Saturday, May 30, 2009

Quiche with Redwood Hill Chevre, Sun-dried Tomatoes, Leeks and Spinach

2 T butter
1/2 cup leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced
6 cups spinach, cleaned and packed tight for measuring
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
5 eggs, large
1 cup heavy cream, cold
1 cup milk, cold
black pepper, freshly ground
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, semi-soft, chopped
5 ounces (by weight) Redwood Hill chevre (fresh goat cheese)
10 each savory tart shells (ready-made or make your own)

Place butter in a small sauté pan over medium heat. When the butter begins to foam, add the leeks with some salt. Lower the heat and cover. Cook for 2 minutes, then add spinach over the top. Cover for 4 minutes, remove the cover and mix the spinach, butter and leeks. The heat should wilt the spinach enough to cook it. Remove from the heat and pour into a strainer to cool and drain. Once cool, squeeze out excess liquid, and roughly chop the spinach mix.

Beat the eggs and mix in the heavy cream and milk. Add a few turns of freshly ground pepper. Add the cooled spinach mixture and stir. Add the goat cheese in small dollops from a spoon. Add the sun-dried tomatoes. If the tomatoes are very dry, reconstitute them with a little sprinkling of water before adding them. Stir the entire mixture gently with a fork and taste for salt.

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees with the fan on. Place the tart shells on a baking sheet and using a large spoon, fill each shell evenly with the solid ingredients in the custard mix. Then spoon or pour the rest of the liquid left in the bowl into each tart shell.

Bake for 10 minutes then reduce the heat to 300. Cook for another 5-10 minutes until the top is lightly golden and the filling is domed in the middle. If you tap the side of the tart shell, the filling should move but not jiggle. Remove from the oven and serve at room temperature.

Makes 10 individual servings


Oven-Roasted Asparagus with Olive Oil

30 asparagus, fat spears
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Maldon sea salt
1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 300 degrees with the fan on.

Snap the asparagus by bending it near the bottom of each spear. It will break where the woody stem meets the tender upper part.

Toss the asparagus with olive oil. Place on a small baking sheet in one layer. Pour water into the pan, then sprinkle with crumbled sea salt. Roast until they are cooked and creamy in texture but still with a little bite to it. It usually takes 10-15 minutes. To test, cut off a small piece from the bottom of a spear and taste. The tips should darken and dry just a bit in the roasting process.

Serve these hot or room temperature.

Serves 6


Baby Ruth Cookies

Bake the cookies on parchment paper and then transfer them on the parchment to a rack to cool.

This recipe doubles well.

1/2 cup butter or shortening, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Baby Ruth candy bars (2.1 ounces each), chopped

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Stir in candy bars.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Immediately remove to wire racks to cool.

Makes 2 1/2 to 3 dozen cookies


Katherine Hepburn's Brownies

These have a pudding-like consistency, and are great with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

2 squares unsweetened chocolate
1/4 pound sweet butter (1 stick)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped walnuts

Melt chocolate and butter in a heavy saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Stir vigorously. Add flour, salt and nuts. Mix until incorporated.

Pour into buttered 8 x 8 pan. Bake in 325 degree preheated oven for 40 minutes. Allow to cool before cutting.

No need to frost these moist brownies, eat them plain or dust with powdered sugar.


Great Guacamole

3 ripe California Hass Avocados
Juice of one lime
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
3 T chopped, fresh cilantro
2 small, ripe Roma tomatoes, chopped and seeded
1/4 cup chopped white onion

Cut avocados in half, remove pit and scoop into a bowl. Coat with lime juice to prevent browning. Using a fork, mash the avocados. Lumpy is okay here. Add onion, cilantro, salt, pepper and tomatoes and mix gently. Serve immediately with tortilla chips or fresh tortillas.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Drunken Strawberry Shortcake With Lazy Cream

The shortcakes in this dish are cream biscuits, and are great just as they are, without strawberries and whipping cream. Or add currants to the dough (in the 'fold' cycle of the recipe) and they're scones for tea.

Ingredients for shortcake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 T granulated sugar
1 stick butter, chilled, cut up into small pieces
2/3 to 3/4 cup, or more of cream (or half and half, or milk), plus more for brushing tops of shortcakes

Ingredients for strawberries:
1 quart of strawberries
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup of Grand Marnier

Ingredients for whipped or lazy cream:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 T powdered sugar

Preparing the shortcakes:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Set rack at center level.

In a food processor, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar and pulse to mix. Cut butter into about very small pieces and add to the mixture. Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal, but with few pea-size chunks of butter left in the mixture. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and make a well in the center. With a fork stir in the cream or milk, just until dough is moist. Be very careful not to overwork. The dough doesn't have to hold together well at this point. Let the dough stand for a minute. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Fold the dough over on itself (knead) 2 or 3 times, until it is holding together and is less sticky.

Gently pat the dough into a 6-inch by 12-inch rectangle about 3/4-inch thick and cut into 8 3-inch biscuits with a floured round cutter. Transfer to a buttered foil-lined cookie sheet. Brush on a little milk or cream and sprinkle tops with turbinado sugar or any large grained sugar, if desired.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until risen and golden brown. Remove to a platter to cool.

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

Preparing the strawberries:
Rinse the strawberries under cold water and drain well. Hull and slice the berries; place in a bowl. Sprinkle the powdered sugar over the strawberries, and let sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes. Pour Grand Marnier over the top of the strawberries and swirl bowl gently to mix and dissolve the powdered sugar. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (and up to 4 hours) before serving.

When ready to serve, take bowl out of refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

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

Preparing the whipping cream:
Whip the cream until it begins to thicken. Add the vanilla and the sugar, and continue whipping until the cream holds soft peaks. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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

Assembling the strawberry shortcake:
Split a shortcake horizontally with a serrated knife and place the bottom half of the shortcake on a serving plate. Spoon about 1/3 cup of strawberry mixture on the bottom half of the shortcake. Put a dollop of whipped cream on top of the berries, replace the top of the shortcake and spoon more whipped cream over the top of the shortcake along with a few more of the strawberries. Dust some powdered sugar over the top of the plate.

Repeat with the rest of the shortcakes.

Serves 8


Monday, May 11, 2009

Don't Throw Away Those Parmesan Cheese Rinds

Add a rind or two to a simmering risotto when first adding the liquid.

Add a rind or two to a pot of simmering minestrone.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Pork Medallions With Onions & Gruyere

8 3-ounce pieces of thin boneless pork loin, trimmed of excess fat
kosher salt
black pepper, freshly ground
2 T olive oil
2 cups onions (about 2 medium onions), finely sliced
1 T minced garlic
4 ounces (1 cup) grated gruyere cheese

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Season the pork on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a heavy skillet large enough to hold the pork slices in one layer. When the oil is quite hot, add the pork and cook until it is browned on one side, about 4-5 minutes. Turn the slices and cook 5 minutes more. Remove from the pan and keep warm.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil in a medium skillet set over medium low heat, add the onions and garlic and cook until limp and lightly browned, about 12 to 15 minutes. Stir frequently. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.

In a large, flat ovenproof dish, arrange the pork slices side by side and top each slice with some of the onion mixture, spreading it over the pork. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top.

Bake for about 8 minutes, until the cheese is melted and golden brown.

Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

Serves 4


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Roasted Strawberries

granulated sugar
balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Hull the strawberries and sprinkle with sugar and balsamic vinegar. Toss to coat, spread on baking sheet and bake until soft and caramelized.

Serve over ice cream, with pound cake, crepes, or alone with a dollop of whipped cream.


Friday, May 8, 2009

Steamed Mussels

Serve with a loaf of a rustic artisanal bread to sop up the broth.

4 lbs. mussels
2 T unsalted butter
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 leek (3-inches of green left on), chopped
1/2 cup diced (1/4-inch) celery
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley, plus 2 T for garnish
1 T finely minced garlic
salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups dry white wine and 1 cup water

Scrub and rinse the mussels well in several changes of cold water. Just before cooking, pull off their beards.

Melt the butter with the oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Wilt the leek, celery and onion, stirring, for 7 minutes; add 1/2 cup parsley and the garlic in the last 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the mussels, wine and water, then raise the heat to high. Cover and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until the mussels open, 6-8 minutes. Discard any that do not open. Serve in shallow bowls with the broth. Sprinkle with remaining parsley.

Serves 4


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Asparagus and Leeks with Sauce Gribiche

This vegetable dish goes well with roast chicken.

For the Sauce Gribiche:
2 hard-cooked eggs, separated
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white-wine vinegar or cider vinegar
2 T drained tiny capers
1 T chopped flat leaf parsley
1 T chopped fresh tarragon
salt and pepper, to taste

8 medium-sized leeks (3 inches of green left on)
2 T white vinegar
2 lbs. thick asparagus, trimmed
2 T chopped flat leaf parsley, for garnish

Prepare the sauce Gribiche. Mash the cooked egg yolks in a bowl. Slowly whisk in the oil until thick and smooth; add the vinegar. Finely chop the cooked egg whites and add to the bowl along with the capers, parsley, tarragon, salt and pepper.

Trim the leek roots, leaving the bulbs intact. To remove any sand, soak the leeks for 30 minutes in a bowl with water to cover and the vinegar. Drain and rinse well. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the leeks until tender, about 8 minutes; remove. Refresh under cold water, drain and pat dry. Cook the asparagus 3-4 minutes in the same boiling water. Refresh the asparagus as well.

Arrange the vegetables decoratively on a platter. Spoon 1/4 cup of the sauce along the bottom of the vegetables. Sprinkle with the parsley before serving.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Herb-Roasted Spring Chicken

Begin with a hot oven to crisp the skin.

1 roasting chicken, about 4 lbs.
1 lemon, halved
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and mashed
1 bunch fresh tarragon or rosemary
salt and pepper, to taste
2 T butter
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup water

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Remove any excess fat. Squeeze the lemon inside. Carefully slide your fingers between the skin and the breast meat; insert the garlic and 2 sprigs of the herbs. Season well with salt and pepper. Place in a shallow roasting pan.

Lower the oven to 425 degrees F. In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the oil and drizzle it over the chicken. Roast for 1 hour, basting every 20 minutes.

Remove the chicken to a platter. Discard the fat and add water to the pan; whisk well over medium heat, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Remove the sauce to a small pot; boil 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Carve the chicken and serve with the sauce. Garnish with remaining herbs.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Roasted Strawberries With Black Pepper & Fromage Blanc

6 cups strawberries, stems removed
3 T sugar
1 T freshly ground black pepper
2 T balsamic vinegar
4-ounces Bellwether Farms fromage blanc
-biscotti, or other small hard cookie

Put the strawberries in a colander, rinse under cool tap water, and shake several times. Slice the strawberries about 1/8-inch thick, put them in a large bowl and sprinkle them with the sugar.

Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour and up to 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Toss the strawberries with the black pepper, add the balsamic vinegar and put the strawberries and all of their juices into a large saute pan or a large oven-proof dish. Roast for 8-10 minutes, until the juices are bubbling and the strawberries are hot but not mushy.

Divide among individual dishes and top each serving with some of the fromage blanc. Serve immediately.

Serves 4


Monday, May 4, 2009

Lemon Tart

For the crust:
8 T unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt

For the filling:
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 T heavy (whipping) cream
3 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks

Place the butter in a food processor and process a few seconds, until creamy. Add 1/4 cup sugar and process until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 20 seconds, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl once or twice. Add the vanilla. Combine the flour and salt, then add to the food processor. Process until the dough comes together around the sides of the bowl; scrape the sides of the bowl and process for a few seconds more.

With lightly floured hands, press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Press around the bottom edge of the tart and make sure that the dough is not too thick.

Trim any excess dough at the top of the tart pan with a knife. Lightly press the dough around the inside of the rim with your thumb so that it extends about 1/8-inch above the pan. Prick the bottom of the dough all over with a fork. Chill the dough in the freezer at least 30 minutes or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Bake the partially or fully frozen tart shell until fully baked and golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

Whisk the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and the lemon juice together in a bowl. Gradually whisk in the heavy cream, then the eggs and the egg yolks. Combine thoroughly. Pour the mixture into a saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the filling thickens and the whisk leaves a trail, about 4 minutes.

Strain the filling into a bowl, then pour it into the baked tart shell. Bake for 4 minutes.

Cool thoroughly on a rack and serve at room temperature. Before serving, carefully remove the sides and bottom of the pan and gently slide the tart onto a decorative plate.

Serves 8-10


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Fig and Prosciutto Pizza

Ingredients for the pizzas:
2 pizza rounds
cornmeal for sprinkling
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 pinches kosher salt
2 pinches black pepper
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 cup fig jam
4 ounces gorgonzola cheese, crumbled into pea-sized pieces
3 ounces thinly slices prosciutto
1 scallion, thinly sliced lengthwise, for garnish

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

Ingredients for pizza dough:
¼ cup whole wheat flour
3½ cups all purpose flour plus additional for rolling
2 teaspoons (¼ ounce) fresh yeast
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons olive oil
1⅔ cups lukewarm water

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

Ingredients for the fig jam:
1 teaspoon canola or vegetable oil
3 shallots, diced
1 cup red wine
1/4 cup chicken broth or canned low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup veal or beef broth
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 cup sugar
1 rounded cup dried mission figs, quartered

Making the pizza dough:

Place the whole wheat flour, all purpose flour; yeast, salt, and sugar in a mixer fitted with a dough hook. While the mixer is running, gradually add the oil and water. Knead on low speed until the dough is firm and smooth, about 10 minutes.

Divide the dough into four balls, about 7½ ounces each. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Place two balls on a sheet and cover with a damp towel. Let them rise in a warm spot until they have doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.

To roll out the dough: Dab your fingers in flour and then place 1 ball on a generously floured work surface and press down in the center with the tips of your fingers, spreading the dough with your hand. When the dough has doubled in width, use a floured rolling pin and roll out until it is very thin, like flatbread. The outer border should be a little thicker than the inner circle. Pick the dough up with a spatula or the back of a knife, allowing it to fold up almost like an umbrella and transfer it to a paddle. Do not worry that the pizza is not round, you are looking for; an 8- to 10-inch shape, a cross between an oval and a rectangle. If you get a hole; simply pinch the edges back together. Repeat with the remaining balls and proceed; with any of the following recipes.

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

Preparing the fig jam:

Place a medium-sized skillet over medium heat and, when it is hot, add the oil. Add the shallots and cook until they are softened, about 3 minutes. Deglaze with the red wine and reduce by half. Add the broths and vinegar, and reduce by half. Add the rosemary and sugar.

Lower the heat to low and cook until the sugar has melted, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the figs and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are rehydrated, about 10 to 12 minutes. Cook until the mixture has the consistency of a liquidy jam, about 10 to 12 minutes

Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate up to 5 days.

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

Making the pizzas:

One hour prior to cooking, place a baking stone in the oven and preheat it to 500 degrees F.

Roll out 1 pizza dough as thinly aspossible. Place it on a pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover the surface with 1 teaspoon oil, 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic, 1 pinch each salt and pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon chopped rosemary. Be sure to leace an outer lip of 1 inch all the way around.

Evenly dot 1/4 cup fig jam and 2 ounces gorgonzola cheese on the pizza. Top with half the prosciutto.

Shake the paddle lightly and slide the pizza onto the baking stone. Bake until browned, about 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a firm surface and cut into slices.

Serve immediately garniched with half the sliced scallion.

Repeat with the remaining dough.

Makes 2 pizzas


Fig Jam

1 teaspoon canola or vegetable oil
3 shallots, diced
1 cup red wine
1/4 cup chicken broth or canned low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup veal or beef broth
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 cup sugar
1 rounded cup dried mission figs, quartered

Place a medium-sized skillet over medium heat and, when it is hot, add the oil. Add the shallots and cook until they are softened, about 3 minutes. Deglaze with the red wine and reduce by half. Add the broths and vinegar, and reduce by half. Add the rosemary and sugar.

Lower the heat to low and cook until the sugar has melted, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the figs and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are rehydrated, about 10 to 12 minutes. Cook until the mixture has the consistency of a liquidy jam, about 10 to 12 minutes

Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate up to 5 days.


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Plum Torte

3/4 cup plus 1-2 T granulated sugar
8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
pinch of salt
24 halves pitted Italian plums
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or more to taste

Optional: vanilla ice cream

Arrange a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In an electric mixer, cream the 3/4 cup of sugar and butter. Add the flour, baking powder, eggs and salt and beat to mix well. Place in a 9- or 10-inch ungreased springform pan. Cover the top with the plums, skin side down.

Mix the cinnamon with the remaining 1-2 tablespoons of sugar and sprinkle over the top.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, until the center tests done with a toothpick.

Remove and cool to room temperature or serve warm.

Serve plain or with vanilla ice cream.

Serve 8


Friday, May 1, 2009

Cinnamon Buns, Another Way

1 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
4 T melted butter
4 T water
1/2 (3.5 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
4 cups bread flour
1 T white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoons bread machine yeast
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1/4 cup raisins (optional)
1 teaspoon milk
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
4 T butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a bread machine pan, place the milk, beaten egg, melted butter, water, vanilla pudding mix, bread flour, sugar, salt and yeast in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select the Dough cycle.

When cycle is finished, remove the dough, and knead for 3 to 5 minutes. Roll out to a large rectangle.

Mix together the softened butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Spread over dough. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts and raisins, if desired. Starting with the widest end, roll the dough into a log. Pinch to seal seams. Cut into 1/2 inch to 1 inch slices, and place in a greased 9x13 inch pan. Place in a draft-free space, and allow to rise until doubled.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. To make frosting, mix the milk, confectioners sugar, softened butter and vanilla in a small bowl. Spread over warm cinnamon rolls.


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