Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Yellow Tomato Sauce

This sauce can be made with any tomatoes, as long as they're at their peak of ripeness. The key to this recipe is freshness.

Ingredients:
5 yellow beefsteak tomatoes, washed, core removed, a small "x" cut on the bottom of each
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
10 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thin
3 large shallots, peeled and sliced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
kosher salt
freshly ground white pepper
1 T dried oregano
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 pound dry pasta, such as penne or cavatappi
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
25 to 30 basil leaves, washed and dried
freshly grated parmesan-reggiano, to taste

Preparing the sauce:
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and salt the water generously. Prepare an ice bath for the tomatoes by filling a medium bowl with cold water and some ice cubes. Use a slotted spoon to plunge the tomatoes into the boiling water for about 1 to 2 minutes. The skin should show evidence of peeling away from the flesh of the tomatoes. Remove them from the water and plunge them into the ice bath. Allow the tomatoes to sit in the cool water so they stop cooking.

In a medium skillet, heat a tablespoon of the olive oil and add the garlic, shallots, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the oregano and sugar. Stir to blend. Allow to cook, over low heat, until the shallots and garlic become tender and translucent.

Meanwhile, remove the tomatoes from the ice bath, peel off and discard the skin from each. Place them on a flat surface, quarter them and scoop out the seeds and "jelly" from each piece. Gather all the seeds in a strainer and push through the liquid that naturally surrounds the seeds. Discard the seeds. Reserve the liquid and tomato flesh.

Add the tomato and liquid to the shallot mixture and stir in about 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 teaspoon ground pepper. Turn the heat down to medium and cook until the tomato flesh starts to lose shape, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the water and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. If there are still some hard pieces, add a little more water and cook for a few more minutes. Taste for seasoning.

In a large pot, bring 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Add a generous amount of salt. The pasta water should taste like sea water. Add the pasta to the pot and stir so none of the pieces stick to the bottom as they cook. Cook the pasta until "al dente", chewy but not hard or raw tasting, 8 to 10 minutes, and drain the pasta in a colander until the sauce is finished. Reserve a little of the pasta cooking liquid in case you need it later.

Put the tomato sauce in the blender and puree until smooth. Slowly add the vinegar through the top of the blender as the sauce is blending. Next, pour the remaining olive oil through the top in a slow, steady stream. Blend in another cup of water then remove the sauce from the blender and taste for seasoning.

Pour most of the sauce into a large skillet and add the pasta. Toss to blend with a wooden spoon. If the sauce is too thick, add some of the pasta liquid to thin it out. Taste for seasoning. Add the basil leaves and sprinkle with cheese, if desired.

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Monday, August 30, 2010

Steamed Mussels With Red Pepper Aioli

Ingredients for the aioli:
1 red pepper
2 raw egg yolks
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 to 2 T Vietnamese chili paste (Sambal Oelek)
salt
1 1/2 cups canola oil

Ingredients for the mussels:
extra virgin olive oil
2 small onions, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
3 pounds mussels, debearded and rinsed
1 bottle dry white wine

4 slices baguette, cut on the bias

Preparing the aioli:
Place the red pepper on an open flame or grill. Turn to blacken on all sides. When fully charred, remove to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let pepper cool, until you can handle it comfortably. Using your fingers, remove blackened skin to reveal the red color underneath. (A paper towel will wipe off what you can't remove with your fingers.)

Coarsely chop the pepper and place it in the bowl of a food processor. Add the yolks, garlic, vinegar, chili paste, and salt to taste. Puree until the mixture is homogeneous. While the machine is running very slowly drizzle in the oil, until incorporated. Check the aioli for texture and flavor. If it's too thick, add a few drops of water to thin it down, or on the flip side if it's too thin add more oil. The desired outcome is a fairly thin aioli. Check the flavor and add more salt or chili paste, if desired.

Refrigerate until ready to use.

* * * * * * * *

Preparing the mussels:
In a pot, large enough to accommodate all the mussels, generously coat with olive oil. Add the onions and bring to a medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Cook the onions until they are very soft and aromatic but have no color. Add the garlic, thyme and bay leaf and cook for another 2 to3 minutes. Stir to be sure the garlic doesn't burn. Add the mussels and stir to coat with the oil. Add the wine and cover the pot. Steam the mussels for 5 to 6 minutes or until all the shells open. If some shells don't open, cook them for a little longer. Sometimes the freshest mussels are the most stubborn to open. Remove the mussels that don't open after longer cooking. When in doubt, throw out.

While the mussels are steaming, grill or toast the slices of bread.

Serve the mussels in individual bowls with lots of the juice from the bottom of the pot. Generously drizzle each bowl with the aioli. Garnish with toast.

Serves 4

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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fusilli With Broccoli, Arugula And Lemon Zest

Ingredients:
1 T good olive oil
1 T minced garlic (2 cloves)
2 cups heavy cream
3 lemons
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch broccoli
1 pound dried fusilli pasta
1/2 pound baby arugula (or 2 bunches of common arugula, leaves cut in thirds)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

Preparing the pasta:
Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the garlic, and cook for 60 seconds. Add the cream, the zest from 2 lemons, the juice of 2 lemons, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until it starts to thicken.

Meanwhile, cut the broccoli in florets and discard the stem. Cook the florets in a pot of boiling salted water for 3 to 5 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain the broccoli and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the pasta, and cook according to the directions on the package, about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain the pasta in a colander and place it back into the pot. Immediately add the cream mixture and cook it over medium-low heat for 3 minutes, until most of the sauce has been absorbed in the pasta. Pour the hot pasta into a large bowl, add the arugula, Parmesan, tomatoes, and cooked broccoli. Cut the last lemon in half lengthwise, slice it 1/4-inch thick crosswise, and add it to the pasta. Toss well, season to taste, and serve hot.

Serves 4 to 5

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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Lemonade

Ingredients:
3 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 gallon cold water
3 cups fresh lemon juice
1 lemon, sliced, plus 1 lemon, cut into wedges; slices strawberries and whole strawberries for glass rims; mint sprigs, for garnish
ice

Variations: Limoncello to taste

Preparing the lemonade:
Make a simple syrup by adding the sugar and water to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over low heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Add a gallon of cold water and the lemon juice to a large glass pitcher. Add the simple syrup and the lemon slices. Stir well. Pour the lemonade into tall glasses filled with ice.

Serves 4 to 6

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Friday, August 27, 2010

Iggy's Brownie Pudding

Ingredients:
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus extra for buttering the dish
4 extra large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup good cocoa powder
1/2 cup all purpose flour
seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
1 T framboise liqueur, optional

vanilla ice cream, for serving

Preparing the brownie pudding:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly butter a 2-quart (9 by 12 by 2-inch) oval baking dish. Melt the 1/2 pound of butter and set aside to cool.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar on medium-high speed for 5 to 10 minutes, until very thick and light yellow. Meanwhile, sift the cocoa powder and flour together and set aside.

When the egg and sugar mixture is ready, reduce the speed to low and add the vanilla seeds, framboise, if using, and the cocoa powder and flour mixture. Mix only until combined. With mixer still on low, slowly pour in the cooled butter and mix again just until combined.

Pour the brownie mixture into the prepared dish and place it in a larger baking pan. Add enough of the hottest tap water to the pan to come halfway up the side of the dish and bake for exactly 1 hour. A cake tester inserted 2 inches from the side will come out 3/4 clean. The center will appear very under-baked; this dessert is between a brownie and a pudding.

Allow to cool and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Serves 6

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Iggy's Chicken Piccata

Serve over pasta (paparadelle) or mashed potatoes, and with a simple green salad with vinaigrette.

Ingredients:
2 split (1 whole) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all urpose flour
1 extra large egg
1/2 T water
3/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
olive oil
3 T unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons), lemon halves reserved
1/2 cup dry white wine
sliced lemon, for serving
chopped fresh parsley leaves, for serving

Variations: 1 teaspoon capers, lemon zest, add chopped lemon thyme to the breadcrumbs, chopped shallots, sliced mushrooms

Preparing the chicken piccata:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place each chicken breast between 2 sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap and pound out to 1/4-inch thick. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

Mix the flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper in a shallow plate. In a second plate, beat the egg and 1/2 tablespoon of water together. Place the bread crumbs on a third plate. Dip each chicken breast first in the flour, shake off the excess, and then dip in the egg and bread crumb mixtures.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium to medium-low heat. Add the chicken breasts and cook for 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Place them on the sheet pan and allow them to bake for 5 to 10 minutes while you make the sauce.

For the sauce, wipe out the saute pan with a dry paper towel. Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and then add the lemon juice, wine, the reserved lemon halves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Boil over high heat until reduced in half, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and swirl to combine. Discard the lemon halves and serve 1 chicken breast on each plate. Spoon on the sauce and serve with a slice of lemon and a sprinkling of fresh parsley.

Serves 2

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

TF's Beef Stew

Ingredients for beef stew:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, for frying, plus more to drizzle
3 T butter
2 cups all purpose flour
2 to 3 pounds beef chuck shoulder roast, cut into 2-inch pieces [this cut is also called chuck shoulder pot roast and chuck roast boneless]
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bottle good quality dry red wine, preferably Burgundy
8 fresh thyme sprigs
6 garlic cloves, smashed
1 orange, zest removed in 3 (1-inch) strips
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 bay leaves
2 1/2 cups beef stock
9 small new potatoes, scrubbed clean and cut in half
1/2 pound carrots, peeled and sliced
2 cups frozen pearl onions, a large handful
1 pound white mushrooms, cut in half
1/2 pound garden peas frozen or fresh
fresh flatleaf parsley, chopped, for garnish

* * * * * * * *

Ingredients for horseradish sour cream:
1 cup sour cream
1 T prepared horseradish
olive oil
salt and pepper
chives, finely chopped, as garnish
Ingredients for horseradish sour cream:
1 cup sour cream
1 T prepared horseradish
olive oil
salt and pepper
chives, finely chopped, as garnish

* * * * * * * *

Ingredients for toasted peasant bread:
1 loaf peasant bread, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, halved
chopped parsley leaves

Preparing the beef stew:
Preheat a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat with the oil and butter.

While the pan is heating, arrange the flour on a large dish. Season the cubed beef with some salt and freshly ground black pepper and then toss in the flour to coat. Shake off the excess flour and add the beef chunks in a single layer to the hot pan, being careful not to over crowd the pan, you might have to work in batches. Thoroughly brown all of the cubes on all sides. Once all the meat has been browned remove it to a plate and reserve.

Add the wine to the pan and bring up to a simmer while you scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon being sure to loosen up all those tasty bits. Once the wine has gotten hot add the browned meat, thyme, smashed garlic, orange zest strip, ground cloves, freshly ground black pepper and salt, to taste, bay leaves and beef stock. Bring the mixture up to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered until the liquids start to thicken, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cover and cook on low heat for 2 1/2 hours.

After 2 hours add halved potatoes, sliced carrots, pearl onions and mushrooms, along with a pinch of sugar to balance out the acid from the red wine. Turn the heat up slightly and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes more, until the vegetables and meat are tender. Add the frozen peas during the last minute of cooking. Season with salt and pepper and remove the thyme sprigs.

To serve, place the stew in a soup bowl, garnish with parsley, drizzle with olive oil and add a dollop of horseradish sour cream. Right before serving add a slice of toasted peasant bread, half way submerged in the stew.

* * * * * * * *

Preparing the horseradish sour cream:
Combine sour cream, prepared horseradish and a drizzle of olive oil in a small bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. Season with salt and pepper. Add a dollop of the mixture on top of the stew and garnish with chopped chives.

* * * * * * * *

Preparing the toasted peasant bread:
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Put a sheet pan in the oven so that it gets good and hot.

Place the bread slices on the hot sheet pan. Drizzle the bread with the extra virgin olive oil bake for 5 minutes, until the bread is nicely toasted. Rub the bread slices with the garlic cloves, and discard garlic. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Serves 4 to 6

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

TF's Potato, Bacon, Fontina & Rosemary Pizza

Ingredients:
1 recipe fresh pizza dough
3 to 4 baby Yukon gold fingerling potatoes, finely sliced
1/2 small onion, finely sliced
6 slices applewood smoked bacon, finely chopped
2 T rosemary leaves
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to grease pan
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup shredded fontina cheese
1 cup baby arugula, optional
1/2 lemon, juiced

Preparing the pizza:
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Put a jelly roll pan or half sheet pan in the oven.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the fingerling potatoes, onion, bacon, and rosemary leaves. Add 1/4 cup of olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Toss together to coat with olive oil.

Take the preheated jelly roll pan out of the oven and drizzle some olive oil over entire surface. Cut the dough into 2 pieces and reserve 1 piece for another use. Stretch the pizza dough out so it is just bigger than the pan, then lay it inside the pan so the dough comes up the sides to form a crust on the rim.

Pour the potato mixture onto the pizza dough, then sprinkle with shredded fontina. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until crispy and golden, about 20 to 25 minutes. Garnish with arugula and drizzle the lemon juice over the top.

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TF's Margherita Pizza

Ingredients:
2 T extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to grease pan
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 T fresh thyme leaves
1 T fresh oregano leaves
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes, drained and hand crushed
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 recipe fresh pizza dough

1 (8-ounce) ball fresh buffalo mozzarella, water drained
1/2 bunch fresh basil leaves

Preparing the pizza:
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Put a jelly roll pan or a half sheet pan in the oven.

Begin by making the tomato sauce. In a large saute pan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, the minced garlic, thyme and oregano. Cook until just fragrant then add the crushed tomatoes and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Lower the heat and simmer for 7 to 8 minutes to reduce and concentrate the flavor. Shut off the heat and set aside.

Take the preheated jelly roll pan out of the oven and drizzle some olive oil over the entire surface. Cut the dough into 2 pieces and reserve 1 piece for another use. Stretch the pizza dough out so it is just bigger than the pan, then lay it inside the pan, so the dough comes up the sides to form a crust on the rim. Smear with tomato sauce then tear up the mozzarella and scatter it evenly over the top of the pie. Tear the basil leaves, spread them over the top and drizzle with a little more olive oil. Give it a final season with salt and pepper, to taste, then bake in the hot oven until golden and bubbly, about 15 to 18 minutes.

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TF's Pizza Dough


Ingredients:
2 packages active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
2 cups warm water (100 to 110 degrees F)
2 T kosher salt
6 cups unbleached all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 T extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for bowl

Variations: Cut salt down to 1/2 to 1 T, half all purpose flour and half whole wheat flour

Preparing the dough:
In a small bowl, combine the yeast, sugar and water and stir gently to dissolve. Let the mixture stand until the yeast comes alive and starts to foam, 5 to 10 minutes.

If you're using a stand mixer, combine the salt and flour to the bowl and pulse a few times to mix. Add the yeast mixture, at the lowest speed, until the flour incorporates. When the dough starts to come together, increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough gathers into a ball. This should take about 2 minutes. Add the olive oil and pulse a few more times. Stop the machine periodically to scrape the dough off the hook. Get a feel for the dough as you're making it by squeezing a small amount together between your thumb and fingers. If it's crumbly, add more water, if it's sticky, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and fold it over itself a few times, kneading until it's smooth and elastic.

If you're making the dough by hand, add the yeast mixture to a large bowl and stir in the salt and the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Then begin stirring in the flour. When the mixture becomes too stiff to stir with a spoon, knead in the rest of the flour by hand, adding just enough so that the dough is soft but not too sticky. As you work, squeeze a small amount of dough together between your thumb and fingers. If it's crumbly, add more water; if it's sticky, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.

Form the dough into a round and put it into a lightly oiled bowl, turning it over to coat the dough entirely with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it rise in a warm spot (i.e., over a gas pilot light) until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Iggy's Lobster Pot Pie

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion (1 large onion)
3/4 cup chopped fennel (1 fennel bulb)
1/4 pound unsalted butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups fish stock or clam juice
1 T Pernod
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 T heavy cream
3/4 pound cooked fresh lobster meat
1 1/2 cups frozen peas (not "baby" peas)
1 1/2 cups frozen small whole onions
1/2 cup minced flat leaf parsley

Ingredients for pastry:
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
8 T cold fresh lard, diced (1/4 pound)
8 T cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 to 2/3 cup ice water
1 egg, beaten with 1 T water or heavy cream, for egg wash

Preparing the pot pie:
Saute the onions and fennel with the butter in a large saute pan on medium heat until the onions are translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the flour and cook on low heat for 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Slowly add the stock, Pernod, salt, and pepper and simmer for 5 more minutes. Add the heavy cream.

Cut the lobster meat into medium-sized cubes. Place the lobster, frozen peas, frozen onions, and parsley in a bowl (there is no need to defrost the vegetables). Pour the sauce over the mixture and check the seasonings. Set aside.

For the crust, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the lard and butter and pulse 10 times, until the fat is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the ice water; process only enough to moisten the dough and have it just come together. Dump the dough out on a floured surface and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow it to rest for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Divide the dough in half and roll out each half to fit a 9 or 9 1/2-inch round by 2-inch high ovenproof glass or ceramic baking dish. Place 1 crust in the dish, fill with the lobster mixture, and top with the second crust. Crimp the crusts together and brush with the egg wash. Make 4 or 5 slashes in the top crust and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling hot.

Serves 4 to 5

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Iggy's Chocolate Gelato

Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups whole milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (recommended: Pernigotti)
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 extra-large egg yolks
2 T Mexican coffee flavor liqueur (Kahlua, Tia Maria or homemade)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
large pinch of kosher salt
8 chocolates, roughly chopped, optional (Baci)

Preparing the gelato:
Heat the milk, cream, and 1/2 cup sugar in a 2-quart saucepan, until the sugar dissolves and the milk starts to simmer. Add the cocoa powder and chocolate and whisk until smooth. Pour into a heat-proof measuring cup.

Place the egg yolks and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light yellow and very thick. With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the hot chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Pour the egg and chocolate mixture back into the 2-quart saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened. A candy thermometer will register about 180 degrees F. Don't allow the mixture to boil!

Pour the mixture through a sieve into a bowl and stir in the coffee liqueur, vanilla, and salt. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the custard and chill completely.

Pour the custard into the bowl of an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer's directions. Stir in the roughly chopped chocolate, if using, and freeze in covered containers. Allow the gelato to thaw slightly before serving.

Serves 4

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Potato Cheese Soup

Ingredients:
4 T butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup all purpose flour
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup whole milk
1 (12-ounce) bottle light-bodied beer
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
dash of hot sauce
dash of Worcestershire

sour cream, for topping
4 slices bacon, cooked crisp, for topping
2 T chopped fresh chives, for topping

Preparing the soup:
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic and saute in butter until the vegetables begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle the flour into the pan and continue to stir for 2 minutes to toast the flour. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Gradually whisk in the stock, then the milk and the beer. Stir in the potatoes and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the soup until the potato is tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. Return the soup to low heat. Add the cheese a handful at a time, stirring until melted and smooth after each addition. Season the soup, to taste, with hot sauce, Worcestershire, and salt and pepper.

Divide the soup among bowls and top with sour cream, crisp bacon and chopped chives.

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Meyer Lemon Curd Tart

Ingredients for the crust:
1 stick cold butter, cut into pea size pieces
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour, plus extra for rolling dough
1 egg yolk
pinch of salt
2 to 4 T cold water

* * * * * * * * *

Ingredients for the curd:
3/4 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
3 Meyer lemons, zested
1 1/3 cups sugar
5 eggs
pinch of salt
1 1/2 sticks butter, cut into pats

Ingredients for the garnish:
1 pint blueberries
2 T sugar
2 T Meyer lemon juice

Preparing the dough for the tart:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Put the butter, sugar, flour, egg yolk and salt in a food processor and pulse for 30 to 60 seconds or until the mixture has a grainy consistency. Add half of the water and pulse the food processor 2 to 3 times. The dough should start to come together; add the remaining water if needed. Turn the dough out on a clean work surface. Using the heel of your hand, knead the dough 2 to 3 times; dust with flour, if needed. Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out to 1/8- to 1/4-inch in thickness. Press the dough into a 10-inch tart pan, pushing the dough into the sides of the tart pan by rolling a small scrap of dough into a ball and pushing it into the dough. Roll over the top edge of the tart pan with the rolling pin to cut the extra dough from the pan and create a crisp edge.

Cover the dough with aluminum foil and gently poke the foil into the side edges to fit the pan (this will help to keep the sides of the tart tall and straight as it cooks). Fill the tart shell with the dried beans and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, remove the foil and beans and bake for 2 to 3 minutes more until golden and crisp. Remove from the oven to cool.

* * * * * * *

Preparing the curd:
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Combine the lemon juice, zest, sugar, eggs and salt in a bowl and whisk to a homogeneous consistency. Place in saucepan and bring to a medium heat. Cook, whisking, constantly until the mixture has thickened, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter, 2 pats at a time until it's incorporated and has a silky consistency.

Pour the lemon curd into the prepared tart shell and bake in the preheated oven until the lemon curd has set, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely before serving.

Preparing the garnish:
In a small bowl, mix together blueberries, sugar and lemon juice. Serve alongside tart slices.

Serves 8 to 12

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Blueberry Buckle

Ingredients for topping:
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
pinch of salt
4 T unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup chopped pecans

* * * * * * * *

Ingredients for cake:
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup buttermilk, well shaken
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups fresh blueberries (thawed, if frozen)

Butter or nonstick spray, for pan

Preparing the topping:
Mix the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice and salt in large bowl. Blend the butter into the mixture until it forms pea-size lumps. Stir in the pecans. Set mixture aside.

* * * * * * * *

Preparing the blueberry buckle:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat an 8 by 8-inch baking pan with butter or nonstick spray.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In another bowl, add the butter and sugar and beat with a hand mixer until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the buttermilk and the vanilla. Slowly add the dry ingredients and stir until completely incorporated.

Fold in the berries with a rubber spatula, then add the batter to the baking pan. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the batter. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for before serving.

Serves 6

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Corn Souffle

This makes a great first course or serve with a salad for lunch.

Ingredients:
5 T butter, plus more for baking dish
1/2 medium onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups fresh whole corn kernels (thawed, if frozen)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 cups half-and-half
5 large eggs
1 cup grated extra-sharp white Cheddar

Preparing the corn souffle:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Coat the bottom and sides of a round 2 quart souffle dish with butter.

Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in the corn, salt and pepper, to taste, the smoked paprika and cayenne. Saute for 1 more minute. Add the flour and stir until it becomes light blonde in color, about 2 more minutes. Add the half-and-half and whisk until the mixture becomes smooth and thickened. Remove from the heat.

Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Temper the eggs into the corn mixture, then stir in the cheese. Pour the mixture into the buttered souffle dish. Bake for 35 minutes.

Serves 4 to 6

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Hot Butterscotch Sauce

Sauce will keep covered and refrigerated for up to one week.

Ingredients:
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup white corn syrup
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Preparing the butterscotch sauce:
In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.

Remove from heat. Carefully and very slowly stir in cream. Be careful not to let it spatter. Continue stirring until the mixture is smooth and foaming subsides.

The sauce will separate upon standing; stir before serving. Serve warm.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

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Butterscotch Sauce, One Way

Ingredients:
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 stick unsalted butter
2 T bourbon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparing the sauce:
In a small heavy bottomed saucepan, add the brown sugar, corn syrup, and butter and cook over medium low heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Add bourbon and vanilla extract, stirring well.

Serve warm over ice cream.

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Baked Chocolate Custard With Butterscotch Whipped Cream

Ingredients:

For the chocolate custard:
1 cup (6-ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
4 egg yolks
3 T sugar
pinch of salt

* * * * * * *

Ingredients for butterscotch whipped cream:
1 cup heavy cream
5 T butterscotch sundae syrup (Smuckers or make from scratch)

Preparing the chocolate custard:
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Put the chocolate chips in a medium heatproof bowl. Bring the cream and milk to a light boil in a medium saucepan over low heat. Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate and whisk until smooth.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and salt. Whisking constantly, temper the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Stain the custard through a fine mesh sieve and divide it among the ramekins.

Put the ramekins in a large roasting pan. Carefully pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the pan tightly with foil; poke a few small holes in the foil for steam to escape. Bake on the center rack of the oven until the edges of the custard are slightly set but the center still jiggles (the center will set as the pudding cools), about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the ramekins from the water bath and allow them to cool completely. Cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.

* * * * * * * *

Preparing the butterscotch whipped cream:
Whisk the cream and sundae syrup together in a bowl until combined. Using an electric mixer beat on medium-high speed until thickened. Top each custard cup with a generous dollop of whipped cream before serving.

Serves 6

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Brussels Sprouts With Onions And Bacon

Ingredients:
1/2 pound lean bacon, finely diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chicken broth
4 T butter

Preparing the brussels sprouts:
In a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, fry the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon and drain on paper towels.

Saute the onion and garlic in the bacon fat over low heat until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the Brussels sprouts and stir them around so that they are coated with the bacon fat. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Add the broth and cook, covered, over low heat until the sprouts are easily pierced with a fork, about 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in the butter and transfer the sprouts to a serving dish. Garnish with bacon bits and serve.

Serves 4

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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Penne With Chicken In Almond Sauce

Ingredients:
1 pound penne pasta
2 cups (9 ounces) blanched, slivered almonds
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 cup frozen petite peas
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 large lemon, zested
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups grated parmesan
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Preparing the penne:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.

* * * * * * * *

Preparing the sauce:
In a blender, combine the almonds, chicken stock, olive oil, and garlic. Blend until the mixture is smooth. Pour the mixture into a large skillet and turn the heat on to medium. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the chicken, peas, cream and lemon zest. Cook, stirring frequently until the chicken is heated through, about 4 minutes (mixture will be thick). Season with salt and pepper, to taste

* * * * * * * *

Assembling the dish:
Put the cooked pasta into a serving bowl and add 1/2 cup of the parmesan. Toss together until the pasta is coated. Add the chicken mixture, the remaining cheese and the basil. Toss the ingredients together, adding the reserved pasta water, as needed, to loosen the sauce. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Serves 4 to 6

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Baked Garlic Cheese Grits

Ingredients:
6 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups regular grits
3 (6-ounce) rolls cheese with garlic, or any garlic-cheddar spread, diced (Kraft brand) [Or one block of block of Cracker Barrel brand extra sharp cheddar witht 6 cloves of finely minced fresh garlic.]
1/2 cup milk
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup butter
1 cup grated sharp Cheddar

scallions sliced on the diagonal, for garnish

Preparing the grits:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 4-quart casserole dish.

Bring the broth, salt, and pepper, to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan. Stir in the grits and whisk until completely combined. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the grits are thick, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic-cheese and milk and stir. Gradually stir in the eggs and butter, stirring until all are combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle with the Cheddar and bake for 45 minutes, or until set.

Sprinkle sliced scallions over the top before serving.

Serves 12

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Baked Corn Pudding

Ingredients:
3 T butter, plus extra for casserole
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped
3 T all purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 cup shredded Cheddar
2 eggs, beaten
1 (10-ounce) bag frozen corn
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan

Preparing the corn pudding:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a large saucepan on medium heat, melt butter and saute onions and jalapenos until tender, about 5 minutes. Add flour and stir to coat evenly, being sure to not burn the onions. Cook flour until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Whisk in milk and cheese and stir until melted, then remove from heat. Add the eggs to a small bowl, and stir in 1/4 cup of hot mixture to temper the eggs. Stir add the egg mixture into the pan, along with corn, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour into a buttered 8 by 8-inch casserole dish. In a small bowl, mix together bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Sprinkle evenly over top of casserole, place in the oven and bake until custard sets and the top is golden brown, about 45 minutes.

Serves 6 to 8

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bucatini All'Amatriciana

Ingredients:
extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces guanciale, cut in 1/4-inch strips (substitute pancetta)
2 large onions, cut in 1/2-inch dice
1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
kosher salt
2 (28-ounce) cans San Marzano tomatoes, passed through the food mill
1 pound bucatini or perciatelli
1/2 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano, plus extra for garnish

Preparing the bucatini all'amatriciana:
Coat a large saucepan with olive oil. Add the guanciale and saute over low heat. Cook until it is brown and crispy and has rendered a lot of fat. Remove and reserve 1/3 of the guanciale for garnish.

Bring the pan to a medium heat and add the onions and crushed red pepper. Season generously with salt, to taste. Cook the onions until they are translucent, starting to turn golden and are aromatic. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer the sauce for about 1 hour, tasting periodically. Adjust the salt, as needed.

Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook for 1 minute less than the instructions on the package. Remove 3 or 4 ladles' full of the sauce from the pot to a separate bowl (you can always add it back in, but it's harder to take out once the pasta is in the pan).

Drain the pasta from the water and add to the pot of sauce. Stir to coat with the sauce. Add more sauce, if necessary. Add in the cheese and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat and serve garnished with cheese and the reserved guanciale.

Serves 4 to 6

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Swiss Chard and Ricotta Crostata

Serve hot or at room temperature.

Ingredients for the crust:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup mascarpone
pinch of kosher salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 stick cold butter, cut into pea-sized pieces
2 eggs

Ingredients for the filling:
extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, smashed
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 bunch white Swiss chard, stems removed cut into 1/4-inch lengths, leaves cut into 1-inch lengths
2 leeks, tough green tops removed, cut in 1/2 lengthwise and then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch lengths
2 to 3 T water
kosher salt
2 cups fresh ricotta
1 cup grated parmesan
2 eggs
pinch of cayenne pepper

egg wash: 1 egg beaten with 2 T water

Preparing the crush:
Combine the flour, parmesan, mascarpone, salt, cayenne and butter in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until it looks very dry and crumbly. Add the eggs and pulse until the mixture forms a ball. Remove the dough from the food processor, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preparing the filling:
Coat a large saute pan generously with olive oil. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and bring the pan to a medium heat. When the garlic has become golden brown and is aromatic remove it and discard. Add the Swiss chard stems, leeks and 2 to 3 tablespoons of water and season with salt. When the water has evaporated and the stems and leeks are soft, add the leaves. Season the leaves with salt and saute until they are very soft and wilted. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.

Combine the ricotta, parmesan, eggs, cayenne and the Swiss chard mixture in a large bowl and mix to thoroughly combine. Adjust the seasoning if necessary. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

To assemble:
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and set out to come to room temperature (about 10 to 15 minutes); this will make it really much easier to roll out.

Dust a large clean work surface with flour and roll the dough into a large circle about 1/4 to 1/8-inch thick. Transfer the dough to a large sheet pan or tray lined with parchment paper. Lay the dough out flat. Put the filling in a large circle in the center of the rolled out dough leaving a 3 to 4-inch border of dough along the outside edge. Fold the dough up around the filling to make a "free-form pie". Brush the top of the dough with egg wash and bake in the preheated oven until the crust is firm, golden brown and shiny, about 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing, this will allow it to up for easier slicing.

Serves 8 to 10

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mexican Hot Chocolate

Ingredients:
3 ounces (tablet or cone) Mexican chocolate or bittersweet chocolate
3 cups milk
2 T sugar
pinch of salt

Optional: pinch of chili powder, pinch of cayenne powder, 3 teaspoons of vanilla extract or 3 ounces of vanilla schnapps or other brand of vanilla liqueur (or make your own)

miniature marshmallows, for serving
6 cinnamon sticks (preferably Mexican canela), for serving

Preparing the hot chocolate:
Using a sharp knife, break up the chocolate into smaller pieces. Combine the chopped chocolate, milk, sugar, and salt in a saucepan and place over medium-low flame. Heat and stir until the chocolate is completely melted and milk is very hot, but not boiling, about 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat, pour into a pitcher or chocolate pot and froth the chocolate milk with a mini whisk or molinillo. Pour the hot chocolate into mugs, topping each with a few marshmallows, and a cinnamon stick as a stirrer.

Serves 6

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Vanilla Liqueur

Ingredients:
1 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
3 T vanilla extract, or 1 (8-inch) vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3 cups vodka, or 1 quart light rum

optional: 1 teaspoon glycerin

Preparing the liqueur:
Combine the water and sugars together in a saucepan and stir until dissolved. Heat for 5 minutes over low heat, stirring constantly, just until the mixture begins to steam (do not bring to a boil). Remove the pan from the heat and let cool. Stir in the vanilla extract or beans and vodka. Pour into glass decanter, store in a cool dark location for at least two weeks.

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Chicken in Ancho-Pumpkin Sauce

Ingredients:
8 cups water, divided
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 bay leaf
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole cloves
6 bone-in, skinless chicken breasts
5 ancho chiles (dried poblano peppers)
2 large jalapenos, halved
1 large onion, quartered
3 Roma tomatoes, halved and seeded
4 whole garlic cloves
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup pumpkin seeds

1 large bunch cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
16 corn tortillas, kept warm
2 limes, cut into 8 wedges
2 avocados, halved, pitted and flesh sliced
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced

Special equipment:
Food processor
Dutch oven

Brining the chicken:
Combine 6 cups water, salt, sugar, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, and cloves in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring gently. Once the sugar and salt have dissolved, remove from the heat and let mixture cool to room temperature. Transfer to a large bowl, add the chicken, and refrigerate, covered, at least 2 hours or overnight.

Rehydrating the chiles:
Bring the remaining 2 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. In a medium heatproof bowl, add the ancho chiles and cover with the boiling water. Weigh down with a plate so the peppers remain under water and let them soak for 15 minutes. Remove and discard the stems when the peppers have softened.

Preparing the chicken:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

On a sheet tray toss the jalapenos, onion, tomatoes, garlic and cumin with 2 tablespoons oil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Roast until nicely caramelized with good color, 25 to 30 minutes. Add the pumpkin seeds to a dry, hot skillet on high heat. Stir often, until the seeds are golden and begin to pop. Transfer to a food processor along with roasted vegetables. Add the soaked chiles, about 2 tablespoons of chili soaking liquid, the cilantro leaves and the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to the processor. Puree until smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if needed.

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator, blot dry with paper towels and put into a large Dutch oven. Pour in the sauce and bake, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 55 to 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer the chicken to a cutting board to cool. When cool to the touch, shred the chicken and add it back to the sauce. Spoon the mole into corn tortillas and serve with lime wedges, avocado slices, shredded lettuce, red onion, and radishes. Garnish with cilantro leaves and enjoy.

Serves 6 to 8

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Arroz Con Leche (Mexican Rice Pudding)

Ingredients:
7 cups water
1 cup long grain white rice
1 (4-inch) cinnamon stick
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 (14-ounce) can condensed milk
2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup golden raisins
ground cinnamon

whipped or lazy cream

Preparing the pudding:
Put the water, rice, and cinnamon stick in a medium-size heavy saucepan set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, uncovered, and cook until the rice is tender, about 18 minutes. Strain out the liquid, discard the cinnamon and reserve the rice. Return the rice to the saucepan. Stir in the evaporated milk, condensed milk, and whole milk. Continue cooking over medium-high heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook, uncovered, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick, about 20 minutes. Add the raisins, and stir well. Transfer the pudding to a serving bowl. Dust the top of the pudding with ground cinnamon and serve with a dollop of whipped or lazy cream.

Serves 4

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Chicken Flautas With Avocado Cream

Ingredients for avocado cream:
1 very ripe avocado, halved, pitted and flesh removed
1 4-ounce container sour cream
2 T fresh lime juice
salt


Ingredients for the flautas:
vegetable or canola oil, for frying
1 T butter
1/2 small red onion, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper


1 rotisserie chicken, skin removed and meat shredded

1 cup salsa

1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro leaves

1 cup shredded cheddar/Monterey jack blend

1 lime, juiced

salt

16 (5 to 6-inch) flour tortillas

2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce, for serving

Preparing the chicken flautas:
Fill a large pot with enough oil to reach 2 inches up the side of the pan. Heat over medium heat until a deep-frying thermometer inserted in the oil reads 375 degrees F.

To make the flautas: In a pan over medium heat melt butter and saute onions and jalapenos until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, and cayenne pepper and cook until fragrant, another 2 minutes. Add chicken and salsa; stir to combine. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro, cheese and lime juice. Let cool slightly.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

Working with 4 tortillas at a time, spread a heaping spoonful along the middle of each tortilla. Roll tortilla tightly around the filling and secure with a toothpick. Using tongs, hold each flauta in hot oil until firm, then release to continue cooking. Cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes, then remove to a paper towel-lined plate and immediately season with salt. Keep flautas warm in the oven on a sheet tray while assembling and cooking the remaining tortillas.

* * * * * * * *

Preparing the avocado cream:
In a serving bowl, mash avocado, sour cream and lime juice until smooth. Season with salt, to taste.

* * * * * * * *

Arrange flautas on a platter of shredded lettuce and serve with avocado cream on the side.

Makes 16 flautas

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Friday, August 13, 2010

Iggy's 3-Tiered Chocolate Buttercream Anniversary Cake

Ingredients:
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups good cocoa powder
1 T baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups light brown sugar, packed
4 extra large eggs, at room temperature
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1/4 cup brewed coffee

* * * * * * * * *

Ingredients for the chocolate buttercream frosting:
1 pound bittersweet chocolate
12 ounces semisweet chocolate
3/4 cup egg whites (4 to 5 extra large eggs), at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 pounds unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 teaspoons instant espresso powder, dissolved in 1 1/2 teaspoons water
3 T dark rum, optional

Preparing the cake batter:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter 3 cake pans (8-, 6- and 4-inch by 3-inch high). Line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter and flour the pans.

Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars on high speed until light, approximately 5 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Combine the buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee. On low speed, add the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture alternately in thirds, beginning with the buttermilk mixture and ending with the flour mixture. Mix the batter only until blended.

Divide the batter between the 3 pans and smooth the tops with a spatula. Bake on the middle rack of the oven as follows: for the 4-inch pan 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean; for the 6-inch pan 70 to 75 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean; and for the 8-inch pan 85 to 90 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes each on a cooling rack, carefully remove from the pans and allow to finish cooling.

Place the 8-inch cake on a serving plate, flat side up. Frost the top of that layer with buttercream. Place the 6-inch cake in the center of the top of the 8-inch cake, flat-side up, and frost the top and sides. Place the 4-inch cake in the center of the top of the 6-inch cake, flat side down. Frost the top and sides of that layer with buttercream. Spread any remaining buttercream over the cake evenly.

* * * * * * * *

Preparing the frosting:
Chop the chocolates and place them in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan simmering water. Stir until melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

Mix the egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Place the bowl of egg whites over the pan of simmering water and heat the egg whites until they are warm to the touch, about 5 minutes. Return the bowl to the electric mixer and whisk on high speed for 5 minutes, or until the meringue is cool and holds a stiff peak.

Add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, while beating on medium speed. Scrape down the bowl, add the melted chocolate, vanilla, espresso, and rum, if using, and mix for 1 minute or until the chocolate is completely blended in. If the buttercream seems very soft, allow it to cool, and beat it again.

Makes about 4 cups

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Iggy's Garlic Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients:
1/2 cup garlic cloves, peeled (about 1 head)
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream, half-and-half, or creme fraiche

Preparing the mashed potatoes:
In a small saucepan, bring the garlic and oil to a boil, then turn the heat to low and cook uncovered for 5 minutes, or until the garlic is lightly browned. Turn off the heat and set aside. The garlic will continue to cook in the oil.

Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a large pot of salted water, bring to a boil, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes are very tender. With a slotted spoon, remove the potatoes from the water, reserving the cooking water, and remove the garlic from the oil, reserving the oil.

Process the potatoes and garlic through a food mill fitted with the medium disk, or whip with an electric mixer. Add the reserved olive oil, 2 teaspoons of salt, the pepper, cream, and 3/4 cup of the cooking water to the potatoes and mix with a wooden spoon. Add more cooking water, if necessary, until the potatoes are creamy but still firm. Season, to taste,and serve hot.

Serves 6

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Iggy's Coq Au Vin

Ingredients:
2 T extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces good bacon or pancetta, diced
1 (3 to 4-pound) chicken, cut into eight or ten pieces
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound carrots, cut diagonally in 1-inch pieces
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/4 cup Cognac or good brandy
1/2 bottle (375 ml) good dry red wine such as Burgundy
1 cup good chicken stock, preferably homemade
10 fresh thyme sprigs
2 T unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
1 1/2 T all purpose flour
1/2 pound frozen small whole onions
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, stems removed and thickly sliced

Preparing the coq au vin:
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove the bacon to a plate with a slotted spoon.

Meanwhile, lay the chicken out on paper towels and pat dry. Liberally sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. When the bacon is removed, brown the chicken pieces in batches in a single layer for about 5 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Remove the chicken to the plate with the bacon and continue to brown until all the chicken is done. Set aside.

Add the carrots, onions, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper to the pan and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac and put the bacon, chicken, and any juices that collected on the plate into the pot. Add the wine, chicken stock, and thyme and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just not pink. Remove from the oven and place on top of the stove.

Mash 1 tablespoon of butter and the flour together and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions. In a medium saute pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and cook the mushrooms over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until browned. Add to the stew. Bring the stew to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes. Season to taste.

Serves 2 to 3

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 ounces English toffee candy (Heath or Skor bar), finely chopped
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skins removed, and chopped
1 (12-ounce) bag semisweet chocolate chips

Preparing the cookies:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Line 2 heavy large baking sheets with parchment paper. Finely chop the oats in a food processor. Transfer the oats to a medium bowl. Mix in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars in a large bowl until fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and stir just until blended. Stir in the toffee, hazelnuts, and chocolate chips.

For each cookie, drop 1 rounded tablespoonful of dough onto sheet, spacing 1-inch apart (do not flatten dough). Bake until the cookies are golden (cookies will flatten slightly), about 15 minutes. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely. These cookies can be prepared 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

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Monday, August 9, 2010

Gulab Jamun [Indian Doughnuts]

Ingredients for spiced sugar syrup:
5 cups sugar
4 cups water
4 star anise
4 to 6 green cardamom pods
5 cloves

* * * * * *

Ingredients for doughnuts:
1/2 cup powdered dry milk
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup (or little less) whipping cream

oil for frying (canola, grapeseed)

Preparing the spiced sugar syrup:
Combine water and sugar in pan and bring to boil. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, until thickened slightly.

Add star anise, cardamom pods and cloves to the syrup and continue simmering.

* * * * * * *

Preparing the doughnuts:
Mix together all the ingredients and roll the dough into golf-ball sized pieces.

Put about 1 inch of oil in the bottom of a pan or Dutch oven and put pan over medium heat. Drop dough into hot oil, and fry until golden brown. Turn over and continue cooking over low heat until the other side is golden brown. Remove doughnuts to rack to drain of excess oil.

Place doughnuts into simmering syrup for 3 to 5 minutes.

Remove from syrup and serve immediately.

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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Arepas With Cheese And Corn

Ingredients:
1 cup yellow cornmeal, finely ground
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup grated Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup milk
2 T butter, more for serving, optional
1/2 cup fresh sweet corn kernels, or frozen kernels, thawed
1/4 cup chopped scallion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 small serrano or jalapeƱo chili, seeded and minced, optional
3 T corn, canola, grapeseed or other neutral oil

Optional: Cooked black beans or vegetables or sour cream for stuffing

Preparing the arepas:
Put cornmeal in a large bowl with salt and cheese. Put milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until steam rises, then add butter and stir until melted. Remove from heat and stir into cornmeal mixture until a thick batter is formed. Fold in the corn kernels, scallion, cilantro and chili if using.

Let batter rest until it thickens into a soft dough, about 15 minutes. Gently form 3- to 4-inch balls from mixture and flatten with palm of your hand to a 1/2-inch-thick disk. [Disks can be covered and refrigerated for a few hours until time to fry.]

Heat oil in a large skillet and cook arepas, working in batches, until golden brown, about 5 minutes, then flip and cook for another 3 minutes on other side. When all arepas are cooked and cool enough to handle, carefully slice them through the middle. Butter, stuff with beans, vegetables, meats, yogurt or sour cream.

Makes 8 to 12 arepas

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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Hazelnut Cookies With Chocolate Filling

Ingredients:
3/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skins removed
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 stick plus 1 T unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup cake flour
1 level T cocoa powder
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Preparing the cookies:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Grind the nuts with confectioners' sugar until powdery (do not make into a paste).

Blend together the butter, lemon zest, salt, and nut mixture in a large bowl with a spatula or spoon until creamy. Add the flour and cocoa powder, stirring until incorporated. Do not overwork the dough.

Roll level 1/2 teaspoons of dough into tiny balls and arrange 1-inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake 1 sheet at a time until lightly crisped, about 12 minutes. Slide the parchment paper with the baked cookies onto a rack to cool.

* * * * * *

Preparing the chocolate filling:
In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate in the microwave.

Spoon a mound, about 1/8 teaspoon, of melted chocolate onto the flat side of a cookie then top with the flat side of another cookie to make a "sandwich." Repeat.

Plain cookies can be baked and cooled 1 week ahead and kept at room temperature in an airtight container. Fill when ready to serve.

Makes about 30 cookies

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Friday, August 6, 2010

Layered Vegetable Torte

Ingredients:
1 large eggplant, cut into 1/4-inch slices
4 medium zucchini or yellow squash, cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 portobello mushrooms, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, or more as needed
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 plum tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 T minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan-reggiano
1/2 cup bread crumbs, preferably fresh

Preparing the vegetables for the torte:
Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Put a grill pan over medium-high heat, or prepare a grill; the heat should be medium-high, and the rack about 4 inches from flame. Brush eggplant, zucchini and mushrooms lightly with half the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; if roasting, grease 2 baking sheets with oil. Roast or grill vegetables on both sides until soft.

* * * * * * * * *

Preparing the torte:
Coat bottom and sides of 8-inch springform pan with oil. Layer a third of the eggplant slices into bottom of the pan, then layer in half the zucchini, mushrooms, tomato, garlic and basil, sprinkling each layer with a bit of salt and pepper. Repeat layers until all vegetable are used. Press the top with a spatula or spoon to make the torte as compact as possible. Sprinkle top with parmesan-reggiano and bread crumbs, and drizzle with about 1 tablespoon oil.

Bake torte in oven until hot throughout and browned on top, about 30 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes before removing outer ring of pan, then let cool for another 10 minutes before cutting into wedges.

Serves 4 to 6

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sweet Corn Gelato

TIPS FOR MAKING GELATO:

  • Use whole milk - Cream tends to coat the tongue, which can dull the taste buds to the flavor of other ingredients. Whole milk allows the taste buds to appreciate cleaner and more vibrant flavors.
  • Use overly ripe fruit - Overly ripe fruit (bruised peaches, soft and shriveling cherries, etc.) provides intense fruit flavor in gelatos.
  • Under-churn the base - Gelato is more dense, with less air whipped into it than ice cream. Stop the ice cream machine when the mix looks like a thick custard and then freeze.

This gelato is best served the day it is made.


Lynn Rossetto Kasper discusses gelato with Mario Batali on The Splendid Table

Ingredients:
3 ears sweet corn, preferably white, husked
3 1/2 cups milk, plus more if needed
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups sugar
8 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon salt

Preparing the gelato:
Slice the kernels off the corncobs, reserving the cobs. Break each cob into 2 or 3 pieces.

Bring the milk to a simmer in a large saucepan. Add the corn kernels and cobs, remove from the heat, cover, and let steep for 45 minutes.

Remove the corncobs from the milk and discard. Use an immersion blender to buzz the milk and corn to break up the kernels; or transfer the milk and corn to a regular blender, in batches, and blend to break up the kernels. Strain through a coarse strainer into a bowl (discard the remaining corn mush). Measure the milk and add more if necessary to make 3 1/2 cups.

Combine the milk, cream, and 1 1/4 cups of the sugar in a large heavy-bottomed sauce- pan and bring just to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks, the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and the salt together in a medium heatproof bowl. Gradually whisk in 1 cup of the hot milk mixture, then return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula or a wooden spoon, until the custard registers 185 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.

Immediately strain the custard through a fine-mesh strainer into a heatproof bowl and chill over an ice bath, stirring occasionally, until cold. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or, preferably, overnight.

Freeze the gelato in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Pack into a freezer container and freeze for at least 1 hour before serving.

Makes 5 cups

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Steamed Asparagus In A Paper Bag

Ingredients for asparagus:
1 pound medium asparagus, tough ends trimmed
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper
1/2 lemon, sliced paper thin
1 bay leaf

Preparing the asparagus:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and arrange an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Get yourself a paper bag large enough to hold the asparagus comfortably. Throw the asparagus in there and drizzle the outside of the bag with olive oil to keep the bag from burning. Sprinkle the asparagus with the salt and cracked pepper and toss in the lemon slices and bay leaf. Close the bag, folding it over several times and creasing the folds well to hold the steam in. Put the pan on a baking sheet, drizzle it with more olive oil, stick it in the oven, and bake for 20 minutes.

Take the baking sheet out of the oven and set it on top of the stove. Set a serving plate next to the stove. Using a kitchen towel or a pair of kitchen tongs, raise the bag over the plate, open the bag, and slide the asparagus out onto the plate. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and serve hot.

Serves 4

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Lemon-Zested Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients for potatoes:
6 medium Yukon gold potatoes
2 to 3 cups heavy whipping cream
2 to 3 cups whole milk
kosher salt
2 lemons, zested
freshly ground black pepper

Preparing the potatoes:
Put the potatoes in a large saucepan with the cream and milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then add 1 teaspoon of salt. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are very tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove about 2 cups of the liquid and reserve. Add the lemon zest and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Use a potato masher to break up the potatoes while adding about 1 cup of the reserved liquid, to just 'wet' the potatoes. Add more, for desired creaminess. Spoon the potatoes into a serving bowl and serve immediately.

Serves 4

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Sole Almondine

Serve this with lemon-zested mashed potatoes and parmesan-roasted vegetables.

Ingredients for the fish:
2 cups blanched slivered almonds
kosher salt
extra virgin olive oil
4 T unsalted butter
2 cups all purpose flour
freshly ground black pepper
4 eggs
1 cup milk
4 cleaned sole filets (6 ounces each)

Ingredients for the sauce:
1 large or 2 small shallots, finely chopped
1 cup white wine
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 chopped flat leaf parsley
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparing the fish:
Set a large nonstick saute pan over medium heat. Add the almonds and toast until golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and set aside.

Return the pan to medium heat (if you have 2 pans you can work simultaneously at this point, i.e. 2 filets per pan) and add a 2-count of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter to each pan.

Put the flour in a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper, to taste. In another shallow dish, whisk together the eggs and milk and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Dredge the filets in the seasoned flour, then dip them into the egg mixture. Allow some of the excess egg to drain off, then add them to the hot pan. Cook 2 pieces at a time. Fry for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, then carefully turn the fish over to cook the other side. With a spoon, baste the filets with the butter sauce. Repeat basting to ensure the fish remains moist. Once the other side is cooked (about 30 seconds) carefully remove the filets from the pan to a serving platter. Repeat with remaining 2 filets and a 2-count of oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. Once the filets have been removed the pan, add the chopped shallots and gently saute over low heat until translucent, about 1 minute. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and finish with the lemon juice. Swirl in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the parsley and season, to taste, with salt and pepper. To serve, spoon the sauce over the top of the filets and sprinkle generously with the toasted almonds.

Serves 4

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Parmesan-Roasted Green Beans

This recipe can be done with asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, or any other vegetable you can think of.

Ingredients:
1 pound thin green beans (haricots verts)
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano

Preparing the green beans:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Trim off the tough end of the beans, blanche in boiling salted water for 30 seconds to one minute (beans should still be al dente). Drain, dry beans on paper towels, and arrange them on a non-stick cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top and bake until the cheese melts and forms a crisp shell over the beans, about 10 minutes. Let the beans sit a few minutes for the cheese to cool slightly. Lift the beans out onto a platter and serve.

Serves 4

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Chocolate Buttercream

Ingredients:
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
3 T milk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
5 cups confectioners' sugar

Preparing the buttercream:
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. With mixer on low speed, add chocolate until just combined. Add milk, vanilla, and sugar; mix on medium until well combined, being careful not to overmix.

Makes enough for about 30 cupcakes.

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Vanilla Buttercream

Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
6 to 8 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preparing the buttercream:
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. With mixer on low speed, add 6 cups sugar, milk, and vanilla; mix until light and fluffy. If necessary, gradually add remaining 2 cups sugar to reach desired consistency.

Makes enough for 30 cupcakes.

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Billy's Vanilla Cupcakes

Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups cake flour, not self-rising
1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 T baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

vanilla or chocolate buttercream

Preparing the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt; mix on low speed until combined. Add butter, mixing until just coated with flour.

In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla. With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients in 3 parts, scraping down sides of bowl before each addition; beat until ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat.

Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about 2/3 full. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 17 to 20 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat process with remaining batter. Once cupcakes have cooled, use a small offset spatula to frost tops of each cupcake. Decorate with sprinkles, if desired.

Serve at room temperature.

Makes about 30 cupcakes

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Cheddar Cheese Buns

Use these buns for thin-sliced ham sandwiches.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
4 T (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 T salt
5 teaspoons (2 packages) active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm (105 degree F) water
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
6 cups all purpose flour, approximately
3 T unsalted melted butter, approximately
1 yellow onion, finely chopped

Preparing the bread:
In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the milk until small bubbles appear along the edges of the pan. Remove from the heat. Add the 1/3 cup sugar, the 4 tablespoons of butter and the salt; stir to dissolve the sugar. Let cool to lukewarm, about 105 degrees F.

In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the lukewarm water, stir in the 1 teaspoon sugar and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Transfer the yeast mixture to a large bowl and add the lukewarm milk mixture, the egg and cheese. Using a wooden spoon, beat until smooth. Add 3 cups of the flour and beat until well mixed. Continue adding the flour, about 1/2 cup at a time and beating well after each addition, until the dough is smooth and comes away from the sides of the bowl, 10 to 12 minutes. (The dough can also be made with a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook; it will take 6 to 8 minutes.)

Turn the dough out onto a floured board, cover with the bowl and let rest for 5 minutes. Then knead until the dough is smooth and elastic and holds the imprint of a finger when poked, 7 to 9 minutes. Shape into a ball. Butter a clean bowl, place the dough in it and turn to coat. Cover with a damp kitchen towel, set in a warm area away from drafts and let the dough rise until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Grease 3 baking sheets with solid vegetable shortening or nonstick cooking spray. Using your hands, pinch off a tennis-ball-size piece of dough, shape into a ball and place on the prepared sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the buns about 2 inches apart. Flatten each bun with your fingers, brush the tops with the melted butter, and sprinkle about 1 teaspoon onion over each. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rise a second time until doubled in volume, 30 to 40 minutes.

Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F.

Bake until the tops of the buns are browned and the bottoms sound hollow when tapped, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve warm.

Makes about 30 buns.

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Monday, August 2, 2010

Cassoulet In A Slow Cooker

Use precooked Spanish-style chorizo sausage links, not fresh Mexican-style chorizo. Spanish chorizo is available in a variety of textures; purchase a softer-style sausage, rather than a dry one, for this dish; dry sausages are best suited for slicing and eating on their own, as a tapa.
Ingredients:
4 lb. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 8 pieces and trimmed of excess fat
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 T canola oil
1 cup panko
4 ounces thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips
4 cups coarsely chopped yellow onions (about 3 medium onions)
2 cups dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 can (35 ounces) peeled Italian plum tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
2 cups chicken broth
12 cups cooked Great Northern beans or other small white beans, drained
6 fully cooked or smoked chorizo or garlic sausage links, about 1 1/2 lb. total, each halved on the diagonal
1 garlic head, halved crosswise
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
1 lb. baguette, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
extra virgin olive oil for brushing
coarse sea salt, such as sel gris, for garnish

Preparing the cassoulet:
Season the pork generously with kosher salt and pepper; set aside.

In the stovetop-safe insert of a slow cooker over medium-high heat, combine the canola oil and panko. Cook, stirring constantly, until the panko is toasted and golden, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer the panko to a baking sheet and season with kosher salt and pepper.

Add the bacon to the insert and cook until crisp on both sides, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Reserve the bacon fat in the insert.

Add half of the pork to the insert and brown on all sides, 7 to 8 minutes total. Transfer to a platter. Repeat with the remaining pork.

Add the onions and 1 teaspoon kosher salt to the insert and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and softened, about 7 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 8 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, tomatoes and broth. Remove the insert from the heat and add the beans, pork, chorizo and garlic.

Place the insert on the slow cooker base, cover and cook on low until the pork pulls apart easily with a fork, 9 to 10 hours. Skim off the fat, and remove and discard the garlic. Fold in the panko and the 1/4 cup parsley. Adjust the seasonings with kosher salt and pepper.

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat the broiler.

Brush the baguette slices with olive oil. Arrange the slices, oiled side up, on top of the cassoulet, overlapping them. Broil until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes.

Let the cassoulet stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving. Sprinkle each serving with the reserved bacon, sea salt and parsley.

Serves 8 to 10.

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