Friday, December 18, 2009

Cranberry Margaritas

¼ cup fresh lime juice
¼ cup Grand Marnier
½ cup silver (agave) tequila
½ cup cranberry juice
Frozen cranberries & wedges of fresh lime for garnish

Combine liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice, and shake like hell! Pour into ice-filled jelly (jar) glasses mixed with a few frozen cranberries. Serve with a lime on the rim!

Cowboy Sushi

1 Bar Cream Cheese
Handful of chopped scallions
Handful of chopped walnuts (optional)
1 small package of Oscar Meyer baked ham (the square kind)
8-10 spears dill pickles (garlic dill works best)

Take the bar of cream cheese and warm it a little in the microwave (for easy stirring); mix with some chopped scallions and chopped walnuts (to taste). Spread healthy dollops of the mixture over several pieces of “square” Oscar Meyer baked ham. Lay a spear of dill pickle (garlic dill is the best) along one edge (if the pickle is large, you may want to trim the spear to a smaller size), and roll up into a cigar. Chill for at least an hour in the fridge. To plate, slice into thick “sushi size pieces.” Real cowboys can’t resist, and they’re ridiculously easy!

Thanks to my friend Jessica Craig from Enid, OK (and her mom) for this recipe!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Zoe's brussel sprouts + black pig bacon

From ZaZu's Restaurant and Farm

4 ounces black pig bacon, cut into lardons
4 cups brussel sprouts, quartered
1 shallot, minced 1/4 cup banyuls (or sherry vinegar)
1 head frisee cleaned
1 apple, diced
3 tablespoons roasted, peeled, and roughly chopped hazelnuts
1 tablespoon quality extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons gorgonzola
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large saute pan on medium high heat, render the bacon until slightly browned, a few minutes.

Add the brussel sprouts until browned on at least one side, about 3 minutes. Add the shallots and open up their fragrance, about 1 minute. Add the vinegar and toss. Add the frisee, apples,
hazelnuts, and extra virgin olive oil and toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Plate and
garnish with gorgonzola.

serves 4

ZaZu Dungeness crab dip

From ZaZu's Restaurant and Farm

serves 20

At the restaurant, we serve this with salty root chips. It makes a great party appetizer, perfect

with a glass of chardonnay!

8 ounces cream cheese

1/2 cup half and half

1/3 cup sour cream

3 pounds picked dungeness crab meat

2/3 cup mayonnaise (we make our own)

1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

1 bunch chopped green onions

1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons prepared horseradish

3 teaspoons worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon tabasco

kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

In a small sauce pan on medium heat, melt the cream cheese in the half and half. remove from the

heat. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese sauce with the sour cream. Add the rest of

the ingredients. Adjust seasoning. Serve with chips.

Dr. Pepper & Bing Cherry baby back ribs

From ZaZu's Restaurant and Farm

2 racks baby back ribs (1 1/2 – 2 pounds each)
for the spice rub: 2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons fennel seed
ground 1 tablespoon coriander seed
ground 1 tablespoon chili flakes
1 tablespoon allspice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cardamom

for the braise:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, roughly chopped
3 cups chicken stock
3 cans dr.pepper
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 ancho chilis

to finish the sauce:
brown sugar
balsamic vinegar
a pinch of red pepper flakes
kosher salt
1# cherries, pitted and cut in half

Fire up your grill and preheat your oven to 350°F. Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs. In a small bowl, combine the rub ingredients. Rub the spice rub all over the ribs. Grill the ribs until both sides are nicely browned. In a roasting pan on medium high heat with 2 tablespoons olive oil, add the onions. Once aromatic, within about 5 minutes, add the ribs with all the remaining braising ingredients. Cover with foil and place in the oven until the meat begins to pull away from the bone, about 2 hours. Remove the ribs from the braise and strain the braising liquid, discard the solids. In a saucepan on medium high heat, adjust the braising liquid to taste with brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, chili flakes and salt. Add the cherries. Cut the ribs and reheat in the sauce in a pan on the stove or in the oven.

Serves 4

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Good Eats Roast Turkey

  • 1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey

  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 gallon vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
  • 1 gallon heavily iced water

For the aromatics:

  • 1 red apple, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 6 leaves sage
  • Canola oil


Click here to see how it's done.

2 to 3 days before roasting:

Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.

Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.

Early on the day or the night before you'd like to eat:

Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.

Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.

Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey's cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.

Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Skillet Cornbread (No Sugar)

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons shortening

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

In a bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, salt, and baking powder and stir together. Measure the buttermilk and milk in a measuring cup and add the egg. Stir together with a fork. Add the baking soda and stir. Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients. Stir with a fork until just combined. Do not over stir. In a small bowl, melt 1/4 cup of the shortening in the microwave. Slowly add the melted shortening to the batter, stirring constantly until just combined.

In an iron skillet over high heat, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons shortening. Pour the batter into the hot skillet and spread to even out the surface. Cook on the stovetop for 1 minute, then bake for 18 minutes, until golden brown. The edges should be crispy.

Slice into squares and serve. Cowboys will smile.

Cornbread Stuffing with Poblano Peppers

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
3 poblano peppers, seeded and chopped
2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 1/2 bunches green onions, sliced
2 (1-pound) packages frozen corn, thawed, divided
3 eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 pounds prepared cornbread, coarsely crumbled

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9- x 13-inch casserole dish; set aside.

Heat butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add poblano and bell peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until just golden and tender. Add onions and 1 bag of corn and continue cooking until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Set aside to let cool then drain some of the liquid if too wet. Meanwhile, pulse remaining bag of corn in a food processor with eggs, salt and pepper until well combined and almost smooth.

In a large bowl, combine cooled pepper mixture with corn mixture then gradually fold in cornbread. Do not over mix; stuffing should have a coarse texture.

Transfer to prepared dish, cover with parchment paper, then snugly with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake until golden brown on top, about 15 minutes more.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Spiced Pumpkin Bars

4 eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 package (3 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

Heat oven to 350°F.

Lightly grease bottom and sides of 15x10x1-inch pan. In large bowl, beat eggs, granulated sugar, oil and pumpkin until smooth. Stir in flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, ginger and cloves. Spread in pan.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until light brown. Cool completely in pan on cooling rack, about 2 hours.

In medium bowl, beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla with electric mixer on low speed until smooth. Gradually beat in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, on low speed until smooth and spreadable. Spread frosting over bars. For bars, cut into 7 rows by 7 rows. Store in refrigerator.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Grain Salad

From Heidi

I took this really interesting course on Sustainable Living on a Budget that encouraged buying whole grains in bulk and rethinking our meal planning. One of my favorite recipes so far has been for the grain salad which I haven't made the same way twice (and like most of my favorite recipes, isn't meant to be followed exactly). Use it as inspiration, I've suggested a few substitutions in parenthesis. You could also make any kind of dressing really-- something with sesame oil and rice vinegar, tamari and ginger, etc. I had some today with a little maple yogurt-- yum!

*You'll need to soak the grains in advance! Look for a whole grain that is a berry or groat, not cracked, rolled, or quick cooking grains, you don't want them mushy.

Grain Salad

3 cups water
1 cup uncooked rye berries, wheat berries, or a mix of whole grains
1 cup hot water
2 Tablespoons currants (raisins)
1 1/2 cups apples (celery, something crunchy)
1/4 cup basil (parsley, fresh herb)
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped shallot (green onion, chive)
1 Tablespoon grated orange or lemon rind
1 Tablespoon grated orange or lemon juice
2 teaspoons champagne or white wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons olive oil

Soak 1 cup uncooked grains overnight with a little lemon juice.

Combine 3 cups water with grains and bring to a boil. Cover and lower heat to a simmer for 1 hour. Drain.

Meanwhile, combine hot water and currants in a small bowl for at least 30 minutes-- drain.

Combine grains, currants, apples, basil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper in a large bowl. Combine 1/4 teaspoon salt, shallots, rind, juice, and vinegar in a small bowl-- whisk in oil. Add dressing to grains-- toss to coat. Serve immediately or refridgerate-- keeps well for a day or two.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Grilled Duck with Dried Cherry Sauce

The method, which is called Kingman Duck, goes as follows:
1. With game shears, cut the backbone from a plucked duck.
2. “Butterfly” the bird by spreading the body cavity and pressing it firmly against the countertop (breaking the breastbone).
3. Sprinkle both sides liberally with salt (preferably sea salt).
4. Slap the duck on a hot grill for—get this!—just ten minutes on one side, then five on the other.

Note: if your grill has two burners, before heating it, put a pan underneath one burner to catch any drippings. Then, heat the grill until hot. Right before you slap the duck on the grill, turn one burner off, and place the bird over the pan!

Two other ideas - grind the meat and make duck burgers! Or, place duck pieces (this works well with legs and thighs) into a crockpot, add enough orange juice to soak (but not cover) the duck. Throw in a bit of chopped onion and some rosemary, and let cook on low for 7-8 hours.

Dried Cherry Sauce

2 medium shallots, minced
3/4 cup red wine
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3 tbs unsalted butter, cold
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

In a skillet, heat a little of the duck fat over medium high heat. Add shallots and cook until softened (2-4 minutes). Add wine and dried cherries and cook until liquid has reduced to a syrupy consistency (about 4 minutes). Add chicken broth and cook 5-10 minutes more (the liquid should reduce to about 1 cup total). Just before removing the pan from the heat, whisk in butter. Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice. Slick duck and serve, passing sauce separately.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Secret Salsa Recipe

1 can pickled jalapenos (San Marcos brand)
4 big cans whole peeled tomatoes
1 red onion
1-2 tbs granulated garlic (to taste)
salt and pepper (to taste)

Pour juice from tomatoes in a large pot. In a food processor, pulse tomatoes until desired consistency (I like mine fine). Add to pot. Next, pulse peppers (drained) until desired to consistency (again, I like mine fine), and add to pot. Do the same with the onion. Add garlic, salt, and pepper to taste. Cook for 20 minutes over low heat and refrigerate.

Makes a lot! Recipe can be halved or quartered.

NOTE: Depending on the "heat" of the jalapenos, the amount should be adjusted to your desired spiciness!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Chanterelle, Goat Cheese, and Truffle Oil Pizza

Several months ago my husband and I went to Zazu's, a local, wine-country restaurant, to try one of their wood-fired oven pizzas. This road-house style restaurant which features local, sustainable food is our favorite place to eat out. Unfortunately it's pretty pricey so we only go their for special occasions. We ordered a chanterelle mushroom, Laura Chenel goat cheese, truffle oil pizza garnished with pea shoots that was paired with three half-glasses of local pinots. The whole meal was delicious. Since Friday nights are usually pizza nights here and the chanterelles are currently so abundant and lovely looking, I thought I'd try to re-create that pizza. Unfortunately, my attempt was pretty successful. We're now totally hooked on those pricey chanterelles.

For the crust I used two 6-1/2 oz. balls of Classic French Bread from Peter Reinhart's latest book, Artisan Breads Every Day . Any pizza dough that you like would work just fine.

I think another great base for this pizza would be the quick rustic ciabatta pizza:

After shaping each pizza, I brushed it with some White Truffle Oil that I purchased from Costco (I think it was about $20 for a bottle). Just in case anyone wants to argue that this product isn't real truffle oil :-) let me just say that whatever it is, it is absolutely delicious!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Overnight Sour Cream Coffeecake

From Cooks Illustrated. Makes two 9 inch cakes (each serves 8-10 people).

1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup pecans, chopped (you can substitute almonds or walnuts if you like)

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sour cream
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs (large)
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the Streusel:
Using your fingers, mix the brown sugar, granulated sugar, flour, butter, and cinnamon together in a medium bowl, until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the nuts and set aside.

For the Cake:
Spray two 9 inch cake pans with vegetable oil. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the sour cream, brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, and melted butter together until smooth. Gently whisk the egg mixture into the flour, until the batter looks smooth (do not overmix).

Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the top of both cakes.

If making in advance, wrap the pans tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. You can also freeze the cake batter in the pans for up to one month!

To bake, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached. The bake time varies as follows:

25-30 minutes if NOT refrigerated or frozen
30-35 minutes if refrigerated
40-45 minutes if frozen

Let the cakes cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before serving.

Banana Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

Adapted from Paula Deen's recipe! Makes 24

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup vegetable oil
4 large ripe bananas, mashed
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
6 to 8 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup milk
pinch of salt

To make the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tins with paper bakery cups. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add the eggs and oil and stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened; do not beat! Stir in the bananas and vanilla. Fill the muffin pans about 3/4 of the way full, and bake for 23 to 28 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in the pan for 10 minutes, and then turn them out onto a rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting:
Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and salt. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. Note: you may not need to add all of the sugar. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. Use and store the frosting at room temperature; frosting will set if chilled.

Note: This recipe can also be made as a 3 layer cake; instead of a muffin pan, simply butter and flour three 9" round cake pans and divide the batter evenly between them. Bake as directed above.

Hash Brown Casserole

Great recipe for a brunch! Serves 12

1 (1 pound 14 oz) package frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
1/2 cup melted butter
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 cups crushed cornflakes cereal
1/4 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Spray a 3 quart casserole dish with vegetable oil.

In a large bowl, combine hash browns, 1/2 cup melted butter, cream of chicken soup, sour cream, chopped onion, Cheddar cheese, salt and pepper. Place mixture in prepared 3 quart casserole dish.

In a medium saucepan, saute cornflakes in 1/4 cup melted butter over medium heat, and sprinkle the mixture over the top of the casserole.

Bake covered in a preheated oven for 40 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb with Potatoes Boulangère and Courgettes Provençal

Had this dinner at a friends house last night - it was really delicious! It is a Gordon Ramsay recipe.

Serves: 4

Ingredients :

2 large racks of Lamb cut in half with 3 bones each portion

1 liter chicken stock
1 sprig thyme
2 sprigs rosemary
3 crushed cloves of garlic
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 large onions, peeled and sliced
4 large Desiree potatoes peeled and finely sliced, on a mandolin if possible

Herb crust:

4 slices of stale bread made into crumbs.
100g grated parmesan.
Sprig parsley
Sprig thyme
Sprig coriander
Sprig rosemary
2 tablespoons English mustard

6 large courgettes* cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 sprig rosemary
2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
500g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 sprig basil
1 sprig coriander

Olive oil
Salt and pepper

* Courgette is the British term for Zucchini also commonly called Italian squash.

Method: Preheat the oven to 200c (392 degrees Fahrenheit).

For the potatoes bring the chicken stock to a boil and infuse with thyme, rosemary and crushed garlic cloves. Strain before use.

Gently sauté the onions and garlic in olive oil until softened and lightly colored.

Rub an oven proof dish with olive oil and layer the onions followed by the potatoes, repeating until the dish is full finishing with a final layer of potato. Make sure to season each layer as you go.

Pour over the stock until it comes 2/3rds of the way up the dish. Press down on the mixture to help the liquid absorb and finally drizzle a little olive oil on top.

Bake in the oven at 200c for approximately 20 - 25 minutes or until soft and golden on top.

Next, season the lamb and seal in hot olive oil. Bake in the oven at 200c for 7 to 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a blender, thoroughly mix all the herb crust ingredients together, season and set aside.

Remove the lamb from the oven and brush with the mustard before dipping into the herb crust mix covering the fat thoroughly.

Allow to rest and before serving simply return the lamb to the oven for a further 2-3 minutes.

For the vegetables, sauté the courgettes and rosemary in olive oil, season and add a dash of vinegar. Add the tomatoes, basil and coriander and cook for approximately 5 minutes further seasoning with a little more oil and vinegar. Allow to cook until the vegetables have just begun to soften.

Slice the lamb into 3 chops per person, serve with the courgettes and a generous helping of the potatoes before spooning over a little of the vinaigrette from the vegetables.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


From Jennifer Yee at Aureole

Mendiants are a French chocolate candy. These are featured on a petit four tray that is served to guests at the restaurant.

1. Temper some 70% dark chocolate.

2. Fill your chocolate mold (a mold with medium size rectangles is perfect) with chocolate. Make sure any excess chocolate falls back into the bowl. When the mold is full, tap it with a palette or metal scraper to release any air bubbles, and scrap off any excess chocolate on top and sides of the mold back into the bowl.

3. Immediately top the chocolate with whatever fruits and nuts you wish. A few granules of salt, green California pistachios, candied ginger (use only one or two pieces because it’s strong), pieces of dried apricot, and a couple of dried cherries each work nicely.

4. When you’ve filled the mold, settle the nuts and fruit by tapping the mold on the table a few times.

5. When the chocolate has hardened, unmold the chocolates and enjoy!

Tempering Chocolate
When melted chocolate returns to solid form the cocoa butter in the chocolate forms a crystal structure. The cool thing about cocoa butter is that the crystal structure they take on depends on the temperature at which they are formed.

If the chocolate is allowed to cool on its own, the crystals of fat will be loose, resulting in a chocolate that is dull in appearance, soft & malleable, and greasy to the touch. This loose crystalline structure has a slightly lower melting point than tempered chocolate crystals.

If instead, while cooling, the chocolate is kept at 88°F (31°C), the loose crystal structure will not form (88°F is above the formation point of the loose crystals). At this temperature the cocoa butter actually forms a dense crystalline structure. Holding the chocolate at this temperature and stirring will allow a whole bunch of these stable crystal structures to form providing a lot of seed crystals to form in the chocolate. When the chocolate is finally allowed to fully cool, if there are enough stable seed crystals, then the chocolate will harden into a very stable hard chocolate with a slight sheen, snap when broken, and will keep for months at cool room temperature.

Tempering using the Seed Method (as described in The Professional Chef) is easiest. Since almost all the chocolate that is sold is already tempered, you can use a piece of already tempered chocolate as a plentiful source of seed crystals.

1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler while stirring to ensure uniform temperature.

2. Once the chocolate has fully melted and reached a temperature of over 105°F (41°C), remove it from the heat. At this temperature, all the crystals, loose or stable, should be melted.

3. Add a piece of un-melted chocolate to provide the seed crystals. This piece can be as big as 2 ounces (if you're melting a sizeable amount of chocolate) or can be chopped up into a few smaller pieces.

4. Stir until the chocolate's temperature enters the tempering range, 88-90°F (31-32°C). The chocolate should be kept at this temperature until used.

Specific Tempering Temperatures
Depending on the cocoa butter content of the chocolate and introduction of other ingredients, the tempering temperature of chocolate varies. Harold McGee's Book, “On Food and Cooking,” provides these values for the three broad categories of chocolate:

Type of Chocolate - Tempering Temperature
Dark (no milk content) - 88-90°F (31-32°C)
Milk - 86-88°F (30-31°C)
White - 80-82°F (27-28°C)

Note: although white chocolate does not contain any cacao solids, it is still subject to the same tempering procedures since it is made of cocoa butter.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Pineapple Teriyaki Burgers

Dinner last night really turned out well. So good, in fact, that I want to make it again tonight. We've been watching the SFGiants a lot lately and one of there commercials is for this pineapple teriyaki burger from Carl Jr.'s.

The commercial is kind of on (slightly over) the edge of too much sexiness for me, but the girl is cute and the burger does look appealing. (I don't think I've eaten anything from Carl's in probably 25 years and still don't have a good impression of that chain, but then I rarely eat fast food.)

Commerical is here is you care to watch.

Anyway, I was really hungry for something like that so I looked around for a recipe and actually had some trouble finding something that looked appealing because I wasn't interested in using a store-bought teriyaki sauce. I finally found one recipe that looked good and it was good.

Original recipe is here:

My adaptation:

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoon sushi vinegar
1 small garlic clove, crushed
2 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated (I omitted this because I was out of ginger)

Makes 1/2 cup. Reserve 1/4 cup for burger and use remaining 1/4 cup for basting burger and pineapple slices.

20 ounces ground lean turkey breast (ground chicken would also be terrific)
1/4 cup of reserved sauce
1 cup fresh bread crumbs, toasted lightly to crisp up (panko would be a great substitute, but I was out of those too)
handful of fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
5 scallions, white and green, thinly sliced

Mix all ingredients together and form into 4 patties.

1 fresh pineapple, cut into rings

I used a Vin-Vac pineapple slicer--costs about $10 and works great.

Cheese & Buns
4 slices Havarti cheese
4 hamburger buns with sesame seeds

Grill burgers and pineapple rings on BBQ, basting with remaining sauce until burgers are done and pineapple rings are nicely charred. Put cheese on burgers as soon as you flip them so the cheese gets completely melted.

Load burgers on buns and top with a grilled pineapple slice.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Recipe Courtesy of Lidia Bastianich

I can't remember which recipe I used to use to make gnocchi! I've made them a gazillion times over the years but not since we moved to Santa Rosa. Do you remember the time that I made them for a party when we lived in Burlingame? I had them all laid out on that wooden table and covered up with large flour sack dish towels. When we came back home and I got ready to cook them, someone had squashed half of them. We finally figured out it was the work of our cats, Zephyr and Sterling. I used to serve them with pesto. --PKS

3 large baking potatoes, scrubbed
1 large egg
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, or as needed

Boil potatoes in their skins. Drain and allow to stand until cool enough to handle. Scrape skin from potato with paring knife. Press them through a potato ricer. Spread the riced potatoes into a thin, even layer on the work surface and allow to cool completely.

In a small bowl, beat together the egg, salt, pepper and nutmeg. gather cold potatoes into a mound and form a well in the center. Pour egg mixture into the potato well. Knead the potato and egg mixture together with both hands, gradually adding the grated cheese and enough of the flour, about 1 1/2 cups, to form a smooth but slightly sticky dough. It should take no longer than 3 minutes to work the flour into the potato mixture; remember, the longer the dough is kneaded, the more flour it will require, and the heavier it will become. As you knead, repeatedly rub dough from hands and scrape it from the work surface back into the dough.

On a flour-dusted surface, dust dough and cut it into 6 equal pieces. Form dough into a rope. Slice rope into 1/2-inch thick rounds. Sprinkle rounds with flour and roll them into balls. Hold the tines of a fork at a 45-degree angle to the table with the concave part facing up. Dip the tip of your thumb in flour. Take one ball of dough and with the tip of your thumb, press the dough lightly against the tines of the fork as you roll it downward toward the tip of the tines. As the dough wraps around the tip of your thumb, it will form into a dumpling. Set on a baking sheet lined with a floured kitchen towel. Repeat with remaining dough. At this point, gnocchi must be cooked immediately or frozen.

To cook gnocchi, drop into salted boiling water. Cook, stirring gently until tender, about 1 minute after they rise to the surface of the pot.

Salad with Beets and Yogurt Dressing

From Everyday Food, July 2009

3/4 pound beets (2 large or 8 small), trimmed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (full-fat or 2 percent)
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1 head Boston lettuce
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon (optional in my opinion)
1/2 cup unsalted pistachios, toasted

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place beets in a 12-inch square piece of foil. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil and season with salt and pepper; fold foil into a packet. Roast until beets are easily pierced with a paring knife, 30 to 45 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel beets and cut into wedges.

Whisk together yogurt, vinegar, and 2 tablespoons oil; season dressing with salt and pepper. Thin as desired with 1 to 2 tablespoons water. Divide lettuce among plates and top with beets, tarragon, pistachios, and dressing. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Friday, July 17, 2009

Pastis Soaked Chicken

I had an amazing "roast chicken" sandwich at Houston's this week. It was a chicken breast served on an toasted egg bun with monterey jack cheese, tomato, arugula, and red onion. There was also a thousand island style dressing on the sandwich made with chopped hard boiled egg. It was delicious, and I loved the subtle undertone of licorice in the roasted chicken. I found this recipe, and feel positively inspired to try it now. Pastis soaked novel!

1 roasting chicken – 6 – 7 pounds
1/2 cup pastis such as Ricard or Pernod
1/3 cup olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
freshly ground black pepper – to taste
Kosher or sea salt – to taste
1 cup fresh tomato – seeded and diced
8 cloves garlic – quartered
1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seed
1 cup black olives, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup each fresh basil and parsley – chopped

1. Several hours or up to one day ahead of roasting, mix together olive oil and pastis and pour over chicken. Rub well into skin and inside cavity. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and rub well again. Cover chicken and refrigerate until ready to cook.

2. Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a large roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, tomato, fennel seed, olives, parsley and basil and cook until onions are wilted and mixture begins to form a sauce.

3. Set chicken on top of onion mixture and cover with a lid or foil.

4. Roast at 350 degrees F for 2 – 2 1/2 hours, or until thigh meat is no longer pink.

5. Rest before carving and serve with ‘sauce’ from the pan.

*Adapted from Sarah Leah Chase’s ‘Pastis Soused Rabbit’ from ‘Pedaling Through Provence’

Friday, July 10, 2009

Crunchy Corn Guacamole

From Mark Bittman

Here's a new twist on the traditional guacamole (which you can find in the form of the first variation). The fresh corn kernels add texture and flavor without taking away from that of the avocado.

Serves 4
Time: 15 minutes

--1 lime
--1 cup corn kernels, preferably just stripped from the cobs, but thawed frozen is acceptable
--1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
--1/2 cup chopped scallion
--1 serrano or jalapeño chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced (optional)
--2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
--1/4 cup roughly chopped toasted pumpkin seeds
--3 medium ripe avocados, preferably Hass --salt

1. Grate the lime zest (or use a zester to make long strands) and reserve; cut the lime into wedges. Put the lime zest, corn, and garlic in a food processor; squeeze in half of the lime wedges and pulse to make a chunky purée.
2. Put the corn mixture along with the scallion, chile, and a large pinch of salt into a medium bowl and mash until the mixture is well combined. Add the cilantro and pumpkin seeds and mash a few more times.
3. Cut the avocados in half and reserve the pits if you will not be serving the guacamole right away. Scoop the flesh into the bowl and mash, leaving a few chunks of avocado. Squeeze in lime juice from the reserved lime wedges to taste.
4. Season with salt to taste and serve or tuck the pits back into the mixture and cover the surface with plastic wrap (this will help keep the guacamole from turning brown), then refrigerate for up to 4 hours. Remove the pits before serving.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Salade Nicoise


2 tuna steaks (8 ounces each), about 3/4 inch thick
2 tablespoons olive oil
Table salt and ground black pepper

1/2 cup lemon juice from 2 or 3 lemons
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium shallot , minced (about 3 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil leaves
2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano leaves
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Table salt and ground black pepper

4 large eggs
10 small new red potatoes (each about 2 inches in diameter, about 1 1/4 pounds total), each potato scrubbed and quartered
Table salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons dry vermouth
2 medium heads Boston lettuce or Bibb lettuce, leaves washed, dried, and torn into bite-sized pieces (about 8 cups loosely packed)
3 small vine-ripened tomatoes (about 14 ounces), each cored and cut into eighths
1 small red onion (about 4 ounces), sliced very thin
8 ounces green beans , stem ends trimmed and each bean halved crosswise
1/4 cup niçoise olives
10 - 12 anchovy fillets (optional)
2 tablespoons capers , rinsed (optional)

1. For the tuna: Combine tuna steaks with 2 tablespoons olive oil in gallon-sized zipper-lock bag; seal bag, place in refrigerator, and marinate, turning several times, for at least one hour or overnight. Remove tuna from bag, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and set aside. Build very hot fire (you can hold your hand 5 inches above cooking grate for only 2 seconds); heat cooking grate thoroughly, scrape clean with wire brush, and wipe with small wad paper towels dipped in vegetable oil (hold wad with tongs). Grill tuna uncovered, turning once with thin metal spatula, to desired doneness, about 3 minutes total for rare and 4 minutes for well-done.

2. For the vinaigrette: Whisk lemon juice, oil, shallot, thyme, basil, oregano, and mustard in medium bowl; season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

3. For the salad: Place eggs in small saucepan, cover by 1 inch with cold water, and bring to boil over high heat. Remove pan from heat, cover, and let stand 10 minutes. Meanwhile, fill medium bowl with 1 quart water and 1 tray ice cubes. With slotted spoon, transfer eggs to ice water; let stand 5 minutes. Peel eggs and quarter lengthwise; set aside (reserve ice water).

4. Meanwhile, bring potatoes and 4 quarts cold water to boil in large Dutch oven or stockpot over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and cook until potatoes are tender when poked with paring knife, 5 to 8 minutes. With slotted spoon, gently transfer potatoes to medium bowl (do not discard boiling water). Toss warm potatoes with vermouth and salt and pepper to taste; let stand 1 minute. Toss in 1/4 cup vinaigrette; set aside.

5. While potatoes cook, toss lettuce with 1/4 cup vinaigrette in large bowl until coated. Arrange bed of lettuce on very large, flat serving platter. Cut tuna into 1/2-inch thick slices and place in now-empty bowl. Add 1/2 cup vinaigrette and stir to combine; mound tuna in center of lettuce. Toss tomatoes, red onion, 3 tablespoons vinaigrette, and salt and pepper to taste in now-empty bowl; arrange tomato-onion mixture in mound at edge of lettuce bed. Arrange reserved potatoes in separate mound at edge of lettuce bed.

6. Return water to boil; add 1 tablespoon salt and green beans. Cook until tender but crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain beans, transfer to reserved ice water, and let stand until just cool, about 30 seconds; dry beans well on triple layer of paper towels. Toss beans, 3 tablespoons vinaigrette, and salt and pepper to taste in now-empty bowl; arrange in separate mound at edge of lettuce bed.

7. Arrange reserved eggs, olives, and anchovies (if using) in separate mounds at edge of lettuce bed. Drizzle eggs with remaining 2 tablespoons dressing, sprinkle entire salad with capers (if using), and serve immediately.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mango with Ginger-Mint Syrup

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh mint leaves
  • 2 ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced
  • Ginger or vanilla ice cream (the best brand is Reed's)

Bring water and sugar to a boil in a saucepan and cook until sugar is melted, stirring occasionally. Add the ginger and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, stir in the mint and steep for 5 minutes. Place the mango in a bowl, strain the syrup mixture over the mango, cover, and let chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Serve over ice cream or topped with vanilla yogurt.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Kelley's Breakfast Scramble Timbales

Makes 12 timbales (10 if using refrigerated biscuit dough) - this is a great egg dish for a brunch!

1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup heavy cream

Note: you can skip the above and use a 12 oz. can of refrigerated biscuit dough if you do not have time to make the biscuits!

¾ pound breakfast sausage
1/8 cup minced onion
1/8 cup minced red bell pepper
1/8 cup chopped jalapeños (optional)
5 eggs beaten
5 tablespoons milk or half-and-half
salt and pepper to taste
½ cup shredded Pepper Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 400° F (or 200° C). Spray a muffin tin with vegetable oil.

Make the Biscuits: In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in cream. Turn dough onto a flour surface and roll out to 3/4 in thickness. Cut with a medium size biscuit cutter. Using a rolling pin, roll each biscuit into a wide enough circle to fit in the bottom of each muffin tin...with enough overlap to come a little up the sides. If using refrigerated dough, roll each biscuit into a flatter round before placing in a muffin tin.

Make the Filling: Brown the sausage, onion, and red pepper (and jalapeños if using) in a sauté pan over medium heat. Make sure to break up the sausage into a fine consistency. Drain and set aside to cool. In a 2-cup glass measuring cup, beat the eggs and milk or half-and-half. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Assemble: Place a heaping spoonful of sausage mixture into each muffin tin. Then fill the tin with the egg mixture until each tin is 3/4 of the way full (do not overfill as the eggs will "puff up" during baking). Sprinkle tops with cheese.

Bake in preheated oven 18 to 20 minutes, until filling is set. Remove from oven and let cool in the tin for 5 minutes. Remove from tin with a fork (gently) and serve immediately with sour cream and salsa!

Note: You can do part of the prep work in advance (1-2 nights before). Simply brown and drain the sausage and veggies, and store overnight in the refrigerator. You can also beat the eggs and milk and store separately in the refrigerator.

Roasted Quail with Fig Puree and Balsamic-Chocolate Reduction

4 Quail, 4 to 6 ounces each
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt and ground white pepper
Marinate the quail in the parsley, olive oil, salt and pepper for about 30 minutes.


2 cups cooked wild rice
1 cup small diced toasted French bread
1 tablespoon minced herbs (equal parts thyme, chives and parsley)
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and white pepper (season to taste)
Combine all ingredients and season to taste. You can stuff the quail with about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the stuffing mix.


1 1/2 cups dried black figs (cut in half)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 tablespoons minced shallots
1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2/3 cup port wine
2/3 cup water
1/2 tablespoons minced herbs (equal parts parsley, thyme and chives)

In a sauce pot on medium heat, sauté the shallots in olive oil until translucent. Add and the walnuts and figs and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the port and water. Simmer all the ingredients until the walnuts have softened and there is about ¼ of the liquid left. Remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool slightly. Place the mix in a food processor and blend until uniform in color and appearance.


1 quart balsamic vinegar
2 cups 64% milk chocolate

Simmer the vinegar on low heat until it reduces to about 1 cup of liquid. Melt the chocolate using a double-boiler. This provides a softer heating element than direct flame or microwave. While both ingredients are warm, slowly add the vinegar reduction to the chocolate while stirring. Combine the vinegar and chocolate flavors to suit your taste.


Pre-heat oven to 425F.

Season all the quail with salt and pepper to suit your taste. In a sauté pan on medium-high heat, sear the quail for about 2 minutes per side. (Sear the breast side first). Remove pan from heat. Using either a small spatula or spoon, evenly baste the fig puree on to the breast side of the quails. Place the pan with the quail in the oven for about 4 to 5 minutes to crisp up the fig puree. Remove the quail from the pans and place them on serving plates. Drizzle the balsamic-chocolate reduction over the quail. For an appetizer, garnish with fresh arugula and diced tomatoes marinated in olive oil and herbs.

Serves 4.

Boneless Smoked Quail

6 boned quail, about 3 ounces each
2 teaspoons Lawry’s seasoning salt
2 teaspoons Ac’cent seasoning
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
3/4 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

Mix spices together, adding water (about 7 to 8 teaspoons) until an almost thin consistency is reached. Be careful not to dilute seasonings too much.

Heat charcoal in a smoker or covered grill until white-hot. Sprinkle mesquite chips or pecan or hickory kindling on coals. Dip quail in sauce, then place on grill. Cover and smoke for about 25 minutes.

Serves 6

Wild Mushroom Venison Stew With Biscuits


1 poblano chile
1/2 cup clarified butter or olive oil
1 pound venison, cut into 1-inch squares
blend of 1 cup flour, 3/4 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons finely diced red onion
2 cups burgundy
4 ounces dried porcini mushrooms
1 quart rich veal stock
2 small Idaho potatoes, chopped
1 yellow onion, julienne cut
2 ribs celery, finely diced
1 small carrot, julienne cut
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
2 dashes Tabasco
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper

Blister skin on poblano. Peel, seed, and finely dice. Heat the butter or oil in a thick-bottomed pot or pan (such as a cast-iron skillet) until it just begins to smoke, about 350 degrees. Toss venison in seasoned flour, dusting off excess. Add meat to pot and brown in small batches. When done, remove from pot and keep warm.

Add garlic and red onion to pot and sauté briefly. Add burgundy and mushrooms and reduce liquid to approximately 1 cup. Add veal stock, potatoes, the remaining vegetables, and seasonings. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until the potatoes are soft. Return venison to pot.


3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 /2 sticks unsalted butter, cut in 1/4-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2/3 cup grated Monterey jack and cheddar
1/4 cup finely chopped green onion tops

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Sift together the dry ingredients. Cut in the butter to the consistency of coarse cornmeal. Make a well in the center of the dough and quickly mix in the buttermilk (about 30 seconds). Knead on a floured board, incorporating the cheese and onions (about 30 seconds). Pat out to 11/2 inch thickness and cut into 4-inch-diameter biscuits. Recipe makes about 24.

The last step is to finish cooking the stew in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes. You may bake all of the biscuits on a greased baking sheet at the same time or you may put some on top of the hot stew to bake. If you do the latter, be sure your stew pot or pan is shallow enough that the biscuits sit above the level of the rim while cooking. Otherwise, they will be raw in the middle.

Venison with Pistachio-Cranberry Sauce


24 ounces venison filet, either backstrap or loin (pork loin may be used)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Remove all membrane from meat and cut into 12 medallions. Rub with oil, salt, and pepper. Grill until medium-rare, being careful not to overcook.


3/4 cup dried cranberries
2 cups white wine (such as Chardonnay)
2 shallots, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon roughly chopped garlic
1 1/8-inch slices ginger root
2 to 4 mesquite-smoked jalapeños, seeded, available from Stonewall Chili Pepper Company (800-232-2995) or in specialty stores; or canned chipotle chiles, rinsed and seeded
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 cup prepared demiglace, homemade or Knorr brand
2 teaspoons butter
2 dozen pistachios
2 tablespoons dry sherry
2 tablespoons butter to finish (optional)
Salt to taste

Reconstitute cranberries in enough hot water to cover.

In a medium saucepan, combine wine, shallots, garlic, ginger,jalapeños, and vinegar and cook over high heat until almost dry. Add demiglace and cook until hot. Strain and set aside.

Melt 2 teaspoons butter in large sauté pan over medium heat and add pistachios, sherry, and cranberries with their liquid. Reduce mixture over high heat for 5 minutes or less. Add strained sauce and cook approximately 5 more minutes to reduce volume by half. Add butter to finish sauce. Add salt to taste.

Espresso-Rubbed Venison with Shiner Bock “Beer Blanc”

Beer Blanc

12 ounces Shiner Bock or any bock beer
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 canned chipotle chiles, seeded if you wish and chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
juice of 1 lime
2 sticks butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, at room temperature
salt and white pepper

In a saucepan over medium heat, reduce beer to 1⁄4 cup (takes 35 to 40 minutes). Add shallots, garlic, chipotles, and cream and simmer until volume is reduced by half. Add lime juice and continue heating until liquid returns to a simmer. While mixture is still very hot, pour into a blender and purée, adding butter one piece at a time. Season to taste. If not using immediately, keep hot in an insulated container such as a thermal pitcher.


1/4 cup finely ground espresso coffee beans
1 tablespoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds venison backstrap or pork tenderloin
lump crabmeat, cooked (optional)

Note: Venison is available from Whole Foods and Central Market (may require advance order) or by mail from Broken Arrow Ranch, in Ingram (830-367-5871; You will need a stove-top smoker such as the approximately 15-inch-by-11-inch one made by Camerons, available from Central Market, (the Hudson’s Web site), or It comes with wood chips, but feel free to use different woods such as apple or pear or throw in a sprig of fresh rosemary or other herb you would enjoy. Smokers may be used on gas or electric ranges; if you have a flattop electric stove, consult smoker’s instruction manual.

Thoroughly combine first 4 ingredients. Coat meat with mixture an hour before smoking. Pile about 2 tablespoons of wood chips in middle of smoker pan. Place smoker drip tray over chips and put the wire rack on top of it. (Hint: To aid cleanup, spray rack with vegetable oil and spray tray as well or cover it with foil.) Put venison on rack.

Slide lid closed and center smoker on a stove burner over high heat. The wood chips will slowly burn, smoking the venison as it cooks. Continue cooking until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted in middle of venison reads 130 degrees, 15 to 18 minutes (140 degrees, 18 to 20 minutes for pork). Remove meat and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes, then cut into 1⁄2-inch slices. Fan 3 slices across each plate and top with Beer Blanc and crabmeat. Serves 6 to 8.

Two-Tone Chili - Venison and Pork

bottles dark beer (Dos Equis) or 2 cans (15 ounces each) chicken stock
Juice of 4 limes
6 tablespoons Pickapeppa steak sauce
3 pounds venison stew meat
5 slices bacon
1 large white onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 pound ground pork sausage
1 tablespoon ground fennel seed
2 dried ancho chiles, seeded and finely chopped
1 can (6 ounces) chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (available at Mexican groceries), chopped (reserve sauce)
1 tablespoon apple-cider vinegar
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Combine 1 bottle beer or 1 can stock, lime juice, and 4 tablespoons Pickapeppa sauce, and pour over venison. Marinate 2 to 4 hours.

In very large skillet, fry bacon until fat is rendered. Remove bacon, and reserve. Sauté onion and garlic in bacon fat until tender. Drain marinade completely from venison, and discard. Add venison to onion and bacon fat. Brown lightly. Add chili powder and basil. Cook a few minutes longer.

In another skillet, brown sausage lightly. Add fennel, ancho and chipotle chiles, and 1 tablespoon reserved adobo sauce. Cook until sausage is done. Add pork mixture to venison. Add vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Chop bacon coarsely. Add to meat. Simmer until venison is fully cooked, about 20 to 30 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons Pickapeppa and remaining beer or stock for desired consistency.

Note: This is a spicy chili; chipotles may be reduced by half. For extra-hot chili, add ground or freshly chopped cayenne or Thai pepper, to taste.

Serves 12 - 15

Roasted Duck With Picadillo Stuffing

3 cups kosher salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
4 inches canela sticks, or substitute 2 inches regular cinnamon sticks
12 whole allspice
6 bay leaves
40 peppercorns
4 five-pound ducks
kosher salt and pepper to taste
cilantro or flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

Prepare brine: Four hours to a day ahead, put first 6 ingredients and 2 gallons water in a stockpot and boil just until salt and sugar are dissolved. Cool to room temperature, then chill for at least 2 hours.

Prepare birds: Trim off and discard large, visible pieces of fat. Put ducks in brine, adding water to cover if necessary. Cover and refrigerate 4 to 8 hours. Remove, rinse, and pat dry.

Cook birds: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sprinkle birds inside and out with salt and pepper and prick skin in several places. Roast on rack, breast side up, for 15 minutes. Lower temperature to 350 degrees and roast until a cooking thermometer stuck in the thickest part of thigh or breast reads 165 degrees, for medium, or 170, for medium to well-done. Let rest 10 minutes before carving.

To serve, mound picadillo in center of plates. Carve ducks, slice breast meat, and arrange pieces on top. Garnish with sprigs of cilantro or parsley. Serves 6.


3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely diced onion
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 cup seeded, deveined, and minced jalapeños
1 1/2 pounds (about 8 cups) mild-flavored exotic mushrooms, cleaned with damp paper towels and sliced 1/4 inch thick (if cost is a consideration, substitute white button mushrooms; get presliced if possible)
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1 cup currants or diced cranberries (or less to taste)
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
1/8 to 1/2 teaspoon ground canela (or more to taste), also called Mexican cinnamon, an aromatic papery bark, available at Fiesta market; grind in a coffee grinder, or substitute 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon regular cinnamon (optional)
1/8 to 1/2 teaspoon toasted ground cumin, or more to taste (optional)
kosher salt to taste

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, add olive oil and sauté onion for about 2 minutes; do not brown. Add garlic and jalapeños and sauté for about 30 seconds, being careful not to burn garlic. Add mushrooms and sprinkle very lightly with salt, tasting as you go, until flavor is right. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms release all their moisture, 15 to 20 minutes. As mushrooms begin to stick, deglaze pan with sherry vinegar. Add currants and pistachios and cook until currants are rehydrated. Add canela and cumin a little at a time, tasting, as they are quite distinctive

Pan-Roasted White-Winged Dove

2 green apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled and cored
1/2 large onion, peeled
2 thumb-size knobs of ginger
2 cups white vinegar
1 cup salt
1 cup sugar
juice and rinds of 2 lemons
2 tablespoons each of whole juniper berries, coriander seeds, star anise pods, and black peppercorns
24 to 36 doves (allow 4 to 6 per person)
kosher salt and pepper to taste
several tablespoons olive oil
12 or more basil leaves, for garnish (do not omit)

Note: White-winged dove are game birds not available in supermarkets. Squab may be substituted—order well ahead from Central Market or Whole Foods. Or use quail, 2 per person.

Prepare brine: Four hours to a day ahead, put apple, onion, and ginger in a food processor and lightly purée. Combine purée with vinegar, salt, sugar, lemon, spices, and 5 cups water in a nonreactive container. Cover and chill.

Prepare birds: If doves have breast bones intact, you will need to remove them. Lay each bird on a cutting board, breast side up, legs toward you. Using short strokes, cut from top to bottom of left breast, as close to the breast bone (keel bone) as possible; do not cut through to the back yet and do not remove skin. Repeat with right side. Discard keel bone. Fold breasts to each side, as if opening a book, and remove ribs from the front and back (they should come out easily); thighs and legs will still be attached. Now cut bird into halves, down center of back.

Brine birds: Place doves in brine (adding water if needed to cover), put a lid on container, and refrigerate 4 to 8 hours. Remove, rinse, and pat dry.

Cook birds: Put about 1/16 inch cooking oil in a large, heavy-bottomed sauté pan. Heat on high just until oil starts to smoke. Put pieces in pan, skin side down. Lower heat to medium. Press to flatten with a similarly sized pan and, continuing to press, cook until skin is golden brown, about 1 minute. Flip and cook other side, still pressing, until medium rare, about 1 more minute. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes, then cut each piece in half between thigh and breast.

To serve, place sweet potato disks close together on dinner plates. Arrange dove on top of disks, with legs sticking up jauntily. Drizzle with any reserved butter and a little Spiced Apple Jus, then spoon Cherry—Cocoa Nib Sauce around edge. Garnish with basil. Serves 6.


6 medium whole sweet potatoes, preferably garnet or Japanese satsumaimo, available at Central Market
6 garlic cloves
6 pieces ginger, same size as garlic cloves
6 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
6 tablespoons sake
kosher salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Prick potatoes with a knife and sprinkle each with a little salt and pepper. Place each one on a piece of aluminum foil with a garlic clove (halved), a piece of ginger (halved), and a tablespoon of butter. Drizzle with a tablespoon of sake. Seal and bake until tender, about 50 minutes. Carefully unwrap, reserving seasoned butter, if any. When ready to serve, slice into 1/2-inch disks (you may leave skins on or remove) and gently press an indentation into each disk with the back of a tablespoon.


1 cup fresh apple juice, preferably unfiltered
1 stick cinnamon
1 pod star anise
1 pinch coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Vietnamese fish sauce, preferably Squid brand, available at Asian markets (optional; do not substitute Thai or Chinese fish sauce)

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and reduce over high heat until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (not quite syrupy). Remove cinnamon and star anise.


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
4 ounces dried cherries, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons cocoa nibs, available at Whole Foods or Central Market; grind finely using a coffee or spice grinder
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
2 teaspoons finely chopped shallot
kosher salt to taste

Put all ingredients in a nonreactive bowl, lightly whisk, and let stand for 15 minutes

Persimmon Flan

Persimmon Puree
1⁄2 cup sugar
1 cone piloncillo (Mexican unrefined brown sugar, available in ethnic markets such as Fiesta)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1⁄2 stick cinnamon
10 ripe persimmons, unpeeled, stem end
cut off flat
1⁄2 cup orange juice

A day ahead, put all ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat; cook for 3 to 4 minutes if fruit is very ripe and soft, up to 10 minutes if less ripe. Pour into a glass bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight. Purée in a food processor and pass through a sieve to remove solids.

1⁄2 cone piloncillo, finely chopped
12 ounces evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup persimmon purée (recipe above)
juice of half a lemon

Place piloncillo and evaporated milk in a heavy saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring, until piloncillo dissolves; set aside. Place sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla in bowl of an electric mixer and blend while adding eggs, one at a time, then persimmon purée. Blend in piloncillo mixture and lemon juice.

1 cup sugar
1⁄4 cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan, heat sugar and water over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring, until mixture turns amber in color and reaches 325 to 355 degrees on a candy thermometer. Immediately pour 1 to 2 tablespoons of caramel in bottom of 8 four-ounce glass baking cups. Let cool briefly, then pour custard on top. Place cups in a water bath, cover with foil, and bake until a knife inserted in center of custard comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Chill before unmolding.

Makes 8.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Pork Chops Stuffed with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Spinach

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes, diced
  • 1 (10-ounce) bag of frozen spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) goat cheese
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 4 (4-ounce) center-cut pork chops
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 lemon, zested
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard


Warm the 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, salt, pepper, and thyme. Cook until combined, about 2 more minutes. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Add the goat cheese and the cream cheese. Stir to combine and set aside.

Use a sharp knife to cut a pocket into the thickest portion of the pork chop. Stuff each pocket with 1/4 of the spinach and sun-dried tomato mixture and close the pork around the stuffing. Season the outside of the pork with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl combine the chicken broth, lemon zest, lemon juice, and mustard.

Warm the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot add the pork. Cook until golden and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the pork to a side dish and tent with foil to keep warm. Add the chicken broth mixture to the skillet over medium-high heat. Scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan as the chicken broth simmers. Reduce the broth by half to make a light sauce, about 8 minutes. Spoon some sauce over the pork before serving.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Meg's Fish Dip

5 small Mahi-Mahi fish fillets or other suitable white fish
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
cayenne pepper to taste
garlic powder to taste
salt and pepper
3 thyme sprigs
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 large bar cream cheese
1/2 c wine wine
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese

Saute fish in 1 tablespoon olive oil with a little salt and garlic powder until broken down. Pour into a bowl and add cream cheese and sour cream.

Saute onions in remaining tablespoon olive oil until soft. Add wine and garlic and simmer until wine is absorbed, then add to bowl with fish.

Add cheese and season with cayenne, salt, and pepper to taste.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Chicken Enchiladas with Creamy Green Sauce

Serves 6.

  • 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 5 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1 28oz. can Las Palmas Green Chili Enchiladas Sauce
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 12 corn tortillas (6-inch)
  • 12 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, coarsely shredded (3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Season chicken with salt and pepper; place with garlic on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of breast (avoiding bone) registers 165 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine salsa and cream.
  • Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Once chicken is cool enough to handle, shred meat, discarding skin and bones. Peel and chop garlic. In a large bowl, combine chicken, garlic, and 1/2 cup salsa mixture.
  • Stack tortillas flat, and wrap in damp paper towels; microwave on high for 1 minute to soften. Working with one tortilla at a time, dip in salsa mixture, lay flat, and fill with 1/3 cup chicken mixture. Roll up and arrange, seam side down, 8 enchiladas lengthwise and 4 crosswise in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Top with remaining salsa mixture, then cheese.
  • Bake until cheese is browned and salsa is bubbling, 40 to 45 minutes; let rest 10 minutes. Serve, sprinkled with cilantro, if desired.

Blog Archive