Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sweet Potato Pie

Ingredients for the pie crust:
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 T grated orange peel
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening, cut into small pieces
1 T orange juice
2 T (about) ice water

or 1 prepared pie shell, unbaked

Ingredients for filling:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 pound cooked and mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup whole milk or evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch of salt

Preparing the pies:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix butter, sweet potatoes, sugar and milk until well blended. Add vanilla, eggs, nutmeg and cinnamon; mix well. Pour into the prepared pie shell. Bake for about 1 hour, until set.

Makes 1 9-inch pie


Monday, November 23, 2009

Baked Bourbon Cranberry Sauce

1 (12-ounce) bag cranberries, fresh or frozen
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 cup good quality bourbon (Makers' Mark), or more

Preparing the cranberry sauce:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the cranberries, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small baking dish and cover. Bake for about 55 minutes. Remove the cover and stir to melt any un-dissolved sugar. Return the dish to the oven and bake for about 5 to 10 more minutes, or until the cranberries are soft and surrounded by a syrupy sauce. Remove the dish from the oven and immediately stir in the bourbon, to taste. Let the dish cool to room temperature, then chill for at least hour before serving. The sauce will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator.


Cranberry Sauce with Apples & Walnuts

Ingredients for the cranberry sauce:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 (16-ounce) bag fresh cranberries
1 cup chopped apple
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
1/2 orange, juiced
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated

Preparing the cranberry sauce:
Combine the sugar and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the cranberries and return to a boil, then lower the heat so that the liquid simmers. Add the apples, raisins, Grand Marnier, orange and lemon juices, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the apples are tender. Remove the pan from the heat, add the walnuts and let the sauce cool.


Orange, Pineapple & Walnut Spiced Cranberry Sauce

12 ounces to 1 pound (4 cups) fresh cranberries
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
1 cup water
1/2 to 1 navel orange, supremed and zested, chopped fine
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
ground cinnamon, sprinkle, or a stick of cinnamon

1/8 to 1/4 cup of Grand Marnier

Preparing the cranberry sauce:
Wash cranberries and set aside.

Bring sugar and water to a boil. Add cranberries, orange, orange zest and cloves (and stick of cinnamon, if using). Simmer over a high flame, stirring frequently, until berries pop open. Add crushed pineapple, Grand Marnier, walnuts, and ground cinnamon (if not using cinnamon stick) and blend. Cool and serve.


French Onion Soup

8 large yellow onions, halved and sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips
1/4 cup unsalted butter
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 2/3 cups water, divided
2/3 cup dry Sherry
5 cups chicken broth (with as little sodium as possible)
2 2/3 cups beef broth
8 sprigs fresh thyme and one bay leaf, tied together
1 loaf French bread
1 pound gruyère, grated

Preparing the soup:
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the onions and butter in large lidded casserole, season with 1/4 teaspoon salt, cover and place in the oven. Cook, stirring every 15 minutes or so, until the onions are softened and a light golden-brown, about 1 1/2 hours.

Transfer the casserole to the stove-top and heat over medium-high heat. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are a deep golden-brown and just begin to stick to the bottom of the pot to form a crust.

Add half of the water and cook, scraping the bottom constantly, until the water has evaporated, about 8 minutes. Add the Sherry and continue cooking until it has evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes.

Stir in the remaining water, chicken broth and beef broth, as well as the thyme bundle and bring to a gentle simmer. Reduce the heat to maintain a bare simmer and continue to cook for 40 minutes. Remove the thyme and season to taste with salt and pepper.

While the soup is simmering, prepare the toasts:
Slice the French bread on a bias into one-half-inch thick slices large enough to fit inside of each soup bowl (use one toast if it will fit, two if the slices are smaller). Toast the bread until crisp and golden. Set aside.

Fill 8 oven-proof soup bowls with soup to 1/2-inch from the rim, making sure to distribute onions evenly between bowls. Lay the toasts on top of the soup, inside the edges of the bowl. Sprinkle the grated gruyère evenly over the tops of the bowls and place the bowls under the broiler just until the cheese is bubbling and begins to brown in places.

Serves 8


Currant Scones

5 3/4 cups (1 pound, 10 ounces) bread flour
scant 1 cup (6.4 ounces) sugar
1 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 3/4 T baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) plus 1 T cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 eggs, divided
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 pound dried black currants (about 2 1/2 cups)
2 T milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 of the eggs, the vanilla and buttermilk. Pour the buttermilk mixture over the dry ingredients, and stir together to evenly distribute. (The dough will be crumbly.) Stir in the currants.

Pour the mixture onto a lightly floured cutting board, and gently knead to form a cohesive mass. Be careful not to overmix, or the dough will be tough.

Scoop the scones using a large (4-ounce) scoop onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, or divide the dough into 14 portions (each portion will be about one-half cup), leaving 3 inches between each.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining egg with the milk to form an egg wash. Brush the egg wash over each of the scones.

Bake the scones until puffed, lightly browned and a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 30 minutes, rotating halfway through baking for even coloring. Remove to a rack and cool slightly before serving.

Makes 14 scones


Petto Di Pollo Con Gorgonzola

Type your summary here.

2 cups heavy cream
1/4 pound gorgonzola cheese
2 pounds fresh spinach, cleaned and stemmed
4 skinless and boneless chicken breasts
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
flour to dredge the chicken, about 1/2 cup
2 T olive oil, more as needed
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, preferably whole milk
1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
chopped parsley, for garnish

Preparing the chicken:
In a medium heavy-bottom saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. Reduce the heat to a good simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until it is thickened and reduced by about half, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the gorgonzola and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the cheese is melted and combined with the cream, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve in a warm place.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Blanch the spinach to bring out the color, then drain and shock in a bowl of ice water. Drain again, pressing out all excess water. Set aside.

Pound the chicken: Place each chicken breast between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound to a thickness of one-fourth inch without tearing. Season each breast with a pinch of salt and pepper on each side, then dredge in flour to coat.

In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat the oil until hot, then brown the chicken on each side, one piece at a time, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Adjust the heat as needed to keep the chicken from burning, and add oil as needed to keep a thin film on the bottom of the pan. Remove the chicken to a platter to keep warm.

In the same sauté pan, add a little oil if needed to maintain a thin film, then stir in the garlic. Cook over medium-heat just until aromatic. Stir in the spinach, then the sauce. Cook, stirring constantly, for a minute or so to merge the flavors. Remove from heat.

Heat the broiler and place each chicken breast on an oven-proof plate. Spoon one-fourth of the cream and spinach over each breast, then evenly sprinkle the mozzarella and parmigiano reggiano cheese over each portion.

Place each plate briefly under the broiler to melt the cheese and brown the sauce slightly. Sprinkle the plates with chopped parsley and serve immediately.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Chocolate Cinnamon Bread Pudding

5 slices whole-wheat or white bread, torn into small pieces
2 large eggs
12 ounces evaporated skim milk
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 T semi-sweet chocolate chips

Haagen-Daz 5 vanilla bean ice cream

Preparing the bread pudding:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly butter an 8-inch square baking dish. Spread the bread in the dish in an even layer.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the evaporated skim milk, brown sugar, cocoa, vanilla, and cinnamon. Whisk until the sugar and cocoa dissolve. Pour the cocoa mixture over the bread. With a fork, mix in any unsoaked bread pieces. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top and let stand for 10 minutes. Bake for 35 minutes, or until puffed and set in the center. Serve warm, with a scoop of ice cream on top.

Serves 6


Friday, November 20, 2009

Tartine's Brioche

This brioche is perfection.

It requires time, and you will come to appreciate just what a workhorse the Kitchen Aid mixer is (mine had to go in for the motor's works to have the grease repacked after this effort), but the product that comes out of your oven is so worth it.

Ingredients for preferment:
1/4 cup nonfat milk
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups bread flour (8 1/4 ounces)

Ingredients for the dough:
2 T and 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
5 large eggs
1 1/4 cups whole milk
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 T salt
1 cup + 2 T unsalted butter, chilled but pliable

Ingredients for egg wash:
4 large egg yolks
¼ cup heavy cream
pinch of salt

Preparing the preferment:
Warm the milk only enough to take the chill off. The milk should not be warm or cold to the touch but in between the two (80-90 degrees F). Pour the milk into a mixing bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the milk, stir to dissolve the yeast with a wooden spoon, and then add the flour, mixing with the spoon until a smooth batter forms. Cover the bowl with cheesecloth and place in a cool, draft-free area for 1 hour and then refrigerate for at least 1 hour or for up to 3 hours to cool down. The mixture will rise until doubled in volume and not yet collapsing.

Preparing the dough:
Measure all the ingredients for the dough. Once you measure the butter, cut into cubes and return the eggs, milk and butter to the refrigerator to chill.

To make the dough, transfer the preferment and then the yeast to the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix on low speed until the yeast is incorporated into the preferment batter, which will take a minute or two. Stop the mixer as needed and use a spatula to clean the bottom and sides of the bowl, folding the loosened portion into the mixture to incorporate all the elements fully. When the mixture has come together into an even, well-mixed mass, begin to add the eggs one by one, increasing the mixer speed to medium or medium-high to incorporate the eggs and stopping the mixer and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Once all the eggs are incorporated, reduce the mixer speed to low and begin slowly to add 1 cup of the milk. When the milk is fully incorporated, stop the mixer and add the flour, sugar and salt. Engage the mixer again on low speed and mix until the dry ingredients are incorporated, about 3 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-high and mix until you see a dough forming and it starts to come away cleanly from the sides of the bowl, 2 to 3 minutes.

Turn off the mixer and let dough rest for 15 to 20 minutes. While the dough is resting, place the chilled butter cubes into a separate mixer bowl. Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment and mix the butter on medium speed until the cubes are pliable but not soft and are still chilled.

Remove the bowl holding the butter from the mixer and replace it with the bowl holding the now-rested first-stage dough. Refit the mixer with the dough hook and begin mixing on medium speed. When the dough again starts to come away cleanly from the sides of the bowl, increase the speed to medium-high. At this stage the dough will appear very silky and elastic. With the mixing speed still on medium-high, add small amounts of the butter, squeezing the cubes through your fingers so that they become ribbons as they drop into the bowl. Stop the mixer to clean the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed with the spatula. Make sure that you don’t add too much butter too quickly and also make sure that you don’t mix the butter too long after each addition or you will heat up the dough. When all the butter has been added, allow the mixer to run for another 2 minutes to make sure the butter is fully incorporated. The dough should still be coming away cleanly from the sides of the bowl at this point.

Slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup milk in increments of 1 tablespoon and increase the mixer speed to high. Mix until the dough is very smooth and silky and continues to pull cleanly away from the sides of the bowl. This should take another 2 minutes.

Lightly oil a large baking sheet. Spread the dough evenly on the prepared pan. Dust the top lightly with flour and cover with cheesecloth. Put the pan in the freezer for at least 3 hours and then transfer to the refrigerator overnight.

Brush three 9-inch by 5-inch loaf pans with melted butter. Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and place on a lightly floured work surface in a cool kitchen. Divide the dough into 3 equal portions. Press each portion into a rectangle the length of a loaf pan and slightly wider than the pan. Starting from a narrow end, roll up the rectangle tightly, pinch the ends and seam to seal, and place seam side down in a prepared pan. The pan should be no more than one-third full. The dough increases substantially during rising, and if you fill the pan any fuller, the brioche will bake up too large for the pan. When the pans are filled, place them in a draft-free area with relatively high humidity. Let rise for 2 to 3 hours. During this final rising, the brioche should at least double in size and look noticeably puffy but still be resilient to the touch.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F for at least 20 minutes before you want to begin baking. About 10 minutes before you want to begin baking, make the egg wash: whisk together the yolks, cream and salt until you have a pale yellow mixture. Using a pastry brush, brush the wash on tops of the loaves. Let the wash dry for about 10 minutes before baking.

Place the loaves in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350ºF and bake until the loaves are a uniformly dark golden brown on the bottom, sides and top, about 45 minutes longer. Remove the pans from the oven, immediately rap the bottoms on a tabletop to release the loaves, and then turn the loaves out onto wire racks to cool. The loaves can be eaten warm from the oven or allowed to cool and eaten within the day at room temperature or toasted. If you keep them longer than a day, wrap them in plastic wrap or parchment paper and freeze them indefinitely.

Makes 3 1-1/4 lb. loaves


Summer Produce


  • Make a chipotle butter for corn on the cob: To softened butter, add minced garlic, chopped cilantro, sea salt and finely minced chipotle chile to taste.
  • Drizzle hot corn on the cob with whisked Mexican crema (similar to creme fraiche) and sprinkle with salt and chile powder.
  • Slather corn with a good imported butter from France, Denmark or Ireland or domestic Plugra.

  • Make a modified Greek salad: chopped cucumbers, chopped tomato, feta cheese, kalamata olives, olive oil and wine vinegar. Embellish with lemon basil or purple basil.
  • Slice cucumbers thinly, salt liberally, and let them wilt in a sieve for an hour, then pat dry and stir them into whisked sour cream with minced garlic and fresh dill.
  • Make a raita to accompany grilled fish or lamb chops. Whisk some thick whole-milk yogurt with garlic, salt and ground toasted cumin seed. Grate cucumbers coarsely and stir them into the yogurt. Add chopped tomato.

  • Slice a colorful variety of tomatoes. Sprinkle with fleur de sel and drizzle liberally with extra virgin olive oil.
  • Marinate some chopped shallots in champagne, then scatter them over the sliced tomatoes and season with sea salt and pepper. Splash the tomatoes with more champagne, preferably rose.
  • Make a five-minute, uncooked pasta sauce: Halve tomatoes and squeeze out the seeds, then chop coarsely. Place in a serving bowl with finely minced garlic, extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and a touch of wine vinegar. Let stand for 1 hour to macerate, then add hot spaghetti and chopped basil.

Summer Squashes:
  • Cut the zucchini into matchsticks. Toast slivered almonds in a skillet in a little olive oil, remove from the heat, add the zucchini, salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil and parsley. Toss well and transfer to a platter. Top with shaved pecorino.
  • Cut small zucchini lengthwise and cut pattypan squash horizontally. Rub with olive oil and grill over charcoal. Remove from the heat and brush lightly with pesto.
  • Cook very small zucchini whole in boiling salted water. Drain, dress with oil and vinegar, then top with crumbled feta and chopped fresh mint.

Green Beans:
  • Add haricots verts (slender French-style green beans) to pasta with pesto. If using dried pasta, you can cook the beans along with the pasta. If using fresh pasta, which cooks more quickly, give the beans a head start.
  • Dress boiled or steamed green beans with a mixture of butter and walnut or hazelnut oil. Add sea salt, freshly ground pepper and chopped parsley.
  • Make a green bean salad with cherry tomatoes and ricotta salata. Boil haricots verts, then shock in ice water. Drain and pat thoroughly dry. Dress with a vinaigrette, chopped red onion and halved cherry tomatoes in mixed colors. Shave ricotta salata into the salad and toss gently.

Fingerling Potatoes:
  • Boil whole fingerling potatoes in well-salted water. Drain and peel when cool. Reheat with melted butter, sea salt and a generous pinch of smoked Spanish paprika.
  • Waxy fingerling potatoes make the best potato salad. Boil them whole in well-salted water, then drain and peel while warm. Slice and add while warm to a mustard-tarragon vinaigrette.
  • Make an improvisational Salade nicoise. Boil, peel and slice fingerling potatoes. Arrange on a platter with canned oil-packed tuna, tomato wedges, hard-cooked egg wedges, nicoise olives, sliced cucumbers or boiled green beans. Top with anchovy fillets and vinaigrette.

  • When garlic is freshly dug, non-sprouting and juicy is the time to prepare baked garlic. Hold the bulbs root-end down and make a shallow cut around the circumference so you can remove the paper covering (not the skin) from the top half. Put the bulbs in a baking dish with a little butter, olive oil and some fresh herbs. Cover and bake at 275 degrees F for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake, basting occasionally, until the cloves are soft, an hour longer or more. Serve with bread and fresh goat cheese.
  • Coarsely chop a large quantity of garlic. Soften in olive oil with hot red pepper flakes, salt and chopped parsley in quantities to taste. Add hot spaghetti, toss and serve immediately.
  • Aioli - whisk up a bowlful using fresh farmers' market eggs and serve with a platter
  • of steamed vegetables: beets, potatoes, green beans, carrots, artichokes or whatever the market suggests. For the softest, airiest texture, make the mayonnaise by hand with a whisk. The food processor yields mayonnaise that's stiff and dense.

  • Prepare a charcoal fire. Halve and pit nectarines. Brush the cut side with melted butter. Grill over indirect heat (not directly over the coals), turning occasionally, until nectarines are almost soft. Then place the halves cut-side down directly over the coals to caramelize slightly. Transfer to compote dishes and top with vanilla or toasted almond ice cream.
  • Cut nectarines into bite-size pieces and divide among wine glasses. Add enough light, fruity red wine to cover the nectarines, then pass superfine sugar for guests to add to taste.
  • Slice nectarines into a bowl of crunchy granola with organic whole milk.

Gravenstein Apples:
  • Make applesauce for the freezer. Sweeten to taste with sugar, and flavor with seeds from a Tahitian vanilla bean.
  • Serve fresh Gravensteins with cheddar cheese.
  • Drizzle fresh ricotta with a favorite honey and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Serve with sliced Gravenstein apples.

  • Drape sliced melon with Serrano ham.
  • Cut very small melons in half and remove the seeds. In each cavity, pour a little chilled Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise.
  • Cube watermelon, removing any seeds. Toss with a little sugar if it's
  • not quite sweet enough, then splash with maraschino liqueur.


Tomato Tart

This tart will hold in the refrigerator for several days. Reheat in a 400 degree F oven for 10 to 15 minutes to re-crisp the crust.

2 sheets puff pastry (17.3-ounce package), thawed according to package directions
2 1/2 pounds firm-ripe summer tomatoes

heaping cup fromage blanc [Note: Bellwether Farms fromage blanc is available in markets that carry a large selection of cheeses, such as Real Foods, Berkeley Bowl and Andronico's. It comes in a 7.5-ounce package that is perfect for this recipe. If you can't find fromage blanc, use a mix of 2/3 cup ricotta and 1/3 cup sour cream.]

salt to taste

1 cup very thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup pitted oil-cured kalamata or other flavorful black olives
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
freshly ground pepper to taste
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T thinly sliced or chopped fresh basil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet (or 2 smaller ones) with parchment paper.

Roll out each puff pastry sheet to a 12 x 14-inch rectangle.

Place on the baking sheet and fold over the edges of each pastry to form a 1/2-inch border. Prick the bottom of each pastry with a fork and bake for 10 minutes. Let cool for 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice the tomatoes in half width-wise and gently squeeze out the seeds and juice.

Slice the tomatoes into 1/8-inch-thick rounds.

Using a rubber spatula, spread half of the fromage blanc over one of the cooled crusts.

Cover the fromage blanc with half of the tomatoes, slices overlapping, then season with salt.

Top the tomatoes with half of the onion slices, dot with half of the olives and sprinkle with half of the thyme and some pepper.

Bake the tart for 18 minutes, or until the tomatoes are very soft but before the onion gets too brown.

While the first tart is baking, assemble the other tart with the remaining ingredients.

(It's better not to bake the tarts at the same time unless you have a convection oven, in which case you should reduce the temperature by 25 degrees.)

Right before serving, drizzle the tarts with the olive oil and sprinkle with basil.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

Serves 8


Cumin Lamb Chops With Green Bean Salad

8 small double-rib lamb chops, about 2 pounds total

12 ounces green beans

Ingredients for the rub:
1 teaspoon ground cumin, plus more to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste

Ingredients for the dressing:
3 T shallots, finely chopped
1 teaspoon roughly chopped fresh mint, parsley or basil
3 T sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 1/2 T extra virgin olive oil

Preparing the lamb chops:
Preheat the broiler.

Combine the cumin, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the spice mix into both sides of the lamb chops.

Place the chops on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil for 2 to 3 minutes per side for medium-rare, 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium. Tent with foil and let rest.

Preparing the green beans:
Trim the green beans and prepare a large bowl of ice water.

Steam the beans for 3 to 7 minutes, until tender. Immediately plunge the beans into the ice water. When cool, drain and pat dry. Toss the green beans with the dressing beans and adjust seasonings.

Preparing the dressing:
Combine the shallots, mint, vinegar and oil in a medium bowl. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Serve the green bean salad with the lamb chops, along with couscous.

Serves 4


Plum Cake, Another Way

Ingredients for cake batter:
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 cup oil
2 small jars plums (baby food, without tapioca - small jars are approximately 4 ounces)
2 cups flour (unsifted)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup pecans (optional)

Ingredients for glaze:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

Preparing the cake:

Combine the sugar, eggs and oil in a medium bowl and mix well. Add the plums.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, cloves, baking soda and cinnamon. Add the dry ingredients to the moist mixture and mix just until combined. Add pecans, if desired.

Pour the batter into a greased and floured bundt cake pan and bake at 325 degrees F for 1 hour, or until the cake tests done.

Preparing the glaze:
Combine the butter, powdered sugar and lemon juice.

When the cake is done, unmold and brush with the glaze. Cool before cutting.

Serves 8 to 10



Great on baby back ribs and beef brisket.

2 T kosher salt
1 T ground Tellicherry pepper
1/4 cup pure ground New Mexico red chile (such as Dixon)
3 T granulated garlic
1 cup sweet red paprika
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 T ground cumin
1/4 cup dried oregano leaves

Combine the salt, pepper, red chile, garlic, paprika, brown sugar, cumin and oregano in a bowl and mash together.

Store in a glass jar at cool-room temperature.

Yields about 2 cups


Composed Arugula Salad with Oranges & Avocados & Cheese, Oh My!

1 to 2 heads arugula, or two boxes pre-washed
2 oranges
2 avocados
parmigiano reggiano, shaved

Ingredients for dressing:
1 shallot, finely diced
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (1-2 lemons)
1/4 teaspoon white granulated sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Preparing the dressing:
Juice the lemons and pour into a mixing bowl over the shallots. Macerate for 20 minutes.

Add 1/4 teaspoon of sugar, a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Slowly whisk in the oil; the dressing will thicken slightly. Adjusting seasoning to taste.

Spread washed and dried arugula leaves out onto a large serving bowl or platter. Supreme the oranges and cut the avocados into slices or cubes and place on top of the arugula leaves. Spoon the dressing over top and shave parmigiano reggiano over salad.

Serves 4


Belles Hamburger Buns

Ingredients for dough:
1 cup milk
1 cup water
2 T butter
1 T white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 (.25 ounce) envelope active dry yeast
1 egg yolk
1 T water

Variation: Substitute whole wheat flour for the all-purpose flour (or a 50-50 mix of all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour) and honey for the sugar.

Preparing the dough:
Combine the milk, 1 cup of water, butter, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil then remove from the heat and let stand until lukewarm. If the mixture is too hot, it will kill the yeast.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour and yeast. Pour in wet ingredients and stir until the dough starts to pull together. If you have a stand mixer, use the dough hook to mix for about 8 minutes. If not, knead the dough on a floured surface for about 10 minutes. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning to coat. Cover and let stand until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Punch down the dough and divide into 12 portions They should be a little larger than a golf ball. Make tight balls out of the dough by pulling the dough tightly around and pinching it at the bottom. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. After the rolls sit for a minute and relax, flatten each ball with the palm of your hand until it is 3 to 4 inches wide. You may want to oil your hand first. Set rolls aside until they double in size, about 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Mix together the egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of water in a cup or small bowl. Brush onto the tops of the rolls. Position 2 oven racks so they are not too close to the top or bottom of the oven.

Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove the rolls from the oven and return them to different shelves so each one spends a little time on the top. Continue to bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until nicely browned on the top and bottom.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Habana's 'Original Mojito'

This is Habana restaurant's version of the Mojito from El Floridita in Cuba.

12 fresh mint leaves
juice of 1 lime
1 ounce simple syrup
3 ounces Rom Matusalem rum, or white rum
2 ounces soda water
sugarcane stick (optional - sugarcane swizzle sticks are available online at, and at some Hispanic grocers)

Muddle the mint leaves in a 14-ounce glass to release the oils. Add the lime juice and simple syrup. Fill the glass with ice and add the rum. Top off with soda water.
Pour into a shaker and close the lid tightly. Shake vigorously. Pour back into the glass, allowing the Mojito to run down the sides of the glass.

Serve garnished with mint leaves and sugarcane.

Serves 1



When experimenting with different fruits in gelato:

  • Hard fruits such as apples and pears should be cooked first to soften them, try poaching them in zinfandel to soften them.
  • If using very sweet fruits, reduce the amount of sugar by a 1/4 cup.
  • Fruit puree’s work well for a smoother consistency, or cut the fruit up into very small pieces. Pass the fruit through a food mill or strainer when pureeing to remove fibers and seeds.

For Vanilla Gelato:

4 cups of heavy cream (or Half & Half)
1 1/2 cup of sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
8 egg yolks

In a bain marie(double boiler), add the cream, vanilla bean, and half the sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat when mixture comes to a boil and remove the vanilla bean.

Beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar in a large bowl, gradually mix in the hot cream mixture, return the mixture to the bain marie, and continue to cook, stirring constantly until it thickens slightly (do not allow the mixture to boil, or the eggs will curdle)

Pour mixture into an ice cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.

For Chocolate Gelato:
Prepare the gelato as above, adding 6 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder and
2 ounces of bittersweet chocolate to the cream mixture, and bring to a boil, proceed as in the vanilla gelato recipe.

For Fig/Fruit Gelato:
Prepare the gelato as in the vanilla recipe, but add 1 cup of peeled chopped figs, when you remove the cream egg/mixture, from the heat. You can substitute the figs with any fruit or combination of fruits.

Rose Petal Sorbet:
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1 1/2 cups of water
8 cups of rose petals aromatic pink or red, unsprayed
1/4 cup of orange juice
2 egg whites

In a medium saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, add the rose petals, until the rose petals have wilted. Let stand for 30 minutes, refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Strain the mixture to remove the rose petals add the orange juice to the rose sugar water and place in a gelato machine. When the mixture is semi frozen, like a slush, whip the two egg whites until soft peaks have formed and fold into the sorbet until blended.

Makes about 1 1/2 pints

Raspberry Mimosa Sorbet:
1 cup champagne or sparkling wine
1 cup orange juice
1 cup fresh raspberries
2 egg whites

Place the orange juice, Sparking wine and raspberries in the gelato machine, when slush is forming beat the egg whites into soft peaks and fold into the sorbet.

Makes 1 1/2 pints


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Gingerbread, Lemon Curd & Blackberry Sauce Trifle

Ingredients for gingerbread:
Non-stick vegetable oil spray
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 T ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 T minced crystallized ginger
10 T (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup molasses
1 cup boiling water
2 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

Ingredients for lemon curd filling:
2 (11-ounce) jars prepared lemon curd
3 to 4 cups heavy cream, sweetened with sugar and vanilla, beaten to soft peaks

Ingredients for blackberry sauce:
2 pints fresh blackberries, or 1 bag frozen blackberries, thawed
1/4 cup sugar, or more to taste
pinch of salt
2 T Framboise (raspberry liqueur), or to taste
1 T fresh squeezed lemon juice

Note: Substitute seedless blackberry jam for blackberry sauce (loosen with raspberry liqueur and lemon juice), as well as homemade lemon curd for bottled

Preparing the gingerbread:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Spray 1 half-sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper; spray paper.

Sift flour and next 6 ingredients into medium bowl. Mix in crystallized ginger. Using an electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in brown sugar. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Gradually beat in molasses, followed by 1 cup boiling water. Mix in grated lemon peel. Gradually mix in dry ingredients. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the pan sides. Turn out onto a rack and peel off paper. Cool and cut into 1-inch cubes.

Preparing the lemon curd filling:
Place lemon curd in a large bowl. Fold in one-half of the whipped cream, to taste, until combined. Refrigerate if not using immediately. Reserve remaining whipped cream for the top of the trifle.

Preparing the blackberry sauce:
Place blackberries, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan and cook until the berries are soft and the sugar has melted. Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth. Pour through a strainer into a bowl. Stir in the framboise and lemon juice. Set aside until ready to use.

Assembling the trifle:
In a trifle bowl, start with an even layer of gingerbread cubes, top with 1/3 of the lemon curd mixture, and 1/3 of the blackberry sauce. Repeat 2 more times. Top with remaining whipped cream. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight before serving.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Roasted Butternut Squash, Another Way

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and sliced in 1/4-inch half pieces
salt and freshly ground pepper
rosemary and thyme, dried

Preheat Oven To 400 degrees F.

Peel the squash, cut in half length-wise and cut into 1/4-inch slices. In a large bowl, mix together the oil, salt, pepper and herbs, and add the squash slices, turning to coat.

Place the squash single layer on a foil-lined sheetpan and roast for 25 minutes.

Serve hot, warm or cold.


Roasted Butternut Squash with Roasted Cranberries & Toasted Pecans

roasted butternut squash

Ingredients for dressing:
1 cup fresh cranberries
3 T grapefruit juice
2 T maple syrup
2 T olive oil
1 T red wine vinegar
1 T parsley, chopped
1/2 shallot, minced
1/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Place cranberries onto a foil-lined sheet pan and roast for 15 to 17 minutes. Remove cranberries from oven and let cool.

Mix dressing ingredients together and add cooled cranberries. Pour over roasted butternut squash.

Serve warm, at room temperature or cold.


Roasted Chestnut & Celery Root Soup

2 medium shallots, sliced, approximately 1/2 cup
1 cup chopped, peeled celery root cooked in chicken broth until soft
one 14-ounce jar vacuum-packed roasted chestnuts, coarsely chopped
4 cups chicken stock or more, to taste
sage, 1 sprig
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 cup half-and-half or whipping cream
salt and freshly ground white pepper
truffle oil

Cook shallots until transparent and softened. Combine cooked celery root with chestnuts and shallots. Put through food mill using stock to help it go through (might need to go through twice or put briefly in a blender). Put in all in a soup pot on stove. Add half and half or cream a bit at a time, over a low flame. Do not let boil.

Serve warm, not hot. Three-quarters of a cup per serving (this is very rich), with toasted bread slices (with good unsalted whipped butter) alongside. Drizzle a scant teaspoon of truffle oil over the top of each bowl.


Prickly Pear Preserves

An unusual and delicious accompaniment for turkey, pork, lamb, or beef.

12 ripe prickly pears
granulated white sugar
1 lemon

Very carefully and wearing thick gloves, rub the skin of each pear with a disposable cloth or paper towels to get rid of the tiny spines. Rinse in water and put the pears (which should be deep purple) into a saucepan. Cover with sugar, allow to sit for an hour to bring out the juices.

Simmer on low until the fruits are soft and the juice thickens. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Chill until ready to serve.


Garlic Roasted Crab

2 cleaned and cracked Dungeoness crabs
2 T olive oil
1/2 stick of unsalted butter
8 cloves of fresh garlic, chopped and minced
fresh herbs (oregano, thyme)
freshly ground black pepper

Mix together the butter, olive oil, garlic, fresh herbs (I like oregano and thyme) and black pepper to taste, toss with the crabs.

Spread the crabs out in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast in a 350 degree F oven for 25-30 minutes.


Carribbean Sweet Potato Pudding

4 sweet potatoes, about 1 1/4 pounds, cooked, peeled, and sieved
6 large eggs
2 pinches of salt
2 T unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup molasses
2 ripe bananas, riced
1/2 cups dark rum or bourbon
1 T grated fresh ginger
allspice, cinnamon, cloves, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix all of the ingredients together and bake for about 45 minutes, until the pudding is set.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cauliflower Cheese Gratin

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
6 ounces to 2 cups heavy cream, just enough to coat the cauliflower
1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese, coarsely grated
6 ounces to 2 cups grated Parmesan (the amount depends on the size of the caulflower head)
6 ounces goat cheese, cut into small pieces
salt and freshly ground pepper

Variations: Add cooked and crumbled bacon over top just before serving; chopped roasted poblano peppers; sliced toasted almonds or pecans; Gruyere in place of Monterey Jack cheese; about 6 to 8 ounces of fresh lump crabmeat

Preparing the gratin:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Layer the cauliflower, heavy cream, and the 3 cheeses in a medium casserole dish. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until the cauliflower is soft and the sauce has thickened slightly (45 minutes covered and then for another 20 minutes uncovered). Remove from the oven and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Falafel Sandwiches

Ingredients for falafel:
2 T canola oil, plus extra for frying
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 (14-ounce) cans chick peas, drained
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes, optional
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 egg
1 T kosher salt
1/2 T freshly ground black pepper
5 T flour
2 cups freshly chopped parsley leaves
3/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro leaves

Ingredients for yogurt dressing:
1 cup plain yogurt (Greek-style or drain 8 to 24 hours before preparing the dressing)
1/2 T lemon zest
1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
1 T freshly chopped cilantro leaves
2 teaspoons freshly chopped parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon fresh mint, chopped - optional

Pitas, whole wheat (warm in oven just before serving)

Accompaniments: shredded lettuce and chopped tomato, sliced cucumbers

Preparing the yogurt dipping sauce:
Mix ingredients together in a small bowl and chill until ready to use.

Makes 1 cup

Preparing the falafel:
In medium skillet over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons oil and sweat onion and peppers 2 to 3 minutes then garlic and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.

In a food processor, pulse the parsley and cilantro. Add the chick peas, red chili flakes, ground cumin, the egg, salt, black pepper, and pulse to form a coarse consistency. Add flour. Pulse until mixture starts pulling from the sides of the food processor.

Remove mixture to a large bowl and mix in the onion mixture. Chill falafel until ready to cook.

Roll falafel dough into 1-inch rounds. Then form rounds into an oblong quenelle shape, like a football.

In a thick-bottomed skillet heat 1/2 inch of canola oil over medium heat to 350 degrees F. Cook falafel balls a few at a time, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Be sure to turn them so they do not burn or stick to the bottom of the pan. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt while still hot.

Assembling the falafel sandwiches:
Open the pita bread to make pockets. Place 3 to 4 falafels inside. Stuff with lettuce tomato and cucumbers and drizzle sauce generously on the inside. Serve immediately.


Mediterranean Orzo Salad

1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2- inch cubes
2 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
1 T extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces orzo
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup diced red onion
4 T minced Italian parsley
2 T red wine vinegar
2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled and chopped into small 1/4-inch pieces
1 medium-sized cucumber, peeled and seeded, diced
3 T capers
2 T chopped sundried tomatoes (1/4-inch pieces)
16 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped fine
1/2 cup chopped marinated artichoke hearts (1/2-inch pieces)
2 T liquid from marinated artichoke hearts
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 teaspoons minced fresh mint
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
4 to 5 Romaine lettuce leaves

Preparing the eggplant:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a small bowl, toss cubed eggplant with the garlic and oil. Spread on sheet pan and place in preheated oven. Roast until golden brown, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally for even browning.

Preparing the salad:
Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions and drain. Remove eggplant to a large non-metallic bowl. Add pasta and stir in 1/2 cup of feta while pasta and eggplant are still warm. Set aside to cool while preparing other ingredients.

Add in the rest of the ingredients except the romaine and gently stir to combine, adding remaining feta cheese last. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill for 1 hour and serve on a bed of romaine on a large platter.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Roasted Beet & Potato Salad

Ingredients for vinaigrette:
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 T minced shallots
1/4 cup low-salt chicken broth
1 sprig of thyme
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 T sherry vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 T extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt to taste
large pinch freshly ground pepper, or to taste

Ingredients for salad:
2 medium-size red beets
2 medium-size gold beets
1 pound red or Yukon gold potatoes, creamer or "C" size
1 T olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

6 ounces mixed baby salad greens

chopped parsley for garnish (optional)

Preparing the beets and potatoes:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Rinse the beets and shake dry. Wrap each beet loosely in aluminum foil, securing edges well. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the beets can be easily pierced with a skewer.

Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Open the foil packets and peel the beets. The skins should slip off easily when they are fully cooked (to prevent staining, wear gloves). Slice the beets into 1/4-inch rounds. Set aside.

Rinse and dry the potatoes, then cut in half lengthwise. Toss with the oil to coat and season with salt and pepper. Place the potatoes cut-side down on a baking sheet and roast until done and the cut sides are browned and crispy. To conserve energy, use the oven while roasting the beets, or increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F for the potatoes to get more crispness and browning.

Preparing the vinaigrette:
Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan and sweat the shallots. Add the chicken broth and thyme sprig. Simmer until reduced by about half, remove the thyme then add the two vinegars and mustard. Remove from heat and whisk in the extra virgin olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Assembling the salad:
Toss the salad greens with just enough vinaigrette to coat. Adjust seasonings. Transfer to salad plates. Toss the potatoes with more of the vinaigrette and arrange around the greens. Fan the beets on top, drizzle with more dressing and garnish with optional parsley.

Serves 4 as a salad course


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Tunnel of Fudge Cake

Ingredients for the cake:
3 1/2 sticks butter or margarine, softened (1 3/4 cups), plus more for greasing pan
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for flouring pan
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs
2 cups confectioners' (powdered) sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups chopped walnuts (8-ounces)

Ingredients for the glaze:
3/4 cup confectioners' (powdered) sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 to 2 T milk

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 12-cup Bundt pan or 10-inch angel cake pan. Dust with flour and tap out the excess.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and granulated sugar using an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Gradually add 2 cups confectioners' sugar, beating until well-blended. By hand, stir in 21/4 cups flour, 3/4 cup cocoa and the nuts; mix until well-blended. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.

Bake for 58 to 62 minutes. (Because this cake has a soft tunnel of fudge, an ordinary doneness test cannot be used. Accurate oven temperature and baking time are critical.)

Let the cake cool upright in the pan on a rack for 1 hour, then invert onto a serving plate and let cool completely.

To make the glaze: In a small bowl, combine 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa and 1 1/2 tablespoons milk. Mix until well blended, adding the remaining 1/2 tablespoon milk to make a spooning consistency.

Spoon the glaze over the top of the cooled cake, allowing some to run down sides.

Store the cake tightly covered.

Makes 12 to 14 servings.


Almond Moon Cookies

Type your summary here.

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sifted confectioners' sugar, plus more for coating the cookies
2 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup slivered almonds, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Cream the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Slowly mix in 1/4 cup of the confectioners' sugar and the flour until well combined. Mix in the vanilla. Add the almonds; mix until just combined, about 1 minute.

Scoop out balls of dough with a small ice cream scoop; place the balls 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets. Bake until the bottoms are lightly brown, 30 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Pour 1/2 to 1 cup confectioners' sugar as needed into a low bowl; roll the cooled cookies in the sugar until covered. Store at room temperature in a sealed airtight container up to 10 days; dough can be stored for as long as 2 months in the freezer.

Makes 30 cookies

Nutrition information per serving: 134 calories, 56% of calories from fat, 9 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 17 mg cholesterol, 13 g carbohydrates, 2 g protein, 1 mg sodium, 1 g fiber


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