Sunday, February 28, 2010

Parmesan Cheese Bread

This makes the best grilled cheese and ham sandwich (accompanied by a bowl of cream of tomato soup, of course).

3 3/4 cups unbleached bread flour, plus more as needed
1 T (1 package) active dry yeast (preferably SAF or Engedura)
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/3 cups warm water
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
extra virgin olive oil for brushing

Preparing the dough:
In the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer, combine the 3 3/4 cups flour, the yeast and salt. Add the warm water and stir with a wooden spoon until just mixed together. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the cheese over the dough. Fit the mixer with the dough hook and begin mixing and kneading on very low speed. When the mixture pulls away from the sides of the bowl, increase the mixer speed to medium-low and continue to knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, 12 to 15 minutes, adding more flour if the dough is too sticky. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead by hand for 1 to 2 minutes. [If making the dough by hand, stir together the ingredients in a bowl and then knead the dough on a lightly floured board until smooth and elastic, about 15 minutes.]

Form the dough into a ball, brush it with a little olive oil and return it to the bowl. Cover with a towel and let rest in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Position a rack in the lower part of an oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Brush a 9-inch round pan with olive oil.

Place the remaining 1/4 cup cheese on a plate. Punch down the dough. Return it to the floured work surface and knead a few times. If making rolls, use your palms and roll the dough to form a log about 12 inches long. Cut the log in half crosswise, then cut each half crosswise into 6 equal pieces. Knead each dough piece a couple of times, roll it between the palms of your hands into a ball, and then roll it in the cheese to coat lightly and evenly, shaking off any excess. As each ball is coated, place it in the prepared pan, resting it against the rim and pressing down slightly to form a 2-inch disk. Arrange 9 balls around the rim and 3 balls in the center. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise again in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 30 to 40 minutes.

Sprinkle the top with the cheese remaining on the plate. Using a razor blade or sharp knife, cut a slash 1/4 inch deep in the top of each ball. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F and continue baking until brown and crusty, 20 to 30 minutes more. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the rolls rest in the pan for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove them from the pan. The rolls will come out in a single loaf.

Serve warm.

Makes 12 rolls or 2 loaves of bread.

Note: Reheat it in a 300 degrees F oven.


Brioche in a Bread Machine

2 1/2 cups plus 2 T unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
1/4 cup water, cool
4 large eggs
2 T granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter

Ingredients for eggwash glaze:
1 egg yolk
1 T water

Preparing the dough:

Place 1 1/2 cups of the flour, yeast, sugar, salt, water, and 4 eggs into the pan of bread machine or the bowl of a KitchenAid mixer.

Beat at medium speed using a dough hook (or knead in the bread machine) until smooth.

Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel, and let it sit for 45 minutes. Bubbles will develop, but will not change very much due to the thinness of the batter.

Add the remaining 1 cup of flour, and beat using the dough hook on the KitchenAid (or knead in the bread machine) for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl (or bread pan) and is shiny and elastic.

Sprinkle a work surface with the 2 tablespoons of flour. Place the 1 cup (2 sticks) of cold butter onto the flour. Pound the butter with the side of a rolling pin until it's become a rectangle about 1/4-inch thick. Fold it over several times as you pound; making it pliable without becoming too warm or soft. Add the butter (in small amounts) to the dough and beat until the butter is fully incorporated.

Cover the dough and allow it to rise for 1 hour. It will be very soft at this point, and should have risen by about one-third.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and fold it over several times. Place the dough into a greased bowl. Loosely cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and refrigerate it for a minimum of 4 hours, and up to 16 hours or overnight. The chilled dough will firm up considerably.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and form it into a round loaf. Work quickly, as the dough becomes very sticky as it warms. Place the rounded loaf into a 9-inch brioche pan* (see note below). Cover the dough with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and allow it to rise for another 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until it's doubled in size and has crowned well over the top of the pan.

Preparing the eggwash glaze and baking off the brioche:
Beat the egg yolk with the 1 tablespoon of water, and brush the complete top surface of loaf with the egg wash; do not let the egg wash drip onto the edges of the pan.

Using a very sharp knife, cut four slashes into the top of the loaf.

Bake the brioche in a preheated 375 degree F (see note below) oven until it's a medium-dark golden brown, about 30-40 minutes. Use an instant-read thermometer to check doneness of loaf. When thermometer is inserted into center of loaf, it should read 190-200 degrees F when done.

For a lighter crust, tent the loaf with aluminum foil after the first 20 minutes of baking.

Remove the brioche from the oven and cool in pan for 10 minutes. Invert brioche loaf out of pan, and cool completely on a rack.

*Note: If using a glass or dark colored pan or a non-stick pan, bake brioche at 350 degrees F instead of 375 degrees F. Using glass, dark-colored or non-stick pans will bake the bread quicker, and will cause the loaf to brown faster.

Makes 1 brioche loaf


Egg Bread in Bread Machine

Ingredients for 1 lb. loaf:
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg
1 T butter or margarine, cut up
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups bread flour
1 T granulated sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast, instant yeast or rapid-rise yeast

Ingredients for 1 1/2 lb. loaf:
2/3 cup milk
2 large eggs
2 T butter, cut up
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups bread flour
2 T granulated sugar
2 teaspoons bread machine yeast, instant yeast or rapid-rise yeast

Preparing the dough:
Add ingredients to bread machine pan in the order suggested by manufacturer.

Set machine on Basic/White Bread Cycle; Crust Color Setting: Medium/Normal.

Makes 1 loaf


Challah In A Bread Machine

This can be made completely in the bread machine or just on the dough cycle and baked off in an oven. Remove the dough once it has risen, then shape the bread, give it one more short rise and then place in a preheated oven.

To prepare completely in the bread machine (1 1/2 pound loaf of bread), set the machine to the Basic Cycle/Medium Crust.

3/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F/43 degrees C)
1 large egg
3 T butter or margarine, cut into small pieces, or 2 T vegetable oil
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 cups bread flour (unbleached all purpose flour may be substituted for the bread flour, if needed)
1 T granulated sugar
2 T honey
2 teaspoons bread machine yeast or instant yeast

cornmeal for dusting baking pan (if oven baked)

sesame or poppy seeds, for topping

Ingredients for egg wash:
2-3 large egg yolks
2 T water

Preparing the dough:
Lightly grease or line with parchment paper one or two baking sheets. Dust greased baking sheet (or parchment paper lined sheet) with cornmeal (dusting your baking sheet with cornmeal is optional but it gives the crust a nice flavor and texture).

Add warm water, egg, butter (or margarine or vegetable oil, if using), salt, flour, sugar, honey and yeast to bread machine pan in the order recommended by manufacturer. Select the Dough Cycle of your machine. Start the cycle.

When dough cycle is complete, remove dough from machine to a lightly floured work surface. Punch dough down and let rest for 5 minutes. If necessary, knead in enough flour to make dough easy to handle.

To prepare 1 loaf:
If making one 1 1/2-pound loaf, divide dough into 3 equal size pieces and roll each piece into 20-inch long rope. Place ropes on prepared baking sheet that have been dusted with cornmeal (dusting baking sheet with cornmeal is optional). Braid by bringing left rope under center rope; lay it down. Bring right rope under new center rope; lay it down. Repeat braiding to the end of loaf. Pinch ends to seal and tuck under dough.

To prepare 2 smaller loaves:
If making two smaller loaves, divide dough in half. For each loaf, divide dough into 3 equal size pieces and roll each piece into a 12-inch long rope (you will have 6 ropes if making 2 smaller loaves). Place ropes on prepared baking sheets dusted with cornmeal (dusting with cornmeal is optional). Braid by bringing left rope under center rope; lay it down. Bring right rope under new center rope; lay it down. Repeat braiding to the end of loaf. Pinch ends to seal and tuck under dough. Repeat braiding with remaining 3 ropes for second loaf.

To prepare egg wash:
Lightly beat egg yolks with water. Brush loaf (s) with half of the egg wash, saving the remaining egg wash to brush loaf (s) again before baking. Cover with plastic wrap and place a smooth cotton kitchen towel over plastic wrap and let loaf(s) rise in a warm, draft-free place until almost doubled in size, 45 to 50 minutes.

Brush loaf (s) with the remaining egg wash. If desired, sprinkle loaf(s) with sesame or poppy seeds and bake at 375 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes or until done (bread is done if it registers 190 degrees F with instant-read thermometer).

Cover bread with aluminum foil after 10 to 15 minutes of baking to prevent excess browning (for even browning when baking two loaves, switch positions of sheets halfway through baking). Remove bread from baking sheet and cool completely on wire rack.

Bread may be frozen once cooled completely (2 hours). Wrap in aluminum foil, then place bread in a ziploc bag. Label and date. Bread can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw for 1 hour at room temperature before serving.

Makes 1 (1 1/2-pound) loaf or 2 small (3/4 pound) loaves.


Pasta With Sausage, Artichokes and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

3/4 cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, sliced, 2 T of the oil reserved
1 pound Italian hot or sweet sausages, casings removed
2 (8-ounce) packages frozen artichoke hearts
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 lb. fusilli pasta
1/2 cup grated parmesan, plus additional for garnish
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
8 ounces water-packed fresh mozzarella, drained and cubed, optional
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preparing the sauce:
Heat the oil reserved from the tomatoes in a heavy large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the sausages and cook until brown, breaking up the meat into bite-size pieces with a fork, about 8 minutes. Transfer the sausage to a bowl. Add the artichokes and garlic to the same skillet, and saute over medium heat until the garlic is tender, about 2 minutes. Add the broth, wine, and sun-dried tomatoes. Boil over medium-high heat until the sauce reduces slightly, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the fusilli in boiling water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta (do not rinse). Add the pasta, sausage, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, basil, and parsley to the artichoke mixture. Toss until the sauce is almost absorbed by the pasta. Stir in the mozzarella. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Serve, passing the additional parmesan cheese alongside.

Serves 6


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Italian Sausage and Baked Penne

This freezes well; thaw in refrigerator before baking.

1 1/2 lbs Italian sausage (sweet and/or hot)
olive oil (optional)
2 onions, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large sweet red pepper, coarsely chopped
28 ounces meatless extra chunky pasta sauce
213 ml can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon fennel seed
5 cups penne pasta
1 (284 g) package fresh spinach (trimmed and coarsely chopped)
3 cups shredded provolone cheese or mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated asiago cheese or parmesan cheese

Preparing the sausage and pasta:
Cut sausage into 1/2 inch chunks. I large skillet, brown sausage over medium-high heat, in batches and adding oil if necessary. Transfer sausage to a bowl.

Pour off any fat from pan. Add onions, garlic and red pepper, cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in pasta sauce, tomato sauce, basil, oregano and fennel seeds; bring to a boil, stirring and scraping up any brown bits from bottom of pan. Return sausage and any accumulated juices to pan; cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until sausage is firm throughout.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta for 6 minutes, add spinach;cook for 1 minute. Drain well and return to pot. Add sausage mixture and provolone/mozzarella cheese; stir to combine well.

Transfer to 2 greased 8-inch square baking dishes or 1 9-inch by 13-inch casserole pan. Sprinkle with Asiago/parmesan cheese. Cover dish with greased foil, greased side down.

Bake, covered with foil, in in 375 degree F. oven for 30 minutes or for 1 hour if from the refrigerator.

Serves 8 to 10


Baked Chicken and Pastina

1 cup pastina pasta (or any small pasta)
2 T olive oil
1/2 cup cubed chicken breast (1-inch cubes)
1/2 cup diced onion (about 1/2 a small onion)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 T butter, plus more for buttering the baking dish

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

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Drain pasta into a large mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes. Add the onions and garlic, stirring to combine, and cook until the onions are soft and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Put the chicken mixture into the bowl with the cooked pasta. Add the canned tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Place the mixture in a buttered 8 by 8 by 2-inch baking dish. In a small bowl mix together the bread crumbs and the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta mixture. Dot the top with small bits of butter. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.


Chicken Piccata with Pasta and Mushrooms

6 ounces whole wheat angel hair pasta
1/3 cup all purpose flour, divided
2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 chicken cutlets (3/4 to 1 pound total), trimmed
3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 10-ounce package mushrooms, sliced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine
2 T lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 T capers, rinsed
2 teaspoons butter

Preparing the pasta:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until just tender, 4 to 6 minutes or according to package directions. Drain and rinse.

* * * * * * * * * *

Preparing the chicken:
Whisk 5 teaspoons flour and broth in a small bowl until smooth. Place the remaining flour in a shallow dish. Season chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper and dredge both sides in the flour. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned and no longer pink in the middle, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate; keep warm.

Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until they release their juices and begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add garlic and wine to the pan and cook until reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the reserved broth-flour mixture, lemon juice and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes.

Stir in parsley, capers, butter and the reserved mushrooms. Measure out 1/2 cup of the mushroom sauce. Toss the pasta in the pan with the remaining sauce. Serve the pasta topped with the chicken and the reserved sauce.


Chicken Pot Pie

1 sheet frozen puff pastry
2 T butter
1 roasted chicken, shredded
1/4 cup chopped red sweet pepper
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
2 T all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon, crushed
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups peas, blanched
1 1/2 cups carrots, blanched
2 potatoes, peeled, diced, and boiled
1 egg plus 1 T milk, for egg wash

Preparing chicken pot pie:
Thaw puff pastry according to package directions.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet melt butter over medium-high heat. Add chicken, sweet pepper, and shallots and cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in flour, salt, tarragon, and black pepper. Add milk and cream all at once. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Stir in wine, peas, carrots and potatoes; heat thoroughly. Transfer the hot chicken mixture to a 1 1/2-quart casserole. Place pastry over the hot chicken mixture in casserole dish. Brush puff pastry with egg wash then cut slits in the pastry to allow steam to escape. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 45 minutes.


The Lee Brothers Country Captain

1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup dried currants or raisins
1 T curry powder
1 T garam masala
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1/4 pound slab bacon or fatty country ham, chopped
12 chicken thighs, skin on, trimmed of excess skin and fat
1 large flavorful dried chile, such as guajillo or pasilla, split, seeds removed
2 1/3 cups peeled and sliced carrots (1/4-inch thick rounds), about 1 1/4 pound bunch weighed with tops
2 cups diced yellow bell peppers, about 2 peppers
2 cups diced yellow onions, about 2 medium onions
3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, with juice
2 T grated fresh ginger
4 cups cooked white rice
2/3 cup slivered toasted almonds, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

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

Pour the broth into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Put the currants in a small bowl and pour enough broth over them to cover. Set aside. In another small bowl, combine the curry powder, garam masala, salt, and black pepper and reserve.

Scatter the bacon in a 4 to 6 quart enameled cast-iron pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Stir the pieces around occasionally until the bacon is firm and just golden brown, about 5 minutes. With the slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a small bowl and reserve.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the pot, reserving the excess fat in a small bowl. Brown the chicken thighs in batches over medium-high heat, taking care not to crowd them in the pot, until they are golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. Add the reserved bacon fat, 1 teaspoon at a time, if the pot becomes too dry. Remove the chicken and reserve in a medium bowl.

Add 2 teaspoons reserved bacon fat to the pot (if there is none left, use 2 teaspoons canola or vegetable oil). Add the chile and toast the chile in the fat, about 30 seconds per side, until very fragrant.

Add the carrots, bell peppers, onions, and garlic and cook until slightly softened, about 6 minutes. Add the tomatoes, spice mixture, ginger, and the currants and their broth. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the tomatoes have cooked down to a puree and the sauce has thickened around the vegetables, about 8 minutes.

Nest the chicken thighs gently in the vegetable sauce so that the skin side faces up and is above the surface of the gravy. Tent the pot loosely with foil and transfer to the middle rack of the oven. Bake until the country captain resembles a roiling stew around the chicken thighs, about 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the sauce has thickened further and the chicken skin is just beginning to crisp, about 15 minutes more.

Remove from the oven, skim any excess fat from the surface, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Discard the chile. With tongs, transfer 3 thighs to each of 4 wide, deep bowls filled with 1 cup hot white rice. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and the rice and garnish with the reserved bacon, almonds, and parsley.


Chicken Pot Pie with Sweet Potato Crust

Ingredients for the sweet potato crust:
1 pound all-purpose flour
1 T salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 sticks butter, cut into pieces and chilled
2 eggs
1 cup milk
2 cups sweet potato puree (sweet potatoes roasted, peeled and pureed in food processor)
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

Ingredients for chicken filling:
4 T unsalted butter
1 medium Spanish onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 T all purpose flour
4 to 5 cups whole milk, heated
3/4 pound cremini mushrooms, quartered and sauteed until golden brown
2 medium turnips, peeled, cut into medium dice, blanched and drained
2 medium carrots, peeled, cut into matchsticks (about 2-inches long by 1/4-inch thick)
12 frozen pearl onions, blanched and drained
1 cup frozen peas, blanched and drained
1 smoked chicken (about 3 pounds) meat shredded, bones discarded
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley

Preparing the sweet potato crust:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl combine flour with salt, and pepper. Cut in the butter with a fork or pastry blender until the mixture looks crumbly.

In another bowl combine eggs, milk, and sweet potato puree. Add to the flour mixture and stir gently until combined. Don't overmix.

Divide dough into quarters. On a lightly floured surface roll each piece into a circle about 1/8-inch thick. Cut the circles to fit the size of the serving bowls. Brush with egg wash and bake on a parchment lined baking sheet until lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Preparing the chicken filling:
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the onions and cook until soft. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the flour and cook until deep golden brown. Slowly whisk in the hot milk and cook until thickened. Reduce the heat and cook for 5 minutes, whisking occasionally. If the mixture is too thick, thin with a little extra milk.

Add the mushrooms, turnips, carrots, onions, peas and chicken to the sauce and gently fold to combine and heat through. Season the sauce with salt and pepper and stir in the parsley.

Spoon the hot filling into bowls and top with a circle of the baked sweet potato dough.


Country Captain

Ingredients for curry mix:
3 T ancho chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground fennel
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground chili de arbol
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 T garam masala

* * * * * * * * * * *

Ingredients for coconut rice with green onions:
1 T unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely diced Spanish onion
2 cups long-grain rice
1 (13-14 ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 green onions, thinly sliced

Preparing the chicken:
2 teaspoons canola oil
6 slices bacon, diced
2 T unsalted butter
1 T canola oil
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
1 medium Spanish onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 large bell pepper, halved, seeded and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 serrano chile, finely diced
2 heaping teaspoons Mesa curry mix, recipe above
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups homemade chicken stock
1 (28-ounce) can plum tomatoes, drained well and coarsely chopped
scant 1/4 cup currants or raisins
1 1/2 T chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
slivered almonds, lightly toasted and chopped

coconut rice with green onions

Preparing the curry mix:
Combine all the spices in a small bowl.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Preparing the coconut rice with green onions:
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains in the butter. Add the coconut milk, water, salt and pepper and bring to a boil, stir once, cover the pot, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until tender, about 16 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let the rice sit, covered for 5 minutes. Remove the lid, fluff with a fork and fold in the green onion. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Preparing the chicken:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Heat the oil in a large, high sided saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until golden brown and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels. Add the butter and 1 tablespoon of canola to the rendered bacon fat in the pan and heat until it begins to shimmer.

Put the flour in a shallow bowl and season liberally with salt and pepper. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper, dredge in the flour and tap off any excess. Sear the chicken on both sides until golden brown. Remove to plate.

Add the onion and bell pepper to the pan, season with salt and pepper and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and the serrano and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the curry powder and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and cook until reduced by 3/4. Add the chicken stock, bring to a simmer and reduce slightly. Stir in the tomatoes, currants or raisins, thyme, 2 teaspoons of honey and season with a little salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Nestle the chicken thighs into the pan, cover with a tight fitting lid and bake in the oven for 35 minutes. Remove the lid after 35 minutes and continue to bake an additional 15 minutes.

Remove the chicken to a platter and tent slightly to keep warm. Put the pan and sauce back on the burner over high heat and bring to a boil. Let the sauce reduce slightly, then season with salt, pepper, and honey, to taste. Stir in the parsley. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and top with the bacon, almonds and more parsley.

Serve with Coconut Rice with Green Onions.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries

6 T heavy cream
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
7 ounces semisweet chocolate, such as Callebaut, chopped
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules
3 T Grand Marnier
2 T light corn syrup

long-stemmed strawberries

Preparing the chocolate sauce:
In a heat-proof bowl set over (but not touching) simmering water, heat the cream and orange zest. Add the chocolate, coffee, orange liqueur, and corn syrup and stir constantly until the chocolate is just melted and smooth. Keep the chocolate warm in a fondue pot or in a glass bowl set over the simmering water. Serve the warm chocolate with a large plate of long stemmed strawberries for dipping.


Chocolate Cherry Beignets with Vanilla-Stewed Cherries


1 vanilla bean
4 cups cherries, pitted and halved
1/2 cup red wine
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
2 eggs
1 ounce vegetable oil
1/4 cup whole milk
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
2 ounces dried cherries

6 cups vegetable oil, for frying

Ingredients for cocoa-sugar dusting:
1 T cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar

Preparing the cocoa-sugar mixture:
In a small bowl combine cocoa powder and sugar.

Preparing the vanilla-stewed cherries:
Split vanilla bean in half and with the back of a paring knife scrape the inside of its seeds. In a medium saucepan, add cherries, red wine, 1/2 cup sugar and vanilla bean and its seeds. Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, remove vanilla bean. Keep stewed cherries warm.

Preparing the beignets:
Heat oil in a large pot to 360 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt, set aside.

In another medium bowl whisk eggs with oil, remaining 1/4 cup sugar and milk.

Add flour mixture to egg mixture, stir in melted chocolate and dried cherries.

Roll 2 tablespoons of batter into balls. Fry each side for 1 minute. Transfer beignets to a rack.

To serve, place about 1/3 cup of the poached cherries with liquid in a soup bowl.
Place two or three beignets on top and garnish with cocoa-sugar dusting.

Optional: Serve with a dollop of whipped cream on top.

Serves 12


Roasted Balsamic Vinaigrette Chicken

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (4-pound) whole chicken, cut into pieces (giblets, neck and backbone reserved for another use)
1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 T chopped fresh parsley leaves

Preparing the chicken:
Whisk the vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper in small bowl to blend. Combine the vinaigrette and chicken pieces in a large resealable plastic bag; seal the bag and toss to coat. Refrigerate, turning the chicken pieces occasionally, for at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Remove chicken from the bag and arrange the chicken pieces on a large greased baking dish. Roast until the chicken is just cooked through, about 1 hour. If your chicken browns too quickly, cover it with foil for the remaining cooking time. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter. Place the baking dish on a burner over medium-low heat. Whisk the chicken broth into the pan drippings, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the baking sheet with a wooden spoon and mixing them into the broth and pan drippings. Drizzle the pan drippings over the chicken. Sprinkle the lemon zest and parsley over the chicken, and serve.


Roman-Style 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 flat-leaf 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.


TF's Shrimp Scampi Over Linguini

1 pound linguini
4 T butter
4 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 shallots, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
pinch red pepper flakes, optional
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley leaves

Preparing the linguini:
Bring a large pot of water to boil, add a couple of tablespoons of salt and the linguini. Stir to make sure the pasta separates; cover. When the water returns to a boil, cook for about 6 to 8 minutes or until the pasta is not quite done. Drain the pasta.

Preparing the shrimp scampi:
In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute the shallots, garlic, and red pepper flakes (if using) until the shallots are translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper; add them to the pan and cook until they have turned pink, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the pan; set aside and keep warm. Add wine and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons oil. When the butter has melted, return the shrimp to the pan along with the parsley and cooked pasta. Stir well and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over a bit more olive oil and serve immediately.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Microwave Version:
Melt butter, then add garlic and cook for one minute. Add red pepper flakes if desired and cook at high for 1 minute. Add shrimp, wine, lemon juice, salt, parsley and cook for 3 and 1/2 minutes. Spoon over freshly cooked pasta.


Chocolate Flan Bundt Cake

Ingredients for the cake:
10 T butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Ingredients for the flan:
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3 eggs
1 T vanilla extract

1/4 cup cajeta* or caramel sauce
1/4 cup chopped pecans

*Note: Cajeta, also known as dulce de leche, is a thick and creamy spread or paste made with caramelized sugar and milk. It is used as a dessert on its own or as a topping, and is sold in many supermarkets, Latin specialty markets or online. It can be substituted with a thick caramel sauce.

Preparing the Chocoflan:
Put an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

Coat a Bundt pan with a little butter, then coat the bottom with 1/4 cup cajeta and put it in a large roasting pan. [The roasting pan will serve as a water bath during baking.]

Preparing the cake:
Add the butter and sugar to a bowl and using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer, beat until light and fluffy, then beat in the egg. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa in a medium bowl. Beat 1/3 of the flour mixture, and 1/2 of the buttermilk into the egg mixture. Repeat, ending with the flour mixture. Blend until well incorporated.

Preparing the flan:
In a blender, combine the evaporated milk, condensed milk, cream cheese, eggs and vanilla. Blend on high for 30 seconds.

Scoop the cake batter into the prepared Bundt pan and spreading evenly. Slowly pour the flan mixture over the cake batter. Cover with foil and add about 1-inch of hot water to the roasting pan. [The batters may appear to mix when you pour them into the pan, but they completely separate while baking, with the flan ending up on the bottom when it's inverted.]

Carefully slide the pan into the oven, and bake 1 hour, until the surface of the cake is firm to the touch, or an inserted toothpick comes out clean. When cake is done, remove from the water bath and cool completely to room temperature, about 1 hour.

Invert a large, rimmed serving platter over the Bundt pan, grasp tightly together, giggle a little and flip over. Remove the pan and scrape any remaining cajeta from the pan onto the cake, garnish with chopped pecans.

Although traditionally, this is chilled 24 hours before serving, it can be eaten warm.


Union Square Bar Nuts

2 1/4 cups (18-ounces) assorted unsalted nuts, including peeled peanuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans and whole unpeeled almonds
2 T coarsely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons Maldon or other sea salt
1 T unsalted butter, melted

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

Toss the nuts in a large bowl to combine and spread them out on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven until light golden brown, about 3 to 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the rosemary, cayenne, sugar, salt and melted butter.

Thoroughly toss the toasted nuts in the spiced butter and serve warm.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Fig Tart With Caramelized Onions, Rosemary and Stilton

2 T unsalted butter
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 large onions (1 1/2 pounds), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 sprig rosemary, more for garnish
pinch sugar
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
flour for dusting
3/4 pound prepared puff pastry
1 pint fresh figs ( 3/4 pound), stemmed and cut in half lengthwise
1 1/2 ounces Stilton cheese, crumbled (about 6 T)
2 T pine nuts
good-quality honey for drizzling, optional.

Preparing the tart:
In a large skillet over low heat, melt butter with oil. Add onions, rosemary and sugar. Cook, tossing occasionally, until onions are limp and golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, scraping any browned bits from bottom of pan.

In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and egg until smooth. Stir in the onions. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line an 11 by 17-inch baking sheet with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry to a 9 by 12-inch rectangle. Transfer to baking sheet.

Use a fork to spread onion mixture evenly over pastry (let excess egg mixture drip back into bowl), leaving a 1-inch border. Arrange figs, cut-side up, in even rows on onion mixture. Scatter cheese and pine nuts over figs. Use a pastry brush to dab edges of tart with egg mixture. Gently fold over edges of tart to form a lip and brush with more egg mixture.

Bake until pastry is puffed and golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve, sprinkled with rosemary needles and drizzled with honey, if desired, warm or at room temperature.

Serves 8


Cracked Wheat Bread

These loaves, wrapped airtight, freeze well for several weeks. The bread will keep for about five days, but refrigerate after three days.

Ingredients for the sponge:
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 cups lukewarm water
2 T mild honey
1 T blackstrap molasses
1 cup medium or coarse bulgur
1 cup all purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour

Ingredients for the bread:
1/4 cup canola oil
1 scant T salt
2 cups whole wheat flour, plus additional as necessary for kneading
1 egg, beaten with 2 T water for egg wash

Preparing the dough:
In a large bowl, combine the yeast and water, and stir until dissolved. Stir in the honey and molasses. Whisk in the bulgur, then whisk in the flours a cup at a time. Stir or whisk this mixture a hundred times for about two minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, cover the bowl tightly with plastic, and leave to rise in a warm spot for one hour until bubbly.

Add the oil to the sponge and fold in, using a large spoon or spatula. Add the salt and fold in. Fold in 1 cup of whole wheat flour. Place some of the second cup of flour on your work surface, and scrape the dough onto it. Use a paddle to help fold the dough over to knead until it has absorbed the flour on the work surface. Flour your hands and your work surface, and knead the dough for 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary, until the dough is elastic and springs back when you press it with your finger. It will be dense and slightly tacky. Shape the dough into a ball. Rinse and dry your bowl, and coat with oil. Place the dough in it, then flip it over so that it is coated with oil. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and set in a warm spot to rise for 1 hour or until doubled.

Punch down the dough again, cover the bowl and allow to rise for another hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Divide the dough in two and shape into loaves. Oil two 9 x 5-inch bread pans, and place the loaves in the pans, seam side up first, then seam side down. Cover with a damp towel, and allow to rise for 30 minutes or until the middle of the loaves rises above the edges of the pans.

Gently brush the loaves with egg wash and, using a sharp knife, cut two or three 1/2-inch deep slashes across the top of each loaf. Bake 50 to 60 minutes, brushing again halfway through with egg wash. The bread is done when it is golden brown and responds to tapping with a hollow sound. Remove from the pans, and cool on a rack.

Makes 2 loaves


Shrimp Bisque

1 pound medium or large uncooked shrimp, shelled, shells reserved
6 T unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, more to taste
2/3 cup dry white wine
2 T brandy
3 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 fennel bulb, finely chopped, fronds reserved for garnish
1/4 cup long-grain rice
2 tomato paste

pinch cayenne

freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste

Preparing the bisque:
In a large pot over high heat, cook shrimp shells in 1 tablespoon butter and 1/4 teaspoon salt, stirring frequently, until lightly browned in spots, about 3 minutes. Add wine and brandy and boil until most of the liquid is evaporated. Add 6 cups water, thyme and bay leaf and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Strain shrimp stock into a bowl, pressing on shells before discarding them.

In same pot, melt 2 tablespoons butter with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add shrimp and sauté until they are pink, 2 to 4 minutes depending on size. Using a slotted spoon, transfer shrimp to a bowl.

Add remaining 3 tablespoons butter to pot along with celery, leeks, garlic and fennel and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice, tomato paste, cayenne and remaining salt and sauté for 2 minutes. Add shrimp stock and simmer, covered, until rice is tender, about 20 minutes.

Set aside 4 to 6 nice-looking shrimp and stir remainder into bisque; let cook for 2 minutes. Working carefully and in batches, pour bisque into a blender and process to a smooth purée or pulse to a chunky mixture, as you like. (You may use an immersion blender to purée soup.) Return bisque to pot. Stir in the lemon juice and additional salt to taste. Reheat if necessary before serving. Garnish each bowl with a shrimp and a piece of fennel frond.

Serves 4 to 6


Brown Molasses Anadama Bread

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup of cornmeal, preferably whole grain
2 packets of instant yeast
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups hot water
1/2 cup dark molasses
5 T melted butter

Combine all ingredients in your bread machine, according to manufacturer's instructions.

To make by hand:
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, cornmeal, yeast and salt.

In a smaller bowl, combine the water, molasses and butter.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk for about 2 minutes.

Add 2 more cups of flour, 1 cup at a time and mix thoroughly.

Generously flour your kneading surface with 1/4 cup all purpose flour, and begin kneading. When the first 1/4 cup is thoroughly incorporated, add another 1/4, incorporate completely and then another 1/4 cup. (3/4 cups total)

Another 1/4 cup flour and a couple more minutes kneading and it should look a little drier and smoother. Total kneading time is about 6 or 7 minutes.

Oil a bowl and place the dough in it, turning a few time to coat all the surfaces and cover with a piece of plastic wrap or small towel, and place bowl in a fairly warm spot.

After the dough has doubled in size, about 60 to 90 minutes, turn the dough back out onto working surface (dust with flour) and knead for a couple minutes until the dough comes back into a working ball again.

Cut the dough into two equal pieces and shape into loaves. Place the half dough on the counter with the cut side up and form into an elongated oval. Fold the side farthest from you toward yourself and press along the edges to seal. Turn it around and again pull the side farthest from you into the middle and press down. Bring the ends in until the meet in the middle. Using your fingers, pinch all of the edges together and roll gently to smooth it all out. Place the dough in a well-greased bread pan and press firmly all over the top to work the dough into an even layer in the pan.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Brush the tops of the loaves with melted butter and return loaves to a warm spot and allow to rise until the dough is just above the top of the pan.

Once they’ve risen again, bake for about 45 minutes, until the top is very brown and the loaves sound hollow when thumped.

Remove from pans immediately and cool on a rack.


Boston Baked Beans

16 ounces (2 cups) dry navy beans
2 quarts cold water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup molasses
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
4 ounces salt pork
1 medium onion, chopped

Preparing the beans for baking:

Method #1:
Rinse beans; add to water in saucepan. Bring to boiling and simmer 2 minutes; remove from heat. Cover; let stand 1 hour. Discard water.

Method #2:
Rinse beans, cover with cold water by at least 2 inches, leave to soak 8 hours or overnight. Discard water, rinse beans.

Preparing the baked beans:
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Add water (2 quarts) to pot with the drained beans and simmer until beans are tender, about 1 hour. Drain, reserving liquid.

Measure 2 cups of the reserved liquid (adding boiling water if needed) and mix with molasses, brown sugar, and mustard.

Cut salt pork in half. Score one half and grind or thinly slice remainder. In 2-quart bean pot or casserole, combine beans, onion and ground salt pork. Pour molasses mixture over. Top with scored pork. Cover and bake for 5 to 7 hours, adding more liquid if needed. Add salt before serving.

Serves 8


Boston Brown Bread

This is best made the night before. Wrap the bread in foil, freeze; reheat in the oven.

1 cup rye flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
2 cups buttermilk
3/4 cup dark molasses
1 cup raisins

Sift together rye flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; stir in cornmeal, whole wheat flour, cinnamon, and allspice. Add buttermilk, raisins, and molasses; beat well.

Divide batter among 4 greased and floured 16-ounce fruit or vegetable cans, labels removed. Cover tightly with foil.

Place on rack in deep pot on top of stove; add boiling water to a depth of 1-inch (cans should not be resting in water). Cover the pot and steam for 3 hours, adding more boiling water, when and if necessary. The bread is done when it has risen almost to fill the can and the center has puffed slightly. If center remains indented, steam 15 minutes or so more. Cool 10 minutes.

Remove bread by removing the bottom of the can. Push bread out of can.

Makes 4 loaves


Molasses Brown Bread

This bread can be made into tea sandwiches (ham, chicken, egg salad, meats, cheeses, cucumber and cream cheese, etc.) and/or served with whipped cream cheese, clotted or devonshire cream, good fruit preserves, sweet whipped butter.

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup graham or rye flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup light molasses
1/2 cup golden or dark raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Preparing the batter:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 9-inch by 5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Combine all purpose flour, graham flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add buttermilk and molasses; mix well. Stir in raisins and nuts.

Spoon batter evenly into pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.

Transfer pan to wire rack; let stand 10 minutes. Turn bread out onto wire rack to cool completely. Serve at room temperature with cream cheese, if desired.


New England Brown Bread

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup dark seedless raisins
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup buttermilk or plain low-fat yogurt
3/4 cup light molasses
1 large egg

Preparing the batter:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 9-inch by 5-inch metal loaf pan.

In large bowl, combine flours, raisins, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Stir in buttermilk, molasses, and egg until batter is just mixed (batter will be very wet).
Pour batter into loaf pan. Bake bread 55 to 60 minutes until toothpick inserted in center of bread comes out clean.

With spatula, loosen bread from sides of pan. Remove bread from pan; cool slightly on wire rack to serve warm. Or, cool completely to serve later.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Martha's Boston Cream Pie

Ingredients for the hot-milk sponge cake:
unsalted butter, for cake pan

1 cup sifted cake flour (not self-rising)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 large eggs
1 cup granulated white sugar, plus more for pan
1/4 cup plus 2 T milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Ingredients for the custard-cream filling:
6 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 1/2 T cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Ingredients for the shiny chocolate glaze:
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preparing the hot-milk sponge cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with a rack in the center. Place a baking sheet on the rack below to catch any spills. Butter one 9 x 2-inch cake pan, and line with parchment paper. Dust the bottoms and sides with granulated sugar, and tap out the excess. Set aside.

Sift together the cake flour and the salt. Sift again, twice; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sugar until well combined. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water; whisk until the mixture is warm, about 110 degrees F, and the sugar is dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat; return the bowl to the mixer. Beat the egg mixture on high until thickened and pale, about 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the milk and vanilla bean and seed scrapings. Place over medium heat until hot, being careful not to let boil. Remove and discard the vanilla bean. With the egg mixture beating, pour the hot milk into the egg mixture in a slow, steady stream. Transfer to a large bowl, and fold in the flour mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake until the cake is golden brown and springs back when gently pressed with a finger, about 30 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely. Remove parchment paper.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Preparing the custard-cream filling:
While the cake is baking, make the filling. Prepare an ice-water bath. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks; set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Gradually stir in the milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens and begins to bubble, about 5 minutes. (It is essential that the mixture come to a boil.) Remove from the heat.

Whisking constantly, slowly pour the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks. Return the mixture to the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with the wooden spoon, until the mixture begins to bubble, about 3 minutes. (It is essential that the mixture bubble again.) Remove from the heat; stir in the vanilla.

Transfer the filling to a medium bowl. Place the bowl in the ice-water bath. Stir from time to time until the mixture cools; it thickens as it cools. Once completely cool the filling is very thick; it must be covered with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap against the filling to prevent a skin from forming; the filling may be refrigerated overnight at this stage, or it is ready to use.

Use a long serrated knife to cut the cake layer in half horizontally, creating two layers; spread the bottom half with chilled filling, to within only 1/2 inch of the edge so filling does not ooze out. Transfer bottom layer to the refrigerator to set, about 30 minutes. Wrap remaining half of the cake with plastic wrap; set aside.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Preparing the shiny chocolate glaze:
In the top of a double boiler or in a medium heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, combine chocolate and heavy cream. Stir occasionally until the chocolate melts, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat; set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

To assemble the cake:
Remove the cake from the refrigerator; top with the reserved layer. Transfer the cake to a serving platter; pour the warm chocolate glaze over top. Allow to set 20 minutes before serving.


Monday, February 1, 2010

Roast Chicken

Ina Garten refers to this as "engagement chicken".

1 (4 to 5 pound) roasting chicken
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 lemons
1 whole head garlic, cut in 1/2 crosswise
olive oil
2 Spanish onions, peeled and thickly sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 T all purpose flour

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

Remove and discard the chicken giblets. Pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Cut the lemons in quarters, place 2 quarters in the chicken along with the garlic and reserve the rest of the lemons. Brush the outside of the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle the chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the chicken in a small (11 by 14-inch) roasting pan. (If the pan is too large, the onions will burn.) Place the reserved lemons and the sliced onions in a large bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Pour the mixture around the chicken in the pan.

Roast the chicken for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and a thigh. Remove the chicken to a platter, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 10 minutes while you prepare the sauce, leaving the lemons and onions in the pan.

Place the pan on top of the stove and turn the heat to medium-high. Add the wine and stir with a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits. Add the stock and sprinkle on the flour, stirring constantly for a minute, until the sauce thickens. Add any juices that collect under the chicken. Carve the chicken onto a platter and serve with the lemons, onions, and warm sauce.


Chicken with Satay Sauce


For the sauce:
1 T good olive oil
1 T dark sesame oil
2/3 cup small-diced red onion (1 small onion)
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 T good red wine vinegar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 T soy sauce
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup ketchup
2 T dry sherry
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1 rotisserie chicken

Preparing the sauce:
Cook the olive oil, sesame oil, red onion, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes in a small, heavy-bottomed pot on medium heat until the onion is transparent, 10 to 15 minutes. Whisk in the vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, peanut butter, ketchup, sherry, and lime juice; cook for 1 more minute. Cool.

Using a sharp knife, carefully remove the entire breast of the rotisserie chicken and slice it diagonally in 1/2-inch-thick slices. Skewer the chicken slices with wooden sticks and serve with the sauce. Reserve the remaining chicken.


Curried Chicken Salad

3 whole (6 split) chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on
olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup chutney (Major Grey's)
3 T curry powder
1 cup diced celery (2 large stalks)
1/4 cup chopped scallions (2 scallions)
1/4 cup raisins
1 cup whole roasted, salted cashews

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

Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub the skin with olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just cooked. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Remove the meat from the bones, discard the skin, and dice the chicken into large bite-size pieces.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Preparing the dressing:
Combine the mayonnaise, wine, chutney, curry powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process until smooth.

Combine the chicken with enough dressing to moisten well. Add the celery, scallions, and raisins, and mix well. Refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend. Add the cashews and serve at room temperature.


Boston Cream Pie


2 T unsalted butter, plus more for pan
1 1/4 cups sugar, plus more for pan
1 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
3/4 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
7 T heavy cream
3 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

pastry cream filling for Boston Cream Pie

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Ingredients for pastry cream:
2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
4 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
6 T cornstarch
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Preparing the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make the cake: Lightly butter a 9-by-2-inch round cake pan, and line with parchment paper. Butter parchment, and sprinkle with sugar, tapping out excess; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk eggs and egg yolks on medium speed for 1 minute. Gradually add sugar, and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat milk and butter until hot in a small saucepan over medium heat; being careful not to boil the milk. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla. With mixer still running, slowly add hot milk to egg mixture. Gradually add flour mixture, 1/4 cup at a time, mixing until incorporated. Transfer to prepared pan.

Bake until cake is golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and cool for 15 minutes. Remove from pan, leaving the cake bottom-side up. Let cool completely.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Preparing the pastry cream:
In a medium saucepan, combine milk and 1/4 cup sugar over medium heat, and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks and remaining sugar until well combined. Whisk in vanilla and salt. Whisk in cornstarch, 1 tablespoon at a time, until fully incorporated. While whisking egg mixture constantly, slowly add 1 cup of the heated milk to the egg mixture. Strain this mixture into milk remaining in saucepan. Continue cooking over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture comes to a full boil, 4 to 6 minutes.

Transfer to a medium bowl, and cover with plastic wrap, pressing wrap against the filling to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until at least 3 hours and up to overnight.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Preparing the glaze:
In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring heavy cream to a boil. Place chocolate in a medium bowl, and pour cream over chocolate, stirring until chocolate is melted and well combined. Set aside to cool slightly, about 10 minutes.

Assembling the cake:
Remove pastry cream from refrigerator. Beat with a stiff whisk until cream is smooth. Split cake in two even layers; spread bottom half with the pastry cream filling. Top with remaining layer. Pour glaze over center of cake, allowing it to spread, covering top and dripping down the sides. Chill cake for 20 minutes before serving.


Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for tins
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for tins
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Vanilla Cream

Chocolate-Ganache Glaze

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Ingredients for vanilla cream:
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
2 T plus 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
pinch of salt
1 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Ingredients for chocolate glaze:
2/3 cup heavy cream
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 T light corn syrup

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Preparing the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour standard muffin tins. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Warm milk and butter in a saucepan over low heat.

Beat eggs and sugar with a mixer on high speed until thick and pale, about 5 minutes. Beat in dry ingredients.

Bring milk and butter to a boil. With mixer on low speed, add milk mixture to batter, and beat until smooth. Add vanilla. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each halfway. Bake cupcakes until light gold, about 15 minutes. Let cool in tins for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire racks. Let cool.

Using a serrated knife, cut each in half horizontally. Spread 1 tablespoon vanilla cream on each cupcake bottom. Sandwich with top. Spoon glaze over each, and serve immediately.

Makes 18 cupcakes

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Preparing the vanilla cream:
Whisk yolks until smooth. Mix sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add milk in a slow, steady stream. Cook, stirring, until mixture begins to bubble and thicken, about 5 minutes.

Pour 1/3 of milk mixture into yolks, whisking constantly. Return mixture to saucepan, and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until thick, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in vanilla.

Pass vanilla cream through a fine sieve into a bowl. Press plastic wrap directly on surface. Refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour, or up to 2 days.

Makes 1 1/2 cups

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Preparing the chocolate glaze:
Bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat, and add chocolate and corn syrup. Let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, and let cool, stirring often. Use immediately.

Makes 1 1/4 cups


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