Monday, October 31, 2011

Sauteed Veal, Chicken and Shrimp

4 (4-ounce) thinly sliced veal cutlets (scaloppini)
4 (4-ounce) thinly sliced chicken tenderloins
2 ounces all purpose flour
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
12 shiitake mushrooms cleaned and stems discarded, then sliced
6 ounces oyster mushrooms, trimmed
3 ounces porcini mushrooms chopped
4 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
salt and fresh ground black pepper
1/3 cup veal or beef stock
3 T cognac
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 stick butter
chopped parsley leaves, for garnish

Preparing the veal, chicken and shrimp:
Pound the veal and chicken into 1/4-inch thick slices, between sheets of plastic wrap or waxed paper. Add the flour to a large shallow dish. Dredge the veal and chicken in the flour.

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium to low heat. Add veal and chicken and brown on 1 side only. Add all of the mushrooms and saute for 1 to 2 minutes. Drain the oil from the pan, add the shrimp and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the veal or beef stock and cook down for about 1 minute. Add the brandy and carefully ignite it with a long kitchen match to burn off the alcohol. Stir in the heavy cream and butter and let the sauce reduce for 3 to 4 minutes. Ready to serve.

Arrange 1 piece of veal, 1 piece of chicken and 1 shrimp on each serving plate. Top with some mushrooms and sauce and garnish with parsley. Serve over pasta or with sliced potatoes sauteed in olive oil and garlic.

Serves 4


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pies and Galettes

Ingredients for pie:
1 recipe pie dough (1 disk)
1 pound (3 cups) fresh fruit pitted, sliced, and peeled, if necessary (cherries, berries, peaches, plums, apricots, pears, apples, rhubarb)
1/2 cup sugar
2 T flour
spices and seasonings, to taste (citrus fruit zest, citrus juice, pure extracts, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, fresh herbs, etc.)
1 T cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons turbinado sugar

* * * * * *

Ingredients for pie dough:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, chilled or frozen
4 to 6 T ice cold water

Preparing pies and galettes:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

Stir together the prepared fruit, 1/2 cup sugar, flour, and spices and/or seasonings in a large bowl until combined.

On a well-floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the dough into a large circle, about 12 to 14 inches. Make sure the rolled dough is chilled. Spoon the fruit mixture onto the center of the dough leaving a 1-inch border. Fold the edges of the dough over the fruit, pleating the dough, then dot the fruit filling with the butter pieces. Lightly brush the dough with egg wash and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons sugar.

Bake the pie until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes. Cover the crust with foil if the crust browns too quickly. Cool.

Serve the warm galette with ice cream.

* * * * * *

Preparing pie dough:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, mix together the flour and the salt; cut or work the butter into the flour with your fingers or a pastry blender until you have large pea sized chunks scattered throughout. Alternatively, pulse the dough in a food processor, or mix in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on low speed.

Add the ice water slowly while stirring with a fork, or in the food processor or mixer, until just combined. Be careful not to overwork the dough. Divide the dough into 2 disks, flatten and refrigerate each for at least 15 minutes.

Roll out one chilled pie dough to fit a 9-inch pie plate. Reserve the second pie dough disc for another use. Transfer dough to pie plate, pressing the dough lightly into the plate; trim the edges. Dock the dough with the prongs of a fork evenly over the bottom of the pie plate. Line the docked dough with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans.

Bake the pie crust until the edges are brown and golden, about 15 minutes Remove from the oven and remove the weights. Return crust to the oven to finish baking for another 5 minutes.


Almond Apricot: Season the sliced apricots with almond paste or extract.

Spiced-Apple Pear: Season the sliced apples and pears with cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar.

All-Berry: Fill the baked crust with pastry cream and top with sweetened berries.

Caramelized Onion and Walnut: Caramelize 4 Spanish onions; let cool. Top the dough with grated Gruyere cheese and spread the onions and toasted walnuts over the cheese.


Chocolate Nutella Spider Cake

Ingredients for the marble cake:
2 1/4 (7 1/8 ounces) cups sifted cake flour - sift it into the measuring cup
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 T milk
3 T cocoa powder

* * * * * *

Ingredients for chocolate and nutella buttercreams:
1 cup egg whites (about 8 large egg whites)
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 pounds unsalted butter, softened
pinch of salt
1/2 cup nutella
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the chocolate ganache spider body and web:
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the chocolate spider legs:
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted

Preparing the cake:
To make the marble cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two 8-inch cake pans with parchment rounds and grease. Set aside. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time and mix after each, until well combined. Add the sour cream and vanilla.

Add the dry mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the milk. Split the batter in half and sift the cocoa powder over one half. Stir gently to combine.

Place some of the white batter in the bottoms of the two 8-inch cake pans. Add the chocolate batter in blobs. Very carefully stir the white batter into the chocolate, to achieve a marble pattern. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Once baked cool on a rack.

* * * * * *

Preparing the buttercream:
In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the egg whites and sugar. It will be very thick and grainy. Put the bowl over a double boiler and stir it with a rubber spatula until the sugar is completely melted. Brush the sides down with the spatula to make sure all the sugar is melted.

Feel the egg mixture between your fingers to check for graininess. Once it is completely smooth, put the bowl on the mixer and beat with the whip attachment on medium high speed. Whip until it is light, fluffy, glossy and the bowl feels just about room temperature. If the egg whites are not cooled off sufficiently it will melt the butter when you add it.

Once the egg whites are whipped and cooled, add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time on medium speed. WARNING: After you have added about half of the butter, it may look curdled and runny, this is normal and you should continue adding the rest of the butter.

Once you have finished adding the butter and it has mixed on medium speed for about a minute the buttercream will be creamy and glossy looking again. Add the salt, and vanilla. Divide the buttercream in two bowls, 1/3 in one bowl and 2/3 in the other. Add the nutella to the bowl with 2/3 of the buttercream. Add the cooled, melted chocolate to the other.

Unmold the cooled cakes and cut each later in half. Spread about 3/4 cup of the chocolate buttercream on the first layer. Repeat with the next two layers of cake and buttercream. Top with the final layer of cake.

Top the cake with 1 cup of the nutella buttercream. Spread it smooth with a metal spatula. Put more nutella buttercream on the sides of the cake, using enough to cover all the crumbs. Once the whole cake is covered, smooth the icing with the spatula, until it is nice and flat.

To make the ganache spider web:
In a double boiler melt the chocolate and the butter together, gently whisking until smooth.

Use a parchment bag to pipe a thin spiral around the cake. Use a toothpick or skewer to draw lines from the center of the spiral out to the edge to create the web. Use the chocolate ganache to draw a line down the side of the cake and pipe a smaller spiders body there. Repeat with as many spiders as you like.

Cover the rest of the chocolate ganache and allow it to cool to room temperature. Once the chocolate ganache is set up - this may take an hour or two - place it in a pastry bag fit with a round tip. Pipe a large ball of the ganache to create the spider's body.

* * * * * *

Preparing the chocolate spider legs:
Fill another paper pastry bag about 1/3 full with the melted chocolate and pipe out the chocolate in the shape of the number 7 onto a silpat, waxpaper or parchment paper. Make sure you do a size that will fit the size of the spider body you intend to have. Pipe several extra in case you have breakage. Place the sheet into the freezer to set the chocolate.

Remove the spider legs from the freezer and using a small spatula, lift up the legs and place them on the spider, 4 on each side. Work quickly so the chocolate doesn't warm up too much. You may have to return the legs to the freezer if you are doing several spiders.

Serves 16


Friday, October 28, 2011

Turkey Milanese

1 1/2 pounds (about 8 cutlets) turkey breast, pounded 1/8-inch thick
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups Italian-seasoned bread crumbs
1/3 cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
5 cups (5 ounces) baby arugula
2 cups (10 ounces) cherry tomatoes, halved
1 (2-ounce) block parmesan cheese
lemon wedges

Preparing the turkey:
Using a meat tenderizer or a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, pound the turkey until 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick.

Combine the flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Place the eggs in a second medium bowl. Place the bread crumbs in a third medium bowl. Season the turkey on both sides with salt and pepper. Dredge the turkey in the flour and shake off any excess flour. Dip the turkey into the eggs and then into the bread crumbs to coat. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the turkey, in batches, until golden brown and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes on each side, adding more oil, if needed. Remove from the skillet and drain on paper towels.

Arrange the arugula on a large serving platter and top with the tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Arrange the turkey on top of the tomatoes. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the Parmesan over the turkey. Serve with lemon wedges on the side.

Serves 4 to 6


Two-Pork Potatoes

4 thick-cut slices bacon, roughly chopped
2 (1/4-inch thick) slices pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
3 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
2 T coarsely chopped fresh thyme leaves

Preparing the potatoes:
Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and pancetta. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon and pancetta are brown and crispy, about 10 to 12 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon and pancetta pieces to paper towels to drain. Add the potatoes and garlic to the pan. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the potatoes are golden and cooked through, about 20 to 25 minutes. Add the thyme, cooked bacon and cooked pancetta to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Serves 4


Smoked Brisket

1/2 cup salt
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup chili powder
1/4 cup paprika
6 T black pepper
3 T onion powder
3 T garlic powder
3 T ground cumin
1 T cayenne
1 (10 to 12 pound whole, packer trim beef brisket

Preparing the brisket:
Sift all of the rub ingredients into a medium bowl and mix well. Set aside.

Trim all the hard fat from the brisket. Trim all the soft fat to 1/4-inch. Prepare a smoker or a grill, following manufacturers directions. Stabilize the temperature at 220 degrees F. Use a mild wood such as hickory or cherry for the smoke flavor. Generously cover all sides of the brisket with the rub and gently massage it in. Reserve the leftover rub. Smoke the meat for about 1 hour per pound. For example, a 10 pound brisket may need to smoke for about 10 or more hours. Monitor the internal temperature. When the brisket reaches 170 to 185 degrees F, on an instant-read thermometer, in the flat part of the brisket, remove the brisket from the smoker.

Separate the point of the meat from the flat. At this time you can slice the flat part of the brisket and eat. Trim the visible fat from the brisket point and coat it with the reserved rub. Return the meat to the smoker and continue cooking until the internal temperature of the brisket point reaches 200 degrees F. Remove the brisket from the smoker to a cutting board and let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes. Cut into chunks and transfer them to a serving platter. Serve it hot with your favorite sauce on the side.

Serves 10 to 12


3-Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

1 T, plus more for pasta water
1 pound large elbow macaroni
6 T butter
6 T all purpose flour
3 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 T freshly ground black pepper
1 pound white Cheddar, shredded
4 ounces Romano, shredded
4 ounces Asiago, shredded
2 cups panko bread crumbs or crushed Goldfish crackers
2 T chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Preparing the mac and cheese:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In large pot filled with water add 3 pinches of salt and the macaroni and place over high heat. Bring to a boil and let cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt butter. Sprinkle flour over butter and cook 2 to 3 minutes on medium heat, whisking until a roux or paste forms. Add cold milk and whisk vigorously until dissolved. Cook sauce on medium-low heat until thick and bubbly. Add heavy cream, all cheeses, 1 tablespoon of salt, and 1 tablespoon pepper. Cook until cheeses are fully melted, stirring occasionally.

Add cooked macaroni to cheese mixture and mix thoroughly. Place macaroni mixture in a 13-inch by 9-inch baking dish and top with bread crumbs. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and then cover that with tin foil. Place in oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, then remove the foil and plastic wrap and bake for another 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Top with fresh parsley and serve.

Variations: Add cooked lobster meat, truffle oil, bacon and/or garden fresh vegetables.

Serves 4 to 6


Lobster Quesadillas

2 pounds thawed frozen or fresh cooked lobster meat
10 (8-inch) flour tortillas
2 pounds cream cheese
1 pound Cheddar, shredded
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 roasted red onion, chopped
3 roasted plum tomatoes, chopped
4 T Sriracha (Thai hot sauce)
1 lime, juiced
2 T canola or olive oil

Preparing the quesadillas:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. F. Cut onion and tomatoes in half and place on a baking sheet. Put into hot oven and roast for 15 minutes or until softened. Remove and let cool slightly and coarsely chop.

Combine all ingredients together in a mixer except for tortillas and lobster meat. On an 8 inch flour tortilla, spread 1/2 cup of the mixture and 3 ounces of lobster meat evenly on 1/2 of tortilla and fold over to create a half moon shape. Repeat with each tortilla.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add oil and pan-fry tortilla until brown and crispy, about 3 minutes per side. Cut into wedges and serve with salsa, guacamole and sour cream.

Makes 10 quesadillas


Sauteed Haricots Verts

1/2 pound haricots verts (baby string beans), stem ends removed
extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, smashed
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
kosher salt

Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil. Set up a bowl of well salted ice water for shocking.

Add the beans to the boiling water and cook until the beans are tender but still toothsome about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the boiling water and place immediately into the salted ice water. Once the beans are cool, remove them from the water and set aside until ready to use.

Coat a large saute pan with olive oil. Add the garlic and the crushed red pepper and bring to a medium-high heat. When the garlic has become golden and very aromatic, remove it and discard. Add the beans to the pan and saute until they are hot and coated with oil. Season with salt and serve immediately.

Serves 4



1/2 cup water
1/2 stick butter
pinch of salt
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 eggs
pinch of ground cinnamon

ice cream
chocolate sauce

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the chocolate sauce:
4 ounces semisweet or dark chocolate
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 T butter
1 T corn syrup
1 good pinch ground cinnamon

Preparing the profiteroles:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

In a small saucepan combine the water, butter and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and add the flour all at once and stir it vigorously with a wooden spoon. Cook until the mixture has formed a ball and has a slightly sweaty sheen to it and it has pulled away from the pan. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and let cool for 3 to 4 minutes. The mixture does not have to be cold, just cool enough not to cook the eggs when added. Using an electric mixer or lots of good old-fashioned elbow grease, beat in the eggs one at a time. Do not add the second egg until the first is fully incorporated. Add in the cinnamon and beat for another second to combine.

Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag equipped with a large straight tip and pipe 1-inch balls onto a sheet tray lined with parchment paper. When done dip your finger in water and smooth the top of each ball where the pastry bag released the dough. Leave at least 1-inch between each of the balls to allow their expansion. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through the cooking time to insure even cooking. When done, the puffs should be light, airy and dry inside. Cool on a rack.

When ready to serve, cut in half horizontally and fill with ice cream of your choosing. Top with warm chocolate sauce.

Serves 8 to 12

* * * * * *

Preparing the chocolate sauce:
Bring a saucepan with 1-inch of water to a boil. Put the chocolate in a metal or heatproof glass mixing bowl and place on top of the saucepan with boiling water. Pay careful attention that the mixing bowl does not touch the surface of the boiling water. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until the chocolate has melted and everything is combined. Once the chocolate has melted remove it from the double boiler set up. Spoon over the filled profiteroles.


Grilled Lemon Mustard Chicken

4 Meyer lemons, 2 zested and juiced and 2 halved
1 cup Dijon mustard
2 T finely chopped rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 (3-pound) chickens, backbone removed and split in half
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt

Preparing the chicken:
Combine the lemon juice, zest, mustard, rosemary and crushed red pepper in a small bowl. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the mustard mixture to loosen it. Paint this mixture generously all over the chicken and let sit for up to 2 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator. If you have any of the mustard mixture left over, save it for repainting while the chicken is cooking.

Preheat the grill to medium, clean and oil the grill. Season the chicken lightly with salt and arrange gently on the grill, and develop crosshatch grill marks. If there are flare-ups, move the chicken out of the way. Put the lemon halves, cut side down, on the grill also and do not disturb until they look brown and caramelized.

Once the chicken has started to get brown and crispy and has developed grill marks in one direction, rotate the chicken a quarter turn in the other direction. The chicken should cook on the skin side for 10 to 12 minutes and then get turned over and cooked for the same amount of time. If there is any of the mustard mixture left over, the remainder can be used to paint the skin of the chicken once the chicken has been turned over. (If you are using the remainder of the mustard mix, be sure to give it plenty of time to cook again as it will have touched raw chicken. If not sure, skip this step.)

During the cooking time, close the grill to allow the heat to cook from all directions. If grilling indoors, the chicken can be transferred to a preheated 375 degree F oven to finish cooking once the grill marks have been established.

The chicken is done when the juices run clear when the pricked in the thickest part of the thigh. Remove the chicken from the grill to a serving platter and serve with the grilled lemon halves. Squeeze the grilled lemon over the chicken before eating.

Serves 4 to 6


Grilled Potatoes And Onions

4 large red-skinned potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1 red onion, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1 sprig rosemary, leaves finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
kosher salt
extra virgin olive oil

Preparing the potatoes and onions:
Preheat the grill, clean and oil.

In a large bowl, toss the potatoes and onions together with the rosemary, garlic, crushed red pepper, salt, to taste, and a little olive oil. Try to keep the onions together in rounds, they will fall apart while grilling but try and keep them together as long as possible.

Arrange the potatoes and onions on the preheated grill. Once the potatoes have developed grill marks, rotate them a quarter turn to create a crosshatch pattern. Turn the potatoes over and repeat the process, turn the onions over to cook the other side as well. Cook the potatoes and onions until they are soft all the way through, about 8 to 10 minutes on each side.

Remove from the grill and serve hot or at room temperature.

Serves 4


Abby's Chicken With Almonds and Mushrooms

extra virgin olive oil
8 chicken thighs
kosher salt
1/2 pound pancetta, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 large onions, julienned
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 pounds assorted mushrooms, such as shiitake, oyster or cremini, cleaned and sliced
2 cups dry white wine
4 to 6 cups chicken stock
1 bundle thyme
4 bay leaves
1/2 cup whole blanched almonds, toasted
chopped chives, for garnish

Preparing the chicken:
Coat a large, wide, deep pan with olive oil and bring to a high heat. Pat the chicken skin dry with paper towels and season generously with salt. Add chicken skin side down to the pan. If the pan is smoking excessively turn the burner down and continue to cook. When the skin is brown and crispy, turn the chicken over and brown it on the other side. Remove the chicken from the pan and reserve.

Lower the heat if you have not already done so and pour off most of the excess fat. Add the pancetta and brown. When the pancetta has started to get brown and crispy add the onions. Season with salt and crushed red pepper and sweat over medium heat for 7 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and saute for 3 to 4 minutes or until they release their juices. Add the wine and reduce by half. Return the chicken to the pan. Add chicken stock to almost cover the chicken. Add the thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer the chicken for 30 to 35 minutes. Add more chicken stock, if needed.

While the chicken is cooking puree the almonds in the food processor. Drizzle in a little olive oil while the machine is running to make this a loose paste. Season with salt and reserve.

Once the chicken has cooked for 30 to 35 minutes, remove it from the pan and reserve. Taste the sauce for seasoning and stir in the almond puree. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer to thicken the sauce, if needed. The almond puree will help to thicken the sauce and to make it very rich. Spoon the mushroom almond sauce over and garnish with chopped chives.

Serves 4 to 6


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Baked Salami, Another Way

1 Hebrew National salami
1/2 jar orange marmalade
1/2 jar apricot preserves
2 T honey dijon mustard

Preparing the baked salami:
Make diagonal cuts every 1/4 to 1/2-inch without cutting through the salami. Cover the salami and down into the cuts with a mixture of the mustard and preserves and marmalade. Bake at 350 degrees F for about an hour. The top of the salami should be caramelized.


Baked Salami

1 large Hebrew National salami
1 1/2 cups honey mustard
1 1/2 cups apricot or peach jam

Preparing the baked salami:

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.

In a small sauce pan, over medium heat, combine mustard and jam. Stir constantly until mixture is well combines and bubbly. Place salami on wire rack on a cookie sheet. Make diagonal slits every half-inch in the top of the salami to let the fat drip out and marinade drip in during baking. Brush mustard mixture onto salami. Bake for 4-5 hours, basting every 45 minutes to an hour.

Slice and serve with crackers and mustard on the side.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Julia's Potato & Leek Soup

4 cups sliced leeks, the white part and a bit of the tender green
4 cups diced baking potatoes
6 to 7 cups water or chicken stock
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1/2 cup or more sour cream, heavy cream, or créme fraîche, optional

Preparing the soup:
Bring the leeks, potatoes, and water to a boil in the saucepan. Salt lightly, cover partially, and simmer 20 to 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Add the cream, taste, and correct seasoning.

Serves 6 to 8


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Vanilla-Vanilla Pound Cake

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature

confectioners' sugar, for garnish

Variation: fruit, whipping cream, ice cream, hot fudge sauce, etc.

Preparing the cake:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8 1/2-inch by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan, preferably glass, and dust with flour.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt until blended.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, vanilla and scraped vanilla beans from the split vanilla bean on medium to medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition until just blended.

Sprinkle half of the flour mixture over the egg mixture and stir until both are just incorporated. Stir in the sour cream, then sprinkle with the remaining flour mixture and stir until evenly distributed.

Pour the batter into prepared loaf pan and tap gently on the counter to even out and settle the ingredients. Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 70 minutes, or longer if using a metal pan. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes.

Run a thin knife around the inside of the pan, invert the cake onto the rack and lift off the pan. Place the cake on one of its sides and continue cooling. Serve warm or at room temperature.

If serving cake at room temperature (cool, not warm), sprinkle top of cake with confectioners' sugar, if desired.

Serves 8 to 10


TF's Chocolate Glazed Plain or Chocolate Cake Donuts

Ingredients for the donuts:
3 1/2 cups (1 pound) cake flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 T unsalted butter
1 cup milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

fat for frying, such as canola oil

Variation: For chocolate donuts, melt 3 ounces of unsweetened chocolate along with the butter and continue as directed.

* * * * * * *

Ingredients for the chocolate glaze:
1/3 cup unsalted butter
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup warm water

Preparing the donuts:
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the eggs until foamy, gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until thick and yellow. Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat and combine with milk and vanilla extract. Stir the milk mixture into the egg mixture until blended. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix just until incorporated. Chill for 30 minutes to make it easier to roll and cut.

Roll or pat the dough out on a heavily floured surface to about 1/4-inch thick, the dough is somewhat wet. Cut with a floured doughnut cutter, saving the holes. Transfer to a sheet of waxed paper and allow to air dry for 10 minutes. The dough will form a slight crust and absorb less fat when fried.

Heat 3-inches of vegetable oil or shortening to 375 degrees F in an electric fryer or deep saucepan. Fry doughnuts until golden, about 5 minutes each side. To keep the oil temperature constant, fry 3 at a time. Fry the holes separately and drain on paper towels.

* * * * * * *

Preparing the chocolate glaze:
Melt butter and chocolate in a saucepan until melted, remove from heat. Whisk in confectioners' sugar until smooth. Gradually stir in the water until the mixture reaches the desired consistency. Dip the tops of the doughnuts in the glaze.

Makes 6 donuts


Chocolate Cake Donuts

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup buttermilk
3 T butter, melted
6 to 8 cups of vegetable oil, for frying

* * * * * * *

Ingredients for mocha glaze:
6 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 T butter
2 teaspoons corn syrup
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

Preparing the donuts:
In a bowl, mix flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, buttermilk, and melted butter to blend. Stir into dry ingredients until well blended. Chill until cold, at least 1 hour or up to 3 hours.

Scrape dough onto a generously floured surface. With floured hands, pat dough out to about 1/2 inch thick. With a 3-inch doughnut cutter, cut out doughnuts. Pat together scraps of dough and cut again. (Alternately, shape dough into ropes about 5 inches long and 1/2 inch thick; join rope ends to form doughnuts.) Place doughnuts on a well-floured baking sheet.

Meanwhile, fill an electric deep-fryer to the fill line or pour about 4 inches of oil into a 5- to 6-quart pan; heat to 375 degrees F. Place one doughnut at a time onto a wide spatula and gently slide into oil, frying up to three at a time. Cook, turning once, until puffy and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes total (to check timing, cut first one to test). With a slotted spoon, transfer doughnuts to paper towels to drain. Repeat to fry remaining doughnuts.

When cool enough to handle, dip the top half of each doughnut in warm mocha glaze and place on a plate. Let stand until glaze is set, about 5 minutes.

* * * * * * *

Preparing the mocha glaze:
In a heatproof bowl, combine 6 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate, 1/2 cup whipping cream, 1 tablespoon butter, 2 teaspoons corn syrup, and 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder. Bring a few inches of water to a boil in a pan; remove from heat. Place bowl over water and let stand, stirring occasionally, until smooth, about 10 minutes.

Makes 16 donuts


Plain Or Powdered Cake Donuts

vegetable oil, for frying
3 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 T shortening
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk

Preparing the donuts:
Heat oil (2 to 3 inches) in deep-fat fryer or heavy kettle to 375 degrees F.

Beat 1 1/2 cups of the flour and the remaining ingredients in large mixer bowl on low speed, scraping bowl constantly, 30 seconds.

Beat on medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally, 2 minutes. Stir in remaining flour. Turn dough onto well-floured cloth-covered board; roll around lightly to coat with flour. Roll gently 3/8 inch thick.

Cut with floured doughnut cutter. Slide doughnuts into hot oil with wide spatula. Turn doughnuts as they rise to surface.

Fry until golden brown, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes on each side. Remove from oil; do not prick doughnuts. Drain on paper towels. Serve plain, sugared or frosted.

Makes 24 donuts


Powdered Sugar Cake Donuts

2 eggs
2-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
5 T butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 1/2 cups buttermilk

oil for deep-fat frying
confectioners' sugar

Preparing the donuts:
In a large bowl, beat eggs; add the sugar, sour cream, butter and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda, salt and nutmeg; add to sour cream mixture alternately with buttermilk.
Turn onto a lightly floured surface; roll to 1/4-in. thickness. Cut with a floured 2-1/2-in. doughnut cutter.
In an electric skillet or deep-fat fryer, heat oil to 375°. Fry doughnuts, a few at a time, until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Dust with confectioners' sugar. Yield: about 6 dozen.

Makes 72 donuts


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Village Corn Ice Cream

1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups milk
2 ears sweet corn, shucked, kernels reserved, cobs chopped into 1-inch hunks
1/2 vanilla bean or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 egg yolks
1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup sugar

Preparing the ice cream:
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the cream, milk, corn cobs, and vanilla bean (if using vanilla extract, add later). Bring to a simmer. Stir to dissolve sugar. Gently cook for 10 minutes. Remove corn cobs with a slotted spoon.
Whisk the egg yolks and 1/3 cup sugar together in a bowl until pale yellow. Slowly whisk in the hot cream mixture. Whisk until well combined and smooth. Return the mixture to the saucepan and stir over low heat for 1 minute, until it coats the back of a spoon. Strain the custard through a fine sieve. Stir in the vanilla extract, if using.

In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup sugar and the corn kernels to a simmer, cooking until kernels are soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add the corn mixtureto the custard. Allow it to cool in a bowl with a piece of plastic wrap against the top to prevent a skin from forming. When cool, process in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions.

Makes 1 quart


Mexican Corn Ice Cream

2 ears corn
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparing the ice cream:
Set a box grater in a large bowl. Using the large holes, grate corn kernels (and their "milk") off the cobs. Discard cobs.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine cream, milk, and corn. Bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk sugar and egg yolks until pale and thick. When cream mixture reaches a simmer, slowly ladle 1/2 cup of it into egg mixture, whisking constantly. Repeat with another 1/2-cup ladleful. Reduce heat to low, whisk warmed egg mixture into saucepan, and cook, whisking, until mixture thickens a bit, about 5 minutes.

Pour mixture into a medium bowl, stir in vanilla, cover with plastic wrap (letting the wrap sit directly on the mixture's surface), and chill at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.

Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Serve immediately or transfer to an airtight plastic container and freeze up to overnight.

Serves 8


Corn Ice Cream

3 ears of corn, kernels cut from cobs and cobs chopped (1-inch pieces)
1 quart whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
5 large egg yolks

Preparing the ice cream:
Cook corn kernels with cobs, milk, cream, and sugar in a large heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved. Simmer, uncovered, 1 hour.

Discard corn cobs. Purée corn mixture in batches in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids).

Lightly beat yolks in a large bowl. Slowly add hot corn mixture, whisking. Return mixture to saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until custard is slightly thickened and registers 170 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer (do not let boil).

Immediately strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a metal bowl, pressing on and then discarding solids. Chill custard at least 6 hours.

Freeze custard in ice cream maker, in batches if necessary. Transfer to airtight containers and put in freezer to firm up, at least 3 hours.

Makes 2 quarts


Corn Ice Cream

4 ears fresh corn, shucked
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
9 large egg yolks

Preparing the ice cream:
Using a large knife, slice the kernels off the corn cobs and place in a large saucepan. Break the cobs into thirds and add them to the pot along with the milk, cream, and 1/2 cup of the sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring, then turn off the heat. Using an immersion mixer or a blender, puree the corn kernels (not the cobs). Infuse for 1 hour.

Bring the mixture back to a simmer, then turn off the heat. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. Add a cup of the hot cream to the yolks, stirring constantly so they don't curdle. Add the yolk mixture to the saucepan, stirring. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spoon, about 10 minutes.

Pass the custard through a fine sieve, pressing down hard on the solids, discard solids. Let the custard cool, then cover and chill for at least 4 hours. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions.

Makes about a quart


Brown Butter Bacon Ice Cream

5 strips of bacon
2 T light brown sugar
3 T salted butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 3/4 cups half-and-half
5 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons dark rum or whiskey
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional

Preparing the candied bacon:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lay the strips of bacon on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or aluminum foil, shiny-side down.

Sprinkle 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons brown sugar evenly over each strip of bacon, depending on length.

Bake for 12 to 16 minutes. Midway through baking, flip the bacon strips over and drag them through the dark, syrupy liquid that's collected on the baking sheet. Continue to bake until the bacon is as dark as mahogany. Remove from oven and cool the bacon strips on a wire rack.

Once cooled and crisp, chop the bacon into little pieces.

* * * * * *

Preparing the ice cream custard:
Melt the butter in a heavy, medium-size saucepan. Stir in the brown sugar and half of the half-and-half. Pour the remaining half-and-half into a bowl set in an ice bath and set a mesh strainer over the top.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, then gradually whisk in some of the warm brown sugar mixture. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan.

Cook over low to moderate heat, constantly stirring and scraping the bottom with a heatproof spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.

Add the rum, vanilla and cinnamon.

Chill the mixture for about 5 hours. Once thoroughly chilled, pour into ice cream maker. Add the bacon bits during the last moment of churning, or stir them in when you remove the ice cream from the machine.

Makes 3/4 of a quart


Monday, October 17, 2011

Almond Tart

4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup ground toasted almonds, plus 2 cups
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, plus 3 egg whites, plus 1 egg beaten
1/2 cup apricot jam
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Preparing the tart:
Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and set aside.

Toss together the flour, 1/2 cup almonds, and sugar. Cut the butter into the dry mixture until it is the consistency of fine bread crumbs. Add 1 egg and a pinch of salt and mix well, kneading slightly. Form the pastry into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Line the tart pan with the dough, letting it hang over by 1-inch. Trim the edges, reserving the scraps and rolling them into a ball. Place the pan in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Roll the reserved dough ball out to 1/8-inch thickness and, using a pastry cutter with a crimp edge, cut it into several strips that are 9-inches long and 1/4-inch wide. Set these strips aside in a cool place.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Line the tart pan with waxed paper and load the inside with beans. Bake in the oven until the dough has firmed but is still pale about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Beat the egg whites until they are thick and glossy. Spread the apricot jam in an even layer inside the tart crust. Fold the remaining almonds and the chocolate into the whipped egg whites and spread this mixture over the apricot jam. Arrange the dough strips over the top of the tart in a criss-cross fashion, pushing the ends into the apricot mixture. Brush the top with the beaten egg and bake 30 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature.

Serves 8


Chocolate Hazelnut Pie

The pie can be made one day in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Allow the pie to return to room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

Ingredients for the pie:
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup hazelnuts, skinned and toasted
1/4 cup all purpose flour, plus more to dust the pie dish
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup hot water
4 eggs
1 stick butter, cut into 3/4-inch pieces, at room temperature, plus more to grease the pie dish
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

* * * * * * *

Ingredients for vanilla whipped cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 T powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preparing the pie:
Position an oven rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

Put 1/2 of the chocolate chips, hazelnuts, and flour in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the hazelnuts are coarsely chopped. Pour the hazelnut mixture into a small bowl and set aside. Combine remaining chocolate chips and sugar in the food processor. Blend until the mixture is finely ground. With the machine running, gradually add the hot water until the chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Add the eggs, butter, vanilla and cinnamon. Pulse until mixture is blended. Return the hazelnut mixture to the food processor and pulse to incorporate. Pour the mixture into a buttered and floured 9-inch pie dish. Bake for 35 minutes. Place the pie on a cooling rack and cool for 1 hour. (Top may crack during cooling.) Refrigerate for 2 hours.

* * * * * * *

Preparing the whipped vanilla cream:
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream until it forms soft peaks. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Continue to beat until cream holds stiff peaks.

Serves 8


Brownies With Vanilla Ice Cream & Caramel Sauce

1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup or (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter softened, plus more for greasing the pan
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans, plus more for garnishing

caramel sauce, for serving
vanilla ice cream, for serving

* * * * * *

Ingredients for caramel sauce:
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
1 cup whipping cream
pinch of coarse salt
dash of ground cayenne pepper

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

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the cocoa powder, flour, and salt. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat until thick and lemon-colored, about 2 minutes. Blend in the vanilla and the melted, and cooled chocolate. Slowly add in the cocoa-flour mixture, mixing until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and pecans, saving some pecans for garnishing the top.

Generously butter and flour a 13 by 9-inch pan or a 10-inch springform pan. Fill the pan with batter, and dot with pecans.

Bake until a wood pick or skewer inserted in the center comes out moist from the melted chocolate (not batter), about 25 minutes. The top will likely start to show some cracks - it is drier than the interior. Let the brownies cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into 12 squares, or if using a round springform pan, cut into a nice big triangle. Top each brownie with warm caramel sauce, and vanilla ice cream.

* * * * * *

Preparing the caramel sauce:
Put the water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a bare boil to dissolve the sugar, and then jack up the heat to a full rolling boil, and let it boil away for 20 to 30 minutes, or until brownish. Do not touch it.

As soon as the sugar is medium brown in color, whisk in the cream carefully, to avoid splatter. The sugar will clump, but gradually be mixed in to the ssyrup. Continue to boil until thicker. It will thicken even more as it cools. Season with salt and cayenne pepper. Serve warm on top of the brownie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream

Serves 8


Cat's Tongue Cookies [Lingue di Gatto]

7 T unsalted butter
1 T vanilla powder
7 T confectioner's sugar
4 egg whites
1 whole egg
3 1/2 ounces (100 grams) flour

Preparing the cookies:
Preheat the oven to about 350 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, add the butter, vanilla powder, and icing sugar. Whip the mixture to a creamy and fluffy consistency. Slowly add the egg whites and the whole egg to the mixture and continue mixing until fully combined. Then slowly add the flour and mix well until fluffy and uniform in texture.

Place the mixture into a piping bag and squeeze out approximately 2 1/2-inch long strips (about 2 1/2-inch) onto a greased baking sheet. Strips will flatten and expand in the oven into the shape of a cat's tongue. Bake for approximately 6 minutes, or until golden.

Serves 4


Parker House Rolls

1 cup warm water (about 110 degrees F)
2 T sugar
1 package active dry yeast
2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
2 T melted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher

Preparing the rolls:
Combine the warm water, sugar and yeast together in a glass measuring cup and let yeast ferment until foamy, about 5 to 10 minutes. Whisk flour and salt together in a large bowl. Make a well in the flour, add 1 of the eggs and 1 yolk into the well and slightly beat. Add the yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until a rough dough forms. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding more flour as needed, until dough is smooth and elastic.

Place in a bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and let dough rest for 10 or 20 minutes. Remove dough from the bowl, divide the dough in half and roll each piece into a long 1 1/2-inch wide snake shape. Cut into 20 pieces and shape each into a ball.

Coat a 9-inch glass pie dish the melted butter, then toss the dough balls in the butter until coated. Cover with a kitchen towel and sit in a warm place, until dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Brush the tops of the rolls with the remaining egg and sprinkle with the coarse salt. Bake until golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool about 30 minutes but serve warm.

Makes 20 rolls


Sweet Potato Pancakes With Mango Chutney

Ingredients for sweet potato pancakes:
2 cups cooked sweet potatoes
1/2 cup chickpea flour
1 T garam masala
1 T grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 T yogurt
2 T grapeseed oil

* * * * * *

Ingredients for mango chutney:
About 1/4 cup pineapple juice
About 1 1/2 ounces or 3 T chopped red onion
1 T chopped fresh cilantro
1 T chat masala
1/2 teaspoon salt, approximately
5 ounces mango chunks

Preparing the sweet potato pancakes:
Mash the sweet potatoes in a bowl and then add the chickpea flour, garam masala, ginger, salt, cilantro, and yogurt. Mix well and then form into small patties about 2-inches in diameter.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and cook the patties in batches so they have plenty of room to fry. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side, or until they are golden and crispy and cooked through.

Makes 14 pancakes

* * * * * * *

Place the juice, onion, cilantro, chat masala, and salt in a food processor and process to a paste. Add the mango and pulse until the chunks are coarsely chopped. Chill until ready to serve.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Beignets in the Style of Cafe Du Monde

Ingredients for the beignets:
1 cup warm milk (about 105 to 115 degrees F)
1 package dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
2 medium eggs
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups (or more) all purpose flour
solid vegetable shortening (for deep-frying)
powdered sugar

* * * * * *

Ingredients for blueberry sauce:
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups water

Preparing the beignets:
Combine milk and yeast in large bowl; let stand until yeast dissolves, about 5 minutes. Whisk in eggs and melted butter. Add 3 cups flour and stir to form moist sticky dough.

Knead dough on floured work surface, incorporating flour as necessary, until dough is smooth and elastic, and no longer sticky, about 10 minutes. Form into ball. Lightly oil same large bowl; place dough in bowl. Cover with kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let dough rise until doubled in bulk, about 40 minutes.

Heat shortening in deep fryer to 325 degrees F.

Transfer dough to floured work surface. Punch dough down; cover with kitchen towel and let stand for about 15 minutes. Sprinkle dough with flour. Using rolling pin, roll out dough into 12-inch square. Using pizza cutter, trim edges slightly to form perfect square. Cut dough crosswise into 4 equal strips. Cut each strip into 6 pieces, forming 24 rectangles total.

Working in batches, fry dough rectangles in hot oil until golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Using slotted metal spoon, transfer beignets to paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain.

Arrange 3 beignets on each of 8 plates. Ladle blueberry sauce over and around beignets. Generously sprinkle powdered sugar over beignets. Alternatively, place beignets on platter. Generously sprinkle with powdered sugar, and serve blueberry sauce alongside.

Serves 8

* * * * * *

Preparing the blueberry sauce:
Puree all ingredients in food processor until smooth. Strain through fine sieve into heavy medium saucepan. Season sauce to taste with more sugar, if necessary. Simmer sauce over medium-low heat until syrupy, about 20 minutes.

Sauce can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.


Arborio Rice Pudding

1 cup water
pinch salt
1/2 T butter
1/2 cup Arborio rice
2 cups whole milk
4 T sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or scrape out the seeds from on vanilla bean
a few dashes ground cinnamon
whipped cream, for serving

Preparing the pudding:
Bring water, salt, and butter to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the rice, return to a boil, and then reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Shake the pan occasionally and cook until rice has absorbed the water but it still al dente, about 15 minutes.

Bring milk, sugar, vanilla, and a few dashes of cinnamon to a simmer in a separate saucepan. Add the cooked rice and cook at a simmer over medium-low heat until rice absorbs most of the milk and mixture starts to get thick and silky, anywhere from 15 to 45 or so minutes, depending on your stove.

Transfer pudding to a large bowl and cool to room temperature. Place in refrigerator until cool and set. Serve with whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon.

Serves 4


TF's Rice Pudding

3 cups white rice, cooked
3 cups milk
2/3 cup sugar
2 T butter
1/2 cup raisins
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon, grated
1 teaspoon cinnamon, divided

Preparing the rice pudding:
Combine cooked rice, milk, sugar and butter in a medium saucepan. Add raisins and vanilla. Cook for 25 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed. Mix in lemon zest and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Spoon pudding into a serving dish and dust with remaining cinnamon. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Serves 4 to 6


TF's Roasted Tomato Soup

2 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes (mix of fresh heirlooms, cherry, vine and plum tomatoes)
6 cloves garlic, peeled
2 small yellow onions, sliced
vine cherry tomatoes for garnish, optional
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 quart chicken stock
2 bay leaves
4 T butter
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, optional
3/4 cup heavy cream, optional

Preparing the soup:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Wash, core and cut the tomatoes into halves. Spread the tomatoes, garlic cloves and onions onto a baking tray. If using vine cherry tomatoes for garnish, add them as well, leaving them whole and on the vine. Drizzle with 1/2 cup of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, or until caramelized.

Remove roasted tomatoes, garlic and onion from the oven and transfer to a large stock pot (set aside the roasted vine tomatoes for later). Add 3/4 of the chicken stock, bay leaves, and butter. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until liquid has reduced by a third.

Wash and dry basil leaves, if using, and add to the pot. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth. Return soup to low heat, add cream and adjust consistency with remaining chicken stock, if necessary. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Garnish in bowl with 3 or 4 roasted vine cherry tomatoes and a splash of heavy cream.

Serves 4 to 6


Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Tomato Soup

Ingredients for the tomato soup:
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 T extra virgin basil olive oil
3 T finely diced shallots
2 garlic cloves, finely diced
2 T finely chopped thyme leaves
2 T finely chopped basil leaves
3 strips thick sliced apple wood smoked bacon, fried and diced
3 ounce tomato paste
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup chicken broth
sugar, to taste
1 T chiffonnade basil, for garnish

* * * * * * *

Ingredients for the sandwich:
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 T grated parmigiano-reggiano
1 T Dijon mustard, plus 4 T
8 slices Shephard's bread
8 ounces white Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 heirloom tomato, sliced into 3 (1/8-inch) slices
8 strips thick sliced apple wood smoked bacon, fried

Preparing the soup:
Puree the crushed tomatoes and set aside. In a heavy stainless steel pot, heat basil olive oil. Add shallots and cook until soft. Add garlic, thyme, chopped basil, bacon, and tomato paste and continue to cook, stirring with a wooden spoon. Add tomato puree, cream, chicken broth, and salt and sugar, to taste. Bring to a simmer. Pour soup into bowls and garnish with chiffonnade basil.

Serves 4

* * * * * *

Preparing the sandwiches:
Combine butter, parmigiano-reggiano, and 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard. Spread a liberal amount of butter mixture on 2 slices of bread. Flip over slices and spread some Dijon mustard on other sides. Place Cheddar cheese on the Dijon side of both slices. Place bacon on top of cheese on 1 slice and sliced tomatoes on top of cheese on other slice. Combine both sides together and place in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook until golden brown and crusty. Flip sandwich and place a weighted cast iron pan on top. Cook until golden brown and cheese has melted.

Serves 4


Saturday, October 15, 2011


Ingredients for the cake:
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 cups semolina flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup plain yogurt (or 1 cup of whole milk)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 T baking soda
2 eggs
blanched sliced almonds, for garnish

* * * * * * *

Ingredients for honey glaze:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup water
1 T honey
1 generous squeeze of lemon juice (or, 1 teaspoon lemon juice)

Preparing the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch by 13-inch baking pan.

In a medium bowl, combine the semolina and baking soda. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar; once fluffy, add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated.

Add the semolina and baking soda mixture bit by bit, stirring well after each addition. Once incorporated, add the yogurt (or milk) bit by bit, stirring after each addition until fully incorporated. The batter will be very thick.

Spoon the batter into the greased baking pan, smoothing the top with a spatula.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden around the edges.

While baking, prepare the honey glaze. Once the basbousa has come out of the oven, pour the glaze directly on to the still-hot cake, being sure to cover it uniformly. The glaze will sink into the cake, but the top should be slightly sticky. Top with the almonds. Let cool for at least 30 minutes; slice into squares or diamonds before serving.

* * * * * *

Preparing the honey glaze:

Heat sugar, water, and honey over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar is fully dissolved.

Let the mixture simmer for about five minutes; once it has reduced to a maple syrup sort of thickness, add the lemon juice and stir just until incorporated.


Raspberry Brown Sugar and Almond Coffee Cake

4 cups all purpose unbleached flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
10 ounces (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups light brown sugar
5 eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons pure almond extract
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups fresh raspberries
1 cup whole almonds, coarsely chopped
powdered sugar

Preparing the cake:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch by 13-inch baking pan

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Toss with your hands and set aside.

Combine butter and sugar in bowl of KitchenAid mixer. Using paddle attachment, mix on medium speed for 5 to 8 minutes to cream the butter. The mixture should be smooth and pale in color.

In a medium bowl, combine eggs, milk, and almond and vanilla extracts and mix with whisk. Add small amount of egg mixture to bowl of creamed butter and mix on medium speed until fully incorporated. Continue adding small amounts until all of egg mixture is mixed into butter. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula and mix for another 30 seconds.

Remove bowl from mixer. Alternately add small amounts of flour mixture and buttermilk to bowl, mixing with wooden spoon just until all ingredients are incorporated. [Set aside 1/4 cup of flour mixture and toss with raspberries to prevent from sinking to bottom.] Fold in flour/raspberries, taking care not to smash fruit. Pour batter into prepared baking pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle chopped almonds over top.

Bake on center rack of oven for about 1 hour, or until golden brown. Test center of cake with skewer. It will come out clean when cake is finished. Let cool for 30-40 minutes on a wire rack, then dust with powdered sugar and cut into pieces. This coffee cake will be fragile until completely cooled, so remove warm pieces carefully, using a pie server to left pieces out of the pan.

Variations: To turn this into a chocolate orange coffee cake, zest one orange into the batter, replace the raspberries with semisweet chocolate chips. After baking, poke top of the cake with a toothpick and brush an orange juice and sugar syrup over the top before drizzling chocolate ganache over the top and sprinkling with chopped toasted almonds.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Walnut Blue Cheese Crackers

1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
8 ounces Stilton cheese, crumbled (about 12 ounces with rind), at room temperature
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 extra large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts

Preparing the crackers:
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and Stilton together for 1 minute, or until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour, salt and pepper and mix until it's in large crumbles, about 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoon of water and mix until combined.

Dump the dough onto a floured board, press it into a ball, and roll into a 12-inch long log. Brush the log completely with the egg wash. Spread the walnuts in a square on a cutting board and roll the log back and forth in the walnuts, pressing lightly, and distributing them evenly on the outside of the log. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or for up to 4 days.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut the log 3/8ths-inch thick with a small, sharp knife and place the crackers on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 22 minutes until very lightly browned. Rotate the pan once during baking. Cool and serve at room temperature.

Makes 30 crackers


Ham and Cheese in Puff Pastry

1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted (recommended: Pepperidge Farm)
2 T Dijon mustard
1/4 pound black forest ham, sliced
1/2 pound Swiss Gruyere cheese, sliced
1 egg, beaten with 1 T water, for egg wash

Preparing the ham and cheese in puff pastry:
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan.

Lay 1 sheet of puff pastry on a floured board and carefully roll it out to 10 by 12 inches. Place it on a sheet pan and brush the center with the mustard, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge. Place a layer first of ham and then cheese, also leaving a 1-inch border. Brush the border with the egg wash.

Place the second sheet of puff pastry on the floured board and roll it out to 10 by 12 inches. Place the second sheet on top of the filled pastry, lining up the edges. Cut the edges straight with a small, sharp knife and press together lightly. Brush the top with egg wash and cut a few slits in the top to allow steam to escape.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes and serve hot or warm.

Serves 6


Chocolate Butter Toffee Hazelnuts

4 1/2 ounces butter
3 ounces water
14 ounces sugar
2 T light corn syrup
1 T vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
5 ounces chopped, toasted hazelnuts
tempered chocolate (5 ounces dark chocolate couverture, chopped, divided)

Preparing the chocolate butter toffee hazelnuts:
In a small saucepan, melt the butter and water on high heat. Add the sugar and corn syrup. Wipe down the sides of the saucepan with a damp pastry brush to remove any loose sugar crystals. Cook the sugar mixture to 300 degrees F. Remove from the heat and set the pan over an ice bath for 5 to 10 seconds to stop the cooking. Remove from the ice bath. Add the vanilla and baking soda, stirring to incorporate. Quickly pour the mixture onto a silicone pad and spread thin. Sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts. Let set until completely cool, 5 to 7 minutes.

Once the toffee is set, turn over onto a sheet of parchment. Spread a thin layer of fluid, tempered chocolate onto the toffee and let set. Once set, the chocolate should be shiny, hard, and should snap with any given resistance. Turn back over and break into desired pieces.

* * * * * *

Tempering chocolate:
Over a double boiler, melt 4 ounces chocolate to 115 degrees to 120 degrees F. Bring the bowl, with the chocolate, to a flat, clean work surface (preferably marble or stainless steel), wiping away any access water or steam from the bowl. With rubber spatula, fully incorporate the remaining 1 ounce chocolate. Bring down the temperature of the chocolate to 80 to 84 degrees F by either stirring constantly in a figure 8 motion, or tabling. [To table, pour 2/3 of the chocolate onto a marble slab, quickly spread with a thin metal spatula, scrape into a pile with a putty knife, and then spread thin again. Repeat until the right consistency is reached. Add back to the warm chocolate.]

Once cooled, test the chocolate by dipping a small strip of parchment paper into the melted chocolate, and then lay it down on a clean work surface. If tempered, the chocolate on the parchment paper should be dry, hard, shiny, and without any streaks in 3 to 5 minutes. If any of these occur, keep stirring (agitating) the chocolate, or table it again, until a parchment paper test shows that the chocolate is tempered.

When tempered, bring the chocolate back to the double boiler and reheat to NO HIGHER than 89 degrees F. (Bringing the temperature back up aids in a more fluid working consistency.) Transfer the chocolate to a chocolate warmer or set the bowl on top of a heating pad (at medium setting) to keep in temper.

Makes 40 pieces


Peach And Blueberry Cobbler In A Skillet

Ingredients for the filling:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 T cornstarch
3 large peaches, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch thick wedges
2 1/2 cups blueberries
1 T fresh lemon juice
lemon zest, optional

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the biscuit topping:
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 T sugar
3/4 teaspoons salt
6 T cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces or grated
1/2 cup buttermilk

Optional: heavy cream and turbinado sugar

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

In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, salt, and cornstarch. Add the peaches, and blueberries, and mix, coating the fruit evenly with the sugar mixture. Toss with the lemon juice and zest, if desired. Put the fruit filling in a cast iron skillet and place in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. In the meantime, make the biscuit dough.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Using a food processor, a pastry cutter, or your fingertips incorporate the chilled butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the buttermilk and stir just until moistened.

Carefully remove the skillet from the oven, and drop 6 to 8 (1/2 cup) portions of biscuit dough on top of the cooked fruit, spacing the mounds about a 1/2-inch apart. Variation: Brush tops with heavy cream and sprinkle turbinado sugar over the top of the biscuits.

Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees F and bake until the biscuits are golden brown on top and the fruit is bubbling, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Serves 6


Griddle Corn Cakes With Mango Salsa And Guacomole

Ingredients for the corn cakes:
3 cups fresh or frozen corn off the cob
1 cup unsalted butter , softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup masa harina
1/4 cup flour
1 T unsalted butter, for greasing skillet

tomatillo guacamole
mango salsa

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the guacomole:
6 to 8 tomatillos, husked and coarsely chopped (about 8 ounces)
3/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and diced
1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 jalapeno, coarsely chopped with seeds
2 cloves garlic, smashed and quartered
juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the mango salsa:
1/2 cup diced mango
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
2 T minced onion
2 T chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons minced Serrano chile
zest and juice of 1 lime

Preparing the corn cakes:
Add 2 cups of the corn to a food processor and puree. Combine the pureed corn with the softened butter, sugar, and salt. Mix well.

Stir in the masa harina, and flour, and mix until blended. Fold in the remaining corn kernels.

In a large cast iron skillet, heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Drop 1/2 cup portions of the batter into the hot skillet forming patties. Cook until the cakes are golden brown on one side, and flip over. Continue cooking until the cakes are cooked through and golden brown on both sides.

Serve the corn cakes as they are, or adorned with shredded cabbage, tomatillo guacamole, sour cream, and mango salsa.

Serves 4 or makes 8 corn cakes

* * * * *

Preparing the guacamole:
Combine the tomatillos, cilantro, avocado, onion, jalapeno, garlic, lime juice, cumin, and salt in a food processor or blender and pulse until combined.

* * * * *

Preparing the salsa:
Combine the mango, tomatoes, minced onion, cilantro, chile, lime zest, and lime juice in a small bowl. Allow the flavors to macerate.

* * * * *

Bacon Corn Cakes: Add 1/2 cup cooked and crumbled bacon to the batter just before cooking.

Green Chile Corn Cakes: Add 1/4 cup chopped green chiles to the batter just before cooking.

Cumin-Spiced Corn Cakes: Add 2 teaspoons ground cumin to the batter just before cooking.


Cheese Polenta With Sausage and Peppers

Ingredients for the polenta:
1 gallon chicken stock
1 gallon heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon gray salt
2 cups polenta
2 cups semolina
2 cups freshly grated fontina cheese
2 cups freshly grated parmesan

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the sausages and peppers:
2 pints cherry tomatoes
6 yellow peppers
6 yellow onions
4 serrano chile peppers or jalepeno peppers
10 garlic cloves
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
gray salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly chopped basil leaves

Preparing the polenta:
In a heavy saucepan, combine the stock and cream, and bring to a boil. Add the nutmeg and salt. Whisk in the polenta and semolina and cook over low heat for about 20 to 30 minutes, stirring often, until the grains are soft. Fold in the cheeses. Serve immediately or reserve.

To encourage polenta to come cleanly out of the pan, cook over medium heat. Run a spatula or wooden spoon around the sides of the pan to clean off the polenta. Do not stir, but wait and watch for a few seconds until a large bubble begins to form and pushes the polenta upward. Pour immediately into a warm dish.

Polenta can be made ahead and reheated: Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup water or stock, cover the dish, and reheat in the microwave or over low heat. Whisk well before serving.
Set up 1 or 2 clean, untreated butcher blocks or cutting boards or lay down parchment or butcher paper over a tabletop. Pour the warm polenta out onto the table in front of guests. Pass bowls of sauces and mix-ins. Each guest mixes in their toppings and eats right off the table.

Serves 8

* * * * * *

Preparing grilled sausages with peppers and onions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Fill a medium pot halfway with cold water and add sausages. Bring to a boil and shut off the flame. Let sausages sit in water until water has cooled to room temperature. Remove sausages from water and reserve until ready to grill.

Halve the cherry tomatoes. Seed and slice the peppers into julienne, peel and slice the onions, soup style. Thinly slice the serrano peppers, and the garlic cloves. In a large mixing bowl toss all of the vegetables together with the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour the mix onto a large oven tray and bake for about 1 hour stirring occasionally so that it cooks evenly. Remove from oven when vegetables are fully cooked and lightly browned. Let cool slightly and stir in chopped basil.

Grill the poached sausages over a medium-high heat until nicely caramelized.

Serves 8


Marinated Goat Cheese

5 lemons, zested
3 T freshly chopped rosemary leaves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
8 (2-ounce) rounds goat cheese
gray salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparing the goat cheese:
Combine lemon zest, rosemary, and olive oil.

Place goat cheese in a baking dish or on a large plate and spoon marinade over the top. Season with gray salt and pepper. Refrigerate and let marinate.

Serves 8


Tomato Pesto Sauce

Ladle this over pasta and serve at room temperature. It can also be spread on bruschetta, grilled fish or chicken. Top a thick slice of toast with proscuitto, a poached egg and a little of this sauce. When tomatoes are plentiful, use with peel on. To intensify the flavor, add a few oven-dried tomatoes. The pesto keeps several days in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.

4 cups peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped tomatoes
5 cloves minced garlic
30 large fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 T and 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Ssea salt, preferably gray salt, and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Preparing the sauce:
Combine the tomatoes, garlic, basil, olive oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper, to taste, in a blender and puree until smooth. Add the cheese and blend briefly just to mix. Transfer to a bowl and adjust the seasoning.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Chocolate Truffle Cake

Assemble the cake at least 1 day before serving so the layers can firm in the refrigerator.

Ingredients for the chocolate orange cake:
1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup superfine sugar
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
grated zest of 1/2 orange
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, beaten

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the orange syrup:
2/3 cup simple syrup (see end)
1 T orange-flavored liqueur, such as Grand Marnier

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the whipped ganache:
2 1/4 cups heavy cream, divided 14 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
(no more than 62 percent cacao), finely chopped

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the chocolate glaze:
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 T freshly brewed espresso or
1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 2 T boiling water
2 T superfine sugar
8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (no more than 62 percent cacao), finely chopped
2 T light corn syrup
chocolate pearls, for garnish

* * * * * *

Ingredients for simple syrup:
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water

Preparing the simple syrup:
Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.

Stop stirring and boil for 1 minute. Cool completely. (The syrup can be stored in a covered container and refrigerated for up to 2 months.)

Makes about 1 1/3 cups

* * * * * * *

Preparing the cake:
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line a half-sheet pan with a silicone baking mat, or lightly butter the pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and salt together. Combine the cream, zest, and vanilla in the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer. Attach the bowl to the mixer and fit with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium speed until the cream holds its shape, just before soft peaks begin to form. Gradually beat in the eggs-the mixture will thin somewhat. Change to the paddle attachment. On low speed, add the flour mixture, and beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl, about 1 minute. Because the cream is chilled, the batter thickens to the consistency of very stiff frosting. Distribute the batter in 5 large dollops in the pan, 1 in each corner and 1 in the center. Spread evenly with an offset metal spatula.

Bake until the cake springs back when pressed gently with your finger in the center, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Run a knife around the inside of the half-sheet pan to loosen the cake. Place a large piece of parchment paper over the cake, then top with a large cutting board. Invert the pan and board together, and remove the pan and mat. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate to chill and firm, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day before using.

The cream in this cake makes a very tender crumb that can break when handling. Refrigerate the unmolded sheet cake until the cake is chilled and firm, and the cut rounds will be sturdier and ready for stacking.

* * * * * *

Preparing the orange syrup:
Stir the simple syrup and liqueur together.

* * * * * *

Preparing the whipped ganache:
Bring 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the cream to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Add the hot cream and let stand until the chocolate softens, about 3 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Let cool until tepid but still fluid, about 15 minutes.

Whip the remaining 1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons cream in the chilled bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium speed only until the cream holds its shape, just before soft peaks begin to form. Pour the whipped cream over the cooled chocolate mixture and fold together with a silicone spatula. Do not overmix, or the ganache will be grainy. Transfer 1/2 cup of the ganache to a small bowl and set aside.

* * * * * *

Assembling the cake:
Transfer the cake, with its cutting board, to the work surface. Using an 8 by 3-inch metal cake ring as a template, cut out two 8-inch rounds of cake from opposite corners of the chocolate cake. Cut out two half-rounds of cake from the remaining cake, and save the scraps. The two half-rounds will be put together, with the reserved scraps cut to fill in the gap, to become the center cake layer.
Place the cake ring on a half-sheet pan. Insert an 8-inch cardboard round, white side up, inside the ring. Place a whole cake layer in the ring, and drizzle and brush with about 3 1/2 tablespoons of the syrup. Top with half of the whipped ganache filling, and spread evenly. Top with the partial cake layers, and fill in the gap with trimmings of the reserved cake scraps. Top with a smaller cardboard round and press gently to level the layers. Remove the cardboard round. Drizzle and brush the layer with another 3 1/2 tablespoons syrup. Spread with the rest of the filling. Add the final cake layer, cover with the smaller cardboard round, and press gently to level the layers.

Remove the cardboard round. Drizzle and brush the cake with the remaining syrup. Using a small offset spatula, spread the reserved 1/2 cup filling over the top cake layer to make a smooth surface that fills any small holes. Refrigerate the cake until completely chilled, at least 6 hours or overnight.

Remove the cake from the refrigerator. Place on the work surface. Rinse a kitchen towel under hot water and wring it out. Wrap the hot, moist towel around the sides of the cake ring, being careful not to get water on the top of the cake. Let stand for about 30 seconds. Lift up on the ring to remove it. (If it doesn't remove easily, moisten the towel again and reapply to the sides.) Place the cake on a small round wire cake rack set on a half-sheet pan. Using a small offset spatula rinsed under hot water and dried, smooth the sides of the cake to even out the exposed ganache between the layers. Refrigerate the cake on the rack until the outer layer of ganache is very firm, about 30 minutes.

* * * * * *

Preparing the glaze:
Bring the cream, espresso, and sugar just to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Let stand until the chocolate softens, about 3 minutes. dd the corn syrup and stir well with a silicone spatula until the chocolate is melted and the glaze is smooth. Do not whisk, as this will create bubbles that will mar the surface of the glaze. Strain into a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Let stand until tepid but still liquid and pourable, about 15 minutes.

Transfer the cake on its wire cake rack to a room-temperature half-sheet pan. About 1 inch from the top edge of the cake, pour some of the glaze in a circle around the outside edge of the cake. Pour the remaining glaze in the center of the cake. Using a large offset metal spatula, quickly smooth the glaze over the top of the cake, letting the excess run down the sides. If needed, use the spatula to scrape up the glaze on the pan, and pour it back over the top of the cake to fill in any unglazed areas. Transfer the cake on the rack to a clean half-sheet pan. Refrigerate until the glaze sets, at least 1 hour. (The cake can be made up to 1 day ahead, covered with a cake dome, and refrigerated.) Lightly press small handsful of the chocolate pearls along the bottom edge of the cake. Transfer the cake to the serving dish, and sprinkle more along the top edge of the cake, letting them fall randomly on the plate. Slice the cake with a sharp knife (dipped in hot water and wiped dry before each cut).

Serves 12


Petit Fours

For a moister cake, brush a couple of tablespoons of liqueur over the cake before the jam.

Ingredients for the genoise cake:
4 eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 T granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour, sifted with a pinch kosher salt

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the topping:
3 T apricot or red-currant jelly
4 ounces marzipan
1 T light corn syrup
2 cups icing sugar (confectioners')
food coloring, optional
silver balls (dragees) or icing flowers, for decoration

Preparing the genoise:
Grease and line a 9-inch cake tin with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk the eggs and sugar, preferably with an electric mixer, until tripled in volume, and thick and ribbony, like whipped cream. Add the vanilla. Scatter over the flour and salt, a spoonful at a time, and gently fold it in, without over-mixing. Pour the batter into the pan, and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, before removing to a rack, and cool completely.

* * * * * *

Preparing the topping:
Melt the jelly with a the water in a saucepan, and strain. Lay the cake on a rack, bottom up, and brush the jelly mixture over the surface. Roll out the marzipan exactly to the size of the cake, and lay it on top. Trim the edges of the cake, wrap, and chill for half an hour so it will cut neatly.

While the cake chills, make the icing: Put the corn syrup with 2 tablespoons warm water in a saucepan, and heat to dissolve. Beat in the sugar, adding about 2 more tablespoons of warm water (or part liqueur, if you like) to make a smooth icing which, when poured, will drape over the cakes like a satin sheet. Tint the icing with a few drops of food coloring, if using.

Remove the cake from the refrigerator and cut into 1-inch squares with a sharp knife. Place them on a wire rack set on a baking sheet. Spoon the icing over each square to coat completely. Let the icing set, and repeat. Decorate the cakes, and store in an air-tight container until serving.

Makes 20 petit fours


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

TF's Cheese Blintzes

1 cup milk
1/4 cup cold water
2 eggs
1 cup all purpose flour
Pinch salt
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for sauteing the crepes

cheese filling
strawberry or other favorite fruit jam, or blueberry sauce (recipe below), sliced bananas

* * * * * *

Ingredients for cheese filling:
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
4 ounces cream cheese
3 T confectioners' sugar
1 lemon, zested and finely grated
1 egg

* * * * * *

Ingredients for blueberry sauce:
2 T butter
2 pints blueberries
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 lemon, juiced
melted unsalted butter, for sauteing blintzes
confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preparing the blintzes:
Combine the milk, water, eggs, flour, salt and sugar in a blender. Blend on medium speed for 15 seconds, until the batter is smooth and lump-free. Scrape down the sides of the blender and pour in 3 tablespoons of melted butter. Blend it again for a second just to incorporate. Refrigerate the batter for 1 hour to let it rest. If the crepes are made immediately, they have a tendency to be rubbery; when you let the batter rest, the crepes have a better texture and a softer bite.

Put an 8-inch crepe pan or nonstick skillet over medium heat and brush with a little melted butter for added assurance. Pour 1/4 cup of batter into the pan and swirl it around so it covers the bottom evenly; pour back any excess. Cook for 30 to 45 seconds, until the crepe batter sets. Lightly bang the edge of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen the crepe; then flip it and cook another 30 seconds. The art of flipping a crepe in the air takes practice, so make sure no one is looking when you get the first one going. If this intimidates you, use a heatproof rubber spatula to loosen and flip the crepe. The crepes should be pliable, not crisp, and lightly brown. Slide them onto a platter and continue making the crepes until all the batter is used. Cover the stack of crepes with a towel to keep them from drying out. This makes 10 crepes.

* * * * * *

Preparing the filling:
In a food processor, combine the ricotta cheese, cream cheese, confectioners' sugar, lemon zest, and egg and blend until smooth. Chill the filling to firm it up a bit so it doesn't squirt out of the blintzes.

* * * * * *
Preparing the blueberry sauce:
Combine the butter, blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice in a small pot over medium-high heat. Bring up to a low boil and stir gently until the berries break down and release their natural juices. The consistency should remain a bit chunky. It will thicken up when it cools down slightly.

* * * * * *

Assembling the crepes:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Forming the blintzes is kind of like making burritos. Spoon 1/4 cup of the cheese filling along the lower third of the crepe. Fold the bottom edge away from you to just cover the filling; then fold the 2 sides in to the center. Roll the crepe away from you a couple of times to make a package, ending with the seam side down. Put an ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Brush with melted butter. Pan-fry the blintzes for 2 minutes per side until crisp and golden.

Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 10 minutes so the egg in the filling cooks slightly and the cheese sets. Using a spatula, transfer the blintzes to serving plates. Spoon the blueberry sauce on top, dust with confectioners' sugar, and serve right away.

Serve with chopped banana and remaining blueberry sauce. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.

Serves 5



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

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

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

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

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

Makes 12 to 18 sopapillas


Eggplant Parmigiana

2 pounds (about 2 medium-sized) eggplant
4 T extra virgin olive oil
1 cup fresh bread crumbs, seasoned with 1/4 chopped fresh basil leaves and 1/4 cup pecorino
2 cups basic tomato sauce, recipe follows
1 pound ball fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the sauce:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Spanish onion, chopped into 1/4-inch dice
4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
3 T fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1/2 medium carrot, finely shredded
2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes

Preparing the eggplant parmigiana:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Wash and towel dry the eggplant. Slice the eggplant horizontally about 1/4-inch thick. Place the slices in a large colander, sprinkle with salt and set aside to rest about 30 minutes. Drain and rinse the eggplant and dry on towels.

In a saute pan, heat the extra virgin olive oil until just smoking. Press the drained eggplant pieces into the seasoned bread crumb mixture and saute until light golden brown on both sides. Repeat with all of the pieces. On a cookie sheet lay out the 4 largest pieces of eggplant. Place 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce over each piece and place a thin slice of mozzarella on top of each. Sprinkle with Parmigiano and top each with the next smallest piece of eggplant, then sauce then mozzarella. Repeat the layering process until all the ingredients have been used, finishing again with the parmesan. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the top of each little stack is golden brown and bubbly, about 15 minutes.

* * * * * *

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

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

Serves 4


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