Monday, June 27, 2011

Chocolate Fudge Layer Cake

Ingredients for the cake:
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup plus 1 T granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 T sour cream
1 T vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup corn oil
1 1/3 cups chilled water

* * * * * * *

Ingredients for the fudge icing:
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, minimum 70 percent cocoa solids
1 cup plus 2 T unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 T vanilla extract

Preparing the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and line the bottom of 2 (8-inch) cake pans.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugars, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl or wide-necked measuring cup whisk together the eggs, sour cream and vanilla until blended. Using a standing or handheld electric mixer, beat together the melted butter and corn oil until just blended (you'll need another large bowl for this is using the hand mixer; the standing mixer comes with its own bowl), then beat in the water. Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix together on a slow speed. Add the egg mixture, and mix again until everything is blended and then pour into the prepared pans.

Bake the cakes for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a cake-tester comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes, and then turn the cakes out on the rack to cool completely.

* * * * * *

Preparing the icing:
Melt the chocolate in the microwave - 2 to 3 minutes on medium should do it - or in a bowl sitting over a pan of simmering water, and let cool slightly.

In another bowl beat the butter until it's soft and creamy and then add the sifted confectioners' sugar and beat again until everything's light and fluffy. Gently add the vanilla and chocolate and mix together until everything is glossy and smooth.

Sandwich the middle of the cake with about a quarter of the icing, and then ice the top and sides, too, spreading and smoothing with a rubber spatula.


Swiss Chard With Bacon

olive oil, for pan
1 cup bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 cloves garlic, smashed
pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and cut into 1/2-inch lengths, leaves cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
kosher salt

Preparing the swiss chard:
Coat a large saute pan lightly with olive oil and add the diced bacon, garlic, and crushed red pepper. Bring the pan to medium-high heat. When the garlic has turned a lovely golden brown, remove from the pan and discard. At this point the bacon should start to become brown and crispy. Add the Swiss chard stems and the stock and cook until the stock has mostly evaporated. Add the Swiss chard leaves and saute until they are wilted. Season with salt.

Serves 4


Grilled Brined Pork Chops With Parmesan Polenta

The pork chops should be brined for 3 days.

Ingredients for the brine:
1/2 cup salt, or to taste
1/3 cup sugar
2 T fennel seed
2 T coriander seed
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 bay leaves
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 ribs celery, diced
4 cloves garlic smashed
1 1/2 quarts cold water
4 bone- in pork rib chops
1 T wild fennel pollen

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the polenta:
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 cup long cooking polenta
1/2 cup grated parmigian
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese

Preparing the brine:
In a large container, add all of the ingredients and stir to combine. Submerse the pork chops in the brine and refrigerate for 3 days. After 3 days remove the chops from the brine, discarding the brine.

* * * * * *

Preparing the pork chops:
Preheat a grill or grill pan. Roll the fat edge of each pork chop with the fennel pollen. Place porks chop gently on the preheated grill or grill pan. After 3 to 4 minutes rotate the chops 90 degrees to create grill marks. Grill the chops for another 3 to 4 minutes and then turn over and repeat the process. If the chops seem to be burning move the chops to a cooler part of the grill to allow for longer cooking time without burning. Stand the chops up so the fat edge is in contact with the grill to crisp up the fat edge, this will also make the fennel pollen very aromatic. Remove the chops from the grill and let rest in a warm place before serving. The doneness of the meat should be about medium to medium well and very juicy. Serve with polenta.

Serves 4

* * * * * *

Preparing the polenta:
In a medium size saucepan, bring the milk, water and bay leaf to a boil. Season generously with salt, almost to the point of over seasoning. When it has reached a boil, slowly whisk in the polenta in small sprinkles. Once all of the polenta has been incorporated, reduce heat to medium and immediately switch over to stirring with a wooden spoon. Cook the polenta for 30 to 40 minutes, adding water if the polenta becomes too thick, to loosen it up.

When the polenta is thoroughly cooked, it should look creamy and not feel gritty on your tongue. Remove it from the heat and stir in the Parmigian and mascarpone. Serve it immediately, or place a sheet of plastic wrap right on the surface of the polenta to prevent a skin from forming on the top.

To reheat, add a little water to the polenta and heat over low to medium heat stirring constantly to prevent burning.


Summer Corn Salad

4 ears fresh corn
2 heads Belgian endive
2 T olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (3-ounce) bunch cilantro, leaves only
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1/2 lime, juiced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

Preparing the salad:
Preheat a grill.

Shuck the corn and cut the endive heads in half lengthwise. Add the corn and endive to a baking sheet or cutting board, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the corn and endive to the grill and cook until lightly charred on all sides, about 3 minutes for the endive and 5 minutes for the corn.

Meanwhile, in a medium serving bowl, combine all the remaining ingredients.

Once cooked, remove the corn and endive from the grill. Slice the endive crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces and add to the bowl. Cut the kernels off the cobs and discard the cobs. Add the kernels to the bowl and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and adjust, if needed. Serve warm or room temperature.

Serves 4


Pan-Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

2 T unsalted butter
1 1/4 pounds fingerling potatoes, rinsed but not peeled
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 T chopped fresh dill
Preparing the potatoes:
Melt the butter in a Dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed pot. Add the whole potatoes, salt, and pepper, and toss well. Cover the pot tightly and cook over low heat for 20 to 30 minutes, until the potatoes are just tender when tested with a small knife. From time to time, shake the pot without removing the lid to prevent the bottom potatoes from burning. Turn off the heat and allow the potatoes to steam for another 5 minutes. Don't overcook. Toss with the dill, and serve hot.

Serves 3


Orecchiette With Broccoli Rabe, Prosciutto and Ricotta Salata

1 T plus 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound dried orecchiette pasta
3 T extra virgin olive oil
1 cup julienned onion
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into thin strips
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 bunch broccoli rabe, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 T lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
10 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and thinly sliced
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley leaves
4 to 6 ounces ricotta salata, coarsely grated

Preparing the orecchiette:
In a large soup pot or stockpot, bring 4 quarts of cold water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of the salt and the orecchiette and cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain the pasta and set aside. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid for the sauce.

* * * * * *

Preparing the sauce:
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet and, when hot, add the onion and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring often, until onions are golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the prosciutto and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the broccoli rabe and black pepper and cook, tossing, until the broccoli rabe is wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, and sun-dried tomatoes and stir to combine. Add the drained pasta and the reserved 1/2 cup of pasta cooking liquid and cook, stirring, until everything is heated through and well-combined. Remove from the heat and add the parsley, remaining tablespoon of olive oil, and the ricotta salata; toss thoroughly to combine. Serve immediately.

Serves 6


Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

4 to 5 pounds broccoli
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 T pine nuts, toasted
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 T julienned fresh basil leaves (about 12 leaves)

Preparing the broccoli:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut the broccoli florets from the thick stalks, leaving an inch or two of stalk attached to the florets, discarding the rest of the stalks. Cut the larger pieces through the base of the head with a small knife, pulling the florets apart. You should have about 8 cups of florets. Place the broccoli florets on a sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Toss the garlic on the broccoli and drizzle with 5 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned.

Remove the broccoli from the oven and immediately toss with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon zest, lemon juice, pine nuts, parmesan, and basil. Serve hot.

Serves 6


Fresh Fruit And Fromage Blanc With Raspberry Sauce

Choose from:
ripe stone fruit such as peaches, nectarines, plums, or
berries such as raspberries and strawberries, or
citrus fruit such as oranges, cut in segments

* * * * * *

Ingredients for fromage blanc:
32 ounces fromage blanc
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup good honey
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
vanilla seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean

* * * * * *

Ingredients for raspberry sauce:
1 half-pint fresh raspberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup seedless raspberry jam (12 ounces)
1 T framboise liqueur

Preparing the fromage blanc:
Stir the fromage blanc, cream, honey, vanilla extract, lemon zest, and vanilla seeds together in a medium bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.

* * * * * *

Preparing the raspberry sauce:
Combine the raspberries, sugar, and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 4 minutes. Pour the cooked raspberries, jam, and framboise into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until very smooth. Chill.

* * * * * *

Assembling the dish:
Spoon the fromage blanc mixture into shallow bowls. Place the fruit artfully on top and drizzle the dessert with raspberry sauce. Serve with extra raspberry sauce on the side.

Serves 6 to 8


Shrimp Corn Dogs

Ingredients for the shrimp:
1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 clove garlic, minced
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
1/4 cup bread crumbs
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the buttermilk corn batter:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 egg
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3 T sugar
1 1/2 T baking powder
2 1/2 cups buttermilk

thick wooden pop sticks

* * * * * *

Ingredients for dipping sauce:
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 T Dijon mustard
1 T horseradish
1 teaspoon paprika

Preparing the dipping sauce:
In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, horseradish, and paprika. Place in refrigerator until ready to serve corn dogs.

* * * * * *

Preparing the shrimp on sticks:
Add all the shrimp ingredients to a food processor and pulse until well combined and smooth. Form the shrimp mixture into 7 equal sized 2-inch balls. Insert a wooden pop stick into the middle of each shrimp ball and form the ground shrimp into a shape similar to a hot dog. Place shrimp dogs on a cookie sheet and put in the refrigerator until well-chilled and firm, about 30 minutes.

* * * * * *

Preparing the batter:
Preheat deep-fryer to 350 degrees F.

While chilling shrimp dogs, prepare batter. In a large bowl, whisk together 1 cup flour, egg, cornmeal, garlic powder, sugar, baking powder and buttermilk.

Place the remaining 1 cup of flour onto a large plate. Dredge chilled shrimp dogs into flour then dip into the batter and fry in the hot oil for 3 minutes or until dark and golden brown. Remove to a paper towel lined sheet tray to drain.

Serve with dipping sauce.

Serves 7


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Lamb With Pistachios Kofta Kebab-Wraps

1 pound trimmed shoulder or neck filet of lamb, chopped into 1-inch chunks
2 heaping T fresh thyme leaves
1 level T ground chili pepper
1 level T ground cumin
4 level T sumac, or 1 lemon, zest finely grated
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
A good handful shelled pistachio nuts
A few handsful of mixed salad leaves (romaine, endive and arugula, washed, spun dry and shredded)
a small bunch fresh mint, leaves picked
1 red onion, peeled and very finely sliced
1 lemon
a bunch of fresh flatleaf parsley, rough chopped
extra virgin olive oil
4 large flatbreads or tortilla wraps
4 heaping T plain yogurt

Preparing the kebabs:
Place the lamb in a food processor with most of the thyme, chili, cumin and sumac (reserving a little of each for sprinkling over later), a little salt and pepper and all the pistachios. Put the lid on and keep pulsing until the mixture looks like ground meat.

Divide the meat into 4 equal pieces and get yourself 4 skewers. With damp hands, push and shape the meat around and along each skewer. Press little indents in the meat with your fingers as you go - this will give it a better texture when cooked.

In a bowl, mix the salad leaves and mint. In another bowl, combine the sliced onion with a good pinch of salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice (the acidity will take the edge off and lightly pickle the raw onion). Scrunch this all together with your hands, then mix in the parsley leaves.

Grill the kebabs until nicely golden on all sides. Dress your salad leaves and mint with a splash of extra virgin olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and some salt and pepper. Meanwhile, warm the flatbreads for 30 seconds on the griddle pan or under the broiler, then divide between plates and top each with some dressed salad leaves and onion. When your kebabs are cooked, slip them off their skewers onto the flatbreads - you can leave them whole or break them up. Sprinkle with the rest of the sumac, cumin, chili and fresh thyme, and a little salt and pepper. Toss the salads, grilled meat and juices together on top of the flatbreads and drizzle with some of the yogurt and olive oil.

Serves 4


Friday, June 10, 2011

Lobster Quesadillas

These quesadillas can be baked in the oven or placed on a grill.

2 pounds thawed frozen or fresh cooked lobster meat
10 (8-inch) flour tortillas
2 pounds cream cheese
1 pound Cheddar, shredded
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 roasted red onion, chopped
3 roasted plum tomatoes, chopped
4 T Sriracha (Thai hot sauce)
1 lime, juiced
2 T canola or extra virgin olive oil

Preparing the lobster quesadillas:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. F. Cut onion and tomatoes in half and place on a baking sheet. Put into hot oven and roast for 15 minutes or until softened. Remove and let cool slightly and coarsely chop.

Combine all ingredients together in a mixer except for tortillas and lobster meat. On an 8 inch flour tortilla, spread 1/2 cup of the mixture and 3 ounces of lobster meat evenly on 1/2 of tortilla and fold over to create a half moon shape. Repeat with each tortilla.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add oil and pan-fry tortilla until brown and crispy, about 3 minutes per side. Cut into wedges and serve with salsa, guacamole and sour cream.

Makes 10 quesadillas


Grilled Shrimp Wrapped In Bacon

16 (10-inch) wooden skewers
2 T butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1 small jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (1-inch) piece ginger, grated
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1 cup ketchup
16 colossal shrimp, shelled with tail on, deveined (about 1 1/4 pounds)
4 slices bacon

Preparing the shrimp:
Preheat grill to medium.

Soak skewers in water for at least one hour.

In a medium saucepan melt butter and saute onions and jalapeno, until tender. Season with cayenne, and salt and pepper. Add ginger, brown sugar, orange juice and ketchup in that order making sure to blend each ingredient completely before adding the next ingredient. Let simmer until the edges begin to caramelize, about 15 minutes. Set aside and let cool.

Once cool, remove half of the sauce and reserve for dipping. The other half is for brushing on the shrimp when grilling. Cut bacon in thirds. Thread each shrimp onto a skewer, starting from the tail end. Bend the shrimp as you thread it so it lies in one straight line on the skewer, removing its natural curve. Wrap the center of each shrimp with a piece of bacon. Brush with BBQ sauce and place skewers with bacon, seam side down, onto the grill. Cook over medium heat until bacon crisps and shrimp is cooked through, about 8 minutes.

Serves 4


Grilled Fruits With Yogurt-Honey Dressing

1 pineapple, cored and sliced into 8 rings
2 plums, cored and each cut into 8 wedges
vegetable oil, for brushing fruit
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup honey
1 T finely chopped mint leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

Preparing grilled fruit and dressing:
Preheat grill to medium.

Lightly brush fruit with oil and place on the grill. Cook until pineapple and plums are nicely caramelized, turning once, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove to a plate.

Whisk together yogurt, honey and mint. Place 2 rings and 4 wedges on each plate and drizzle with dressing. Garnish with pine nuts.

Serves 4


Grilled Figs With Goat Cheese And Prosciutto

6 black mission figs, cut in half
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, plus extra for dressing
crushed red pepper flakes, optional
12 slices prosciutto
1/2 log goat cheese
extra virgin olive oil
2 cups baby arugula
1/2 cup parmigiano-reggiano, shaved with a vegetable peeler
kosher salt

Preparing the figs:
Preheat the grill and run an oiled cloth over over the grate.

Drizzle each fig half with vinegar and fill each fig center with goat cheese. Sprinkle a couple flakes of crushed red pepper, if using, on top of the goat cheese and wrap each fig with a slice of prosciutto. Paint the outside of each fig very lightly with olive oil.

Put the figs on a cooler spot of the preheated grill. Grill the figs gently to cook the fig all the way through but to still get the char on the outside. Grill the figs on all sides so the prosciutto is starting to become crispy and the fig feels soft when squeezed, about 5 to 6 minutes.

While the figs are grilling, in a large bowl, toss the arugula with a little extra virgin olive oil, some balsamic vinegar and the parmigiano-reggiano. Taste, and add salt, if needed. Arrange on individual serving plates or a serving platter and top with the figs. Drizzle a couple of drops of balsamic on each fig and serve.

Serves 4


Grilled Potatoes And Onions

4 large red-skinned potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1 red onion, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1 sprig rosemary, leaves finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed
pinch crushed red pepper flakes
kosher salt
extra virgin olive oil

Preparing the potatoes and onions:
Preheat the grill, run an oiled towel over the grill.

In a large bowl, toss the potatoes and onions together with the rosemary, garlic, crushed red pepper, salt, to taste, and a little olive oil. Keep the onions together in rounds (they will fall apart while grilling but try and keep them together as long as possible).

Arrange the potatoes and onions on the preheated grill. Once the potatoes have developed grill marks, rotate them a quarter turn to create a crosshatch pattern. Turn the potatoes over and repeat the process, turn the onions over to cook the other side as well. Cook the potatoes and onions until they are soft all the way through, about 8 to 10 minutes on each side.

Remove from the grill and serve hot or at room temperature.

Serves 4


Grilled Mustard-Lemon Chicken

4 Meyer lemons, 2 zested and juiced and 2 halved
1 cup Dijon mustard
2 T finely chopped rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 (3-pound) chickens, backbone removed and split in 1/2
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt

Preparing the chicken:
Combine the lemon juice, zest, mustard, rosemary and crushed red pepper in a small bowl. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the mustard mixture to loosen it. Paint this mixture generously all over the chicken and let sit for up to 2 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator. If you have any of the mustard mixture left over, save it for repainting while the chicken is cooking.

Preheat the grill to medium; the chicken should cook on the grill as long as possible without burning to develop crispy skin. Run an oiled towel over a cleaned grill.

Season the chicken lightly with salt and arrange gently on the grill. If there are flare-ups, move the chicken out of the way. Put the lemon halves, cut side down, on the grill also and do not disturb until they look brown and caramelized.

Once the chicken has started to get brown and crispy and has developed grill marks in one direction, rotate the chicken a quarter turn in the other direction. The chicken should cook on the skin side for 10 to 12 minutes and then get turned over and cooked for the same amount of time. If there is any of the mustard mixture left over, the remainder can be used to paint the skin of the chicken once the chicken has been turned over. (If you are using the remainder of the mustard mix, be sure to give it plenty of time to cook again as it will have touched raw chicken. If not sure, skip this step.)

During the cooking time, close the grill to allow the heat to cook from all directions. If grilling indoors, the chicken can be transferred to a preheated 375 degree F oven to finish cooking once the grill marks have been established.

The chicken is done when the juices run clear when the pricked in the thickest part of the thigh. Remove the chicken from the grill to a serving platter and serve with the grilled lemon halves. Squeeze the grilled lemon over the chicken before eating.

Serves 4


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sour Cherry Pie

10 1/3 cups pitted sour cherries
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
5 T plus 1 teaspoon tapioca
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
2 T plus 2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

dough for 4 pie shells

Preparing the pie:
Mix together the cherries, sugar, tapioca, butter, lemon juice, almond extract and salt. Transfer 2 rounds of pie dough to 2 (9-inch) pie tins. Divide the cherry mixture between the crusts. Cover the pies with the remaining 2 rounds of dough (in a lattice pattern, if desired). Sprinkle the pie crusts with water, and then the sugar. Chill the pie in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before baking.

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.

Place the pies on baking sheets and transfer to the oven. Bake about 5 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F and continue baking until the filling bubbles and the crust is golden brown, about 45 minutes. Cool the pies on wire rack at least 2 hours before slicing. Store at room temperature up to 2 days.

Makes two 2-crust 9-inch pies


Cheese And Cherry Strudel

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 ounces farmer's cheese, at room temperature
1 egg
1 cup sugar, plus more for the top
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 (16-ounce) can cherry pie filling
3 sheets phyllo pastry, thawed overnight in the refrigerator if frozen, kept moist
8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and finely chopped

Preparing the strudel:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer), blend the cream cheese until soft and smooth. Add the farmer's cheese and continue to blend. Add the egg and mix. Add 1/2 cup of the sugar and the vanilla. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip (or just set aside in a bowl).

Transfer 1 sheet of phyllo to the prepared pan. Using a pastry brush, brush the phyllo with butter. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/3 of the ground walnuts. Repeat with the 2 remaining sheets of phyllo (reserve some melted butter and nuts for the top, once rolled).

Turn the sheet pan so that the phyllo is horizontal to your body. Two inches in from the left-hand edge of the phyllo, working from top to bottom and leaving 2 inches bare at the top and bottom, pipe or spoon a 3/4 inch thick line of cream cheese mixture.

Alongside the cream cheese, pour the cherry pie filling. Turn the sheet pan a quarter turn and, starting at the edge the fillings are near, roll up the pastry to encase the filling. Keep rolling to form a log. Move the log to the center of the sheet pan and tuck the ends under to keep the filling from oozing out. Brush the surface with melted butter and sprinkle with remaining sugar and nuts.

Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let cool 10 to 15 minutes on the pan. Using a serrated knife, cut carefully into sections and serve warm.

Serves 6 to 8


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Chicken Curry Pot Pie

Ingredients for the buttermilk pie dough:
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour, or as needed
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
11 T very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

* * * * * *

Ingredients for chicken curry:
2 T canola oil
2 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
1/4 cup Madras curry powder
2 lemon grass stalks, tops trimmed, bases halved lengthwise and smashed
3 white onions, cut into 3/4-inch dice
1/2 to 3/4 cup fish sauce
4 large carrots, peeled and cut into
3/4-inch dice
3 large Yukon Gold or baking potatoes, peeled and cut into
3/4-inch dice
1 1/4 cups coconut milk.

Preparing the pie dough:
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, salt and baking powder to combine. Transfer 1 cup of the dry ingredients to a food processor, and sprinkle with the cubes of butter. Pulse 5 to 7 times until the butter pieces are pea-size. Transfer to the bowl with the remaining dry ingredients, and stir to distribute the butter evenly.

Make several depressions in the flour mixture with your fingers; add the buttermilk a little at a time, mixing with your fingers, until it is all incorporated. Gently work the dough just until it comes together. Cover lightly, refrigerate 1 hour.

* * * * * * *

Preparing the chicken curry:
Have ready five 24-ounce oval (or 7-inch round) gratin dishes.

Warm the oil in a 5-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, then add the chicken thighs, curry powder and lemon grass. Cook, stirring, until the thighs are seared on all sides and the curry powder is chestnut brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the onions and 1/2 cup fish sauce, and cook over medium heat, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot, for 15 minutes.

Add the carrots and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered until the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and discard the lemongrass. Add the potatoes and coconut milk to the pan, and bring to a simmer. Pull meat from chicken thighs in bite-size pieces. Return the meat to the curry and continue to cook, uncovered, until potatoes are tender, about 20 more minutes. Taste sauce and, if needed (fish sauces vary in saltiness), season with up to 1/4 cup additional fish sauce.

* * * * * * *

Assemblying the pie:
Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Divide the dough into five portions. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out each portion so it will cover the top of a gratin dish to within 1/2-inch of the edges. Distribute the chicken curry among the 5 dishes and top each with dough. Bake until the biscuits are golden, 15 to 20 minutes.

Serves 5


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Shortcake For Berry Desserts

Ingredients for the shortcake:
2 cups flour
1 T baking powder
3 T sugar
dash salt
1/2 cup chilled butter, cut into 8 pieces
3/4 cup whipping cream, plus more for brushing tops
demarara sugar

Optional: 1 T grated orange zest

Preparing the shortcake:
Sift flour, baking powder, sugar and salt (and orange zest if using) into medium mixing bowl. eRubbing between fingers, or cutting with crossed knives or pastry cutter, work butter into dry ingredients until mixture forms consistency of cornmeal, with few larger lumps of butter left intact. Add half of cream and stir into dry ingredients with fork. Add remainder of cream, bit by bit, until mass forms that pulls cleanly away from bottom and sides of bowl. You may not use all of cream.

On lightly floured work space, quickly and lightly knead dough until smooth and cohesive. Gently roll out 1/2-inch thick. Cut out biscuits with 3-inch biscuit cutter, or lightly floured juice glass. Gather leftover dough together, knead again briefly and roll out again. Cut remaining biscuits.

Place biscuits on unbuttered baking sheet, brush with cream and sprinkle demarara sugar over top. Bake at 400 degrees F until light-brown and slightly crusty, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly before splitting and serving.

Makes 10 biscuits.


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Cherry Pie

1 pound and 10 ounces sour cherries, pre-pitted weight; or 6 cups frozen or jarred (Morello, Bing, or Lambert)
1 to 2 T kirsch
1/2 cup raw sugar
4 teaspoon cornstarch
shortcrust pastry dough made with 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour and 2/3 cup unsalted butter, recipe follows
beaten egg, for glaze
1 T demerara sugar

Preparing the cherry pie:
Pit the cherries, then macerate them in a large bowl with the kirsch and sugar for 1 hour or so. If using jarred cherries, strain and reserve 1/4 cup juice to mix with the cornstarch. Pour off the juice that has collected into a smaller bowl and stir in the sifted cornstarch to thicken it. Return the thickened juice to the cherries.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Divide the dough into roughly 2/3 and 1/3. Roll out the larger piece for the bottom of the pie and drop it into a greased pie pan. Pour in the cherry mixture. Roll out the second piece of dough and place it over the cherries, crimping the edges together well with the tines of a fork. Brush the top with beaten egg, then sprinkle the demerara. Make a couple of slashes in the crust for the steam to escape and bake the pie for about 40 minutes or until the top has browned. Serve warm or at room temperature with clotted or whipped cream, or a la mode with homemade vanilla ice cream.

Use approximately twice the weight of all purpose flour (preferably organic) to unsalted butter. Some recipes call for half butter, half lard.

Sift the flour and a pinch of sea salt into a food processor, then cut the cold butter into small pieces on top of it. Process it for 20 to 30 seconds, then add ice-cold water through the top, a tablespoon at a time, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes should be enough for about 10 ounces of dough, with the machine running. If the paste is still in crumbly little bits after 1 or 2 minutes, add a tablespoon more water, but the more water you use, the more the crust will shrink if you bake it blind. One solution is to use a bit of cream or egg yolk instead of water. The moment the dough has cohered into a single ball, stop, remove it, wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

If you're making pastry dough by hand, sift the flour into a large bowl with the salt, add the chopped butter, and work as briskly as you can to rub the fat into the flour. Use the tip of your fingers only, rather like running grains of hot sand through your fingers. Add the water bit by bit as above; wrap and chill the dough.

If you're making a double crust pie, divide the dough into roughly 2/3 and 1/3. Then scatter a bit of flour on your work surface, roll your rolling pin in it, dust the palms of your hands, and start rolling. Always roll away from yourself, tuning the dough as you go, and keep the rolling pin and work surface floured to prevent sticking.

Preheat the oven to 375 to 400 degrees F.

Line your greased pie pan with dough. Never stretch it; it will stretch back. Try to leave at least 30 minutes for the unbaked dough to commune with the inside of your fridge. Or put it in the night before you need it.

Tear off a piece of waxed paper a little larger than the pie pan and place it over the dough. Cover the paper with a layer of dried beans; the idea is to prevent the pastry from rising up in the oven. When the dough is nearly cooked (the timing depends on the rest of the recipe), remove the paper and beans and prick the bottom of the pie shell to let out trapped air that would otherwise bubble up. Return the tart to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes to dry the bottom. Brushing the partly baked pie shell with a light coating of beaten egg or egg white ensure a crisp finished tart.


Orange Spiced Mashed Sweet Potatoes

4 medium sweet potatoes (about 8 ounces each), peeled and cut into a large dice
1/4 cup buttermilk, warmed slightly
1/4 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons orange zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 T unsalted butter, optional

Preparing the sweet potatoes:
Steam the potatoes in a large covered pan fitted with a steamer basket until they are tender, about 8 minutes.

In a large bowl mash the potatoes with the buttermilk and orange juice.
Stir in the zest, salt, and nutmeg. Serve the potatoes topped with the butter, if desired.

Serves 4


Applesauce-Sweetened Fruit & Nut Cookies

2 T unsalted butter, softened
2 T canola oil
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup applesauce
1 egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped dried cherries
1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup lightly toasted walnuts
2 ounces dark chocolate, cut into chunks
cooking spray

Preparing the cookies:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine butter, oil and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on high speed, stopping occasionally to scrape down bowl, until mixture is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add applesauce, egg white and vanilla and mix to combine. Add flour, oatmeal, salt and cinnamon and mix just until just combined. Add cherries, apricots, walnuts and chocolate and mix to combine.

Spray 1 baking sheet with cooking spray. Using 1 tablespoon cookie dough at a time, roll into balls and place 2-inches apart on baking sheet. Press cookies down with the palm of your hand to flatten slightly, as cookies will not spread as much as cookies with more butter. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until lightly browned but still soft. Remove from oven and cool on racks.

Makes about 20 cookies


Healthier Fried Rice

1 T plus 1 teaspoon canola oil, divided
2 large cloves garlic, minced
4 scallions, greens included, rinsed, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 T minced ginger
4 cups leftover cooked brown rice
3/4 cup finely diced red pepper
3/4 cup cooked, shelled edamame
1/2 cup fresh or frozen, thawed, corn
6 ounces firm tofu, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
2 eggs, beaten
3 T low-sodium soy sauce

Preparing the fried rice:
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok or large skillet until very hot. Add the garlic, scallions and ginger and cook, stirring, until softened and aromatic, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the rice, red pepper, edamame, corn and tofu and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Make a 3-inch well in the center of the rice mixture. Add 1 teaspoon of canola oil, then add the eggs and cook until nearly fully scrambled. Stir the eggs into the rice mixture, then add soy sauce and incorporate thoroughly. Serve hot.

Serves 4


Romaine Salad With Croutons & Garlic Dressing

Ingredients for the salad:
1 head romaine lettuce, separated into leaves, rinsed, and patted dry
3/4 cup thinly sliced red onions
1/4 cup freshly shredded parmesan, for garnish

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the garlic puree:
10 heads garlic (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the croutons:
1/2 loaf French bread, cut into 16 (1/4-inch thick) slices
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the garlic dressing:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup reserved roasted garlic puree
3 T freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
2 T buttermilk
1 1/2 T fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

To prepare the roasted garlic puree:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Cut the top quarter off each garlic head so the cloves are exposed. Place cut side up on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle the oil over the garlic and season lightly with the salt and pepper. Turn the garlic cut side down. Roast until the cloves are soft and golden brown, 1 to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cool.

Squeeze the soft garlic flesh from each head into a bowl. Mash the flesh with a fork to blend it into a puree. (The puree can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.) Reserve 1/4 cup of the puree for the croutons and 1/4 cup of the puree to make the dressing.

* * * * * *

Preparing the croutons:
Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F.

Spread the slices of bread on a large baking sheet. Brush both sides of the slices with the olive oil, then season with the salt and pepper. Bake until lightly golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool slightly. Spread the croutons with 1/4 cup of the reserved roasted garlic puree. Set aside.

* * * * * *

Preparing the dressing:
Mix the mayonnaise, remaining 1/4 cup of garlic puree, cheese, buttermilk, and lemon juice in a medium bowl with a rubber spatula. Season the dressing with salt and pepper. (The dressing will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 24 hours.)

* * * * * *

Assembling the salad:
Tear the larger leaves of the lettuce into bite size pieces, and leave the smaller, tender leaves whole. Toss in a large salad bowl with the sliced onions and desired amount of dressing. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper, to taste. Divide the greens among 4 salad plates and arrange 4 croutons on the side of each salad. Garnish the tops of each salad with 1 tablespoon of shredded parmesan.

Serves 4


Ranch Dressing

1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt, or 1/3 cup nonfat Greek style yogurt
1/3 cup lowfat buttermilk
3 T mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 T finely chopped fresh chives

Preparing the dressing:
If using plain yogurt, place it in a strainer lined with a paper towel and place the strainer over a bowl. Let the yogurt drain and thicken for 20 minutes.
In a medium bowl, combine the strained or Greek-style yogurt and the rest of the ingredients. Add salt, to taste.

Makes 1 cup


Maple-Mustard Chicken Thighs

4 large bone-in chicken thighs, skins removed (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 T grain mustard
2 T Dijon mustard
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
2 T maple syrup

Preparing the chicken:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Rinse chicken and pat dry. Combine mustard, garlic, marjoram and maple syrup in a small bowl. Spread about 1 1/2 tablespoons mustard mixture evenly on top of each chicken thigh, being careful to cover as much of the surface as possible to form a "crust." Arrange chicken in a glass baking dish. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until mustard mixture has formed a crust and is slightly hardened, and juices run clear when the chicken is pierced.

Serves 2 to 4


Florentine-Style Roast Pheasant With Pork Dressing

1 T olive oil
2 ounces pancetta, thinly sliced
6 ounces ground pork
2 ounces prosciutto, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 handful fresh sage, leaves picked and chopped fine, plus more for serving
3 ounces (about 1 thick slice) stale bread, crumbled by hand
1/2 cup white wine
2 (2 1/2 pounds each) pheasants [chicken can be substituted]
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

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

Heat a large saute pan over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the pancetta to the hot oil and render its fat. Once it begins to brown, add the ground pork and prosciutto and cook, while stirring, about 4 minutes. When the pork is no longer pink, add the garlic and sage and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup white wine, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the bread crumbs. Remove the stuffing mixture to a bowl and allow to cool.

Season the cavity of the birds with salt and pepper.

Divide the stuffing evenly between the two pheasants' cavities.

Roast the pheasants 25 minutes. Add 1/2 cup white wine to the bottom of the pan. Turn the oven heat up to 425 degrees F and cook another 25 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of breast registers 160 degrees F. Allow to rest 10 minutes before serving so the juices can redistribute.

Remove the dressing from the bird and serve along side. Garnish the dish with fresh sage leaves.

Serves 4


Peppers and Potato Stew

3 T olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped fine
5 cloves garlic, cut into 3 pieces
8 bell peppers (2 red, 2 yellow, 2 green, 2 orange), seeded and sliced
1/2 (28-ounce) can pelati tomatoes, blended smooth
1 pound russet potatoes, scrubbed well and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
1 generous handful fresh flatleaf parsley
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparing the peppers and potato stew:
In a large Dutch oven saute the onion in about 3 tablespoons olive oil on medium-high heat, and when it is completely softened, and before it starts browning, add the garlic. Saute for an additional couple of minutes, then add the peppers, lower the heat to medium-low and stir well. Partially cover with a lid and let them soften up, about 10 minutes.

When the peppers have settled into the pan, add the tomatoes and the potatoes. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste, stir well over medium-low heat, cook for about 1 hour.

Use the vegetable stock to help the sauce come together, by adding a ladleful to the peperonata here and there while cooking. Depending on the tomatoes you are using and the degree of ripeness of the peppers, you might not need to use all the broth indicated in the ingredient list. Look for a nice balance between sauce and vegetables, at the end you are working on a vegetable stew...consistency of the final dish should be thicker than a pasta sauce.

Serves 8


Chestnut Cake [Castagnaccio]

This cake has no leavening agents; it's a sweet flatbread.

2 ounces raisins
16 ounces sweet chestnut flour
2 T sugar
zest of 1/2 orange
pinch of salt
2 cups water
3 T olive oil, plus more for pan
1 fresh rosemary sprig, leaves picked
1 ounce chopped walnuts
1 ounce pine nuts

Preparing the chestnut cake:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Place the raisins in a bowl of warmed water to soften for 20 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, sift the chestnut flour. Add sugar, orange zest, and pinch of salt, mix well and then gently start adding the water to the mix.

Using an electric hand mixer, beat the mixture well making sure to eliminate any lumps, then add 2 tablespoons olive oil, and half of the raisins and mix again.

Lightly oil an 11-inch pie plate with 2-inch sides with olive oil and pour in the batter it should be no more than 1/3-inch thick. Sprinkle the cake with rosemary leaves, the remaining softened raisins, walnuts, and pine nuts. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon olive oil over the top and bake for about 40 minutes.

Serves 6


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Chicken Enchiladas Suiza

4 medium poblano peppers
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 jalapeno, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
12 medium-large tomatillos, peeled, rinsed and quartered
2 small handfuls cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/3 palmful
2 teaspoons honey
1 quart chicken stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lime, juiced
2 pounds cooked chicken, meat pulled or shredded
12 (6-inch) flour tortillas or 16 (5-inch) corn tortillas, softened over flame or dry skillet
1 cup Mexican crema, creme fraiche or sour cream
1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese (from about 1/2 pound piece)
1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (from about 1/2 pound piece)
raw red onion rings, for garnish

Preparing the chicken enchiladas suiza:
Heat the broiler to high. Arrange the poblanos on a sheet pan, put them under the hot broiler and char until blackened an all sides, 10 to 12 minutes. Leave the door of the oven cracked to allow the steam to escape. Peppers can also be easily charred over and open stovetop flame if you have gas burners. Put the peppers in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Allow the peppers to sit until cool enough to handle. Peel and seed the peppers.

Heat the extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan, in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the jalapeno, onions, and garlic and cook until the onions soften, about 5 minutes. Put the tomatillos and a small handful of cilantro in a food processor. Coarsely chop the poblanos and add them to the processor. Process until almost a smooth sauce forms, about 1 minute. Pour the sauce into the skillet and stir to combine. Stir in the cumin, honey and stock, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Reduce the heat and simmer about 20 minutes, then add the lime juice and turn off the heat.

Pour a thin layer of sauce into the bottom of a medium casserole. Layer in 3 flour tortillas or 4 corn tortillas then top with some shredded chicken, dot with some sauce and small spoonfuls of Mexican crema, creme fraiche or sour cream and sprinkle with a little Swiss and Jack cheeses. Repeat twice more. Cool and chill for a make-ahead meal.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Put the casserole on a baking sheet and bake until heated through and bubbly on top, about 40 to 50 minutes. The baking sheet will catch any drips of sauce or cheese. Garnish the stacked enchilada casserole with raw red onion rings and serve.

Serves 4


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