Sunday, August 31, 2008

Beef Stock


8 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
6 sprigs fresh thyme or 3/4 teaspoon dried
4 sprigs fresh rosemary or 2 teaspoons dried
2 dried bay leaves
1 T whole black peppercorns
1 lb. beef stew meat, cubed
5 lbs. veal bones, cut into small pieces
1 large onion, unpeeled and quartered
2 large carrots, cut into thirds
2 celery stalks, cut into thirds
2 cups dry red wine

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Tie the parsley, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, and peppercorns in a piece of cheesecloth to make a bouquet garni. Set aside.

Arrange the beef stew meat, veal bones, onion, carrots, and celery in an even layer in a heavy roasting pan. Roast, turning every 20 minutes, until the vegetables and the bones are deep brown, about 1 1/2 hours. Transfer the meat, bones and vegetables to a large stockpot, and set aside. Pour off the fat from the roasting pan, and discard. Place the pan over high heat on the stove. Add the red wine, and stir, using a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits from the bottom of the pan; boil until the wine is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Pour the mixture into the stockpot.

Add 6 quarts cold water to the stockpot, or more if needed to cover bones. Do not use less water; cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to a very gentle simmer so that bubbles occasionally rise to the surface. Add the reserved bouquet garni. Skim the foam from the surface. Continue to simmer the stock over the lowest possible heat for 3 hours. A skin will form on the surface of the liquid; skim off with a slotted spoon. Repeat as needed. Add water if at any time the surface level drops below the bones.

Prepare an ice water bath. Strain the stock through a fine sieve, or a cheesecloth-lined strainer, into a large bowl. Discard the solids. Transfer the bowl to the ice-water bath, and let the stock cool to room temperature.

Transfer the stock to airtight containers. The stock may be labeled at this point and refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for up to 4 months. If using the stock for a recipe, refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight so the fat collects on the top and can be removed. If storing, leave the fat layer intact; it seals the stock.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Orange Chocolate Chip Bread

4 teaspoons grated orange peel (about 1 medium orange)
boiling water
1/3 cup orange juice
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 T butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

Place orange peel in a small bowl. Add enough boiling water to orange juice to measure 1 cup. Pour over orange peel; let stand for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, beat egg, butter, vanilla and reserved orange mixture. Stir into flour mixture just until moistened. Fold in chocolate chips.

Pour into a greased 8-inch x 4-inch x 2-inch loaf pan. Bake for 350 degrees F for 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.

Makes 1 loaf

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Carrot Cupcakes

1 1/4 cups shredded coconut
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil, plus more for pan, if needed
2 T orange juice, freshly squeezed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup plus 2 T flour
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Cream cheese icing (see below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread 1 cup of the shredded coconut out on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer the coconut to a small bowl and set aside to cool.

In a bowl, combine the sugar 1/3 cup oil, orange juice, vanilla, and eggs. Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, allspice and salt. Add the flour; mix. Stir in the shredded carrots, the walnuts and the remaining 1/4 cup shredded coconut.

Oil a standard muffin tin or line with paper muffin liners; distribute the batter evenly.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool before frosting with cream cheese icing. Garnish with reserved toasted shredded coconut.


Cream Cheese Icing:

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a mixing bowl, whisk the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla together until smooth. Use immediately, or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Fettuccine with Prosciutto and Peas

12 ounces fettuccine
1 T butter
1 large shallot, finely chopped (1/4 cup)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 package frozen peas (10-ounces)
8 slices prosciutto (about 4 ounces), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise (about 1 cup)
1 T freshly grated lemon zest
1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese, plus more for the table

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water; drain the pasta and return to the pot.

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat; add the shallot and cook until softened (about 5 minutes). Add the cream, peas and prosciutto; bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Simmer until the peas are heated through, 3-4 minutes.

Stir in the lemon zest and juice. Pour the sauce over the pasta; add the parmesan, and season generously with salt and pepper. Add enough of the reserved pasta water to thin the sauce as desired. Serve immediately, top with additional parmesan.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Cheddar Batter Bread

Batter breads are not kneaded like most yeast breads and have a coarser texture and rougher look. Batter breads are beaten with an electric mixer to help develop the gluten. Because they are not kneaded, it is important to beat them until the batter comes away from the bowl and appears stringy. Batter breads are best served the day they are made.

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 T granulated sugar
1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup milk
2 T butter, softened
1 egg
1/2 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
additional cornmeal

In a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour, sugar, yeast, onion powder, salt and pepper. In a small saucepan, heat milk and butter to 120-130 degrees. Add to flour mixture; beat until moistened. Add egg; beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on high for 3 minutes. Stir in cornmeal and remaining flour. Stir in the cheese (batter will be thick). Do not knead. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 20 minutes.

Stir dough down. Grease an 8-inch x 4-inch x 2-inch loaf pan and sprinkle with additional cornmeal. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Store in the refrigerator.

Makes 1 loaf

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Chocolate Orange Ice Cream

2 1/4 cups heavy cream
6 T unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
1 cup whole milk
1 cup granulated sugar
6 ounces cut-up unsweetened chocolate
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of orange extract
zest of 1 orange
pinch of salt

Whisk together the cream, cocoa, sugar and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

Remove from heat and grate the orange into the saucepan. Add chocolate and whisk until melted. Add milk, orange and vanilla extracts.

Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend for 30 seconds until smooth. Pour into a bowl, cover and chill the mixture in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. When cold, transfer the mixture to in an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Rigatoni with Goat Cheese

1 lb. rigatoni
1 1/2 cups crumbled goat cheese (approximately 4 ounces)
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

Optional: 1/4 cup chopped/torn fresh herbs, like basil; coarsely chopped pitted kalamata olives

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the rigatoni until al dente. Drain, reserving approximately 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

Return the pasta to the pot and add the goat and parmesan cheeses. Season with salt and pepper, pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes and any other toppings you choose. Use pasta water to thin, if necessary.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Cherry Mojito

Ingredients for mojito:
1 lb. bag frozen pitted cherries
2 cups crushed ice, plus extra to serve
1/2 cup packed fresh mint leaves
1/3 cup fresh lime juice (about 3 limes)
1 cup citrus flavored rum

1 2/3 cups lime simple syrup, or less, to taste [recipe below]

lime wedges and fresh cherries, for garnish

Ingredients for the lime simple syrup:
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
3 limes, zested


Preparing the lime simple syrup:
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, water, and lime zest over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool for 20 minutes. Strain before using. Makes 1 2/3 cups syrup.

Preparing the mojito:
Place the frozen cherries, crushed ice, mint leaves, lime juice, rum, and simple syrup in a blender. Blend until smooth.

Pour the mixture into chilled glasses and top with crushed ice. Garnish with lime wedges and cherries.

Serves 4-6

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Chocolate Marble Bread With Chocolate Ganache

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the baking pan
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup plus 2 T sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8 1/2-by-4-by-2 1/2-inch loaf pan; dust with flour, tapping out excess.

Sift flour, salt, and baking powder into a medium bowl.

Melt 5 ounces chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.

Put butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Add sugar; raise speed to medium. Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Mix in eggs, 1 at a time. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two batches of milk. Mix until just combined.

Pour half of batter into melted chocolate; stir well. Alternating between remaining plain batter and the chocolate batter, drop large spoonfuls of batter into the prepared pan. When pan is filled, use a table knife to cut through mixture with a swirling motion.

Bake until a cake tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour. (If bread browns too quickly, tent with foil.) Let bread cool slightly in pan on a wire rack, about 10 minutes. Run a thin knife around edges of bread to loosen; unmold. Let cool completely on rack.

Make ganache:
Put the remaining 3 ounces chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until just about to simmer. Pour cream over chocolate; stir until mixture is smooth. Let stand 10 minutes to thicken slightly.

Using a small offset spatula, spread ganache over cooled cake; let stand until set, about 1 hour.

Bread can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 2 days.

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Pork Carnitas

3-pound pork butt, cut into 4 pieces
3 pounds refined lard, or suet
1 red onion, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 1/4 T kosher salt

Ingredients for Pico de Gallo:
4 Roma tomatoes
1 red onion, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
2 T chopped cilantro leaves
1/2 lime, juiced
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Serve with: corn tortillas, salsa, lime wedges, radish slices

Preparing the pork:
Remove the pork butts from refrigeration 1 hour before cooking. Do not remove the bone.

Heat the lard in a large stainless steel pot over high heat to 250 degrees F. The pot needs to be large enough to fit all the pieces of pork butt side by side, not on top of each other, and preferably not touching each other. Add enough lard to completely submerge the meat. Add the onion and garlic and let brown but do not burn. If garlic burns, you must start the process over. Remove onions and garlic from the lard and discard.

Carefully add the pork pieces to the lard and then allow the oil to reach 250 degrees F again. Do not let the pork stick to the bottom or sides of pot. Stir around every 30 minutes to insure even coloring. Cook for approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours. The pork should be caramel-colored with an internal temperature of 170 to 180 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.

Five minutes before you are ready to remove the meat, sprinkle the kosher salt into the oil. Continue to cook pork for 5 more minutes and then remove the pork from the oil to a platter. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.

Shred the meat and serve with Pico de Gallo, warm tortillas, salsa, limes, and radish slices.

Preparing Pico de Gallo
Combine all ingredients and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve.

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Orange Ice Cream

2 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups heavy or whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
1/3 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Whisk eggs in mixing bowl until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Whisk in sugar, a little at a time, until completely blended, about one minute more.

Add cream and milk, whisk to blend. Add juice and vanilla, blending well.

Transfer mixture to ice cream machine and process according to manufacturer's instructions.

Makes approximately 1-quart

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Saturday, August 9, 2008

Swordfish with Fennel, Onions, Tomatoes & Capers Relish

This relish is delicious with any firm, grillable white fish.

Ingredients for the relish:
1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
1 cup chopped fennel (1 bulb)
3 T good olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
28 ounces canned plum tomatoes, drained
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 T chicken stock
2 T good dry white wine
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
2 T capers, drained
1 T unsalted butter

4 (1-inch-thick) swordfish fillets (about 2 1/2 lbs.)

fresh basil leaves

Preparing the relish:
Cook the onions and fennel in the oil in a large saute pan on medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the drained tomatoes, smashing them in the pan with a fork, plus the salt and pepper. Simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. Add the chicken stock and white wine and simmer for 10 more minutes to reduce the liquid. Add the basil, capers, and butter and cook for 1 minute more.

Preparing the fish:
Prepare a grill with hot coals. Brush the swordfish with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill on high heat for 5 minutes on each side until the center is no longer raw. Do not overcook. Place the relish on the bottom of a plate, arrange the swordfish on top, and garnish with basil leaves. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Serves 4

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Friday, August 8, 2008

Croissants

I have eaten croissants around the world, and thank my good fortune to live about a mile from a bakery that makes them as good as the best I've ever had in France. But I save this recipe for a time when that won't be the case, when I'm going to have to rely on my own skills when I've aching for tender, flaky, melt-in-your-mouth buttery pastry...Or Monday and Tuesday when the bakery near me is closed.

From Sur La Table with Cindy Mushet, The Art & Soul of Baking,

Layer upon layer of butter and dough produce the ultimate French breakfast treat. Be sure to read "A Primer on Laminated Doughs" for tips that will help you turn out beautiful croissants.

Make the dough portion (d├ętrempe):
Pour the warm milk into a small bowl and whisk in 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Whisk in the yeast and set aside for 10 minutes, or until the yeast is activated and the mixture is bubbling.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar, salt, and cold butter pieces.

Ingredients
Dough portion (d├ętrempe):
1/2 cup (4 ounces) whole milk, warmed to 110° to 115°F
1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) sugar
4 teaspoons active dry yeast, or 3 teaspoons instant yeast
4 cups (20 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading and rolling
2 teaspoons (1/2 ounce) salt
4 T (2 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup (8 ounces) cold milk

Butter block (beurrage):
3 3/4 sticks (14 ounces) cold, unsalted butter
2 T (1 ounce) unbleached all-purpose flour

Egg wash:
1 large egg
1 T whole milk or cream

Equipment:
Stand Mixer with Dough Hook and Paddle Attachments, Small Bowl, Whisk, Silicone or Rubber Spatula, Bowl Scraper, Board Scraper, Chef's Knife or Paring Knife, Rolling Pin, Ruler, Pizza Cutter (optional), Pastry Brush, Two Baking Sheets Lined with Parchment Paper or Silicone Mats

Blend on medium speed until the butter is cut into tiny pieces. Add the yeast mixture and the cold milk. Switch to the dough hook and mix on lowest speed for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed and has formed a very rough mass. Dust a work surface lightly with flour and turn the dough out onto it. Knead the dough 3 to 5 times, to finish bringing it together. The dough will not be smooth or elastic; it will become fully kneaded and smooth during the rolling and turning process ahead. Don't overwork the dough now, or you'll have trouble rolling it later. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes.

Make the butter block: Cut the butter into 1/2-inch pieces, toss with the flour, and refrigerate for 20 minutes. In the cleaned stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the floured butter on medium speed, scraping down the bowl once or twice with a bowl scraper, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the butter and flour form a smooth mass. You are not trying to beat air into the mixture, just make it pliable and smooth while keeping it cold. Scrape the butter onto a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap, wrap it up, and refrigerate while you roll out the dough.

Lightly dust the work surface with flour. Set the dough in the center and dust the top with flour. Roll the dough into a 15 by 12-inch rectangle with a short side parallel to the edge of your work surface. Gently pull or stretch the dough to form straight edges and sharp corners. Brush any flour from the surface. Visually divide the dough lengthwise into 3 equal, 5-inch-wide sections (you can lightly mark the dough with a ruler or the back of a knife if you wish). Spread the cold but pliable butter evenly over the top two sections of dough, leaving the bottom third empty and leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges of the buttered sections (see page 000). This is best done with your fingers, since the butter isn't quite warm enough to spread easily with a spatula.

Use a letter fold to encase the butter: Fold the empty bottom third up over the center third of the dough. Then fold the top third down over the center. Pinch together the seams along the bottom and sides of the dough. Roll your rolling pin across the top of the dough briefly and gently 3 or 4 times to help seal the seams. This completes both the incorporation of the butter and your first turn of the dough. If the butter has become warm and squishy, wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour before continuing with the second turn. If you have worked quickly and the butter is still cold yet pliable, continue with the next turn.

Position the dough with the short side parallel to your work surface and the long fold on your left (as though you were going to open the dough like a book). Dust the dough with flour and roll it into a 20 by 12-inch rectangle. Brush any flour from the surface of the dough. Fold the dough using the book-fold method: Fold the two short edges into the center of the dough, leaving a 1/4-inch crevice between them. Line up the edges precisely and square the corners as you fold. Now fold one side over the other, as though you were closing a book. Roll your pin across the top of the dough briefly and gently 3 or 4 times to seal the seams. This completes your second turn. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate it for 1 hour.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator, dust it with flour, and again roll it into a 20 by 12-inch rectangle. Brush any flour from the surface of the dough. Fold the dough using the letter-fold method: Visually divide the dough lengthwise into 3 equal, 5-inch-wide sections (you can lightly mark the dough with a ruler or the back of a knife if you wish). Fold the empty bottom third up over the center of the dough, and then fold the top third down over the center, making sure to square the corners and fold as neatly and precisely as possible. Pinch together the seams along the bottom and sides of the dough. Roll your rolling pin across the top of the dough again briefly to help seal the seams. This completes your third turn. The croissant dough is finished. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours before cutting, shaping, and baking the dough.

Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface into a 26 by 14 by 1/4-inch-thick rectangle. Cut the dough rectangle in half lengthwise to form two pieces that each measure 26 by 7 inches. On each half, use a ruler and paring knife or pizza cutter to make nicks along the top edge of the dough every 4 inches. Along the bottom edge, measure 2 inches in from the left side and make a nick; then add a nick every 4 inches.

Cut the dough into triangles: Line up your ruler with the top left corner and the first bottom nick (2 inches in from the left side of the dough). Cut along this line. This first triangle will make a smaller croissant when you shape the croissants. Then line up the ruler with the second nick on the top edge and the first bottom nick, and cut along that line, forming a tall, skinny triangle. Continue lining up the nicks and cutting until the whole sheet has been cut into triangles. Mark and cut the second half of dough in the same way. [For almond croissants, prepare up to here.]

Line up all the triangles so that their bottom (4-inch) sides are parallel with the edge of your work surface. Make a 1-inch vertical slit in the center of the bottom edge of each triangle. To shape, grasp a triangle and, with the wide end in one hand and the point in the other, very gently stretch the dough until it is a couple inches longer. Set it back on the table. Pull the slit in the bottom apart slightly and roll the corners upward and outward, widening the slit. Now roll the entire triangle toward the tip, pulling gently on the tip to stretch the dough slightly. Tuck the tip under the roll (so it doesn't pull out during baking) and place the roll on one of the prepared baking sheets. Curve the ends in toward each other to form a crescent shape. Continue stretching and rolling the dough triangles until you have shaped all the croissants and placed them on the baking sheets, allowing 2 inches between each croissant.

Make the egg wash**:
Combine the egg and the milk in a small bowl and whisk to blend well. Brush each croissant evenly with the egg wash. Allow the croissants to rise in a cool room-temperature spot until they are nearly doubled in size and look like they have taken a deep breath, 1 to 2 hours, depending on the warmth of the room. If you squeeze one gently, it should feel soft and marshmallow-like. Don't try to rush the rise by warming the croissants—you don't want the butter to melt.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400° F***:
Chill the croissants in the freezer for 10 minutes or in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. This will firm the butter, creating a flakier texture. Brush the croissants once more with the egg wash. Bake one sheet pan at a time, rotating it halfway through, for 17 to 22 minutes, or until the croissants are a deep golden brown. Transfer croissants to a rack to cool. until the croissants are a deep golden brown. Transfer croissants to a rack to cool.

Making Butter-Filled Dough:
The technique of rolling and folding the dough is known as "turning" the dough. There are two types of folds, and both require you to first roll the butter-filled dough out into a large rectangle. The recipes in this book always specify which type of fold to use.



Roll the dough into a 15 by 12-inch rectangle. Visually divide the dough into 3 equal, 5-inch-wide sections and spread the cold pliable butter over the top two sections of dough, leaving the bottom third empty and leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges of the buttered portion.

Begin a letter fold by folding the empty bottom third of the dough up over the center third of the dough.

Fold the top third of the dough over the center and pinch the seams to finish the letter fold. Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour before rolling it out for the second turn.

For the second turn, use the book-fold method. Roll the dough into a 20 by 12-inch rectangle. Fold the two short edges toward the center of the dough, leaving a 1/4-inch crevice between them. Make sure all the edges are lined up precisely. Then, fold one side of the dough over the other, as though you were closing a book.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

What The Pros Know:
Once the dough is made and shaped, pay attention to the proofing process. During this last rise, the many layers of butter in the dough should remain cool. If the room is too warm, the butter will melt. Instead of forming flaky layers in the oven, the butter will leak out of the dough, covering the baking sheet in a pool of liquid butter and "frying" the bottoms of the croissants in the process. To prevent this, pick a cool room temperature spot for proofing the croissants, preferably 65° to 70°F. Once they have risen, chill the croissants in the freezer for 10 minutes or in the refrigerator for 15 minutes just prior to baking. This will firm the butter, ensuring beautifully flaky croissants.

Almond Croissants
Makes 24

Ingredients
Unbleached all-purpose flour for rolling
1 cup (3 ounces) raw sliced almonds (natural or blanched)
1 recipe Croissants, prepared through step 9
1 recipe Almond Filling

Equipment:
2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper, or 2 silicone mats

Begin Step 10 of Croissants recipe, but don't slit the dough triangles as described in the second sentence. Place a tablespoon of almond filling 1/2 inch from the bottom of the triangle. Use your finger or the spoon to gently smear the filling in a small triangle, keeping it centered on the dough and away from the edges.

Roll the dough as described in Step 10, rolling the bottom of the stretched triangle (without slit) toward the tip. Brush with egg wash and proof (see **). After brushing with egg wash for the second time (see ***), sprinkle the sliced almonds over the top of each croissant. Bake as directed.


* * * * * * * * * * *

Almond Filling
Makes about 1 1/2 cups. This filling is divine in Danish and in croissants, and takes a mere 5 minutes to make in the food processor.

Ingredients:
4 ounces almond paste
2 T (1 ounce) sugar
8 T (1 stick; 4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
finely grated zest of 1/2 a lemon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 T (1 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

Equipment:
Food processor fitted with a metal blade or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, silicone or rubber spatula

Break or cut the almond paste into 10 to 12 pieces and put them in the bowl of a food processor. Add the sugar and process until the almond paste is cut into tiny pieces, 20 to 30 seconds. Add the butter and process until well blended, another 20 to 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl.

Add the egg, lemon zest, and vanilla extract and process for about 10 seconds. Add the flour and process for 10 seconds. Scrape down the bowl and make sure everything is evenly mixed. Transfer to an airtight container until needed.

Makes 24

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Coconut Ice Cream

1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup coconut flakes, firmly packed
8-ounce can of sweetened coconut cream

Blend the milk and coconut cream in a food processor. When smooth, stir in the cream and coconut flakes.

Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer's instructions.

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Sunday, August 3, 2008

Roasted Beet Salad with Blue Cheese

Ingredients for the salad:
3 medium yellow beets (about 1 lb.), stems trimmed off
3 medium red beets (about 1 lb.), stems trimmed off
2 T extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups baby leaf spinach
1/4 pound whole piece blue cheese (frozen)
toasted almonds

Ingredients for the dressing:
3 cups tangerine or orange juice
1 T lemon juice
pinch salt and pepper
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Variations: walnuts, hazelnuts, blood oranges, goat cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the beets in a baking pan, drizzle with the oil, and season with salt. Cover with foil. Bake for about 1 hour, or until tender when pierced with a knife.

While the beets are roasting, make the dressing:
In a 1-quart non-reactive saucepan, ove r medium-high heat, reduce the tangerine juice to about 3/4 cup. Add the lemon juice. Remove from the heat and strain with a fine sieve.

Return to the saucepan; add lemon juice, salt and pepper. Over medium heat, reduce until the mixture bubbles and has a syrup-like consistency. You should have about 1/4 cup. Remove from the heat and strain again. Let cool to room temperature. Add the olive oil. Set aside. [Can be stored in refrigerator for up to 1 1/2 weeks.]

When cool enough to handle, peel the beets, and thinly slice them into rounds. Arrange on a serving platter and drizzle with the dressing. In a large bowl, toss the spinach with the remaining dressing and place spinach on top of beets in the center of the platter.

Remove the wedge of blue cheese from the freezer. Using a microplane grater, grate the desired amount over the salad. Garnish with toasted almonds.

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Gelato di Caffe

1/4 pound espresso coffee beans
2 quarts whipping cream
12 to 14 egg whites
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Grind the coffee beans. Heat the cream until it's about to boil. Remove from heat, add the coffee grounds and cover. Let cool, about half an hour.

Beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Strain the coffee grounds from the cream and fold into the egg whites, along with the powdered sugar. Put the mixture back over the heat and stir until it begins to thicken. Remove from heat, let it cool and then transfer mixture to an ice cream machine, process according to manufacturer's instructions.

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Saturday, August 2, 2008

Lamb Burgers

For the tzatziki:
1/2 English cucumber, peeled, seeded and grated (3/4 cup)
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint
1 small garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper

For the lamb burgers:
1 1/2 pounds ground lamb
1/2 small onion, minced (1/4 cup)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
4 pita breads (6-inch)
2 medium beefsteak tomatoes, sliced
shredded lettuce

Heat a grill to high. Prepare the tzatziki: In a medium bowl, combine the cucumber, yogurt, lemon juice, mint and garlic, season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

In a medium bowl, use a fork to combine the lamb, onion, parsley and oregano; season with salt and pepper.

Gently form into small patties, about 3/4 inch thick. Grill until medium-rare, 2-3 minutes per side.

Warm the pitas on the grill, halve and fill with lamb burgers, tzatziki, tomatoes and shredded lettuce.

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Friday, August 1, 2008

Orange Ice Cream

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup half-and-half
2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice, strained to remove the pulp
1/2 cup granulated white sugar, or to taste
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 T orange zest (optional)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a large bowl or measuring cup combine all the ingredients. Cover and place in the refrigerator until it is completely cold, several hours or overnight.

Transfer the mixture to an ice cream machine and process according to the manufacturer's instructions. Once made, transfer the ice cream to a chilled container and store in the freezer.

Makes about 3 cups.

Note: Half-and-half is a mixture of cream and whole milk and contains 10-12% butterfat. Heavy cream or heavy "whipping" cream contains 36-40% butterfat.

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