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.

Alton Brown's Pancakes

6 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda (check expiration date first)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar

Combine all of the ingredients in a lidded container. Shake to mix.

Use the mix within 3 months.

2 eggs, separated
2 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons melted butter
2 cups "Instant" Pancake Mix, recipe above
1 stick butter, for greasing the pan
2 cups fresh fruit such as blueberries, if desired

Heat an electric griddle or frying pan to 350 degrees F. Heat oven to 200 degrees F.

Whisk together the egg whites and the buttermilk in a small bowl. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the melted butter.

Combine the buttermilk mixture with the egg yolk mixture in a large mixing bowl and whisk together until thoroughly combined. Pour the liquid ingredients on top of the pancake mix. Using a whisk, mix the batter just enough to bring it together. Don't try to work all the lumps out.

Check to see that the griddle is hot by placing a few drops of water onto to the griddle. The griddle is ready if the water dances across the surface.

Lightly butter the griddle. Wipe off thoroughly with a paper towel. (No butter should be visible.)

Gently ladle the pancake batter onto the griddle and sprinkle on fruit if desired. When bubbles begin to set around the edges of the pancake and the griddle-side of the cake is golden, gently flip the pancakes. Continue to cook 2 to 3 minutes or until the pancake is set.

Serve immediately or remove to a towel-lined baking sheet and cover with a towel. Hold in a warm place for 20 to 30 minutes.

Makes 12 pancakes

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Five-star Pasta with Sautéed Mushrooms

Excellent and easy to prepare: a wonderful dish!!!!

from Cook's Illustrated, Season Four

Vegetable broth can be substituted for the chicken broth to make this dish vegetarian. If you add the pasta to the boiling water at the same time the cremini go into the skillet, the pasta and sauce will finish at the same time.

1 pound campanelle (trumpet) pasta (Barilla brand)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 to 4 large shallots, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
3 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
10 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps wiped clean, and sliced ¼ inch thick
10 ounces cremini mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced ¼ inch thick
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 ¼ cups low-sodium chicken broth
½ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon juice from 1 lemon
Ground black pepper
2 ounces finely grated Parmesan (1 cup)
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves

Bring 4 quarts water to a rolling boil, covered, in a stockpot; add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta, stir to separate, and cook until just shy of al dente. Drain and return the pasta to the stockpot.

Meanwhile, heat the butter and oil over medium heat in a 12-inch skillet until foaming. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Increase the heat to medium-high; add the shiitakes and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add the cremini and ½ teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until the moisture released by the mushrooms has evaporated and the mushrooms are golden brown, about 8 minutes. Stir in the thyme and cook 30 seconds. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl and set aside. Add the chicken broth to the skillet and bring to a boil, scraping up the browned bits on the
bottom of the pan; off heat, stir in the cream, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.

Add the mushrooms, chicken broth/cream mixture, cheese, and parsley to the pasta in the stockpot. Toss over medium-low heat until the cheese melts and the pasta absorbs most of the liquid, about 2 minutes; serve immediately.

Serves 4 as a main course or 6 to 8 as a side dish

Shiitake Mushroom Veal

From Janice Cole

This was Heidi's favorite meal! She asked me to make it for her birthday in 1988 when she was 10 years old.

1/2 pounds veal scallopine (or you can use turkey), pounded
flour for dredging
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup unsalted butter
4 ounces shiitake mushroom
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup dry marsala
2 tablespoons chicken stock
2 tablespoons minced shallots
salt and pepper to taste

Discard stems from mushroom and cut caps into 1/8 inch wide strips; set aside.

In a small bowl combine cream, marsala, and chicken stock.

Lighlty salt and pepper both sides of veal, then dredge lightly with flour, shking off excess.

Place a 12 inch skillet over high heat. When pan is hot, add olive oil and butter. When butter begins to bubble, add 2 scaloppine. Cook about 20 seconds on each side until no pink juice is showing on surface, then transfer to heated plates in warmed oven. Repeat cooking procedure with remaining scaloppines.

Poul oil from skillet and return pan to high heat. Add shallots and saute briefly for 1 minute. Add mustrooms and small bowl of cream mixture to skillet and bring to a furious boil. Boil, stirring, until sauce thickens, about 4 mintues.

Spoon sauce over top of each scallopine.

Serves 4

Pamela's Baklava

This recipe comes from Rosemary Tedesco, the woman I took cooking lessons from in San Jose. It is the best baklava I've ever eaten.

1 pound filo dough
1 pound chopped walnuts
9 tablespoons sugar
3/4 to 1 pound butter
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon


Combine 2 cups water, 2 cups sugar, 1 cinnamon stick, 1/2 whole lemon; let boil for 15 minutes. Add 3 tablespoons honey and boil for 5 more minutes. Set aside.


Chop nuts and mix with cinnamon and sugar. Melt 2 sticks butter. Melt addtional butter as needed. Brush inside of 13 x 9 inch pan with butter. Line bottom of pan with 12 sheets of filo dough brushing each sheet lightly with butter before placing in pan. Keep remainder of filo dough covered with a damp towel when not using. On 12th sheet sprinkle light with nut mixture. Continue layering covering each nut layer with 2 butter sheets of filo dough, until you have 6 layers of nuts. Put 12 buttered sheets on top of last layer of nuts. Cut into small diamond shapes. Bake at 325 degrees until golden brown, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from oven and immediately pour cooled syrup slowly over pan. Allow to remain in pan until all syrup has soaked up.

Makes 4-5 dozen

Pamela's Crepes Suzette

This recipe came from Rosemary Tedesco. I tooking a bunch of cooking classes from her when we lived in San Jose in the mid to late '70s.

Crepes a la Paris

1 1/4 cups flour
4 eggs
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1 3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup rum (optional)

Melt butter. Cool slightly and add to beaten eggs with flour, rum, sugar and lastly, milk. Beat till smooth. Make batter one or two hours before making crepes, and refrigerate.

Crepes can be made well ahead and kept refrigerated with wax paper separating each one.

To cook, put small amount of butter in crepe pan. Laddle batter into pan and swirl to make a thin pancake. when browned, lift edges carefully to loosen and turn carefully with spatula or better still, flup into second pan on another burner. Second side cooks in less than a minute.

Makes 24 crepes

Orange Sauce:

1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
1 cup fresh orange secions

Melt butter, add sugar, juice, and peel, simmer slowly about 10 minutes. Add oranges and liqueur.

Orange Butter:

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup Grand Marnier

Beat butter into sugar and add liqueur slowly. Spread on each crepe and fold in quarters (this can be done ahead). Heat sauce in chafing dish until bubly and hot. Add folded crepes one at a time dipping both sides in sauce.

Heat 1/4 cup brandy until vapor rises. Light with match and pour over crepes.

Serves 6 (two crepes each)

Nadine Kelley's Milk Toast

Nadine would always give this to us when we were recovering from an illness; it was our first solid food, so to speak.

2 slices white bread, crusts removed

Toast the bread in the oven (this method dried out the bread a bit more than the standard toaster). Spread it with butter; cut it into smallish squares and place it in a cereal bowl. Heat milk to the scalding point and pour over toast. Salt lightly and eat immediately.

Serves 1

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