Saturday, January 30, 2010

Chocolate Cherry Trifle

2 (approximately 12 ounces each) chocolatepound cakes
1/2 cup black cherry jam
1/2 cup cherry brandy
2 cups drained bottled sour cherries (recommended: Morello)

Ingredients for custard:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, minimum 70 percent cocoa solids, chopped
1 1/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon milk
1 1/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
8 egg yolks
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup cocoa

Ingredients for topping:
3 cups heavy cream
1-ounce bittersweet chocolate

Preparing the trifle:
Slice the chocolate pound cake and make jam sandwiches with the cherry jam, and layer the bottom of a large wide trifle bowl. Pour over the cherry brandy so that the cake soaks it up, and then top with the drained cherries. Cover with cling wrap and leave to macerate while you make the custard.

Melt the chocolate on low to medium heat in the microwave, checking after 2 minutes, though it will probably need 4 minutes. Or you can place it in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Once the chocolate is melted, ser aside while you get on with the custard.

In a saucepan warm the milk and cream. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and cocoa in a large bowl. Pour the warm milk and cream into the bowl whisking it into the yolks and sugar mixture. Stir in the melted chocolate, scraping the sides well with a rubber spatula to get all of it in, and pour the custard back into the rinsed saucepan. Cook over a medium heat until the custard thickens, stirring all the time. Make sure it doesn't boil, as it will split and curdle. Keep a sink full of cold water so that if you get scared you can plunge the bottom of the custard pan into the cold water and whisk like mad, which will avert possible crisis.

The custard will get darker as it cooks and the flecks of chocolate will melt once the custard has thickened. And you do need this thick, so don't panic so much that you stop cooking while it is still runny. Admittedly, it continues to thicken as it cools and also when it's chilling in the refrigerator. Once it is ready, pour into a bowl to cool and cover the top of the custard with cling wrap to prevent a skin from forming.

When the custard is cold, pour and spread it over the chocolate cake layer in the trifle bowl, and leave in the refrigerator to set, covered in cling wrap overnight.

When you are ready to decorate, softly whip the cream for the topping and spread it gently over the layer of custard. Grate the chocolate over the top.


Sweet Potatoe and Praline Pie

Ingredients for pie crust:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup finely ground pecans
1 T sugar
pinch salt
1 stick unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
2 T ice water, plus more if needed

* * * * * * * * * * *

Ingredients for filling:
1 1/2 to 2 pounds sweet potatoes, about 3 medium-sized
2 large eggs
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup pure sugar cane syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt

* * * * * * * * * * *

Ingredients for praline topping:
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup pure sugar cane syrup (recommended: Steen's)
1 cup toasted pecans, lightly crushed
pinch salt

Preparing the crust:
Combine the flour, ground pecans, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and rub the butter pieces between your fingertips and thumbs, or use a pastry blender, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Pour in the ice water and work it in until the dough holds together, being careful not to overmix. Squeeze a small amount together; if it is too crumbly, add some more ice water, a little at a time. Shape it into a smooth ball, flatten into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, and up to 2 days.

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

Preparing the pie:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Roll out the dough into a circle, about 12 to 13 inches in diameter. Gently press it into a 9-inch pie pan and crimp edges with your forefinger and thumb. Prick the bottom of the pie crust all over with the tines of a fork to keep it from puffing up in the oven. Refrigerate until well chilled, about 45 minutes.

Put the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and bake in the oven until very tender, about 45 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees F and remove potatoes from oven; allow to cool slightly before scooping the flesh into a food processor. Puree until smooth, then add the eggs, cream, brown sugar, sugar syrup and vanilla extract. Pulse a couple of times to combine, then add the cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

Put the pie pan on a rimmed baking sheet and pour in the filling. Bake until the center is set, about 40 minutes. Let cool completely, then transfer the pie to the refrigerator.

To make the praline topping, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and add the sugar, syrup, pecans and salt. Cook until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is smooth, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the stovetop and let cool for 5 minutes.

Remove the pie from the refrigerator and pour the praline topping over the cooled pie, spreading evenly with a spatula or by gently rolling the pie around at an angle so it hits the edges. Cool until topping has hardened, about 20 minutes. Serve.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Orange, Pomegranate and Arugula Salad with Bellwether Carmody

This is a wonderful palate cleansing salad served before a rich entree in winter.

5 oranges, preferably Cara Cara
3 T extra virgin olive oil

kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper (in a mill)

2 to 3 generous handsful of arugula

2 ounces Bellwether Carmody goat cheese, grated

— pomegranate seeds

Preparing the salad:
Use a sharp knife to slice off the ends of the oranges. Set the oranges, one at a time, on a work surface and use a sharp knife to remove the peel and pith, cutting from one end to the other and following the curve of the fruit. Continue until all the oranges are peeled.

Set a serving plate nearby.

Cut each peeled orange into 1/4-inch thick rounds, removing any seeds that you see. Set each sliced orange on the plate before you peel the next one, so that juices will collect on the plate, not the cutting surface.

Arrange the oranges in overlapping concentric circles and drizzle half the olive oil over them. Season lightly with salt and several turns of black pepper. Set aside.

Put the arugula into a medium mixing bowl, add 3 or 4 pinches of salt and toss. Add the remaining olive oil and turn the arugula so that the leaves are evenly coated. Add half the cheese, toss and mound the arugula on top of the oranges, leaving a rim of oranges exposed.

Scatter the remaining cheese and the pomegranate seeds over the salad and serve.


Orange and Fennel, Onions and Cured Meat and Pecorino Salad

This is a wonderful palate cleansing salad served before a rich entree in winter.

4 oranges, preferably Cara Cara, sliced
1 medium fennel bulb, cut into very thin crosswise slices
1 small red onion, cut into very thin crosswise slices
4 ounces Pecorino fresca, cut into very thin slices

12 very thin slices speck (a smoked salumi), duck prosciutto or jamon serrano

3 T olive oil

1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon fennel pollen

freshly cracked black pepper (in a mill)

Maldon sea salt or Diamond Crystal kosher salt

Preparing the salad:
Use a sharp knife to slice off the ends of the oranges. Set the oranges, one at a time, on a work surface and use a sharp knife to remove the peel and pith, cutting from one end to the other and following the curve of the fruit. Continue until all the oranges are peeled.

Set a serving plate nearby.

Cut each peeled orange into 1/4-inch thick rounds, removing any seeds that you see. Set each sliced orange on the plate before you peel the next one, so that juices will collect on the plate, not the cutting surface.

Arrange the oranges, fennel and onion in circles, alternating ingredients. Tuck the cheese and the meat here and there between the oranges, fennel and onion.

Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with fennel pollen, making sure it is evenly distributed. Let sit for 15 or 20 minutes.

Season with several generous turns of black pepper and a good sprinkling of salt and serve.

Serves 4


Simple Orange Salad

This is a wonderful palate cleansing salad served before a rich entree in winter.

6 oranges, preferably Cara Cara
3 T olive oil
2 teaspoons champagne vinegar

freshly ground black pepper (in a mill)

Maldon sea salt or Diamond Crystal kosher salt

Preparing the salad:
Use a sharp knife to slice off the ends of the oranges. Set the oranges, one at a time, on a work surface and use a sharp knife to remove the peel and pith, cutting from one end to the other and following the curve of the fruit. Continue until all the oranges are peeled.

Set a serving plate nearby.

Cut each peeled orange into 1/4-inch thick rounds, removing any seeds that you see. Set each sliced orange on the plate before you peel the next one, so that juices will collect on the plate, not the cutting surface.

When all of the oranges have been cut, arrange the slices in concentric circles, overlapping them slightly. Drizzle the oil over the oranges and sprinkle the vinegar on top. Let rest for 20 to 30 minutes.

To serve, season with several generous turns of black pepper and sprinkle with salt. Serve immediately.

Serves 4


Scatter about 1/4 cup of fresh pomegranate seeds on top after seasoning with salt.

Use a vegetable peeler to make about a dozen or so curls of either Parmigiano-Reggiano or Vella Dry Jack. Scatter over the oranges after seasoning with salt.

Remove the pits of a dozen or so olives, either green picholine or oil-cured black, cut them in half lengthwise and scatter over the oranges after seasoning with salt.

Assemble this salad, using any or all of the variations, on individual plates.


Chopped Chicken Liver

A creamy pate, French-style version of the classic.

10 to 15 peppercorns
2 allspice berries
1 clove
4 coriander seeds
1/2 cup butter
1 onion, chopped
1 pound chicken livers
1/3 cup cream
1 to 2 T brandy

bread or crackers for serving

In a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder, combine peppercorns, allspice, clove and coriander seeds; grind until fine and set aside.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium-high heat; when foam subsides, add onion and cook until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add livers to pan and sprinkle with salt; cook livers on one side until they begin to brown, about 2 minutes, then flip them and cook the other side. Be sure to keep heat relatively high so that the outside of livers sears and inside stays pink.

Put onion, livers and their buttery juices into a food processor or blender with remaining butter, the cream, spices and brandy. Purée mixture until it is smooth; taste and adjust seasoning.

Put pâté in a terrine or bowl, smooth top and put in refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours or until fully set. Serve pâté with bread or crackers.

Serves 8 to 10


Wild Rice Risotto with Steamed Mussels and Pine Nuts

2 pounds mussels, preferably small PEI
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup wild rice
kosher salt
5 T olive oil
1 small red onions, minced
1 carrot, peeled and minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small shallot, minced
1 cup Arborio or Carnaroli rice
3/4 cup zinfandel or other robust dry red wine
1 small tarragon sprig, optional
black pepper in a mill
4 cups stock or water, plus more as needed (see note below)
1 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated dry jack cheese
2 T minced Italian parsley
1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon, optional

Note: A good poultry or meat stock contributes both flavor and structure to risotto. The very best stock for this recipe is duck but you may also use chicken stock (use 2 cups along with 2 cups of water). Mushroom stock is also a good choice. If you use water be sure to taste carefully and add salt if the risotto is a bit flat. The cooking liquid from the mussels can be strained and used for the last addition or two of stock.

Preparing the mussels:
Rinse the mussel in cool water, pull off pieces of beard, if any, and discard any mussels that are broken, light for their size or do not close when tapped. Cover and set aside.

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

Preparing the risotto:
Set a small saute pan over medium heat, add the pine nuts and toast until lightly browned and fragrant, being careful that they do not burn. Immediately transfer to a bowl or piece of wax paper. Set side.

Put the wild rice into a medium saucepan and add 3 cups of cold water and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat and simmer gently until the grains just begin to pop open, about 30 to 40 minutes. Set a strainer over a bowl and pour the wild rice and cooking liquid into it. Set the wild rice aside and return the cooking liquid to the saucepan. Add enough stock or water to equal about 5 cups. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to very low and keep hot.

Put 3 tablespoons of the olive oil into a deep saute pan or medium saucepan and put the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a second saucepan big enough to hold the mussels. Put the onion, carrot and half the garlic into the first pan (with the 3 tablespoons of olive oil) and put the remaining garlic and the shallot into second pan. Set both pans over medium-low heat and saute until the aromatics are soft and fragrant, about 8 to 10 minutes for the onion and 7 to 8 minutes for the shallot. Season both with salt. Remove the second saute pan from the heat.

Add the uncooked rice to the cooked onion, carrot and garlic and saute, stirring constantly, until the grains turns milky white, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the zinfandel and the tarragon sprig, if using, and simmer, stirring gently, until the wine is completely absorbed by the rice. Begin adding the hot stock or water, a half cup at a time, stirring after each addition until the liquid is absorbed. When the rice is almost but not quite tender, stir in the cooked wild rice. Use tongs to remove and discard the tarragon sprig. Continue to cook, with smaller additions of stock (about 1/4 cups at a time) until the rice is tender but not mushy.

Working quickly, return the second pan to high heat, add the white wine and the reserved mussel, cover and cook for 4 minutes; check and continue to cook for another minute or so if the mussels have not opened. Remove from the heat.

Stir the cheese into the risotto, taste, correct for salt and season generously with black pepper. Divide among individual soup plates and top with the mussels. Sprinkle with Italian parsley and pine nuts and serve.

Serves 4


Monday, January 25, 2010

Sweet Potato Bread

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mashed sweet potatoes
4 cups bread flour
1/4 teaspoon each ground nutmeg and cinnamon
2 T butter
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 T dry milk

Preparing the dough:
Add ingredients according to manufacturer's suggested order. Use white bread setting, light crust.

Makes a 2-pound loaf.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

1 pound dried, short pasta
generous pinch of salt
2 T butter
2 T all purpose flour
1 can (about 12 ounces) evaporated milk at room temperature
1 bay leaf
1/2 small onion, diced
2 1/2 cups grated cheese (or combination of cheeses - Select cheese that melts easily and evenly, like cheddar, jack, fontina, gorgonzola)
1 cup bread crumbs, mixed with 2 T melted butter

Variations: Add frozen peas, chopped leftover ham, roasted green chiles, chunks of cooked lobster, Worcestershire sauce, red pepper flakes, mustard, etc.

Another variation: Add 6 slices of bacon, cut into halves or thirds crosswise, to the water to boil the pasta and discard when the pasta is done.

Preparing the macaroni and cheese:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bring a medium saucepan of water to a high, rolling boil.

In the meantime, liberally butter a ceramic or glass baking dish (8x8-inches is best). Lay out your ingredients: Dry pasta, butter, flour, evaporated milk, a bay leaf, diced onion, grated cheese(s) and buttery bread crumbs.

Set a second medium saucepan over a medium flame and melt the butter until just short of bubbling. Vigorously whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, for 2-3 minutes, until it just begins to go faintly brown.

Quickly now, add the milk and stir. Next, add the bay leaf and diced onion. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring every minute or two. Bring just to the boiling point, but do not let it bubble. Reduce heat if necessary.

Meanwhile, your pasta water is boiling. Add the pasta and cook for about 9 minutes, until just short of done. The pasta will finish softening in the oven. Drain; do not rinse.

While your pasta drains, drop the heat under your bechamel to medium-low and stir in about three-quarters of the cheese and stir until melted. If you are using more than one kind of cheese, stir until the sauce is a uniform color and texture.

Off goes the heat, out comes the bay leaf and in goes the pasta. Stir thoroughly until completely coated. If you're adding anything to your dish, stir it in. Scoop the mixture into your well-buttered baking dish. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top, then the butter-soaked bread crumbs. Place into the oven without delay. Bake 25 minutes.

Check on it in the oven to assess whether the top layer is sufficiently browned. If it is, take the baking dish out of the oven. If it is not, broil for 3-5 minutes until crispy brown spots begin to appear on the surface of your dish.

Serves 4 to 6


Crockpot Duck Confit

2 teaspoons juniper berries
1 T bay leaf, crushed
2 T salt
2 T thyme
2 teaspoons black pepper, ground
2 T Herbs de Provence
2 T oregano
12 duck legs

Preparing the confit:
Combine herbs and salt and grind together. Toss the legs with the salt rub. Place in a baking dish. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Rinse the legs to remove the excess salt and pat dry. Place legs in a slow cooker, packed tightly. Pour in 1/4 cup of water and turn on to low setting. Cover and let cook on low for 8 hours. By the time it is done, the legs will be simmering, covered in the rendered duck fat.

Turn off the slow cooker and gently remove each leg with a slotted spoon, being careful not to break the skin. Place all legs in a glass baking dish in one layer, then pour the rendered fat over the legs. Allow to cool and then refrigerate until you are ready to use.

To use the confit, remove one leg at a time and carefully wipe off as much of the fat as you can. Place on a baking sheet and bake in a 375 degree oven to render off the rest of the fat and to crisp the skin. This will take 20 to 30 minutes.

If you just want to eat the meat (and not the skin), render it in the oven for just 10 minutes and then remove the skin and bones.


Duck Breast a L'Orange with Riz de Camargue

Ingredients for duck and marinade
4 sides duck breast
1 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, sliced
6 sprigs thyme
6 sprigs parsley
1 juniper berry, crushed
6 whole peppercorns
1 T rice oil

* * * * * * * * * *

Ingredients for sauce:
1 shallot, minced fine
1 T rice oil
2 T Grand Marnier
1/4 cup white wine
1 orange, zested and juiced
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup beef stock
1 herb sachet (1 bay leaf, 4 sprigs thume, 2 sprigs parsley, 4 peppercorns, wrapped in cheesecloth)
1 T cold butter
salt, to taste

* * * * * * * * *

Ingredients for red rice:
6 ounces red rice from Camargue
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T rice oil
2 cups chicken stock (or water or vegetable stock)
1 bay leaf
6 sprigs thyme, tied together with string
1 T kosher salt

Preparing the duck:
Trim duck breast of tender and any sinew on the meat side. Trim fat around the duck to be even with the edges of the breast. Turn the breast meat-side down and with sharp knife run lightly over the skin and fat to cut three-quarters of the way into the fat. Score every third of an inch across the breast to make a diamond pattern. (Do not cut into the meat.) Mix marinade and coat duck breast evenly. Let stand in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.

* * * * * * * *

Preparing the sauce:
Sweat shallots in a non-reactive pan with oil until translucent, but with no color. Add in sachet and white wine and Grand Marnier. Reduce by half and add orange juice. Reduce by half. Next add in the chicken and beef stock and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and reduce until half or one-third of the liquid remains. Once sauce starts to coat a spoon slightly, take off heat and strain through a fine-meshed strainer into another pot. Add in orange zest and finish with butter. Season to taste with salt.
Note: If using store-bought stock, you may not need more salt at the end, or may not want to reduce any more than by half.


Wild Mushroom Risotto

1/4 ounce dried porcini
1 cup boiling water
4 T butter
1 pound wild or specialty mushrooms, trimmed

Do not use white, crimini, portobello or shiitake mushrooms; use the best mushrooms available, which change as the seasons unfold; chanterelles, black chanterelles, oyster, clam shell, Trumpet Royale, Velvet Pioppini and morels, etc. Clean them thoroughly and tear or slice them into medium pieces before sauteing.

1/4 cup sherry
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 T minced Italian parsley
6 to 7 cups chicken or vegetable stock
3 bacon slices, minced
3 shallots, minced
2 cups Carnaroli or Vialone Nano rice
3/4 cup (3 ounces) freshly grated Vella Dry Jack

Preparing the risotto:
Put the porcini in a small bowl, cover with the boiling water and set aside for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, put 4 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saute pan set over medium heat; when it is melted, add the mushrooms and saute, tossing frequently, until they are tender and have given up most of their liquid, about 5 to 8 minutes, depending on variety of mushroom. Increase the heat, add the sherry, toss and simmer until all of the liquid is evaporated.

Season with salt and pepper, add half the parsley and remove from the heat. Set aside.

Put the minced bacon into a deep saute pan or medium sauce pan set over medium heat and saute until just crisp. Carefully pour off excess fat so that about 2 tablespoons remain in the pan.

Add the shallots, reduce the heat to low and cook until soft and fragrant, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the porcini and saute 2 minutes more.

Add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon until each grain turns milky white, about 2 minutes.

Add the hot stock a half-cup at a time, stirring after each addition until the liquid is nearly absorbed.

Continue to add stock and stir until the rice is tender, about 18 to 20 minutes. Adjust the heat as needed so that the stock simmers when it hits the pan but does not immediately evaporate.

When about a half-cup of stock remains, stir in half the mushrooms and all the cheese. Season with black pepper, taste and correct for salt.

Working quickly, heat the reserved mushrooms and add the remaining stock to the risotto.

Ladle risotto into warmed soup plates and top with some of the reserved mushrooms and remaining parsley. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6


Monday, January 18, 2010

Almond Pancakes

1/2 cup (4 ounces) mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups water
1 T sugar
2 teaspoons pure almond extract
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups buttermilk pancake mix (recommend: Krusteaz)
4 ounces almond paste, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 T unsalted butter, at room temperature

Serve with hot maple syrup and fresh raspberries

Preparing the pancakes:

In a food processor, combine the mascarpone, water, sugar, almond extract, and vanilla extract. Process until the mixture is smooth. Add the pancake mix and pulse until just combined. Add the almond paste and pulse once to incorporate.

Preheat a griddle or a large, nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Grease the griddle or skillet with 1 tablespoon of butter. Working in batches, pour 1/4 cup of batter per pancake onto the griddle and cook for about 1 1/2 minutes each side until golden. Repeat with the remaining butter and batter.

Arrange the pancakes on a platter and serve with maple syrup and fresh raspberries.

Makes 16 pancakes.


Bobby Flay's Throwdown Lasagna

2 T unsalted butter
bechamel sauce
4 fresh sheets pasta, cooked for 2 to 3 minutes in boiling, salted water, drained or 1 pound lasagna noodles (cooked in boiling, salted water until slightly under al dente, about 5 minutes)
ricotta mixture
grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
fresh basil leaves
bolognese sauce

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

Ingredients for bolognese sauce:
4 T olive oil
3 pounds pork shanks (on the bone)
3 pounds beef shanks (on the bone)
freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound pancetta, finely diced
1 1/2 cups finely diced Spanish onion
1/2 cup finely diced carrot
1/2 cup finely diced celery
4 whole garlic cloves
1 cup dry red wine
3 cups homemade beef or chicken stock
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes and their juices
4 fresh thyme sprigs
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
6 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
1 cup tomato sauce, recipe follows
chopped fresh parsley leaves
chopped fresh basil leaves

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

Ingredients for ricotta layer:
3 cups ricotta, strained in a cheesecloth-lined strainer (at least 4 hours)
2 large eggs
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
3 T chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
freshly ground black pepper

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

Ingredients for tomato sauce:
3 T olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes (optional)
2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 T chopped fresh parsley leaves
3 T chopped fresh basil leaves

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

Ingredients for bechamel sauce:
2 T unsalted butter
2 T all purpose flour
2 to 2 1/2 cups whole milk, heated
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup grated fontina cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Preparing the bolognese sauce:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat.

Season the shanks on both sides with salt and pepper, place in the pan and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 4 minutes per side.

Remove the shanks to a plate. Remove fat from the pan. Add the pancetta to the pan and cook until golden brown. Remove pancetta with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels.

Add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic to the pan and cook until soft and lightly golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the red wine, scrape the bottom of the pan and cook until completely reduced. Add the beef stock, diced tomatoes, thyme, rosemary and parsley and bring to a simmer. Add the shanks and 1/3 of the pancetta back to the pan, cover and transfer to the oven. Cook until the meat is tender and falling off the bone, about 2 hours.

Remove the shanks to a cutting board and when cool enough to handle, shred the meat into bite-size pieces and place in a bowl.

Strain the cooking liquid into a bowl. Place 3 cups of the cooking liquid into a large high-sided saute pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until the liquid is reduced to about 3/4 cup. Add the shredded meat and the remaining cooked pancetta to the pan along with 1 cup of the tomato sauce, parsley and basil and stir to combine and just heat through.

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

Preparing the ricotta mixture:
Stir together the ricotta, eggs, parsley, basil, cheese and salt and pepper in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow flavors to meld.

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

Preparing the tomato sauce:
Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat, add the onions and cook until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and red chili flakes and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, bring to boil, season with salt and pepper and cook until the sauce is reduced and thickened, about 25 to 30 minutes. Stir in the parsley and basil.

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

Preparing the bechamel sauce:
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and let cook for about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in 2 cups of the hot milk and continue whisking until the sauce is thickened and loses its raw flavor, about 5 to 7 minutes. Season the sauce with nutmeg, salt and pepper and whisk in the cheeses. If the sauce is too thick, whisk in some of the remaining milk.

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

Assembling the lasagna:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with the butter. Ladle a thin layer of bechamel evenly over the bottom of the pan. Place a layer of pasta dough, cut to fit the inside of the pan on top of the bechamel and top the pasta with the ricotta mixture and spread evenly. Spread a thin layer of bechamel over the ricotta, sprinkle with a few tablespoons of Parmesan and some basil leaves. Top with another layer of pasta and spread the meat mixture evenly over the top. Ladle an even layer of bechamel over the Bolognese mixture, sprinkle with a few tablespoons of Parmesan and some basil leaves. Place the final layer of pasta dough over the meat mixture and ladle the bechamel over the top to completely cover the pasta and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of Parmesan.

Place the pan on a baking sheet and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F, remove the foil and continue baking until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling, about 25 to 35 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and let rest 10 minutes before cutting. Cut into slices and top with some of the tomato sauce, more grated cheese and chopped parsley and basil.

Serves 6 to 8


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sweet Potato Rolls

1 sweet potato, baked
1 cup milk
1/2 cup white or brown sugar
3 to 4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preparing the dough:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine the cooled cooked sweet potato pulp, sugar, and milk and stir to make a paste. Mix in 2 cups of the flour, the salt, the yeast, and the spices until thoroughly combined. Add more flour, a quarter cup at a time. Mix in after each addition until you have a dough that is tacky but which you can handle with wet hands. When you hit the proper consistency, remove from the bowl and knead by hand for 5 to 10 minutes.

Set the dough aside to rise in a covered bowl for 45 minutes to an hour. Divide into a dozen or so pieces, shape, and then again allow to rise until they have roughly doubled in size, another hour or so.

Right before baking, brush an egg wash over the tops.

Bake for approximately 20 to 25 minutes until they are beginning to turn brown.

Makes 12 to 18


Fruited Chocolate Rolls

1 T warm water
1 teaspoon honey
1 envelope dry yeast

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1 to 2 cups for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup dried fruits (a combination of chopped dried apricots, dates, cherries, raisins or currants, etc.)
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup warm milk
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs

Optional: vanilla turbinado sugar to sprinkle over the top

Preparing the dough:
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the water and honey. Add the yeast and stir until the yeast and honey dissolve. Let the mixture sit until the yeast foams, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Sift together the flour and salt. Stir in the dried fruit and chocolate chips. Set aside.

Mix on medium-low speed and gradually beat in the milk, butter, sugar and vanilla. Continue mixing until throughly combined. With the mixer still running, add 3 eggs one by one. Slowly add the fruit/flour mixture, making sure to stop when necessary to scrape any flour from the sides of the bowl. Continue mixing until the flour is completely incorporated.

Replace the paddle with the dough hook. Turn the mixer to medium and continue working the dough until it is smooth and sticky. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and continue to work by hand, about 5 minutes longer. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Set in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a bakers’ Silpat. Punch the dough down and cut into 12 equal pieces. Hold one piece of dough in both hands and, with your palms facing you, fold the edges of the dough away from you and toward the back of the dough, forming a small, tight ball. Roll gently to seal the ball. Place seam side down on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough pieces, making sure to space the balls 1 inch apart. Cover and let rise, about 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Whisk the remaining egg with 1 teaspoon water and brush the tops of the buns with the egg wash. Sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Makes 12


Baked Ziti

1 box of ziti
4 cups (32 ounces) marinara sauce
1 cup mascarpone or sour cream
1 cup whole milk ricotta
1 package imported Provolone cheese
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded whole milk mozzarella
1 large ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced

Optional: Italian sausage (hot and/or sweet, browned and sliced or crumbled), dark leafy cooked greens (like kale)

Preparing the ziti:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cook the pasta al dente, according to package instructions.

Mix the cooked pasta with the marinara sauce. Spoon half of this mixture into the bottom of a large baking dish. With electric beaters, mix together the ricotta with the mascarpone (or sour cream) until smooth. Mix in about 1/2 cup of the grated parmesan cheese. Spoon 1/2 cup of ricotta mixture over the pasta, then follow with a layer of provolone cheese. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella over the top.

Spoon the rest of the pasta over the shredded mozzarella. Top with slices of fresh mozzarella and sprinkle the remaining parmesan cheese over the mozzarella.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 400 degrees F for 35 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for about another 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.


Thursday, January 14, 2010


1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, plus butter for pan
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup light brown muscovado sugar
1/2 cup dark brown muscovado sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup plus 2 T toffee chips
1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted almonds

Preparing the batter:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and line a 9 by 9 by 2-inch baking pan with parchment paper, allowing a 2-inch overhang. Butter the lining too.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan; add both sugars and whisk until combined and sugar is melted, about 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and let cool slightly. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract until combined. Add the flour and whisk until just incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips, toffee chips and almonds and transfer the mixture to the prepared pan.

Bake for 24 to 27 minutes or until the top cracks slightly and is firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the center comes out with moist pieces clinging to it. Remove to a wire rack and let cool completely. Remove the bars from the pan using the parchment handles, transfer to a cutting board and cut into 2-inch squares.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Timpano, Ala "The Big Night"


Mario Batali's Neopolitan Lasagna


Pork Ragu

Serve this ragu over short, sturdy pasta, such as rigatoni, penne, tortiglioni or cavatappi (corkscrews), with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

The sauce picks up flavor after a day's refrigeration. It can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
3 pounds boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), in 1 or 2 large pieces
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 large yellow onions, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 5 cups)
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dry red wine, such as a cabernet sauvignon
7 cups canned diced tomatoes, with their juices
4 fresh bay leaves
1 large or 2 small sprigs rosemary
1 pound mild (fresh) Italian pork sausage, casings removed

Preparing the ragu:

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat.

Generously season the pork shoulder all over with salt and pepper. Place in the pot fat side down and brown for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, turning until all sides are nicely browned. Transfer to a large plate.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions to the pot. Stir to coat evenly, adding a tablespoon of oil if necessary.

Add the garlic. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent and the garlic has softened.

Return the pork shoulder to the pot. Increase the heat to medium-high, then add the wine, stirring to incorporate. Let it bubble for a minute or so, and then add tomatoes, bay leaves and rosemary. Reduce the heat to medium-low.

Add the pork sausage to the sauce in small pinches. Cover and cook for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, adjusting the heat as needed so the sauce cooks gently. The pork shoulder should be fork-tender.

Use tongs to transfer the pork shoulder to a cutting board. Use 2 forks to shred the meat into bite-size pieces, then return it and any accumulated juices to the pot.

Reduce the heat to low; cook until the meat is heated through. Adjust the seasoning with additional salt, if necessary. Discard the bay leaves and rosemary before serving or storing.

Serves 12 to 16


Sunday, January 10, 2010


A cheese, such as Parmesan, sugar, or spices to the batter to complement whatever the popovers are being served with.

1 T unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing tin
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups milk

Preparing the batter:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly grease and flour a popover tin.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and 1 tablespoon melted butter. Pour over flour mixture, and fold until just blended.

Fill the popover cups two-thirds to three-quarters full.

Transfer tin to oven, and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees, and bake until well browned and crusty, about 20 minutes. Remove popovers from the oven, and unmold onto a rack. Puncture the sides with a sharp knife to let steam escape, and serve immediately.

Makes 6


Gruyere Cheese Popovers

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 cups milk
4 large eggs
nonstick cooking spray
5 ounces freshly grated Gruyere cheese

Preparing the batter:
Place a popover pan with 6 cups in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

Sift together flour and salt onto a piece of parchment paper; set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat milk over medium heat until small bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Whisk eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Slowly add heated milk to eggs, whisking constantly. Gradually whisk in flour mixture.

Remove heated popover pan from oven; spray each cup with nonstick cooking spray and place on a baking sheet. Fill each cup with batter so it is level to the top; top with cheese.

Bake 15 minutes. Rotate pan 180 degrees; continue baking until golden brown, about 35 minutes more.

Invert pan and remove popovers. Serve immediately. Popovers may also be made 2 hours in advance. Cool on a wire rack and reheat in an oven heated to 450 degrees F just before serving.

Makes 6

Note: Alternatively, put the cheese onto the popovers halfway through baking.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Pancetta-Wrapped Pork Tenderoin

1-2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 teaspoon lemon zest
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 lb. of pork tenderloin
2 ounces of thinly sliced pancetta or bacon
dash of worcestershire sauce

olive oil

Preparing the pork:
Combine the garlic, rosemary, lemon zest, worcestershire sauce and a teaspoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Rub mixture onto the pork tenderloin.

Wrap the tenderloin with pancetta, secure with toothpicks or string. Allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet. Brown tenderloin on all sides, add a splash (1/4 cup) of red wine or water and lower flame to low, cover and cook gently until internal temperature reaches 140 degrees F.

Remove pork to plate, cover with aluminum foil and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

Serves 4 to 6.

To grill tenderloin:
Place pork over indirect heat until the internal temperature is 140 degrees F, turning the tenderloins once during cooking. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.


White Bean, Pork & Vegetable Soup

I brown a pancetta-wrapped pork tenderloin in a skillet, then braise until cooked, slice and add to the finished soup right before serving for a hearty one-dish meal.

A simply dressed salad of mixed greens, with hot artisanal bread and a full-bodied red wine makes for a perfect mid-winter dinner.

1/4 pound salt pork, rind discarded and the meat cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 cups finely chopped onion
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
1 T dried rosemary, crumbled
4 ribs of celery, cut crosswise into 1/4-inches slices (about 2 cups)
4 large carrots, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices (about 2 cups)
1 pound turnips, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 pound small red potatoes
1 pound dried white beans such as Great Northern, soaked in enough cold water to cover them by 2 inches overnight or quick-soaked (procedure follows) and drained
4 cups chicken broth plus, if desired, additional for thinning the soup
6 cups packed fresh spinach leaves, washed well, spun dry, and shredded coarse
1 cup dry white wine
freshly grated Parmesan to taste

Preparing the soup:
In a heavy kettle cook the salt pork over moderately low heat, stirring, until it is crisp. Transfer the cracklings with a slotted spoon to paper towels, and reserve them.

In the fat remaining in the kettle cook the onion, the garlic, the bay leaf, and the rosemary, stirring, until the onion is softened. Add the celery, the carrots, the turnips, the potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces, the beans, 4 cups of the broth, and 6 cups water. Simmer the mixture, covered, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the beans are tender.

Stir in the spinach and simmer until it is cooked. Stir in the wine, additional broth or water to thin the soup to the desired consistency. Salt and pepper to taste. Discard the bay leaf, simmer the soup, stirring, for 5 minutes, and serve it sprinkled with freshly grated Parmesan. Sprinkle cracklings over each serving.

To Quick Soak dried beans:
In a colander rinse the beans under cold water and discard any discolored ones. In a kettle combine the beans with enough cold water to cover them by 2 inches, bring the water to a boil, and boil the beans for 2 minutes. Remove the kettle from the heat and let the beans soak, covered, for 1 hour.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sweet Potato Bread Pudding with Caramel Pecan Sauce

2 garnet sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 teaspoons butter
1 pound loaf day old brioche or challah, cut into cubes (about 6 cups)
6 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 T molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of allspice
pinch of salt
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups milk

Ingredients for the sauce:
4 T unsalted butter
1 cup pecan halves
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup cream

Preparing the bread pudding:
Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into 3-inch chunks. Steam until tender (about 15 minutes). Set aside to cool.

While the potatoes steam, generously butter a 9- by 13-inch baking dish and place the bread cubes in the dish. Whisk together the eggs, sugar, maple syrup, molasses, vanilla, spices, salt, milk and heavy cream.

Once the sweet potatoes are cool, mash them well (you can put them through a food mill for a smoother texture). Add them to the egg mixture and blend thoroughly. Pour the egg mixture over the bread and press down on the bread with the back of a wooden spoon to ensure all the bread cubes are soaked in the custard mixture. Let sit for about 20 minutes while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (you may let it sit up to 4 hours, refrigerated if needed).

Place the bread pudding in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour until browned and the custard is set, rotating the pan halfway through for even browning.

Preparing the sauce:
Melt the butter and add the pecans. Cook the pecans in the butter, stirring, until fragrant (about 3-4 minutes). Add the brown sugar and stir until the sugar melts. Add the cream and stir to blend until smooth. Sauce can be made ahead and reheated.

Serve warm pudding with heated sauce poured over and whipped cream on the side, if desired.

Serves 8 to 10


Checkerboard Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure lemon extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
3 T Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 large egg

Preparing the cookie dough:

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until well blended, 1 to 2 minutes. Add vanilla extract, lemon extract, and salt. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour, scraping down sides of bowl.
Turn dough out onto a clean work surface; it will be loose and crumbly. Knead dough by pushing small amounts away from you with the heel of your hand for 1 to 2 minutes. Divide dough in half. Sprinkle cocoa powder over one of the halves. Knead until cocoa has been fully incorporated.

Place each half of the kneaded dough between two sheets of plastic. Using a rolling pin, shape dough into two 7-inch squares, about 3/8 inch thick. Using a sharp knife and a ruler, slice each square into nine 3/4-inch-wide strips.

Whisk together the egg and 1 tablespoon water. Cover work surface with plastic wrap. Place three strips of dough on plastic, alternating white and chocolate strips. Brush tops and in between the strips with egg wash. Gently press strips together. Repeat, forming second and third layers, alternating colors to create a checkerboard effect. Wrap assembled log in plastic. Repeat process for second log, reversing color pattern. Refrigerate 30 minutes, or freeze 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. line a baking sheet with a Silpat baking mat or parchment paper. Slice each log into 1/4-inch-thick slices; place on baking sheet. Bake until done, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven, and let cookies cool 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container up to 2 days.

Makes about 4 dozen


Bradley Ogden's Butterscotch Pudding

1 3/4 cups heavy cream
12 ounces butterscotch chips (Guittard is the preferred brand)
1 vanilla bean
10 large egg yolks
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup water
1/4 ounce Scotch whiskey
1/2 ounce heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt

whipping cream

Optional: checkerboard cookies

Preparing the pudding:

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

Put the 1 3/4 cups heavy cream and butterscotch chips into a saucepan. Split open the vanilla bean and scrape the inside into the cream. Bring all to a boil and set aside.

Place the egg yolks into a large bowl. Slowly add the above cream mixture while whisking. Set aside.

Mix the brown sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat and let mixture caramelize. Remove from heat and carefully pour in Scotch and 1/2 ounce heavy cream. Return to heat and stir until all is melted. Pour this into the cream and egg base mixture. Add salt.

Strain mixture into ovenproof ramekins or one large baking dish. Bake at 250 degrees F in a water bath until custard sets. Place in the refrigerator. When cool, top with whipped cream and serve.

Serves 10
Note: This recipe can easily be doubled.


Monday, January 4, 2010

Tempering Chocolate

Tempering is the process of melting chocolate to break down its crystal structure and then allowing it to re-form at the right temperature. When done properly, the cooled chocolate hardens with a nice shiny appearance. When done improperly, the chocolate takes on a whitish swirl and is said to have “bloomed.” Bloomed chocolate tastes fine, but properly tempered it is not.

There are a couple of ways to temper chocolate; this is the “seeding” method:

Melt the chocolate to about 110 to 115 degrees, remove it from the heat and then add small pieces of unmelted chocolate (these are the “seeds”) to speed the cooling process while controlling the temperature. Once you start seeding and the temperature drops into the low 80s, you want to slowly bring it back up to between 88 degrees and 91 degrees and hold it there as best you can; this is the temperature range you need for dipping.

These guidelines are for dark (bittersweet) chocolate, not milk or white chocolate; any good-quality dark chocolate will work. Dip anything, from pretzels to dried fruit - It all works.

2 pounds good-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped into bean-size pieces (by hand or in a food processor)
Pretzels, graham crackers, dried fruit or anything for dipping.

Melt 1 1/2 pounds chocolate in top of a double boiler (or clean metal bowl set over simmering water). Remove chocolate from heat when it reaches between 110 and 115 degrees on a candy thermometer.

To bring into tempering range, add remaining chocolate to the mixture and stir constantly with a rubber spatula until the thermometer registers 82 to 84 degrees. Put chocolate back over the hot water and bring temperature to between 88 and 91 degrees. Be careful not to let the temperature fall too far or you will have to gently re-warm the mixture; if the temperature rises above 91 degrees in the tempering step, you will have to start the process over.

Once tempered, use immediately for dipping. Store tempered chocolate at room temperature.

Makes enough for 20 to 30 dips


Lentil and Cotechino Soup

Cotechino, traditionally served with lentils or with turnips fermented in red wine, is a Lombardian sausage from Modena but is eaten all over northern Italy in the winter.

Can be found at the Santa Rosa Farmers Market (Franco Dunn) on Saturday mornings this month.

1 pound cotechino sausage
2 quarts water
2 cloves garlic, whole
¼ cup olive oil
1 large carrot, diced
3 stalks celery, diced

1 yellow onion, diced
4 T tomato paste
1 red Italian chile (or large pinch chili flakes)
1 bay leaf
2 T chopped rosemary
2 T chopped sage
small pinch ground coriander and cumin (optional, for extra flavor)
1 pound Umbrian lentils

Poke a few holes in the cotechino sausage with a fork. Over medium-low heat, cook the cotechino and bay leaf in 2 quarts water, simmering for 45 minutes. Remove the cotechino and reserve, keeping the sausage-infused water it was cooked in. Once the cotechino sausage is cooled, remove the outer casing. Cut the sausage in ½-inch medallions and then quarter each medallion.

Meanwhile, in a larger pot, saute the garlic and olive oil. Remove the garlic before it browns and add the rest of the vegetables. Saute the vegetables until soft and then add the tomato paste, red chili and the herbs. Cook for another few minutes, stirring constantly and being careful not to burn the tomato paste. Then add the lentils, cotechino water and chopped cotechino sausage. Bring soup to a simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, adding water as necessary and cooking until the lentils are soft but not falling apart. Add salt and pepper to taste. Finish with grated Parmigiano and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Serves 6


Caldo Verde [Potato-Kale Soup]

1 quart beef broth
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced into ½ inch pieces
½ cup onion, diced
½ cup leeks, white and pale green parts only, diced and washed
2 cloves garlic
1 link linguica Portuguese sausage, sliced ½ inch thick (Fernandes linguica can be found at Nine Islands Bakery, 1 Padre Parkway, in Rohnert Park)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1 T chopped fresh parsley
salt to taste
white pepper to taste
white wine vinegar to taste
1 small bunch collard greens cleaned and tough stalks removed
extra virgin olive oil

In a medium sauce pan, combine the broth, potatoes, onion, leeks, garlic and linguica. Bring the ingredients to a boil and simmer, covered on low heat, until the potatoes are soft, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, lay the collards one on top of another and roll the leaves jellyroll style. Holding the rolled collards tightly, slice the collards as thinly as possible. Set aside.

Remove the linguica from the soup using a slotted spoon. Set the linguica aside and let cool. Make sure that you remove all the slices. Add the parsley and oregano to the sauce pan and simmer 5 more minutes. When the linguica is cool enough to handle, slice each ½-inch slice in half so the each slice is about ¼-inch wide.

Using a submersible blender, puree the soup. Taste for salt and pepper and add a splash of white wine vinegar if you desire.

To finish the soup, add the sliced collards and linguica to the soup and simmer for 15 minutes. The soup is now ready to serve. Pour into bowls and drizzle with olive oil.

Serves 6


Dungeness Crab Cakes

Serve these as an appetizer or alongside scalloped potatoes or potato puree and a mound of fresh watercress for a main course.

1 pound fresh Dungeness crab meat (see Note below)
1 egg, beaten
2 T mayonnaise
1 T minced fresh Italian parsley
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon pimenton dulce or piment d’esplette, optional
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup toasted bread crumbs

clarified butter, for frying

lemon wedges

Preparing the crab cakes:
Put the crab meat into a medium bowl. Add the egg, mayonnaise, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, ginger, pimenton dulce or piment d’esplette, if using, salt and several generous turns of black pepper and toss gently with two forks.

Add the bread crumbs and toss again, until the bread crumbs are moist. It is essential that you not over mix; there should be plenty of chunks of crab. Taste and correct for salt, if necessary.

To cook the crab cakes, melt a generous 2 tablespoons of clarified butter in a heavy saute pan. Divide the crab mixture into 8 portions. When the oil is hot, press 1 portion into a ball and set it in the butter. Use a metal spatula to gently press it into a flat cake about ½ inch thick.

Add as many portions as the pan can comfortably hold.

Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, turn and cook 3 to 4 minutes more, until golden brown. Transfer the cooked crab cakes to absorbent paper and continue until all crab cakes have been cooked, adding more clarified butter as needed.

Set onto individual plates, garnish with lemon wedges and serve immediately.

Serves 4

Note: Two medium or 1 large crab should yield about a pound of meat. It is best to make the cakes using body meat; reserve the claw meat for another use, such as crab salad.


Persimmon Pudding Cake

Use 4 or 5 Hachiya (acorn-shaped) persimmons for the puree. Slice them open, scoop out the flesh, and push the pulp through a sieve to remove any seeds.

2 cups persimmon puree
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup whole milk
½ cup butter, melted
½ cup whipping cream
¼ cup honey
3 eggs
2 T brandy (optional)
1½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
scant ½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup toasted walnuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9-inch baking dish or small individual molds.

In a large bowl, whisk together the puree, suar, milk, butter, cream, honey and eggs until thoroughly incorporated. Stir in the brandy. In a separate bowl, sift the flour with the baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Stir in the wet ingredients. Fold in the walnuts.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack before removing from the pan.

Makes 1 9-inch cake, serving 8 to 10


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