Friday, November 26, 2010

Health - Foods - Rheumatoid Arthritis

If you’re overweight, losing those excess pounds may take some of the pressure off of your joints.

“If I have a patient with RA who’s overweight and loses 10 pounds, every time he takes a forceful step forward, that’s 30 pounds less on weight-bearing joints [such as the hips and knees],” says Dr. Hadler.

What’s more, it may also improve quality of life. A 2006 study found that overweight and normal weight people with RA had a higher quality of life than those who were obese.

Several studies suggest that people with RA may benefit from fish oil supplements, which contain inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids.

RA patients are also at greater risk of cardiovascular disease, and fish oil is thought to be good for the heart too.

However, studies suggest that you need to get 3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day (a 4-ounce piece of salmon has a little over 2 grams) for 12 weeks, which could get pricey or the diet hard to maintain.

In a 2003 Swedish study, people with RA who ate a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetable, cereals, legumes, and olive oil for three months experienced improved physical functioning and vitality when compared to RA patients who did not.

The effects of the Mediterranean diet on rheumatoid arthritis long-term are still unclear, but including more fruits and vegetables in your diet isn’t a bad idea.

At least one study found that people who ate a vegetarian or vegan diet reported an improvement in RA symptoms, including pain score, morning stiffness, and grip strength compared to those who didn’t.

However, because these diets are restrictive, many of the participants were unable to maintain them for the yearlong study period.

If you can’t give up meat, then at least try to get a few more greens on your plate. The antioxidants, such as those found in green peas, bell peppers, and broccoli, may protect against tissue damage around the joints caused by free radicals.

Some evidence suggests certain nutrients may help patients with RA. For example, some studies showed that vitamin E supplements reduce RA joint destruction and pain, while others do not.

Selenium levels are also thought to be too low in some people with RA. However, only one study has found that selenium reduced swollen joints and stiffness, and it also involved fish oil supplementation, so it’s difficult to determine if selenium can help reduce RA symptoms.

In addition, some RA patients take methotrexate to slow disease progression. But the drug also inhibits folic acid metabolism and causes a range of side effects, including mouth sores, says Dr. Hadler. He suggests folic acid supplements to decrease these adverse effects.

Food allergies, especially to dairy and shrimp, may aggravate rheumatoid arthritis. Some people try elimination diets, which involves removing all potential allergens from the diet and slowly adding these foods back to see if they trigger symptoms.

Studies have tested whether exposing patients to foods that had previously upset their RA consistently worsened their symptoms. “You get a smidgen of a hint that food aggravates symptoms,” says Dr. Hadler.

But he explains that there’s tremendous variation within any individual’s symptoms in a given time period, making it difficult to study the effects of elimination diets.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease which can be substantially alleviated and even reversed with a nutrient rich, plant-based diet. Dr. Charles Huebner does just this in this practice in Michigan at the Harbor Lifestyle Center.

This study showed the benefits of a plant based diet on RA.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Creamed Spinach

3 pounds spinach
2 T unsalted butter
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, lightly smashed
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparing the creamed spinach:
Wash the spinach in several changes of water to get rid of any grit. Drain the spinach but keep some of the water clinging to the leaves. Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the spinach and garlic. Cook, turning frequently, until the spinach is wilted down evenly. Remove the garlic and put the spinach into a colander and let it drain well. Press out as much liquid as you can from the leaves and chop them coarsely.

Heat the skillet again over medium-high heat and add the cream and nutmeg; cook until it reduces a bit, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the spinach is hot, about 5 more minutes. Serve immediately.

Serves 6 to 8


Bleu Cheese Dressing

Ingredients for bleu cheese dressing:
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 T fresh lemon juice
6 ounces (3/4 cup) crumbled mild blue cheese such
2 T chopped fresh chives
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

* * * * * * *

Ingredients for salad:
1 large head iceberg lettuce, cut into large wedges
1 cup grape tomatoes, split down the middle
2 T chopped flatleaf parsley, for garnish
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
drizzle extra virgin olive oil

Optional: Crumbled bleu cheese, sugared toasted pecans or walnuts, chopped crispy bacon

Preparing the dressing:
Combine mayonnaise and sour cream in a large mixing bowl. Squeeze in fresh lemon juice, fold in blue cheese and chives and season with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle chopped chives over the top of the bleu cheese after dressing salad leaves.

Makes enough to dress salad for 4


Roast Turkey With Pomegranate Molasses Glaze

Ingredients for the pomegranate molasses glaze:
1 1/2 cups pomegranate molasses
3/4 cup prepared horseradish, drained
3 T Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper

* * * * * * *

Ingredients for the turkey:
1 (about 15 pounds) fresh turkey
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened, with
fresh sage, chopped, and mixed into it
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups homemade chicken stock or low-sodium canned broth

Preparing the pomegranate glaze:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Whisk together pomegranate molasses, horseradish, mustard, salt, and coarsely ground black pepper. Set aside and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before using to allow the flavors to meld.

Remove the neck, heart and gizzard from inside of the turkey. Rinse the bird inside and out with cold water and pat dry. Rub the entire surface of the bird with the sage butter and season well (including the cavity) with salt and pepper. Truss the turkey and place breast-up on a rack in a large roasting pan. Roast for about 45 minutes, until slightly golden brown. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and continue roasting, basting with some of the chicken stock every 15 minutes, for about 1 hour, 15 minutes longer. An instant-read thermometer inserted in the thigh should register 160 degrees F.

During the last 15 minutes of roasting, stop basting with the chicken stock and brush the entire turkey with 1 cup of the pomegranate glaze. Remove the turkey from the oven, brush with the remaining glaze, loosely tent and let rest 15 minutes before slicing.

Serves 4 to 6


Pomegranate Molasses

4 cups of pomegranate juice (Pom brand)
1 T lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/2 cup of granulated white sugar

Preparing the pomegranate molasses:
Combine all of the ingredients in a large saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves. Lower the heat to medium low for about 50 minutes, until mixture reduces to a light syrup, about 1 1/2 cups. If you stop now, you've got grenadine, which you can cool for about 30 minutes and then bottle and keep refrigerated for up to six months.

For pomegranate molasses, increase the heat and continue to cook for a few minutes until it's a thick syrup.


Almond Pancakes

1/2 cup (4 ounces) mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups water
1 T sugar
2 teaspoons pure almond extract
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups buttermilk pancake mix (Krusteaz brand)
4 ounces almond paste, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 T unsalted butter, at room temperature

Preparing the pancakes:
Serving suggestion: maple syrup and fresh raspberries

In a food processor, combine the mascarpone, water, sugar, almond extract, and vanilla extract. Process until the mixture is smooth. Add the pancake mix and pulse until just combined. Add the almond paste and pulse once to incorporate.

Preheat a griddle or a large, nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Grease the griddle or skillet with 1 tablespoon of butter. Working in batches, pour 1/4 cup of batter per pancake onto the griddle and cook for about 1 1/2 minutes each side until golden. Repeat with the remaining butter and batter. Serve with maple syrup and fresh raspberries.

Makes 16 pancakes



4 Granny Smith and 4 Golden Delicious apples (or any mix of sweet and slightly tart apples), peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 cup apple cider or juice
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
dash of nutmeg

Preparing the applesauce:
Add apples, apple cider, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon sticks and a dash of nutmeg to a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover with a lid and reduce to a simmer. Let cook for 15 minutes or until apples are tender. Remove cinnamon sticks and discard.

Mash with a potato masher, and stir in the 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon and dash of nutmeg.

Serves 4 to 6


Fried Potatoes

I keep a container of duck or goose fat (purchased from a local artisan butcher shop) on hand in my freezer for dishes like this one.

1/4 cup vegetable oil or duck fat
3 russet potatoes, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 T water
1 T unsalted butter

Preparing the potatoes:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the potato cubes and season with salt and pepper to taste. Saute, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, until the potatoes begin to take on some color. Turn the heat up to high, add the water, stir, and cover the pan with a lid. Steam the potatoes until the water evaporates, about 3 or 4 minutes. Stir every couple of minutes so the potatoes don't stick. Lower the heat to medium, and saute another 1 to 2 minutes until all traces of water are gone. Add butter and stir to coat the potatoes. Spread the potatoes out on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven until the potatoes are browned and crisp, about 15 to 25 minutes.

Serves 4


Fennel Slaw

1 fennel bulb, core removed, cut into quarters, and sliced very thinly, fronds reserved
1 cup thinly sliced purple cabbage
2 scallions, chopped
2 strips bacon, cooked crisp and chopped

* * * * * * *

Ingredients for the dressing:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 T red wine vinegar
3 T chopped fennel fronds
1 teaspoon sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparing the slaw:
Toss the fennel, cabbage, scallions, and bacon together in a medium bowl. Whisk the mayonnaise, vinegar, fennel fronds, sugar, and salt and pepper, to taste, in a small bowl. Add the dressing to the slaw and toss to coat.

Serves 4


Chicken a l'Orange with Crispy Skin

I serve this with a fennel cole slaw and fried potatoes.

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 skin-on bone-in chicken breast halves
1 T vegetable oil
1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
4 T honey

Preparing the orange glaze:
In a small saucepan, heat the orange juice concentrate, honey, and salt and pepper, to taste, over medium heat, and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

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

Liberally salt and pepper the chicken breast halves. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat and sear the chicken, skin side only, until brown and beginning to crisp, about 5 minutes.

Turn the chicken over and brush each piece with the glaze. Turn the chicken skin side up and transfer the pan to the oven. Bake until the internal temperature reaches 160 to 170 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, brushing on more glaze halfway through, about 15 minutes in total. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes on a cutting board. Remove the chicken breast from the bone and slice the meat on the bias. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter and serve.

Serves 4


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pumpkin Pie, From Scratch

Ingredients for pate brisee:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

* * * * * * * *

Ingredients for filling:
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 T cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups fresh pumpkin puree* (from sugar pie pumpkins), or canned
3 large eggs, lightly beaten, plus 1 egg for glaze
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk

*2 pound sugar pumpkin

1 T heavy cream

Preparing pumpkin puree:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Using a sharp paring knife, cut several slits in a sugar pumpkin (1 1/2 pounds), piercing skin all the way through (this will let steam escape). Place in a baking dish; pour about 1 inch water in bottom of dish. Bake until skin is easily pierced and inside is very soft, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.

Cut off top of pumpkin, and scoop out seeds; discard both. Peel, and discard skin.

Place pumpkin in the bowl of a food processor; puree until smooth. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 2 days or in the freezer up to 1 month.

Makes about 1 1/3 cups of pumpkin puree

* * * * * * * *

Preparing the pate brisee:
In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.

With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube.

Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour. [Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.]

Makes 1 double-crust or 2 single-crust 9- to 10-inch pies

* * * * * * * *

Preparing the pie:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

Between two pieces of plastic wrap, roll pate brisee into a 12-inch circle. Fit pastry into a 9-inch glass pie plate; trim dough evenly along edge, leaving about a 1/2-inch overhang. Pinch to form a decorative edge. Put dough in refrigerator until ready to fill and bake.

* * * * * * * * *

Preparing the pie:
In a large bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, pumpkin puree, and 3 eggs. Beat well. Add evaporated milk, and combine. Set aside.

* * * * * * *

Preparing the glaze:
Beat the remaining egg, and combine with heavy cream. Brush glaze very lightly on edges of pie shell.

Fill pie shell with pumpkin mixture. Transfer to prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for 30 minutes more. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes one 9-inch pie


Chocolate Black-Bottom Pie

Ingredients for pie crust:
6 ounces cookies (about 12 graham crackers, 46 vanilla wafers, or 30 chocolate wafers, such as Famous)
3 T sugar
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
5 T unsalted butter, melted

* * * * * * * *

Ingredients for filling:
3 1/4 cups heavy cream
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 T spiced rum
1/2 cup toasted macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
2 T confectioners' sugar

Preparing the crust:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a food processor, pulse cookies until finely ground (you should have about 1 1/2 cups). Add sugar, salt, and butter and pulse until combined.

Firmly press crumb mixture into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie plate. (If using a springform pan, press crumbs halfway up sides.) Bake until crust is dry and set, about 12 minutes. Let cool completely in plate on a wire rack before filling.

* * * * * * *

Preparing the filling:
In a medium microwave-safe bowl, microwave 1 1/4 cups cream until hot, about 3 minutes. Add chocolate and let stand until melted, 5 to 10 minutes. Whisk to combine, then whisk in rum. Pour 1 1/2 cups chocolate mixture into crust (reserve remaining chocolate mixture). Sprinkle nuts over top. Refrigerate pie 3 hours (or up to 2 days).

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat 2 cups cream with sugar on high until stiff peaks form, 2 minutes. Top pie with whipped cream, then dot with reserved chocolate mixture. With a skewer, gently swirl chocolate through whipped cream.


Pumpkin Doughnut Muffins

The muffins can be frozen for up to 3 months. Reheat in a 350-degree oven, then coat in butter and sugar.

Ingredients for the batter:
10 T (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
3 cups all purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 1/4 cups pure pumpkin puree (from a 15-ounce can)
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs

* * * * * * *

Ingredients for the sugar coating:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Preparing the doughnut muffins:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 12 standard muffin cups. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and allspice.

In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and pumpkin puree. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down bowl as needed. With mixer on low, add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions pumpkin mixture, and beat to combine.

Spoon 1/3 cup batter into each muffin cup and bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean, 30 minutes.

* * * * * * *

Preparing the sugar coating:
In a medium bowl, combine granulated sugar and cinnamon. Let muffins cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Working with one at a time, remove muffins from pan, brush all over with butter, then toss to coat in sugar mixture. Let muffins cool completely on a wire rack. (Store in an airtight container, up to 1 day.)


Broccoli Rabe With Garlic And Almonds

2 bunches broccoli rabe (about 2 pounds total), trimmed and cut crosswise into 2-inch lengths
2 T extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 cup sliced almonds
coarse salt and ground pepper

Preparing the broccoli rabe:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Working in batches, add broccoli rabe to water and cook until water returns to a boil. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a colander to drain. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium. Add garlic and almonds; cook just until beginning to turn golden, about 5 minutes. Add broccoli rabe and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 8


Gorgonzola- & Hazelnut-Stuffed Pears With Pancetta Crisps Over Mache

1 T unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons mild honey (clover)
2 medium firm-ripe red pears, halved lengthwise and cored
kosher salt
8 thin slices of pancetta (about 2 1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup plus 1 T chopped, toasted hazelnuts
2 ounces Gorgonzola dolce (1/4 cup)
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 T Champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
freshly ground black pepper
3 T extra virgin olive oil
2 ounces mache (about 4 cups)

Preparing the salad:
Preheat oen to 375 degrees F.

Mix the melted butter and 1 tablespoon of the honey in a bowl. Brush the mixture over the cut sides of the pears and season with salt. Arrange the pears cut sides up on a rimmed baking sheet and bake on the upper rack until just tender, about 15 minutes.

Arrange the pancetta on a rimmed baking sheet and bake on the lower rack until crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.

Mix 1/4 of the hazelnuts, Gorgonzola dolce, thyme and remaining 1 tablespoon of honey with the back of a wooden spoon.

Remove the pears from the oven and divide the cheese filling evenly among the pear cavities. Sprinkle with the remaining hazelnuts and bake on the upper rack until the cheese starts to soften, about 3 minutes. Turn the broiler on high and broil until the nuts brown slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool slightly.

Mix the vinegar, mustard, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper in a bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil. Toss the mache with just enough vinaigrette to lightly coat and divide among 4 plates. Top each salad with 2 pancetta rounds and 1 pear half. Season with salt and pepper.

Serves 4


Friday, November 19, 2010

Sweet Potato Pie With Maple Whipped Cream Topping


1 unbaked pie crust

Ingredients for maple whipped cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 confectioners' sugar
2 T maple syrup

* * * * * * *

Ingredients for the filling:
4 medium sweet potatoes
1/2 stick butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup evaporated milk, OR, sweetened condensed milk

Preparing the filling:
Preheat oven to 350 degree F.

Bake sweet potatoes for 1 hour in the oven on a baking sheet. When done, let cool. Scrape the pulp out of the skin, transfer to a large bowl, and mash. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat together butter, sugar, and brown sugar until creamy. Add eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and salt. Add evaporated milk and stir mixture into sweet potatoes. Beat together with mixer until smooth and pour into an unbaked pie shell.

Bake on bottom rack of oven for 1 hour or until center of pie is firm.

Serve warm with a dollop of whipped cream.

* * * * * * *

Preparing the maple whipped cream:
In a medium bowl, beat together whipping cream and confectioners' sugar. Add maple syrup. Beat together until soft peaks form.


TF's Sweet Potato Praline Pie

Ingredients for sweet pecan pie crust:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup finely ground pecans
1 T sugar
pinch salt
1 stick unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
2 T ice water, plus more if needed

* * * * * * * *

Ingredients for the filling:
1 1/2 to 2 pounds sweet potatoes, about 3 medium-sized
2 large eggs
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup pure sugar cane syrup (recommended: Steen's)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt

* * * * * * * *

Ingredients for praline topping:
3 T butter
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup pure sugar cane syrup (recommended: Steen's)
1 cup toasted pecans, lightly crushed
pinch salt

Preparing the pie crust:
Combine the flour, ground pecans, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and rub the butter pieces between your fingertips and thumbs, or use a pastry blender, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Pour in the ice water and work it in until the dough holds together, being careful not to overmix. Squeeze a small amount together; if it is too crumbly, add some more ice water, a little at a time. Shape it into a smooth ball, flatten into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, and up to 2 days.

* * * * * * *

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

Roll out the dough into a circle, about 12 to 13 inches in diameter. Gently press it into a 9-inch pie pan and crimp edges with your forefinger and thumb. Prick the bottom of the pie crust all over with the tines of a fork to keep it from puffing up in the oven. Refrigerate until well chilled, about 45 minutes.

* * * * * * * *

Preparing the pie filling:
Put the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and bake in the oven until very tender, about 45 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees F and remove potatoes from oven; allow to cool slightly before scooping the flesh into a food processor. Puree until smooth, then add the eggs, cream, brown sugar, sugar syrup and vanilla extract. Pulse a couple of times to combine, then add the cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

Put the pie pan on a rimmed baking sheet and pour in the filling. Bake until the center is set, about 40 minutes. Let cool completely, then transfer the pie to the refrigerator.

* * * * * * * *

Preparing the praline topping:
To make the praline topping, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and add the sugar, syrup, pecans and salt. Cook until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is smooth, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the stovetop and let cool for 5 minutes.

Remove the pie from the refrigerator and pour the praline topping over the cooled pie, spreading evenly with a spatula or by gently rolling the pie around at an angle so it hits the edges. Cool until topping has hardened, about 20 minutes. Serve.

Make 1 9-inch pie


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Whole Candied Oranges

12 Clementines, washed, or 2 to 4 small organic navel oranges
4 cups sugar
3 cups water

Preparing the fruit:
Wash the fruit well. Pierce them 8-10 times with a toothpick. In a large, deep pot, combine the fruit, sugar and water.

Bring to a simmer, covered, and simmer for 1-2 hours (or more) depending on the level of bitterness you’d like in your clementines. Be careful to simmer, and not boil. Let the fruit cool in the syrup. [Save the simple syrup for additions to drinks and desserts.]

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Serve the fruit with crushed pistachios and shaved chocolate.


Ricotta Sfogliatelle

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup semolina flour
2 T granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup unsalted butter, very cold, in little pieces
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup shortening
* * * * * *

1 egg, beaten with 1 T water, for egg wash
melted butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar

* * * * * *

Ingredients for filling:
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk added to 1/4 cup semolina flour
dust with ground cinnamon
2 T candied navel orange and citron, finely chopped

Preparing the dough:
Add all ingredients in food processor, gather onto a baking sheet, flattened, cover in plastic and let rest in the refrigerator for about 1/2 hour.

Flour surface heavily, roll out the dough. Brush with melted butter, dust with powdered sugar. Roll up, brushing off any flour on the underside as you roll. Place rolled up dough in the refrigerator until thoroughly chilled.

Cut into about 1-inch thick slices, and place in the freezer to firm up.

Remove from freezer and press into a cone or cup shape with your fingers, using dabs of shortening if the dough cracks.

Fill with a teaspoon of the ricotta mixture, and fold over into a clam shell shape. Bake for about 20 minutes at 450 degrees F.


1 1/2 to 2 pounds pearl onions
3 strips apple smoked bacon, diced
3 T all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon seasoning mix
2 T snipped chives

* * * * * * * * *

Ingredients for seasoning mix:
2 1/2 T paprika
2 T salt
2 T garlic powder
1 T black pepper
1 T onion powder
1 T cayenne pepper
1 T dried oregano
1 T dried thyme

Combine all ingredients

Makes 2/3 cup

Preparing the onions:
Fill a medium saucepan half full of water and bring to a boil. Add the pearl onions, cover, and set aside until onion skins are very soft and onions are easily peeled, about 10 minutes. Drain onions and refresh under cold running water or in an ice bath. When onions are cool enough to handle, use a paring knife peel away the tough outer skins. Set aside.

In a medium heavy pot render the bacon until crispy, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove bacon using a slotted spoon and transfer to paper towels to drain. Reserve and set aside.

Whisk the flour into the rendered bacon fat and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes, until a blond roux is formed. Whisk in the chicken broth and cook, stirring, until mixture thickens. Add the heavy cream, thyme, salt, pepper, and seasoning mix and cook until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the pearl onions and continue to cook at a low simmer, partially covered, until onions are very tender and sauce is very thick and flavorful, 45 minutes to 1 hour. When ready to serve, garnish the onions with the reserved crispy bacon and sprinkle the top with the chives.

Serves 6 to 8


Brussels Sprouts Gratin

1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed
3 T butter
3 T unbleached all purpose flour
2 cups milk, at room temperature
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
5 ounces Gruyere, grated (about 1 cup grated)

Preparing the Brussels sprouts:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium heat. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until bright green and beginning to soften. Remove the sprouts with a slotted spoon and drop into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.

Make the sauce by melting the butter and flour together in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until smooth and bubbling, about 1 minute; slowly whisk in milk and continue to cook, whisking frequently, until thick and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Season the sauce well with salt and heavily with pepper.

Halve the Brussels sprouts through the core and put them in an even layer in a 2 quart baking dish. Pour the sauce over the sprouts and sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 10 to 15 minutes until the top is golden and bubbling.

Serves 6 to 8


TF's Potato Gratin

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 sprig fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch thick slices
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated parmesan, plus more for broiling

Preparing the potato gratin:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a saucepan, heat up the cream with a sprig of thyme, chopped garlic and nutmeg.

While cream is heating up, butter a casserole dish. Place a layer of potato in an overlapping pattern and season with salt and pepper. Remove cream from heat, then pour a little over the potatoes. Top with some grated parmesan. Make 2 more layers. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Sprinkle some more parmesan and broil until cheese browns, about 5 minutes.

Serves 4 to 6


Corn Pudding

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 15-ounce can of creamed corn
3/4 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 onion, chopped
2/3 cup milk
3 T butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
1 T sugar
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preparing the pudding:
Beat together cream cheese, milk, butter, egg, sugar. Fold in creamed corn, corn, cornmeal cheddar cheese, salt, pepper and onion. Spread in a buttered 1-quart casserole dish and bake 50 minutes at 350 degrees F. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 4


Green Peas With Pancetta And Shallots

2 T olive oil
1/2 pound pancetta, cut into small dice
3 shallots, halved and thinly sliced
1 pound frozen peas, thawed

Preparing the peas:
Heat the oil in a large high sided saute pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until golden brown and the fat has rendered. Remove the pancetta to a plate lined with paper towels.

Add the shallots to the pan and cook until soft. Add the peas and cook until warmed through. Transfer to a large bowl and top with the crisp pancetta.

Serves 4


Roasted Root Vegetables

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 medium carrots (about 3/4 pound), cut into 1 1/2-inch thick circles
1 1/2 cups Brussels sprouts (about 1/2 pound), halved
4 cups red bliss potatoes (about 1 pound), cut into 1 1/2-inch thick slices
3 medium parsnips (about1 pound), cut into 1 1/2-inch thick slices
1 cup sweet potatoes (about 1 pound), cut into 1 1/2-inch thick slices
1 T dried oregano
1 T dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 T freshly ground black pepper

Preparing vegetables:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Grease an 11 by 17-inch baking sheet pan with extra-virgin olive oil. Place vegetables in baking sheet and add the dried herbs, salt and pepper. Toss well, evenly coating all the vegetables with the seasonings and oil. Add more oil if the vegetables seem dry

Spread the vegetables evenly on a large baking sheet. Place on middle rack in oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

Serves 6


Abbie's Green Bean Casserole

Ingredients for the topping:
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 T panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon kosher salt

non-stick cooking spray

Ingredients for green beans and sauce:
2 T plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 pound fresh green beans, rinsed, trimmed and halved
2 T unsalted butter
12 ounces mushrooms, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 T all purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup half-and-half

Preparing the onions:
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.

Combine the onions, flour, panko and salt in a large mixing bowl and toss to combine. Coat a sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray and evenly spread the onions on the pan. Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake until golden brown, approximately 30 minutes. Toss the onions 2 to 3 times during cooking. Once done, remove from the oven and set aside until ready to use. Turn the oven down to 400 degrees F.

* * * * * * * *

Preparing the green beans:
Bring a gallon of water and 2 tablespoons of salt to a boil in an 8-quart saucepan. Add the beans and blanch for 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and immediately plunge the beans into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside.

Melt the butter in a 12-inch cast iron skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to give up some of their liquid, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and nutmeg and continue to cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute. Add the broth and simmer for 1 minute. Decrease the heat to medium-low and add the half-and-half. Cook until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, approximately 6 to 8 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in 1/4 of the onions and all of the green beans. Top with the remaining onions. Place into the oven and bake until bubbly, approximately 15 minutes. Remove and serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Abie's Creme Brulee

1 quart heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 cup vanilla sugar, divided
6 large egg yolks
2 quarts hot water

Preparing the creme brulee:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Place the cream, vanilla bean and its pulp into a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean and reserve for another use.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup sugar and the egg yolks until well blended and it just starts to lighten in color. Add the cream a little at a time, stirring continually. Pour the liquid into 6 (7 to 8-ounce) ramekins. Place the ramekins into a large cake pan or roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake just until the creme brulee is set, but still trembling in the center, approximately 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the ramekins from the roasting pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.

Remove the creme brulee from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes prior to browning the sugar on top. Divide the remaining 1/2 cup vanilla sugar equally among the 6 dishes and spread evenly on top. Using a torch, melt the sugar and form a crispy top. Allow the creme brulee to sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 6


Aggie's Green Bean Casserole

Ingredients for the green beans:
2 T kosher salt
1 pound string beans, ends trimmed, beans cut in half
ice cubes

* * * * * * * *

Ingredients for the mushroom base:
1 T unsalted butter
12 ounces white mushrooms, cleaned and sliced into 1/2-inch slices
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced or put through a garlic press
3 T all purpose flour
1 cup chicken stock
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup sour cream

* * * * * * * *

Ingredients for the shallots:
4 cups canola oil
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
3 medium shallots, peeled and cut into thin rounds
kosher salt

Preparing the green beans:
Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. When the water boils, add the salt to the water and then add the green beans. Cook for 4 minutes.

Preparing the ice bath:
Fill a large bowl halfway with ice cubes and add some cold water. Place a colander squarely inside the ice bath. The colander will keep you from having to pick the beans out from amongst the ice cubes in the ice bath. When the beans are cooked, remove them from the hot water with a strainer and transfer them to the colander inside the ice bath. Use a spoon to swirl the beans around in the ice bath so they are sure to cool down immediately. Drain and set aside.

* * * * * * *

Preparing the mushroom base:
In a large cast iron skillet, melt the butter and add the mushrooms. Season with salt, to taste, and add the cayenne and mustard. Stir to blend and cook until the mushrooms give off most of their liquid, 5 to 8 minutes. Using a whisk, add the garlic and flour to the mushrooms. When all of the flour has been incorporated, add the chicken stock. Bring to a simmer. Taste for seasoning. Stir in the cream and sour cream and simmer gently. Continue cooking over low heat until the mixture thickens, 12 to 15 minutes.

* * * * * * *

Preparing the shallots:
Combine the flour and cayenne. Toss the shallot rounds in the flour and shake off the excess by shaking the rounds in a strainer once they have been floured.

Heat oil in a frying pan to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with paper towels or a brown paper grocery bag.

Test the oil by dropping in 1 shallot slice. It should begin to bubble and fry gradually.

Drop a small batch of the shallots into the oil and gently swirl the oil as they fry. This will help them they fry more evenly on all sides. When they are light to medium brown, remove them with a slotted spoon and lay them out on the kitchen towel to cool. Sprinkle with salt.

* * * * * * * *

Assembling the casserole:
Stir the green beans and some of the shallots into the mushrooms. Simmer on the stove, over low heat until the green beans become tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 10 to 15 minutes. Just before serving, top with all of the remaining shallots.

Serves 8 to 10


TF's Roast Turkey

Serve with cornbread stuffing and cranberry relish.

1 (12 to 14) pound fresh turkey
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil

Ingredients for sage butter:
2 sticks butter, softened
1/4 cup chopped sage
salt and pepper

Preparing the turkey:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and remove the top rack of the oven.

Rinse the bird thoroughly inside and out with cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the cavity and skin liberally with salt and pepper. Stuff the cavity with stuffing and, if required, truss the legs. Cover the turkey with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Push the sage butter under the skin of the turkey, being careful not to puncture the skin.

Put the turkey on a rack in a large roasting pan, and into the oven. Continue cooking until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the meaty part of the thigh registers 170 degrees F. The thigh juices will run clear when pricked with a knife, about 3 hours total (15 minutes per pound). If the legs or breast brown too quickly during roasting, cover them with foil.

Serves 10 to 12


TF's Cranberry Sauce

2 (8-ounce) packages cranberries, fresh or frozen
1 orange, zest cut into strips and juiced
1/2 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick

Preparing the sauce:
Put all the ingredients into a saucepan over medium heat and simmer until the cranberries burst and the sauce thickens, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve at room temperature or cool and refrigerate. Remove the cinnamon stick before serving.

Serves 8 to 10


TF's Cornbread Stuffing

2 T butter
2 onions, chopped
6 large cornmeal muffins, cubed
handful fresh sage leaves, chopped
1 egg
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chicken stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper

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

Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes, or until soft and caramelized. Add sage and scrape into a large mixing bowl. Add the cornbread pieces, season well with salt and pepper, and give it a good toss until it's well combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, cream, and stock, and pour that over the cornbread. Stir the stuffing together and stuff the cavity of the turkey. You could also spoon it into a buttered baking dish and put it in the oven along with the turkey. Bake until hot and crusty on top, about 30 minutes.

Serves 6 to 8


Cane Syrup-Glazed Sweet Potato Marshmallow Streusel Casserole

Ingredients for sweet potato casserole:
4 pounds dark-skinned sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/3 cup cane syrup
1 stick butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
2 T orange liqueur

* * * * * * * *

Ingredients for streusel topping:
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature and cut into pieces
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup toasted pecan pieces
2 cups miniature marshmallows

Preparing the sweet potato casserole:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine the cane syrup, butter, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the orange zest and liqueur. Pour the sugar mixture over the potatoes, and toss the potatoes to coat. Arrange the potatoes in 13- by 9- by 2-inch glass baking dish. Cover the dish tightly with foil. Bake for 50 minutes, and then remove the dish from the oven, remove the foil, and bake until the potatoes are tender and the syrup has thickened slightly, basting occasionally, about 20 minutes.

* * * * * * * *

Preparing the streusel topping:
Combine the butter, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and pecans in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, and pulse the mixture until it resembles coarse pebbles. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, then add the marshmallows and toss to combine.

Raise the oven temperature to 425 degrees F. Remove the baking dish from the oven and cover the potatoes with the marshmallow streusel. Return to the oven, and bake until the topping is bubbly and browned, about 10 minutes.

Serves 8


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