking. Slice thinly and serve with the dipping sauce.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Cooked Curried Lamb with Rice

from the Joy of Cooking

1 cup onions, sliced
1/2 cup celery, sliced
2 medium-sized apples, cored, peeled and sliced

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a saute pan. Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon curry powder. Add the onions and apples and saute until the onions are tender. Remove onions and apples from the pan.

Now brown 2 cups sliced leftover cooked lamb in the pan. Remove them to a platter.

Stir 2 teaspoons flour into any pan juices in the pan.

Slowly stir in 1 cup leftover lamb stock (add water to stock to make 1 cup).

When sauce is smooth and boiling, add onions, apples and meat.

Stir in 1 tablesppon lemon juice. Correct the seasoning, and serve with steamed or boiled rice.

Serves 4

Jacques' Roast Leg of Lamb

from Julia & Jacques Cooking at Home

Jacques: A whole untrimmed leg of spring lamb (domestic lamb is the best) usually weighs anywhere from 6 to 8 pounds. You can choose the size appropriate for your party, and prepare it as explained in the recipe. The most important step in preparing lamb, however, is removing the fat. The assertive taste that some people find objectionable in lamb is always in the fat, and when it is mostly trimmed away before roasting, they are surprised at how mild it tastes. For the same reason, it is important to pour off as much of the fat in the roasting pan as possible before you make your sauce and, if you are making lamb stock, to defat it well. When the leg is well trimmed of fat, you can also roast the lamb at a higher temperature, as I do here, and even a large leg will roast to rare in about an hour or a bit more. I like to turn the leg once while it's in the oven, and then there's no need for basting. If you prefer, you can baste the roast once or twice with the pan juices, instead of turning it. I remove the lamb when it is still quite rare--at an internal temperature of 125 to 130--but you can roast it to a higher temperature if you like. In any case, allow the meat to rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.

1 whole untrimmed leg of lamb, weighing about 6 pounds with shank and pelvic bone (trimmed of pelvic bone and most fat, about 4 3/4 pounds)
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, stripped off the stem
freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups lamb stock (recipe below)
3/4 cup white wine

Remove the pelvic bone from the lamb (this is the bone at the tope of the leg bone), and then remove all of the fat. Scrape the shank bone clean for about 2 to 3 inches so that you have something to hang on to when you carve (called "Frenching").

Chop the garlic cloves coarsely. Pour 1 teaspoon of salt on top of the garlic and mash to a paste with the flat of the knife, then chop together with the rosemary leaves until they are finely minced.

Thrust the tip of a sharp, thin-bladed knife into the thick top of the leg, about 1 inch deep. Push about 1/2 teaspoon of the seasoning paste into the slit with your finger. Make a dozen or more such incisions in the meaty parts of the leg, both top and underside, and fill with the seasoning. Rub any remaining paste over the boneless sirloin end of the leg.

The leg can now be roasted, or refrigerated for several hours or overnight, to allow the seasoning to permeate the meat.

Roasting and Resting

Preheat the oven to 400 , arrange a rack in the lower third of oven.

Just before roasting, sprinkle 3/4 teaspoons alt and 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper over both sides of the leg. Set it on the roasting pan topside up.

Roast the leg for about 30 minutes, then turn the roast over, grasping it by the shank bone (with a thick towel or pot holder to protect your hands). Continue roasting for another 30 minutes or so--1 1/4 hours total, depending on the size of the leg--until the internal temperature of the meat is about 125 to 130 when measured at the thickest part.

Remove the leg to a carving board or platter and res--topside up--for 20 minutes, allowing the meat to relax and reabsorb the natural juices.

Meanwhile, de-glaze the roasting pan to make a simple sauce. Tilt the pan and pour off as much of the fat as possible. Place it over medium heat, pour in 3/4 cup of the stock and 3/4 cup white wine, and bring to a simmer, stirring and scraping up the browned glaze in the bottom of the pan. Strain the sauce into a bowl and add any juices released by the resting meat. Reserving remaining stock for Cooked Curried Lamb (see recipe).

Carving and Serving the Roast

Carve by slicing into the top of the roast and cutting toward the shank, holding the knife blade at a flat angle. Remove the first slice and start the next cut a bit farther away from the shank, again slicing through the top and toward the shank. Continue slicing off the top of the roast, arranging the slices on the serving platter. Drizzle the pan juices over before serving.

Quick Lamb Stock with One Bone

Place the pelvic bone that you remove from the whole leg and any trimmed meat in a sauce pan with 1 medium peeled onion, 1 bay leaf, and 4 cups of water. Bring to a steady simmer, skim any foam that rises to the top, and cook for 1 1/2 hours. The stock will reduce as it cooks, but add water to keep bones covered at all times. Strain the stock and skim off as much fat as possible (if you have time, chill the stock and remove the congealed fat completely). In a small saucepan, reduce the defatted stock over high heat until only 1 1/2 cups remain. Use to de-glaze the roasting pan as in the recipe.

Serve with Ragout of White Beans (see recipe).

Serves 8 to 10

Jacques' Ragout of White Beans

from Julia & Jacques Cooking at Home

Jacques: Beans are a perfect canvas or carrier, for the flovors of whatever you cook with them. At home, we love to put a piece of portk--a pork shoulder or a ham hock--right into the beans to cook, along with a bay leaf and some thyme. You could do the same thing with a pork chop, or just a piece of ham. And beans are delicious when flavored with poultry--cook them with the carcass from a roast chicken or turkey. Or put in some onions and carrots and a package of chicken necks and you have a tasty stew for six people for very little money. For a dish like this one, I would not soak the beans before cooking. These common small white beans grown in this country, have usually been harvested and dried just in the preceding year and consequently are not that hard. They will cook relatively fast without soaking, and you can always add more liquid and extend the cooking until they are completely done. You want to strain out the liquid here so the dish is more like a stew than a soup. If you are making the beans to serve with a roast leg of lamb, you could take this reserved bean liquid, which is already slightly syrupy, and use it to deglaze the roasting pan. You'll have a naturally thick and delicious sauce.

1 pound Great Northern means, soaked or not as you wish
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 ouces lean pancetta, diced into 1/4 inch pieces
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
3 tablespoons peeled and thinly sliced garlic
2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1/4 freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons choped parsley, for garnish

Drain beans, if you have soaked them, or wash them and put them in the pot with 6 cups fresh cold water (8 cups if not soaked) and the salt. Bring to a boil and simmer gently, partially covered. After 40 minutes of cooking, taste several beans to check for doneness--you want them all to be tender to the bit but not mushy. Simmer longer if necessary.

White the beans are cooking, heat the olive oil in the frying pan. Add the pancetta pieces, toss to coat with oil, and cook for a couple of minutes over moderate heat. Stir in the onions, garlic slices, thyme, and pepper and cook over moderately low heat for about 10 mintues, stirring and tossing frequently, until the onions and garlic are soft. Set aside.

When the beans are nearly tender, stir in the sauteed flavorings and return to the simmer. Cook, partially covered over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 20 mintues, or until the beans are fully cooked and soft.

Remove from heat. Strain or ladle out any liquid covering the beans.

Just before serving, sprinkle chapped parsley over the beans.

Do-ahead Notes

The bean ragout can be made up to 2 or 3 days ahead; let it cool, then cover and refrigerate. Reheat slowly for serving, using some of the reserved liquid to moisten the ragout, which may thicken on standing.

Makes 5 to 6 cups.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Roasted Tomatoes with Shrimp and Feta

Courtesy of Heidi & Joe

from Real Simple

5 large tomatoes, cut into eighths
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup Feta, crumbled

Preheat oven to 450° F. Place the tomatoes in a large baking dish. Spoon the olive oil and garlic over the tomatoes. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper and toss. Place on top rack of oven and roast for 20 minutes. Remove baking dish from oven and stir in the shrimp, parsley, and lemon juice. Sprinkle with the Feta. Place back in oven for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the shrimp are cooked. Serve warm with crusty bread.

Serves 6

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Little Zucchini Boats

I invented this as a quick side-dish.

4 zucchini, sliced in half and hollowed out (about 1/4 inch)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 cup minced scallions
1 cup coarsely chopped mushrooms
1 large tomato, cut into pieces (or cherry tomatoes, cut in half)
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons olive oil (6 teaspoons)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Place zucchini boats in a jelly-roll pan, sprayed with Pam. Salt them lightly, and drizzle with 2 teaspoons of the oil. Bake zucchini boats in a 400 degree oven for about 10 to 15 minutes until slightly softened.

Meanwhile, mix the mushrooms and tomatoes together and toss with 2 teaspoons of the oil and a little salt and pepper, and in a separate bowl, toss the bread crumbs with remaining 2 teaspoons of oil and sprinkle over top.

When the zucchini are softened, remove from oven and fill with tomato-mushroom mixture, letting the excess spill out to the sides. Sprinkle on bread crumb mixture and top with grated cheese.

Raise heat to 435 degrees, and return zucchini boats to oven until bread crumbs brown and zucchini are tender (about 10 minutes).

Serves 4

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Seared Yellowfin Tuna over Napa Salad

from Dining for Two

2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon Asian (dark) sesame oil
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 60ounce yellowfin tuna steaks, about 1-inch thick
1 tablesppon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1/3 medium head Napa cabbage, chopped (about 3 cups)
1 medium carrot, shredded
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons peanut oil
1 tablespoons sliced pickled ginger, if desired

Combine 1 tablesppon soy sauce, the sesame oil, and pepper in a zip-close plastic bag; add tuna. Squeeze out air and seal bag; turn to coat tuna. Let marinate 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine remaining 1 tablespoon soy, lemon juice, honey, and ginger in a large bowl. Add cabbage, carrot, and onion; toss to coat.

Heat peanut oil in a medium nonstock skillet over medium-high heat. Remove tuna from marinade. Discard marinade and add tuna to skillet. Cook tuna 2-3 minutes on each side for4 medium0rare. Trasfer tuna to plate and top each steack with pickled ginger if using. Serve over the cabage salad.

Julia Child's Eggs Benedict

from Julia & Jacques Cooking at Home

Make hollandaise sauce:

Whisk 3 egg yolks, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon water over low heat in a round-bottomed (saucier-type) pan until thick and foamy. whisk in 6 to 8 tablespoons of room temperature, unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Season with salt and a dash of cayenne pepper to taste.

Poach eggs:

Poach in about 2 inches of boiling/simmering water to which 2 tablespoons of white vinegar have been added. Eggs should take about 4 minutes.


Sliced French bread 1 inch thick, remove crust, and light toast, then butter both sides and place on warm plate.


Saute slices (not too thin) of top quality prosciutto ham in a little butter.


Plade ham on toasted, buttered bread, top with poached eggs and finish with a napping of hollandaise sauce.

Hasty Pudding with Apricot Sauce

from Fast Food My Way, by Jacques Pepin

2 cups half and half (or milk, any type)
1/3 cup semolina flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons lemon zest

Bring milk to boil, add in semolina whisking until smooth. Simmer until thick (only takes a few minutes--watch carefully, as it is easily scorched).

Off heat add in sugar, vanilla, sour cream, and zest. Pour into a bowl and press plastic wrap onto pudding. Refrigerate until serving time.

Meanwhile make toast 2 tablespoons of sliced almonds in a 400 degree oven until just colored. Combine almonds with 1/3 cup of apricot jam, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 3 tablespoons of cognac or brandy. Set aside and let macerate.

Before serving, spoon sauce ontop of pudding.

Serves 4

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Chicken Tonnato

from Fast Food My Way, by Jacques Pepin

Chicken from Easy Chicken Vegetable Soup (see recipe)
1 2-ounce can anchovy fillets in oil
1 2-ounce can tuna in oil
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups, loosely packed arrugula leaves, washed and dried
1 tablespoon drained capers
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives

Set aside 4 anchovies for the garnish. Put the tuna and remaining anchoives in a food processor, along with oil from both of the cans. Add egg yalk, mustard, lemon juice, water, salt, and hot sauce, and process for a few seconds. With processor running, add olive oil in a slow stream and process for a few seconds, or until it is well incorporated and the sauce is smooth.

At serving time, divinde the arugula among four plates. Cut each breast into 4 crosswise slices, and arrange the slices on top of the arugula. Generously coat chicken with tuna sauce and top each serving with 1 of the reserved anchovy fillets. Sprinkle on some capers and chives and serve at room temperature.

Serves 4


Toast 2 slices of bread, then spread about 1 1/2 tablesppons of the tuna sauce on each slice. Arrange chicken on 1 of the slices, top with arugula and finish with a few slices of tomato. Top; with other slice of bread, sauce side down.

Serves 1

Easy Chicken Vegetable Soup

from Fast Food My Way, by Jacques Pepin

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 6 ounces each)
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 finely chopped medium onion
1/2 cup thinly sliced small carrots
1/2 cup thinly sliced leek
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
5 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients, except chicken breasts, in 3 quart sauce pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add chicken breasts, return broth to a boil, cover, and turn off heat. Let chicken breasts cook in turned off, covered pot for about 12 to 15 minutes.

Remove chicken breasts from soup and let rest for a few minutes. Use chicken breasts for another purpose, e.g., chicken salad, Chicken Tonnato (see recipe), &c.

Serves 4

Diced Cucumber Salad

I saw Jacques make this on his show "Fast Food My Way", but I don't think it is in the book. At any rate, it is delicious, simple, and, of course, fast.

1 medium cucumber
1 scallion, finely sliced
small piece of white onion, finely diced
1 large tomato (or 2 small)
4 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon red-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
6 butter-lettuce leaves

Peel cucumber, cut in half, and scrape out seeds. Cut each half in half width-wise, then cut into 1/4-inch strips. Line all the strips up and cut into a dice. Place diced cucumber in a bowl.

Add remaining ingredients to bowl, taste for salt and pepper, and let sit (mascerate) for about 15 minutes. Serve a in butter-lettuce lined dish.

Serves 2

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Pot Roast Alert

From Julia & Jacques Cooking at Home

Jim and I watched Julia Child & Jacques Pepin prepare a pot roast last week. The recipe was similar to the Cook's Illustrated recipe but had some interesting twists. I made the JJ version over the weekend and we both preferred it to CI's because it had a cleaner taste (less greasy, more meaty, less sweet, and less vegetable) and was much easier to carve, owing to the cut of meat. Particularly interesting to me was the use of white wine, which I think is the key to the dish's beautifully balanced clean taste. This is an easy dinner to make because most of it is done way ahead. A bowl with fresh peas and some nice bread or rolls would go great with it.

Jacques' Pot Roast

5 pound bottom round roast, visible fat removed (see note)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons canola oil
1 large white onion (or 2 medium-small) cut into biggish pieces (about 8-ounces in a 1-inch chop)
8 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 imported bay leaves
1 large tomato, cored and chopped into 1-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup water
2 large white turnips (1 1/2 to 2 pounds), cut in half and then in sixths (large wedges)
1 bunch small carrots*, peeled
1 pound small white onions (20 about ping-pong ball size--not pearl), blanched and peeled
Potato starch
1 tablespoon chopped parsley, for garnish

Note: Jacques prefers a pot roast from the "flat" muscle of the bottom round (part of the animal's hind leg) because it is lean and solid, and becomes very tender and most during braising, but still holds it shape and slices easily. He says that it is easy to find, although you may have to ask the butcher to cut a 5-pound piece. He prefers it to the "eye round", a muscle that is attached to the flat, and often suggested for pot roast, which looks nice, but is more fibrous and won't be as tender. He also advises that you give the beef plenty of time to brown (15 minutes) because you want the meat to get a deep-brown crust on all sides and the juices to crystallize in the bottom of the pan, noting that the crust and glaze, where the natural sugars have caramelized, are full of flavor, and that you will see during the braising, that all of this crusting will seem to disappear--literally melt away--into the liquid, bringing the flavors to the whole dish.

Browning and Braising the Roast:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Season the roast on all sides with salt and pepper. Set the casserole over high heat with 2 or 3 tablespoons of oil, just enough to film the bottom.

When oil is hot, lay in the roast and sear for about 3 minutes, until the first side is well browned. Turn meat onto another side and sear for several minutes, and continue turning and searing, over medium to high heat, until entire piece is browned and meat juices have crusted in pan, about 15 minutes. If there is excess oil in bottom of pot, pour it our and discard.

Arrange onion and tomato pieces, bay leaves, thyme sprigs around meat and pour in wine and water. Bring liquid quickly to the boil, cover casserole, and set it in the over for 3 to 4 hours until meat is tender.

While roast is braising, prepare small onions as follows: Drop them whole into a saucepan of boiling water, and let cook for exactly 1 minute. Slip off the skins, and shave root-end to even them. If desired, piece a cross 1/4 inch deep in root end. Set aside until

Adding the Vegetables and Final Braising:

Remove the casserole from the oven. Hold lid ajar to keep meat in pot, and, if you want, pour liquid through a strainer to remove cooked vegetable pieces and herbs. Press the juices from the vegetables, then return the strained liquid to the pot.

Arrange the turnip wedges, small onions, and carrots around the roast and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring liquid to the boil and put casserole, covered, back in the 300 degree oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until roast is fork-tender and vegetables are very soft but still holding their shape.

Finishing and Serving the Pot Roast:

Set the casserole on the stovetop, over low heat. Lift out the meat and vegetables and set arrange on a serving platter.

Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning. It can be served as is, or, for a thicker consistency, stir together a tablespoon of potato starch with a teaspoon of white wine in a small dish. Stir dissolved starch, a bit at a time, into hot liquid. It will thicken on contact with hot liquid; stir in only as much as needed to reach proper consistency.

Cut half of roast into 1/2-inch thick slices, placed accordion-fashion down middle of platter with vegetables encircling, and moisten everything with a little sauce. Serve remaining sauce in gravy boat.

Serves 8-10

Leftovers can be served Cold Beef Salad a la Parisienne

*I always look for smallish organic carrots with tops on. The tops are a sign of the freshness of the carrots, but because they sap their strength if left, I remove the greenery and leave it at the market.

Cold Beef Salad a la Parisienne

from Julia & Jacques Cooking at Home

You will need a well-trimmed whole piece of braised or boiled beef that you cut into neat thin slices less than 3/16 inches thick, 3 slices per serving. Note that the meat is well done; otherwise it will not absorb the dressing and pick up its flavor. Choose. Use about 1 1/2 tablespoon of vinaigrette (see recipe) per serving, with minced shallots, chopped capers, and a bit of Dijon prepared mustard beaten in. Sppon a tablespoon or so into the bottom of a baking pan, arrange the slices of meat in it, and baste with more of the sauce. Cover and let marinate at room temperature for an hour.

Meanwhile prepare the following:

halved or stuffed hard-boiled eggs
halved and seasoned cherry tomatoes
french potato salad (see recipe)
cold green beans (see recipe)
small handfuls of washed salad greens
a small bowl of minced parsley and chives

When almost time to serve, chop salad greens, toss them with a little more vinaigrette, and arrange a tin layer over the bottom of a serving plattter. Lay the sliced and marinated beef neatly down the center and surround tastefully with vegetables, sprinkle herbs over all, and present the salad.

Julia's Blanched and Butter Green Beans

from Julia & Jacques Cooking at Home

6 to 8 quarts water
3 to 4 tablespoons salt (1 1/2 teaspoon per quart)
1 1/2 pounds very fresh young green beans
1 to 2 tablespoons room-temperature butter
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste
lemon wedges or halves, for optional garnish

Bring water and salt to boil in pot over high heat. Meanwhile, wash and drain beans, snapping off stems and tails and removing any strings.

When water is boiling vigorously, dump in beans all at once. Clap on the cover and remove it the instant the water is again at the boil. Cook and boil for several minutes, then check frequently; they are done with they are cooked through but still have texture; they bend slightly when held horizontally by one end.

Unless you are serving now, transfer to a bowl of iced water to stop the cooking and set the color. when chilled (about 5 mintues), scoop them out onto a clean towl.

To Serve Cold:

Dry them in the towel and refrigerate, where they will keep nicely for a day or so.

To Serve Hot:

Melt butter in large frying pan, toss in beans, and continue tossing frequently over moderate heat until well warmed through. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and drops of lemon juice. Serve on hot plates or in a bowl and garnish with wedges of lemon.

Serves 6

Jacques' French Potato Salad

from Julia & Jacques Cooking at Home

2 pounds small waxy potatoes (fingerling or new)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup 1/4-inch slices of scallion (white and green parts)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, mashed and coarsely chopped (1 1/2 teaspoons)
1/3 cup white wine
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped chives
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon or parsley
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more if needed
1/2 teaspoon freshed cracked black pepper

For Serving and Garnishing:

large radicchio leaves, about 6 from outside of the head
1 or 2 hard-boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
chopped fresh parsley

Scrib potatoes and put them, whole, in a saucepan with water to cover by 1/2-inch. Bring water to boil, reduce heat, and cook potatoes gently until just tender and can be pierced with a sharp knife. Drain immediately and let cool slightly. Scrape skin from potato as soon as they can be handled.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in small saute pan. When hot add scallions and onion, toss to coat well, and cook for another minute over medium-high heat. Add garlic, toss to mix and cook for just a few moments, then remove pan from heat.

Slice potatoes while still warm, cutting them crosswise into 1/2-inch sections. Put pices in a large mixing bowl, pour in wine and 3 or 4 tablespoons of olive oil, and toss gently to distribute. Add warm vegetables from pan, mustard, chives, shopped herbs, salt, and pepper, and gently fold all together, mixing well but not crushing potatoes. Taste the salad and add more seasoning as you like.

Serve potatoes warm (no colder than room temperature). Arrange large radicchio leaves, in a close circle on platter, and spoon potato salad inside leaves. Sprinkle with chopped eggs and parsley on top.

Serves 6

Julia's and Jacques' Basic Vinaigrettes

from Julia & Jacques Cooking at Home

Julia's Lemon-Oil Dressing:

1 tablespoon minced shallots or scallions
2 teaspoons Dijon-style prepared mustard
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
about 1/4 teaspoon salt or more to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup excellent olive oil

Put minced shallots ir scallions, mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in small mixing bowl and whisk until well blended. Pout in oil slowly, in droplets at first, then in a thin stream, whisking constantly until oil has been completely emulsified and dressing has thickened. Taste and adjust seasonings. Use immediately; if dressing separates while standing, whisk to blend.

Makes 2/3 cup

Jacques' Vinaigrette in a Jar:

2 teaspoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup red-wine (or white-wine) vinegar
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil or peanut oil, or a mixture of the two

Put all ingredients into a 12-ounce jar, screw on lid, and shake very well. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more oil or vinegar, as you like.

Store in refrigerator up to 2 weeks, and shake to blend before using.

Makes 1 1/2 cups

Monday, February 21, 2005

Joe and Heidi's Bacon Arrabiata Pasta

Joe and I love bacon. Mom's recent post about the best kind of bacon made me laugh because we just don't discriminate--all bacon is good to us (yes Mom, I am sure that Daily's is in fact superior). We almost always have bacon in the freezer (usually half a pack leftover from a Saturday brunch).

One of our favorite last minute dinners when we have next to nothing in the house (and of course friends show up for dinner unexpectedly) is this pasta dish.

Bacon (or Pancetta if you want to be fancy)
Large can of tomatoes
Red Pepper Flakes
Optional: Cayenne, Garlic, Tomato paste

Boil a large pot of salted water. Chop bacon into smallish pieces (or use scissors like I do) and saute in a small amount of olive oil (the bacon will render plenty) until it browns up (but not crispy). If you have any garlic, you can add some minced garlic here, cook until brown. If there is a lot of oil, pour some out of the pan. Add one can of tomatoes (I prefer chopped, but whatever you have on hand). Add some red pepper flakes and a pinch of cayenne to taste (I like it hot, so this is optional). While this cooks, toss the pasta into the boiling water. Cook the sauce for until it thickens, or if you're impatience like me, add some tomato paste (I like the kind that comes in a tube, rather than the can) and serve over the pasta. Best served with a big glass of chianti and some crusty bread.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Gertrude's Roasted Teal

Teal are small of the wild ducks--much smaller than Cornish game hens. Armand and Gordon Riggs were avid hunters and frequently shot Teal. Gertrude and Armand lived in Westlake, and I remember going to their house on many occassions (the blue swivel chairs that Gramma had, and which Steve and Kharla now possess, were originally Gertrude's) to eat amongst other things Teal. Mom would also cook these at home-Armand would bring them over. I seem to remember that they were cooked in foil, but I also remember that the skin was very crunchy. However she cooked them, they didn't take long and were roasted at a very high heat.

Roast small whole teal, breast-side down, in a 425 degree preheated oven for about 25 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before serving. Serve one or two birds per person.

Egg and Tomato Gratin

From Jacques Pepin

6 large eggs (preferably organic)
2 tbs good olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced (about 2 1/2 cups)
4 tsp chopped garlic
3/4 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 can peeled tomatoes (14-ounce)
2/3 cup grated Swiss Gruyere or Emmenthaler (2 1/2 ounces)

Poke the rounded end of each egg with a pushpin to help prevent it from cracking and lower the eggs into a saucepan of boiling water to cover. Bring the water back to a boil, then boil the eggs very gently for 10 minutes (11 minutes if you like the yolk very well done). Drain and cool in cold running water for 15 minutes, or until the centers of the eggs are completely cool. Peel the eggs and cut each of them into 6 wedges.

Arrange the wedges in a 6-cup gratin dish. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the onions and saute for about 2 minutes, then add the garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper. Crush the tomatoes into pieces and add them along with their juice to the skillet. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat, and boil gently, covered for 4 minutes.

Pour the onion and tomato mixture over the eggs in the gratin dish and sprinkle the cheese on top. Bake the gratin for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the broiler. When the gratin is cooked, broil 3 to 4 inches from the heat source for 2 minutes to brown the top. Serve.

Delicious with a dry white wine.

Serves 4

Note: This dish can be assembled up to a couple of hours ahead, refrigerated, and finished in the oven. Allow 20 minutes for baking the gratin if it is cold when placed in the oven.

Hard-Cooked Eggs

There are many ways to hard-cook eggs, but I like Jacques Pepin's method best.

Short Explanation:
Poke the rounded end of each egg with a pushpin to help prevent it from cracking and lower the eggs into a saucepan of boiling water to cover. Bring the water back to a boil, then boil the eggs very gently for 10 minutes (11 minutes if you like the yolk very well done). Drain and cool in cold running water for 15 minutes, or until the centers of the eggs are completely cool. Peel the eggs.

Long Explanation:
It's important to cook eggs properly. Pricking them before cooking helps relieve the pressure created in the air chamber surrounding the whites of the eggs as they are placed in the boiling water. Air bubbles will emerge, and the eggs will be much less likely to break.

Lower the eggs into boiling water and cook them at a very gentle boil; rapid boiling toughens them. After 10 minutes, drain of the water and shake the pan to crack the eggshells. Cover the eggs with cold water and ice and leave them in the ice water long enough to cool completely inside. This technique prevents the exterior of the yolks from turning green, eliminates the strong smell of sulfur and ensures they will be perfectly cooked.

The eggs will also peel very smoothly and without a lot of effort.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Vegetarian Curries

Tyler Florence (Food 911) has three excellent looking Indian vegetarian dishes on

Curried Cauliflower with Chick Peas and Tomatoes

Saag Paneer

Eggpland in Curry-Coconut Sauce

Classic Macaroni and Cheese

from Cook's Illustrated

This recipe makes a very creamy, saucy dish (classic!); it is simple to prepare and delicious. I divided the recipe in two and froze half of it (I didn't put that half in the oven).

It's crucial to cook the pasta until tender--just past the "al dente" stage. In fact, overcooking is better than undercooking the pasta. Whole, low-fat, and skim milk all work well in this recipe. The recipe can be halved and baked in an 8-inch-square, broilersafe baking dish. If desired, offer celery salt or hot sauce (such as Tabasco) for sprinkling at the table.

Bread Crumb Topping

6 slices of white sandwich bread (good-quality, about 6 ounces), torn into rough pieces
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold), cut into 6 pieces

Pasta and Cheese

1 pound elbow macaroni 
1 tablespoon table salt 
5 tablespoons unsalted butter 
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
1 1/2 teaspoons mustard powder 
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional--omit if you're making it for Malí
5 cups milk (see note)
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese shredded (2 cups)
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese shredded (2 cups)
1 teaspoon table salt

For the bread crumbs: Pulse bread and butter in food processor until crumbs are no larger than 1/8 inch, ten to fifteen 1-second pulses. Set aside.

For the pasta and cheese: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat broiler. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven over high heat. Add macaroni and 1 tablespoon salt; cook until pasta is tender. Drain pasta and set aside in colander.

In now-empty Dutch oven, heat butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Add flour, mustard, and cayenne (if using) and whisk well to combine. Continue whisking until mixture becomes fragrant and deepens in color, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk; bring mixture to boil, whisking constantly (mixture must reach full boil to fully thicken). Reduce heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened to consistency of heavy cream, about 5 minutes. Off heat, whisk in cheeses and 1 teaspoon salt until cheeses are fully melted. Add pasta and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is steaming and heated through, about 6 minutes.

Transfer mixture to broiler-safe 9-by 13-inch baking dish and sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs. Broil until crumbs are deep golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes, rotating pan if necessary for even browning. Cool about 5 minutes, then serve.

Serves 8-10

Creamy Garlicky Mussels

from Tyler Florence

4 pounds mussels
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
Serving suggestion: crusty French bread

Scrub the mussels with a vegetable brush under running water; discard any with broken shells or that remain opened when tapped. In a large pot over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter in the olive oil. Add the garlic, thyme, and lemon slices and cook until everything has softened, about 5 minutes. Add the mussels and stir to coat them with all the flavors. Add the wine, then the chicken broth; cover the pot and steam for 10 to 12 minutes until the mussels open. Remove the mussels from the pot. Take the meat out of 10 of the mussels and put them back into the pot along with the remaining butter. Using an immersion blender, buzz the liquid until the sauce thickens and becomes creamy; taste and adjust seasoning. Divide the remaining mussels among the serving bowls and spoon over the sauce. Serve with plenty of crusty French bread to dip in the sauce.

Serves 4

Chinatown Steamed and Roasted Duck plus ...

from Tyler Florence

1 whole (4 to 5 pound) duck
1 tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
5 big slices fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves
1/2 bunch green onions
1 tangerine, peel cut in big strips
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce

Duck is notoriously a fatty bird, to diminish the fat and produce a crispy skin, begin by trimming the excess fat from the neck and body. Rinse the duck, inside and out, and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels. Combine the Chinese five-spice, sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Rub the spice mixture all over the duck, inside and out. Salt and five-spice powder makes a fragrant dry marinade, which draws some of the moisture from the duck so that the spices penetrate. Stuff the duck cavity with the aromatics: the ginger, garlic, green onions, and tangerine peel. Fold the wing tips back under the duck and tie the legs together with kitchen string. Poke the duck breast a few times, piercing the skin.

Place a roasting pan on the stovetop over 2 burners and fill with 2-inches of water, turn the heat to medium. Set a V-rack insert inside the pan and lay the duck on the rack, breast-side up. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Steam the duck for 45 minutes, checking the water level periodically. Steaming the duck first melts away some of the fat and shrinks the skin.
In a small saucepan combine the vinegar, honey, and soy sauce over low heat. Cook and stir for 5 minutes until thick. The duck will be lacquered with the sweet glaze, which caramelizes during roasting, making the skin crisp and brown.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Take the foil off the duck, remove the rack with the duck, and pour out the water and all the fat that has rendered out (this is great to use in other dishes like fried rice.) Put the rack with the duck back inside the roasting pan. Baste the duck with the vinegar mixture, until all the skin is completely coated in the glaze. Stick the whole thing in the oven. Roast the duck for 1 hour, basting periodically with any remaining glaze to set in a deep mahogany color. Tent the breast with some foil if it gets too dark. The legs will wiggle easily when it's done. Carve and serve with Duck Fried Rice with Napa Cabbage.


Serves 4-6

5 tablespoons peanut oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 small head Napa cabbage, cored and chopped
1 (8-ounce) can straw mushrooms, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup frozen peas, run under cool water for 2 minutes to thaw
1 generous pinch kosher salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 pint cooked long-grain white rice
1 cup cooked duck meat, cut in pieces
Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

Heat 3 tablespoons of the peanut oil in a wok or large non-stick skillet over medium-high flame. Give the oil a minute to heat up, then add the shallots, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes; stir-fry for 1 minute until fragrant. Add the cabbage, mushrooms, and peas, stir-fry until the cabbage is wilted and soft, about 8 minutes; season with a nice pinch of salt. Remove the vegetables to a side platter and wipe out the wok.

Put the pan back on the heat and coat with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. When the oil is hot, pour the eggs into the center of the pan. Scramble the egg lightly, then let it set without stirring so it stays in big pieces. Fold in the rice and toss with the egg to combined well, breaking up the rice clumps with the back of a spatula. Return the sauteed vegetables to the pan and moisten with the soy sauce. Toss everything together to heat through and season again with salt. Spoon the fried rice out onto a serving platter, lay the pieces of duck on top and garnish with cilantro.

Serves 4-6

Standing Rib Roast with Cabernet au Jus

from Tyler Florence

1 (3-rib) prime rib beef roast, about 6 pounds
5 garlic cloves, smashed
Fresh rosemary and thyme, roughly chopped
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Olive oil
2 carrots, cut in chunks
2 potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
1 onion, cut in half
2 cups Cabernet Sauvignon
Pinch sugar
1/4 cup water or beef drippings
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Buying and trimming: When ordering the rib roast from a butcher, be sure to request a "top choice" roast cut from the small loin end; the best being ribs 12 through 10. Have the butcher cut off the chine/backbone. The rib bones look best if they are shortened and frenched, have the butcher do this for you as well.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place the roast, rib side down, in a large roasting pan. In a small bowl mash together garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper and olive oil to make a paste. Smear the paste generously over the entire roast. Scatter the vegetables around the meat and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours or approximately 20 minutes per pound for medium-rare. Check the internal temperature of the roast in several places with an instant-read thermometer, it should register 120 to 125 degrees F. for medium rare.

Remove the beef to a carving board and allow to rest for 20 minutes to let the juices settle. Note: the internal temperature of the meat will continue to rise about 10 degrees. Remove the vegetables and set aside. Pour the pan juices into a fat separator so you can use the broth for the au jus and save the fat for Yorkshire pudding. Place the roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add the cabernet and scrape up the brown bits in the bottom of the pan. Add sugar, water/beef drippings, reserved vegetables and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook until the wine is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Strain the sauce through a sieve to remove the solids before serving.

Serves 6

Frisee Salad with Warm Vinaigrette

from Tyler Florence

2 tablespoons white vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 eggs
8 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 shallots, thinly sliced
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons chopped chives, plus more for garnish
1 large head frisee lettuce, torn into bite size pieces

Fill a large skillet with water, bring it to a boil, and add the vinegar and a large pinch of salt. Reduce the heat until the water is just barely bubbling. Crack each egg into a small bowl and carefully slide the egg into the water. Cook until the eggs are set, about 3 1/2 to 4 minutes. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and dab the bottom with paper towels to dry them off; set aside and keep warm.

Put the bacon and shallots into a cold skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil and cook over medium heat until the bacon is browned and crisp; be careful not to let it burn. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels, and set aside. Meanwhile, get a jar with a tight fitting lid. Add the mustard, remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil, red wine vinegar, and lemon juice. Shake well to combine the ingredients, add the chives, taste, and season with salt and pepper.

Put the frisee into a large bowl and toss it with the dressing the cooked bacon and shallots. To serve, place a large mound of salad onto a plate and top with a poached egg. Garnish with some chives and a drizzle of olive oil.

Serves 4

Lamb Chops with Lemon Basil Sauce

from Tyler Florence

3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for sauteing
6 sprigs fresh rosemary, bruised
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 rack lamb chops, trimmed (about 3 ounces each)
1/2 cup white chicken stock
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves, plus additional for garnish
1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped

In a dish large enough to hold the lamb chops in a single layer, combine half the lemon juice, 1/3 cup olive oil, the rosemary, garlic, 1 teaspoon of the salt and pepper. Add the lamb, turn to coat with the marinade and set aside for about 15 minutes at room temperature or up to 2 hours in the refrigerator.

Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat, for about 1 minute. Pat the chops dry and season on 1 side with salt and pepper. Add enough oil to lightly coat the surface of the pan. Working in batches if needed, add the chops seasoned side down to the pan. Cook until crisp and brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Season the top side with salt and pepper, turn, and continue cooking until just firm and an instant-read thermometer registers 130 to 135 degrees F, about 1 to 2 minutes. Allow the chops to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Pour off any fat left in the pan. Return the skillet to medium heat. Add the chicken stock, and scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add remaining lemon juice and simmer until the mixture is reduced to a glaze, about 4 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of butter and transfer the whole mixture to a blender. Add the basil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Puree until the basil is finely chopped. Then with the blender running, gradually add 1/2 cup olive oil. Serve the lamb chops drizzled with sauce and garnished with basil leaves and the chopped olives.

Serves 4

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Pamela's Easy 10-minute Lentil Supper

Some of the staples I always try to have on hand are a few bags of imported French lentils (green or orange), a few carrots, celery, some fresh thyme, a box of chicken broth, some white vermouth, some cherry tomatoes, and a couple of ham hock in my freezer.

I cook this dish in my clay pot, but I'm sure it would come out well in a le crueset.

I just dump the bag of lentils in the pot (these bags of imported lentils are probably around 12 ounces, and I very much prefer the imported variety), throw in 1 large or two small ham hocks, slice a few carrots and about 1 1/2 celery, toss in a couple sprigs of thyme, a handful of cherry tomatoes, and then add 2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth, about 2 cups of vermouth and a cup or so of water. Add a little salt and pepper, then cover the whole thing and bake it at 400 for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. I check it periodically to make sure I have enough liquid, and if it seems like I need more I add some water.

There is a surprizing amount of tasty ham on the hocks and you can slice it up after the soup is done and add it back into the soup.

Serves 6-8

Sunday, February 13, 2005

How to make clear ice cubes at home

Kelley: "When Sharon and I were in France this summer, we dined at a lovely dim sum
place in Nice. Each course was so simply presented and yet elegant and
satisfying. One of the things that I remember distinctly was that I ordered
an Orangina and the drink was served chilled in a tall, narrow glass with
one perfectly clear, perfectly square ice cube. Even now, I am still
wondering how they were able to make such a perfect ice cube...and could I
do it at home when entertaining?"

Pamela: "If you would like to try creating clear ice at home, start with distilled water (to eliminate the minerals) and boil it (to eliminate air dissolved in the water). Make the cubes small or thin to get closer to the way that icicles are formed."

Risotto al Salto

from Giada De Laurentiis (Everyday Italian Cooking)

Spray cooking spray into a small non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Shape the risotto into a round patty and add to the skillet. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the risotto is golden brown on the bottom and set around the edges. Use a spatula to turn the risotto patty and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Slide the risotto onto a plate, sprinkle Parmesan on top and serve.

Easy & Excellent Pressure Cooker Risotto

from Cook's Illustrated

Proper timing is essential with pressure cooker risotto. If you cook it too long, you end up with a sticky, glutinous pot of mush. Better to undercook the rice and simmer it on the stovetop for a few minutes. During this final cooking, you can stir in wild mushrooms, fresh spinach, or slices of thin asparagus, almost any cheese, diced tomato or ham, chopped olives, scallops or small shrimp, or fresh herbs.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion , chopped fine
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano , grated, plus extra for garnish
table salt
ground black pepper

Heat butter and oil over medium-high heat in 6-quart pressure cooker. Add onion; sauté until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in rice to coat with oil. Add wine; simmer until almost absorbed. Increase heat to high; add 3 1/4 cups broth. Cover cooker, securing lid, and bring to high pressure. Reduce heat to maintain high pressure; cook 4 minutes. Quick-release pressure.

When pressure has dropped, carefully remove lid away from you. Return slightly soupy risotto to medium heat. Continue to stir, adding additional broth if necessary, until rice is swelled, yet firm at its center, and liquid has thickened, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Stir in cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Serves 6

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Ruth Schmidt's Bread and Rolls

This is not an exact recipe, but a snap-shot of how she does it.

WHITE BREAD (basic recipe)

She warms some milk on the stove then places it in a large bowl along with some butter, salt, sugar, yeast, and water to which she add about 5 pounds of white flour. She pours this mixture out onto the table and kneads it for a few minutes. Then she lets it rest for at least 10 or 15 mintues--this is her special technique, letting it rest (technically she is saving herself a lot of work, because during this resting period the flour is absorbing the water and the mass is becoming more manageble; it also insures that she won't incorporate too much flour into the dough--make it too stiff). After it rests, she begins kneading it into a smooth mass. She forms it into a bowl, covers it and lets it rise until double, punches it down, recovers it, and lets it rise until double again, then shapes it into loaves, flat bread, or makes cinnamon rolls, or fried bread.


After the second rise, roll out a piece of the dough (about 1 loaf's worth) into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Butter it and sprinkle it heavily with cinnamon and very heavily with light brown sugar. Roll it up wide-side and cut into rolls. Place in a glass baking dish (leave a little room between the rolls for expansion during the final rise and baking), dot with butter and sprinkle on more brown sugar. Let rise until nearly doubled, then bake as directed.


Grease a 9 inch square pan and press some dough into; it should be about 1/2 inch thick. Let rise until nearly double and bake as directed.


Make flatish balls of dough and fry in a 1/8 inch of hot Crisco until brown on both sides (turn them over when the first side is brown).


White bread: 400 for 15 minutes, then 325 for 40 minutes

Flat bread: 375 for 20 minutes

Cinnamon rolls: 400 for 20 minutes

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Here is a detailed recipe for white bread that is close to Ruth's.

2 c. milk (may be part milk and part water)
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. salt
1/4 c. butter (or Crisco)
1/4 c. warm water (105-115 degrees)
2 pkgs. active dry yeast
6 1/2 to 7 c. sifted all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. melted butter

In small saucepan, heat milk just until bubbles form around edge of pan. Remove from heat. Add sugar, salt and 1/4 cup butter, stirring until butter is melted. Let cool to lukewarm (a drop sprinkled on wrist will not feel warm.)

If possible, check temperature of warm water with thermometer. Sprinkle yeast over water in large bowl, stirring until dissolved. Stir in milk mixture.

Add half the flour; beat with wooden spoon, until smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually add remaining flour, mixing it in with hand until dough is stiff enough to leave side of bowl.

Turn out dough onto lightly floured board. Cover with the bowl, let rest 10 minutes. Knead by folding toward you, then pushing down and away from you, with heel of hand. Give dough a quarter turn, repeat kneading, developing a rocking motion. Continue kneading and turning 10 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic and blisters appear on surface.

Place on lightly greased large bowl, turn dough to bring up greased side. Cover with towel. Let rise in warm place (85 degrees). From from drafts, about 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk, when two fingers poked into dough leave indentations, rising is sufficient. Punch down dough with fist, turn out onto lightly floured pastry cloth. Divide in half. Shape each half into smooth ball. cover with towel, let rest 10 minutes. Shape each portion into loaf, and place in pan, according to the shaping directions.

Brush top of each loaf with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Cover with towel. let rise in warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, until double in bulk, or until sides of dough reach tops of pans (about 1 hour).

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Bake loaves 40 to 50 minutes; tops should be well browned and sound hollow when rapped with knuckle. Remove from pans immediately, cool well on wire rack, away from drafts.

If lighter crust is desired, cover top of loaves with brown paper or aluminum after 25 minutes in oven.

Ruth Schmidt's Fried Chicken

Ruth seasons puts some salt and pepper (you can see the bits of pepper) in flour and then dredges the chicken pieces in the seasoned flour. She uses an electric frying pan and white Crisco. You can buy sticks of Crisco, which don't have any trans-fat now. I think she uses about 1 to 1 1/2 sticks for her medium-sized, square frying pan probably set to 350-375 degrees. She browns the pieces skin side down and then turns them over, adding a few pieces at a time. When the pan gets full, she piles up the browned pieces on top of each other toward one side of the pan and continues cooking until all the pieces are browned. Then she puts the lid on the pan, reduces the heat--maybe 325º--, and cooks everything for another 30 minutes or so skin-side up. Lastly she removes the lid and and lets everything crisp up for another 10 minutes.

Bacon recommendation

The best bacon is DAILY'S thick cut, sold in 1 1/2 pound packages for about $8.00.

Seafood Packets (aka Salmon in Foil)

I was watching a cooking show called "Cucina Amore" on PBS one afternoon and decided that I must have the companion cookbook. It's one of the only times I've ordered a product after seeing it on TV. I love this recipe; it's easy, flavorful and elegant. Equally good for a dinner party or a fast weeknight meal. I wouldn't recommend using previously frozen fish for this recipe - you need a fresh, delicious fish to make this dish special.

Makes 1 packet.

1 1/4 tsp extra-virgin olive oil ("EVOO")
1 (4-5 oz) piece of swordfish or boneless fillet of sea bass, snapper, salmon, or haddock
1/4 potato, diced (I recommend red, or "new" potatoes)
1 green onion, sliced diagonally
Pinch of finely minced garlic
1 thick slice of red, ripe tomato, seeded and diced
3 or 4 long thin strips of sweet red or yellow bell pepper
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh herbs, such as dill, basil, chervil, chives, or a combination
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Tear off a square of heavy-duty aluminum foil large enough to make a loose packet around the fish and the vegetables (buy the "extra-wide" roll of heavy duty foil). Smear about 1/4 teaspoon of the oil on the foil and set the fish in the middle.

Bring a small pot of water to a boil and throw in the potato dice. Return to a boil and cook for 4-5 minutes, until the potato is just tender, then drain immediately.

Arrange the parboiled potato, green onions, garlic, tomato and pepper strips on top of the fish. Sprinkle with the herbs, the remaining oil, the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Pull up the sides of the foil and seal to make a loose but tightly closed packet. The packets may be prepared well ahead of time and refrigerated, but allow time to bring them back to room temperature before cooking.

When you're ready to cook, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Set the packet on a baking sheet and bake until the fish and vegetables are done, about 20-25 minutes. Serve immediately in their packets, breaking each one open at the table to release the fragrance.

Note: The recipe doesn't call for capers, but the picture in the book shows capers served at the table and sprinkled on the cooked packet.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Banana Cream Pie a la PATS

with a tinct of coconut and rum

from Cook's Illustrated

I made this for Jim and Kevin for the PATS superbowl Sunday. It was terrific and on a par with the Pecan Pie I made for the SOX victory. You may be left with 1/3 cup or so of filling that will not fit into the crust because of the caramel and banana.

6 ounces animal crackers (3 boxes)
2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled

1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons heavy cream
pinch table salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium bananas slightly under-ripe (5 to 6 ounces each)

1 can coconut milk (14 ounces)
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3/8 teaspoon table salt
5 large egg yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into 2 pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons dark rum

Whipped Cream and Garnish
1 1/2 cups heavy cream (cold)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon unsweetened shredded coconut toasted in a small dry skillet until golden brown

For the crust: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. In food processor, pulse animal crackers, coconut, and sugar to fine crumbs, eighteen to twenty 1-second pulses; then process until powdery, about 5 seconds. Transfer crumbs to medium bowl and add butter; stir to combine until crumbs are evenly moistened. Empty crumbs into 9-inch glass pie plate; using bottom of ramekin or 1/2 cup dry measuring cup, press crumbs evenly into bottom and up sides of pie plate. Bake until fragrant and medium brown, about 15 minutes, rotating pie shell halfway through baking time. Set on wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

While crust cools, bring sugar and water to boil over high heat in small heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook until dark amber, 5 to 8 minutes, occasionally swirling pan once sugar begins to color. Off heat, add heavy cream (caramel will bubble vigorously) and pinch salt; whisk to combine. Whisk in unsalted butter. Pour caramel into pie shell, tilting pie plate to coat evenly; set aside to cool.

When caramel is cool, peel bananas; slice each crosswise into 3/8-inch-thick rounds. Arrange slices in single layer on top of caramel; set aside.

For the filling: Bring coconut milk, whole milk, shredded coconut, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt to simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to ensure that sugar dissolves. Following illustrations 1 through 6, whisk yolks, cornstarch, and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in medium bowl until thoroughly combined. Whisking constantly, gradually ladle about 1 cup hot milk mixture over yolk mixture; whisk well to combine. Whisking constantly, gradually add remaining milk mixture to yolk mixture in 3 or 4 additions; whisk well to combine. Return mixture to saucepan and cook until thickened and mixture reaches boil, whisking constantly, about 1 minute; filling must boil in order to fully thicken. (To determine whether filling has reached boil, stop whisking; large bubbles should quickly burst on surface.) Off heat, whisk in butter, vanilla, and rum until butter is fully incorporated. Pour hot filling into cooled pie shell and smooth surface with rubber spatula; press plastic wrap directly against surface of filling and refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours and up to 12 hours.

For the whipped cream: Just before serving, beat cream, sugar, and vanilla with electric mixer until soft peaks form, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Top pie with whipped cream and then sprinkle with coconut. Cut pie into wedges and serve.

Makes one 9-inch pie, serves 8 to 10

Bacon, Scallion, and Caramelized Onion Dip

For our Superbowl party, we served Trader Joe's cooked shrimp with cocktail sauce (Heinz chili sauce livened up with a little fresh lemon juice, prepared horseradish and Frank's Red Hot sauce), homemade onion dip with potato chips, fried chicken, American potato salad (excellent and easy!), steamed green and yellow beans, and banana cream pie. We also had a Chimay ale.

from Cook's Illustrated

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
2 pounds large onions , peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 tablespoon water
ground black pepper
3 slices of bacon (about 3 ounces), cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 scallions , minced
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
3/4 cup sour cream

caramelized onions

Heat butter and oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat; when foam subsides, stir in salt and sugar. Add onions and stir to coat; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to soften and release some moisture, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are deeply browned and slightly sticky, about 40 minutes longer. (If onions are sizzling or scorching, reduce heat. If onions are not browning after 15 to 20 minutes, raise heat.) Off heat, stir in water; season to taste with pepper. (Can be refrigerated in airtight container for up to 7 days.)

Fry 3 slices (about 3 ounces) bacon, in small skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 5 minutes; remove with slotted spoon to paper towel–lined plate and set aside.

Combine 1/2 cup caramelized onions, cider vinegar, scallions, 3/4 cup sour cream, and bacon in medium bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve. (Can be refrigerated in airtight container for up to 3 days.)

Makes 1 1/2 cups

All-American Potato Salad

Note that this recipe calls for celery seed, not celery salt; if only
celery salt is available, use the same amount but omit the addition of
salt in the dressing. When testing the potatoes for doneness, simply
taste a piece; do not overcook the potatoes or they will become mealy
and will break apart. The potatoes must be just warm, or even fully
cooled, when you add the dressing. If you find the potato salad a
little dry for your liking, add up to 2 tablespoons more mayonnaise.

2 pounds russet potatoes (3 to 4 medium), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch
table salt
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 medium rib of celery , chopped fine (about 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons minced red onion
3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish (Heinz is the best brand)
1/2 cup mayonnaise (see note)
3/4 teaspoon mustard powder
3/4 teaspoon celery seed
2 tablespoons fresh parsley , minced
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1. Place potatoes in large saucepan and add water to cover by 1 inch.
Bring to boil over medium-high heat; add 1 tablespoon salt, reduce heat
to medium, and simmer, stirring once or twice, until potatoes are
tender, about 8 minutes.

2. Drain potatoes and transfer to large bowl. Add vinegar and, using
rubber spatula, toss gently to combine. Let stand until potatoes are
just warm, about 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in small bowl, stir together celery, onion, pickle
relish, mayonnaise, mustard powder, celery seed, parsley, pepper, and
1/2 teaspoon salt. Using rubber spatula, gently fold dressing into
potatoes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about
1 hour; serve. (Potato salad can be covered and refrigerated for up to
1 day.)

Serves 4-6

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Alton Brown's Fried Chicken

1 broiler/fryer chicken, cut into 8 pieces*
2 cups low fat buttermilk
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons Hungarian paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Flour, for dredging
Vegetable shortening, for frying

* a broiler/fryer is a 2 1/2 to 3 pound chicken.

Place chicken pieces into a plastic container and cover with buttermilk. Cover and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.

Melt enough shortening (over low heat) to come just 1/8-inch up the side of a 12-inch cast iron skillet or heavy fry pan. Once shortening liquefies raise heat to 325 degrees F. Do not allow oil to go over 325 degrees F.

Drain chicken in a colander. Combine salt, paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Liberally season chicken with this mixture. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess.

Place chicken skin side down into the pan. Put thighs in the center, and breast and legs around the edge of the pan. The oil should come half way up the pan. Cook chicken until golden brown on each side, approximately 10 to 12 minutes per side. More importantly, the internal temperature should be right around 180 degrees. (Be careful to monitor shortening temperature every few minutes.)

Drain chicken on a rack over a sheet pan. Don't drain by setting chicken directly on paper towels or brown paper bags. If you need to hold the chicken before serving, cover loosely with foil but avoid holding in a warm oven, especially if it?s a gas oven.

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