Friday, October 23, 2009

Grilled Cheese with Shallots

Serve with an arugula salad dressed with lemon juice and best-quality olive oil.

2 large shallots
3 T unsalted butter, divided
1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

2 slices country white bread, sliced 1/2-inch thick

5 ounces Cantal cheese, sliced 1/8-inch thick

Preparing the shallots:
Cut the shallots in half lengthwise and peel them. Place the shallots cutside down. Slice lengthwise into about one-eighth-inch wedges. In a small sauté pan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and thyme and season lightly with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook gently, stirring often until the shallots are caramelized, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Preparing the sandwich:
Heat a cast iron or heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium heat. Add the remaining butter and swirl in the pan until it is melted. Place the two slices of bread in the pan and toast for a minute or two until just beginning to color. Divide the cheese evenly between the two pieces and top with the shallots.

Place the pan in the oven and cook 5 to 6 minutes until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden and crispy. Remove to a cutting board and carefully assemble the sandwich, placing together the two slices of bread. Cut in half on the diagonal and serve immediately.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bacon Potato Salad

1 pound Yukon gold potatoes
3 strips bacon, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons mayonnaise, or more to taste
1 heaping T Dijon mustard, or more to taste
1 heaping T cider vinegar, or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon smoked salt
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 green onions, chopped
1 heaping T chopped fresh thyme
1 heaping T chopped fresh parsley

Preparing the potato salad:
In a medium saucepan, add the potatoes and enough water to cover the potatoes by 1 inch. Bring the pan to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender (a paring knife should easily pierce the potato), about 25 minutes. Remove from the heat, drain the potatoes and set aside until cool enough to handle.

While the potatoes are cooking, fry the bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and drain the bacon onto a paper towel-lined plate. Save 1 tablespoon bacon grease and set aside in a warm place (discard the rest, or save for another use).

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, cider vinegar, smoked salt, kosher salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the dressing as desired. Set aside.

Dice the potatoes into half-inch cubes and place in a large bowl. Stir in the warm bacon fat until combined. Fold in the dressing, bacon, green onions, thyme and parsley. Taste the salad and adjust the seasoning if desired. Cover and chill the potato salad before serving.

Serves 4 to 6


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Potato Salad With Parsley

This potato salad holds its own with the smoke and spice of pit-cooked meat.

12 red-skinned potatoes
1/4 cup rice vinegar (unseasoned)
2 T fragrant olive oil
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon minced Italian parsley
1/4 cup minced shallots
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 cup pitted black olives

Preparing the salad:
Boil the potatoes in their skins until tender, about 30 minutes depending upon their size. Test with the tip of a small, sharp knife. Peel the hot potatoes quickly (wear rubber gloves or hold in a paper towel),and cut into chunks. Put in a bowl and sprinkle with the vinegar. Let marinate for at least 1 hour. Do not refrigerate.

After an hour of marinating, taste. If the potatoes seem bland, sprinkle with another tablespoon of vinegar.

Blend the olive oil into the mayonnaise and then fold into the potatoes. Stir in 1/2 cup parsley, the shallots, salt and olives. Garnish with the remaining parsley just before serving.

Serves 6


Baby Back Ribs in a Smoker or in the Oven

2 racks baby back ribs, approximately 1 1/2 pounds each
1/2 cup 'The Rub'

The night before cooking, remove the fell from the bone-side of the ribs. Rinse ribs under cold water. Pat dry. Rub each rack with about 1/4 cup of the rub. Transfer to heavy-duty self-sealing plastic bags and refrigerate.

The day of cooking:
Prepare a smoker for barbecuing. If you don't have a brick-lined hole in the ground, you can use a cast-iron smoker or water smoker (sold at home and garden stores such as Costco). Heat to 200 degrees-212 degrees F.

Remove the ribs from the refrigerator 30 minutes before barbecue time. Sprinkle with more rub if they look like they have absorbed a lot of the spices. Place the ribs on the grill and smoke for approximately 4 hours. Try to maintain the 200-212 degrees F temperature. When the ribs are done, the meat will bend easily between the ribs. The best test is to pull out a rack and place on a cutting board. Slice off a rib and do a taste-test.

Serves 6

Alternative Roast Method:
Rub the spices on the meat. Place on a large sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Turn up the edges of the foil to create a rim. Pour 1/2 cup beer into each foil packet and seal tightly. The beer doesn't take the place of the smoke but it adds some flavor and great steam. Roast in a preheated 250 degrees oven for 1 1/2 hours. Unwrap and finish by grilling over white ash-covered coals for 30 minutes, turning a couple of times.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Brioche Tarte-Au-Sucre

1/2 Brioche dough
1/4 cup sugar, divided
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 large egg
1 large egg beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon water (for glaze)

Preparing the brioche:
Butter 9-inch-diameter springform pan. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 11-inch round. Line prepared pan with dough, covering bottom and folding dough sides over to form 3/4- to 1-inch-high standing edge all around. Cover pan with plastic wrap; let dough rise in warm draft-free area until light and puffy, 30 to 45 minutes.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Using floured fingertips, press bottom of dough to flatten. Sprinkle 1 generous teaspoon sugar evenly over. Whisk cream and 1 egg in small bowl to blend. Pour custard into crust. Sprinkle remaining sugar, 1 teaspoon at a time, over custard. Brush edges of crust with glaze.

Bake tart until crust is puffed and golden brown and custard is set in center, about 30 minutes. If crust is brown but custard is not yet set, drape foil loosely over pan and bake until custard sets, about 5 minutes longer.

Cool tart in pan on rack 5 minutes. Cut around pan sides; remove pan sides. Serve tart warm or at room temperature.



1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F to 115 degrees F)
1/4 cup warm whole milk (110 degrees F to 115 degrees F)
3 teaspoons active dry yeast (measured from two 1/4-ounce envelopes)
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs, room temperature
3 T sugar
12 T (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon water (for glaze)

Preparing the brioche:
Combine 1/4 cup warm water and warm milk in bowl of heavy-duty mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Sprinkle yeast over and stir to moisten evenly. Let stand until yeast dissolves, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.

Add flour and salt to yeast mixture. Blend at medium-low speed until shaggy lumps form, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Beat in sugar. Increase mixer speed to medium; beat until dough is smooth, about 3 minutes.

Reduce speed to low. Add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until blended after each addition, about 4 minutes (dough will be soft and silky). Increase speed to medium-high and beat until dough pulls away from sides of bowl and climbs paddle, 8 to 9 minutes.

Lightly butter large bowl. Scrape dough into bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, about 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes.

Gently deflate dough by lifting around edges, then letting dough fall back into bowl, turning bowl and repeating as needed. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and chill, deflating dough in same way every 30 minutes until dough stops rising, about 2 hours. Chill overnight. (At this point, use the dough to make 12 brioches, or 6 brioches and 1 tart, or 2 tarts.)

Butter 12 standard (1/3-cup) muffin cups. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces; cut each piece into thirds. Roll each small piece between palms into ball. Place 3 balls in each prepared cup (dough will fill cup).

Place muffin pan in warm draft-free area; lay sheet of waxed paper over. Let dough rise until light and almost doubled (dough will rise 1/2 inch to 1 inch above top rim of muffin cups), 50 to 60 minutes.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Place muffin pan on rimmed baking sheet. Gently brush egg glaze over risen dough, being careful that glaze does not drip between dough and pan (which can prevent full expansion in oven).

Bake brioches until golden brown, covering with foil if browning too quickly, about 20 minutes. Transfer pan to rack. Cool 10 minutes. Remove brioches from pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Nutritional Information:
One serving contains the following:
Calories (kcal) 235.7
%Calories from Fat 49.6
Fat (g) 13.0
Saturated Fat (g) 7.6
Cholesterol (mg) 101.2
Carbohydrates (g) 24.1
Dietary Fiber (g) 0.7
Total Sugars (g) 4.5
Net Carbs (g) 23.4
Protein (g) 5.4


Vietnamese Banh Mi-Style Chicken Sandwiches

Four 8-inch soft baguettes, split
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
2 T sriracha (Thai hot sauce)
2 cooked chicken breasts, sliced
1/4 cup sweet red chili sauce
1 to 2 jalapeños, thinly sliced
2/3 English cucumber, peeled and thickly sliced
Mint and cilantro leaves
2 cups shredded lettuce
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1 T seasoned rice vinegar

To make the sandwich, spread both sides of the baguettes with mayonnaise and sriracha. Arrange chicken over the bottom halves and moisten with chili sauce. Add jalapeños, cucumber, and herbs, then drizzle with more sauce. Toss the lettuce and carrots with the vinegar, add to the sandwiches, then finish with more chili sauce, if you’d like. Add top halves.

Serve with lots of napkins.

Serves 4. Per serving: 280 calories, 22g carbs, 17g protein, 40mg cholesterol, and 13g fat.


Take-Out Sesame Noodles

1/2 lb. thin spaghetti
1 T Asian sesame oil
1/2 lb. cooked and finely shredded chicken
1/4 English cucumber, peeled and cut in slivers
1/2 red pepper, diced
10 snow peas, thinly sliced across
3/4 cup bean sprouts

Ingredients for the sauce:
6 T peanut butter
5 T soy sauce
1 1/2 T sugar
1 T warm water
1 T Asian sesame oil
1 T rice vinegar
1/4 cup chopped ginger
3 cloves garlic, chopped

Note: For quick chicken, boil 6 cups salted water, 1 clove garlic, and 4 slices ginger; lower heat, add cutlets, and simmer until opaque.

Put all the ingredients for the sauce into a blender or mini food processor and whir until smooth.
Cook the spaghetti following package directions. Drain, rinse, and toss with the sesame oil and chicken. Add the sauce and mix until evenly combined.
Top with the crunchy vegetables and serve immediately.

Serves 4. Per serving: 550 calories, 56g carbs, 34g protein, 45mg cholesterol, and 22g fat.


Shrimp & Rice Noodle Salad

Ingredients for the sauce:
1/3 cup Asian fish sauce
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/3 cup sugar
3 T water

Ingredients for the salad:
3/4 lb. Asian rice noodles, aka vermicelli, cooked and rinsed according to package directions, then cut into smaller pieces with scissors
1/3 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
4 large carrots, shredded (about 3 cups)
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 small white onions, thinly sliced
1 lb. peeled and cooked shrimp
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped basil
1/4 cup chopped mint
Chopped peanuts or cashews

Whisk the sauce ingredients together until blended.

Toss the rice noodles vermicelli, lettuce, carrots, garlic, and onions together in a large serving bowl. Put the shrimp in the center and scatter the herbs around them. Sprinkle the chopped nuts over the salad.

At the table, toss the salad and pass the sauce.

Note: Leftover sauce is good on pork, chicken, or green salad.

Serves 4. Per serving: 440 calories, 70g carbs, 28g protein, 170mg cholesterol, and 6g fat.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Mini Pecan Pumpkin Pies

Nonstick cooking spray

Ingredients for the dough:
1/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for shaping dough
6 T butter, ice cold
2 to 3 T ice cold water

Ingredients for the filling:
1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1 T sugar
1/2 cup canned pumpkin filling
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup pecans, chopped plus 24 halves for garnish

Special equipment: 2 (12-cup) mini muffin tins

Preparing the dough:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray the bottoms and sides of the mini muffin tins with cooking spray.

In a food processor, pulse pecans with the sugar, salt, and flour, until the nuts are ground and the ingredients are combined. Add in butter and pulse until dough resembles coarse meal. Slowly pour in ice water through the feed tube, pulsing, until the dough comes together. Remove from processor bowl onto clean work surface sprinkled with flour.

Form dough into a ball and divide evenly into 24 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and evenly press into each cup, until the bottom is covered. If the dough is sticky, dip your finger in flour first.

Bake 15 to 18 minutes, until the crusts are very golden. Check periodically to make sure they don't get too brown.

Preparing the filling:
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg and yolk with the corn syrup, sugar, pumpkin filling and vanilla. Stir in the chopped pecans.

Remove dough from oven and spoon 1 tablespoon of the filling into each cup. Top each with 1 pretty pecan half. Return the pans to the oven and continue baking, for 12 to 15 minutes more, until the pumpkin filling is set. Allow to cool before removing from the pans.


Double Chocolate Cookies

Type your summary here.

1/4 pound (4 ounces) unsweetened chocolate
4 T (1/2 stick) butter
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
2 T cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound bittersweet chocolate (chunks or chips)

In a bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt the unsweetened chocolate and butter. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.

In the bowl of a mixer with a paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using a fork, combine the eggs, vanilla and sugar. Mix just until incorporated and set aside.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. Set aside.

Add the melted chocolate to the egg mixture and mix just until combined. Stir in the sifted dry ingredients and mix just until combined, then stir in the bittersweet chocolate.

Cover the batter with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to chill thoroughly. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Divide the dough into 18 portions. Grease your hands (to prevent the dough from sticking) and shape the portions into balls. Place the balls on a greased, parchment-lined sheet pan, leaving 2 to 3 inches between each.

Bake until the edges of the cookies are just set and the center is still soft, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Place the cookies, still on the parchment, on a rack and cool completely before serving. They will be very soft.

Makes 18 cookies


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Chicken & Cheese Enchiladas

Ingredients for enchiladas:
1 small red onion, halved
1 1/2 pounds tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 to 2 serrano chile peppers, stemmed and seeded
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
Kosher salt
Pinch of sugar
8 corn tortillas
3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella and/or Monterey Jack cheese
1/3 cup fresh cilantro
2 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
3/4 cup crumbled queso fresco or feta cheese

Preparing the enchiladas:
Preheat the broiler. Slice half of the onion into thin rings and set aside. Place the other onion half, tomatillos and serranos on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil until the vegetables are soft and slightly brown, 7 to 10 minutes, turning as needed.

Transfer the vegetables and any liquid to a blender, add the broth and puree. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and the sugar.

Meanwhile, stack the tortillas, wrap in a damp paper towel and microwave just until warm and soft, 1 minute; keep covered. Toss the chicken with 2 cups shredded cheese in a bowl. Spoon a portion of the chicken mixture down the middle of each tortilla. Add a few cilantro leaves and roll up. Place the enchiladas side by side in a lightly oiled 9-by-13-inch baking dish and brush with the 2 tablespoons olive oil. Broil until crisp and golden, 3 minutes.

Pour the tomatillo sauce over the enchiladas and top with the remaining 1/2 cup shredded cheese. Return to the oven and broil until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Garnish with the onion rings, queso fresco and any remaining cilantro.

Per serving: Calories 626; Fat 32 g (Saturated 13 g); Cholesterol 98 mg;

Sodium 1,056 mg; Carbohydrate 46 g; Fiber 6 g; Protein 47 g


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Lobster & Corn Chowder

3 (1 1/2-pound) cooked lobsters, cracked and split
3 ears corn

Ingredients for the stock:
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1/4 cup cream sherry
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
4 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup dry white wine

Ingredients for the soup:
1 T good olive oil
1/4 pound bacon, large-diced
2 cups large-diced unpeeled Yukon gold potatoes (2 medium)
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
2 cups diced celery (3 to 4 stalks)
1 T kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
1/4 cup cream sherry

Preparing the chowder:
Remove the meat from the shells of the lobsters. Cut the meat into large cubes and place them in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Reserve the shells and all the juices that collect. Cut the corn kernels from the cobs and set aside, reserving the cobs separately.

For the stock, melt the butter in a stockpot or Dutch oven large enough to hold all the lobster shells and corncobs. Add the onion and cook over medium-low heat for 7 minutes, until translucent but not browned, stirring occasionally. Add the sherry and paprika and cook for 1 minute. Add the milk, cream, wine, lobster shells and their juices, and corn cobs and bring to a simmer. Partially cover the pot and simmer the stock over the lowest heat for 30 minutes. (I move the pot halfway off the heat.)

Meanwhile, in another stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the oil and cook the bacon for 4 to 5 minutes over medium-low heat, until browned and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve. Add the potatoes, onions, celery, corn kernels, salt, and pepper to the same pot and saute for 5 minutes. When the stock is ready, remove the largest pieces of lobster shell and the corn cobs with tongs and discard. Place a strainer over the soup pot and carefully pour the stock into the pot with the potatoes and corn. Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Add the cooked lobster, the chives and the sherry and season to taste. Heat gently and serve hot with a garnish of crisp bacon.

Serves 6


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