Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Homemade Pickle Relish

1 cup diced dill pickle
1/4 cup hot-sweet mustard
1 T pickle brine
1 T fresh dill, chopped

Combine ingredients.


Shashleek With Tzatziki

Ingredients for the shashleek:
1 leg of lamb, boned and trimmed
2 large onions
sprinkle of fresh mint and rosemary, mixed well
lemon wedges, for serving

* * * * * *

Ingedients for the tzatziki:
16 ounce Greek yogurt
10 cloves garlic, minced
1 to 2 cucumbers, shredded
chopped fresh dill, to taste
sugar, to taste

Preparing the shashleek:
Cut the lamb into 1-inch chunks with a minimum of fat.

Puree the onions in a food processor and transfer to a large bowl. Add the mint, rosemary, salt, and lamb cubes; toss to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, refrigerate and let marinate for 1 to 3 days.

Remove the lamb from the marinade; discard the marinade and weigh the lamb cubes out in 7-ounce portions. Thread lamb on skewers. Skewers can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated.

To cook, heat a charcoal grill to high. Dust the skewers with salt, and grill to order. Before serving squirt lemon juice over them.

* * * * *

Preparing the tzatziki:
Combine thick Greek yogurt and mix in lots of minced garlic, shredded cucumber, and dill.

Can be adjusted to taste, with sprinkles of sugar (it cuts the sharpness of the garlic).


Monday, May 30, 2011

Almond Chocolate Sandwich Cookies [Baci di Dama]

1/2 cup thinly sliced almonds
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup bittersweet dark chocolate, melted

Preparing the cookies:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the almonds, sugar, flour and butter. Pulse lightly until the almonds are ground and the mixture is homogenous. Place the mixture in a mixing bowl.

Using a tablespoon, place small scoops of the mixture on a lightly greased baking sheet, separating each scoop by at least 1-inch on all sides. Use the tips of your fingers to gently flatten the tops of each scoop. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.

Once the cookies have cooled, gently melt the chocolate in the bowl of a bain-marie (a stainless steel bowl fitted over a saucepan of simmering water s that the bowl just touches the water). Remove the melted chocolate from the heat. Carefully pour or spoon a bit of melted chocolate on the tops of half the cookies. If the tops are not flat enough, simply spoon the melted chocolate on the sides of the cookies that were face down during the cooking process. Use the remaining cookie halves to form the other half of the cookie "sandwich," pressing gently so that the chocolate adheres to both sides of the sandwich. Let rest until the chocolate has cooled, holding the cookies together.


Sweet Polenta Pizza [Pizza Dolce di Polenta]

1 3/4 cups fresh ricotta
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 T ground cinnamon
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup raisins, plumped in 1/4 to 1/2 cup white wine for 15 minutes, then drained
2 cups cornmeal flour (polenta)
2 T butter

Preparing the pizza:
Preheat the oven to 310 degrees F.

Place the ricotta in a large mixing bowl. Bit by bit; add 1 cup water, mixing well with a wooden spoon after each addition. When the ricotta is loose and creamy, add the sugar, cinnamon, pine nuts and raisins. Stir until the mixture is homogenous. As you stir, add the cornmeal flour bit by bit until completely incorporated.

Use 1 tablespoon butter to lightly grease a 9-inch baking pan. Pour the ricotta mixture into the pan and use the back of the wooden spoon to level the top of the filling. Dab the remaining butter across the top of the ricotta mixture. Bake until firm and golden brown, about 40 minutes. Serve immediately.

Serves 8


Braised Pork With Grilled Scallions [Brasato di Maiale)

Ingredients for marinade:
1/2 cup olive oil, plus 1/3 cup olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced, plus 1 yellow onion, finely chopped (red onion, Walla Walla, sweet Texas, etc., may be substituted)
1 small carrot, sliced
1 rib celery, sliced
1 T fine sea salt
10 cloves garlic, crushed, plus 4 cloves, crushed
2 bay leaves
2 T fresh rosemary, finely chopped
12 juniper berries, crushed
1 bottle good red wine
4 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 3-inch chunks
3 ounces pancetta, finely chopped
2 cups white wine
1 cup sugar
1/2 cups red wine vinegar

Optional: Fresh sliced carrots and other vegetables (green beans, turnips, etc.)
* * * * * *

Ingredients for grilled scallion salad:
3 bunches scallions
extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparing the pork:
In a bowl, combine 1/2 cup olive oil with the sliced onion, carrot, and celery. Add the salt, crushed garlic cloves, bay leaves, rosemary, juniper berries, and the bottle of wine. Place the pork in a non-reactive bowl and cover with the marinade. Marinate for 3 days, refrigerated, stirring twice a day.

Remove the meat from the marinade.

In a large casserole, heat the remaining olive oil, then add the pork pieces and pancetta to sear on all sides, working in batches, and removing the meat once it is seared. Add the chopped onion and remaining garlic to the pan, and cook until just softened. Add the marinade and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add 2 cups wine and the pork and bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat, partially covered, for 90 minutes, or until the meat is very tender.

Remove the meat and keep it covered.

In a small saucepan, heat the sugar over high heat until it melts and turns golden. Remove from the heat and add the vinegar. Pour this mixture into the sauce and heat through. Serve the pork with the sauce spooned over. Encircle the pork with the grilled scallion salad. Drizzle fresh extra virgin olive oil over the top and a little squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

* * * * * * *

Preparing the grilled scallion salad:
Drizzle the scallions with olive oil. Grill for 1 minute. Squeeze 1/2 lemon over scallions and grill for 2 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the scallions from the grill and toss with the rest of the lemon juice.

Serves 8


Friday, May 27, 2011

Braised Lamb Shanks over Mascarpone Polenta

Ingredients for lamb:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 T spice mixture
4 large lamb shanks
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
3/4 cup chopped carrots
3/4 cup chopped celery
2 T minced garlic
2 cups dry red wine
1 cup peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes
2 bay leaves
2 T freshly chopped parsley leaves
1 T minced fresh rosemary leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups beef broth

* * * * * *

Ingredients for spice mix:
2 1/2 T paprika
2 T salt
2 T garlic powder
1 T black pepper
1 T onion powder
1 T cayenne pepper
1 T dried oregano
1 T dried thyme

Makes 2/3 cup

* * * * * *

Ingredients for polenta:
2 1/2 cups water
2 cups milk
1/4 cup olive oil
freshly ground white pepper
1 cup polenta (coarsely ground yellow cornmeal)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup mascarpone cheese
4 sprigs rosemary, for garnish

Preparing the lamb:
In a shallow dish, combine the flour and spice mixture. Season the lamb liberally with salt and pepper, then dredge the lamb shanks in the seasoned flour, shaking to remove any excess.

In a large Dutch oven, heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat until hot. Add the lamb shanks, in batches if necessary to prevent overcrowding, and cook until well-browned on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the shanks from the pan and set aside. Add the onions, carrots, and celery to the pan, and cook, stirring, until soft and caramelized around the edges, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the wine and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to deglaze the pan. Cook until reduced by half. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add 2 tablespoons of the parsley, the rosemary, thyme, chicken broth, beef broth, and reserved shanks and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, season with salt and pepper, cover tightly, and cook, turning the meat occasionally, until the meat is tender and falling from the bone, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

When the lamb shanks are very tender and beginning to fall from the bone, remove them from the braising liquid using a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate, cover with foil to keep warm, and set aside. Bring the braising liquid to a boil and cook until reduced to sauce consistency and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Adjust seasoning if necessary and remove from the heat.
* * * * * *

Preparing the polenta:
In a large saucepan, bring the water and milk to a boil. Add the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and season with salt and white pepper. Very gradually, add the polenta in a steady stream, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently with a heavy wooden spoon until thick and creamy, 20 to 30 minutes. Add the heavy cream and mascarpone to the polenta and adjust the seasoning, to taste. Cook, covered, for 10 minutes longer, or until smooth, thick and creamy. Keep warm until ready to serve the shanks.

* * * * * *

Assembling the lamb and polenta:
To serve, spoon the polenta into 4 large bowls. Top each with a lamb shank and spoon the sauce over the lamb. Place the tips of the rosemary sprigs in an open flame until ignited; blow out the flames and garnish each plate with a smoking rosemary sprig.

Serves 4


Tomato Ketchup

1 large red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 bulb fennel, trimmed and roughly chopped
1 stick celery, trimmed and roughly chopped
extra virgin olive oil
a thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1/2 a fresh red chili, deseeded and finely chopped
a bunch unch fresh basil, leaves picked, stalks chopped
1 T coriander seeds
2 cloves
sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound cherry or plum tomatoes, halved plus 1 pound canned plum tomatoes, chopped or 2 pounds yellow, orange or green tomatoes, chopped
3/4 cup plus 2 T red wine vinegar
1/3 cup soft brown sugar

Preparing the ketchup:
Place all the vegetables in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan with a big splash of olive oil and the ginger, garlic, chili, basil stalks, coriander seeds and cloves. Season with the pepper and a good pinch of salt.

Cook gently over a low heat for 10 to 15 minutes until softened, stirring every so often. Add all the tomatoes and 1 1/2 cups of cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer gently until the sauce reduces by half.

Add the basil leaves, then puree the sauce in a food processor or with a hand blender and push it through a sieve twice, to make it smooth and shiny. Put the sauce into a clean pan and add the vinegar and the sugar. Place the sauce on the heat and simmer until it reduces and thickens to the consistency of tomato ketchup. At this point, correct the seasoning to taste.

Spoon the ketchup through a sterilized funnel into sterilized bottles, then seal tightly and place in a cool dark place or the refrigerator until needed - it should keep for 6 months.

Makes 1 pint


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Coconut Sandwich Cookies

Ingredients for the cookies:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package (7 ounces) sweetened shredded coconut (about 2 1/4 cups)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

* * * * * *

Ingredients for vanilla buttercream filling:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preparing the cookies:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees with racks in upper and lower thirds. Whisk to combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Reserve 1/2 cup coconut. Place remaining coconut in a food processor; pulse until coarsely ground.

Beat butter and both sugars with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low, and gradually add flour mixture and ground coconut; mix until just combined.

Drop dough by level tablespoons onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 1 to 2 inches apart. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until lightly golden around edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Dividing evenly, spread filling on flat sides of half the cookies; sandwich with remaining cookies. Roll edges in 1/2 cup reserved coconut, and chill until ready to serve.

Makes 30 cookies

* * * * * *

Preparing the vanilla buttercream filling:
Beat butter with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, and beat in confectioners' sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, scraping down side of bowl as necessary, until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add vanilla, and beat until smooth.


Chocolate Caramel Cookies

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 T unsalted butter
7 T unsweetened dark cocoa
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
soft caramel, rolled into little balls
sea salt

Variation: 1/8 teaspoon chipotle powder

Preparing the cookies:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, lightly coated with cooking spray. Sift together flour, soda, and salt; set aside.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat; stir in cocoa powder and sugars (mixture will resemble coarse sand). Add yogurt and vanilla, stirring to combine. Add flour mixture, stirring until moist. Wrap the chocolate dough around the caramel balls. Place balls on cookie sheets and sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until almost set. Cool on pans 2 to 3 minutes or until firm. Remove cookies from pans; cool on wire racks.

Makes 16 cookies


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Jelly Doughnuts

2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting the baking sheet and rolling out the dough
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
2 large egg yolks
3/4 cup warm whole milk (105 degrees F to 115 degrees F)
2 T unsalted butter (1/4 stick), at room temperature
6 cups (1 1/2 quarts) vegetable or canola oil, for frying, plus more for coating the bowl
2/3 cup smooth jam or jelly
powdered sugar, for dusting

Preparing the doughnuts:
Place the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk to combine. Add the yolks and milk and mix, using the hook attachment, on medium-low speed until a shaggy dough forms, about 1 minute. Add the butter, increase the speed to medium high, and mix until the dough is smooth, shiny, and elastic, about 5 minutes.

Coat a large bowl with oil. Form the dough into a ball, place in the bowl, and turn to coat in the oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Lightly flour a baking sheet; set aside. Punch down the dough, transfer to a lightly floured work surface, and roll until about 1/4 inch thick. Using a 2-inch round cutter, stamp out as many dough rounds as possible and place on the prepared baking sheet about 1/2 inch apart. Gather the dough scraps into a ball and roll out again, stamping rounds until you have 30 total on the baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Let rise in a warm place until puffy and about 1/2 inch thick, about 30 minutes.

Place the vegetable or canola oil in a Dutch oven or a large, heavy-bottomed pot and set over medium heat until the temperature reaches 350 degrees F on a candy/fat thermometer. Meanwhile, line a second baking sheet with paper towels and place a wire rack over the paper towels; set aside. Place the jam or jelly in a piping bag fitted with a 1/4-inch round tip; set aside.

Using a flat spatula (don’t use your hands -- this will deflate the doughnuts), carefully transfer the dough rounds, one at a time, into the oil. You should be able to fit about 6 at a time, leaving at least 1 inch of space in between and keeping the oil temperature at 350 degrees F. Fry until the bottoms are golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes. Carefully flip with a fork and fry until the second side is golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes more. (If air bubbles appear in the doughnuts, pierce with the tip of a paring knife.) Remove with a slotted spoon to the wire rack. Repeat with the remaining dough rounds.

When the doughnuts are cool enough to handle, use a paring knife to puncture the side of each to form a pocket in the center. Place the tip of the piping bag into the pocket and pipe about 1 teaspoon of jam or jelly inside. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Makes about 30 doughnuts


Friday, May 20, 2011

Hot Fudge Sauce

1 cup sugar
3 cups cream
1/4 cup light corn syrup
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup butter
1 T vanilla extract

Preparing the hot fudge sauce:
Put everything except the vanilla in a pot and bring it to a boil. Continue cooking until it looks like it's broken and separating. Take it off the heat, whisk in the vanilla; then blend it with a hand blender to smooth it out. Chill until ready to serve; then heat it up.

Pour over scoops of ice cream, topped with whipped cream and roasted chopped almonds.

Serves 4 to 6


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Iron Skillet Blueberry and Peach Cobbler

Ingredients for the filling:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 T cornstarch
3 large peaches, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch thick wedges
2 1/2 cups blueberries
1 T fresh lemon juice
lemon zest, optional

* * * * * * *

Ingredients for the biscuit topping:
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoons salt
6 T cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces or grated
1/2 cup buttermilk

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

Combine the sugar, cinnamon, salt, and cornstarch. Add the peaches, and blueberries, and mix, coating the fruit evenly with the sugar mixture. Toss with the lemon juice and zest. Put the fruit filling in a cast iron skillet and place in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. In the meantime, make the biscuit dough.

* * * * * *

Preparing the biscuit topping:
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Using a food processor, a pastry cutter, or your fingertips incorporate the chilled butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the buttermilk and stir just until moistened.

Carefully remove the skillet from the oven, and drop 6 to 8 (1/2 cup) portions of biscuit dough on top of the cooked fruit, spacing the mounds about a 1/2-inch apart.

Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees F and bake until the biscuits are golden brown on top and the fruit is bubbling, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving.


Iron Skillet Corn Cakes With Tomato-Avocado-Mango Salsa

Ingredients for the corn cakes:
3 cups fresh or frozen corn off the cob
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup masa harina
1/4 cup flour
1 T unsalted butter, for greasing skillet


Bacon Corn Cakes:
Add 1/2 cup cooked and crumbled bacon to the batter just before cooking.

Green Chile Corn Cakes:
Add 1/4 cup chopped green chiles to the batter just before cooking.

Cumin-Spiced Corn Cakes:
Add 2 teaspoons ground cumin to the batter just before cooking.

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the tomatillo guacamole:
6 to 8 tomatillos, husked and coarsely chopped (about 8 ounces)
3/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and diced
1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 jalapeno, coarsely chopped with seeds
2 cloves garlic, smashed and quartered
juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt

* * * * * * *

Ingredients for the mango salsa:
1/2 cup diced mango
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
2 T minced onion
2 T chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons minced Serrano chile
zest and juice of 1 lime

Preparing the tomato guacamole:
Combine the tomatillos, cilantro, avocado, onion, jalapeno, garlic, lime juice, cumin, and salt in a food processor or blender and pulse until combined.

* * * * * *

Preparing the mango salsa:
Combine the mango, tomatoes, minced onion, cilantro, chile, lime zest, and lime juice in a small bowl. Allow the flavors to macerate.

* * * * * *

Preparing the corn cakes:
Add 2 cups of the corn to a food processor and puree. Combine the pureed corn with the softened butter, sugar, and salt. Mix well.

Stir in the masa harina, and flour, and mix until blended. Fold in the remaining corn kernels.

In a large cast iron skillet, heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Drop 1/2 cup portions of the batter into the hot skillet forming patties. Cook until the cakes are golden brown on one side, and flip over. Continue cooking until the cakes are cooked through and golden brown on both sides.

Serve the corn cakes as they are, or with shredded cabbage, tomatillo guacamole, sour cream, and mango salsa.

Makes 8 corn cakes


Friday, May 13, 2011

Mai Oui

Where George W. Bush was when he learned that Osama Bin Laden was dead. Oh, the irony.


Spicy Sweet Turkey Burgers

3 pounds ground turkey, white and dark meat
hamburger buns or kaiser rolls
* * * * * *

Ingredients for the seasoning:
3 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon granulated garlic

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the glaze:
2 ounces vegetable oil
1 cup diced yellow onions
6 fresh garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup diced jalapenos, with seeds
1 (18-ounce) jar orange marmalade with peel
3 teaspoons mustard powder (recommended: Coleman's)
1 teaspoon white pepper
2 teaspoons chili powder

Garnishes: Romaine lettuce, red onions, tomatoes, kosher pickles

Preparing the burgers:
Form turkey patties approximately 8 ounces each and season on both sides with the seasoning mixture.

Heat vegetable oil in frying pan, saute onions, garlic and jalapenos until translucent. Add orange marmalade mustard powder, white pepper, chili powder and cook for approximately 2 minutes.

Grill turkey patties first on very high heat until nice markings are shown, and then reduce flame to approximately medium. Cook patties until well done (165 degrees F) but not overly done. At the same time, grill hamburger buns on both sides.

Serves 6 to 8



There is only one meat for the real braciole: A very lean cutlet of beef tenderized with a heavy meat pounder. The secret to great braciole is its fillings.

Ingredients for the Neopolitan pasta sauce:
3 pounds of chuck, blade or other inexpensive beef or veal, tied in a roll
10 pounds medium yellow onions, finely sliced
1 small to medium carrot, finely sliced
1 small rib celery, finely chopped
3 teaspoons salt
4 rounded T finely cut parsley
4 T bacon drippings, or canola or other vegetable oil
4 T canola or other vegetable oil
4 T extra virgin olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
4 ounces parmigiano reggiano
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

* * * * * * *

Ingredients for the braciole:
6 pieces of beef
3 ounces pine nuts
3 ounces dark seedless small raisins or currants
3 ounces mozzarella (firm, not fresh)
3 ounces prosciutto
3 ounces fresh bread crumbs
chopped Italian parsley
salt and freshly ground pepper

Preparing the sauce:
Pour 4 tablespoons of canola or other vegetable oil into the pot, followed by all the onions. Cook at a medium heat and keep turning until all onions are beginning to become translucent.

In a cast-iron frying pan, heat up the bacon drippings until they're almost smoking. Now place the beef roll in the pan and turn it until it is forms a light brown crust all the way around.

Remove the beef roll from the pan and place into the onion pot, covering the beef with onions and pouring the beef and bacon drippings into the pot. Deglaze with a little dry white wine if necessary. Turn to a medium-low simmer so that the juices from the beef and onions don't evaporate and leave the pot dry. Add a bit of water throughout the process if necessary. Simmer gently for 6 to 8 hours, taking care not to burn the sauce.

About one hour prior to eating, remove the beef roll and set it aside to rest. Stir the carrots and celery into the sauce.

About 15 minutes before eating, add the parsley and wine and shred the beef roll and stir back into the sauce.

About 3 minutes prior to serving, add all the salt and pepper as well as the extra virgin olive oil. Stir and ladle it over pasta. Grate parmigiano to cover the sauce with a layer of cheese and pop under the broiler for a couple of minutes, just enough to melt the cheese.

* * * * * * *

Preparing the braciole:
Combine the filling ingredients and spread them over the pounded beef tenderoin cutlets. Roll up tightly and secure with toothpicks or tie with string.

Brown the braciole in a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil until they are golden to dark brown all around, ends included. Cover them in a big pot of Neopolitan pasta sauce and simmer for 4 to 8 hours.

Serves 6


Monday, May 9, 2011

Almond Meringue Cake With Peaches

Ingredients for the meringue:
4 ounces ground almonds or hazelnuts
1 T cornstarch
1/2 cup plus 1 T sugar
4 egg whites

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the buttercream:
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
4 egg yolks
1 cup or 2 sticks butter, very soft
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the topping:
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted
6 peaches, sliced

Preparing the cake:
To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment and draw 2 (9-inch) circles.

In a small bowl, combine the ground almonds, cornstarch, and all but 2 tablespoons of the sugar. In a separate bowl, beat the whites to soft peaks, and then beat in the remaining sugar to make a stiff meringue. Fold in the almond mixture in 3 batches to combine thoroughly. Using a piping bag with a large tip, pipe the meringue onto the circles on the parchment. Bake until crisp and dry, about 1 1/2 hours.

* * * * * * *

Preparing the buttercream:
Heat the sugar with 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons water to dissolve, then boil to soft-ball stage, which is just before the syrup changes color (235 to 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer). Beat the egg yolks in a stand-up mixer, then, with the beaters running, quickly add the hot syrup in a thin stream. Continue beating until the mixture is cool and forms and thick mousse, about 5 minutes. Beat in the butter, gradually, and finally add the vanilla.

* * * * * * *

Assembling the cake:
Set a round of meringue on a serving plate. Spread over a quarter of the buttercream. Lay in a layer of sliced peaches. Spread the top layer with buttercream and set it on top of the first. Spread the remaining butter cream over the sides of the cake. Press the toasted almonds all around the sides. Arrange another layer of peach slices on top.


Yellow Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk

Preparing the cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with a rack in the center of the oven. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, set aside.

Combine the melted butter with the sugar in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Add the eggs, egg yolks and vanilla, mix on medium speed for 3 minutes.

Add a third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix to combine on low speed. Add half of the buttermilk and mix to combine. Repeat with another third of the flour and the rest of the buttermilk, ending with the last third of flour, mixing after each addition. Mix the cake batter on medium-low speed for 1 minute.

Scoop the batter into the cupcake liners, not filling more than half way. You may end up having to fill a few more cupcake liners, but don't overfill.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool completely before decorating.


Quick Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 T whipping cream

Preparing the buttercream:
In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.

Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency.


Leek and Goat Cheese Tart

Ingredients for the pate brisee:
2 cups flour
pinch of salt
8 ounces butter
1/2 cup cold water
egg wash (1 egg mixed with 1 T milk)

* * * * * * *

Ingredients for the filling:
4 leeks
2 T butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (10-ounce) package goat cheese or Chevre, crumbled

* * * * * * *

Ingredients for the custard:
1 cup cream
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparing the pate brisee:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the flour, salt and butter the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment and mix until the butter is crumbled into small pieces, about the size of peas. Slowly add only enough water to make the dough come together. Remove the dough and gently roll into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap to let rest 20 minutes in the refrigerator.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature for another 15 or so minutes.

Roll out the pate brisee dough to about 1/4-inch thickness. Use some bench flour to keep things from sticking.

Cut circles in the rolled-out dough. Fit the dough into individual tart rings on a baking sheet. Or using a paring knife, cut small disks in to the rolled-out dough and place into greased cupcake tins.

* * * * * * *

Preparing the filling:
Wash and cut leeks into small pieces, using only the white and light green parts. Allow leeks to float in a bowl of water for a few minutes. Rinse them again until all sand and dirt is removed. Heat butter in a saute pan over medium heat until it begins to foam. Lightly saute leeks until tender and fragrant. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Remove to a clean bowl and cool.

* * * * * * *

Preparing the custard:
Whisk together the cream, eggs, and yolks. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.
Into each uncooked tart shell divide evenly a little piece of the cheese and some of the sauteed leeks.

Add the custard enough to come to 1/4-inch from the top of the tart shell. Brush the tart shell with the egg wash.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown and custard has set. Serve warm or room temperature


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