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: http://foodiewife-kitchen.blogspot.com/2009/05/grilled-chicken-teriyaki-burgers-with.html

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 chicken...how 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.

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