Thursday, December 29, 2011

Mandel Toasts

Like biscotti, only moister and tenderer.

1 cup salted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup sour cream
3 3/4 cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda

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

Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well. Blend in the almond extract and sour cream. Combine the flour and soda thoroughly.

Spoon 3 rows of dough onto a cookie sheet, allowing space between rows. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and with a sharp knife, cut 1-inch slices, turn on side, return to oven and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Makes 3 dozen


Almond Toffee Cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 cups of chopped almonds
1 package of toffee bits

Preparing the cookies:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream the butter and the sugars. Add oil, eggs, and extract; mix well. Combine flour, soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Gradually add to creamed mixture. Stir in almonds and toffee bits. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls, roll in sugar and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Flatten the balls using the bottom of a drinking glass.

Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until lightly browned. Carefully move cookies to a rack to cool.

Makes 11 to 12 dozen cookies


Cat's Tongue Cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup superfine white sugar
whites from 3 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour, sifted

Preparing the cookies:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment.

Cream the butter using an electric mixer then gradually add the sugar until mixed for 2 minutes. Add the egg whites and mix for about 3 to 4 minutes. Add salt and vanilla extract. Slowly stir-in the flour. Continue to mix for about 3 minutes or until the mixture is thoroughly incorporated. Spoon dough into a piping bag with a #12 round tip and pipe lengths of 2 1/2- to 3-inches.

Bake for approximately 8 minutes and cool on baking sheet. Store in an air tight container.


Cardomom Cookies With Fresh Rosemary

2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
2 T granulated white sugar
2/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
8 ounces cold Philadelphia brand cream cheese, cut into small pieces

* * * * * * *

Ingredients for 'rolling out' sugar:
1/2 cup of granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cardamom

* * * * * * *

Ingredients for the filling:
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of very finely chopped fresh rosemary

Preparing the cookies:
Place the flour, sugar and salt into a mixing bowl and whisk to sift. Add butter and with an electric hand-mixer or with the paddle attachment on the KitchenAide, mix until crumbly. Add the cream cheese and mix until just combined.

Refrigerate for about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and prepare Silpat or parchment-lined baking sheets.

Cut the refrigerated dough into two equal pieces and roll each half into a rectangle, approximately 18-inches by 10-inches, using the 'rolling out' sugar to prevent the dough from sticking to the table-top and rolling pin.

Put a thin layer of the filling over the dough and roll into a log. Refrigerate another 1/2 hour then cut into 1/4-inch slices and place on baking sheet.

Sprinkle the rolling out sugar on top of the cookies.

Bake for 8 minutes then turn the cookies over, re-sugaring and baking for another 3 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Makes about 5 dozen cookies


Sabrina's Gingerbread People

1 cup white granulated sugar
1 cup unsulphured molasses
2 eggs beaten
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup unsalted butter
3 T white distilled vinegar
6 cups flour
2 T ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Preparing the gingerbread people:
Place butter, sugar, vinegar and molasses into a pot and bring to a boil. Let cool.

When cool, add eggs and flour with all other spices. Mix well, dough will be stiff, and then set in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Roll into 1/4-inch thickness and cut into shapes; don't forget to poke a small hole at the top (with a bamboo skewer or chopstick or shish-kabob skewer) if you're planning on displaying ing the gingerbread people on a Christmas tree. and bake at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes.

When the cookies are cool, decorate with icing, candies, sanding sugars, etc.


Butternut Squash Spice Cookies

2 cups flour (half whole wheat, half all purpose white)
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup oil (coconut or canola)
2 T molasses
1 cup cooked mashed butternut squash
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Optional: 1/2 cup oats, chopped walnuts, raisins, coconut shreds

Preparing the cookies:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and spices in a bowl. In a separate, larger bowl mix together, oil, molasses, squash and vanilla until well combined. Add dry to wet, folding to combine. Add optional ingredients after combined.

Drop by tablespoons onto cookie sheets. Bake for 16 minutes at 350 degrees F. For best flavor, let them cool and set a bit.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cheesy Spinach Artichoke Dip

2 (10-ounce) boxes chopped frozen spinach
1 box frozen artichoke hearts
3 T butter
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 T all purpose flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup milk
salt and freshly ground black pepper
a pinch of grated nutmeg, or to taste
1 cup gorgonzola crumbles
1 1/2 cups shredded asiago or parmigiano-reggiano

cubes of French bread, for dipping
thick sesame bread sticks, for dipping
celery hearts, trimmed for dipping
carrot sticks, for dipping
zucchini sticks, for dipping
pita crisps with parmesan and herbs [preferred brand: Stacy's]

Preparing the dip:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Defrost spinach 10 minutes on defrost setting in microwave then drain well by wringing out in dish towel. Defrost artichokes as well, 6 minutes on defrost in microwave then wring out and finely chop.

Heat a sauce pot with butter over medium to medium-high heat. Add garlic to melted butter and stir 1 to 2 minutes, then sprinkle in flour and combine 1 minute more. Whisk in stock and milk and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Thicken 2 minutes then remove from heat and melt in Gorgonzola. Stir in spinach and artichokes and half the shredded cheese then transfer to a small casserole and top with remaining cheese. Brown and bubble in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Serve with bread sticks, celery hearts and pita crisps for dipping.

Makes 3 1/2 cups


Pasta With Spinach And Chard, Chick Peas And Ricotta Salata

1 pound orecchiette or other short pasta
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
12 ounces Swiss chard or mustard greens, stemmed
12 ounces baby spinach leaves
1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups small cherry or grape tomatoes
8 ounces ricotta salata cheese, crumbled
2 teaspoons lemon zest
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparing the pasta:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the garlic and discard. Add the Swiss chard and cook until wilted. In batches, add the spinach and cook until wilted. Add the beans and tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the pasta, 1/2 of the cheese, and lemon zest. Toss well and thin out the sauce with a little pasta water, if needed.

Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and serve.

Serves 4 to 6


French Quarter Beignets

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 envelope active dry yeast
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup evaporated milk
7 cups bread flour
1/4 cup shortening
nonstick spray
oil, for deep-frying
3 cups confectioners' sugar

Preparing the beignets:
Mix water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.

In another bowl, beat the eggs, salt and evaporated milk together. Mix egg mixture to the yeast mixture. In a separate bowl, measure out the bread flour. Add 3 cups of the flour to the yeast mixture and stir to combine. Add the shortening and continue to stir while adding the remaining flour. Remove dough from the bowl, place onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray. Put dough into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rise in a warm place for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oil in a deep fryer to 350 degrees F.

Add the confectioners' sugar to a paper or plastic bag and set aside.

Roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness and cut into 1-inch squares.

Deep-fry, flipping constantly, until they become a golden color. After beignets are fried, drain them for a few seconds on paper towels or paper bags, and then toss them into the bag of confectioners' sugar. Hold bag closed and shake to coat evenly.

Makes 3 dozen beignets


Thai Pork Tacos

These can also be made with arepas in place of the tortillas.

Ingredients for the pico de gallo:
4 tomatoes, finely chopped
4 to 6 jalapenos, minced
1 onion, finely chopped
corn tortillas, for serving
fresh cilantro leaves, for serving

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the slaw:
6 cups shredded cabbage
1 cup mayonnaise
1 T agave syrup
1 T mirin

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the pork:
2 pounds pork shoulder
14-ounce can coconut milk
3 T Thai red chili paste
1 T grated ginger
2 teaspoons salt
8 kaffir lime leaves
6 cloves garlic, peeled
4 stalks lemongrass, cut into 1-inch pieces (light part only)

Preparing the pork:
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Place the pork, coconut milk, chili paste, ginger, salt, lime leaves, garlic and lemongrass in a large Dutch oven. Pour in 1 cup water and cover tightly. Bake until fork tender, about 4 hours. Shred the meat.

* * * * * * *

Preparing the slaw:
Mix the cabbage, mayo, agave and mirin together just prior to serving to ensure crispness.

* * * * * * *

Preparing the pico de gallo:
Mix the tomatoes, jalapenos and onions together.

Warm the corn tortillas on skillet and place approximately 3 tablespoons of shredded pork on top. Top with some slaw, pico de gallo and cilantro.

Serves 6



1 package active dry yeast
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1 cup warm water
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups corn oil
confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preparing the zeppole:
Dissolve the yeast, salt and sugar in the warm water. Stir in the eggs and flour, blending well. Cover and let rise in a warm area until bubbly and doubled in size, about 90 minutes.

Heat the oil in a 6-inch shallow fry pan with 1-inch sides to 375 degrees F.

Drop level tablespoons of dough into the oil, cooking 4 at a time. Fry each side until golden brown, about 2 minutes.

Drain well on paper towels, sprinkle with confectioners' sugar while hot. Serve warm.

Serves 4


Pickled Vegetables

8 cups of mixed vegetables (carrots, celery, beets, cauliflower)
2 cloves garlic
1 T dill seeds
1 T mustard seeds
1 T coriander seeds
1 T black peppercorn
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 1/2 cups sugar
3 cups white vinegar
2 cups water

Preparing the pickled vegetables:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Fill a large bowl with ice and water and set aside. Place the vegetables in the boiling water and let cook until vibrant in color, but still firm, about 1 minute. Transfer the vegetables to a prepared ice bath, let sit until cool and drain. Transfer the blanched vegetables to a clean jar* (or jars) with the garlic. Top with spices and herbs, and set aside.

* * * * * *

Preparing the marinade:
Combine the sugar, vinegar and water in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until the mixture comes to just under a boil. Pour the mixture directly over the vegetables and seasonings. Allow to cool to room temperature, cap, and refrigerate. Store refrigerated for at least 48 hours and for up to 1 month.

Makes 4 pints

* * * * * * *

Sterilizing jars:
Before filling with jams, pickles, or preserves, wash jars and lids with hot, soapy water. Rinse well and arrange jars and lids open sides up, without touching, on a tray. Boil the jars and lids in a large saucepan, covered with water, for 15 minutes.

Use tongs when handling the hot sterilized jars, to move them from boiling water. Be sure the tongs are sterilized too, by dipping the ends in boiling water for a few minutes.

As a rule, hot preserves go into hot jars and cold preserves go into cold jars. All items used in the process of making jams, jellies, and preserves must be clean. This includes any towels used, and especially your hands.

After the jars are sterilized, you can preserve the food. It is important to follow any canning and processing instructions included in the recipe and refer to USDA guidelines about the sterilization of canned products.


Sweet Biscuits

These biscuits can be the base for a strawberry shortcake or served with preserves for tea or breakfast with coffee.

2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 T cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus 4 T, melted
3/4 cup cold buttermilk
heavy cream, for brushing
white granulated sugar, for sprinkling

Preparing the biscuits:
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Using a dough cutter, combine until the ingredients are incorporated. Scatter the cold butter pieces over the top of the flour mixture and continue to combine until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the buttermilk and mix just until the dough begins to come together.

Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured counter. Pat the dough into a 10-inch by 12-inch rectangle about 3/4-inch thick. Use a 3-inch round cutter to cut out the biscuits. Press together the scraps of dough and repeat the process. Place the biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper; brush the tops with cream and sprinkle with sugar. Bake the biscuits until lightly golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush the tops with the remaining melted butter.

Makes 8 biscuits


Pickled Onions

2 pounds red onions, sliced
white wine vinegar
kosher salt
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1 T crushed red pepper flakes
2 T coriander seeds
2 T black peppercorns
4 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves

Preparing the onions:
Pack the onions into 2 (1-quart) jars and add enough water to come within 1/2-inch of the rim. Pour the water out into a measuring cup. Note the volume, pour off half of the water and replace it with vinegar. Add 2 tablespoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of salt for every 3 cups of liquid.

Pour the vinegar mixture into a nonreactive saucepan, add the mustard seeds, red pepper flakes, coriander seeds, black peppercorns, garlic, and bay leaves, and bring to a boil over high heat. Allow the liquid to boil for 2 minutes, and then remove it from the heat.

Pour the hot liquid into the jars to cover the onions and screw on the lids.
Refrigerate for up to 1 month.

Makes approximately 2 quarts


Ham And Cheddar Biscuit Sandwiches With Tomato Preserves

This recipe calls for only 6 biscuits for the sandwiches, so serve the rest with soup, spread with butter and jam, or just freeze for another day.

Tomato Jam
3/4 cup grated Cheddar
1/4 pound thinly sliced cooked country ham, such as Smithfield

* * * * * * *

Ingredients for the tomato jam:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 Spanish onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
leaves from 2 rosemary sprigs, finely chopped
a pinch of red pepper flakes
4 cups peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped plum tomatoes
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

* * * * * * *

Ingredients for the biscuits:
5 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 T plus 2 teaspoons baking powder
2 T sugar
1 T salt
1/2 cup plus 2 T vegetable shortening
8 T unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 cups buttermilk

Preparing the tomato jam:
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, rosemary and pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until soft and fragrant. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have given up most their water and turned a deep orange red, about 15 to 20 minutes. Whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

* * * * * *

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

Sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Repeat. Add the butter and shortening and, using your fingertips, mix until crumbly. Add the buttermilk and mix with a wooden spoon until the dough just comes together. Don't over mix.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and, using a rolling pin, roll out to 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick rectangle. Using a 3-inch to 4-inch round cutter, punch out biscuits and transfer them to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Gently press the dough scraps into another rectangle and punch out more biscuits. Discard any scraps. Lightly dust the tops of the biscuits with flour and bake until golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. Let the biscuits cool slightly.

* * * * * * *

Assembling the sandwiches:
Preheat the broiler. Split 6 of the biscuits in half and spread the top halves with 1 tablespoon of tomato jam each.

Divide the ham among the bottom halves of the biscuits and sprinkle the cheese over the top.

Arrange the bottom halves a baking sheet and place under a broiler until the cheese melts. Cover with the biscuit tops and serve immediately.

Serves 6


Parmesan Chicken Tenders With Balsamic Vinaigrette

4 T plus 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders (about 18)
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 T balsamic vinegar
freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups freshly grated parmesan
3/4 cup Italian-style seasoned bread crumbs

Preparing the chicken:
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Brush 1 tablespoon of oil over each of 2 heavy large lined baking sheets. Place the buttermilk in a large bowl. Add the chicken tenders and stir to coat. Let stand at least 15 minutes and up to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, mash the garlic with the salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in the vinegar and then the remaining 1/2 cup of oil. Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with pepper. Transfer the vinaigrette to a small serving bowl.

Stir the Parmesan and bread crumbs in a pie dish. Remove the chicken tenders from the buttermilk and dredge them in the bread crumb mixture to coat completely, pressing to adhere. Arrange the coated chicken tenders on the prepared baking sheets, spacing evenly. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over the chicken tenders and bake until they are cooked through and golden brown, about 12 minutes. Serve the vinaigrette alongside for dipping.

Serves 6


Spirited Ginger Ale

2 slices fresh lemon
fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
ice, as needed
2 ounces or 1/4 cup citrus-flavored vodka
1 ounce or 2 T agave syrup
2 ounces or 1/4 cup pale ale

Preparing the ginger ale:
In a cocktail shaker, add the lemon slices and desired amount of ginger slices, depending on how spicy you enjoy your drinks. Muddle or crush the lemon slices and fresh ginger together. Fill the shaker with ice and add the vodka and agave syrup. Shake to mix the ingredients together. Add the pale ale. To combine, gently transfer the mixture back and forth between each cup of the shaker. Don't shake with the beer because of the carbonation. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Makes 1 drink


Arborio Rice Pudding

1 cup water
pinch of salt
1/2 T butter
1/2 cup Arborio rice
2 cups whole milk
4 T sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
a few dashes of 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, about 10 to 15 minutes.

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

Serves 4


Polenta Poundcake

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup polenta, fine grind
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
3/4 cups sweet unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup almond paste
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
6 large eggs, separated
1 cup heavy cream
powdered sugar, for serving

Preparing the poundcake:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Butter and lightly flour the insides of a 10-inch round cake pan.

Sift together the flour, polenta, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a mixer, on medium speed, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add 1 cup of the sugar and beat until pale and fluffy. Add almond paste and beat again. Blend in vanilla and almond extracts, then beat in the egg yolks, 1 at a time, being sure that each is mixed in before the next is added. Alternately, beat in small amounts of the sifted dry ingredients and the cream to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.

In a clean mixer, beat egg whites until opaque, then add remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until whites form soft peaks. Fold into batter gently but thoroughly. Pour the batter into the cake pan. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for about 60 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. (Do not test or move the cakes before they have baked for at least 45 minutes since they are delicate and may fall.)

Allow the cake to cool and when cooled remove from the pan and dust the top with powdered sugar.

Serve this cake with summer fruits (peaches, nectarines, apricots, berries—tossed with a little sugar, freshly squeezed lemon juice and a pinch of gray salt).

Serves 8 to 10


Elsie's Walnut Cake

4 ounces shelled walnuts, plus more for decorating
2 to 4 T fine breadcrumbs
3 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 T grated bittersweet chocolate, optional
1/4 cup, melted until soft enough to pour but not oily
1 T espresso, Cognac, Irish cream liqueur or other liqueur
confectioners' sugar, for serving
whipped cream and chocolate shavings, or coffee ice cream, for serving

Preparing the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8-inch round cake pan and line with parchment paper.

Grind the walnuts together with the breadcrumbs in a food processor. Put the egg whites in a large bowl for whisking. Whisk the yolks and granulated sugar in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (without letting the bowl touch the water) until they have tripled in volume and become thick, pale and ribbony. Take the yolk mixture off the heat. Scatter the nut mixture over the yolk mixture, along with the chocolate, if using, then drizzle over the butter and espresso. Fold very gently to blend. Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks. Stir a spoonful of whites into the batter to loosen it, and then gently fold in the remainder.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack before flipping the cake out onto a serving plate.

Decorate with a sifting of confectioners' sugar and a few walnut halves. Some white blossoms look nice, too. Serve small portions of cake with whipped cream and chocolate shavings or with coffee ice cream.

Serves 8


Elsie's Boule

3 cups (375 grams) all purpose flour, plus more as needed
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
cornmeal, wheat bran or extra flour, as needed

Preparing the dough:
Mix the flour, salt and yeast in a bowl. Stir in 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) water to blend. What you'll have is a wet, shaggy, sticky dough, but not so wet as to be batter. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let it rest in a warm place for at least 12 hours, and up to 24 hours. It's ready for the next step when the surface is dotted with bubbles.

Flour a work surface and dump the dough out onto it. Sprinkle over a little more flour and fold it once or twice. Cover with the tea towel and let rest 15 minutes.

Using only enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers, shape the dough into a ball. Coat a cotton towel with cornmeal, wheat bran or flour and lay the dough on it, seam-side down. Dust with more cornmeal, wheat bran or flour. (You need quite a lot because you want to be sure the dough doesn't stick to the towel). Cover and let rise for about 2 hours. When ready, the dough will be more than double in size.

Half an hour before the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Put an 8-quart Dutch oven (cocotte) inside the oven to heat.

When the dough is ready, remove the pot from the oven and turn the dough into it, seam-side up. (It will look messy, but this is okay.) Shake the pot to settle the bread evenly. Cover with the lid and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake until the loaf is nicely browned, another 15 to 30 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Makes 1 boule


Sauteed Mushrooms

Smother a steak with these.

2 pounds mixed wild mushrooms, such as cremini, shiitake, porcini, and portobello
1/2 cup good olive oil
1 cup chopped shallots (4 large)
4 T (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 T chopped garlic (6 cloves)
1 cup chopped flatleaf parsley

Prepare the mushrooms:
Clean the mushrooms, remove and discard the stems. Slice the small mushrooms thickly and cut the large ones in a large dice.

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or saucepan. Add the shallots and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, or until the shallots are translucent. Add the butter, mushrooms, salt, and pepper and cook over medium heat for 8 minutes, until they are tender and begin to release their juices, stirring often. Stir in the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Toss in the parsley, sprinkle with salt, and serve warm.

Serves 4


Pasta Carbonara

1 gallon salted water
2 T extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces pancetta or slab bacon, diced
1 teaspoon diced garlic
2 T white wine
1/2 cup cream
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound fresh linguini
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano
2 eggs, separated

Preparing the pasta carbonara:
Put the water in a large pasta pot, add kosher salt, and bring it to a boil over medium heat.

Add the oil and pancetta to a large saute pan over low heat. Cook the pancetta until crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for 5 seconds. Add the wine, cream and black pepper. Cook until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Drop the fresh linguini into water and stir to separate strands. When pasta is just undercooked remove it from the water and add it to the pan with the sauce. Gently stir for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat, add half the cheese and the egg white and stir, being careful not to break the noodles. Add the egg yolk and lightly toss. Transfer the pasta to a serving bowl or platter and garnish with the remaining cheese.

Serves 4 to 6


Friday, December 23, 2011

Coffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter , softened
1 cup dark brown sugar
3 T granulated sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoons instant espresso powder, crushed
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Preparing the cookies:
Cream the butter with the sugars until fluffy.

Beat in the egg and the vanilla extract.

Combine the dry ingredients and beat into the butter mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Form large round patty's 1/4-inch thick. Place onto a greased or parchment lined cookie sheet.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes for soft and chewy, or 10 to 12 minutes for crispier cookies.

Romove from oven and allow cookies to set for an additional 2 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack for cooling.

Makes 1 dozen cookies


Baked Gorgonzola Gnocchi

1 pound russet potatoes
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
6 ounces parmesan, finely grated, divided
1 cup all purpose flour plus more
1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup heavy cream
1 sprig rosemary
1 1/4-inch thick slice fresh ginger
2 T (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
3 T fine dried breadcrumbs
4 ounces Gorgonzola dolce or other mild blue cheese

Preparing the gnocchi:
Place potatoes in a large pot. Add water to cover by 1 inch; bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Drain; set aside and let cool slightly.

Peel potatoes. Pass through ricer or a food mill or sieve, into a large bowl. Whisk egg and egg yolk in a small bowl to blend. Add egg mixture, 1/3 cup parmesan, 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and nutmeg to potatoes. Using your hands, gently mix to form a soft but not sticky dough. Transfer dough to a floured surface. Gather into a ball, then divide into 4 pieces.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; dust with flour. Working with 1 piece at a time (keep other pieces covered with a damp kitchen towel), roll dough into a 24-inch long rope. Cut crosswise into 1 inch pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time, press lightly on gnocchi with the back of the tines of a fork and gently roll gnocchi to create ridges on one side. Place on prepared baking sheet and lightly dust with flour.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and chill. Cover and chill remaining grated cheese.

Bring cream, rosemary, and ginger to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat; cover and let steep for 30 minutes. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Working in batches of about 12 at a time, cook gnocchi until they float to the surface, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to a baking dish coated with 1 tablespoon butter.

Mix 3 tablespoons parmesan, remaining 1 tablespoon butter, and breadcrumbs in a small bowl. Strain reserved cream mixture into dish all over gnocchi. Break off small pieces of Gorgonzola; scatter over. Sprinkle the remaining parmesan over, then the breadcrumb mixture.

Bake until the filling is bubbling and the topping is browned, 25 to 30 minutes.

Serves 4 to 6



2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup plus 4 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup apricot preserves or raspberry jam
1 cup loosely packed currants
1 1/4 cups walnuts (1/4 pound), finely chopped
milk for brushing cookies

Variations for filling: ground pistachios/dates and honey; seedless raspberry jam, cinnamon sugar and mini semisweet chocolate chips (or chopped up chocolate chunks); dulce de leche, sea salt; brown sugar, caramels chopped up into small bits and chopped pecans; or make it savory with herbs and goat cheese

Preparing the rugelach:
Whisk together flour and salt in a bowl. Beat together butter and cream cheese in a large bowl with an electric mixer until combined well. Add flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. Gather dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap, then flatten (in wrap) into a roughly 7-inch by 5-inch rectangle. Chill until firm, 8 to 24 hours.

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line bottom of a 1-inch to 1 1/2-inch-deep large shallow baking pan with parchment paper.

Cut dough into 4 pieces. Chill 3 pieces, wrapped in plastic wrap, and roll out remaining piece into a 12-inch by 8-inch rectangle on a well-floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Transfer dough to a sheet of parchment, then transfer to a tray and chill while rolling out remaining dough in same manner, transferring each to another sheet of parchment and stacking on tray.

Whisk 1/2 cup sugar with cinnamon.

Arrange 1 dough rectangle on work surface with a long side nearest you. Spread 1/4 cup preserves evenly over dough with offset spatula. Sprinkle 1/4 cup raisins and a rounded 1/4 cup walnuts over jam, then sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar.

Using parchment as an aid, roll up dough tightly into a log. Place, seam-side down, in lined baking pan, then pinch ends closed and tuck underneath. Make 3 more logs in same manner and arrange 1 inch apart in pan. Brush logs with milk and sprinkle each with 1 teaspoon of remaining granulated sugar. With a sharp large knife, make 3/4-inch-deep cuts crosswise in dough (not all the way through) at 1-inch intervals. (If dough is too soft to cut, chill until firmer, 20 to 30 minutes.)

Bake until golden, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool to warm in pan on a rack, about 30 minutes, then transfer logs to a cutting board and slice cookies all the way through.



nonstick cooking spray
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup turbinado sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup light molasses
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup firmly packed minced fresh ginger
confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preparing the gingerbread:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with rack in the lower third of oven. Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with waxed paper, then spray the paper. Dust the entire pan with flour and shake out the excess.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, turbinado sugar, cinnamon, and salt; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together molasses, eggs, oil, and buttermilk.

Dissolve baking soda in the cup of boiling water. Fold the baking soda and molasses mixtures into dry ingredients until combined. Do not overmix. Fold in the minced ginger.

Scrape batter into the prepared baking pan; bake until cake is set around edges and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in the pan, then invert onto a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature, dusted with confectioners' sugar.

Serves 12


Gingerbread Cookies

5 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 sticks (16 T) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups unsulfured molasses

* * * * * *

Ingredients for royal icing:
1 pound confectioners' sugar, plus more if needed
5 T meringue powder

Preparing the cookies:
Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices in a medium bowl.

Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in molasses. Reduce speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture, and beat until just combined. Divide dough into 3 portions, and wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. On a generously floured piece of parchment, roll dough to a scant 1/4 inch thick. Brush off excess flour. Slide dough and parchment onto baking sheets, and freeze for 15 minutes.

Cut out desired shapes. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets, and freeze for 15 minutes.

Bake cookies for 6 minutes. Remove sheets from oven, and tap them firmly on counter to flatten cookies. Return to oven, rotating sheets, and bake until crisp but not darkened, 6 to 8 minutes more. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.

Spoon icing into a pastry bag fitted with a very small plain round tip (such as Ateco #0 or #1). Pipe designs on cookies. Let cookies stand at room temperature until set, at least 2 hours (preferably overnight). Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in airtight containers for up to 1 week.

* * * * * *

Preparing the royal icing:
Beat sugar, meringue powder, and a scant 1/4 cup water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on low speed until smooth, about 7 minutes. If icing is too thick, add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time; if too thin, beat icing for 2 to 3 minutes more, or add more sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Use immediately or store in an airtight container at room temperature overnight; stir before using.


Sugar Cookies

3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 T milk
powdered sugar, for rolling out dough

Preparing the cookies:
Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Place butter and sugar in large bowl of electric stand mixer and beat until light in color. Add egg and milk and beat to combine. Put mixer on low speed, gradually add flour, and beat until mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl. Divide the dough in half, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Sprinkle surface where you will roll out dough with powdered sugar. Remove 1 wrapped pack of dough from refrigerator at a time, sprinkle rolling pin with powdered sugar, and roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick. Move the dough around and check underneath frequently to make sure it is not sticking. If dough has warmed during rolling, place cold cookie sheet on top for 10 minutes to chill. Cut into desired shape, place at least 1-inch apart on greased baking sheet, parchment, or silicone baking mat, and bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to turn brown around the edges, rotating cookie sheet halfway through baking time. Let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes after removal from oven and then move to complete cooling on wire rack. Serve as is or ice as desired. Store in airtight container for up to 1 week.

Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies


Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup Nutella
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts

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

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In another medium bowl combine the butter, chocolate hazelnut spread, sugar, and brown sugar. Using an electric mixer, cream the ingredients together, about 4 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until smooth, about 1 minute. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Add the hazelnuts and stir until just combined.

Using a tablespoon measure, spoon out the cookie dough onto a cookie sheet, spacing the mounds about 4 inches apart. Use the tines of a fork to flatten the cookie dough. Bake until lightly golden around the edges, about 10 to 12 minutes. Use a metal spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool.

Makes about 4 1/2 dozen biscotti


Stickier Sticky Buns

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks; 170 grams, 6 ounces) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups (345 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup (110 grams) honey
1/3 cup (80 grams) heavy cream
1/3 cup (80 grams) water
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

* * * * * * *

Ingredients for the brioche dough:
2 1/2 cups (350 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
2 1/4 cups (340 grams) bread flour
1 1/2 packages (3 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast or 1-ounce (28 grams) fresh cake yeast
1/3 cup plus 1 T (82 grams) sugar
1 T kosher salt
1/2 cup cold water
6 eggs
1 3/8 cups (2 3/4 sticks; 310 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 10 to 12 pieces

Ingredients for filling:
1/4 cup (55 grams) light brown sugar
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (100 grams) pecan halves, toasted and chopped

Preparing the brioche dough:
Using a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the all purpose flour, bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt, water, and 5 of the eggs. Beat on low speed for 3 to 4 minutes, or until all the ingredients are combined. Stop the mixer, as needed, to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure all the flour is incorporated into the wet ingredients. Once the dough has come together, beat on low speed for another 3 to 4 minutes. The dough will be very stiff and seem quite dry.

With the mixer on low speed, add the butter, 1 piece at a time, mixing after each addition until it disappears into the dough. Continue mixing on low speed for about 10 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. It is important for all the butter to be thoroughly mixed into the dough. If necessary, stop the mixer occasionally and break up the dough with your hands to help mix in the butter.

Once the butter is completely incorporated, turn up the speed to medium and beat until the dough becomes sticky, soft, and somewhat shiny, another 15 minutes. It will take some time to come together. It will look shaggy and questionable at the start and then eventually it will turn smooth and silky. Turn the speed to medium-high and beat for about 1 minute. You should hear the dough make a slap-slap-slap sound as it hits the sides of the bowl. Test the dough by pulling at it; it should stretch a bit and have a little give. If it seems wet and loose and more like a batter than a dough, add a few tablespoons of flour and mix until it comes together. If it breaks off into pieces when you pull at it, continue to mix on medium speed for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until it develops more strength and stretches when you grab it. It is ready when you can gather it all together and pick it up in 1 piece.

Put the dough in a large bowl or plastic container and cover it with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly onto the surface of the dough. Let the dough proof (that is, grow and develop flavor) in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or up to overnight. At this point you can freeze the dough in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

* * * * * * *

Preparing the filling:
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the brown sugar and cook, stirring, to combine (it may look separated, that's ok). Remove from the heat and whisk in the honey, cream, water, and salt. Strain to remove any undissolved lumps of brown sugar. Let cool for about 30 minutes, or until cooled to room temperature. Should be approximately 3 cups. [The mixture can be made up to 2 weeks in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.]

* * * * * * *

Preparing the sticky buns:
Divide the dough in half. Use half for this recipe and reserve the other half for another use.

On a floured work surface, roll out the brioche into rectangle about 12 by 16 inches and 1/4-inch thick. It will have the consistency of cold, damp Play-Doh and should be fairly easy to roll. Position the rectangle so a short side is facing you.

In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and half of the pecans. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the entire surface of the dough. Starting from the short side farthest from you and working your way down, roll up the rectangle like a jelly roll. Try to roll tightly, so you have a nice round spiral. Trim off about 1/4- inch from each end of the roll to make them even.

Use a bench scraper or a chef's knife to cut the roll into 8 equal pieces, each about 1 1/2-inches wide. [At this point, the unbaked buns can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 1 week. When ready to bake, thaw them, still wrapped, in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours, then proceed as directed.]

Pour the filling into a 9 by 13-inch baking dish, covering the bottom evenly. Sprinkle the remaining pecans evenly over the surface. Arrange the buns, evenly spaced, in the baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm spot to proof until the dough is puffy, pillowy, and soft and the buns are touching (almost tripled in size), about 2 hours.

Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat to 350 degrees F.

Bake until golden brown, about 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool in the dish on a wire rack for 20 to 30 minutes. One at a time, invert the buns onto a serving platter, and spoon any extra filling and pecans from the bottom of the dish over the top.

The buns are best served warm or within 4 hours of baking. They can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day, and then warmed in a 325 degree F oven for 10 to 12 minutes before serving.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Baked Chicken And Wild Rice

6 T unsalted butter, plus more for casserole dish
5 cups water
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf 2 T salt
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 1/3 cups wild rice
6 T dark brown sugar
1 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen
2 T chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 cup bread crumbs
salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 ounces button mushrooms, quartered, (about 2 cups)
1 small onion, chopped
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese

Preparing the chicken and rice:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch by 13-inch casserole dish.

In a large saucepan, combine the water, thyme, bay leaf, and salt and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the chicken and simmer until cooked through, about 15 minutes, depending on thickness of the chicken. Remove the chicken to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, dice into 1/2-inch cubes and reserve.

Return the water to a boil, add the wild rice, and cover. Cook over medium heat until the rice grains split, 40 to 45 minutes. Drain the excess water, transfer the rice to a bowl and set aside.

In a small pot, over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of butter. When the butter is melted add the brown sugar, cranberries, rosemary, bread crumbs, and a pinch of salt. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is uniform. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. In a large straight-sided saute pan over medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add the mushrooms, onions, and a pinch of salt. Saute until the mushrooms are browned, about 5 minutes. Add the heavy cream and the cinnamon, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer about 2 minutes to thicken slightly. Add the Gruyere and mix to incorporate. Add the rice and chicken to the pot and stir to combine. Season the mixture with salt and pepper, to taste, then transfer it to the prepared casserole dish. Spread the cranberry mixture evenly over the top of the casserole and bake until golden and bubbling, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Serves 8


Iggy's Baked Shrimp Scampi

2 pounds (12 to 15 per pound) shrimp in the shell
3 T good olive oil
2 T dry white wine
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 T (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
1/4 cup minced shallots
3 T minced fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 extra large egg yolk
2/3 cup panko
lemon wedges, for serving

Preparing the shrimp scampi:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Peel, devein, and butterfly the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Place the shrimp in a mixing bowl and toss gently with the olive oil, wine, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Allow to sit at room temperature while you make the butter and garlic mixture.

In a small bowl, mash the softened butter with the garlic, shallots, parsley, rosemary, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, lemon juice, egg yolk, panko, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper until combined.

Starting from the outer edge of a 14-inch oval gratin dish, arrange the shrimp in a single layer cut side down with the tails curling up and towards the center of the dish. Pour the remaining marinade over the shrimp. Spread the butter mixture evenly over the shrimp. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until hot and bubbly. If you like the top browned, place under a broiler for 1 minute. Serve with lemon wedges.

Serves 6



2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 pound Swiss chard, stems trimmed, leaves coarsely chopped
1 russet potato, peeled and cubed
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed, divided
2 (14-ounce) cans low-sodium beef broth, divided
1 (1-ounce) parmesan rind
1/4 cup chopped fresh flatleaf parsley

Preparing the minestrone:
In a large, heavy stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, pancetta, and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the Swiss chard and potato. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and rosemary sprigs. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the chard is wilted and the tomatoes are very soft, about 10 minutes.

In a food processor or blender, combine 3/4 of the beans with 1/2 cup of broth. Blend until almost smooth. Add the pureed bean mixture, remaining broth, and the parmesan rind to the vegetable mixture. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potato pieces are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in the remaining beans and the parsley. Simmer until the beans are heated through and the soup is thick, about 2 minutes. Discard the rosemary stems (the leaves will have fallen off) and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Serves 4 to 6


Parmesan Polenta

9 cups water
1 T salt, plus extra for seasoning
2 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal or polenta
1 1/2 cups freshly grated parmesan
1 1/2 cups whole milk, at room temperature
10 T (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/3 cup chopped fresh flatleaf parsley
freshly ground black pepper

Preparing the polenta:
Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy pot. Add the salt. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring often, until the mixture thickens and the cornmeal is tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat. Add the cheese, milk, butter, and parsley. Stir until the butter and cheese have melted. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Serves 8 to 10


Italian Pot Roast [Stracotto]

1 (5-pound) boneless beef chuck roast
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
2 onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup red wine, such as cabernet sauvignon or pinot noir
1 (15-ounce) can low-sodium beef broth, plus extra, as needed
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 large sprig fresh rosemary, leaves removed and chopped
6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed and chopped

Preparing the pot roast:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Pat the beef dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. In a heavy 6-quart pot or Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook until browned on all sides, about 12 minutes. Remove the beef and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium. Add the remaining oil and the onions. Cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute until aromatic. Add the wine and scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Stir in the broth and mushrooms. Return the beef to the pot and bring the liquid to a boil. Cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Cook until the beef is fork-tender, about 3 hours, turning the beef over halfway through and adding more beef broth, as needed.

Transfer the beef to a cutting board. Tent with foil and let stand for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, spoon any excess fat off the top of the pan juices. Using an immersion blender, blend the pan juices and vegetables until smooth (the cooked pan juices and vegetables can also be pureed in a blender). Add the rosemary and thyme. Bring to sauce to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Cut the beef into 1-inch pieces and place on a platter. Spoon some of the sauce over the meat and serve the remaining sauce on the side.

Serves 8 to 10


Creamed Onion Gratin

3 pounds sweet onions (such as Vidalia, Walla Walla, or Maui onions)
3 T cream sherry
6 T unsalted butter, divided
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole milk, scalded
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
kosher salt and pepper
1/2 cup panko crumbs

Preparing the onion gratin:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a gratin dish or medium casserole.

Cut off the root and tip of the onions. Slice in half length-wise and peel. Lay the cut-side of the onion down and slice length-wise into thick wedges.

In a Dutch oven or heavy pot, melt two tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and caramelized, about 40 minutes. Add the sherry and simmer until it evaporates. Remove the onions from the pan and pour through a fine mesh sieve. Let them drain while making the bechamel sauce. (Draining the onions prevents a runny gratin because the onions will continue to release more liquid in the oven.)

In the same Dutch oven, melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook for one minute. Add the scalded milk and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is very thick. Remove from the heat. Fold in the Gruyere and stir until completely melted. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the onions to the cheese sauce and toss to thoroughly coat. Pour the onion mixture into the gratin dish.

Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter and toss with the panko crumbs. Sprinkle over the top of the onions and bake until bubbly and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Serve warm.

Serves 6 to 8


Brussels Sprouts With Pancetta, Chestnuts and Shallots

2 1/4 pounds Brussels sprouts
1 T vegetable oil
9 ounces pancetta, rind removed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 T butter
approximately 1/2 pound of chestnuts
2 ounces Marsala wine
1 large handful of fresh parsley, chopped, divided
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparing the Brussels sprouts:
Prepare the Brussels sprouts, leaving whole, and put in a pot of salted boiling water. Cook the Brussels sprouts for 5 minutes, or until they are tender but still retain a bit of bite. Drain the Brussels sprouts and set aside.

Heat the oil in a skillet, add the pancetta cubes and cook until they are crisp and golden-brown in color, but not cooked to the point of having dried out. Add butter and the chestnuts and press down on the chestnuts with a utensil to break them up into pieces.

Once the chestnuts have been warmed through, turn the heat up and add the Marsala. Cook until the mixture has reduced and thickened slightly.

Add the sprouts and half the parsley to the saucepan and mix well. Season the Brussels sprouts with freshly ground black pepper and sprinkle a little fresh parsley over the top.

Serves 8


Maple Roasted Parsnips

2 1/4 pounds parsnips
4 fluid ounces vegetable oil
3 1/2 fluid ounces maple syrup

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

Peel the parsnips and then halve them crosswise, then halve or quarter each piece lengthwise.

Place the parsnips into a roasting pan. Pour the oil over the parsnips and coat them. Drizzle the maple syrup over the parsnips and place the pan in the oven. Roast the parsnips for 35 minutes, or until they are tender and golden brown.

Serves 8


Sopapillas With Dulce De Leche

Ingredients for dulce de leche:
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk

* * * * * * *

Ingredients for sopapillas:
1 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 teaspoon
1 T ground cinnamon
1 3/4 cups sifted flour, plus more for kneading dough
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 T very cold vegetable shortening
2/3 cup ice cold water
1 1/2 cups canola or vegetable oil
1 1/2 pints vanilla ice cream

Preparing dulce de leche:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Scrape milk into an 8-inch baking dish; cover tightly with aluminum foil. Place dish inside a roasting pan; fill pan with enough water to come halfway up sides of baking dish. Bake for 1 1/4 hours, adding more water to pan if needed.

When milk becomes a thick caramel, remove from oven; let cool, covered, for 15 minutes before serving.

Makes 1/2 cup

* * * * * * *

Preparing the sopapillas:
Combine sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Use fingertips or a pastry cutter to work in shortening to form coarse crumbs. Slowly add water; mix until just combined.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Gently knead until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap; let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Heat oil in a large high-sided skillet over medium heat until it reaches 350 degrees F on a deep fry thermometer. Line a large plate with several layers of paper towels.

Roll dough on a lightly floured surface into a 1/4-inch thick, 12 inch by 15-inch rectangle, then cut into 2-inch by 3-inch pieces (about 24).

Fry in batches of 5 until golden and puffed on both sides (about 1 minute per side). Remove with a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels for 30 seconds.

Immediately dredge in cinnamon sugar. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream and a dollop of dulce de leche.

Serves 4 to 6


Cornbread Stuffing

5 cups day-old cornbread, crumbled
4 cups day-old Bisquick biscuits, crumbled
1 1/2 cups celery, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoon salt
6 cups chicken broth
1 T dried sage
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 cup melted butter
1 pound mild pork sausage, cooked and drained

Preparing the stuffing:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together. Stuff turkey with mixture and follow your own recipe for cooking time or treat as a side dish by placing mixture in a 9-inch by 13-inch ovenproof pan or casserole dish in oven, uncovered.

Cook 1 hour, adding extra broth if it starts to become too dry.

Serves 8


Almond Shortbread

1/2 cup raw almonds with skins, plus about 18 whole almonds for decorating
2/3 cup sugar, plus more for top
14 T unsalted butter (7 ounces, 1 3/4 sticks), softened, cut into pieces
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 large egg white, beaten

Preparing the shortbread:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Blend and pulse the 1/2 cup nuts in a food processor with the sugar until mixture resembles coarse sand. If there are a couple small chunks of nuts that is fine. Add the butter, vanilla and almond extracts, and the salt, and pulse until creamy. Add the flour and continue to pulse to make a soft dough.

Turn the dough out into a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom and spread it out evenly with an off-set spatula. Dip the spatula in a little warm water to help smooth and even the surface of the shortbread. Cover and freeze until firm, about 20 minutes.

Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and dock the dough all over with a fork. Generously sprinkle the top of the shortbread with sugar. Toss the remaining whole almonds in the egg white; evenly arrange and press the nuts into the dough around the edge of the pan. Bake until golden brown and set, about 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Cool the shortbread in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the tart ring and cut the shortbread with a sharp knife into wedges, each with a nut. Cool shortbreads on a rack completely. Or serve the shortbread as 1 large cookie. Cool the shortbread in the pan completely and remove the tart ring.

Store in a tightly sealed container for up to 5 days.

Makes 18 slices


Pistachio Linzertorte With Cherry Jam

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
3 egg yolks
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 1/2 cups ground roasted and salted pistachios
cherry jam

Preparing the cookies:
In a large bowl, beat butter and confectioners' sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in egg yolks until combined.

In a small bowl, combine flour, nutmeg and cardamom. Gradually add to butter mixture, beating until combined. Beat in ground pistachios. Cover and chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

On lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut with a 2-inch star-shaped cookie cutter. Cut out centers of half the cookies with a 1/2-inch star-shaped cookie cutter. Place cookies 2 inches apart on baking sheets, and bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Let cool on pan for 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Spread cherry jam evenly over flat sides of uncut cookies. Top with flat sides of cutout cookies. Return to baking sheets, and bake for 2 minutes. Let cool completely on wire racks. Store in airtight containers.

Makes about 40 cookies


Chocolate Macaroons

2 (7 to 8-ounce) packages sweetened shredded coconut
2 ounces sweetened condensed milk
a pinch of kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large egg whites at room temperature
5 ounces granulated sugar
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 ounce vegetable shortening
2 ounces finely chopped dry-roasted macadamia nuts

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

Combine the coconut with the sweetened condensed milk, salt and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to whip the whites until medium peaks form, 6 to 7 minutes.

Gently fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture. Scoop tablespoon-sized mounds onto a parchment-lined half sheet pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately transfer the parchment with the macaroons to a cooling rack. Cool completely before topping.

Fill a 4-quart pot with enough water to come 2 inches up the side, set over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Combine the chocolate chips and shortening in a small metal or glass mixing bowl and set over the simmering pot. Stir occasionally until melted, then remove from the heat.

Dip the cooled cookies in the chocolate mixture, sprinkle with the chopped macadamia nuts and place on parchment paper to set, about 30 minutes.

Makes about 3 1/2 dozen cookies


Mexican Wedding Cookies

1 3/4 cups walnut pieces
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup tapioca starch (tapioca flour)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 sticks butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 T grade A dark amber maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners' sugar

Preparing the cookies:
Pulse the walnuts in a food processor until the consistency of coarse cornmeal (20 2-second pulses). In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, tapioca and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl, using an electric hand mixer, add the butter and sugar and blend until smooth. Stir in the maple syrup and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients in thirds, using the paddle attachment on your mixer, at slow speed. Once the mixture has pulled together, mix at a slightly higher speed to fully incorporate the ingredients. Finally, add the walnuts and mix briefly to combine. Roll the dough into ball, flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for 1/2 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Measure 1 tablespoon of the dough into your hand, roll into a log with tapered ends and shape into a crescent. Repeat with remaining dough. Arrange the cookies, about 1-inch apart, on the baking sheets. Bake just until the bottom edges start to turn golden, about 14 to 16 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on the cookie sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack until completely cool, about 20 minutes.

Put the confectioners' sugar in a shallow bowl, and dredge the cookies, 1 at a time, tapping off excess sugar.

Variation: Add 1 teaspoon of good quality cinnamon, and 1 cup of mini chocolate morsels to the dough. The confectioners' sugar can also be flavored by sifting it with 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder.

Makes about 5 1/2 dozen cookies


Creamed Spinach

3 T unsalted butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk, at room temperature
kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 pounds spinach, tough stems removed
1 large egg plus 2 egg yolks
freshly ground pepper

Preparing the spinach:
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until smooth; cook, stirring, until the mixture lightens, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat; whisk in the milk, 2 teaspoons salt and the nutmeg. Return to medium heat and bring to a boil, whisking. Remove from the heat again; stir to cool slightly.

Heat a deep skillet over medium heat. Add the spinach and 1 teaspoon salt; cover and cook about 3 minutes. Toss with tongs, then continue to wilt, uncovered, about 2 more minutes. Drain and cool slightly, then squeeze the spinach until dry. Coarsely chop.

Gently reheat the sauce, then whisk in the whole egg and yolks; cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens. Stir in the spinach; heat through. Season with salt and pepper.

Serves 6 to 8


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Almond Semolina Cookies

These cookies improve with age (3 to 4 days). Ingredients:
2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces) unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups pastry flour (8% protein)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup confectioners sugar, plus extra for coating
1 large egg yolk
1 T orange flower water (to make them Moroccan) or 1 T ouzo (to make them Greek)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
3/4 cup finely ground almonds (almond meal)

Preparing the cookies:
At least 2 to 3 days before you plan to make the cookies, melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat without stirring. Lift off and discard the foamy top. Pour the clarified butter into a cup and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours.

Sift the pastry flour and baking powder together, and set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat the chilled butter in a medium bowl at medium speed until very light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes (the more you beat, the lighter the cookie). Gradually beat in 7 tablespoons of the confectioners sugar; beat for 2 minutes. Add the egg yolk and beat for 2 more minutes. Add the orange flower water, vanilla, and almond extract; beat for another minute. Carefully fold in the flour mixture with a rubber spatula, stirring always in the same direction, then gently fold in the almond meal. The dough will be quite soft. Refrigerate, wrapped in waxed paper, until the dough is cold enough to shape into small balls, about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Shape the dough into small round cakes about 1 inch in diameter and 1/2 inch high.
Place about 1/2 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes; the color should be pale, not brown. Place the baking sheet on a wire rack; immediately sift the remaining confectioners sugar over the cookies. Cool for 5 minutes.

Remove the cookies from the baking sheet and roll in additional confectioners sugar to coat them.

Store the cooled cookies in airtight tins for at least 2 days to mellow, or up to several weeks, before serving.

Makes about 36 cookies.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Coconut Cherry Chocolate Cookies

2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 to 3 T milk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in 2 teaspoons hot water
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 T salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups flaked coconut
2 1/2 cups chocolate chips, all semisweet or mixed milk and semisweet chocolates
1 cup dried cherries, roughly chopped

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

Cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the milk, vanilla and baking soda mixture. Combine the flour, salt and cinnamon and slowly add to the butter mixture. Fold in the coconut, chocolate chips and cherries.

Drop mounds of dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until the edges are lightly browned, 10 to 14 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes.

Makes 3 1/2 dozen cookies


Mocha Blackout Cake

Ingredients for the cake:
butter, for pans
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting pans
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 T instant espresso powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
1 cup whole milk
1 cup strong brewed coffee

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the pudding:
1 cup granulated sugar
3 T cornstarch
2 T unsweetened cocoa powder
2 T instant espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 T vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 T unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 box chocolate wafers, crushed to crumbs (about 2 cups)

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the whipped cream:
1 cup whipping cream
1 to 2 T dark rum

Preparing the cake:
For the Cake: Heat the oven to 350 degrees F and arrange a rack in the middle. Coat two 9-inch round cake pans with butter and dust with cocoa powder.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together cocoa, flour, espresso powder, baking soda, and baking powder until well combined; set aside. Combine the sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla, and salt in a separate large bowl, and whisk until combined and smooth.

Combine the milk and coffee in a small bowl. Add 1/3 of the milk mixture into the sugar/egg mixture and whisk until just incorporated. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, and whisk until smooth. Continue with the remaining milk and flour mixture, alternating between each and whisking until all the ingredients are just incorporated and smooth.

Divide the batter evenly between prepared pans. Put the pans on a baking sheet. Bake, rotating the baking sheet 180 degrees halfway through, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Remove the cakes from the oven and let them rest, in the pans, on a cooling rack for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans, and cool completely before proceeding.

* * * * * *

Preparing the pudding:
Combine the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, espresso powder and salt in a medium saucepan and whisk to evenly combine. Whisk in the milk and vanilla until completely incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the egg yolks until combined.

Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and bubbles, about 7 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, until completely thickened, about 1 minute more.

Remove from the heat and immediately add the chocolate and the butter, and stir until melted and evenly combined. Put plastic wrap directly on surface of the pudding and chill at least 1 1/2 hours.

* * * * * * *

Assembling the cake:
Arrange 1 of the cakes on a flat cake plate and top with 1/3 of the pudding, spreading evenly and almost to the edges. Top with second cake then use the remaining pudding to frost the top and sides of the cake.

Press the cookie crumbs into the sides and top of the cake. Pick up any fallen crumbs and apply them, pressing gently to cover the cake completely. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving.

* * * * * * *

Preparing the whipped cream:
In a medium bowl, add the cream and whisk until soft peaks form. Add the rum and continue to whisk until stiff and the cream sticks to the whisk. Serve the whipped cream on the side.

Serves 8 to 10


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients for the bacon:
8 strips applewood smoked bacon
1/4 cup raw sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

* * * * * * *

Ingredients for the cookies:
1 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup melted unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup raw sugar, pulverized
2 egg yolks
1 to 2 teaspoons maple extract
1 cup dark chocolate, chopped

Preparing the bacon:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and set it aside. Lay the bacon strips in a single layer on a wire rack, and coat the tops completely and evenly with the raw sugar. Lightly press the sugar into the bacon strips, sprinkle them with the cayenne, and transfer the rack to the lined cookie sheet. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until the bacon is deep red and very caramelized. Check on the bacon frequently; the cooking time may vary depending on the thickness of the bacon. Use tongs to remove the candied bacon from the baking sheet, and transfer the slices to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, roughly chop.

* * * * * *

Preparing the cookies:
With the oven rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In another bowl, combine the melted butter, brown sugar, egg yolks and maple extract with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is well blended. Stir in the dry ingredients and the dark chocolate chunks.

With a spoon, drop 2 tablespoons of dough per cookie onto the baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between each cookie. Flatten lightly with your fingers, then press your thumb down the center of each cookie to make a slight indent. Add a tablespoon of chopped candied bacon to the center of each cookie. Bake for 11 to 12 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes then transfer to a cooling rack. The cookies will be a bit soft but will firm up when cooled and become chewy. For crunchier cookies bake for 15 minutes, taking care not to burn the bacon by covering the cookies loosely with aluminum foil.

Makes 1 1/2 dozen cookies


Sugar Cookies

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter or margarine (soft, not melted)
1 C granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 C all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Preparing the cookies:
Put into a mixing bowl along with 1 cup of sugar and mix until blended. Add eggs and vanilla and 2-1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt.

Mix everything together and cover with plastic wrap. Put the dough in plastic or a ziplock bag and refrigerate for at least one hour.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Sprinkle counter with flour and roll out the dough, about 1/4-inch thick. Use cookie cutters to make cookies 2 to 3-inches.

Put cookies on ungreased cookie sheet, and put cookie sheet in oven for about 10 minutes.

Makes 2 1/2 to 3 dozen cookies


Pignoli Cookies

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 T granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground fennel seed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup pine nuts

Preparing the cookies:
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, vanilla, fennel seed, and salt in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg. Add the flour and mix just until blended.

Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap. Shape the dough into an 8-inch-long log. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line heavy large baking sheets with a silpat or parchment paper. Cut the dough log crosswise into 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick slices.

Transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets, spacing evenly apart. Press the pine nuts decoratively atop the cookies. Bake until the cookies are golden around the edges, about 15 minutes.

Makes 2 to 3 dozen


Chocolate Hazelnut Shortbread

1 cup hazelnuts, skins removed
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces semisweet chocolate

Preparing the cookies:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place hazelnuts on baking sheet. Bake until they're a shade darker and fragrant, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Lower oven to 325 degrees F.

Place hazelnuts in blender or food processor and pulse to coarse bits; set aside. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt to blend; set aside.

Beat butter and sugar together with a wooden spoon until smooth. Beat in egg. Gradually beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Add the chopped hazelnuts and mix until distributed evenly throughout.

Form into long cookies and place on greased cookie sheets. Bake until firm, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on racks.

In a saucepan over lowest heat or in a double boiler, melt chocolate. Dip 1 end of cooled cookies into melted chocolate. Place back on cookie sheet to harden.



2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
a pinch of ground white pepper
6 ounces unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 large egg
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
1/2 cup chopped candied ginger
granulated sugar, for rolling

Preparing the cookies:
Sift the dry ingredients together. Beat the butter and brown sugar with molasses until well combined and fluffy. Add the egg and ginger and beat 3 minutes. Add the flour mixture with the machine on low and then stir in the candied ginger by hand, do not over mix. Chill until the dough is firm and no longer sticky, at least 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Scoop with small ice cream scoop, about 1 tablespoon, and roll into a ball and then roll in granulated sugar. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets, about 2 inches apart and press flat, 1/4-inch high.

Bake about 16 minutes or until the edges are firm and the tops feel set to the touch. Cool 1 minute on the baking sheets and then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 4 1/2 dozen cookies


Chocolate Espresso Mousse With Orange Mascarpone Cream

Ingredients for the mousse:
1/2 cup whole milk
3 T granulated white sugar
1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
3 large egg whites

* * * * * * *

Ingredients for the mascarpone cream:
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese, room temperature
2 T fresh squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 T powdered sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest

Preparing the mousse:
In a small saucepan over medium heat stir together the milk with the sugar and the espresso powder until the milk is hot, but not boiling, and the sugar is dissolved. Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth. Place the chocolate chips in a blender.

Pour the hot milk over the chips. Run the blender on high until combined, a few seconds. Add the egg whites and run the blender on high until light, about 1 minute. Transfer the mousse to 4 small serving cups. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until firm, about 3 hours.

* * * * * * *

Preparing the cream:
In the bowl of an electric mixer, stir together the mascarpone cheese and the orange juice until smooth. Add the cream, powdered sugar, and orange zest. Whip until the cream has soft peaks, about 1 minute. Whip the cream just before serving the mousse or cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Serves 4


Maple Ice Cream

2 cups 35% cream
a pinch of salt
1 cup dark amber maple syrup
6 large egg yolks
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup maple flakes

Preparing the ice cream:
In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream and salt to a simmer.

In a bowl, whisk together the maple syrup and egg yolks. Pour about one-third of the hot cream into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly, and then stir the egg yolk mixture into the remaining cream in the saucepan. Stir to blend well. Lower the heat to medium-low and stir constantly until hot and slightly thickened. Do not boil.

Pour through a strainer into a bowl. Stir in the milk and vanilla. Cover and chill thoroughly.

Freeze in your ice cream machine following manufacturer's directions. Add the maple flakes.

Makes 4 cups


Friday, December 2, 2011

Fried Harvey

This simple fare (delicious, hearty and addictive) was a special offered at a former Denny's restaurant (the chain) in Venice, California, that had been taken over by a hippies in the 1970s.

1/2 cup diced onion
1 cup diced zucchini or other squash
2 cups spinach
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
1/2 cup diced red, orange or yellow bell pepper
1/4 cup diced celery
2 T vegetable oil
2 to 4 cups cooked rice
1 raw egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup toasted cashews or almonds
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup scallions, thinly sliced, green part only

Optional: Soy sauce, sliced mushrooms, diced carrots, chopped broccoli, or oter vegetables

Preparing the Fried Harvey:
Sauté onion, zucchini, spinach, peppers and celery lightly in oil.

In a separate pan, heat vegetable oil and add cooked rice. Scramble egg into rice and add vegetables. If using soy sauce, add now and mix. Add the nuts and cheese over the top. Cover for a few minutes on low heat until cheese melts. Sprinkle sliced scallions over the top.

Serves 4


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hazelnut Sticky Buns

Ingredients for the filling:
2 1/4 sticks butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup finely ground toasted hazelnuts
1 1/2 T ground cinnamon

* * * * * * *

Ingredients for the topping:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
2 T milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 T corn syrup
1/3 cup coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts
1 package (16 ounces) hot roll mix or your favorite sweet yeast dough recipe

Preparing the filling:
In large bowl, beat butter and sugars with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add hazelnuts and cinnamon; mix well. Set aside.

* * * * * * *

Preparing the topping:
In medium saucepan, heat butter and milk over low heat; when butter starts to melt, stir in sugar and corn syrup. Boil until mixture reaches 215 degrees F. Add chopped hazelnuts. Increase heat to medium and boil 5 minutes longer. Remove from heat and set aside.

* * * * * * *

Assembling the buns:
Spray 2 jumbo muffin pans with vegetable pan spray. Prepare hot roll mix according to package directions. Allow dough to rest. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to a 24-inch by 12-inch rectangle.

With a spatula, spread filling evenly across the dough. Starting with long side, begin rolling the dough tightly, pressing edges to seal. Cut log into 12 2-inch pieces. Spoon about 2 teaspoons topping into the bottom of each jumbo muffin cup. Place one roll in each cup. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and a cloth towel; set aside in a warm place and allow to rise for 30 minutes. Remove towel and plastic wrap.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake rolls for 20 to 23 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on rack for 3 minutes. With a sheet pan underneath, carefully remove rolls from muffin pans. Use a spatula to spread on any hazelnut topping that was left behind in the pans. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Giada's Side Cars

1/2 cup sugar
1 lime, zested
1 lime wedge
10 ounces cognac
4 ounces Triple Sec liqueur
4 ounces sweet and sour mix
4 ounces limoncello
2 ounces lime juice

Preparing the sidecar martini:
Chill 4 martini glasses. In a small shallow dish combine the sugar and the lime zest. Run the lime wedge around the rim of each glass. Dip in the sugar and zest mixture.

In a cocktail shaker mix the cognac, Triple Sec, sweet and sour mix, limoncello, and lime juice over ice. Shake to chill.

Pour the side car martinis into the glasses and serve immediately.


Scallopini with Sage and Fontina

6 (4 1/2 to 5 1/2-ounce) veal or chicken cutlets, pounded thin
salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 sage leaves
3 ounces grated fontina cheese
3 T olive oil
1 garlic clove, halved
1/2 cup white wine
1 (28-ounce) can whole San Marzano tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preparing the scallopini:
Place the chicken cutlets on a clean work surface, narrow end facing you. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place one sage leaf crosswise on each of the pieces of chicken. Sprinkle each of the pieces of chicken with 1/2 ounce (about 2 tablespoons) of fontina cheese. Roll up the chicken and seal with one or two toothpicks.

Warm the olive oil and halved garlic clove in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat until the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken. Brown the chicken on all sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the pan and remove and discard the garlic. Add the wine and simmer for 2 minutes while scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.

Meanwhile, combine the tomatoes and red pepper flakes in a blender and blend until smooth. Add the tomato mixture to the reduced wine in the pan. Simmer for 5 minutes to let the flavors marry.

Return the chicken to the pan. Simmer the chicken in the tomato sauce for 10 minutes. Turn the chicken over and simmer until cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the pan. Season the tomato sauce with salt and pepper. Spoon the tomato sauce onto serving plates or a serving platter. Slice the chicken into 1-inch rounds. Remove the toothpicks. Place the chicken over the sauce and serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6


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