Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Red Sauce

3 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 28-ounce can peeled whole san marzano tomatoes, with juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh basil leaves
1 lb. spaghetti

Heat olive oil in a non-reactive pot (earthenware or enameled cast iron) over medium heat. Add garlic and fry, stirring frequently, until golden, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, with juice. Season with salt and pepper. Increase heat to high, bring sauce to a boil, and cook until sauce has reduced slightly, about 5 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Add a few basil leaves and cook for 15 minutes more.

Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but firm, about 7 minutes. Drain pasta, mix with sauce, and serve with freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano.

Serves 4



For the dough:
1 7-gram packet active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon salt
extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup cornmeal

For the filling:
1/2 lb. fresh mozzarella, sliced into 8 pieces
16 oil-packed anchovy filets
1 14-ounce can peeled whole san marzano tomatoes, drained and chopped
2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves

Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup lukewarm water in a large bowl and set aside until foamy, about 10 minutes. Combine flours and salt in a bowl. Add 1 cup flour mixture to yeast. Stir with a wooden spoon. Add 1/2 cup water, then 1 cup flour. Mix well, then work in remaining 1 cup flour. Gradually add another 1/4 cup water to make a soft, moist dough.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, 10–12 minutes. Divide dough into 4 balls. Lightly coat the inside of 4 small bowls with olive oil. Place 1 ball of dough in each bowl. Cover with damp cloths and set aside to rise until dough doubles in bulk, 2 1/2–3 hours.

Place pizza stone in oven and preheat oven to 450 degrees F. On a floured work surface, stretch 1 ball of dough into a thin 9" circle. Place 2 slices mozzarella, 4 anchovy fillets, and 2–3 tablespoons tomatoes on one side of 1 circle of dough. Sprinkle with oregano, fold dough over, and pinch to seal. Repeat process to make a total of 4 calzoni.

Sprinkle cornmeal on pizza stone, place calzoni on top, and brush with a little oil. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.


Baked Manicotti

4 T unsalted butter
3 cups marinara sauce
1 8-ounce box dried manicotti shells (about 14)
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 cups whole milk ricotta
1 cup grated parmesan
7 T chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 eggs, beaten

Grease a 9" x 13" baking pan with 1 tablespoon butter and spread 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce across the bottom of the pan. Set aside. Bring a 6-quart pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the manicotti and cook until just tender, about 8 minutes. Drain manicotti and rinse under cold water; set aside.

Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Heat remaining butter in a 12" skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Transfer garlic to a medium bowl along with the ricotta, 1/2 cup parmesan, 5 tbsp. chopped parsley, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and eggs and stir to combine.

Spoon some of the filling into both openings of each manicotti shell. (Alternatively, transfer the ricotta mixture to a 1-gallon resealable plastic bag, snip off a bottom corner of the bag, and pipe filling into pasta.) Repeat with remaining manicotti shells. Transfer stuffed manicotti to prepared baking dish, making 2 rows. Spread the remaining marinara sauce over the manicotti and sprinkle with remaining parmesan. Bake until hot and bubbly, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining parsley. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.


Veal Parmigiana

8 2-ounce veal cutlets, preferably cut from the top round, pounded to 1/8" thickness
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup flour
4 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups dried bread crumbs
8 T extra virgin olive oil
3 cups marinara sauce
8 slices provolone cheese (about 6 oz.)
3/4 cup grated parmesan
2 T chopped flat leaf parsley

Heat oven to broil and place a rack 10" from the heating element. Season veal cutlets lightly with salt and pepper.

Place flour, eggs, and bread crumbs in separate shallow dishes. Working with one piece of veal at a time, dredge veal in flour, eggs, and bread crumbs and transfer to a parchment paper–lined baking sheet.

Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a 12" skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 pieces breaded veal and cook, turning once with tongs, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer veal to an aluminum foil–lined baking sheet. Wipe out skillet and repeat with the remaining oil and veal.

Top each piece of veal with 1⁄3 cup of the marinara sauce and 1 slice provolone cheese and sprinkle with 1 1⁄2 tbsp. parmesan. Broil until cheese is golden and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Using a spatula, divide the veal parmesan between 4 plates and sprinkle with the parsley.


Eggplant Parmigiana

1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-ounce can crushed Italian tomatoes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups dried plain bread crumbs, sifted
1 large eggplant
12 fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
3/4 cup grated provolone

Preheat oven to 375°. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil and garlic in a medium saucepan over medium heat until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, season to taste with salt and pepper, and simmer, stirring, until sauce thickens, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, place flour in a shallow dish. Beat eggs together in another shallow dish. Mix bread crumbs with a generous pinch of salt and pepper in a third shallow dish. Set dishes aside.

Peel and trim eggplant and slice lengthwise into 1/2'' pieces. Dredge each slice first in the flour, then in the egg, then in the seasoned bread crumbs.

Heat remaining ⅛ cup oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until oil is hot but not smoking. Add breaded eggplant slices to the hot oil (working in batches, if needed) and cook until golden on both sides and dark brown on the edges, 2-3 minutes per side.

Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce in the bottom of a large shallow ovenproof dish. Arrange eggplant in a single layer on top of tomato sauce. Spoon remaining sauce over eggplant. Scatter basil on top of sauce and sprinkle with parmigiano-reggiano, then provolone. Bake until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted, about 20 minutes.

Serves 4


Artichoke Crostini or Bruschetta

8 1/2"-thick slices ciabatta or another peasant-style bread
extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, smashed
1/2 cup marscapone
6 1/2-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts
2 T finely chopped chives
2 ounces parmesan, shaved thin with a peeler
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Prepare a medium-hot charcoal fire in a grill or set gas grill to medium-high. Drizzle the bread with oil. Grill bread slices until both sides are golden brown with slightly charred crusts, 4–5 minutes.

While hot, rub bread with garlic. Slather 1 tablespoon of the marscapone on top of each toasted slice. Top marscapone with artichoke hearts, chives, parmesan, and pepper. Drizzle with more oil, if you like.


Stuffed Artichokes

4 large, full-size artichokes
1 lemon, halved
1 3/4 cups dried bread crumbs
1 cup grated pecorino
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
5 T extra virgin olive oil

Using a serrated knife, cut off artichoke stems to create a flat bottom. Cut top thirds off artichokes, pull off tough outermost leaves, and trim tips of leaves with kitchen shears. Rub cut parts with lemon halves. Open artichoke leaves with your thumbs to make room for stuffing; set aside.

Heat oven to 425 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs, 3/4 cup pecorino, parsley, salt, pepper, and garlic. Working with one artichoke at a time over bowl, sprinkle one-quarter of bread crumb mixture over the artichoke and work it in between leaves. Transfer stuffed artichoke to a shallow baking dish. Drizzle each artichoke with 1 tablespoon oil. Pour in boiling water to a depth of 1". Rub 1 tablespoon olive oil on a sheet of aluminum foil, cover artichokes with foil (oiled side down), and secure foil tightly around dish with kitchen twine. Bake until a knife easily slides into the base of an artichoke, about 45 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle tops with remaining cheese, and switch oven to broil. Broil until tops of artichokes are golden brown, about 3 minutes.


Cannoli, Another Way

For the shell dough:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 T granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
2 T melted butter
a scant 3/4 cup of Marsala wine
2 quarts canola or other flavorless oil, for frying
egg white, for sealing the ends of the dough on the cannoli forms before frying

For the filling:
30 ounces whole milk ricotta, drained in the refrigerator several hours or overnight
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup finely chopped chocolate, plus more for sprinkling on the ends of the filled cannolis

chopped pistachios, for sprinkling on the ends of the filled cannolis
powdered sugar, for dusting

cannoli forms
a pasta machine or pasta-making attachment for your electric mixer
deep fat frying thermometer
4-inch round cookie or biscuit cutter, or other round form that can cut 4-inch circles

Drain the ricotta overnight in the refrigerator.

Combine the drained ricotta, powdered sugar, vanilla, orange zest, and chocolate chunks. Set aside in the refrigerator.

For the shells:
Combine the flour, sugar, and pinch of salt. Mix in the melted butter and Marsala wine, continuing to mix until a dough comes together. Knead the dough by hand for a few minutes until it is smooth and supple, wrap the ball of dough in Saran wrap and refrigerate it for 2-3 hours.

Divide the dough into quarters. Working with a quarter at a time, roll it through a pasta machine several times on the widest setting, folding it back over and onto itself after every pass through. This will smooth the dough out a bit; it shouldn't look 'shaggy' at this point, but smooth and flat. Continue passing it through the machine, cranking down the size of the opening with each pass through. Get the dough as thin as possible without tearing or ripping. If the dough gets too sticky, dust with flour.

Roll out the dough and cut into 4-inch rounds, setting the rounds aside. Repeat this process with the remaining 3 quarters of dough, re-rolling the scraps of leftover dough after cutting the dough and cut into rounds.

Frying the shells:
Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat until it comes to 350 degrees F.

Prepare a cooling rack with a paper towel for draining the cooked cannoli shells.

Wrap a round of dough loosely around the end of a cannoli form, sealing the seam by firmly pressing with a little egg white. With metal tongs, drop the forms into the oil and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove from the oil and cool on the rack, sliding the form out of the shell.

Just before serving (and after the shells have thoroughly cooled), pipe the ricotta filling into the shells. Dip the ends of the cannoli into the chopped chocolate and pistachios. Do not pipe the filling into the shells until ready to serve or the cannolis will be soggy.

Makes 24 cannolis


Angelo's Marinara Sauce

1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
3 T extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 T flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Put tomatoes and their liquid into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Set aside.

Heat oil in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, bay leaf, and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes along with the oregano and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens slightly and its flavors come together, about 20 minutes. Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper.

The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to 8 days.

Makes about 3 cups


Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe

2 lbs. broccoli rabe, stems removed
l lb. orecchiette pasta
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
7 cloves garlic, minced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated pecorino romano

Place broccoli rabe in a deep saucepan and cover with cold salted water. Bring to a simmer over high heat. When bubbles appear, remove from heat. Drain; plunge broccoli rabe into ice water, drain again, pat dry, and set aside.

Cook orecchiette in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but firm, 7–12 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat and sauté garlic until fragrant and just golden, about 3 minutes. Add broccoli rabe, season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and keep warm until pasta is ready.

4. Drain pasta, add to broccoli rabe, and toss to mix well. Remove from heat, transfer to a platter, and serve with grated pecorino romano.


Shrimp Scampi

Type your summary here.

2 lbs. large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and butterflied
1 cup flour
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 T worcestershire sauce, or more to taste
5 cloves garlic, minced
juice of 1 1/2 lemons, about 5 T
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 lb. butter, cut into small pieces
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 T minced fresh parsley

Dredge shrimp in flour and set aside. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Working in batches, sauté shrimp until just golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel–lined plate to absorb excess oil. Repeat process until all shrimp have been sautéed.

Drain and discard excess oil from pan, then stir in wine, worcestershire sauce, garlic, lemon juice, and stock. Cook over high heat until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Whisk in butter, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Lower heat to medium and add shrimp to reheat, tossing to coat well with sauce, about 1 minute. Sprinkle with parsley just before serving. Serve over linguine.


Rao's Lemon Chicken

2 cups fresh lemon juice
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 T red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2- 2 1/2 lb. chickens with legs, thighs, and wings separated and breasts quartered
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Place oven rack in the upper third of the oven, and preheat broiler for at least 15 minutes.

Whisk together lemon juice, oil, vinegar, garlic, and oregano in a large bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Place chicken, skin side down, on a baking sheet and broil for 15 minutes. Turn chicken skin side up and broil until skin is crisp and golden and juices run clear, about 15 minutes more.

Remove chicken from broiler and toss in lemon mixture. Return chicken to broiler, skin side up, and broil for 3 minutes. Transfer chicken to a platter.

Pour pan drippings into a saucepan, add lemon sauce, and bring to a boil over high heat until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in parsley, drizzle a little sauce on chicken, and serve remaining sauce on the side.


Marinara Sauce

2 28-oz. cans san marzano tomatoes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 ounces fatback or salt pork, diced (optional)
1 small yellow onion, peeled and minced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
6–10 fresh basil leaves, torn
pinch dried oregano

Drain tomatoes, reserving juice. Crush tomatoes with your hands into a bowl, gently removing and discarding any hard cores, skin, or tough membranes from stem ends. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large nonreactive saucepan over medium-low heat. If using fatback, add it to the pan and sauté until all fat has been rendered, about 5 minutes. Remove fatback with a slotted spoon and discard.

Add onions to pan and cook until golden, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and reserved juice and season to taste with salt. Increase heat to high, and bring sauce to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to low and simmer until flavors have blended and sauce has slightly thickened, about 1 hour.

Stir in basil and oregano, and season to taste with salt and pepper. If not using immediately, refrigerate, covered, for up to a week.


Homemade Mayonnaise

2 egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons white wine or champagne vinegar
1 cup light tasting oil, such as grape seed or light olive
1 teaspoon each of 3-4 finely minced fresh herbs, for instance tarragon (for seafood), chives, chervil, parsley, etc.

In a blender or food processor, blend the egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice, vinegar, and salt until smooth. With the motor running, gradually drizzle the oil through the hole in the lid until the mayonnaise is thick and creamy.

Scrape the mayonnaise into a bowl and add the fresh minced herbs. Use a spatula to fold the herbs in, then taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.

The mayonnaise will keep in the refrigerator for a day or two.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.


Hamburger Buns, Slider Size

4 1/4 cups unbleached bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 T sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups buttermilk or milk, at room temperature

Optional: sesame seeds for the tops

Mix together the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl. Pour in the egg, butter, and buttermilk and mix with a large metal spoon until all the flour is absorbed and the dough forms a shaggy ball. You can trickle in a little water if the dough seems very stiff, until the dough is soft and supple.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured countertop, where you’ll do your kneading. Knead for about 8 minutes, until the dough is soft, supple, and tacky but not sticky. You can test if you’ve kneaded it enough by pulling off a little piece of dough, gently stretching and pulling it with your hands until it’s paper thin, and holding it up to the light: if the dough stretches and holds its shape without breaking, to the point where it’s translucent, it’s done. This is called the windowpane test.

Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl. Roll it around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a towel and let it rise at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until doubled in size (I use an electric heating pad under the bowl, as we keep our house on the cool side.)

Remove the risen dough from the bowl and divide it into eighteen 2-ounce pieces (for slider buns) or twelve 3-ounce pieces (for standard size burger buns.) Shape the pieces of dough into rounds, transfer them to baking sheets lined with Silpats or parchment paper, and cover them with a towel. Let the buns proof at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes, or until they’re nearly doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Whisk together 1 egg with 1 teaspoon of water, for an egg wash. Brush the tops of the buns with the egg wash, and sprinkle with sesame seeds if you like. Bake the buns for 15 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Remove them immediately from the pans and cool completely on a wire cooling rack (cool them at least 1 hour before slicing.)

Makes 18 slider buns or 12 regular burger buns.


Chocolate Caramel Tart

Darker, dutch-process cocoa powder makes for a more flavorful, cookie-like crust.

For the crust:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup plus 1 T dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
10 T unsalted butter, cubed and softened
1/2 cup plus 2 T confectioners' sugar
2 egg yolks, preferably at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the caramel:
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 T light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 T unsalted butter
6 T heavy cream
1 T crème fraîche

For the ganache:
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
grey sea salt for garnish

Make the crust:
Heat oven to 350˚. Combine flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Using a handheld mixer, cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until mixture is pale and fluffy; mix in yolks and vanilla. Mix in dry ingredients. Transfer dough to a 9" fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and press dough evenly into bottom and sides of pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Prick the tart shell all over with a fork and bake until cooked through, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool.

Make the caramel:
In a 1-qt. saucepan, whisk together sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 6 tablespoons of water and bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer inserted into the syrup reads 365°. Remove pan from heat and whisk in butter, cream, and crème fraîche (the mixture will bubble up) until smooth. Pour caramel into cooled tart shell and let cool slightly; refrigerate until firm, 4–5 hours.

Make the ganache:
Bring cream to a boil in a 1-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Put chocolate into a medium bowl and pour in hot cream; let sit for 1 minute, then stir slowly with a rubber spatula until smooth. Pour ganache evenly over tart and refrigerate until set, 4–5 hours. Sprinkle tart with sea salt, slice, and serve chilled.

Serves 8


Homemade Tartar Sauce

1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons pickle relish
1/2 teaspoons dried tarragon
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoons chopped capers

Combine mayonnaise, relish, tarragon, lemon juice, and capers in a small bowl, mix well, then refrigerate until needed.

Makes about 1/2 cup


Homemade Spicy Guinness Mustard

This mustard recipe uses brown mustard seeds and Guinness beer, which lends a malty character and hints of sweetness.

1 12-ounce bottle Guinness Extra Stout
1 1/2 cups brown mustard seeds (10 oz.)
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 T kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

Combine ingredients in a nonreactive mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 1–2 days so that the mustard seeds soften and the flavors meld.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a food processor and process, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, until the seeds are coarsely ground and the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a jar and cover.

Refrigerate overnight and use immediately or refrigerate for up to 6 months. (The flavor of the mustard will mellow as the condiment ages.)

Makes 3 1/2 cups.


Homemade Worcestershire Sauce

This homemade version is bolder, bigger and more delicious than its bottled cousin.

2 cups distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup tamarind concentrate
3 T yellow mustard seeds
3 T kosher salt
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
5 cardamom pods, smashed
4 chiles de árbol, chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 1-inch stick cinnamon
1 anchovy, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 1/2-inch piece ginger, peeled and crushed
1/2 cup sugar

Combine all ingredients except the sugar in a 2-qt. saucepan; boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook sugar in a skillet over medium-high heat until it becomes dark amber and syrupy, about 5 minutes. Add caramelized sugar to vinegar mixture and whisk to combine; cook sauce for 5 minutes; transfer sauce to a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.

Refrigerate, covered, for 3 weeks; strain to remove solids; return to jar. Refrigerate for up to 8 months.

Makes about 2 cups


Homemade Harissa

This North African condiment is based on a recipe in A Mediterranean Feast by Clifford Wright (William Morrow, 1999).

8 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded (about 2 ounces)
8 dried new mexico chiles, stemmed and seeded (about 1 1/2 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon dried mint leaves
3 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5 cloves garlic
juice of 1 lemon

Put chiles into a medium bowl, cover with boiling water, and let sit until softened, about 20 minutes. Heat caraway, coriander, and cumin in an 8" skillet over medium heat. Toast spices, swirling skillet constantly, until very fragrant, about 4 minutes. Transfer spices to a grinder with the mint and grind to a fine powder. Set aside.

Drain chiles and transfer to the bowl of a food processor with the ground spices, olive oil, salt, garlic, and lemon juice. Purée, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl, until the paste is very smooth, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a sterilized 1-pint glass jar and fill with oil until ingredients are submerged by 1/2-inch. Refrigerate, topping off with more oil after each use. Paste will keep for up to 3 weeks.

Make 1 cup


Homemade Ketchup

Sweetened with brown sugar, this homemade condiment pairs well with everything from french fries to meat loaf.

4 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
1 stick cinnamon
1⁄4 teaspoon celery seeds
1⁄4 teaspoon chile flakes
1⁄4 teaspoon whole allspice
2 lbs. tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup white vinegar
5 T brown sugar
1 onion, chopped
1 anaheim chile, chopped
1 clove garlic

Wrap cloves, bay leaf, cinnamon, celery seeds, chile flakes, and allspice in a layer of cheesecloth; tie into a bundle and put into a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat along with tomatoes, salt, vinegar, sugar, onion, and anaheim chiles; smash and add the garlic. Cook, stirring, until onions and chiles are very soft, 40 minutes.

Remove spice bundle; purée sauce in a blender until smooth. Strain sauce through a mesh strainer into a 4-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 30 minutes. Add more salt, sugar, or vinegar, if you like.

Transfer ketchup to a glass jar. Set aside; let cool. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

Makes 2 1/2 cups


Chocolate Hazelnut Ravioli

16 wonton wrappers
1 egg, beaten to blend
1 cup Nutella
vegetable oil, for frying
16 fresh mint leaves
nonstick vegetable oil spray
granulated sugar, for dredging
powdered sugar, for dusting

Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap. Place 1 wonton wrapper on the work surface. Brush the edges of the wrapper lightly with egg. Spoon 1 tablespoon of chocolate-hazelnut spread into the center of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper diagonally in half over the filling and press the edges of the wrapper to seal. Place the ravioli on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining wonton wrappers, egg, and chocolate-hazelnut spread.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Add enough oil to a heavy large frying pan to reach a depth of 2 inches. Heat the oil over medium heat to 350 degrees F.

Working in batches, carefully add the ravioli to the hot oil and cook until they are golden brown, about 45 seconds per side. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the ravioli to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Then, transfer the cooked ravioli to another baking sheet and keep them warm in the oven while frying the remaining ravioli. [The fried ravioli can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool them completely, then cover and refrigerate. Before serving, place them on a baking sheet and rewarm in a preheated 375 degrees F oven just until they are heated through, about 7 minutes.]

Spray the top side of the mint leaves very lightly with nonstick spray. Working with 1 leaf at a time, dredge the coated side of the leaves in sugar to coat lightly.

Arrange 2 fried ravioli on each plate. Dust the ravioli with powdered sugar. Garnish with the sugared mint leaves and serve.


Homemade Nutella

2 cups raw hazelnuts
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, good quality
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 T hazelnut oil, more as needed

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread the hazelnuts evenly over a cookie sheet and roast until they darken and become aromatic, about 10 minutes. Transfer the hazelnuts to a damp towel and rub to remove the skins.

In a food processor, grind the hazelnuts to a smooth butter, scraping the sides as needed so they process evenly, about 5 minutes.

Add the cocoa, sugar, vanilla, salt and oil to the food processor and continue to process until well blended, about 1 minute. The finished spread should have the consistency of creamy peanut butter; if it is too dry, process in a little extra hazelnut oil until the desired consistency is achieved. Remove to a container, cover and refrigerate until needed. Allow the spread to come to room temperature before using, as it thickens considerably when refrigerated. It will keep for at least a week.

Each tablespoon: 109 calories; 2 grams protein; 8 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 9 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 13 mg. sodium.


Bread Bowls For Soups & Dips

2 cups (9-ounces/255 grams) all-purpose flour
1 T (0.3-ounces/8 grams) semolina or whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 water (6-ounces/170 grams), lukewarm
2 1/2 T olive oil or melted butter (1.2 ounces/35 grams)

Optional: herbs and ground spices

Mix together all of the ingredients until a shaggy ball of dough is formed.

Knead 6 to 8 minutes, until a smooth ball of dough is formed.

Rest for 30 minutes

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Prepare a sheet pan lined with parchment or silicone and 4 to 8 ovenproof bowls, ramekins or pyrex bowls. Lightly coat the bottoms with oil or nonstick spray.

Lay herbs and/or spices on top of the upturned bowls (optional).

Divide 4 to 8 pieces

Rest 10 minutes to allow the gluten to relax and make flattening easier.

Flatten the pieces of dough into circles about 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick.

Pop any large bubbles and lightly brush with oil or melted butter. Lay on the prepared upturned bowls, oiled side down, and gently pat down to eliminate air pockets.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 400 degrees F, rotating the pan halfway through baking.

Cool at least 15 minutes.


Pita Bread

3 cups plus a scant 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (16-ounces/454 grams)
2 teaspoons salt (1/2 ounce/13.2 grams)
2 teaspoons instant yeast (6.4 grams)
2 T olive oil (1-ounce/27 grams)
1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature (10.4 ounces/295 grams)

About 1 1/2 hours before shaping, or for best flavor development, 8 hours to 3 days ahead, mix the dough.

Mixer method:
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all the ingredients. With the paddle attachment, mix on low speed (#2 if using a Kitchen Aid) just until all the flour is moistened, about 20 seconds. Change to the dough hook, raise the speed to medium (#4 Kitchen Aid), and knead for 10 minutes. The dough should clean the bowl and be very soft and smooth and just a little sticky to the touch. Add a little flour or water if necessary. [The dough will weigh about 27.75 ounces/793 grams.]

Hand method:
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except for a scant 1/4 cup of the flour. With a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until all the flour is moistened. Knead the dough in the bowl until it comes together.

Sprinkle a little of the reserved flour onto the counter and scrape the dough onto it. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, adding as little of the reserved flour as possible. Use a bench scraper to scrape the dough and gather it together as you knead it. At this point it will be very sticky. Cover it with the inverted bowl and allow it to rest for 5 to 20 minutes. [This rest will make the dough less sticky and easier to work with.]

Knead the dough for another 5 to 10 minutes or until it is soft and smooth and just a little sticky to the touch. Add a little flour or water if necessary. [The dough will weigh about 27.75 oz./793 grams.]

Let the dough rise:
Using an oiled spatula or dough scraper, scrape the dough into a 2-quart or larger dough-rising container or bowl, lightly greased with cooking spray or oil. Press the dough down and lightly spray or oil the top of it. Cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap. With a piece of tape, mark the side of the container at approximately where double the height of the dough would be. Refrigerate the dough overnight (or up to 3 days), checking every hour for the first 4 hours and pressing it down if it starts to rise.

Preheat the oven:
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F one hour before baking. Have an oven shelf at the lowest level and place a baking stone, cast-iron skillet, or baking sheet on it before preheating.

Shape the dough:
Cut the dough into 8 or 12 pieces. Work with one piece at a time, keeping the rest covered with a damp cloth. On a lightly floured counter, with lightly floured hands, shape each piece into a ball and then flatten it into a disk. Cover the dough with oiled plastic and allow it to rest for 20 minutes at room temperature.

Roll each disk into a circle a little under 1/4 inch thick. Allow them to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes before baking.

Bake the pita:
Quickly place 1 piece of dough directly on the stone or in the skillet or on the baking sheet, and bake for 3 minutes. The pita should be completely puffed but not beginning to brown. The dough will not puff well if it is not moist enough. See how the pita puffs, then, if necessary, spray and knead each remaining piece with water until the dough is soft and moist; allow to rest again and reroll as before.* [However, those that do not puff well are still delicious to eat.]

* - Smitten Kitchen says,"After my first pita didn’t puff well, and I realized I was too lazy to spritz and reroll and rise each remaining pita, I instead spritzed each rolled-out pita with water two or three minutes before baking it. It worked magically — all of the remaining pitas puffed perfectly. Try this method first if yours don’t puff, if it doesn’t work to you, revert to Beranbaum’s suggestion of kneading the extra moisture in."

Proceed with the remaining dough, baking 3 or 4 pieces at a time if using a stone or baking sheet. using a pancake turner, transfer the pita breads to a clean towel, to stay soft and warm. Allow the oven to reheat for 5 minutes between batches. The pitas can be reheated for about 30 seconds in a hot oven before serving.

To cook the pitas on the stove top:
Preheat a griddle or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly grease the surface and cook the pitas one at a time. Cook for about 20 seconds, then turn the dough and continue cooking for 1 minute or until big bubbles appear. Turn the dough again and cook until the dough balloons. If the dough begins to brown, lower the heat. The entire cooking process for each pita should be about 3 minutes.

Whole Wheat Variation:
For a whole wheat version, use half whole wheat and half white flour. If using regular whole wheat flour, for best results, grind it very fine or process it in a food processor for 5 minutes to break the bran into smaller particles. Finely ground 100% whole wheat flour (atta), available in Middle Eastern food markets, is the finest grind available. Or, for a milder but wheatier flavor and golden color, try 100% white whole wheat flour. You will need to add 1/4 cup more water, for a total of 1 1/2 cups (12.4 ounces/354 grams).


Monday, March 30, 2009

Mole Poblano

Prepare a double batch of mole, serving a portion and keeping the rest to freeze. Mole will keep frozen for up to a month. Simply thaw and reheat. If the texture is grainy after reheating, simply reblend the sauce.

Chunks of boneless, skinless chicken can be used. The recipe calls for parboiling, but you can prepare the chicken in any number of ways - Baked, roasted, or grilled, or even a purchased rotisserie chicken. Duck, quail, turkey, or any kind of poultry can be substituted for the chicken.

Serve with brown rice, and a salad with jicama and avocado slices with a light citrus (orange, lemon or lime) dressing.

4 lbs. chicken pieces, skin on
sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
2 T sesame seeds, toasted, for garnish

For the Mole Poblano:
9 mulato chiles*
7 pasilla chiles*
6 ancho chiles*
1 cup plus 9 T vegetable oil or lard, and additional as needed
4-5 tomatillos**, husked and cooked until soft
5 whole cloves
20 whole black peppercorns
1-inch piece of a Mexican cinnamon stick***
1 T seeds from the chiles, toasted
1/2 teaspoon anise seeds, toasted
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted
8 T sesame seeds, toasted
4 garlic cloves, roasted
3 T raisins
20 whole almonds, blanched
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds****
2 corn tortillas, torn into pieces
3 stale French rolls, cut into 1-inch slices
6-7 cups reserved chicken broth as needed
1 1/2 ounces Mexican chocolate, chopped

*Mulato, pasilla, and ancho chiles are three varieties of dried chiles often used in Mexican cooking. The ancho chile (a poblano that has ripened to a dark red color and dried) is rust-colored, broad at the stem and narrowing to a triangular tip. The mulato, a relative to the poblano, is dark brown and triangular. The shiny black pasilla chile, a dried chilaca chile, is narrow and five to six inches long. Good quality chiles should be fragrant and pliable. Wipe them carefully with a damp cloth or a paper towel to remove any dust. To seed dried chiles, use a sharp paring knife to make a slit down the side and carefully scrape out the seeds. Wear gloves when handling chiles You can vary the number of each chile you use, so long as the total number equals 22, but only use pasilla, mulato, or ancho chiles. Do not substitute another type.

**Tomatillos are often referred to as "green tomatoes," but are members of the gooseberry family. To prepare tomatillos for the salsa, remove their papery husks and rinse away their sticky outer coating. Or, canned whole tomatillos are available under the San Marcos brand.

***Mexican cinnamon, known as canela, is the bark of the true cinnamon tree, native to Sri Lanka. It is sold in very thin and somewhat flaky curled sticks and is much softer than the more common variant of cinnamon, which comes from the bark of the cassia tree.

****Also known as pepitas, the pumpkin seeds used in Mexican cooking are hulled. When frying or toasting pumpkin seeds in a dry skillet, keep a cover handy, as they will pop like popcorn.

In a large stock pot, parboil the chicken in water seasoned with salt and pepper to taste. Drain, reserving cooking broth, and refrigerate until ready to assemble the dish.

Mole Poblano Sauce:
Clean the chiles by removing stems, veins and seeds; reserve 1 tablespoon of the seeds. Heat 1/2 cup oil in a heavy skillet until it shimmers. Fry chiles until crisp, about 10 to 15 seconds, turning once; make sure they do not burn. Drain on paper towels. Put chiles in a nonreactive bowl, cover with hot water, and set aside for 30 minutes. Drain chiles, reserving the soaking water. Puree the chiles in a blender with enough of the soaking water to make a smooth paste. It may be necessary to scrape down the sides and blend several times to obtain a smooth paste. In a heavy Dutch oven heat and additional 1/2 cup oil over medium heat and add chile puree (be careful it will splatter). Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and set aside.

Puree tomatillos in a blender. In a coffee or spice grinder, grind the cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon, and toasted seeds. Add seed mixture and garlic to the pureed tomatillos and blend until smooth. Set aside.

Heat 6 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy frying pan. Fry each of the following ingredients and then remove with a slotted spoon: the raisins until they puff up; the almonds to a golden brown; the pumpkin seeds until they pop. If necessary, add enough oil to make 4 tablespoons and fry the tortilla pieces and bread slices until golden brown, about 15 seconds per side; remove from the skillet with a slotted spoon. Add raisins, almonds, pumpkins seeds, tortillas, and bread to the tomatillo puree and blend, using 1 to 2 cups reserved chicken broth, as needed, to make a smooth sauce. This may have to be done in batches. In a heavy Dutch oven, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add chile puree, tomatillo puree and Mexican chocolate(it will splatter) Cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring often. Add remaining 5 cups chicken broth, cook over low heat for an additional 45 minutes, stirring often enough to prevent the mixture from scorching on bottom. During last 15 minutes, add parboiled chicken and heat through. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

Serves 8


Baked Peaches with Amaretti Filling

12 amaretti cookies, coarsely crumbled
8 T unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus more for dipping the peaches
1/3 cup amaretto liqueur or malvasia, or other sweet dessert wine
1/4 cup almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa
3 large peaches, ripe but firm
1 lemon, cut in half
1/2 cup(s) water
vanilla ice cream (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the amaretti cookies in the workbowl of a food processor. Process, using on/off pulses, until coarsely ground. Add 4 tablespoons of the butter, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, 2 tablespoons of the amaretto liqueur, the almonds, and cocoa, and process until finely ground.

Cut the peaches in half and remove the stones. Brush the cut surfaces of the peaches with a lemon half and dip them in sugar.

Combine the water and remaining 6 tablespoons sugar in an oval 11-inch casserole or 9-inch glass pie plate and stir to dissolve the sugar. Squeeze in the juice from the lemon halves, and add the remaining amaretto.

Divide the amaretti stuffing among the peach halves, packing it lightly into the cavity and forming a thin, even layer over the cut side of the peach. Arrange the peaches stuffed side up and side-by-side in the prepared baking dish. Dot the top of each with about a teaspoon of the remaining butter. Cut the remaining butter into 4 pieces and add to the liquid in the baking dish. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake 15 minutes.

Uncover and continue baking until the filling is lightly browned and the juices in the pan are bubbling and lightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Remove and cool at least 10 minutes before serving. The peaches can be served hot or at room temperature, with vanilla ice cream, if you like. Spoon some of the juices in the baking dish over the peaches and, if serving, the ice cream.


Fried Rice

3 T vegetable oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Kosher salt and freshly milled black pepper
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 garlic cloves, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
2 cups frozen shelled and deveined shrimp, halved
One 10-ounce package frozen peas
3 cups leftover cooked long-grain white rice or simple boiled rice
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 T rice wine or dry sherry
2 T finely chopped crystallized ginger
4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Reduce the heat to medium. Combine the eggs with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and pour into the skillet. Cook, stirring, until scrambled, about 1 minute. Break into small pieces and transfer to a bowl

Add another tablespoon of oil, the onion, and garlic to the pan; cook, stirring 2 minutes. Add the shrimp and peas; cook until the shrimp are cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer the mixture to the bowl with the eggs.

Heat the remaining tablespoon oil in the same skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly crispy.

Stir together the soy sauce, rice wine, ginger, and sesame oil; add to the skillet along with the shrimp, peas, and egg. Cook just until the egg is heated through and serve.


Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

For the Cookies:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 teaspoons coarse salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar, plus more for rolling
2 large egg yolks
2 T heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Chocolate and Vanilla-Bean Ganache (recipe follows)

For the Chocolate and Vanilla-Bean Ganache:
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped, pod reserved
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably 61% cacao), finely chopped
1 ounce (2 T) unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened

To prepare the cookies:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, cocoa powder, and salt into a small bowl. Cream butter and sugar with a mixer until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium, add yolks, cream, and vanilla. Scrape sides of bowl. Beat in flour mixture until just combined.

Roll balls using 2 teaspoons dough for each, and roll each in sugar. Place 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. With the handle of a wooden spoon, press gently in the center of each to create an indentation. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are just set, about 10 minutes. (If indentations lose definition, press centers again.) Let cool slightly on baking sheets. Transfer cookies to wire racks, and let cool.

Spoon warm ganache into center of each cookie. Let stand until firm, about 15 minutes. Cookies will keep, covered, for up to 3 days.

To prepare the ganache:
Combine honey, cream, and vanilla seeds and pod in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring until honey dissolves. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 20 minutes.

Place chocolate in a food processor. Return cream mixture to a simmer then strain through a fine sieve. Discard solids. Pour cream mixture over chocolate, and let stand for 1 minute. Process until smooth. Add butter, and continue to process, scraping down sides occasionally, until butter is incorporated. Let cool slightly, and then use immediately.


Braised Short Ribs

6 bone-in short ribs (about 5 3/4 pounds)
extra-virgin olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 ribs celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 carrots, peeled, cut in 1/2 lengthwise, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 1/2 cups tomato paste
2 to 3 cups hearty red wine
2 cups water
1 bunch fresh thyme, tied with kitchen string
2 bay leaves

Season each short rib generously with salt. Using a pan large enough to accommodate all the meat and vegetables, coat with olive oil and bring to a high heat. Add the short ribs to the pan and brown very well, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Do not overcrowd pan. Cook in batches, if necessary.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

While the short ribs are browning, puree all the vegetables and garlic in the food processor until it forms a coarse paste. When the short ribs are very brown on all sides, remove them from the pan. Drain the fat, coat the bottom of same pan with fresh oil and add the pureed vegetables.

Season the vegetables generously with salt and brown until they are very dark and a crust has formed on the bottom of the pan, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Scrape the crust and let it reform. Scrape the crust again and add the tomato paste. Brown the tomato paste for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan. Lower the heat if things start to burn, then reduce the mixture by half.

Return the short ribs to the pan and add 2 cups water or until the water has just about covered the meat. Add the thyme bundle and bay leaves. Cover the pan and place in the oven for 3 hours. Check periodically during the cooking process and add more water, if needed. Turn the ribs over halfway through the cooking time. Remove the lid during the last 20 minutes of cooking to let things get nice and brown and to let the sauce reduce. When done, the meat should be very tender but not falling apart. Serve with the braising liquid.

Serves 8


When in Mexico...

...eat where the locals eat

Fonda Margarita, Adolfo Prieto No. 1364 B, Mexico City, Mexico


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Southern Coconut Cake

Ingredients for the cake:
5 large egg whites
½ cup of milk
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
3 cups of cake flour*
2 and 1/3 cup sugar
4 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
½ teaspoon of salt
2 sticks of unsalted butter (8oz.) at warm room temperature
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

2 ½ cups of sweetened flaked coconut for garnishing cake

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Butter the bottoms of three 8-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a parchment circle and butter the circle.

Put the egg whites in a bowl and whisk slightly. Add the ½ cup of milk and the vanilla and whisk to mix thoroughly; set aside.

In a large mixer bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low, beat dry ingredients well in order to break up any lumps. Add the butter and coconut milk on low speed and beat just to combine. Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy about 2 minutes.

Add the egg white mixture in 2 or 3 additions, scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition. Divide the batter among the pans.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a cake taster inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in their pans for 10 minutes. Then turn the cakes out and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

To assemble the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on an 8-inch cake round. Cover this layer with 1 cup of the buttercream frosting. Spread it evenly all the way to edge of the cake. Then sprinkle ½ cup of shredded coconut on top. Add the second layer and repeat the process. Top with the final layer of cake and frost the top and sides of the cake.

Place the remaining 1 ½ cups shredded coconut on a large baking tray. Pick up the cake and hold it on the palm of one hand over the tray. Using the other hand scoop up the coconut and press it to the sides of the cake. Continue with this process until the sides of the cake are covered. Set the cake on a serving plate and sprinkle any remaining coconut on top of cake. Chill cake for at least one hour to allow frosting to firm up a bit.

Ingredients for the cream cheese buttercream frosting:
12 ounces of cream cheese* slightly chilled
1 stick of butter plus 6 tablespoons of butter (7 ounces) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup of confectioners sugar, sifted after measuring
2 teaspoons of granulated sugar
¼ cup of water
3 egg whites

Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a mixer and beat on medium speed until slightly fluffy and smooth. Add the butter 1-2 tablespoons at a time, mixing until smooth. Add the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla and mix until fluffy. Set aside at room temperature while buttercream is made.

Combine the granulated sugar and water in a small heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Continue to cook without stirring until the syrup reaches the softball stage 228 degrees F on a candy thermometer.

Meanwhile, place the egg whites in mixer bowl and have the mixer ready to go. When the syrup is ready, turn the mixer on med-low and begin mixing the egg whites. Slowly add the hot syrup to the whites taking care not to pour onto the beaters, it may splash. When all the syrup is incorporated, raise the speed on the mixer to med-high and beat the egg whites until mixture has cooled and stiff meringue forms.

With the mixer on low, begin adding the cream cheese mixture by the spoonful. When all is incorporated, raise the speed to medium and whip until frosting is smooth and fluffy.

Makes an 8-inch triple layer cake


Saturday, March 28, 2009

About Firsts and Bests

The best couscous I've ever had was also the first couscous I'd ever had. It was over twenty-five years ago, on my first trip to London, at a little hole-in-the-wall on Holmes Road in NW London, Le Petit Prince. As it happens, it was also the best meal I'd had during a trip steeped in tasting everything that the Brits had to offer (cream tea at the Ritz, eels and pie and mash, fish and chips, pub grub, Malaysian and curry houses, the food stalls at Harrods) - It was that good.

Le Petit Prince was Moorish-by-way-of-Haight-Ashbury (on the ground floor of a brick townhouse) in decor and energy, and had (maybe) five tables. Stepping past the front door, a thick wall of tobacco smoke mugged us. So aggressive it was, our eyelids slammed shut, involuntarily and in defense, and refused to open for a good thirty seconds -- Not before enough tears had poured out of our tear ducts to cushion our eyes from the harsh haze did they open again. Once we could see again (through squinted eyes), the aromas coming off of the heaping, steaming platters of simple, but perfectly prepared and spiced food on the tables around us was intoxicating.

This couscous, Couscous With Seven Vegetables & Two Meats, comes close to Le Petit Prince's, which is high praise, indeed:

1 lb. skinned chicken thighs (optional)
1 lb. lamb (optional, use equal parts cubed lamb shoulder and meaty neck bones)
1 T olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
1 T tomato paste
1½ T freshly ground cumin
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes
6 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
3 carrots, peeled, cut in half crosswise then into quarters lengthwise (you should end up with 3″ lengths like carrot sticks)
2 zucchini, cut like the carrots
4 large potatoes, skinned, cut into eighths (preferably yukon gold)
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped
3 sprigs parsley
2-3 cups cooked garbanzo beans (canned or jarred is fine)
2 cups uncooked couscous grains
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped


Heat oil in heavy large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 2-3 minutes on medium heat, until onion is soft and translucent. Add peppers. Cook for 2-3 minutes more, making sure that the onions and garlic do not brown. Stir in tomato paste, cumin and red pepper flakes; stir and let cook about 3 minutes, allowing the tomato paste to change from red to rust in color. Add water and bring to boil. Reduce heat and put chicken and lamb (if using) into pot along. Add salt and the rest of the ingredients except for garbanzos and couscous. Simmer on very low heat for about 1½ hours.

Begin to prepare the couscous (see below). Add garbanzos to the stew and allow to heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place cooked couscous into a large serving dish and arrange meat and vegetables on top using a slotted spoon.

Serve harissa, cilantro and some of the cooking broth on the side.

Place couscous and raisins on a large baking sheet and add one cup of water. Mix couscous with water and spread evenly over baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel and let sit for 1/2 hour. Add one more cup of water and mix into couscous and break up any lumps with your fingers. Place couscous mixture in top portion of couscoussier or into a colander lined with cheesecloth, cover and sit atop stew to steam. Fluff with a fork before serving.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Double Chocolate Hard Boiled Egg Cookies

3 ounces all-purpose flour, bleached or unbleached (2/3 cup)
2 T natural unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ounces unsalted butter,cold, cut up
1/4 scant teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
4 T granulated sugar
1 packed T light brown sugar
1/2 of a hard boiled egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 T regular sour cream
1/2 cup good quality chopped chocolate or semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In bowl of food processor, pulse flour, cocoa and butter until coarse and mealy. Add salt and baking soda and pulse again to mix. Add both sugars and egg and pulse until mealy, then add the vanilla and sour cream and pulse to mix. Dump into a bowl and stir or mash in the chocolate pieces.

Shape the dough into two big balls — it should stick together easily. The balls will look gross and have flecks of egg white and maybe yolk – don’t be alarmed. Bake on parchment lined insulated baking sheet for 20 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheet for about 5 minutes then transfer to a rack to cool completely. These cookies are best dealt with once completely cool.

Makes 2 large cookies


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Original Poundcake

1 lb. sugar
1 lb. butter
1 lb. flour
1 lb. eggs

Beat all ingredients together for a long time, to get to rise. Put them in a pan and bake in a moderate oven for 1 to 2 hours.


Sour Cream Poundcake

2 sticks butter, softened
3 cups granulated sugar
6 eggs
1 cup sour cream
3 cups cake flour
1/4 teaspoon soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Cream sugar and butter. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add sour cream.

Sift together dry ingredients and gradually add to creamed mixture. Add vanilla.

Pour batter into greased and floured bundt pan and bake for 1 hour, 15 minutes


Lemon Pound Cake

2 sticks unsalted butter, plus 1 T, for greasing pan
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) cake flour, plus 1 T for dusting pan
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) sugar
2 T grated zest plus 2 teaspoons juice from 2 medium lemons
4 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9-inch x 5-inch loaf pan with 1 tablespoon butter; dust with 1 tablespoon cake flour, tapping out excess.

In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In glass measuring cup or microwave-safe bowl, microwave butter, covered with plastic wrap, at full power until melted, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk melted butter thoroughly to reincorporate any separated milk solids.

In food processor, process sugar and zest until combined, about five 1-second pulses. Add lemon juice, eggs, and vanilla; process until combined, about 5 seconds. With machine running, add melted butter through feed tube in steady stream (this should take about 20 seconds). Transfer mixture to large bowl. Sift flour mixture over eggs in three steps, whisking gently after each addition until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F and continue to bake until deep golden brown and skewer inserted in center comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking time. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn onto wire rack and brush on lemon glaze, if desired. Cool to room temperature, at least one hour.

Cooled cake can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Lemon Glaze:
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar
1/4 cup juice from 1 or 2 medium lemons

While cake is cooling, bring sugar and lemon juice to boil in small non-reactive saucepan, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to low and simmer until thickened slightly, about 2 minutes. Poke holes in top and sides of cake with toothpick. Brush top and sides of cake with glaze.


Best Pound Cake

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened, plus additional for buttering pan
3 cups sifted cake flour* (not self-rising; sift before measuring) plus additional for dusting
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups sugar
7 large eggs, at room temperature 30 minutes
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup heavy cream

*cake flour substitute:
combine 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour with 1/4 cup cornstarch

Use a 10-inch tube pan (4 1/2 inches deep; not with a removable bottom) or a 10-inch bundt pan (3 1/4 inches deep; 3-qt capacity)

Put oven rack in middle position, but do not preheat oven.

Generously butter pan and dust with flour, knocking out excess flour.

Sift together sifted flour (3 cups) and salt into a bowl. Repeat sifting into another bowl (flour will have been sifted 3 times total).

Beat together butter (2 sticks) and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes in a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment or 6 to 8 minutes with a hand-held mixer. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add half of flour, then all of cream, then remaining flour, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down side of bowl, then beat at medium-high speed 5 minutes. Batter will become creamier and satiny.

Spoon batter into pan and rap pan against work surface once or twice to eliminate air bubbles. Place pan in (cold) oven and turn oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake until golden and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in middle of cake comes out with a few crumbs adhering, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Cool cake in pan on a rack 30 minutes. Run a thin knife around inner and outer edges of cake, then invert rack over pan and invert cake onto rack to cool completely.

Cake keeps, covered well with plastic wrap or in an airtight container, at room temperature 5 days.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Balsamic Caramel Sauce for Vanilla Ice Cream

2 cups heavy cream, divided
2 cups granulated sugar
2 T water, plus more for brushing
4 T balsamic vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 quarts vanilla ice cream

Bring 1 cup cream just to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and keep the cream warm.

In a large high-sided saucepan over medium-high heat, dissolve 1 cup of sugar with 2 tablespoons of water. As the sugar mixture begins to bubble, watch for crystals developing on the inside of the pan just above the liquid. Using a pastry brush dipped in water, brush the inside of the pan right above the crystals so the water drips down and dissolves the crystals back into the liquid. When the sugar begins to brown, occasionally move the pan to swirl the liquid gently and cook it evenly.
Continue to cook until the mixture is dark golden brown. The total cooking time will be 8 to 9 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

Very carefully add the hot cream to the sugar mixture a few tablespoons at a time. The liquid will bubble up dramatically. Stir the sauce and cook for 1 minute. Add the vinegar, lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt, mix well. Pour into a heatproof bowl. You should have about 1 1/4 cups of sauce. The sauce can be made several weeks ahead, covered with plastic, and stored either at room temperature or in the refrigerator. If refrigerated, warm in a microwave oven before using.

Serve on top of vanilla ice cream.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Bellinis, My Way

There's the original at Harry's Bar in Venice, Italy:

3 ounces puree from canned California Cling Peaches
dash of lemon juice
maraschino liqueur, to taste

One part peaches to three parts Prosecco.

Puree ripe peaches in a blender and spoon into a large, chilled wine goblet. Sprinkle with lemon juice and sweeten with maraschino liqueur. Fill with ice cold Prosecco.

You can substitute peach juice or peach nectar for the peach puree.

Then there's my bellini:

fresh white peaches, pureed, or if out of season, use frozen peaches, pureed peaches in a jar, or Beechnut strained baby food peaches
Your favorite good quality champagne - Mine, these days (for belinis and other cocktails calling for champagne) is Roederer estate, Anderson valley

Pour about 4 ounces of the peach puree in the bottom of a crystal champagne flute and top off with champagne.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spanish Vegetable Soup With Chickpeas and Chard

It's a quarter To 3 (a.m.), there's no one in the place (my office at home) except me and a seemingly boneless cat draped over my thigh, as I go through my overflowing email box with a late rainstorm pounding on the roof.

Email from the Hubba-Hubba (my husband, asleep down the hall in our bedroom) includes Kim Kommando links, a clip from a television program that his brother sent to him (a .wmv file his brother sent him, with David Hasselhoff, Sharon Osborne and Drew Carey o watching a magician cut a man in half with a chain saw and put him back together) and this link to a NYT recipe, Vegetable Soups Ideal for Late Winter:

Vegetable soups are a great way to incorporate into our diets some of those three to five daily servings of vegetables that the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends. Finding a variety of vegetables is particularly challenging at this time of year in many parts of the country, where the farmers’ markets are often bare despite the fact that the calendar says it’s spring. Still, it’s easy make delicious combinations of onions, garlic, carrots, celery, turnips and canned tomatoes, all vegetables that are easy to keep on hand even in the depths of winter.

I’m convinced that one of the reasons the French diet is such a healthy one, despite the butter and cheese, is that dinner in France is so often a simple vegetable soup made with whatever ingredients are fresh. Soups fill you up, they’re comforting, and they offer a lot of concentrated nutrition in a bowl at a reasonable cost, both caloric and monetary. They’re simple to make and forgiving.

Despite the fact that chefs use the chicken stock made daily, I’ve never met a French homemaker who did so. Water will be just fine for this week’s offerings.

This thick meal brims with vegetables. The tang comes from a spoonful of vinegar that is tossed with toasted bread and added to the soup at the end of cooking.

1 1/2 cups chickpeas, washed, picked over, and soaked for six hours or overnight in 1 quart water
salt, preferably kosher salt, to taste
4 1/2-inch thick slices baguette
3-4 garlic cloves, 1 cut in half, the rest minced
1 1/2 T sherry vinegar
2 T olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 lb. carrots, peeled and diced
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes, with liquid
1/2 lb. turnips, peeled and diced
2 cups shredded cabbage
3/4 lb. Swiss chard, stemmed, washed and chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley leaves
pinch of saffron threads

Drain the chickpeas and combine with 1 1/2 quarts fresh water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, add salt to taste, cover and simmer 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until tender.

Toast the bread until golden. Remove from the heat and rub with the cut clove of garlic, then tear the bread into smaller pieces. Place in a small bowl, and douse with the vinegar. Toss in the bowl, and set aside.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy soup pan, and add the onion and carrots. Cook, stirring, until the onion is tender, about five minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, half the garlic and all the paprika, and stir together for a minute. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring often until the tomatoes cook down and thicken, 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the chickpeas with their liquid, the turnips, cabbage and 2 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil, add salt to taste, reduce the heat to low, and cook until the turnips are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in the chard and the remaining garlic, and simmer another 10 minutes. Add lots of pepper, taste and adjust salt.

Add the parsley, bread and saffron. Stir, turn off the heat, and let the soup rest for 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Serves 8

Advance preparation:
You can make this through to just before adding the parsley, bread and saffon, up to a day ahead of serving. You might want to hold off adding the chard until you reheat if you want it to have a nice color. Bring the soup to a simmer, add the chard and simmer 10 minutes, then proceed with the rest of the recipe.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Roasted Pork Loin

1 T vegetable oil
1 boneless center-cut pork loin roast, about 2 pounds
2 T whole-grain mustard
2 T cider vinegar
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over high heat. Season the pork with salt and pepper and sear on all sides until golden brown. Combine the mustard and vinegar and brush over the pork. Transfer to the oven and roast the pork until a thermometer inserted in the center reads 145 degrees F, about 35 minutes. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and tent with foil for 10 minutes. Slice and serve.

Serve 4 to 6


Vegetable Gratin

This goes very well with simple roasted meats (roasted pork loin) or poultry, or as the centerpiece at lunch, perhaps with a handful of simply dressed mixed lettuces alongside.

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled
1 butternut squash (2 1/4 pounds), peeled
1 medium rutabaga (2 pounds), peeled and halved lengthwise
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1/2 T extra-virgin olive oil

Use a mandoline to cut the vegetables into uniform thin slices.

Preheat the oven to 375°. Using a mandoline, slice the potatoes and squash lengthwise 1/8 inch thick. Slice the rutabaga crosswise 1/8 inch thick.

Spray an 8-by-12-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange half of the potatoes in the dish, overlapping them slightly; season with salt and pepper. Top with half of the rutabaga and the squash, seasoning each layer. Repeat the layering. Pour the broth over and around the vegetables.

Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour, until the vegetables are almost tender when pierced. Remove the foil and pour the cream over the gratin. Bake for about 30 minutes longer, until the liquid has thickened.

Preheat the broiler. Mix the panko with the oil and season with salt and pepper; sprinkle over the gratin. Broil 3 inches from the heat for 2 minutes, until golden, rotating for even browning. Let the gratin stand for 10 minutes, then serve.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Martha's Banana Bread With Honey-Cinnamon Frosting

1/2 cup (1 stick butter), room temperature, plus more for baking pan
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup mashed very ripe bananas
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 9-inch by 5-inch loaf pan.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, beating well. Sift the dry ingredients together and combine with the butter mixture. Blend well. Add the bananas, sour cream, and vanilla. Stir well. Stir in the nuts and pour into the pan. Bake 1 hour until a cake tester comes out clean. Turn out onto a rack to cool.

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

Honey-Cinnamon Frosting:
1 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 T honey
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat confectioners' sugar, unsalted butter, honey, and ground cinnamon until smooth, 4 to 5 minutes


'Julia- & Doctor-Approved'* Banana Bread

* -

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening (or butter, or trans-fat-free margarine)
2 eggs
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
1 cup pecan flour or very finely ground pecans
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup raisins or dried currants

Optional: 1/4 cup ground flaxseed (if you really want to get health-obsessed about it)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 9-inch by 5-inch loaf pans.

Cream together the shortening and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time. Add bananas and continue beating. Add vanilla extract.

Combine all the dry ingredients, with the raisins last. Add to shortening-sugar-eggs-bananas-vanilla mixture, stirring just until combined. Pour into the greased pans.

Bake for about 45-55 minutes or just until bread pulls away from the sides and is springy to the touch.


Banana Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1 cup mashed bananas
1/4 cup + 1 T milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped, added with the milk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9-inch by 5-inch loaf pan.

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

In a large bowl, cream sugar and butter. Beat egg slightly, and mix into the creamed mixture with the bananas. Mix in sifted ingredients until just combined. Stir in milk and vanilla.

Spread batter into prepared loaf pan, and bake for 75 minutes.

Makes 1 loaf

Note: This recipe lends itself to doubling, tripling, etc.


Yes, We (Finally) Have No Bananas!

With all of the bread-baking I've been doing lately, the flours and bread-baking supplies have blocked access and view of a bowl of bananas on a side counter. What do you do when you suddenly find yourself in possession of lots of overly ripe bananas? A 'Best Banana Bread' taste-off! Our first contestant hails from 1959:

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup mashed, very ripe banana (about 2)
1 T buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 T sugar

Optional: Nuts (walnuts, pecans, try them all)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-inch x 5-inch loaf pan and set aside.

Cream butter with 1/2 cup sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat well. Sift flour with baking soda, salt, 1 teaspoonj cinnamon, and baking powder. Mix banana with the buttermilk in small bowl.

Add flour alternately with the banana/buttermilk mixture to the butter mixture, stirring after each addition until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan. Combine 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon with 2 tablespoons of sugar, mix well, and sprinkle over batter.

Bake in 350 degree F oven for 45 minutes to one hour. Remove from oven, then remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

Store in plastic bag. This improves with age.

Serves 12


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Maryland-Style Fried Chicken

A Hot Shoppe staple.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons salt
4 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup cold water
all-purpose flour, as needed
2 1/2 to 3 lb. chicken, cut up
vegetable oil for frying

Make egg wash by combining eggs and water until well blended.

Combine flour and seasonings in a shallow pan. Stir well to blend. Add chicken, 2-3 pieces at a time, and turn to coat all sides.

Dip the floured chicken in egg wash and then in seasoned flour.

Heat vegetable oil. Brown meaty pieces of chicken first, then add the other pieces. Do not crowd the chicken in the pan, using two skillets, if necessary.

Brown chicken on one side, turn and brown on the other side.

When chicken is lightly browned, reduce heat and cover tightly. Cook chicken until tender, approximately 20 to 40 minutes. Uncover chicken during the last 10 minutes of cooking time to allow chicken to crisp.


Chicken may be deep fried in a preheated 350 degree F fryer or deep electric skillet, until chicken is tender and cooked throughout. This method will produce a crispier product.


Mighty Mo

Before McDonald's and the Big Mac, there was the Hot Shoppe and the Mighty Mo:

2 2-ounce hamburger patties
salt and white pepper to taste
1 T shredded iceberg lettuce
1 slice American cheese
4 teaspoons Mighty Mo sauce
2 dill pickle chips
1 uncut hamburger bun with sesame seeds
1 T oleo margarine, softened

Cut hamburger bun into three equal slices. Spread bottom, top and one side of center cut of the bun with oleo margarine. Grill bun until lightly browned and heated throughout.

Shape hamburger into thin 4-inch diameter patties. Grill 1 hamburger patty very lightly on both sides. Do not overcook.

Grill second hamburger patty very lightly on one side, turn and top with one slice of American cheese and grill lightly. Do not overcook.

Spread 2 teaspoons of Mighty Mo sauce on bottom of hamburger bun.

Top sauce with shredded lettuce, then hamburger. Top hamburger with iddle layer of bun, grilled side up amnd spread with remain 2 teaspoons of Mighty o sauce. Top with cheeseburger patty. Place 2 dill pickle chips on cheese. Cover pickl chips with top of bun.


Mighty Mo Sauce

1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup chili sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons A-1 sauce
1/2 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
2 drops tabasco sauce
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet pickle
1 1/4 cup of mayonnaise

Combine all of the ingredients, stir until well-blended and spread on hamburger buns. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator.


Orange Julius

1 cup orange juice
1 cup water
2 egg whites
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 heaping cup of ice

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender set on high speed for 15 to 30 seconds.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tomato Sauce For Chicken Parmigiana Fingers

1 large onion
8 fresh ripe tomatoes or a large can of san marzano tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced

In a food processor, finely mince the onion.

Place a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. When the oil gets hot, add the onions and cook until translucent, about 4 or 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute. Put the drained tomatoes in the food processor and chop, add to the skillet and reduce the heat. Simmer for approximately 45 minutes, or until the sauce thickens a bit.

Makes 2 cups


Meat By Mail

Whatever's your pleasure, call D'Artagnan or Lobel's.


Orange Chocolate Chip Tea Bread

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

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Heavily grease and flour an 8-inch x 4-inch loaf pan.

Add enough boiling water to orange juice to measure 1 cup. Pour orange juice and boiling water mixture over the grated orange peel zest and let steep for 10 minutes.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and whisk to blend. In another bowl, beat the egg, butter, vanilla and the orange juice/water/zest mixture. Stir into the flour mixture until just moistened. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Pour into the loaf pan and back for 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan to a wire rack.

Dust powdered sugar over the top when completely cool. Eat plain, or serve with lazy whipped cream and slices of navel oranges, or a dark chocolate ganache over the top.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Chocolate-Covered Espresso Salted Nutmeg Caramels

I'm going to try doing these soon. Or these.

1 cup golden syrup
(or 3/4 cup golden syrup and 1/4 cup agave syrup, more agave and they will not form properly)
2 cups sugar in the raw
1 teaspoon espresso sea salt
(or 3/4 teaspoon sea salt + 1 teaspoon espresso extract added with the vanilla)
2 cups soy creamer
3/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
3 tablespoons room temperature Earth Balance buttery stick or other margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound bittersweet dark chocolate, tempered

Line a 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper. Combine the syrup or syrups, raw sugar, and espresso salt in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, stirring until mixture simmers at the edges. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes. (As mixture cooks, wash spoon so it will be clear of sugar crystals when used later.)

Uncover saucepan and wash down the sides with a pastry brush dipped in water to remove the sugar cyrstals on the sides of the pan. Insert a candy thermometer and allow the mixture to cook, uncovered and without stirring to 305°F.

As the sugar cooks, gently heat the soy creamer with the fresh grated nutmeg until just before boiling. Maintain the heat at a simmer and keep covered to allow the nutmeg to infuse.

When the sugar mixture reaches 305°F, remove heat and stir in the Earth Balance. When well incorporated, slowly and carefully pour the nutmeg infused cream into the sugar mixture while stirring. When the mixture ceases to bubble dramatically, stir well to mix the thickened sugar resting at the bottom of the pan back into the mixture.

Return the pan to heat and allow it to cook, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 245°F. Then cook, stirring constantly, (this step may take as long at 10-20 minutes) to 260°f. At 260°f, remove the heat and stir in vanilla and espresso (if using) extracts. Pour the mixture into the lined pan and allow it to set at room temperature for 4 to 5 hours, or overnight.

When set, remove the caramel from the pan and use an oiled knife to cut into squares. Dip the squares in tempered chocolate and decorate with transfer paper or a sprinkling of nutmeg. Or, for rolled truffles, add caramel to chopped chocolate in a 1:3 ratio and place over a double boiler, gently heating until liquid and smooth before whisking with hot liquid and proceeding to make ganache as per usual. Or, wrap the cut caramel squares in parchment paper and eat as is.


Hot Shoppe's Chicken Noodle Soup

5 cups of chicken broth
5 T oleo margarine
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup noodle rings, 1/4" diameter
2/3 cup cooked and diced chicken, 1/4 inch pieces

Heat 4 cups of chicken broth to boiling in a two-quart saucepan. Melt oleo margarine in a small saucepan over low heat. Add flour, stirring well to blend. Do not allow to brown.

Add the flour and oleo mixture to the boiling stock and cook until thickened over moderate heat.

Bring remaining 1 cup of chicken broth to boiling in a small saucepan. Add the noodles; cook just until tender, but not soft.

Add the undrained cooked noodles and the cooked diced chicken to the first thickened broth.

Taste to adjust seasoning levels.

If not served immediately, hold over low heat in a double boiler until time of service.

Makes 6-8 servings


  • Should noodle rings not be available at your local grocery, the following products are recommended as alternatives, miniature bow ties or star noodles (Stelline 59), Ditalini 36, or Tubettini 39.
  • If larger noodles are used, they should be cooked according to package directions and drained prior to adding to the thickened broth.
  • Depending on the brand of chicken broth used, finished color may range from pale to deep yellow.


New England Boiled Dinner

corned beef brisket, 4-5 lbs.
4 onions, peeled
6 boiling potatoes, peeled
8 small young beets
6 carrots, scrubbed and peeled
6 small turnips, scrubbed
1 green cabbage, quartered and cored

Ingredients for horseradish cream:
3/4 cup heavy cream
4 T prepared (bottled) horseradish
2 T vinegar
salt, to taste

Preparing the beef and vegetables:
Rinse the corned beef under cold running water. Place in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, skimming off the scum that rises to the surface during the first 10 minutes. Cover and simmer for 2 hours. Add the onions and potatoes and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the beets and boil until they are barely tender when pierced with a knife. Drain and transfer to a 250 degree F oven to keep warm.

When the onions and potatoes have cooked for 15 minutes, add the carrots and turnips to the pot and simmer for 30 minutes longer.

When everything is done, remove the meat from the pot, slice it and arrange on a warmed ovenproof platter. Arrange the vegetables around the meat. Place in a warm oven, along with a dish of the drained beets.

Turn up the heat under the broth and, when it boils, add the cabbage wedges. Boil for 3 minutes, then drain and place in a separate serving bowl.

Serve slices of beef with a selection of vegetables. Pass horseradish cream at the table.

Serves 6 to 8

Preparing the horseradish cream:
Pour the cream into a chilled stainless steel mixing bowl and using chilled beaters, beat until stiff.

Gently fold in the horseradish, vinegar and salt.

Makes about 2 cups.


Monday, March 16, 2009

The Hot Shoppe's Cheese Rolls

1 T oleo margarine
1 T shortening
1/2 cup and 1 T granulated sugar
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
3 eggs, large
2 packets (1/4 ounce each) yeast, dry
1/2 cup lukewar water
6 1/2-7 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups whole milk

Cream together the oleo margarine, shortening, sugar and shredded cheddar cheese until light. Add eggs slowly, blending well between each addition. Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water (be sure the water is not too hot).

Sift together the flour and the salt. Add half of the flour and half of the milk to the cheese and egg mixture. Add dissolved yeast. Add remainder of milk and flour to make a soft dough. Cover dough and let rest for 10 minutes.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic.

Place dough in a lightly greased bowl large enough to hold dough when doubled in size, turning once to grease the surface.

Cover; let rise in a warm place (90 degrees F), until double in size (about 2 hours).

Fold dough over from 4 sides. Let rise again until double in size.

Divide dough into 3 equal portions. Place each portion on a lightly floured surface. Round pieces by kneading until firm and smooth. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.

Roll dough into a 12" by 15" elongated log approximately 3" in diameter.

Cut each dough log into 12-14 equal portions depending on the size of roll desired. Shape into rolls as desired.

Place rolls in greased 13" x 9" x 2" baking pans or muffin tins. Cover; let rise until almost double in size (about 45 minutes).

Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven approximately 15-18 minutes or until done. Brush tops with melted oleo margarine when removed from oven.

Keep warm until time of service.


  • Yeast takes 5-10 minutes to soften. Follow manufacturer's directions for dissolving yeast.
  • Generally, 1 package of dry yeast equals 0.6 ounces of cake compressed yeast.
  • A heavy duty electric mixer may be used for mixing dough. Follow the directions given in the manufacturer's instruction booklet.
  • If desired, cheese rolls may be baked individually in greased muffin pans.
  • If desired, after rolling out the dough into elongated logs, dough may be spread with additional oleo margarine and shredded cheddar cheese to enhance the flavor.
  • If rolls are not served at once, they should be turned out of pans to cool.
  • Yeast grows best at a temperature between 80-85 degrees F. A high temperature will kill yeast; a low temperature will retard growth.


Classic Mole Sauce

1/4 lb unsalted butter
1/4 onion; peeled and chopped
1/2 ounce garlic, chopped
1/4 cinnamon stick
1/4 T whole allspice
1/2 bay leaf
2 whole cloves
3/4 ounce pasilla negro, stemmed, seeded and roasted
3/4 ounce ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded and roasted
2 1/4 ounces Ibarra chocolate
4 1/2 ounces pitted prunes
3 ounces raisins
1 ounces peanuts, toasted
1/4 ounces sesame seeds
1 ounces sliced almonds, toasted
1 ounces pumpkin seeds, toasted
1/4 ripe plantain, peeled
1/2 gallon chicken stock
1/2 ounce chicken base
1 ounce flour
1/2 ounce cornstarch

Melt butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and
cook until onion is soft. Add spices, chiles, chocolate, prunes,
raisins, peanuts, sesame seeds, almonds, pumpkin seeds and plantain and
continue to cook, stirring constantly, approximately 5 minutes. Then add
chicken stock, chicken base and cook at medium heat 10 minutes, again
stirring constantly. Then place mixture in a food processor or blender
and puree. Return to medium heat. Mix the flour and cornstarch with
water to make a paste. Add the mixture to the sauce as needed for
desired consistency. Cook 5 minutes, stirring often, then strain.

Makes 1 quart



2 cups flour
2 T granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup marsala wine
3 T vegetable shortening (Crisco)
1 egg, slightly beaten
egg white, slightly beaten, or 1 T of milk (for shaping cannolis)
cardboard template, 4-5 inch long oval shape
metal cannoli forms or tubes

Cut shortening into flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Fold in the sugar and the cinnamon. Gradually add the marsala, a few drops at a time. Add the egg, and mix until the pastry holds together, adding a few extra drops of marsala if necessary. Form into a ball, cover and let rest in a cool place from 1-2 hours.

Divide dough into quarters. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough as thin as possible (about the thickness of a dime). Put template on rolled out dough and with a knife, cut shape. Casually wrap each oval piece of dough around a metal tube, sealing the edges where they meet with a beaten egg white or a dab of milk. Deep fry in 2-inches of vegetable oil at 400 degrees F. Remove when golden brown, approximately 2 minutes. Watch carefully - They cook very quickly!

Cool completely before filling.

Cannoli shells can be stored in a cool spot (seal in a tin with paper towels) and kept up to 2 months.

F I L L I N G:

2 cups ricotta cheese, well-drained
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2-3/4 cup powdered sugar, depending on your preference
1/2 cup grated semisweet chocolate or chocolate chips
pistachio nuts, chopped
garnish with powdered sugar

grated rind of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup finely chopped candied citron
1/4 cup finely chopped candied orange peel
1/8 cup grated milk chocolate

Mix together all ingredients except pistachio nuts and refrigerate until it's time to fill and serve cannoli shells. Pipe filling into shells and dip each end in chopped pistachio nuts or chocolate chips. Dust tops of shells with powdered sugar.


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