Sunday, April 22, 2012

Vanilla Scones with Vanilla Glaze

Ingredients for scones: 2 whole vanilla beans 3/4 cups heavy cream 3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting 2/3 cups granulated sugar 5 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, chilled 1 whole large egg * * * * * Ingredients for glaze: 1 whole vanilla bean 1/2 cup whole milk, plus more if needed 5 cups powdered sugar, sifted, plus more if needed a dash of salt Preparing the scones: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Split the vanilla beans in half lengthwise and scrape out all the vanilla "caviar" inside. Stir the caviar into the cream. Set aside for 15 minutes. Sift together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut the cold butter into pats, and then use a pastry cutter or two knives to cut the butter into the flour. Keep going until the mixture resembles crumbs. Mix the vanilla cream with the egg, and then combine with the flour mixture. Stir gently with a fork just until it comes together. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and lightly press it together until it forms a rough rectangle. (Mixture will be pretty crumbly.) Use a rolling pin to roll into a rectangle about 12-inches by 7-inches and 1/2- to 3/4-inches thick. Use your hands to help with the forming if necessary. Then cut the rectangle into 12 symmetrical squares/rectangles. Next, cut each square/rectangle in half diagonally, to form two triangles. Transfer to a parchment or baking-mat-lined cookie sheet and bake for 18 minutes, removing from the oven just before they start to turn golden. Allow to cool for 15 minutes on the cookie sheet, and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. * * * * * Preparing the glaze: Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the caviar. Stir the caviar into the milk. Set aside for 15 minutes. Mix the powdered sugar and salt with the vanilla milk, adding more powdered sugar or milk if necessary to get the right consistency. Stir or whisk until completely smooth. One at a time, carefully dunk each cooled scone in the glaze, turning it over if necessary. Transfer to parchment paper or the cooling rack. Allow the glaze to set completely, about an hour. Scones will keep several days if glazed. Makes 24 scones


Chicken and Olives Tagine

Ingredients: 2 pounds chicken thighs and drumsticks kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 T butter 2 T olive oil 1 onion, chopped 1 T fresh ginger, minced 1/2 teaspoon turmeric 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 3 cloves garlic, pressed 1/4 cup wine 1/4 cup chicken broth 1 confit lemon, chopped, or preserved lemons 1/2 cup gently crushed briny olives 1/4 cup chopped fresh flatleaf parsley 3 T finely chopped fresh cilantro Optional: almonds, chick peas, currants couscous, for serving * * * * * Ingredients for lemon confit: 3 organic lemons, skin scrubbed well kosher salt 4 peppercorns 1/2 lemon, juiced Preparing the chicken: Pat the chicken dry, and season well with salt and pepper. Heat the butter and olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, and brown the chicken on all sides. Add the onion, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, and cook until onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and add the garlic and stir for a minute. Increase heat and deglaze with wine, stirring, and allowing it to bubble. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, and cover and simmer gently for 45 minutes, then remove the chicken and set aside. To the sauce, add the lemon, olives, parsley, and cilantro and then return the chicken to the pot. Heat for 5 more minutes and serve over couscous * * * * * Preparing the lemon confit: Place the lemons, 2 to 3 tablespoons salt, peppercorns, and lemon juice in a quart jar and cover with water. Store chilled for 3 weeks. Serves 4


Sweet Onion Relish

Ingredients: 4 to 6 yellow onions (small dice) 4 T brown sugar 3 T balsamic vinegar 3 T red wine 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar salt and pepper Preparing the relish: Saute the onions in a skillet over medium-low heat until translucent and caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Deglaze the pan with both vinegars and the wine. Simmer on medium-low heat until all the liquid has been evaporated, about 15 minutes. Makes about 3 cups


Potato Pierogis

I like to serve this alongside borscht garnished with fresh dill. Ingredients for pierogi dough: 4 pounds all purpose flour 1 T extra virgin olive oil 2 large eggs 1 teaspoon kosher salt 3 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F) nonstick cooking spray * * * * * * Ingredients for mashed potato filling: 2 pounds red potatoes kosher salt 1 stick butter 4 ounces cream cheese 3 ounces sour cream 1 T granulated garlic 1/2 teaspoon onion powder 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 1/2 teaspoon white pepper 1 pound soft European farmer's cheese milk to thin, if necessary nonstick cooking spray To Serve: 4 ounces olive oil 1 medium yellow onion, julienned and sauteed sour cream 1 ounce clarified butter 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley Preparing the pierogi dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the flour, olive oil, eggs, salt and 2 1/2 cups warm water. Start the mixer on slow for a minute, and then switch to high for another couple of minutes until the dough pulls away from the bowl. Then slow the mixer down to medium speed and slowly add the remaining 1 cup warm water. Once the water is absorbed, return the mixer to high and let the dough beat for 10 minutes. Remove from the bowl. Cut the dough into 4 pieces. Form into balls, spray with nonstick spray, wrap in plastic wrap and let rest in a warmer area for 20 minutes. Spray the counter or large cutting board with the nonstick spray and begin to roll the dough with a rolling pin. Roll until a consistent thickness of 1/4-inch. Then spray with nonstick spray. Use about a 3-inch circle cutter and press down hard and give a slight twist to completely separate from the rest of the dough, continue this throughout the entire piece. Remove the scraps and in-betweens, save, re-ball and re-roll. Then flip the circle cut-outs; they are ready to be stuffed. * * * * * Preparing the mashed potato filling: Boil the red potatoes, leaving the skin on, in a stock pot with 2 tablespoons kosher salt. Once the potatoes are soft, drain off the water and place in the mixer bowl with the dough hook or paddle attachment. Add the butter right away so it will start to melt. Then add the cream cheese, sour cream, granulated garlic, onion powder and black and white peppers into the bowl and mix on a medium speed. Mix until smooth and free of all lumps. Add the farmer's cheese and mix on high for a couple minutes until a little fluffy. Season with kosher salt. Loosen with milk, if necessary. Set aside to cool. * * * * * Assembling the pierogis: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with nonstick spray to prevent sticking. Place about 1 teaspoon of the potato and cheese filling in the center of all the cut-outs. Then pick up the dough with two hands and fold over the filling. Slightly pull out both sides at the base of the fold, then continue to pull, then pinch, and form and seal as you continue around the half moon. Double check for any areas that aren't smooth or completely sealed. Repeat. Place on the prepared baking sheet. In a large saucepan bring three-quarters of a gallon of water and 1 tablespoon kosher salt to a rapid boil. One by one, drop in the pierogis. Par-boil them until they float, about 5 minutes. Then place them back on the baking sheet to let cool. The pierogis can be made ahead to this point. They can be refrigerated or frozen, but bring to room temperature before continuing. * * * * * When ready to serve: Cover the bottom of a saute pan with olive oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, saute the pierogis; they should sizzle once they hit the oil. After a minute or so, flip them, looking for a golden brown color. Plate with the sauteed onions and a side of sour cream for dipping. Drizzle with the butter and sprinkle with the parsley. Serves 8 to 10


Roasted Parmesan-Crusted Green Beans

Ingredients: 1 pound haricots verts extra virgin olive oil kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 cup grated parmesan Preparing the green beans: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Trim off the tough end of the beans and arrange the beans on a nonstick cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top and bake until the cheese melts and forms a crisp shell over the beans, about 10 minutes. Let the beans sit a few minutes for the cheese to cool slightly. Lift the beans out onto a platter and serve. Serves 4 as a side dish


Buttermilk Corn Bread

Ingredients: 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, plus more for greasing 2 cups yellow cornmeal 3/4 cup all purpose flour 6 T sugar 1 T baking powder 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1 1/4 cups buttermilk 1/3 cup sour cream 2 large eggs Preparing the cornbread: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch by 9-inch by 2-inch metal baking pan. Blend the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a processor for 5 seconds. Add the butter cubes. Blend until the butter is reduced to tiny pieces, 15 to 20 seconds. Whisk the buttermilk, sour cream and eggs in a large bowl to blend. Add the dry ingredients from the processor and stir until evenly moistened. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the corn bread until the top is golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool the bread on a rack at least 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Turkey Chili

Ingredients: 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 4 large cloves garlic, smashed, peeled and chopped 2 large poblano chiles, stemmed, seeded and diced 1 celery stalk, chopped 1 large onion, chopped 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey (dark meat) 1 T all purpose flour or corn meal 4 T tomato paste 3 T chili powder 1 T ground cumin 2 teaspoons (packed) dark brown sugar 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano, crushed kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves 3 cups low-salt chicken broth (preferably organic) One 15 to 16-ounce can cannellini (white kidney beans), rinsed and drained Assorted garnishes, such as chopped onion, shredded white Cheddar, chopped tomatoes, chopped radishes, pickled jalapenos, crumbled cotija cheese, tortilla chips, and/or pico de gallo, and/or sour cream Preparing the chili: Heat the oil in a heavy, large pot over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, poblanos, celery and onions. Saute until the vegetables soften, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the turkey and saute until no longer pink, breaking up the turkey with the back of a spoon, about 7 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over and stir to blend. Add the tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, sugar, oregano, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, cinnamon and cloves. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, stirring to blend. Add the broth and beans. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the flavors blend and the chili thickens to desired consistency, stirring often, 20 to 30 minutes. Season with more salt and pepper. Serves 4


Short Rib Chili with Polenta

Ingredients for chili: 3 pounds meaty short ribs, on the bone kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper One 2-ounce package dried New Mexico chiles (about 8), stemmed, seeded and cut or torn into pieces 2 large dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded and cut or torn into pieces 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 6 large cloves garlic, chopped 1 large red onion, chopped 1 T freshly ground cumin 1 T dried Mexican oregano 1 cup beef broth 2 T dark agave 1 teaspoon instant espresso coffee one 15 to 16-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained Optional: adobo sauce, from can of chipotle chiles, chopped green onions, polenta, coarsely grated bittersweet chocolate (Lindt brand preferred) Garnishes: lime wedges, sour cream, chopped cooked bacon, chopped red and/or green jalapenos * * * * * Ingredients for the polenta: 2 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth (preferably organic) 2 T unsalted butter kosher salt 1 cup polenta or regular cornmeal 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed Preparing the chili: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Arrange the short ribs on a large sheet of foil. Sprinkle all over with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Bring the New Mexico chiles, ancho chiles and 1 1/2 cups water to a simmer in a medium saucepan over high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the chiles are just tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a blender. Holding the top on firmly, blend until the chile puree is smooth. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the short ribs in batches and brown on all sides, 5 to 6 minutes per batch, transferring the short ribs to a bowl each time. Add the garlic and red onions to the drippings in the pot. Saute until the onions soften, about 5 minutes. Mix in the cumin and oregano. Add the chile puree from the blender, the broth, agave, and espresso; stir to blend. Return the short ribs and any juices from the bowl to the pot; stir to coat. Bring to a simmer. Cover and place the pot in the oven. Braise until the ribs are very tender, about 2 hours 30 minutes. Tilt the pot. Spoon off and discard any fat that rises to the surface and pools at the lower end. Using tongs, transfer the ribs and any loose bones to a rimmed baking sheet. Carefully cut the membrane off each piece of meat (try to cut away only the membrane and not any meat). Discard the membranes and all bones. Cut the meat into small (scant 1/2-inch) cubes. Return the meat to the sauce in the pot. Mix in the black beans. Season the chili with about 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. If desired, add the adobo sauce by teaspoonfuls to increase the spiciness. Transfer the chili to a large bowl. Sprinkle with the green onions. Ladle chili over polenta. Sprinkle generously with chocolate. Serve with the garnishes and warm corn tortillas. * * * * * Preparing the polenta: Bring the broth, 2 1/2 cups water, butter and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil in a heavy, large saucepan over high heat. Gradually whisk in the polenta. Continue to whisk until the polenta begins to thicken, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook until the polenta is very thick and tender, stirring often with a flat-bottom spoon or heatproof rubber spatula to prevent sticking or burning, about 20 minutes. Blend the corn in a mini processor until a coarse puree forms. Stir the corn puree into the polenta. Season with more salt if desired. Serves 4 to 6


Grilled Eggplant with Balsamic Vinegar Dressing

Ingredients: 1 cup sherry wine vinegar 1/3 cup sugar extra virgin olive oil 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped 2 medium eggplants Preparing the eggplant: Prepare a charcoal grill with hot coals or heat a gas grill. In a non-corrosive saucepan, reduce the sherry wine vinegar and sugar by boiling rapidly until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes. It should be thick and syrupy. Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a small saute pan, add the garlic and cook for 1 minute until browned. Slice the eggplants vertically in 12 very thin slices with the skin on. Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and grill them until they are just about to burn, the duration will depend on how hot the grill is. You want some char here, nearly black is good. This can also be done in a skillet. Drizzle the vinegar syrup over the eggplant slices and garnish with the garlic. Serves 4 to 6


Wheat Berry Salad wth Bacon and Mushrooms

Ingredients: 2 cups wheat berries 3 bay leaves 1 bundle fresh thyme kosher salt 4 ounces slab bacon, cut into lardons extra virgin olive oil 1 red onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice a pinch crushed red pepper 1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped 2 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped 1 1/2 pounds assorted mushrooms, sliced (shiitake, cremini or oyster work well) 1/2 cup dry white wine 1/2 cup chicken stock 1 bunch fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped Preparing the wheat berry salad: Put the wheat berries in a medium saucepan and toss in the bay leaf and thyme bundle. Fill the pan with water and season abundantly with salt. Bring the water to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer the wheat berries until they are soft, 1 hour. Drain the wheat berries and reserve. In a large straight-sided saute pan, render the bacon until almost crispy. Add a few drops of olive oil and add the onions. Season the onions with salt, a pinch of crushed red pepper and the rosemary. Bring the pan to a medium heat and cook the onions for 6 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 2 to 3 minutes longer. Add the mushrooms and stir to coat with the oil. Season the mushrooms with salt and cook them for 5 to 6 minutes. Add the wine and cook until the wine has reduced by half. Toss in the wheat berries and the chicken stock. Cook until the stock has reduced almost all the way but the salad is not dry. Stir in the parsley and serve warm or at room temperature.


Abby's Braised Spiced Pork Shoulder with Fennel and Onions

Ingredients: 2 T coriander seeds, toasted 2 T cumin seeds, toasted One 4-pound boneless pork picnic shoulder, sliced in half along the grain kosher salt extra virgin olive oil 1 fennel bulb, sliced 1 large onion, sliced a pinch crushed red pepper 4 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated 2 cups dry white wine 1/4 cup Dijon mustard 3 bay leaves 1 bundle fresh thyme 3 to 4 cups chicken stock Preparing the pork shoulder: Using a spice grinder, grind the coriander and cumin seeds until they are a fine powder. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Sprinkle the pork shoulder with the ground spices and salt, then tie each piece so they cook evenly. Coat a Dutch oven with olive oil and bring to a high heat. Brown the first pork on all sides. Remove the pork from the pan and reserve. Discard the fat in the pan and give a few drops of new oil. Repeat with the second pork and remove. Lower the heat to medium and toss in the fennel and onions and season them with salt and a sprinkle of crushed red pepper. Cook the onions and fennel until they are soft and very aromatic, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook 2 to 3 minutes longer. Add the wine and reduce by half. Stir in the mustard and add the bay leaves and thyme. Return the pork to the Dutch oven and add stock to the pan until it comes halfway up the side of the pork. Add salt if needed. Bring the liquid to a boil, cover and put the Dutch oven in the preheated oven. After 1 hour, turn the pork over and add more liquid to the pan if the liquid level has gone down. Cover and return to the oven for 1 hour. Turn the pork back over and return to the oven without the lid and cook for 45 more minutes. The liquid should concentrate. Remove the pan from the oven, remove the pork and reserve for 15 minutes, tented with aluminum foil. Skim any excess fat from the pan and reduce the pan juices, if needed. Slice the pork and serve with onions, fennel and juices.


Fried Artichokes with Yogurt-Mayonnaise Dip

Ingredients for the artichokes: 10 baby artichokes extra virgin olive oil 6 cloves fresh garlic, peeled 1 bunch fresh thyme 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon pepper * * * * * Ingredients for the dip: 32 to 35 ounces Greek yogurt 4 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme 4 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage 4 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary 4 teaspoons garlic powder 6 T mayonnaise 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper Preparing the dip: Drain the yogurt in cheesecloth or paper towel for a short while so it thickens even more. Place the yogurt in a bowl, add the remaining ingredients and mix together. * * * * * Preparing the artichokes: Remove and discard the artichoke stems. Peel off lower leaves (approximately 18.) Slice off the top half so that only the light green remains (artichokes should be approximately 1 1/4 inches), then cut the artichoke in half lengthwise. Place the artichokes in a medium pot, flat side down, and add olive oil to just cover. Add the garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring the olive oil to a boil, cover the pot and reduce the heat to a low flame and simmer for 15 minutes. Insert a knife into the lower half and if easily penetrated, it's done. Remove the thyme and garlic from the pot, raise the heat and fry uncovered for approximately 2 minutes, turning over the artichokes midway. They are done when brown and crispy. Remove the artichokes from the pot and place them on paper towels flat side down. Sprinkle with salt and serve with a mayonnaise-yogurt dip.


Fig, Prosciutto and Arugula Pizza

Ingredients: 2 T extra virgin olive oil kosher salt 6 to 8 T fig spread or jam 12 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced thin freshly ground black pepper 6 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto 1 bunch arugula 1 cup shaved parmesan dough for one 17-inch by 10-inch pizza Preparing the topping: Roll out the pizza dough on a lightly floured surface as thinly as possible. Dough should be roughly 17 by 10 inches. Place on a large baking sheet. Drizzle lightly with the olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Spread the fig spread all over the surface of the dough. Lay the slices of mozzarella all over the surface of the pizza crust. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Bake the pizza until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbly, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately drape the prosciutto slices over the hot pizza. Sprinkle generously with the arugula and parmesan shavings.


Berger Cookies

Ingredients for the cookies: 1 cup (2 sticks, 8 ounces) unsalted butter 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1 T baking powder 1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) white granulated sugar 3 large eggs 4 1/2 cups (19 ounces) all purpose flour 1 cup (8 ounces) milk * * * * * Ingredients for the chocolate icing: 3 1/2 cups (21 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips 4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate 2 T light corn syrup 4 T unsalted butter 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) heavy cream Preparing the cookies: In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, salt, vanilla, and baking powder. Beat in the sugar, then the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour to the wet ingredients alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour. Do this gently; there’s no need to beat the batter. Using a muffin scoop, or a 1/4-cup measure, drop the dough onto the prepared cookie sheets. Flatten each mound of dough to a circle about 3-inches across with wet fingers. Leave 2- to 2 1/2-inches between each cookie, for expansion. Bake the cookies for about 11 minutes, or until they’re a mottled brown on the bottom (carefully tilt one up to look), but not colored on top. You may see the barest hint of browning around the edges, but these cookies are supposed to be soft and cakelike, so don’t overbake them. Cool the cookies on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely. * * * * * Preparing the icing: Place the chocolate chips, baking chocolate, corn syrup, butter, and cream into a large microwave-safe bowl, or into a large saucepan. Heat the mixture till it’s very hot; the cream will start to form bubbles. Remove from the heat, and stir until smooth. Let cool to room temperature; this will take at least a couple of hours, so plan accordingly. When completely cool, beat with an electric mixer for 6 to 7 minutes, until the icing lightens in color just a bit, and thickens just slightly. Allow to set, then store airtight in a single layer. Makes 24 cookies


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

French Casserole Potatoes

3 T unsalted butter
1 T olive oil
4 onions, sliced
2 pounds potatoes, thinly sliced
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh thyme sprigs, leaves picked
2 cups beef stock

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

Melt half the butter with the olive oil in a saute pan, and gently fry the onions until soft and lightly golden, about 15 minutes. Spread half the onions in the bottom of a casserole. Lay a layer of sliced potatoes on top, season with salt and pepper, and scatter with thyme leaves. Build another layer of onions, then a final one of potatoes, and finally pour over the stock. Cover the pan with foil, and bake until all the liquid has been absorbed, 2 to 3 hours, removing the foil for the last hour for a crisp top.

Serves 6


Swiss Chard and Gruyere Quiche

1 T oil
2 shallots, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
4 ounces bacon, cut into lardons
1 1/2 pounds Swiss chard, ribs removed
3 eggs
1 cup creme fraiche or heavy cream and sour cream combined
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
handful raisins
handful toasted pine nuts
1 deep tart shell, pre-baked in a 9-inch springform pan or a frozen deep dish pie dough, thawed

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

Heat the oil in a saute pan and fry the shallots until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Remove to a plate. In the same pan, fry the bacon until the fat has rendered and the lardons are crispy. Remove to the plate with the shallots. Divide the chard leaves from the ribs: chop the ribs quite small and shred the leaves. First, fry the ribs in the bacon fat until tender. Add the chard leaves to the pan, cover, and wilt, about 3 minutes.

Beat the eggs together with the creme fraiche, and season with salt, and pepper.

In a large bowl, toss the shallots, bacon, chard stems and leaves, cheese, raisins, and pine nuts, to combine evenly. Taste, and season. Fill the tart shell with the vegetable mixture, and pour over the cream mixture. Bake until the tart has set, about 30 minutes. Remove the tart from the oven, and cool. Serve at room temperature.

Serves 6 to 8


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

Optional: A pinch of sugar to feed the yeast

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. Add sugar, if using. 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.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

Ingredients for the topping:
1 cup sugar, divided in half
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup oats or quinoa flakes
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
zest of one lemon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
pinch of salt
6 T cold unsalted butter

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the filling:
juice of one lemon
3 cups chopped rhubarb
2 cups chopped strawberries
3 T cornstarch
2 teaspoons kirsch or brandy

Crème fraîche, whipped cream or ice cream

Preparing the crisp:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position a rack in the middle. Lightly butter the inside of ramekins and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, stir together 1/2 cup of the sugar, flour, oats, brown sugar, lemon zest, salt and the cardamom. Add the butter and work it into the flour mixture with your fingertips until crumbly. Cover the cover and refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

In a large bowl, stir together the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and lemon juice with the chopped rhubarb and strawberries. Add the cornstarch and liqueur and fold well with a wooden spatula.

Divide the fruit mixture in between the prepared ramekins. Divide the crisp topping equally over each portion. Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes, until the filling is bubbly and the topping is browned. Top each crisp with a dollop of crème fraîche, thick cream of ice cream.

Serves 6 to 8


Friday, April 13, 2012

Potato Chips with Brie Cream and Vanilla Olive Oil

300 grams ripe, creamy Brie
100 grams milk
3 grams agar
2 cups olive or grapeseed oil
1 vanilla bean
potato Chips (Pringels brand, preferred)
ground coffee

Preparing the cream of brie:
Remove the rind from the Brie and cut into small cubes. Place the Brie cubes in a cup. Mix the milk with the agar and bring to a boil. Pour over the Brie and mix until smooth. Pour this mixture onto a plate and let gel. Cut into pieces and blend again until a fine cream is obtained. Put the cream in a piping bag

* * * * *

Preparing the vanilla oil:
Cut the vanilla bean in half. Scrape the seeds out and put it together with the bean in the oil. Let the vanilla oil marinate for 1 day.

* * * * *

Pipe some cream of Brie in the middle of a potato chip. Shake the vanilla oil before use. Place 3 drops of vanilla oil on top of the cream and sprinkle with a pinch of ground coffee.

Serve with a dry, fruity, lightly spiced beer, full and creamy beer, like Leffe Blonde (delicate and light, malty aroma and a subtle, sweet finish)


Chocolate Panini

1/4 cup fat-free evaporated milk
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 T whipped sweet butter, softened
8 slices of Brother Juniper's Struan bread
3 T bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips

Optional: 2 T chopped toasted hazelnuts

Preparing the panini:
Heat evaporated milk just until boiling. Add chocolate, let stand for 1 minute, then whisk until smooth. Let cool slightly.

Spread butter on one side of each slice of bread. Divide the chocolate mixture on the unbuttered side of 4 slices, leaving a little border. Press chocolate chips and nuts, if using, into the chocolate. Cover with the remaining slices of bread, buttered-side up, and press lightly.

Place the sandwiches in a panini press and grill at medium-high for 1 to 2 minutes or until nicely browned and the chocolate is barely melted.


Fig and Goat Cheese Panini

2 slices walnut or multigrain bread
3 ounces soft mild goat cheese, like Laura Chenel
3 T fig preserves
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons aged balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil

Preparing the panini:
Spread cheese on both slices of bread. Top one slice with preserves, pepper, and balsamic. Lightly oil outside of bread.

Place in panini press and close. Cook over medium-low heat for 4 minutes. Flip press over and cook 3 to 4 minutes longer or until bread is crisp and cheese has melted.


Grilled Cheese, Ham and Jam Panini

brioche bread slices
ham, thinly sliced
gruyere, thinly sliced
1/2 cup strawberry jam, with 2 T red wine mixed in
whipped sweet butter, softened to room temperature

Preparing the panini:
Lightly spread one side of brioche slices with the softened butter. Spread the red-wine strawberry jam on the other side of brioche slices. Layer ham and cheese on one slice of the brioche (jam side) and place the other slice of brioche on top, buttered side up. Grill until gruyere melts, about 2 minutes each side.


Chocolate Parmesan Panini

2 slices country bread or artisanal bread, like ciabatta
2 ounces dark chocolate (64%), coarsely chopped
6 thinly shaved slices parmesan cheese
cooking oil spray

Preparing the panini:
Layer one slice of bread with the chocolate and then with parmesan cheese and top with second slice of bread. Microwave for 30 seconds.

Heat a panini press, grill pan or skillet. Spray the surface and the outside of the bread with cooking oil spray. Grill until bread is golden brown and chocolate and cheese are oozing.


Whiskied Chocolate Chip Cookies

4 cups all purpose flour
2 sticks butter
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 T vanilla extract
1 T whiskey
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 eggs
1 12-ounce package mini semsisweet chocolate chips

Preparing the cookies:
Cream the butter with the brown white sugars. Add salt, vanilla, whiskey, baking powder and blend thoroughly. Add eggs and blend thoroughly. Add chocolate chips. Blend than add flour.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 18 minutes.


Sweet and Salty Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

14 T unsalted butter, sliced
1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 T vanilla
1 T sea salt [fleur de sel, Hawaiian sea salt, or other coarse salt]
1 egg
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips [Ghiradelli bittersweet, 60%, preferred]

Preparing the cookies:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Stir together sugars, eggs, vanilla and salt. Brown the butter. Put 10 tablespoons of sliced butter into a hot skillet. As the butter starts to melt, it will foam up. Watch closely as the foaming starts to subside. You are looking for a caramel color and a nutty aroma. If the butter starts to burn, toss it out and start over. Add the browned butter into a bowl with the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and stir. Add the brown butter to the ingredients in Step 1 and whisk for 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk in flour and baking soda. Fold in the chocolate chips. Using a 2-tablespoon scoop, place on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and move cookies to a cooling rack.


3-Star Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 T vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups flour, unsifted
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups semisweet or other dark chocolate bars, chopped into chunks

Optional: 4 cups of coarsely chopped walnuts

Preparing the cookies:
Beat sugar, butter and vanilla in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs until well blended. Add flour, salt and baking powder. Beat just until mixed. Stir in chocolate chunks and walnuts, if using. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 24 hours. This enhances the flavor significantly. [The dough can also be freezed for up to a couple of weeks, either in a large ball or after scooping out the individual cookies.]

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Drop cookie dough by 1/3 to 1/2 cup balls onto parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving plenty of space in between. For larger, flatter cookies, use the bottom of a glass) to flatten each cookie slightly. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. [The cookies continue to cook a bit after you take them out of the oven.]

Cool on the baking sheet 2 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack. Cool completely.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Chocolate Covered Macaroons

2/3 cup plus 2 T all purpose flour
1 14-ounce bag sweetened shredded coconut
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate, melted

Preparing the macaroons:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Place flour, coconut and salt in a mixing bowl and gently toss together. Stir sweetened condensed milk and almond extract together and fold into the coconut mixture until fully incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.

Using a small (about 1 1/2 tablespoon) cookie scooper scoop spoonsful of the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake macaroons for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the outside shell begins to brown.

Allow to cool completely, about 30 minutes before dipping the bottoms in the melted chocolate. Drizzle the tops with chocolate, and place on wax paper until the chocolate sets.

Makes 20 macaroons


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Chocolate Cream Finger Pies

2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups whole milk
8 ounces chopped dark chocolate
1 T unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the topping:
stabilized whipped cream or 1 cup heavy cream whipped and sweetened slightly
grated chocolate or chocolate sprinkles or toasted coconut or other decorative topping

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the pie crust:
1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 T butter
3 T vegetable shortening
3 T ice cold water
flour for dusting

Preparing the pie crust:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, mix flour and salt. Cut 4 tablespoons of butter into flour until it looks like coarse meal, and then cut in shortening until well blended. Add ice water and stir with fork. Then use your hands to gently work the dough into a ball.

Flour a rectangular sheet of wax paper, place dough ball in the middle, flour the ball, and cover with another rectangular sheet of wax paper. Roll dough out to a thickness of about 1/8-inch. With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut dough roughly into 1.5-inch by 1.5-inch squares or other shapes

Place dough pieces on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Prick each piece a few times with a fork. Bake at 400 degrees F for 11 to 13 minutes, or until browned on the edges. Remove from oven. Cool completely.

* * * * * *

Preparing the chocolate cream:
In a heavy medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt.

In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, whisk milk and egg yolks until combined. Pour milk mixture into pan while whisking. Whisk until smooth.

Place pan on burner set to medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, making sure to scrape bottom and edges of the pan, until mixture starts to thicken, about 7 to 9 minutes.

Remove from heat and immediately whisk in chocolate, butter, and vanilla. Transfer hot filling to a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap so that the wrap rests in contact with the filling so a skin does not form. Refrigerate filling until cool, 1 to 2 hours.

Once filling and crusts are cool, spoon filling into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip or a quart or gallon size zip top bag. Also place whipped cream into pastry bag fitted with a star tip.

Squeeze about 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of filling onto each little crust. Then top with about a teaspoon of whipped cream. Top it all off with sprinkles, grated chocolate, or toasted coconut. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Makes 60 to 70 bite-sized pies


Stabilized Whipped Cream

1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin powder
2 T cold water
1 cup whipping cream
pinch of salt
2 T confectioners' sugar

Preparing the whipped cream:
Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in small bowl to soften.

Scald 2 tablespoons of the cream; pour over gelatin, stirring till dissolved.

Refrigerate until consistency of unbeaten egg white. (This takes about 10-15 minutes.) Then, with a whisk, beat until smooth.

In a stand mixer with a whip attachment, or with a hand beater, whip remaining cream, salt and sugar; whip in the smoothed gelatin mixture, stopping to scrape the bowl twice.


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