Monday, November 28, 2011

Chocolate Chip Sandwich Cookies

1 cup walnuts
1 cup plus 2 T all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
5 T heavy cream
2 1/2 T light corn syrup
2 T crème fraîche

Preparing the cookies:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spread the nuts in a pie plate and toast for 8 minutes; let cool, then chop.

In a bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle (or using a handheld mixer), cream the butter with the sugars and vanilla at medium speed, about 1 minute. Beat in the egg. With the mixer at low speed, beat in the dry ingredients. Beat in the walnuts and chocolate chips. Spoon level tablespoons of the dough onto 2 ungreased baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, until firm.

* * * * * *

Preparing the filling:
Put the chocolate in a bowl. In a saucepan, bring the cream and corn syrup to a boil; pour over the chocolate and let stand for 1 minute. Whisk until smooth. Whisk in the crème fraîche. Refrigerate the ganache, stirring occasionally, until thick and spreadable, 1 hour.

Bake the cookies for 12 minutes, until golden; let cool on the sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Sandwich the chocolate chip cookies with the ganache and serve.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fresh Ricotta on Crostini

4 cups whole milk
3 T lemon juice, plus the zest of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 baguette, sliced and toasted
extra virgin olive oil

Preparing the ricotta:
Lay three layers of cheesecloth over a colander.

Add the milk to a large heavy pot and place over medium-high heat. Stir in the lemon juice and salt and heat until an instant-read thermometer reaches 175 degrees F. The milk will begin to just bubble and start to steam. At this temperature you'll begin to see the curds separate from the whey. Be mindful of over-stirring the ricotta while the curds are forming, you don't want to make your ricotta stiff. Let it sit for 5 minutes undisturbed and you will be left with a very creamy and pleasant finished result.

Gently remove the curds from the pot to the colander. Use the side of the cheesecloth to very gently release some of the liquid. Tie up the curds using twine and let drain for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the cheesecloth and place in a bowl. Serve warm on toasted bread with lemon zest and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Note: Refrigerate leftover ricotta in a covered container for up to 5 days.

Makes about 1 cup of ricotta


Swiss Chard and Gruyere Tart

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

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

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

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

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

Serves 6 to 8


Artichokes with Roasted Garlic Aioli

12 baby artichokes or 4 large ones
1 to 2 lemons
kosher salt
2 to 3 T extra virgin olive oil

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the aioli:
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 cup grapeseed oil
1 head garlic, roasted
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
juice of 1 lemon

Preparing the roasted garlic:
Wrap a head of garlic in foil and bake for an hour at 350 degrees F.

* * * * * * *

Preparing the aioli:
Beat the yolk with the vinegar and mustard in a bowl. Whisk in the oil, drop by drop, to make a thick mayonnaise. Squeeze the garlic out of the roasted cloves into the mayonnaise and whisk smooth. Season the aioli with salt, pepper, and lemon juice, to taste.

* * * * * * *

Preparing the artichokes:
Trim the artichokes, rubbing with lemon as you go, until you are down to the core with a bit of stem attached. Halve. While trimming the artichokes, bring a pot of water to the boil. Squeeze the juice of a lemon into it and salt it. Drop in the artichokes and cook until tender, about 10 minutes, depending on the size. Drain, and pat dry. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and brown the artichokes on all sides. Transfer to paper towel to drain. Serve with the aioli.

Serves 4


Pork And Teleme Panini

8 slices Italian bread
1 pound ham or pork, sliced
1 pound teleme cheese
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1 cup roasted peppers

Preparing the panini:
Butter 1 side of each bread slice, then put 4 slices, buttered side down, on a work surface. Top the bread slices with the smoked ham, then the teleme cheese, distributing it evenly. Top each with a second slice of bread, buttered side up.

Heat a panini pan/sandwich griller until hot. Heat the sandwich in the griller, with a weight on top to keep as flat as possible. Cook until nicely browned, 2 to 3 minutes.

Transfer the sandwiches to a work surface and remove the top slice of bread from each sandwich. Spread the underside of those slices with mustard, and add roasted peppers, if desired.

Replace the top slice of bread, cut the sandwiches in half, and serve immediately.

Makes 4 paninis


Chocolate Brie Panini

12 slices sourdough bread
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
12 ounces Brie cheese, thinly sliced
1 (12-ounce) bag of semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonaded

Preparing the panini:
Preheat the panini grill.

Brush both sides of the bread with olive oil. Grill the bread slices until they begin to turn golden, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the panini grill and place 2 ounces of cheese on 1 slice of bread (the bottom half), top the cheese with 1/3 cup chocolate chips, and a sprinkle of basil. Top with another slice of bread. Continue with the remaining sandwiches. Return the sandwiches to the panini grill until the chocolate begins to melt, about another 2 minutes.

Cut the sandwiches into 2-inch wide rectangles or small triangles and transfer to a serving platter.

Serves 6


Mozzarella and Olive Tapenade Panini

1 loaf artisanal white bread, sliced thin, slices cut into 3-inch squares
olive tapenade
mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
softened butter

* * * * *

Ingredients for tapenade:
3 anchovies
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T fresh thyme leaves
1 cup pitted kalamata olives, plus additional as needed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus additional as needed

Preparing the tapenade:
Put anchovies, garlic and thyme in a blender or food processor and puree. Add olives and olive oil, and pulse to a smooth paste. If it is too thin, add more pitted olives. If it is too thick, add more olive oil.

* * * * * *

Preparing the panini:
Spread bread pieces on a work surface. Spread 1/2 tablespoon olive tapenade on half the pieces, then cover with a slice of mozzarella, then cover with the remaining bread slices. Butter both sides of the sandwich and grill in batches in a panini press until browned on both sides. Put on a platter and cover with foil to keep warm until serving.

Makes 4 to 6 paninis


Friday, November 25, 2011

My Potato Kugel

5 large russet potatoes
1 large onion, grated
4 egg yolks, beaten
8 T cracker meal or matzoh meal
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
10 T melted butter, plus more, divided
4 egg whites, stiffly beaten
vegetable oil (safflower, canola, or other high-temp oil)

Preparing the kugel:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Peel the potatoes and place in a bowl of salted water to cover.

In a large bowl, grate the onion (on a box grater), mix in thoroughly the egg yolks, cracker meal and baking powder, salt, pepper, 4 tablespoons of the melted butter.

Grate potatoes (on box grater) into a separate bowl. Place grated potatoes on clean kitchen towel and squeeze out excess water until dry. Mix the potatoes into the onion mixture. Fold in stiffly whipped egg whites carefully, but thoroughly.

Over high heat, place 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large (12-inch), heavy cast iron pan, along with 2 tablespoons of the melted butter. When hot, press potato mixture into the pan into a level layer. Lower flame to medium and fry until edges around the top start to brown and bubble.

Brush 4 tablespoons of melted butter over the top of the kugel and place pan in center of oven. Bake for about 1 hour, or until top is browned and center is set.

Let rest for a few minutes before cutting into slices.

Serves 12 to 18


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving


Bradley Ogden's Butterscotch Pudding, Another Way

4 cups heavy cream, divided use
1 vanilla bean, split, with seeds scraped and reserved
1 cup (5 ounces) butterscotch chips
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 T water
2T scotch

Preparing the pudding:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Boil a full tea kettle of water; set aside.

Put 3 1/2 cups heavy cream and the vanilla bean and its seeds in a large, heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, take off heat and whisk in butterscotch chips until blended smoothly.

Place egg yolks in a large bowl and whisk well. Slowly add hot cream mixture while whisking vigorously. Set aside.

In a small, deep, heavy saucepan, combine brown sugar and water over high heat. When sugar dissolves and caramelizes, carefully add scotch and remaining 1/2 cup cream. Continue cooking, stirring well, until mixture is smooth and slightly thick, about 3 minutes. Whisk this caramel mixture into butterscotch mixture.

Strain mixture through a fine sieve. Divide among 12 (4-ounce) ramekins. Place ramekins in a large roasting pan. Place pan on oven rack, then carefully pour tea kettle of hot water into roasting pan, taking care not to splash into ramekins. Water should come halfway up the sides of ramekins.

Carefully slide roasting pan into oven. Bake for 50 minutes until puddings are set but still a little wiggly. Transfer ramekins to a rack or cookie sheet to cool for about 30 minutes. Refrigerate, loosely covered with foil, overnight.

Serve puddings with a dollop of unsweetened or lightly sweetened whipped cream. Or serve them brulee style by sprinkling the tops with a little granulated sugar, then caramelizing them with a blow torch.

Serves 12


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pumpkin Herb Dinner Rolls

1 T active dry yeast
3 T sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup pureed pumpkin
2 T fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 T flatleaf parsely, finely chopped
1 T chives finely chopped
3 T herb butter, melted
2 eggs
1/2 cup Greek-style yogurt
4 to 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
coarse ground sea salt

Preparing the rolls:
Either steam a small peeled, seeded and diced winter squash and mash to make 1 cup pumpkin puree or use canned.

Sprinkle the yeast over 1/4 cup cool water in a large bowl, and let stand until the yeast dissolves, about 5 minutes.

Mix the melted butter with the chopped herbs, pumpkin puree, 1 egg, sugar, salt, egg and yogurt and mix with the yeast.

Mix 4 cups of flour into the wet mixture until well combined.

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead the dough for 20 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Continue to add the additional 1/2 cup flour (and extra if needed) until the dough is not sticky.

Divide the dough into 20 equal balls, approximately 2 ounces each.

Generously butter a 9-inch by 11-inch pan and place the dough balls into the pan with equal spacing between each roll.

Cover the pan in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight. You can skip this step, but it helps develop the flavor.

The next day, remove the pan from the refrigerator and place it in a warm place to rise for at least 2 hours, or until the dough is doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush the rolls with the remaining beaten egg, and sprinkle with a generous sprinkle of coarse sea salt. Bake the rolls in the middle of the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until the rolls are golden.
Break the rolls apart from each other, and serve immediately. They are best enjoyed straight after baking, although they do freeze and defrost well also.


Chinese Five-Spice Ice Cream

8 cups vanilla ice cream (use your favorite brand, or Haagen Daas 5)
1 1/2 teaspoons Chinese five spice powder
2 T cognac
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preparing the ice cream:
Let ice cream soften. Combine all ingredients. Spoon into a container. Cover and freeze until firm.

Serves 6 to 8


Larkcreek Inn Chocolate Tart

Ingredients for the chocolate sucre:
1/2 pound powdered sugar
1 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 T vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 pound (6 ounces) flour
2 ounces cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt

* * * * *

Ingredients for the chocolate tart filling:
1 pound dark chocolate, chopped
6 ounces butter
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the caramel sauce:
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup water
2 cups cream

* * * * *

Ingredients for the candied walnuts:
8 ounces walnuts, rough chopped
a pinch of cinnamon
a pinch of cayenne pepper
brown sugar, to coat
approximately one half of an egg white (keep the whole white as you may need a little more then half.)

Preparing the chocolate sucre:
Cream together butter, sugar and salt. Add eggs one at a time then add the vanilla extract. Combine flour, cocoa and salt and add to butter mixture and mix until combined. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm. Roll out and poke holes in the bottom of the tart shell to keep it from creating bubbles. Bake at 350 degrees F in a convection oven for 5 to 6 minutes. Let cool then pour the ganache.

* * * * *

Preparing the chocolate tart filling:
In a large-size saucepan, combine chocolate and butter and melt over medium heat.

In a bowl, combine sugar, 2/3 cup of the heavy cream and eggs, whisking to combine. Slowly add chocolate mixture to egg mixture whisking continuously.

Note: The remaining 1 cup of whip cream will be used upon serving the tart.

Pour filling into pre-baked shell and bake at 350 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes. Bake until the filling, 1 inch from the edge, is set but the center is still wobbly when gently shaken.

* * * * *

Preparing the caramel sauce:
Combine the sugar, corn syrup and water and bring to a boil. Cook until sugar reaches a medium amber color. Add the cream slowly to stop the caramel. Use a long whisk because the caramel will splatter and put off harmful steam.

* * * * *

Preparing the candied walnuts:
Weigh out the walnuts and give them a rough chop. Whip the egg whites until foamy, they do not need to hold a stiff peak.

Add your spices to the white, then add the walnuts, stir to coat. Add brown sugar until the nuts look like they’re dry. Initially the brown sugar will begin to moisten because of the egg white and turn dark, but as you add the sugar it will become lighter as it no longer soaks up the moisture. Bake at 350 degrees F until walnuts start to turn a light amber color and they no longer look moist, they do not need to be stirred.

* * * * * *

Assembling the tart:
Take remaining 1 cup of whip cream and add 1 teaspoon vanilla. Whip until firm. Add caramel sauce to the plate, to make it more decorative you can place in a ziplock bag, snip off one small end and have fun decorating the plate with it. Place a piece of chocolate tart on top, garnish with a generous dollop of whip cream and sprinkle with candied walnuts.

Refrigerated cake will keep well wrapped in plastic and refrigerated.


Larkcreek Inn Herb Rolls

1 package active dry yeast (about 1 T)
3 T sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
1 T minced flatleaf parsley
1 T minced fresh dill
1 T minced chives
1 T minced rosemary
2 T melted butter
1 large egg, plus 1 T lightly beaten egg, divided
1 cup milk or half-and-half
3 1/2 to 3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
approximately 1 T coarse salt

Preparing the rolls:
In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over 1/4 cup cool (70 degrees F) water. Let stand until dissolved, 5 minutes. Stir in sugar, table salt, herbs, butter, whole egg, and milk; add 3 1/4 cups flour and stir to moisten.

Knead dough on a lightly floured board until elastic and not sticky, 15 minutes; add flour as needed to prevent sticking. Shape into 12 equal balls; place in a well-buttered 9-inch by 13-inch pan.

[Dough can be made ahead of time up through here. Immediately wrap airtight (do not let rise) and chill up to 1 day, then proceed as follows.]

Let dough rise in a warm place until doubled, 45 to 60 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Brush rolls with beaten egg and sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake until deep golden, 25 to 30 minutes.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Brie and Date Crostini

1 baguette cut into 1/2-inch slices
pecans, toasted, chopped when cooled
1/2 cup pitted dates, chopped
6 ounces brie, softened to room temperature
2 T fresh chives sliced
1 T honey
1 T balsamic vinegar, plus more for arugula salad
extra virgin olive oil

Optional: Sliced pears

Preparing the crostini:
Preheat oven 400 degrees F.

Brush both sides of baguette slices with oil, place on a baking sheet and sprinkle salt over the top. Place in oven until bread browns and crisps, about 7 minutes.

Toss pecans, chopped dates, honey, and balsamic vinegar together in a bowl.

While bread is still warm, spread with brie and top with the pecan and date mixture. Sprinkle chopped chives over the top.

Serve with a arugula salad lightly dressed an extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing. If serving with sliced pears, submerse the freshly cut pears in the oil and balsamic vinegar before dressing the arugula.



2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
2 garlic cloves
1 1/2 pounds Italian sausages, out Of casings
1 28-ounce can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 16-ounce jar of tomato sauce
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/2 cup chopped basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
2 teaspoons sea salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 box lasagna noodles
1 pound whole milk ricotta
1 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus 1/4 cup for sprinkling on the top
1 extra large egg, lightly beaten
1 pound whole milk mozzarella cheese, plus extra for the top

Preparing the lasagna:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and position the oven rack in the middle.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and cook over medium-low heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for one more minute.

Add the sausage and cook over medium-low heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until fully cooked and no longer pink.

Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, oregano, basil, sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Simmer uncovered over medium-low heat for 20 minutes.

Soak lasagna noodles in a pan of boiled water for 20 minutes.

Combine the ricotta, 1 cup of parmesan, the beaten egg, chopped parsley, sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.

Ladle one third of the meat sauce into a 9-inch by 12-inch by 2-inch casserole baking pan. Spread the sauce over the bottom of the dish. Add approximately half the pasta in one layer - Cover the sauce with the pasta. Spread half the sliced mozzarella, half the cheese mixture, and 1/3 of the sauce. Add another layer of pasta, mozzarella, ricotta, and the remaining sauce.

Sprinkle with mozzarella and the remaining 1/2 cup of parmesan.

Bake uncovered for 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling.


Pork and Prawn Potstickers

1 package gyoza or wonton wrappers
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup ground pork (not lean)
4 ounces shrimp meat, finely chopped
6 shelled and deveined prawns, finely chopped
5 water chestnuts, fresh or canned, finely chopped
4 T shredded carrot
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 T minced scallions
1 T minced ginger
1 T soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
freshly ground black or white pepper, to taste

Preparing the potstickers:
Lightly beat the egg with the salt, and combine with the pork, shrimp, prawns, water chestnuts, carrot, cilantro, green onion, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil and pepper.

Place a small bowl of water on the work area. Lay out one of the gyoza wrappers. Dip a finger in the water and moisten the edges of the wrapper.

Place a heaping teaspoon of filling in the middle of the wrapper.

Fold the gyoza wrapper over the filling and pinch the edges to seal it shut. (You may want to use a cornstarch/water mixture to make this easier).

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet or wok. When oil is hot, carefully add the dumplings and cook on high heat until golden brown (about 1 minute).

Without turning the dumplings over, add 1/2 cup of water and cover. Cook for about 1 minute to cook the raw filling and then uncover and continue cooking until most of the liquid is absobred.

Serve the potstickers with the browned side on top, with potsticker dipping sauce or soy sauce mixed with minced ginger for dipping.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Russian Black Bread

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
a pinch of sugar
1/4 cup warm water
2 T molasses
2 T apple cider vinegar
2 T unsalted butter
1/2 ounce unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups medium or dark rye flour
1 1/2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
1/2 cup bran
1 T caraway seeds, optional
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, optional
1/2 T kosher salt
1/2 T instant espresso powder
1/2 T minced shallots or red onion

Preparing the dough:
Whisk together the yeast, sugar and warm water and set aside for about 10 minutes until foamy.

Heat cup of water, molasses, vinegar, butter and chocolate in a small saucepan until the butter and chocolate are melted. Set aside.

Whisk together whole wheat, rye and all purpose flours in a separate large bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine 2 cups flours, bran, caraway seeds, fennel seeds, salt, espresso and shallots or red onion. Mix on low speed, add yeast and chocolate mixtures. Mix at medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes.

At low speed, add 1/2 cup remaining flours at a time, using a spatula to scrape excess flour from the sides of the bowl. Add just enough flour until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. Switch to dough hook and knead about 5 to 8 minutes on medium speed, adding 1 teaspoon of all purpose flour at a time, if needed, for dough to pull away from the sides of the bowl, until smooth and elastic. Or knead by hand on floured countertop for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.

Shape dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 to 2 hours.

Turn out risen dough onto a lightly floured surface. Shape into round loaf and place either on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet or in a lightly greased loaf pan. Cover lightly and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Slash an X in the top of the round before baking (this is not needed for the sandwich loaf).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake bread until deeply browned and 200 to 210 degrees F when an instant-read thermometer is inserted in the bottom center, about 45 to 50 minutes. Allow bread to cool completely on cooling rack before slicing.


BJ's Pizza Dough

4 1/2 cups (20.25 ounces) unbleached high-gluten, bread, or all purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 (.44 ounce) teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon (.11 ounce) instant yeast
1/4 cup (2 ounces) extra virgin olive oil (optional)
1 3/4 cups (14 ounces) water, ice cold (40 degrees F)
semolina flour OR cornmeal for dusting

Preparing the dough:
Stir together the flour, salt, and instant yeast in a 4-quart bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer). With a large metal spoon, stir in the oil and the cold water until the flour is all absorbed (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment). If mixing by hand, repeatedly dip one of your hands or the metal spoon into cold water and use it, much like a dough hook, to work the dough vigorously into a smooth mass while rotating the bowl in a circular motion with the other hand. Reverse the circular motion a few times to develop the gluten further. Do this for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are evenly distributed. If using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for 5 to 7 minutes, or as long as it takes to create a smooth, sticky dough. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet and doesn't come off the sides of the bowl, sprinkle in some more flour just until it clears the sides. If it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water. The finished dough will be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50 to 55 degrees F.

Sprinkle flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Prepare a sheet pan by lining it with baking parchment and misting the parchment with spray oil (or lightly oil the parchment). Using a metal dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you are comfortable shaping large pizzas). You can dip the scraper into the water between cuts to keep the dough from sticking to it. Sprinkle flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Lift each piece and gently round it into a ball. If the dough sticks to your hands, dip your hands into the flour again. Transfer the dough balls to the sheet pan. Mist the dough generously with spray oil and slip the pan into a ziplock plastic bag.

Put the pan into the refrigerator overnight to rest the dough, or keep for up to 3 days.

[Note: If you want to save some of the dough for future baking, you can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag. Dip each dough ball into a bowl that has a few tablespoons of oil in it, rolling the dough in the oil, and then put each ball into a separate bag. You can place the bags into the freezer for up to 3 months. Transfer them to the refrigerator the day before you plan to make pizza.]

On the day you plan to make the pizza, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator 2 hours before making the pizza. Before letting the dough rest at room temperature for 2 hours, dust the counter with flour, and then mist the counter with spray oil. Place the dough balls on top of the floured counter and sprinkle them with flour; dust your hands with flour. Gently press the dough into flat disks about 1/2 inch thick and 5 inches in diameter. Sprinkle the dough with flour, mist it again with spray oil, and cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap, and let rest for 2 hours.

At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone either on the floor of the oven (for gas ovens), or on a rack in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven as hot as possible, up to 800 degrees F (most home ovens will go only to 500 to 550 degrees F, but some will go higher). If you do not have a baking stone, you can use the back of a sheet pan, but do not preheat the pan.

Generously dust a peel or the back of a sheet pan with semolina flour or cornmeal. Make the pizzas one at a time. Dip your hands, including the backs of your hands and knuckles, in flour and lift I piece of dough by getting under it with a pastry scraper. Very gently lay the dough across your fists and carefully stretch it by bouncing the dough in a circular motion on your hands, carefully giving it a little stretch with each bounce. If it begins to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue shaping it. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss. If you have trouble tossing the dough, or if the dough keeps springing back, let it rest for 5 to 20 minutes so the gluten can relax, and try again. You can also resort to using a rolling pin, though this isn't as effective as the toss method.

When the dough is stretched out to your satisfaction (about 9 to 12 inches in diameter for a 6-ounce piece of dough), lay it on the peel or pan, making sure there is enough semolina flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide. Lightly top it with sauce and then with your other toppings, remembering that the best pizzas are topped with a less-is-more philosophy. The American "kitchen sink" approach is counterproductive, as it makes the crust more difficult to bake. A few, usually no more than 3 or 4 toppings, including sauce and cheese is sufficient.

Slide the topped pizza onto the stone (or bake directly on the sheet pan) and close the door. Wait 2 minutes, then take a peek. If it needs to be rotated 180 degrees for even baking, do so. The pizza should take about 5 to 8 minutes to bake. If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone to a lower shelf before the next round. If the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone for subsequent bakes.

Remove the pizza from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Wait 3 to 5 minutes before slicing and serving, to allow the cheese to set slightly.

Makes 6 pizza crusts


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Parmesan, Pepper and Green Chile Biscuits

The biscuits can be split and filled with scrambled eggs and bacon, and/or served with a chipotle and chorizo sausage gravy.

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 T cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup diced green chiles
1/4 cup of coarsely grated parmesan
1 cup cold buttermilk

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the chipotle and chorizo gravy:
6 ounces pork chorizo
2 chipotles in adobo, minced (canned, Latin market)
2 T unsalted butter
2 T all purpose flour
2 cups milk, warmed

Preparing the biscuits:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Combine all the dry ingredients. Cut the cold butter into the flour mixture until crumbly. Make a well in the center, place chopped chilies and cheese in the center and pour buttermilk over. Stir until it comes together into a dough.

Turn the dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead it quickly with floured hands.

Pat the dough into a 1-inch thickness and cut out biscuits with a 2 1/2-inch cutter. Gather and reroll excess dough.

Place the biscuits on a parchment-lined baking sheet or a silpat. Bake until the biscuits puff up and are golden brown (15 to 18 minutes).

Makes 9 biscuits

* * * * * *

Preparing the chipotle gravy:
In a sauce pan over medium high heat, cook the chorizo and chipotles together about 5 minutes. Add butter and stir until melted. Add flour and continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in milk and continue to stir. Bring to a boil so that the gravy will thicken. Serve over biscuits.


Cheddar and Parmesan Drop Biscuits with Chives

2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 T cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/4 cup shredded cheddar
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
4 T chopped chives
1 cup and 2 T buttermilk

Preparing the biscuits:
Preheat oven to 450 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Combine the flour, salt, baking power, baking soda, black pepper and stir. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles a crumbly texture.

Add the cheddar, parmesan and chives and stir.

Add the buttermilk and stir until the dough comes together.

With a 1/4 cup measure, drop the dough onto the parchment paper.

Bake the biscuits for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the tops of the biscuits are golden brown. Serve warm.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Almond Pastry Cake

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
2 T flour
1/2 cup ground almonds
1 package puff pastry dough (contains two dough sheets)
1 egg, beaten
confectioner's sugar

Preparing the almond filling:
Cream butter and sugar lightly, add egg in portions and finally add flour and ground almonds.

* * * * * *

Preparing the crust:
Using a generous dusting of flour on the counter and on a rolling pin, roll out one sheet of puff pastry dough into an 11-inch square.

Using a 10-inch pie pan turned upside down as your guide, cut a circle out of the dough with the tip of a knife. Refrigerate the sheet. Repeat with second sheet.

Place the first round sheet on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and pour frangipane filling in the center, leaving a 1 1/2-inch margin for the edge and lightly brush edge with beaten egg. Place a bean, or a toy, in the filling.

Place the second sheet of dough on top of the first and press the edges firmly to seal in the filling.

Lightly brush the top of the gallette with more of the beaten egg. Use a knife, make decorative crisscross patterns on the top sheet and a few small slits so that steam can vent while baking.

Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees F in a preheated oven. Avoid opening the oven while baking as the pastry may not fully puff.

Remove gallette from the oven and dust with confectioner's sugar. Return to the oven for 12 to 15 more minutes, or until top is golden brown. Let cool before serving.


Fried Stuffing

This is really meant as a means to use leftover stuffing after Thanksgiving, but I've made this dish fresh, with roast turkey cut up into chunks, and served it as hors d'oeuvres at holiday parties or made them into larger croquettes and served as an entree (they freeze well after frying and are good for mid-week meals or as snacks for a Super Bowl party in the weeks after the holidays).

4 cups of turkey stuffing
2 eggs
2 teaspoon milk
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 cup cranberry sauce
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup walnuts
canola, safflower or peanut oil, for frying

Prepare fried stuffing:
In a deep fryer or heavy pot, preheat oil to 350 degrees F.

Cut leftover stuffing into bite-sized cubes, then gently form into balls and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk eggs and milk. Coat each stuffing bite with the egg mixture, then dredge in the bread crumbs until completely coated. Set aside.

In a food processor blend cranberry sauce, pepper and walnuts and set aside. Once oil is at temperature fry each piece of stuffing until golden brown about 4 minutes. Drain on a paper towel and serve with cranberry pesto.


Chocolate Macaroons

3 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 T sugar
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
20 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
7 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 70 percent cocoa)

Preparing the macaroons:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Beat egg whites in electric mixer on low. Once whites are broken up, add cream of tartar and sugar. Increase speed to medium and beat until whites are frothy.

Shut off mixer and fold in condensed milk, vanilla and lemon zest. Add coconut and mix until well incorporated. Let mixture sit for 2-3 minutes.

Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Drop 12 heaping tablespoons of the batter on each tray, spacing them apart evenly. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler over low heat or in the microwave. Dip half of each macaroon into the chocolate. Place on tray to allow chocolate to set. Serve when cooled.

Makes 24 macaroons


Peppermint Chocolate Bark

1 (11 oz.) bag white chocolate chips
1/2 cup crushed candy canes or peppermint candies
1 teaspoon mint extract
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted

Preparing the bark:
In double boiler or bowl set over boiling water, melt white chocolate chips. Remove from heat and stir in crushed candy and mint extract.

Line a small sheet pan with wax paper. Pour in white chocolate mixture and spread evenly. Refrigerate until firm.

Melt bittersweet chocolate and spread evenly over white chocolate layer. Refrigerate until firm. Break into pieces. Store in refrigerator.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Lemon Meringue Pie

1 pie crust
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
5 T cornstarch
1 cup milk
1/2 cup cold water
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 large egg yolks
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 T finely grated lemon zest
1 1/2 T limoncello
2 T cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
6 T confectioners' sugar

* * * * *

Ingredients for the pie crust:
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 T sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 T cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 T cold vegetable shortening
3 to 4 T ice water, or as needed

Preparing the pie crust:
Sift the flour, sugar, and salt into a large bowl . With your fingers, work the butter and shortening into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add 3 tablespoons of the ice water and work with your fingers just until the dough comes together, adding more water as needed, 1 teaspoon at a time, to make a smooth dough, being careful not to overwork the dough.

Form the dough into a disk shape, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using.

Makes 1 9- or 10-inch crust

* * * * * *

Preparing the pie:
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and on a lightly floured surface, roll out to a 12-inch circle. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie pan, pressing gently to fit, trim the edge to within 1/2-inch of the pan, turn under, and crimp decoratively. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Line the pie shell with parchment paper and fill with pie weights, dry beans, or rice. Bake until the crust is set, about 12 minutes. Remove the parchment paper and weights and bake until lightly colored, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before filling. Combine the granulated sugar, cornstarch, milk, water, and pinch of the salt in a large, non-reactive saucepan, whisk to combine, and bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally. As the mixture reaches a simmer and begins to thicken and turn clear, 4 to 5 minutes, whisk in the egg yolks, 2 at a time. Slowly add the lemon juice, whisking constantly, and add the zest and limoncello. Add the butter, 1 piece at a time, and whisking constantly, return to a simmer. Remove from the heat and pour immediately into the prepared pie crust.

Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and remaining pinch salt in a large bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Beating constantly, gradually add the confectioners' sugar and beat until glossy stiff peaks form, being careful not to over beat, as this will make the meringue difficult to spread.

Transfer the meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a medium star tip. Working 1 row at a time, pipe the meringue across the top of the hot lemon filling in a zigzag pattern, alternating direction with each row. Cover the pie filling completely, going out to the pastry edges, so the meringue does not draw up or weep during baking. (Alternatively, spread the meringue evenly over the pie filling using a rubber spatula, smoothing out to the pastry edges. Make decorative peaks in the meringue using a dull knife or the back of a spoon.)

To quickly cook the meringue, preheat the broiler with the rack in the highest position. Place the pie under the broiler and cook until the meringue is set and golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes, watching carefully to avoid burning. (Alternatively, the meringue can be cooked in a preheated 325 degree F oven until set and golden brown, 14 to 16 minutes.)

Transfer the pie to a wire rack to cool completely before serving.

Serves 6 to 8


Prawn Potstickers

cornstarch, for dusting
30 gyoza dumpling or wonton wrappers
2 T peanut oil

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the filling:
8 ounces large shrimp, peeled, deveined and minced
3 T finely chopped fresh Chinese chives (or scallions)
1/8 cup canned water chestnuts, finely diced (about 4 whole)
1 T oyster sauce
1 T Shaohsing rice wine
sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

* * * * * *

Ingredients for dipping sauce:
2 T light soy sauce
2 T clear rice vinegar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
small handful fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped

Preparing the filling:
Mix the shrimp, chives, water chestnuts, oyster sauce and rice wine into a bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Squeeze the filling through your fingers so that all the flavors are combined well.

* * * * * *

Preparing the dipping sauce:
Combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil and cilantro and set aside.

* * * * * *

Preparing the potstickers:
Sprinkle a baking sheet or plate with some cornstarch. Then place a dumpling wrapper in the palm of your hand. Place a heaping teaspoon of the filling in the middle of the dumpling skin. Dip a finger into a water bowl and brush around the rim. Fold half of the wrapper over the filling into a half moon shape, pressing down on the edges to make sure the dumpling wrapper sticks together well. Pleat the edges of the potsticker 4 times, pinching well to secure. Place the potstickers on the prepared baking sheet until ready to cook. [The potstickers can be frozen at this point in an airtight container, then cooked from frozen when desired.]

Heat a wok over medium heat. Cook the potstickers in batches - Don't overcrowd the pan. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and arrange half the potstickers standing up in the oil. Cook, uncovered, until the bottoms are lightly golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water around the edges of the wok, then cover and cook until the liquid has evaporated and the bottoms of the potstickers are crisp and golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Repeat with the next batch.

Serve alongside the dipping sauce.

Makes 24 potstickers


Roast Pork Puffs

There is enough marinade for up to 1 1/2 pounds of pork. Buy a whole pork tenderloin and cut off the 9 ounces needed for this recipe. Marinate and roast both pieces and use the extra char sui to make delicious sandwiches, fried rice or roast pork salad.

Ingredients for the marinade:
4 T light soy sauce
2 T peeled and finely grated ginger
2 T honey
2 T yellow (soybean) bean sauce
1 T Shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
pinch of sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
9 ounces pork tenderloin

* * * * * * *

Ingredients for the puffs:
1 box (17.3 ounces) ready-made rolled puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
sesame seeds, for sprinkling

Preparing the marinade:
In a large bowl, combine the soy sauce, ginger, honey, bean sauce, rice wine, garlic and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add the pork, cover with plastic wrap and leave in the refrigerator to marinate for as long as possible, preferably overnight. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove the pork from the marinade and reserve the marinade. Place the pork in a roasting pan and roast until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees F, about 40 minutes.

While the pork is roasting, bring the reserved marinade to a boil in a small saucepan. Once the marinade has boiled you can take it off of the heat. Baste the pork halfway through cooking with 2 tablespoons marinade. Cool the remaining marinade to room temperature.

When the pork is done, remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes, then cut the pork into 1/4-inch cubes. Toss the cubed pork in enough of the reserved, cooled marinade to coat. The pork mixture should be at room temperature before filling the pastry.

* * * * * *

Preparing the puffs:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a roasting tray with parchment paper.

Cut each sheet of puff pastry into six 3-inch squares, for a total of 12. Brush the edges of each square with the beaten egg and then place a heaping teaspoon of the pork filling in the center. Fold the square in half to create a triangular pastry. Tuck the triangle ends under to round off the triangular shape.

Place on the prepared roasting tray and brush egg wash over the top. Sprinkle sesame seeds over the top of the pastries and cook in the oven until the pastry is golden, 18 to 20 minutes.

Makes 12 pieces


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Brussels Sprouts, Figs and Bacon

2 T extra virgin olive oil
4 to 8 ounces bacon, chopped
1 pound Brussels sprouts, stems trimmed
1 cup dried figs, stemmed and quartered
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, or more to taste

Preparing the Brussels sprouts, figs and bacon:
Put a large skillet over medium heat and add oil, then bacon.Cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to crisp, 5 to 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, put sprouts through feed tube of a food processor equipped with a slicing attachment and shred. (You can also do this with a mandoline or a knife.)

Add sprouts, figs and 1/4 cup water to pan; sprinkle with salt and pepper, turn heat to medium, and cook, undisturbed, until sprouts and figs are nearly tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Turn heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until any remaining water evaporates, another 5 to 10 minutes. Add vinegar, taste, adjust seasoning.

Serves 4


Tuesday, November 8, 2011


2 eggs
2 cups all purpose or whole wheat flour
1 3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 T granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparing the waffles:
Preheat waffle iron. Beat eggs in large bowl with hand beater until fluffy. Beat in flour, milk, vegetable oil, sugar, baking powder, salt and vanilla, just until smooth.

Spray preheated waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray. Pour mix onto hot waffle iron. Cook until golden brown. Remove waffles from iron and toss back and forth between your hands a few times to let the waffle's crust to dry a little bit before serving.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Fried Chicken

4 teaspoons salt divided
1 whole chicken (4 pounds) cut into 8 pieces
3 cups buttermilk
6 cups grapeseed oil or canola oil for deep frying
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 T dry mustard
1 1/2 T paprika
1 T garlic powder
1 T onion powder
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 large eggs
2 T water

Preparing the chicken:
Massage 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt into the chicken pieces.

Combine the chicken pieces and buttermilk in a large bowl or large shallow dish and turn the chicken pieces to ensure they are completely coated with the buttermilk.

Cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Add enough oil to fill a Dutch oven about halfway. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it registers 350 degrees F to 375 degrees F on a deep-fry thermometer.

Stir the flour, dry mustard, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, and 2 teaspoons of salt in a shallow dish to blend.

Whisk the eggs and water in a medium bowl to blend.

Working with one chicken piece at a time lift the chicken from the marinade allowing any excess marinade to drip back into the dish then dredge the chicken pieces in the flour mixture to coat completely.

Dredge the flour-coated chicken pieces in the egg wash.

Dredge the coated chicken in the flour mixture again to coat completely.

Working in 2 to 3 batches carefully place the coated chicken pieces into the hot oil and cook for about 12 minutes turning as needed until they are golden and almost cooked through.

Using a skimmer transfer the chicken pieces to a rack set on a baking sheet to drain any excess oil.

Bake for about 10 minutes or until the chicken pieces are cooked through but still moist and juicy. Sprinkle with the remaining salt and serve.


Chinese Spare Ribs

Ingredients for spare ribs:
2 (4-pound) racks pork spareribs, trimmed of excess fat
1/2 cup Chinese five spice powder
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

* * * * * * *

Ingredients for the glaze:
1 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 cup grapefruit juice
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
3 T rice vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 fresh red chili, minced
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2-inch piece fresh ginger, whacked open with the flat side of a knife
2 T sesame seeds, for garnish
chopped fresh cilantro and green onion, for garnish

Preparing the spare ribs:
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Rub the ribs all over with the five-spice powder; then season generously with salt and pepper. Put the ribs in a single layer in a roasting pan and slow-roast until they are almost tender, about 2 hours.

* * * * * * *

Preparing the glaze:
In a large bowl combine the soy sauce, grapefruit juice, hoisin sauce, ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, chili, garlic and ginger in a saucepan. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium heat. Cook until the sauce reduces and thickens then remove from the heat. Strain the sauce and reserve.

When the ribs are about 30 minutes away from being done, baste them with the teriyaki sauce. Cook until the meat pulls easily from the bone (about 1/2-inch of bone will show).

Just before serving, preheat the broiler. Baste the ribs again with the teriyaki sauce and brown them under the broiler for 5 to 8 minutes. (Keep a close eye on these guys - ribs go from perfectly crisp to perfectly burnt in seconds.) Separate the ribs with a cleaver or sharp knife, pile them on a platter, and pour on the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, chopped cilantro, and green onion before serving.

Serves 8


Peking Duck

In our house, we dispense with traditional Mandarin pancakes and get steamed rice from the local Chinese restaurant and add fresh or cooked frozen peas to the rice and serve it the duck with the dipping sauce in individual small bowls.

Ingredients for the duck:
1 5- to 6-pound whole duck
sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
6 T honey
4 T Chinese five-spice powder
2 T dark soy sauce
2 T brown sugar

* * * * * * *

Ingredients for the "bath":
6 cups water and 1/3 cup water, divided
2 T honey
2 T dry sherry
3 T cornstarch
1 T white vinegar

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the sauce:
1 T cornstarch
6 T hoisin sauce
6 T superfine sugar
2 T sesame oil
1 T dark soy sauce

3 scallions, sliced into long thin strips
1 cucumber, cored and sliced into long thin strips
2 carrots, peeled into long thin strips

* * * * * *
Ingredients for Peking Duck rolls:
1 package Chinese/Mandarin-style pancakes

Preparing the duck:
Prick the duck all over with a small knife or fork or bamboo skewer.

In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and 1/3 cup water. Whisk to get out all of the lumps and set aside.

In a wok, combine 6 cups of water, honey, dry sherry vinegar, and bring to a boil. Add the cornstarch mixture, bring back to a boil, stirring until it's translucent.

Slide the duck into the wok and ladle the 'bath' water over the top several times, until the skin goes from looking pinkish white to a yellowish (a couple of minutes). Turn the duck over and repeat the ladle 'bath'.

Remove the duck from the wok and dry all over by patting it with paper towels.

Place the duck on a rack in a roasting pan and sprinkle the duck with salt and pepper and leave it in the roasting pan until ready to cook.

Combine the honey, 6 tablespoons water, five-spice, soy sauce and brown sugar in a bowl and brush this marinade all over the duck all, inside and out. Let dry in from of a fan (about 10 minutes) and then brush again. Repeat this process until you have used all but 4 to 5 tablespoons of the glaze (reserve this glaze). Ideally, let the glaze marinate on the duck overnight, leaving it uncovered in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place one of the oven racks on the lowest rung and the other oven rack on the rung above it.

Place a roasting pan on the lowest rung of the oven and pour about 1 to 3 inches of boiling water into it. Place the rack with the duck, breast side up, directly onto the oven rack above the pan with the boiling water. Roast for 45 minutes. Flip the duck over, baste with the reserved glaze and cook until the skin is crisp and golden brown, another 45 minutes. Make sure you check halfway through that it is not getting too dark. If it is getting too dark before half the cook time is up, turn your heat down and lower the rack in the oven. The duck is done when a thermometer inserted into the breast or leg reaches 165 degrees F. Remove the duck from the oven and rest it while making the sauce.

* * * * * *

Preparing the sauce:
In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with 1 tablespoon cold water and set aside. Next, heat a pan or wok over medium heat and add the hoisin, sugar, sesame oil and soy sauce. When the sauce starts to bubble slightly, add the cornstarch mixture and stir well to thicken. Set aside and let cool.

* * * * *

If making Peking duck rolls:
Remove the skin and meat from the duck with your fingers, separating into two piles.

Place 1 rice paper wrapper in a shallow bowl of hot water until softened, and then lay on a damp tea towel. In the center of the wrapper, smear a teaspoon of the sauce in the center of each pancake, add a couple slices of duck, crispy skin, garnish with the scallions, cucumbers, and carrots. Fold in the sides of the wrapper, fold up the bottom and then roll. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and duck. Serve immediately with the sauce for dipping.

Serves 4

* * * * * *

If serving with rice:
With a cleaver, cut the duck down the breast bone. With your hands, bend the duck back, breaking the spine. Cut duck into two halves through the spine. Cut off the duck's legs and wings. Cut the remaining carcass (breasts) through the bones (ribs) into 1-inch pieces.

Serves 4


French Bread

3 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 T honey
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 1/2 T yeast

Preparing the bread:
In an standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the flour, salt and honey. Whip until combined.

Add the yeast and the water to a small bowl and allow it to sit for 15 minutes. Add the yeast water to the flour mixture and beat until well mixed. Put the mixing bowl in a warm place, cover and let rise until doubled in size. Punch the dough down and divide it into 6 equal parts. Form into 6 (6-inch) loaves, cover and allow them to double in size.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Arrange the loaves on a baking sheet and bake until light brown.

Makes 4 to 6 6-inch loaves



1 1/2 cups all purpose flower
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 eggs
3/8 cup 2% milk
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese or Emmenthaler
3 T butter
1 onion, chopped

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

Sift the flour and salt and pepper together in a large bowl. Beat the eggs and milk in a medium bowl. Alternately mix the milk mixture into the flour until a smooth dough is formed.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium heat. Press batter thorough a spaetzle maker into the water. When the spaetzle float to the top of the water, remove them with a slotted spoon to an oven safe dish. After first layer of spaetzle, add a layer of Swiss cheese. Continue layering until all of the spaetzle and cheese have been used.

Bake the spaetzle until the cheese is melted, about 30 minutes.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over low heat. Add the onions and cook until golden brown. Pour over melted spaetzle and serve.

Serves 6 to 8


Iggy's Blondies

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 extra large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1 1/4 pounds semisweet chocolate chunks

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8-inch by 12-inch by 2-inch baking pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on high speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time, and mix well, scraping down the bowl. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt and with the mixer still on low, slowly add flour mixture to the butter mixture. Fold the walnuts and chocolate chunks in with a rubber spatula.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 30 minutes exactly. Don't overbake. A toothpick may not come out clean. Cool completely in the pan and cut into bars.

Makes 12 blondies


Iggy's Chocolate Chip Cookies With Walnuts

1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 extra large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1 1/4 pounds semisweet chocolate chunks

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

Cream the butter and two sugars until light and fluffy in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time, and mix well. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt and add to the butter with the mixer on low speed, mixing only until combined. Fold in the walnuts and chocolate chunks.

Drop the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, using a 1 3/4-inch-diameter ice cream scoop or a rounded tablespoon. Dampen your hands and flatten the dough slightly. Bake for exactly 15 minutes (the cookies will seem underdone). Remove from the oven and let cool slightly on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 40 cookies


Churros, Yet Another Way [Abbie's Recipe]

Ingredients for the churros:
1 cup milk
1/2 stick unsalted butter
pinch of kosher salt
1 cup flour
4 eggs
3 cups peanut or vegetable oil, for frying

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the chocolate sauce:
9 ounces Mexican chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 T butter
2 T light corn syrup

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the cinnamon sugar:
1 cup sugar
1 T ground cinnamon
pinch of salt

Preparing the churros' dough:
In a small saucepan, combine the milk, butter and salt and bring to a medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the flour and whisk to combine. Switch over to a wooden spoon and cook the dough until it pulls away from the sides of the pan and it has a slightly sweaty sheen on it, 3 to 4 minutes.

Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl and let cool for 2 to 3 minutes. Using an electric mixer beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Do not add the next egg until the last one is completely combined.

Place the batter in a pastry bag outfitted with a large star tip. Set aside while making the chocolate sauce.

* * * * * *

Preparing the chocolate sauce:
Place 1-inch of water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.

In a heatproof mixing bowl, combine the chocolate, heavy cream, butter and corn syrup. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is melted and all the ingredients are well combined.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and remove the saucepan from the heat. Set aside while preparing the cinnamon sugar.

* * * * * *

Preparing the cinnamon sugar:
In a bag or large mixing bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon

* * * * * *

Preparing the churros:
In a large saucepan heat the oil to 325 degrees F.

Pipe the dough into the hot oil in sticks. Fry the dough until it is brown and crispy on all sides, 60 to 90 seconds total, turning frequently. Fry in batches.

Remove the churros from the oil, blot on paper towels for a second and then toss while still hot in the cinnamon sugar. Serve immediately, while churros and melted chocolate are warm.

Serves 4 to 6


Aggie's Glazed Semi-Whole Carrots

2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 to 1 1/2 pounds carrots, all a similar size and thickness, peeled and halved lengthwise, tops reserved for garnish
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 T dark brown sugar
1 T molasses
1/2 to 1 cup water
2 T butter
1 sprig rosemary

Preparing the carrots:
In a skillet large enough to hold the carrots, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil begins to smoke lightly, add the carrots and season with salt and black pepper. Using a wooden spoon, stir the carrots to coat with the oil and seasonings.

After the carrots have cooked for a few minutes, add the brown sugar and molasses and continue to cook, stirring from time to time. Add a little water so they can become tender without burning the sugar. Continue to cook until tender, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add more water, if needed, but the sauce should be thick enough to coat the carrots and should bubble around the edges of the pan. The carrots should be tender and fairly yielding when pierced with the tip of a knife. Add the butter and the rosemary sprig. Once the butter has melted remove the rosemary sprig and discard. Transfer the carrots to a serving bowl and garnish with chopped carrot tops.

Serves 4 to 6


Aggie's Veal Stock

6 pounds veal knuckle bones
1/2 pound veal or beef scraps, preferably lean
2 T canola oil
2 onions, 1 peeled and sliced, 1 cut in 1/2 with the skin-on
2 medium carrots, washed, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, washed and chopped
4 sprigs fresh thyme, 2 bay leaves and 12 black peppercorns tied in cheesecloth

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Arrange the veal bones and scraps in a single layer on 2 or 3 baking sheets lined with foil. Put the trays in the oven and cook until the bones brown, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Heat a large skillet and add 1 tablespoon of the oil. When it begins to smoke lightly, add the 2 skin-on onion halves, cut side down. We want them to turn black. Combine the remaining sliced onion, carrots and celery. When the flesh part of the onion halves turn black, remove them from the pan. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and stir in the vegetables. Season with salt and cook, stirring from time to time, until the vegetables soften, about 5 to 8 minutes.

When the bones are roasted and browned, drain off any excess grease and add to a large pot. Cover with cold water, (warm water makes a cloudy stock) and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and use a ladle to skim any foam or impurities from the top. Add the vegetables, the cheesecloth containing the thyme, bay leaves and black peppercorns and the black onion halves (which will add flavor and enrich the color). Stir in a pinch of salt, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 6 to 8 hours.

Shut the off the heat and allow the stock to rest. Taste it. If it tastes watery or has an undeveloped flavor, cook it longer. [I have made stock that has taken 12 to 16 hours to come to fruition.]

Strain the stock and return it to the pot. Gently simmer the stock over low to medium heat to reduce and intensify the flavors. Use a ladle to skim any impurities as the stock reduces. Cool and use immediately or freeze for later use.

Makes about 8 to 10 cups of stock


Steaks With Green Peppercorn Cognac Sauce And Baked Fingerling Potatoes

Ingredients for the steaks:
4 (14-ounce) strip steaks, trimmed
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 T butter
1/2 cup minced shallots
1 T green peppercorns, preferably in brine, lightly crushed
1/4 cup brandy
2 T Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 T Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 cup veal stock, homemade or store-bought
4 sprigs fresh tarragon, washed, dried, leaves finely chopped

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the salt-baked potatoes:
1 1/2 pounds small fingerling potatoes, washed and dried
pinch coarse sea salt
15 bay leaves

Preparing the steaks:
Heat 2 cast iron skillets large enough to hold 2 of the 4 pieces of beef until they begin to visibly smoke. Season the steaks on both sides with salt and pepper. Shut the heat off underneath the skillet and use a pair of tongs to place the steaks in the pan 1 by 1 in a single layer. Turn the heat on under the skillet and brown the first side, 3 to 5 minutes.

Turn the steaks on the second side and brown, 3 to 5 minutes.

Arrange the steaks on a rack to rest while you make your sauce.

Remove the excess grease from one of the pans that was used to cook the steaks and reserve the other pan for the potatoes. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and the shallots and cook until they are translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the green peppercorns and brandy and cook until the liquid reduces almost completely.

Stir in the mustard, lemon juice, lemon zest and Worcestershire sauce. Swirl the pan so all of the flavors start to meld together.

Add the veal stock and reduce to a desirable consistency, then stir in the tarragon.

* * * * * *

Preparing the potatoes:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Add the potatoes to a casserole with a fitted lid that is just big enough to hold the potatoes. Toss them with some sea salt and the bay leaves. Cover the casserole and put in the center of the oven to bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

When the potatoes are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, remove the casserole from the oven and discard the bay leaves.

Heat the reserved skillet that the steaks were cooked in over medium heat and add the potatoes into the steak drippings. Cook until they brown and become slightly crisp. slightly. Season with salt, to taste.

Arrange the potatoes on the bottom of 4 dinner plates and top with the steak. Drizzle with the sauce and serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6


Chocolate Almond Ricotta Cake

2 teaspoons butter, softened
2 hard-boiled egg yolks, plus 2 raw egg whites
3/4 pound ricotta cheese, drained
4 T granulated sugar
1 1/2 ounces dark rum
2 T bittersweet chocolate, finely grated, plus more for garnish
1/8 pound blanched almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
lemon zest, for garnish

Preparing the ricotta cake:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Thickly grease the bottom and sides of a 1 quart loaf pan with butter.

Hard-boil 2 eggs. [Add the 2 whole eggs to a small pot and cover them with cold water. Bring the water to a gentle boil over medium heat. When the water boils, lower the heat to a simmer and cook the eggs for 6 minutes. Remove the eggs from the pot and run them under cold water to stop them from overcooking.]

Peel the hard-boiled eggs and, discarding the whites, put the yolks through a small strainer to break them into small bits. Add the egg yolks to the ricotta and stir to combine.

In a medium bowl add the sugar, rum, chocolate and almonds and whisk to blend. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add the 2 raw egg whites and beat until stiff peaks form, about 3 to 5 minutes. Gently fold the egg whites into the ricotta mixture with a rubber spatula, retaining as much fluffiness as possible.

Transfer the mixture to the loaf pan. Put the pan into a shallow water bath and bake, undisturbed, for 50 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and the water bath. Allow to cool at room temperature and put into the refrigerator to tighten up before serving. Sprinkle with a touch of lemon zest and some chocolate over each individual portion.

Serves 4 to 6


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