Friday, January 20, 2012

Polenta Cupcakes With Mascarpone Frosting

2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup polenta, medium ground
1/2 teaspoon gray salt
2 sticks butter, softened
2 cups sugar, plus a pinch for whipping egg whites
6 eggs, separated
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 lemons, zested
16 ounces mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
4 cups mixed berries (raspberry, blueberry, blackberry)

Preparing the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line 2 cupcake pans with 12 paper muffin cups each. Sift together the flour and baking powder and stir in the polenta and salt.

In a mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. With the mixer running add the egg yolks, 1 at a time. Beat in the milk, vanilla, and lemon zest. With the mixer on low speed add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture until just incorporated.

In a clean, dry bowl whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add a pinch of sugar while the whites are mixing. Add half of the whites to the mixture and beat with the paddle. Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently fold in the remaining egg whites with a spatula to incorporate air and lighten the batter.

Spoon the batter into the lined muffin molds to fill the cups about 2/3 full.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a wooden skewer comes out clean when inserted into the center. Cool the entire pan on a wire rack for a few minutes before removing the individual cupcakes. Cool the cupcakes completely to room temperature before frosting.

Combine mascarpone with the confectioners' sugar and beat together with a whisk until combined. Ice the cupcakes and decorate with the berries.

Makes 2 dozen cupcakes


Meatballs And Polenta

Ingredients for the meatballs:
1/2 baguette, crust removed
1 1/4 cups milk
1 1/2 pounds ground beef sirloin
1 1/2 pounds ground pork
1/2 bunch fresh parsley
1/2 bunch basil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
4 eggs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/3 cup ground pinenuts
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup dried bread crumbs
1/2 pound chanterelle mushrooms
2 pints vine-ripened small tomatoes
1 medium ball fresh mozzarella

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the polenta:
1 quart chicken stock
1 1/2 cups finely ground cornmeal
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
3 T whole butter
Pinch sea salt

Preparing the meatballs:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Break the baguette in pieces and soak in a bowl with milk for 10 minutes until the bread is soft. In a second bowl mix the beef and pork together. Twist up half the parsley and the basil into a little pile, roughly chop it and add to the meat. Add garlic and mix thoroughly with your hands. Squeeze the milk out of the bread and add it in small pieces. Add eggs, Parmesan, ground pinenuts, salt, and pepper and mix everything together thoroughly. Shape the meatballs into large patties then roll them in the bread crumbs.

In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium high heat until it begins to smoke slightly. Fry the meatballs to seal the crust, flip them over so both sides are done. Transfer to a large baking dish.

Add a splash of oil to pan and fry the mushrooms on a low heat until they start to caramelize. Cut the tomatoes in 1/2 and hand-crush them into a separate bowl. Drizzle with olive oil. Add salt and a few cranks of fresh cracked pepper and mix. Add to the mushrooms. Let everything simmer together and reduce slightly for about 10 minutes. Pour the tomatoes and mushrooms over the meatballs. Shred the remaining basil and parsley and the mozzarella over it. Drizzle with olive oil and add a few cranks of pepper. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes.

* * * * *

Preparing the polenta:
In a large saucepan bring the chicken stock to a slow simmer. Quickly whisk the cornmeal into the stock and lower the temperature to keep it from splattering. Stir in the cream, parmesan, butter, and salt. Turn off the heat and keep in a warm place until the meatballs are ready.

Serves 6


Chocolate Hazelnut Ganache Cake

Ingredients for the cake:
6 large eggs, separated
pinch of salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 13-ounce jar of Nutella
1 T Cognac
1/2 cup finely ground hazelnuts
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the ganache:
4 ounces whole hazelnuts
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 T Cognac
4 ounces semisweet chocolate

Preparing the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan. In a large bowl (preferably metal), whisk the egg whites and salt until stiff. In another bowl, cream the butter and Nutella, then add the Cognac, egg yolks, and ground hazelnuts. Fold in the melted chocolate.

Add a large scoop of the beaten egg whites to the chocolate batter, and mix gently until well combined. Fold in the remaining whites, one-third at a time, very gently but thoroughly. Pour into springform and bake for 40 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting tester, which should come out mostly clean; lightly pressing finger into top to check for a slight bouncing-back; and observing edges beginning to separate from pan. Let cool completely, in pan, on a rack.

Toast the hazelnuts in a dry skillet, or roast in a hot oven for about 4 minutes, or until they are lightly browned. Let cool completely wrapped in a towel after toasting and rub to remove the skins.

Chop chocolate, and add to saucepan with half and half and Cognac over medium-low heat. Once chocolate is melted and components are combined, whisk until mixture reaches desired thickness, then cool. Remove rim of cake pan and pour cooled ganache over, spreading lightly to create a smooth, shiny surface, and apply hazelnuts all over.


Curried Chicken And Biscuits

1 whole chicken breast, roasted and cubed
1 carrot, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 T extra virgin olive oil
3 T all purpose flour
2 cups of chicken stock
1/2 cup frozen peas
6 to 8 cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 T red curry paste
1/3 cup of coconut milk
1/3 cup of chopped cilantro
juice of half a lime
salt and freshly ground pepper

herbed biscuits or dumplings

Garnish: Dry roasted peanuts or cashews, chopped
* * * * * *

Ingredients for dumplings:
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons butter
3/4 cup milk

Optional: Ground coriander and/or ground ginger, chopped cilantro

Preparing the pot pie:
Saute the onions and carrots in the olive oil, season with salt and pepper until soft.

Add the flour and saute a few minutes to cook out the rawness. Add the chicken broth and heat until it starts to thicken.

Add the red curry paste and coconut milk and stir until incorporated.

Add the mushrooms and peas and cook for a few more minutes.

Add the chicken, cilantro and lime juice just to heat a few minutes before serving.

Cut a biscuit in half and ladle some of the stew over the bottom half of the biscuit. Top with the other half of the biscuit, garnish with a few more cilantro leaves, chopped nuts, and serve.

* * * * *

Preparing dumplings:
Combine ingredients. Drop by teaspoonfuls on top of boiling stew. Cover tightly and steam for 12 minutes.

Serves 3


Herbed Buttermilk Biscuits

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 to 10 pieces, plus 2 T, melted
1/2 cup cold non-fat buttermilk
1/2 cup cold heavy cream
1 cold egg
1 T finely chopped sage or chives
1 T chopped parsley

Preparing the biscuits:
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt on low speed for 10 to 15 seconds, or until combined. Scatter the cold butter pieces over the top and mix on medium-low speed for about 1 minute, or until the butter is broken down and the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, cream, egg, and sage until well combined. With the stand mixer on low speed, pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture. Mix for 10 to 15 seconds, or just until the dough comes together. (There will still be some loose dry ingredients at the bottom of the bowl.)

Unscrew the bowl from the stand mixer. Using your hands, gather the dough together and turn it over in the bowl so that it picks up the loose dry ingredients. Turn the dough a few more times, until all of the dry ingredients are mixed in.

Dump the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and pat it into a 1-inch-thick round. Using a 3-inch round biscuit or cookie cutter, cut out biscuits and place them on a baking sheet. Gently recombine the dough scraps, pat into another 1-inch-thick round, and cut out more biscuits. Repeat if necessary; you should have 8 biscuits total. At this point, the biscuits can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 1 week.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the biscuits are entirely golden brown. If baking frozen biscuits, add 5 to 10 minutes to the baking time. Remove, place the pan on a wire rack, and let cool. In a small bowl, mix together the melted butter and parsley. Brush the tops of the biscuits with the butter while they are still warm.

Makes 8 biscuits


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Shrimp and Grits

Ingredients for grits:
2 cups uncooked white coarse-ground grits
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup unsalted butter

* * * * *

Ingredients for the shrimp sauce:
1 pound unpeeled, medium-size raw shrimp (2 8/31 count)
4 thick hickory-smoked bacon slices, diced
6 T unsalted butter
1 medium-sized Vidalia onion, diced
1/2 poblano pepper, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 T all purpose flour
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup Madeira
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 T chopped fresh parsley
1 green onion, chopped

Preparing the grits:
Bring 7 cups water to a boil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Slowly whisk in grits; reduce heat to medium, and cook, whisking constantly, 5 minutes. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, 1 hour or until tender. Fold in cheese and 1/4 cup butter.

* * * * *

Preparing the shrimp sauce:
Peel shrimp; devein, if desired.

Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often, 4 to 5 minutes or until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving 2 tablespoons of drippings in skillet.

Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in hot drippings in skillet. Reduce heat. Add onion, poblano pepper, and garlic; sauté 2 minutes or until onion is translucent. Add shrimp; cook, stirring often, 1 to 2 minutes. Add salt and next 2 ingredients; toss to coat.

Sprinkle flour over shrimp mixture; toss. Add broth and next 2 ingredients. Cook just until shrimp turn pink, stirring to loosen particles from skillet. Stir in bacon and parsley. Serve over grits with green onion.

Serves 6


Friday, January 13, 2012

Roman Chicken

4 skinless chicken breast halves, with ribs
2 skinless chicken thighs, with bones
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus 1 teaspoon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1 teaspoon
1/4 cup olive oil
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
3 ounces prosciutto, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup white wine
1 T fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 T capers
1/4 cup chopped fresh flatleaf parsley leaves

Preparing the chicken:
Season the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. In a heavy, large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, cook the chicken until browned on both sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Keeping the same pan over medium heat, add the peppers and prosciutto and cook until the peppers have browned and the prosciutto is crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, wine, and herbs. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the pan, add the stock, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes.

If serving immediately, add the capers and the parsley. Stir to combine and serve. If making ahead of time, transfer the chicken and sauce to a storage container, cool, and refrigerate. The next day, reheat the chicken to a simmer over medium heat. Stir in the capers and the parsley and serve.

Serves 6


Labor-Intensive But Worth It Minestrone

Serve with a good artisanal bread.

8 cups of stock
4 roasted tomatoes, chopped
2 T extra virgin olive oil, plus some for drizzling
1 1/8-inch-thick slice prosciutto, about 1/4 pound, optional
1 onion, chopped
2 to 3 ribs celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
4 cloves roasted garlic (from roasted tomato recipe), recipe follows
1 red chile pepper (Fresno or Holland), finely chopped or thinly sliced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound small potatoes, chopped or 1 cup small pasta
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained
1 (15 to 15.5-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
5 ounces fresh, thin green beans, cut into thirds
1 small head escarole or small bundle chard, shredded
lemon zest
parmesan cheese, shredded, for topping

Preparing the minestrone:
Set aside or prepare the stock and roasted tomatoes.

Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium to medium-high heat, add extra virgin olive oil, a couple of turns of the pan. Add the prosciutto and stir a couple of minutes. Add the chopped onions, celery, carrots, garlic, and chile pepper, season with salt, and pepper. If using potatoes, add them here. If you are using pasta, heat a second medium pot of water to a boil for the pasta and cook according to package directions for al dente. Cool the pasta and drizzle with a touch of extra virgin olive oil. Cover and store separately from the soup. Cover the pan and sweat the vegetables 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the cannellini beans, garbanzo beans, prepared stock and prepared tomatoes. Bring the soup to a boil and add the green beans. Bring the soup back to bubbling, then turn off the heat and cool the soup before refrigerating.

To reheat the soup: Place the soup over medium-high heat. Crisp the bread in a warm oven. When the soup comes to a boil, stir in the cooked pasta, escarole, and a little lemon zest. Turn off the heat when pasta is warmed through. Serve the soup in shallow bowls and top with cheese, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and crusty bread.

Serves 4


Roasted Tomatoes For Minestrone

24 ripe organic vine tomatoes or large plum tomatoes
several cloves garlic, crushed
extra virgin olive oil, for liberal drizzling

Preparing the tomatoes:
Heat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Arrange the tomatoes on a baking sheet or baking sheets in a single layer. Scatter the garlic among the tomatoes, dress with extra virgin olive oil to coat and season with salt and pepper. Roast the tomatoes until they burst and skins split and begin to char, about 30 minutes. Cool the tomatoes until cool enough to handle and peel. Place the tomatoes in a bowl.


Stock For Minestrone

1 large rind trimmed from a hunk of parmesan cheese
herb bundle of several sprigs each fresh thyme, parsley and rosemary, tied
1 onion, peeled and quartered
2 ribs celery, sliced on angle
2 carrots, sliced on angle
peeled rind of 1 lemon
2 fresh bay leaves
4 cups chicken stock
12 cups (3 quarts) water

Preparing the stock:
Place the cheese rind, herb bundle, onion, celery, carrots, lemon rind, bay leaves, chicken stock, and water into a pot and bring to a bubble, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer at least 1 hour, and then remove the rind, herb bundle, and vegetables with a slotted spoon or strainer.


Finnish Spoon Cookies

This cookie dough can be prepared several hours ahead and stored at room temperature.

Freeze baked cookie halves wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, followed by aluminum foil for up to 2 weeks. When ready to serve, defrost at room temperature and assemble as desired.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of fine salt
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup sugar
1 T pure vanilla extract
1/4 to 1/3 cup raspberry or lingonberry or other berry jam
confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Variation: Semisweet chocolate dipped

Preparing the cookies:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Melt the butter in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Continue to cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until the butter browns lightly and smells slightly nutty, about 15 minutes. Transfer the butter, with all of the bits of fond, to a medium bowl and cool slightly.

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

Whisk the egg yolk, sugar and vanilla into the cooled browned butter.

Stir the dry ingredients into the butter mixture to make a uniform but crumbly dough that looks like wet sand.

Scoop dough with a small spoon or scoop and make uniformly spoon-shaped cookies with a flat bottom.

Bake cookies until just browned, about 12 to 15 minutes. Cool almost completely on the baking sheets, and then transfer cookies to a rack to cool.

When cool, spread 1/2 teaspoon jam on the flat side of a cookie, and then sandwich together with a second cookie. Lightly dust the cookies with the confectioners' sugar.

Store cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Lemon Meringue Pie

Ingredients for the crust:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup rice flour, plus extra for rolling out dough
1 T granulated sugar
fine salt
1/4 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
3 ounces very cold European-style butter, cubed
2 T ice water
2 T chilled vodka

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the filling:
2 T water
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin powder
1 cup granulated sugar
1 T cornstarch
zest of 1 lemon
pinch of fine salt
1/2 cup water
1 cup fresh lemon juice
6 eggs, separated and whites reserved for meringue topping
4 T unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup heavy cream

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the meringue:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup egg whites, at room temperature (from the reserved egg whites)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
pinch of fine salt

Preparing the crust:
Place the all purpose flour, 1/4 cup rice flour, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the cream cheese and pulse until fine crumbs form. Add the butter and pulse to pea-size coarse crumbs. Add the ice water and vodka, then pulse until combined. The dough will be light and fluffy but will not come together in a ball. There is no need to rest the dough or chill it before rolling.

Lightly sprinkle some rice flour on your work surface and empty out the pie dough. Using your hands, form the dough into a round disk. Sprinkle a little more rice flour on top of the dough. Roll out the dough a little, then fold the dough in half. Repeat 2 more times. Roll out the dough into a circle a little bigger than a 9-inch pie pan. Transfer the dough to the pie pan. Crimp the dough edges and place in the freezer while the oven heats.

Place a cookie sheet in the bottom third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line the pie crust with parchment paper or non-stick foil and weight it down with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the pie weights and parchment. Dock or prick the bottom of the crust with a fork. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F. Return the pie crust to the oven and bake an additional 15 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom and sides. Cool completely on a wire rack before filling. Meanwhile, make the lemon filling.

* * * * * *

Preparing the lemon filling:
Place 2 tablespoons water in a ramekin or small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes to bloom.

Place the sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, and pinch of salt in a medium saucepan. Stir together. Add 1/2 cup water and stir until combined. Heat over medium-high heat, whisking often until it reaches a boil and thickens. Whisk in the lemon juice and cook for 1 minute longer. Remove from the heat. Whisk 1/4 of the hot liquid into the egg yolks, a little at a time. Return the tempered egg yolks to the saucepan. Cook, whisking, until the mixture comes to a simmer and thickens slightly, the mixture will be pretty loose at this point. Strain the lemon filling into a bowl. Whisk in the butter, one piece at a time, until incorporated. Add the gelatin. Stir until smooth, and then stir in the cream. Cover with plastic wrap and let cool at least 20 minutes.

Pour the warm, but not hot filling into the cooled pie crust. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight until set.

* * * * * *

Preparing the meringue:
Place 2-inches water in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Fit a bowl over the pan of simmering water, creating a double boiler. The bottom of the pan should not touch the water. Place the sugar, 1/2 cup egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt into the bowl. Whisk to combine. Cook, whisking constantly, until the sugar is dissolved and the eggs are foamy and warm, but not hot to the touch, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Whip the egg white mixture to stiff peaks using a mixer. Mound the egg whites over the pie and spread using the back of a spoon to create peaks.

Brown the meringue using a kitchen blow torch, if desired or place the pie under a broiler to brown the peaks.


Coconut Cream Pie

Ingredients for the crust:
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
1 teaspoon white vinegar
2 to 3 T ice water

* * * * *

Ingredients for the filling:
1 1/2 cups whole milk, divided
1 envelope (about 2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin powder
1 (13 1/2-ounce) can pure coconut milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 egg yolks
1 large whole egg
2 T butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 (15-ounce) can cream of coconut
2 1/2 cups shredded, flaked coconut

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the topping:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 T powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparing the crust:
In a large bowl, combine flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cut in the shortening and butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the vinegar and 2 tablespoons water, until the mixture forms a ball, adding more water if necessary. Pat into a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Roll the dough out to an 11-inch circle to fit a 9 1/2-inch glass pie plate. Place the crust in pie plate and trim and crimp edges. Place the dish on a baking sheet for easier handling. Prick the bottom and sides of the crust well with a fork. Line the inside of the crust with a piece of foil or parchment, allowing edges to extend several inches beyond the perimeter. Place 2 cups of dried beans in the crust to weight it down during baking and prevent shrinkage. Bake for 15 minutes or until the crust is no longer raw on the bottom. Remove the foil and beans by carefully lifting the foil out by the overhang. Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

* * * * * *

Preparing the filling:
Place 1/2 cup cold milk in a medium-size mixing bowl (preferably with a pouring spout) and sprinkle the gelatin over top. Set aside to soften, about 5 minutes.

Bring the remaining milk and coconut milk to nearly a boil in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat.

When the gelatin is soft, add the sugar, cornstarch, egg yolks, and egg and whisk until very well blended. Gradually whisk about a 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture into the gelatin mixture; repeat this process once or twice using about 3/4 cup of the hot milk mixture. Pour the warmed gelatin mixture into the saucepan with the hot milk and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook for about 3 more minutes or until the mixture is very thick.

Strain the pastry cream through a fine wire strainer into a large clean bowl; whisk in the butter, coconut extract, and cream of coconut until smooth. Stir in 2 cups shredded coconut.

Pour into the cooled pie shell and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.

* * * * * *

Preparing the topping:
Beat the heavy cream in a large bowl on high speed until foamy. Add the powdered sugar, and vanilla, and beat until soft to medium stiff peaks form. Spread over the pie. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup coconut. Keep refrigerated.


Tuscan Bean and Garlic Soup

2 T butter
1 T extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
1 sage leaf
2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
4 cloves garlic, cut in 1/2
1/2 cup cream
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 slices ciabatta bread
extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Variation: Add roasted pork tenderloin slices to the finished soup

Preparing the soup:
Place a medium, heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add the butter, olive oil, and shallot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the sage and beans and stir to combine. Add the stock and bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the garlic and simmer until the garlic is softened, about 10 minutes. Pour the soup into a large bowl. Ladle 1/3 to 1/2 of the soup into a blender and puree until smooth, being careful to hold the top of the blender tightly (hot liquids expand when they are blended). Pour the blended soup back into the soup pan. Puree the remaining soup. Once all the soup is blended and back in the soup pan, add the cream and the pepper. Keep warm, covered, over very low heat.

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat. Drizzle the slices of ciabatta bread with extra virgin olive oil. Grill the bread until warm and golden grill marks appear, about 3 minutes a side. Serve the soup in bowls with the grilled bread alongside.

Serves 4 to 6


Potato Kugel, Italian Style

6 potatoes, peeled
4 T extra virgin olive oil
1 cup pancetta, diced
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 egg
1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
1/2 cup parmesan, cut into chunks
1 cup bread crumbs
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparing the potato kugel:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Boil the potatoes until fork tender and let cool.

Heat up half the olive oil in a saucepan. Add the diced pancetta and chopped onions. Cook until the onions are golden in color and the pancetta is crisp.
In a mixing bowl, mash the potatoes. For a creamier texture, use a potato ricer.

Add an egg, the cooked onions and pancetta, the grated parmesan, parmesan chunks and salt, and black pepper, to taste. Mix well until all the ingredients are evenly distributed.

Grease a baking dish with the remaining olive oil and add half the bread crumbs to the base of the dish and set aside.

Transfer the potato mixture to the baking dish and spread the mixture evenly over the pan, packing the mixture so it serves as a solid bed. Add the remaining bread crumbs on top. Bake for 20 minutes or until the bread crumbs are golden brown.

Serves 4 to 6



2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 T sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
3/4 cup warm water, plus more as needed
peanut oil, for frying
honey or cinnamon sugar, for serving

Preparing the sopapillas:
Sift the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Add the shortening and water, work them in with your hands to make a soft, pliable dough. Add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, if the dough feels too dry. Gather the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Put the dough in the refrigerator and chill for at least 1 hour so it will firm up a bit and be easier to roll and cut. Dough can be prepared 1 day ahead, refrigerated.

Unwrap the ball of dough and put on a lightly floured surface, cut in half. With a floured rolling pin, roll each piece of dough into a circle, about 1/4-inch thickness. Using a paring knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into triangles as you would a pizza. You should end up with 6 or 8 triangles per circle.

Heat 2-inches of oil to 375 degrees F in a heavy skillet or deep pot over medium-high heat.

Fry a few of the sopapillas at a time, keeping an eye on maintaining the oil temperature. As the sopapillas puff up and rise to the surface, flip them over with a slotted spoon, skimmer, or chopsticks; about 2 minutes on each side. Carefully remove the sopapillas from the oil and drain on several layers of paper towels or a brown paper bag. Cool slightly and serve hot with honey or cinnamon sugar.

Makes 12 to 18 sopapillas


Pistachio and Almond Nougat

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup honey
3 T corn syrup
2 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 cup blanched almonds, chopped
1/4 cup pistachios, chopped
1/4 cup vegetable oil, for oiling work surface

Preparing the nougat:
In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, slowly dissolve the sugar with the honey and corn syrup. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes over low heat until the temperature reaches 275 degrees F.

Beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Slowly add the sugar-honey syrup to the beaten egg whites. Let cool for 30 seconds. Add nuts and stir. Spread the vegetable oil over a level, clean work surface - Marble is ideal, but clean baking sheets works well.

Pour the honey nut mixture onto the oiled surface, using a spatula to smooth it out evenly. Using a sharp knife, cut the nougat into pieces. Allow to cool completely. This will take several hours.

Once the nougat is ready, it should be wrapped in waxed paper and kept in an airtight container to keep from getting hard. The nougat can be kept like this for up to 1 month.


Veal Cutlets Marsala

Ingredients for basic veal marsala:
3 T extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 veal cutlets
all purpose flour, for dredging
1/2 cup dry Marsala

* * * * * *

Ingredients for veal, the second way:
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 T capers, rinsed and drained
1 T grated lemon zest
1 lemon, cut into wedges

* * * * * *

Ingredients for veal, the third way:
4 leaves fresh sage
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup dry Marsala

* * * * * *

Ingredients for veal, the fourth way:
1 cup basic tomato sauce
1/2 cup rose wine
freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano

parsley, chopped, for garnish

Preparing the basic veal:
In 12-inch saute pan, heat the olive oil over high heat until hot, but not smoking. While the oil heats, salt and pepper both sides of each veal cutlet. Dredge through the flour, shaking to remove any excess flour.

Place the floured cutlets in the pan and fry until golden brown on one side, about 5 minutes. Flip the cutlets over, and pour in the wine. Continue cooking until almost all of the wine has evaporated and a thick gravy-like sauce has formed.

Garnish veal with chopped parsley and extra virgin olive oil

* * * * * *

Preparing the second way:
Prepare the saute pan and the cutlets as described above. When the pan is hot, add the floured cutlets in 1 layer. Cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Flip the cutlets over, pour in the white wine, and add the capers and lemon zest. Continue cooking until the wine has evaporated and a thick gravy-like sauce has formed. Serve hot with lemon wedges.

Garnish veal with chopped parsley and extra virgin olive oil.

* * * * * *

Preparing the veal the third way:
Prepare the pan and the veal cutlets as described above. When the pan is ready, add the sage leaves, pushing them around to infuse the oil with their flavor. The sage will become lightly fried. Remove the sage leaves and set them aside for garnish. Add the mushrooms and saute until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the floured cutlets and cook until golden brown on one side, about 5 minutes. Flip the cutlets over, and add the wine. Continue cooking until the wine has evaporated and a thick gravy-like sauce has formed. Top with sage leaves.

Garnish veal with chopped parsley and extra virgin olive oil.

* * * * * *

Preparing the veal the fourth way:
Prepare the saute pan and the cutlets as described above. When the pan is ready, add the cutlets in a single layer. Cook until golden brown on 1 side, about 5 minutes. Flip the cutlets over. Add the basic tomato sauce and the wine. Continue cooking over high heat until the sauce has reduced some and the cutlets are cooked through, about 7 minutes. Remove the cutlets to heated dinner plates. Spoon some of the sauce over the cutlets and top with grated parmesan, to taste.

Garnish veal with chopped parsley and extra virgin olive oil.

Serves 6


Tomato Sauce

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Spanish onion, chopped in 1/4-inch dice
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
3 T chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 T dried
1/2 medium carrot, finely shredded
2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved

Preparing tomato sauce:
In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve.

This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.

Makes 4 cups


Butternut Squash Tortellini With Butter Sauce

Ingredients for the tortellini:
1 butternut squash, approximately 2 pounds, cubed, about 3 cups
2 T extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 T
1 1/2 teaspoon herbs de Provence
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
2 large shallots, chopped, about 1/2 cup
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
4 small amaretti cookies, crushed, about 1/3 cup
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 package small wonton wrappers or fresh pasta dough

* * * * * *

Ingredients for brown butter sauce:
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)
2 T torn fresh sage leaves
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries, or chopped dried cherries, or mixture of both
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preparing the tortellini:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. On a foil-lined baking sheet toss together the butternut squash, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, herbs de Provence, salt, and pepper. Bake in the oven until soft and golden, about 25 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a small saute pan over medium heat. Cook the shallots and garlic until lightly golden, about 3 minutes.

In a food processor, combine the butternut squash mixture, the shallot mixture, and the ricotta cheese and pulse a few times to blend. Add the crushed amaretti cookies, the nutmeg, and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pulse until smooth. The tortellini filling can be made one day ahead.

To make the tortellini, lay out 6 wonton skins, keeping the remaining skins inside the package or under a very lightly dampened paper towel. Place 1 tablespoon of squash mixture in the middle of each skin. Dip a pastry brush in a little water and wet the edges of the skin. Gently fold the square wrapper into a triangle, making sure the edges are securely closed and there are no air pockets inside. Dampen the two bottom corners of the longest side of the triangle and gently bring them together, pressing lightly to secure. Place the formed tortellini on a baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Before laying out another 6 wonton sheets, be careful to dry the work surface. This will help keep tortellini from sticking to the baking sheet. Continue until all the butternut squash mixture is used. There should be approximately 36 tortellini. (The tortellini can be formed, frozen on the baking sheet, transferred to a tightly sealed plastic bag or container and stored for up to six months. To cook, simply toss the frozen ravioli into the salted boiling water and cook for 4 minutes.)

To make the sauce and serve, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat.

Add the sage, walnuts and cranberries and let cook until the butter starts to brown, about 3 minutes. Turn the heat off and season with salt, and pepper.

Stir to combine. Then, gently place the tortellini in the boiling water and gently stir. When they begin to float they are done, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, gently spoon the tortellini onto a serving platter. Top with the brown butter sauce, sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Serves 4 to 6


Pork Chops With Onion Marmalade

Ingredients for the onion marmalade:
1/4 cup olive oil
4 large onions, thinly sliced (about 3 pounds)
1/4 cup orange marmalade
1 T chopped fresh rosemary
1 T chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 T sugar, or more to taste

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the pork chops:
1 T chopped fresh rosemary
1 T chopped fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 to 6 pork chops
1/4 cup chopped fresh flatleaf parsley

Preparing the onion marmalade:
Place a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and the onions. Stir to combine and cook until starting to sizzle, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients. Reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and cook over low heat for 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes to scrape up any brown bits. The onions should be a soft, jam-like consistency and a deep mahogany color.

* * * * *

Preparing the pork chops:
Combine the rosemary, thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Using your fingers, work all the ingredients together until well combined. Rub the herb mixture over the pork chops. Cover with plastic wrap and reserve in the refrigerator.

About 20 minutes before the onions are finished, remove the pork chops from the refrigerator. Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Grill the pork chops to medium, about 7 minutes a side depending on thickness.

To serve, spoon the onion marmellata over the pork chops. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6


Beans And Rice

1/4 cup olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 green bell peppers, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
4 bay leaves
1 T ground cumin
2 cups long grain white rice
4 (14-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes with green chiles drained
2 cups water
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparing the beans and rice:
Heat a large pot over medium-high heat and add the oil. Stir in the onions, peppers, garlic, bay leaves and cumin. Stir and cook for 8 minutes.

Stir in the rice, black beans, tomatoes, water, vinegar and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for about 40 minutes or until the rice is tender. Serve hot.

Serves 16


Lobster Potstickers

Ingredients for the potstickers:
1 pound lobster meat, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped bamboo shoots
1 large egg white
1 T shredded basil
1 T cornstarch
1 T Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
2 teaspoons finely minced ginger
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
30 potsticker wrappers
3 T cooking oil
2/3 cup water
basil sprigs, for garnish

* * * * * *

Ingredients for dipping sauce:
1/3 cup rice vinegar
2 T soy sauce
1 T chili garlic sauce
2 teaspoons black bean garlic sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Preparing the potstickers:
Combine the dipping sauce ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.

Combine filling ingredients in a medium bowl; mix well. To shape each potsticker, place 1 teaspoon of filling in center of a potsticker wrapper. Brush edges of wrapper with water; fold wrapper in half, crimping one side, to form a semicircle. Pinch edges together to seal. Cover potstickers with a dry towel to prevent drying.

Place a wide frying pan over medium heat until hot. Add 1 to 1/2 tablespoons cooking oil, swirling to coat sides. Add potstickers, half at a time, seam side up. Cook until bottoms are golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add 1/3 cup water; reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until liquid is absorbed, 4 to 5 minutes. Place potstickers, browned side up, on a serving plate; keep warm. Cook remaining potstickers with remaining oil and water.

Garnish potstickers with basil. Serve with dipping sauce.

Makes 30 potstickers


Dark Chocolate Chocolate Pudding

6 extra large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 T cocoa powder
a pinch of salt
2 cups milk
1 ounce semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 T unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 T heavy cream

Preparing the pudding:
Beat the egg yolks and sugar until light yellow and thick in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on medium-high speed. On low speed, add the cornstarch, cocoa powder, and salt. Bring the milk to a boil in a medium saucepan and, with the mixer on low, slowly pour the hot milk into the chocolate mixture. Combine well, then pour the mixture back into the pan.

Cook the mixture over low heat, stirring constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon, until thickened. If the mixture begins to curdle, remove it from the heat and beat it vigorously with a wire whisk. Remove the pan from the heat, add the chocolate, butter, vanilla, and heavy cream, and mix until the chocolate and butter are melted.

Pour into serving bowls. Place plastic wrap directly on the top of the pudding, and chill thoroughly.

Serves 2



1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons honey
2/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 orange, zested

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

To brown the butter, melt the butter over medium heat in a heavy saucepan, allowing to bubble and foam, stirring frequently. Once the foaming subsides, allow the butter to brown along the bottom and then remove the pan from the heat. Browning will take about 5 minutes total; do not burn.

In a medium bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, and honey with electric mixer until thick and pale. Add the browned butter and mix.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and mix into liquid ingredients, along with zest, just until blended.

Fill the greased madeleine baking molds and bake until golden, 9 to 11 minutes.

Makes about 12 madeleines


Glazed Zeppole

Ingredients for the doughnuts:
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, at room temperature
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all purpose flour
3 eggs
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
vegetable oil, for frying

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the glaze:
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 T Kahlua
2 teaspoons espresso powder
2 cups powdered sugar
water, as needed
1 (3-ounce) chocolate bar, optional

Preparing the doughnuts:
In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, water, sugar, and salt over medium heat. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring occasionally. Boil for 10 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat and add the flour. Using a wooded spoon, quickly stir the mixture until all the flour is fully incorporated and forms a thick dough. Return the pan to the heat and stir continuously for 2 minutes. Scrape the mixture into a stand mixture fitted with a paddle attachment. With the machine running on medium speed, add the eggs and egg yolk, 1 at a time until fully incorporated. Beat the mixture for 4 to 5 minutes until thick and glossy. Add the lemon zest and beat until smooth. Refrigerate the dough for 15 minutes.

In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, pour in enough oil to fill the pan about a third of the way. Heat over medium heat until a deep-frying thermometer inserted in the oil reaches 375 degrees F. (If you don't have a thermometer a cube of bread will brown in a couple of minutes.)

Using a small ice cream scoop or 2 small spoons, carefully drop scoops (about 1 tablespoon) of the dough into the oil. Do not crowd the pan. Cook for 3 to 3 1/2 minutes, turning occasionally, until the zeppole are golden and puffed. Drain on paper towels. Repeat until all of the dough has been used. When the zeppole is cool enough to handle, dip the top halves in the glaze.

* * * * * *

Preparing the glaze:
In a medium bowl, whisk together the cream, coffee liqueur, and espresso powder until smooth. With a wooden spoon, gradually stir in the powdered sugar until smooth. If the glaze is too thick, stir in the water, 1/4 teaspoon at a time.

Using a hand grater, grate the chocolate over the zeppole and serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6


Monday, January 9, 2012


a few papalo leaves (can be found at most Mexican markets) or cilantro
chipotles in adobo
a ripe avocado cut in slices
savory Mexican meat such as chile marinated pork or carnitas or tinga
Mexican Oaxacan string cheese cheese (can substitute mozzarella if you can’t find it), shredded
1/2 large white onion, thinly sliced
1 large plum tomato, thinly sliced

* * * * *

Ingredients for chile-marinated pork:
6 dried guajillo chiles (1 1/2 ounces)
1 dried ancho chile (1/2 ounces)
4 thin (1/2-inch) rib pork chops (1 pound total), bones discarded
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 whole clove
1 (1/2- by 1/4-inch) piece cinnamon stick
2 T cider vinegar
2 large garlic cloves, quartered
1 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican), crumbled
1 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 T vegetable oil

Preparing the chile-marinated pork:
Discard chile stems and cut guajillo and ancho chiles open lengthwise with kitchen shears. Discard seeds and ribs.

Heat a dry 10-inch to 12-inch heavy skillet or griddle over moderate heat until hot, then toast chiles, a few at a time, turning and pressing down with tongs, until softened and fragrant, about 10 seconds per side.

Transfer chiles to a bowl, then cover with hot water and soak until softened, about 20 minutes.

Flatten pork while chiles soak. Trim fat and sinews from pork and pound between 2 sheets of wax paper with flat side of a meat pounder or with a rolling pin until meat is about 1/8 inch thick.

Heat skillet over low heat until hot then toast cumin, peppercorns, clove, and cinnamon, stirring constantly, until fragrant and cumin is a shade darker, about 1 minute. Transfer hot spices to a blender and add vinegar, garlic, oregano, salt, and soaked chiles with about 1/3 cup soaking water, then blend until smooth. Transfer half of chile paste to an airtight container and chill or freeze for another use, then put remainder in a small bowl.

Spread a thin layer of chile paste in middle of a sheet of plastic wrap large enough to wrap all of meat and put 1 pork chop over paste. Spread a thin layer of chile paste on top, then continue layering meat, spreading each piece with chile paste. Wrap stacked pork in plastic wrap and marinate, chilled, at least 2 hours.

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Season pork chops with salt and sauté, in batches, adding more oil as necessary, until just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer chops as cooked to a sheet of foil and keep warm wrapped in foil.

* * * * * *

Preparing the cemitas:
Preheat broiler. Cut rolls in half horizontally and arrange, cut sides up, on a large baking sheet. Broil buns about 6 inches from heat until golden, about 1 minute.

Lay the avocado quarters on each half of bread. Season with salt and pepper.

Pile high the meat, cheese, tomatoes, onions, chipotles and papalo on one half of bread, place the other half on top.


Cemitas Roll

Use rolls the same day they're made. They freeze well, too.

2 cups (9 ounces) flour
1 teaspoon of salt
2 T white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon yeast
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 T milk
1 T water
1/4 cup of sesame seeds

Preparing the dough:
Mix all the dry ingredients together. Whisk the eggs together with the oil. Heat the buttermilk on low until it’s warm (110 degrees). Do not let it come to a boil.

Stir buttermilk, eggs and oil into the dry ingredients. Mix until the liquid is incorporated and then let it rest for 15 minutes.

After it’s rested, knead the dough on a floured surface until it’s smooth, but sticky.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover it and let it rise until it’s doubled in size, about an hour and a half.

Depending on how large you want your rolls to be, divide the dough into eight or four balls and let them rest, covered for 15 minutes.

To shape the rolls, take each ball and then flatten it so it looks like a disc.

Place each roll a few inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover the baking sheet and let the rolls rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

When rolls have risen, mix the milk and water and brush the top of each roll with the wash. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Bake the rolls for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.


Chicken Meatball Soup

Ingredients for the chicken stock:
2 T vegetable oil
bones from 1 whole chicken
2 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1 clove garlic, halved
1/2 cup fresh dill
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 T peppercorns
24 cups water
salt and freshly ground pepper

* * * * * *

Ingredients for chicken meatballs:
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup milk
1 pound ground chicken, or 4 chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
1 red onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1 T olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon chile flakes
freshly ground pepper

* * * * *

Ingredients for the soup:
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 leek, finely chopped
vegetable oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cups watercress
4 blackened chicken wings, for garnish (from Blackened Chicken Salad recipe)
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, for garnish

Preparing the chicken stock:
In a large stockpot, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken bones, stir to coat and cook for 5 minutes to brown. Add the vegetables to the stockpot along with the herbs and peppercorns. Stir to mix, add the water and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium and let simmer for 4 to 6 hours. The stock will have reduced by half. Strain and skim the fat. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Reserve.

* * * * *

Preparing the chicken meatballs:
Soak the breadcrumbs in the milk. In a food processor, combine the ground chicken, or chicken breasts if using, the red onion and garlic. Blend for 2 minutes. Add the dill, olive oil, salt, chile flakes and breadcrumb mixture. Spinkle with freshly ground pepper.

Using 1 teaspoon of the ground chicken mixture, form small meatballs. Reserve on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator until ready to cook in the soup.

* * * * *

Preparing the soup:
In a medium stockpot, cook the vegetables in oil for about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add 8 cups stock and the chicken meatballs. Let simmer until the meatballs are cooked, about 15 minutes. When ready to serve, divide the watercress in the bowls and add a ladle of chicken soup. Garnish with the blackened chicken wings and fresh dill.

Serves 6 to 8


Blackened Chicken

2 T smoked paprika
1 T smoked sea salt
1 T coriander seeds, ground
1 T black peppercorns, ground
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T olive oil
4 chicken drumsticks
4 chicken wings
4 chicken thighs, deboned
vegetable oil

Preparing the blackened chicken:
Combine all the spices with the garlic and oil in a bowl. Evenly rub the chicken pieces with the spice mixture. Place in a large re-sealable plastic bag or a bowl covered in plastic wrap. Keep in the refrigerator for 1 hour or up to overnight for a more intense flavor.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a cast iron skillet heat over high heat, add enough vegetable oil to coat the whole bottom of the pan. The pan will be ready when it starts to gently smoke. First place the chicken drumsticks in the skillet (they take the longest to cook) and blacken all sides, about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the chicken pieces and continue in the same manner for another 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and place the skillet in the oven for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, set aside and keep warm.

Serves 4


Homemade Soda Crackers

2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
kosher salt
2 T butter, melted, plus more for greasing bowl

Preparing the soda crackers:
In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water; stir to dissolve and let stand for 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt and baking soda. Add the yeast mixture and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon to blend. If the dough is sticky, add sprinkles of flour until a soft dough forms.

Knead the dough until it is soft and has an elastic consistency, about 5 minutes. Add sprinkles of flour to control the stickiness. If using a mixer or a food processor, the dough will form a soft ball around the revolving dough hook and clean the sides of the bowl. Add flour, if necessary, to firm up the dough.

Drop the dough into a buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to rest for at least 1 hour and up to 18 hours, the longer the better.

Arrange the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

With a heavy rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangle about 18 by 6 inches and no thicker than 1/8-inch. Fold the dough from the short ends, brushing off the excess flour, to make 3 layers for extra flaky crackers. Roll again using the rolling pin.

Prick the dough with the tines of a fork to help cook evenly. Evenly cut the dough along the edge of a ruler or yardstick with a pizza or cookie cutter into desired shapes.

Place the crackers close together on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with salt from 12-inches above the crackers to distribute evenly.

Bake until lightly browned and crisp, 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the crackers. Check the crackers several times during the baking period to make certain those on the outer edge of the baking sheet are not getting too brown. If so, switch the ones on the outside with the ones in the middle.

Remove from the oven and brush the crackers with melted butter. Let cool on a metal rack.

Sesame-Onion Crackers: Add to the dough, with the dry ingredients, 4 teaspoons each sesame seeds and grated onion.

Herb Crackers: Add to the dough, with the dry ingredients, 4 teaspoons each chopped fresh parsley and chives and 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed.

Poppy Seed Crackers: Add to the dough, with the dry ingredients, 2 teaspoons poppy seeds.


Baked Fettucine With Asiago And Thyme

1 pound fettuccine pasta
2 cups grated asiago cheese, plus 1/4 cup
2 (8-ounce) containers creme fraiche
1 cup grated parmesan
1 1/2 T fresh chopped thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

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

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 pasta reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid.

In a large bowl combine the 2 cups Aiago cheese, creme fraiche, parmesan, thyme, salt, pepper, cooked pasta, and pasta cooking liquid. Gently toss until all the ingredients are combined and the pasta is coated. Place the pasta in a buttered baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup asiago cheese. Bake until golden on top, about 25 minutes. Let sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 4


Star Anise Flank Steak With Watercress, Mint, Orange And Fennel Salad

Ingredients for orange star anise sauce:
1 T vegetable oil
1 shallot, cut in half and sliced
2 star anise, whole
1 Thai red chile, slit lengthwise, seeded and kept in one piece
2 cups store-bought orange juice
zest and juice of 2 oranges
1 T fresh smashed ginger
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 T fish sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 whole star anise, ground in mortar and pestle
1 T unsalted butter, cold
kosher salt

* * * * * * *

Ingredients for flank steak:
1 flank steak, cut into 1/4-inch slices across the grain
3/4 cup cornstarch
2 T garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 star anise, crumbled up in a mortar and pestle
vegetable oil, for frying
orange-star anise sauce
kosher salt
watercress with crispy garlic

* * * * * *

Ingredients for orange-fennel salad:
3 oranges, peeled and segmented
1/2 bulb fennel, thinly sliced
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1/2 bunch fresh mint, leaves picked
1/3 cup, sliced almonds
kosher salt

* * * * * *

Ingredients for watercress salad:
2 T vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 bunches watercress, rinsed and dried
kosher salt

Preparing the orange star anise sauce:
Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Saute the shallots, tossing until they are golden brown, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Add the star anise and chile. Deglaze with all of the orange juice. Add the ginger, sugar, the rest of the orange juice and stir. Reduce the sauce over medium-high heat until a syrup consistency, approximately 5 minutes. Strain into a smaller saucepan, and return to the stove. Add the fish sauce, soy sauce, ground star anise and orange zest. Cook over medium-low heat until the orange zest is tender, approximately 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the butter, stir to incorporate. Season the mixture with salt.

* * * * * *

Preparing the flank steak:
In a large, wide-based pot, heat the oil to 365 degrees F. Prepare a sheet tray lined with paper towel.

Place the cornstarch, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, and half of 1 ground star anise in a bowl. Lightly dredge the flank steak slices in the cornstarch mixture in batches.

Fry the flank steak slices in batches. Remove the steak from the oil and place on a lined tray. Fry the remaining flank steak, repeating the process. Place the flank steak in a large bowl, toss with the orange star anise sauce and season with the other half of the ground star anise and salt.

* * * * * * *

Preparing the orange fennel salad:
In a bowl, add the oranges, fennel, red onion, and vinegar. Season with salt and mix well. Add the fresh mint leaves and sliced almonds just before serving.

* * * * * *

Preparing the watercress with crispy garlic:
In a saute pan, heat the oil over high heat. Fry the garlic, tossing constantly, until golden brown, ensuring the garlic does not burn. Add the watercress and toss. Cook until just beginning to wilt, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt.

Serves 4



Ingredients for the tiramisu:
1 store-bought chocolate sheet cake
1 cup fresh hot espresso
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup dark rum
1-ounce bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, or 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder or powdered sugar

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the zabaglione:
4 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 T light or dark rum
1/4 cup Marsala wine
1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the chocolate mascarpone mousse:
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into pieces
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
*2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar

Preparing the mousse:
To make the mousse, combine the chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl and place in the microwave and cook on high heat for 45 seconds. Stir until chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth and shiny.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, mascarpone and chocolate mixture with an electric mixer at medium to medium-high speed until soft and creamy. Pause occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

In another bowl, with clean beaters, whip the egg yolks and sugar until frothy, about 30 seconds on high. With a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, gently fold the egg mixture into the chocolate-cream cheese mixture until blended. Cover the mousse and refrigerate until ready to assemble the tiramisu. (You should have about 2 cups mousse. The mousse may be made ahead, covered, and refrigerated for up to 1 day.)

* * * * * *

Preparing the zabaglione:
Prepare an ice water bath. Combine the yolks, rum, Marsala and 1/2 cup sugar in the top of a double boiler. Place over (not touching) barely simmering water in the lower pan and whisk vigorously, or beat with an electric mixer, until the mixture begins to foam. Whisk continuously until the mixture triples in volume and thickens to form soft mounds when the whisk is lifted, about 7 minutes. Immediately place the top of the double boiler in the ice water bath to stop the cooking. Let cool, stirring occasionally.

In a small bowl, beat the 1/2 cup heavy cream until it begins to foam. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons sugar and continue to beat until the cream holds soft peaks. Fold whipped cream into the cooled zabaglione. Cover and chill for several hours before assembling the tiramisu. You should have about 2 cups.

* * * * * *

Preparing the coffee syrup:
In a small bowl or pitcher, add the sugar to the hot espresso. Stir well to dissolve the sugar, then add the rum.

* * * * * *

Assembling the tiramisu:
Cut off the top of the cake, crumble the shiny tops of the cake into crumbs and place them in a 150 degrees F to 200 degrees F oven until thoroughly dry and crunchy. Set aside to decorate the top of the tiramisu after assembling.

Cut the cake in half horizontally. Arrange a layer of cake, cut side up, in the bottom of a deep 2 1/2-quart bowl. Moisten evenly with some of the espresso syrup. Spread half the mousse on top, and then spread half of the zabaglione on top of the mousse. Arrange the second layer of cake, again cut side up, on the mousse. Moisten well with syrup. Spread the remaining mousse on top in an even layer, followed by the remaining zabaglione. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight before serving. With a vegetable peeler, cut curls of chocolate to garnish the top, or dust with cocoa or with the crumbs from the cake top.

Serves 8 to 10



1 recipe pizza dough
extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling and greasing
* * * * * *

Ingredients for the dough:
4 cups all purpose flour
1 T fresh yeast, crumbled
3/4 cup white wine
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups lukewarm water

* * * * *

zucchinis, thinly sliced
onions, sliced

potatoes, thinly sliced
onions, sliced
fresh rosemary

radicchio, cut in 1/8 slices
smoked scamorza cheese, sliced, or mozzarella

Toppings for schiacciata alla fiorentina [sweet focaccia]:
red wine grapes, halved
Chianti wine, for drizzling
2 T white granulated sugar, for sprinkling
[* add 2 tablespoons of sugar when making the dough]

* * * * *

Preparing the dough:
Mound the flour on a smooth work surface, and create a well in the middle of the flour. Break up the cubes of yeast with your hands and add it to the well, along with the white wine, olive oil and a portion of salted lukewarm water. Work the flour slowly, adding the rest of the salted lukewarm water as needed until it turns into a uniform dough.

Cover the dough and let rest to rise for about 20 to 30 minutes at room temperature.

* * * * *

Preparing the focaccia:
Preheat the oven at 450 degrees F. Oil the bottom of a pizza pan and stretch out the dough until the pizza covers the whole pan. Add as little or as much of your favorite toppings before baking it until the crust is golden brown and the toppings are bubbling, golden, or cooked through (depending on your ingredients), approximately 20 minutes.

Serves 4


Minestrone With Pesto

Ingredients for the soup:
1 1/2 cups borlotti or pinto beans
1 1/2 cups cannelloni (or white) beans
1 medium red onion, cut into medium dice
2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch moons, 1/2-inch thick
4 plum canned plum tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
4 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 leeks, cleaned and cut into 1/2-inch moons
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 T extra virgin olive oil
6 ounces small shells pasta
1/2 cup pesto

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the pesto:
3 T pine nuts
2 cups fresh basil leaves, preferably "picolo fino"
1 clove garlic
1 pinch of sea salt
5 ounces extra virgin olive oil

Preparing the pesto:
In a large stone mortar, place the pine nuts, basil, garlic, and salt, and grind with a pestle until paste. Drizzle in the olive oil, beating with a wooden spoon. This can also be done in a food processor. Store in jars, topped with extra virgin olive oil, for up to 1 week.

* * * * * *

Preparing the minestrone:
Soak the borlotti and cannelloni beans separately overnight and drain.

In a large soup pot, place both kinds of beans, the onion, zucchini, tomatoes, celery, potatoes, leeks, and olive oil, and cover by 1-inch with cool water. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until the beans are tender about 1 hour to 1 hour and 30 minutes. Add the pasta, and turn the heat to high. Cook the pasta at a boil until al dente. Divide the soup among 4 bowls and top each bowl of minestrone with a dollop of pesto floating on top.

Serves 4


Minestrone, Another Way

1 pound borlotti beans
3 T extra virgin olive oil, plus 1/2 cup divided, plus more for garnish
1/2 pound pancetta, finely chopped
2 medium onion, finely chopped
4 stalks celery, finely chopped
4 carrots, finely chopped
4 parsnips, finely chopped
3 T chopped fresh thyme leaves
3 T chopped fresh rosemary leaves
6 fresh sage leaves, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 (28-ounce) cans whole, peeled tomatoes, drained and hand crushed
6 quarts chicken stock
3 cups fresh white bread crumbs
1 cup grated parmesan
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparing the beans:
Put the beans in a large pot and cover them with water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil and cook the beans for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for 1 hour. (Or cover the beans with cold water and let them soak overnight.)

* * * * * *

Preparing the soup:
In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, add 3 tablespoons olive oil. When the oil is hot add the pancetta, onion, celery, carrots, and parsnips and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons thyme, 2 tablespoons rosemary, the sage, and bay leaves. Drain the beans and add them to the pot along with the tomatoes and 1/4 cup olive oil. Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, adding water if you need more liquid. The soup should be thick: to thicken the soup, break up some of the beans with the back of a spoon. Remove the bay leaves and discard before serving.

* * * * * *

Preparing the bread crumbs:
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix the bread crumbs, remaining thyme and rosemary, and cheese on a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle over about 1/4 cup olive oil; combine well. Bake until the crumbs are golden brown and crisp, 20 to 25 minutes.

* * * * * *

Plating the soup:

Ladle the soup into small glasses, cups or mugs. Drizzle on a little olive oil, top with the crispy crumbs, and serve.

Serves 10 to 20



2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound Swiss chard, stems trimmed, leaves coarsely chopped
1 russet potato, peeled, cubed
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 fresh rosemary sprig
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained, rinsed
2 (14-ounce) cans low-sodium beef broth
1 ounce piece parmesan cheese rind
2 T chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
salt and pepper

Preparing the soup:
Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, pancetta, and garlic. Saute until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the Swiss chard and potato; saute for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and rosemary sprig. Simmer until the chard is wilted and the tomatoes break down, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, blend 3/4 cup of the beans with 1/4 cup of the broth in a processor until almost smooth. Add the pureed bean mixture, remaining broth, and parmesan cheese rind to the vegetable mixture. Simmer until the potato pieces are tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Stir in the whole beans and parsley. Simmer until the beans are heated through and the soup is thick, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Discard Parmesan rind and rosemary sprig (the leaves will have fallen off of the stem.)

Serves 4 to 6



3 (12-ounce) jars of cannellini beans
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 pound smoked ham hock or 1/2 pound chunk prosciutto
3 cloves garlic, chopped, plus 1 whole clove
6 cups water, divided
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 leek, white and light green only, minced and rinsed
1 yellow onion, minced
1 carrot, small diced
1 celery stalk, small diced
2 bay leaves
1 pound Tuscan black cabbage, chopped
1/2 pound napa cabbage, chopped
3/4 cup tomato puree
6 slices Italian bread, sliced 1/2-inch thick
freshly grated parmesan

Preparing the soup:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Drain beans in a colander and gently rinse under cold water.

With 3 tablespoons of the oil saute the ham hocks, when brown turn over and add 1 clove chopped garlic. Add 3 cups cold water and beans, bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Add thyme and rosemary sprigs.

In a soup pot add 1/4 cup oil, and remaining chopped garlic. Cook until light brown and add leek, onion, carrot, celery, and bay leaf. Saute for 8 minutes over medium heat until slightly soft. Add the cabbages and saute for 5 minutes. Add remaining 3 cups water and the tomato puree. Cook for 20 minutes. Add to beans and continue to cook for 20 more minutes. Remove ham hock. When cool, chop the meat and add back to the soup discarding the hock bones.

Place bread in oven until lightly browned. Remove from oven and rub with a clove of garlic. Brush with remaining olive oil.

When ready to eat bring the soup back to a simmer and add bread. Stir until well broken up. Serve with a healthy drizzle of olive oil and fresh grated parmesan

Serves 6


Tuscan Vegetable Soup

1 (15-ounce) can low-sodium canellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced (about 1 cup)
2 carrots, diced (about 1/2 cup)
2 stalks celery, diced, (about 1/2 cup)
1 small zucchini, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T chopped fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
32 ounces low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 (14.5-ounce) can no salt added diced tomatoes
2 cups chopped baby spinach leaves
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan

Optional: rind from a piece of parmesan

Preparing the soup:
In a small bowl mash half of the beans with a masher or the back of a spoon, and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, zucchini, garlic, thyme, sage, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, and cook stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the broth and tomatoes with the juice and bring to a boil. Add the mashed and whole beans and the spinach leaves and cook until the spinach is wilted, about 3 minutes more.

Serve topped with parmesan, if desired.

Serves 6


A Nonna's Pizza Dough

4 cups all purpose flour
1 T fresh yeast, crumbled
3/4 cup white wine
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups lukewarm water

Preparing the dough:
Mound the flour on a smooth work surface, and create a well in the middle of the flour. Break up the cubes of yeast with your hands and add it to the well, along with the white wine, olive oil and a portion of salted lukewarm water. Work the flour slowly, adding the rest of the salted lukewarm water as needed until it turns into a uniform dough.

Cover the dough and let rest to rise for about 20 to 30 minutes at room temperature.

Serves 4


Beurre Blanc

Sauce fish or a rib eye.

1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 shallots, minced
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold butter, cubed
2 T fresh tarragon leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper

Preparing the beurre blanc:
Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the vinegar, white wine and shallots. Let boil and reduce down to 2 tablespoons of liquid. Take off the heat and let cool for about 1 minute.

Put the saucepan back on the burner without turning on the heat. Throw in a few butter cubes at a time; whisk until the butter is melted. Continue until all the butter is melted. Add the tarragon, salt and some pepper. Mix. Cover, turn the heat to very low and let sit.

Serves 2


Duck-Fat French Fries

2 cups warm water
1/2 cup raw sugar
2 russets, cut into 1/4-inch fries
3 cups duck fat
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
freshly cracked black pepper
sea salt

Preparing the french fries:
Add the raw sugar to the water and whisk. Soak the fries in the sugar water for 1 hour, or up to overnight. Strain and dry off in a salad spinner.

In a large pot, heat the duck fat to 325 degrees F. Blanch 1 cup of fries at a time until cooked but not crispy, about 5 minutes. Once all batches have been blanched, raise the temperature of the oil to 375 degrees F. Fry in batches again until golden and crispy, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with cayenne, black pepper and sea salt.

Serves 2


Sweet Arancini

4 cups water
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
kosher salt
4 cups skim milk
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 vanilla beans, split and seeds scraped
2 cinnamon sticks
2 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup Nutella
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
8 cups vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preparing the arancini:
In a medium saucepan, bring 3 1/2 cups water and butter to a boil; season with a pinch of salt. In a separate medium saucepan, heat the milk, 1 1/2 cups sugar, vanilla bean and seeds, cinnamon sticks over medium-low heat. When the water comes to a boil, add the rice. Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the water has absorbed into the rice, about 15 minutes. Strain the milk mixture into the rice; cook, stirring often, until the rice is tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Spread the cooked rice on a large rimmed baking sheet to cool; refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Place the hazelnut spread in a pastry bag. On a wax paper-lined plate, pipe the spread into 12 (1-inch) morsels. Transfer plate to freezer; freeze until hazelnut spread is solid, about 1 hour.

Using a 1/2-cup measure, form the cool rice into balls; insert a portion of the frozen hazelnut spread into each ball. Repeat with remaining rice and hazelnut spread.

In a large bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water until smooth (should be the consistency of buttermilk). Place the breadcrumbs in a shallow dish. Dip each rice ball into the batter, shaking off the excess; roll in the breadcrumbs. Repeat with the remaining rice balls.

In a Dutch oven or other large pot, heat the oil to 350 degrees F. Use a slotted spoon to lower the rice balls into the hot oil in batches of 2 to 4 arancini; don't crowd the pan. Fry the arancini, turning occasionally, until golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Place arancini on a paper towel-lined plate to drain. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar with 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Roll warm arancini in cinnamon sugar.

Makes 1 dozen


Deep-Fried Candy Bars

4 cups vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 1/4 cups club soda
8 (4-ounce) chocolate candy bars, frozen until solid

Preparing the deep-fried candy bars:
In a medium saucepan, heat oil until it registers 350 degrees F on a thermometer.
In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup cornstarch, Panko, and baking powder. Whisk in soda water.

In a separate medium bowl, combine remaining 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup cornstarch. Working with one chocolate bar at a time, dip the chocolate in the batter, then the dry flour mixture, and then dip in batter again. Transfer the battered chocolate bar to the hot oil and fry, turning occasionally, until evenly golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Repeat with the remaining chocolate bars.

Makes 8 candy bars


Maple Apple Crumbled With Candied Bacon

Ingredients for the crumble:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup walnuts, crushed
1/2 cup brown sugar
pinch of sea salt
1/3 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

* * * * *

Ingredients for the apple filling:
6 McIntosh apples, peeled, cored and cubed
1/4 cup maple liqueur or real maple syrup
1/2 vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise and seeds scraped
pinch of nutmeg

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the bacon:
16 applewood smoked bacon strips
1/2 cup raw cane sugar, to coat
smoked cayenne pepper, for sprinkling

Preparing the bacon:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with some parchment paper, set aside.

Lay the bacon strips on a wire rack and coat evenly with raw sugar. Lightly press the sugar into the bacon, sprinkle them with smoked cayenne pepper and transfer them onto the lined baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for about 12 minutes or until deep red and caramelized. Check on the bacon frequently, cooking time may vary depending on the thickness of the bacon. Use tongs to remove the candied bacon from the baking sheet and transfer the slices onto a wire rack. Cool completely.

* * * * * *

Preparing the filling:
In a baking dish, combine the apples, maple liqueur, vanilla bean seeds, and nutmeg. Mix ingredients together to combine.

* * * * * *

Preparing the crumble:
Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F. In a big bowl, add the flour, rolled oats, crushed walnuts, brown sugar, and sea salt. Mix these ingredients together and then cut in the cold butter pieces, using a pastry cutter. Evenly distribute the crumble over the apple mixture and bake for 40 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.

Place the crumble in bowls and top each bowl with 2 slices of candied bacon. Serve with a shot of cinnamon schnapps. Or cinnamon ice cream. Or vanilla ice cream.

Serves 6 to 8


Caesar Salad

2 heads romaine lettuce, outer leaves removed, or 3/4 pound romaine lettuce hearts
3/4 cup dressing
8 parmesan croutons
1 T freshly grated Parmesan

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the croutons:
2 T unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 loaf day-old bread, sliced into finger sized pieces
6 T finely grated parmesan

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the dressing:
1 egg yolk
1 T Dijon mustard
3 or 4 anchovy filets, minced
1 T chopped garlic
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
worcestershire sauce
1 cup olive oil
1 T warm water, if needed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Preparing the dressing:
Place the egg yolk, mustard, anchovies, garlic, vinegar, lemon juice, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce in a blender. Blend until pureed. With the motor running, add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream until it is fully incorporated. If the dressing stops moving in the blender, stop the machine, add the warm water and then continue until all the oil is added. To finish, add the cheese and blend on low speed to incorporate.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

* * * * * *

Preparing the croutons:
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter until it begins to foam. Add the chopped garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the bread slices and mix to coat. Toss bread occasionally so that both sides get toasted. When the bread is golden brown, add the parmesan and toss to coat. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

* * * * * *

Assembling the salad:
Put the whole romaine leaves in a work bowl. Add enough of the dressing to coat the leaves and toss well. Add the croutons and toss again to combine. Sprinkle the Parmesan over all and serve.

Serves 4


Bruschetta With Cannellini Beans, Sun-Dried Tomatoes And Basil

Ingredients for the beans:
3/4 cup cannelloni beans
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon salt

* * * * * * *

Ingredients for the bruschetta and topping:
1 small baguette, sliced into thick pieces
1 T thinly sliced garlic, plus 1 garlic clove, peeled, for coating bread
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
8 to 10 basil leaves
1/3 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 T chopped fresh parsley
lemon juice
salt and fresh black pepper
2 ounces ricotta salata cheese, grated large

Preparing the beans:
Rinse the beans well and then put in a 1-quart saucepan. Cover with water to 1-inch over the top of the beans. On medium-high heat, bring to a boil. Immediately take the pot away from the burner, cover and hold for 1 hour. Change the water; add half of the extra virgin olive oil, 1 garlic clove and the bay leaf. Cook beans on low. Simmer for about 40 minutes or until tender. During last 10 minutes, add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir in carefully. Remove from heat and hold in the saucepan with the cooking liquid until cool. This may be done 1 to 2 days before serving, and kept refrigerated.

* * * * * *

Preparing the bruschetta topping:
Preheat a grill or stovetop grill pan.

Grill the bread on both sides until crispy. Be careful on high heat as bread burns easily.

While bread is grilling, in a saute pan on medium heat, toast the sliced garlic in the olive oil. When it is light golden, add the chili flakes, cook for 10 seconds and then add the basil leaves. Do this carefully, as the basil may spatter some oil.

With a slotted spoon, transfer the beans to the pan. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of the bean cooking liquid (or liquid from canned beans) and mix all together. Hold warm. Adjust consistency, as necessary, with the bean liquid, a little at a time.

When the basil leaves are wilted, remove mixture from the heat. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and chopped parsley. Toss to combine and adjust the seasoning with lemon juice, to taste, and salt and pepper.

Lightly swipe the remaining garlic clove on 1 side of the bread. Arrange the toasted bruschetta on a serving platter and drizzle with the remaining extra virgin olive oil. Top each piece with some of the tomato-bean mixture, then evenly divide the ricotta salata over the mixture. Serve warm.

Serves 4


Blueberry and Almond Pancakes, Lite

1 cup white whole wheat flour
2 T granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 T canola oil
1 large egg
2 cups blueberries
non-stick cooking spray
1/4 cup maple syrup
4 teaspoons toasted sliced almonds

Preparing the pancakes:
Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk together the buttermilk, oil and egg in a medium bowl, and then stir into the flour mixture just until blended. Gently stir in 1 cup of the blueberries. Let the batter stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Heat a non-stick griddle or non-stick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Pour the batter into the skillet by scant 1/4 cupsful. Cook just until bubbles begin to appear at the edges of the pancakes, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook until the pancakes are puffed and browned, about 2 minutes. Repeat with the remaining batter, making a total of 8 pancakes.

Arrange 2 pancakes on each of 4 plates. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon of the syrup and 1 teaspoon of the almonds. Serve with the remaining blueberries.

Serves 4

Per Serving: 267 Cal; 6 g Protein; 5 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 3 g Mono Fat; 51 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; 22 g Sugar; 154 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 366 mg Sodium; 2 mg Cholesterol


Chinese Chicken Salad

4 T low sodium soy sauce, divided
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, divided
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/2 head napa cabbage, thinly shredded (about 6 cups)
1/4 head red cabbage, shredded (about 2 cups)
1 large carrot, shredded (about 2 cups)
3 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced, greens included (about 1/2 cup)
1 (8-ounce) can sliced water chestnuts
1 (11-ounce) can Mandarin oranges in water, drained [If in light syrup, drain and rinse with water.]
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
2 T canola oil
2 T brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce or chili sauce
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Preparing the salad:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil and brush onto chicken breasts. Arrange in a baking dish and bake until juices run clear, about 13 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven, cool completely, and cut into 1/4-inch slices.

In a large bowl, combine Napa cabbage, red cabbage, carrot, scallions, water chestnuts, Mandarin orange and sliced chicken. In a separate bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger, oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil, brown sugar and chili sauce. Pour dressing over salad and toss to combine. Divide among bowls and top each serving with 2 teaspoons toasted almonds.

Serves 4


Zucchini Ribbon Pasta

3/4 pound whole wheat fettuccini
2 medium green zucchini (about 1 pound)
2 medium yellow zucchini (about 1 pound)
3 T olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup grated (1-ounce) parmesan (lightly packed), plus 2 T
1/3 cup finely minced parsley leaves, plus more for garnish
1 cup thinly sliced basil leaves, plus more for garnish
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Preparing zucchini ribbon pasta:
In a large pasta pot, cook pasta "al dente", 1 or 2 minutes less than the package instructions call for. Drain.
Meanwhile, slice off ends of zucchini and discard. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise. Using a mandoline, or carefully with a sharp knife, slice zucchini into very thin (about 1/8-inch) slices, trying to keep some skin on each piece for color. Stack slices and cut in half lengthwise. Reserve zucchini ribbons in a large bowl.
In the pasta pot, heat the olive oil over low-medium heat. Add garlic and cook until soft and translucent but not browned, about 1 minute. Add zucchini ribbons and 1/4 cup chicken broth, raise heat to medium-high and cook until zucchini is still somewhat firm but just cooked, about 3 minutes. Return pasta to pot and add remaining chicken stock; cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until liquid has mostly absorbed into the pasta. Add 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, parsley, basil, red pepper flakes, black pepper and toss to combine. Season with salt, to taste. Serve garnished with additional parsley, basil and the remaining 2 tablespoons of cheese.

Serves 4

Per Serving:
Calories 490; Total Fat 16 g; (Sat Fat 3.5 g, Mono Fat 8 g, Poly Fat 2 g) ; Protein 22 g; Carb 74 g; Fiber 14 g; Cholesterol 5 mg; Sodium 240 mg
Excellent source of: Protein, Fiber, Vitamin A, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Folate, Vitamin K, Calcium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium, Selenium
Good source of: Pantothenic Acid, Zinc


Escarole With Pine Nuts

1 T olive oil
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 head of escarole (about 1 pound), washed, dried and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
2 T balsamic vinegar
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted in a dry skillet for 2 minutes until fragrant and golden brown

Preparing the escarole:
Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until shallots are soft, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the escarole and cook, stirring, until it has wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth, and chili flakes. Bring simmer and cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, another 3 minutes. Add the vinegar and cook for 2 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in pine nuts just before serving.

Serves 4

Per Serving
Calories 130; Total Fat 10 g; (Sat Fat 1 g, Mono Fat 4 g, Poly Fat 3.5 g) ; Protein 4 g; Carb 9 g; Fiber 4 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 40 mg
Excellent source of: Vitamin A, Folate, Vitamin K, Manganese
Good source of: Fiber, Vitamin C, Pantothenic Acid, Copper, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc


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