02 December 2005

waldorf salad, updated

1/3 c balsamic vinegar
3 T olive oil
1 T Dijon mustard
1 t marjoram (1 T if using fresh)
1 t minced garlic

Boil the vinegar in a heavy small saucepan over medium heat until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Let cool slightly, transfer to dressing shaker or glass jar with a sealing lid, and add other ingredients. Shake well to combine, season to taste with salt and pepper.

1 bag pre-washed spring mix
2 apples, cored and chopped
1/2 c dried sweetened cranberries (craisins)
1/2 c pecans, toasted, broken into large chunks
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 oz crumbled gorgonzola or other blue cheese

combine in large bowl, add dressing, toss together.

28 November 2005

cranberry amaretto sauce

This recipe is a family holiday tradition, given to us by a friend and neighbor of my grandmother's.

one lemon
4 T unsalted butter
2 c sugar (can use slightly less for a more tart sauce)
1 (12 oz) bag fresh cranberries
3 T orange marmalade
1/3 c amaretto liqueur

Wash and pick over cranberries. Zest the lemon, set the zest aside; juice the lemon. In a thick-bottomed saucepan, slowly melt the butter over low heat, add the lemon juice and sugar when partly melted. Stir well to combine; when sugar mixture is more liquid than solid, add the cranberries and continue to cook over medium low heat until most of the berries have popped. Remove from the heat, add the lemon zest, marmalade and amaretto.

Makes around 3 cups. Keeps well in the fridge in a jar for weeks, possibly months.

ginger cake

1 c stout (Sam Smith Imperial Stout is excellent for this)
1/3 c molasses
2/2 c golden syrup (if you can't find golden syrup, use molasses instead)
1/2 T baking soda
1/2 T baking powder
1/2 c dark brown sugar
1/2 c sugar
1 c butter, softened
3 eggs
2 3/4 c all-purpose flour
2 T ginger
1 T cinnamon
1/2 t cloves
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2-3/4 c stem ginger (soft ginger in syrup, crystallized ginger would do in a pinch)

Preheat oven to 350º F. Grease two loaf pans, line the bottom with parchment, and grease the parchment. Alternately, butter and flour a Bundt pan.

In a good sized saucepan over high heat, combine stout, molasses, and golden syrup. Bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, carefully add baking soda and baking powder (mixture will foam up violently). Allow to sit until foam dissipates and mixture cools enough to touch.

Cream together butter and sugar until pale. Add eggs one at a time, beat til fully incorporated. In a separate large bowl, whisk together flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg. Combine the stout mixture with the egg mixture, then add to flour mixture in batches until combined, mixing at medium speed. Batter will be thin.

Chop stem ginger or soft ginger into small bits and stir into batter. Pour into prepared pans and bake for about an hour, until tester comes out almost clean, or until the top springs back when gently pressed. Do not open the oven to test until at least 45 minutes have elapsed, or the center may fall slightly.

Let cool on racks for at least an hour, then turn out and continue to cool as needed. Keeps well for several days wrapped in foil. Would be good with a glaze or icing, but is also excellent all by itself.

This recipe was created by combining bits of four or five other gingerbread/cake recipes that we thought were interesting. As far as I know, the proportions are unique to us, and success may or may not depend largely on using the same brand of ingredients.

17 November 2005

split pea soup

buy a ham butt, carve it into three piles: one for bits of ham you would like to eat, one for bits of ham to use for stock, one for bits of ham that are solid fat. throw the bits of fat away.

boil the bone and the stock bits with 10 cups water, 3-4 chopped onions, 1 lb split peas (rinsed & picked over) for about two hours, until peas begin to soften. remove from heat, take out bone and other bits of ham that you wouldn't want to eat. put in fridge overnight.

the next day, skim off fat and jelly. reheat and continue to cook until peas have fallen apart completely and soup has thickened. at some point in this process, season with salt, white pepper, a dash of nutmeg and some red pepper flakes. add some of the bits from the first (good) pile of ham, heat through, and serve, garnished with finely chopped chives or scallions.

13 November 2005

chocolate delight cookies

Makes about 48 cookies

12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 c whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 c unsalted utter, softened
1 1/3 c sugar
2 large eggs
2 t vanilla
48 chocolate-covered almonds

Place chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and melt in the microwave on medium in 30 second bursts, stirring after each burst to ensure even melting, until completely melted.

Meanwhile, whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Beat butter and sugar until well-combined. Add eggs and vanilla, beat until creamy. Add the melted chocolate, beat to combine. Stir in the dry ingredients with a spoon until just combined. Refrigerate the dough until barely chilled, 15 minutes.

Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350 degrees. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

Roll dough into 1" balls and place on the prepared baking sheet, 2" apart. Bake the cookies, one batch at a time, until puffed and slightly dried on top, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and gently press an almond into the center of each cookie. Let cool for 5 minutes on the pan before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Allow the pan to cool slightly between batches.

12 November 2005

Lebkuchen (German Spice Cookies)

1 egg
1 cup honey
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 cups flour
1 cup walnuts, chopped
Grated zest from 1 small orange
1-1/4 cups confectioner's sugar
5 teaspoons water1 teaspoon vanilla
In a large bowl, mix first 10 ingredients and 1-1/2 cups of flour. Mix well with wooden spoon, stir in walnuts, orange zest and rest of flour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two cookie sheets. Drop heaping
tablespoon, 1/2 inch apart. Bake 20 minutes, or until toothpick in center
comes out clean. Remove and cool.

In a small bowl, mix confectioner's sugar,
water and vanilla. Brush cookies when dry. Store in container.

01 November 2005

pumpkin apple bread

preheat oven to 350, grease two loaf pans well.

3 c flour
3/4 t salt
2 t baking soda
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
1/4 t cloves
1/4 t allspice
1/4 t ginger
1 can (15 oz) solid-packed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 c applesauce
1/4 c vegetable oil
1 c sugar
1 c brown sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 apples, peeled, cored, chopped

sift together dry ingredients in medium bowl. in large bowl, combine pumpkin, eggs, oil, applesauce, sugar. mix in dry ingredients. fold in apples. put in pans.

combine 5 T sugar, 1 T softened butter, 1 T flour, 1 t cinnamon with fingers until consistency of coarse meal. sprinkle on top of batter.

bake for around 60 minutes until tester comes out clean. let cool in rack for 45 minutes, turn out and continue to cool at least another 45 minutes before cutting.

31 October 2005

our house salad

juice from half a good sized lemon
one garlic clove, pressed
kosher salt
coarse ground black pepper
white pepper
white wine vinegar, 4 T
olive oil, 1/3 c.

combine in a shake-able container. let sit while you make the salad.

green leaf and boston lettuce, torn into small pieces
small red onion, finely diced
celery stalks, 3, chopped
large apple, chopped
cucumber, chopped
spring onions, chopped
large avocado, diced
goat cheese, crumbled, about 3 oz.
red or yellow bell pepper, chopped
bacon, fried and crumbled

toss together, add dressing.

28 October 2005

shellfish in coconut saffron broth

transcribed from Martin Woods on Home Plate. looks good, but kind of a lot of work.

shallots, 3-5
garlic, 2 cloves
olive oil
white wine, 1 cup
mussels, debearded and scrubbed, at least 10
raw large shrimp, deveined, at least half a pound
clams, washed, at least 10
coconut milk, 1 can
leeks, at least 2
carrots, 1 cup finely diced, a handful julienned
celery, 1 cup finely diced
onion, 1 cup chopped
shrimp stock made from shrimp shells, celery, leek, carrot, onion, at least 3 cups
red pepper flakes
beet, julienned

saute the carrots, onions, celery in a little olive oil, over high heat for a couple minutes, stirring constantly. turn heat down and add some white wine to deglaze the pan. continue cooking until soft. meanwhile, put the clams in a pot over medium-high heat and add a cup or so of shrimp stock. they should open in 3-5 minutes, when open, take them out immediately. set aside, cook the mussels in the same pan, removing as soon as opened. add the stock leftover from the mussels to the carrot, onion mixture, as well as another cup or so of the original shrimp stock. simmer for a few minutes, then add at least a cup of coconut milk and a teaspoon or so of saffron threads. continue to simmer.

in a deep saute pan, heat a little olive oil, and sear the shrimp on each side for a few seconds. do not cook through, shrimp should be raw in the middle. remove from pan and set aside. put shallots and garlic in pan, saute for a couple minutes and then add the clams, mussels, and shrimp. add the simmering coconut broth and cook until shrimp is cooked through. add julienned beets, leeks, carrots as garnish.

27 October 2005

when you want something sweet for dinner

3/4 c. mascarpone cheese
1 c. whipping cream
dash vanilla
2 T powdered sugar

to make filling:
partially whip the cream. stir the cheese vigorously, incorporating the vanilla and sugar until cheese is softened. fold the cream into the cheese until thoroughly combined. the cheese/cream proportions can be adjusted to your liking.

1 package frozen berries
juice from one lemon
1/4 c demarara or turbinado sugar
dash cinnamon
dash cloves
berry or orange liqueur

to make berry sauce:
combine berries, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, cloves in a saucepan over medium low heat. simmer until berries have broken down to the desired consistency. taste and adjust spices and sugar if needed. add liqueur. thicken with cornstarch if necessary.

3 eggs
1 c milk
1/3 c half and half or cream
1 c flour
1 T sugar
1/4 t salt
3 T melted butter, cooled

to make crepes:
blend eggs, milk, cream, flour, sugar, salt in a blender. chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. spray 7" non-stick skillet with cooking spray and put over medium heat. when pan is hot, pour in three tablespoons of batter and tilt pan gently to distribute evenly. cook until edges begin to brown, 45-60 seconds. turn over and cook another 30 seconds or so until set. transfer crepe to a plate, cover with a paper towel. repeat until batter is gone, re-spraying as necessary and layering a paper towel between each crepe.

to serve:
put a few spoonfuls of the cream in the center of each crepe and roll up. drizzle the berries on top. dust with powdered sugar.

would be good with fancy marmalade, fresh berries, or other fruit sauce also.

26 October 2005

marinade for steak

four cloves garlic, pressed or minced
thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
3 T soy sauce
2 T worchestershire sauce
juice of one lime
2 T wine vinegar (not balsamic)
1 t red pepper flakes
1/2 t white pepper
1 t celery seed
dash coriander
1/4 t cloves
kosher salt
1/2 c olive oil

marinate beef for at least six hours. probably would work for pork, chicken, lamb.

mashed potatoes

Epicurious says these are called "champ" in Ireland. Duncan agrees that this is a traditional method of mashed potatoing over there, but he is not certain that the name is accurate.

6 medium potatoes (any white potato will do)
1/4-1/3 c cream or half & half*
1/4-1/2 c milk
2-3 T real butter
4 scallions/spring onions/green onions/whatever you call them
salt & pepper

roughly chop the scallions, going about halfway up the green part. put them in a small saucepan with the cream and milk. bring to a simmer, cover, and turn off the heat. let steep while potatoes are cooking.

cut potatoes into one inch chunks, put in pot, cover with cold water. do not add more than a dash of salt to the water. cook on medium high until potatoes are soft enough to pierce easily with a fork.

drain potatoes well, and mash slightly. add the milk/onion mixture and mash to desired consistency. season to taste.

*I did not say this was going to be healthy. but if you must, you can leave out the cream and/or cut down the butter.

22 October 2005

orzo shrimp feta casserole

3-6 shallots
1 onion
olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
dry white wine
2 28 oz cans canned chopped tomatoes
thyme, oregano, rosemary, basil, to taste
lemon juice
white wine vinegar
kosher salt
coarse ground black pepper
red pepper flakes
at least 6 oz feta, crumbled
1 lb orzo or other very small pasta
black olives, preferably kalamata or other brine packed
precooked shrimp

chop shallots and onions and saute in small amount of olive oil over medium heat. after a few minutes, add garlic. cook until onion begins to soften. add a couple good splashes of wine and then the canned tomatoes. season with herbs (I like using thyme, basil, and rosemary), salt, pepper, a dash of nutmeg, and a splash of vinegar. simmer for twenty minutes or so, until flavors are blended and sauce thickens somewhat. meanwhile, cook orzo in boiling water (do not salt) until al dente, drain. you may want to cut shrimp in half or thirds if they are large or extra-large, ditto olives. preheat oven to 350 degrees.

when sauce is finished, combine with pasta. hopefully sauce will be thick enough to "stick" to pasta and not much liquid will collect at the bottom. stir in crumbled feta, shrimp, olives, and capers.

give a deep casserole dish a spray of PAM. turn pasta mixture into casserole. top with breadcrumbs sauteed with herbs and garlic. bake at 350 until breadcrumbs are golden-crisp.

20 October 2005

fall pork roast

mixed together well:

half a head of garlic, peeled and crushed
1/2 c dijon mustard
1/3 c molasses
1/3 c cranberry-apple chutney
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1 T mustard seeds
1 t dried thyme
2 t dried rosemary
1 T kosher salt
1/2 t white pepper

coat pork roast, let sit until time to cook.

sear meat on all sides, put in oven for half an hour. add onions, carrots, and sliced apples. roast at least another half hour til meat is 140 degrees in the center.

serve with roasted brussel sprouts with bacon and toasted pecans.

17 October 2005

basic chili

2 onions, cut into small chunks
4-8 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 lbs beef, pork, veal, or any combination, for stew, trimmed of most fat and cut into small chunks*
1 bottle good beer, preferably a brown ale, nothing too hoppy
1-2 large cans diced tomatoes, or tomato puree**
1 large can whole tomatoes, chopped roughly
2-3 cans kidney beans, drained
white pepper (1/2 t)
coarse ground black pepper (1 t)
kosher salt (1 T)
cumin (1 T)
chili powder (3 T)
cayenne pepper (1/2 t)
cloves (1/4 t)
coriander (1/2 t)
celery seed (1/4 t)
oregano (1 t)

In a large heavy soup pot, over medium heat, saute onions in a couple tablespoons of olive oil, after a few minutes, add garlic and cook until onions begin to soften. Turn heat up a little and add meat, stirring occasionally so that it browns on all sides. I usually add part of each spice here: some kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper, a couple tablespoons of chili powder, a teaspoon each of cumin and oregano, a good dash of white pepper and cayenne and cloves and coriander and celery seed. After a few minutes, add at least half the bottle of beer and continue to cook the meat until at least partly done. Turn the heat down to medium or medium low and add tomatoes, with any liquid. Add the rest of the beer if it needs more liquid. Simmer for twenty minutes or so, then stir and add beans. Simmer for at least another twenty minutes and taste. Add more spices as needed. (The amounts in parentheses are roughly what I used last time, but it changes from batch to batch.) Simmer for another half hour or so to let the flavors really meld together.

Serve with sour cream, chopped scallions, corn chips, goldfish, etc.

*I've found that veal marked "for stewing" is incredibly tender compared to some cuts of beef and pork sold for stewing, so keep that in mind or use larger chunks of veal than beef/pork if you're combining them.

**choose puree or diced depending on if you like your chili full of tomato chunks

27 September 2005

corn avocado salad

6 ears of corn, as fresh as possible
2 avocados
2 red, orange, or yellow bell peppers
1 large sweet onion
3-4 large stalks celery
smoked or roasted turkey breast, cut into chunks (optional)
fresh cilantro (optional)

juice of 3 limes
white wine vinegar
salad oil (I use walnut, but any light flavored oil should work, do not use olive)
white pepper
ground coriander (omit if using fresh cilantro)
red pepper flakes

Make the dressing first so the flavors can start to combine. Juice three limes into a glass/Pyrex measuring pitcher. Add vinegar until you have a third a cup of liquid. Add salt, white pepper, ground coriander, and pepper flakes to taste. Whisk in salad oil until you have two thirds of a cup of liquid. Some people may prefer a higher oil to vinegar ratio, since this can be kind of tart, if so, increase oil accordingly.

Boil (or microwave) the corn, being careful not to overcook. Let cool and cut the kernels off the cobs. Put corn in large bowl. Dice the peppers into medium sized chunks (maybe 1/2" square?). Chop the onion (maybe 1/4" bits--not too finely). Cut the celery once or twice lengthwise and then across as needed to wind up with small chunks. Add peppers, onions, celery and stir together.

The first time I made this, I stirred half the dressing in the corn-pepper-onion-celery mixture and let it sit overnight. The next day I diced the avocado and turkey into 1/2" pieces, and threw those in with the rest of the dressing. If using canned black beans, I would also drain and rinse and add at this point. If using fresh cilantro, add right before serving. If you don't overdress it, this keeps well for a couple days in an airtight container.

16 September 2005

chocolate rum cake

1 pkg Duncan Heinz Devils Food Cake mix
1 small pkg chocolate instant pudding mix
1 c sour cream
1/2 c vegetable oil
1/4 to 1/2 c cold coffee
1/4 to 1/2 c dark rum
4 eggs
2 c chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine all ingredients except chocolate chips. Mix until blended. Beat at medium speed for one min, scrape sides of bowl and beat one more minute. Fold in chips. Pour into greased Bundt or tube pan. Bake 40-60 minutes or until cake springs back when touched. Cool in pan on rack for 30 minutes. Turn onto platter and glaze with:

1/2 c butter or margarine
1/4 c water
1 c sugar
1/2 c dark rum

Melt butter in pan. Stir in water and sugar. Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in rum. Poke small holes in the cake with a toothpick. Pour glaze onto cake.

It is better to let the cake sit overnight for the chocolate chips to harden.

04 September 2005


10 large ripe tomatoes, blanched**, peeled, diced
at least a pound of tomatillos, blanched, peeled, diced
2 large bell peppers, diced
2 onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
6 jalapenos, finely diced

juice of 2 limes
red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar, at least 2 T
red pepper flakes

green onions, finely chopped
cilantro, finely chopped

Combine first six ingredients. Season to taste with lime juice, vinegar, salt, pepper flakes. Keep in mind that the jalapenos and garlic get stronger as the salsa sits and the flavors meld. finish with green onions and cilantro, but if you're making this ahead of time, it's not a bad idea to leave out the green onions and cilantro until it's time to eat. That way they don't turn into little green slimy bits overnight.

**To blanche tomatoes, take a large pot full of water and bring it to a rolling boil. While it's getting to boiling point, fill a large bowl with cold water. Carefully drop each tomato into the boiling water with tongs or a large spoon. After a short while, usually within a minute or two, the skin of the tomato will start to split. Once this happens, remove the tomato from the hot water and drop it into the cold water. This will stop it cooking as quickly as possible. Once it's cool, you should be able to slide the skin off easily.

To blanche tomatillos, follow the procedure above, but if the skins don't split within three minutes, remove from hot water when the tomatillo turns a yellower green in color.

30 August 2005

Spicy Bean, Pasta & Sausage Soup

2 15- to 16-oz cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas) [or 1 can chickpeas, 1 can cannellini]
2 T olive oil [more if using turkey sausage]
1 pound Italian hot sausages, casings removed [turkey sausage worked just fine]
4 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped [maybe 3]
1/4 t dried crushed red pepper
1 28-oz can of diced tomatoes instead
4-6 c canned low-salt chicken broth
8 oz orecchiette (little ear-shaped pasta) or other small pasta [elbow works well]
3/4 - 1 c grated Romano cheese
Strain liquid from canned beans into blender. Add 1 cup beans and puree until smooth. Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add sausages, rosemary, garlic, and crushed red pepper. Sauté until sausages are cooked through, breaking up with fork, about 8 minutes. Mix in tomato paste. Add bean puree, remaining beans, broth, and pasta. Simmer until pasta is tender and mixture is thick, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Mix in cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
Put a handful of fresh spinach in each bowl, ladle soup onto spinach. Let stand a minute and serve.

23 August 2005

ginger peach cobbler

adapted from Diner Desserts, by Tish Boyle

3 pounds ripe peaches
1/2 c granulated sugar
2 T all purpose flour
1 t peeled and grated fresh ginger
1/2 t cinnamon
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 T heavy cream

1 1/4 c all purpose flour
1/4 c granulated sugar
1 t baking pwder
1/4 t ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 T chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 c plus 1 T heavy cream
1 T finely chopped crystallized ginger

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9x13" glass baking dish.

To make filling: blanch peaches by plunging them into boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove them to a bowl of ice water, and, using your hands, slip off the skins. Cut into 1/4" thick slices off the pit, and put slices into a large bowl. In a small bowl, stir together well the sugar, flour, fresh ginger, cinnamon, lemon juice, and cream. Pour the mixture over the peach slices and toss to coat. Transfer the fruit to the prepared baking dish.

To make biscuits: put the flour, sugar, baking powder, ground ginger, and salt in a food processor and pulse until combined. Add the butter pieces and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir the vanilla into 1/2 c of the cream and add to the flour mixture. Pulse just until the dough starts to hold together. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured piece of waxed paper and shape it into a disk. Roll the dough out 1/4" thick. Using a 2" round biscuit cutter, cut out as many biscuits as possible. Gather up the scraps, roll and repeat until you have 12 biscuits.

Arrange the biscuits on top of the fruit filling, spacing them evenly (they will not spread much if at all). Brush the biscuits with the remaining 1 T cream and sprinkle with the crystallized ginger.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until the fruit is bubbling and the biscuits are golden brown. Serve warm.

10 August 2005

Asian Vegetable Salad

Serves 2

2 tbsp soy sauce
½ tbsp honey
½ tbsp fresh ginger, finely diced
½ tsp chilli flakes (optional)
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
75g fine Chinese egg noodles
85g mangetout, trimmed
115g red cabbage, finely sliced
1 carrot, peeled and sliced into julienne (matchstick-sized) strips
¼ cucumber, peeled and sliced into julienne strips
2 spring onions, finely sliced
115g fresh bean sprouts
115g tofu, diced into small cubes
Juice of lime
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the soy sauce, honey and ginger and chilli, if using, in a small saucepan. Set over a low heat and keep just below boiling point for 2-3 minutes. Pour the sesame oil into the warm ginger soy sauce and whisk in the vinegar. Tip into a large mixing bowl.

Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions — usually, this is to drop them into a pan of boiling water and cook for 3-4 minutes. Drain thoroughly and shake dry, then mix into the ginger soy sauce.

Bring a pan of water to the boil, then add the mangetout to the pan. Slowly count to 10, then drain the mangetout and cool under the cold tap. Pat dry on kitchen paper and finely slice at an angle. Mix into the noodles with the sliced cabbage, carrots, cucumber, spring onions and bean sprouts. Pat dry the diced tofu and add to the bowl. Add the lime juice, adjust the seasoning to taste and serve.

05 August 2005

pasta with leeks and lobster tails

lobster tails
pasta, preferably smaller pasta like gemelli, orrechiette
dry white wine, maybe a sauvignon blanc
fresh tomatoes, chopped
tarragon, marjoram
leeks, white part, cut into 1/4" inch rounds, soaked and rinsed and soaked to remove sand
shallots, finely chopped
olive oil/butter
kosher salt
white pepper, red pepper

Boil the lobster tails until done, let cool, remove from shell. Cut into bite sized chunks. Cook pasta to preferred doneness, drain.

While cooking pasta, saute leeks in olive oil/butter, adding garlic, shallots, and a splash of wine as the leeks soften (garlic may burn if you add it too early). Add more wine as the pan gets dry. When leeks are almost done, the tomatoes, herbs, salt and pepper to taste. Cook for a couple minutes, then add the lobster just until heated through. Turn off heat, adjust seasoning, and toss with pasta.

Serve immediately in shallow bowls.

Seasoning notes: Do not add parmesan or other cheese, as it will obscure the more delicate flavor of the lobster and leeks. This turns out fairly sweet from the lobster meat and the cooked leeks, so I like a little white pepper for contrast. Red pepper flakes might work too, but that could wind up too strong. The amount of wine you add dictates how liquid the non-pasta mixture winds up. It never turns into a sauce, but I like to use enough wine that every piece of pasta picks up the wine-leek-lobster-herb flavor.

03 August 2005

bleu cheese risotto

from Garrison’s Broiler and Tap, published in the AJC 08/03/05

6 c low-sodium chicken stock
4 slices bacon, diced
1 T butter
1/4 c diced yellow onion
1 c arborio rice
1/4 c white wine
4 oz crumbled bleu cheese
white pepper to taste

Pour chicken stock into a saucepan and heat over low. Do not boil. In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the bacon until gently browned. Remove bacon and set aside.

Add butter and onion to bacon drippings in pan and cook, stirring, until onion is translucent, about 1 minute. Add rice and continue cooking and stirring for 2 more minutes. Add white wine to deglaze pan. Add enough warm chicken stock to cover rice completely. Cook, stirring constantly, until most of liquid is absorbed.

Repeat this process, adding just enough liquid each time to cover the rice, until it is creamy and tender but still has just a hint of resistance when you bite into it — about 30 minutes. You will use most or all of the chicken stock.

Remove from heat. Stir in reserved bacon and the blue cheese until cheese is melted. Season with white pepper.

Allow risotto to sit 10 minutes before serving. It will thicken as it cools.

4 servings, 463 calories, 18 grams fat, 30 grams protein, 41 grams carbohydrates

26 July 2005

apricot cherry sauce (for lamb, pork, etc.)

8 fresh apricots, blanched, peeled, pitted, halved
20-30 fresh cherries, pitted
1-2 T butter
2 T turbinado or demerara sugar
2 T balsamic vinegar, preferably white*
1/4 t. ground cloves
1/8 t. ground coriander
1 t almond extract
fresh rosemary
dash salt

Melt butter slowly in heavy bottomed pan over low heat. Cut the apricot halves into quarters. Add apricots and cherries to pan and cook for a couple minutes until fruit starts to soften noticably. If your fruit is not juicy, you may want to add just a little water to help it get started. Add a tablespoon of the vinegar and the almond extract, the cloves, coriander and stir. Cook until the alcohol from the almond extract has burned off and taste. Add a dash of salt and the sugar and cook a few more minutes. Taste again, adjust the sugar/vinegar and add some fresh rosemary. I used the torn leaves of most of a five inch stalk. Cook a few more minutes and taste. The rosemary adds a fair amount of depth, but a lot depends on the flavor/quality of your fruit. Cook until it reaches desired thickness and fruit-broken-down-ness, stirring occasionally.

Made this as an accompaniment for the rosemary lamb for tomorrow's dinner. Would probably be awesome with pork. You could substitute peaches or nectarines for the apricots. We just made this up tonight, so it may get adjusted/refined for dinners to come.

*I prefer white balsamic for this recipe as it doesn't darken the fruit, but I had better quality regular balsamic so I compromised with 1.5 T white, and .5 T regular balsamic, which still darkened it quite a bit.

24 July 2005

superior hummus

Ingredients (my proportions in parentheses):
  • 1 large can (19 oz) garbanzo beans, drained, liquid reserved
  • 1 can (14 oz) cannellini (Italian white beans)
  • juice of a large lemon (around half)
  • garlic cloves, peeled (2-4)
  • olive oil (1 T)
  • lowfat plain yogurt (4 T)
  • sesame seed oil, preferably toasted sesame seed oil (2 T)
  • kosher salt (1/2 T)
  • fresh ground black pepper (1 t)
  • cumin (1 t)

Combine all in food processor, until desired consistency.

For me, good hummus is a balance between all the flavors and it's easy to get carried away, so taste often and adjust seasonings a little at a time. Usually hummus has tahini, a sesame seed paste, in it. Since tahini is high fat, this recipe leaves it out, achieving a very similar taste with the sesame seed oil. Start with at least a tablespoon, and adjust to your taste. If too thick, thin with liquid from beans, extra lemon juice (carefully, as this can quickly overwhelm the other flavors), a little more oil, or more yogurt.

Probably this will not keep as long as traditional hummus (because of the yogurt), but it's so good that won't be a problem. Serve with whatever you like, but we think it's good with red bell pepper strips, cucumbers, toasted pita bread triangles.

Note on sesame oil: It's easy to find at any Asian market, or even the Asian section of most grocery stores. You may have to go to a specialty market to find toasted sesame seed oil, but it's worth it. The flavor is much richer and deeper, and when using oil for a flavoring, that lets you use less oil to better effect.

26 June 2005

white bean soup

1 t olive oil
1 Spanish onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, pressed
8 c low-salt chicken stock
1 T dried or fresh basil, chopped
½ t dried Greek oregano or 1 ½ t fresh
1 16-oz can peeled whole tomatoes, chopped
1 lb white cannellini beans, soaked overnight, quick cooked, and drained (see below)
1 T red wine vinegar
1 beefsteak tomato, chopped, for garnish

The night before, soak the beans to prevent skins from popping. In the morning, or just prior to making the soup, drain the water, and cover them with fresh water. Bring to a boil, boil for 5 minutes and lower heat to low and cook until beans are tender. Drain the liquid.

Place a heavy-bottomed stockpot over med heat and when it is hot, add oil. Add onion and garlic, cook until tender. Add the stock, herbs, canned tomatoes, beans, cook partially covered until the beans have fallen apart, about 2 to 3 hours. Transfer to a container, cover, and refrigerate up to three days. Place in a pot, add vinegar and gently reheat. Garnish with fresh whole basil leaves and chopped fresh tomato.

ginger carrot soup

Ginger Carrot with Cream

1 T unsalted butter
1 Spanish onion, coarsely chopped
2 lbs carrots, peeled if desired and sliced
pinch ground cinnamon
8 c chicken stock
2 t peeled, coarsely chopped ginger root
½ c heavy cream
chopped fresh parsley or chives for garnish

Place stockpot over med heat and when hot, add butter. When butter has melted, add onion and carrots and cook until tender. Add cinnamon, stock, and ginger, raise the heat to high, an bring to boil. Lower heat to low and cook for 30 minutes. Remove the solids and place in a food processor or blender. Process until completely smooth, gradually adding the cooking liquid and heavy cream. Transfer to a container, cover, and refrigerate up to three days, or serve immediately, garnished with parsley or chives.

tomato soup with goat cheese

1 bunch leeks, including greens
1 T unsalted butter
2 16-oz cans plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
5 ½ c chicken or vegetable stock
3 T chopped fresh basil leaves
½ lb goat cheese
freshly ground black pepper

Cut off the roots and 4” of green ends of leeks and discard. Quarter them lengthwise and thinly slice. Soak them in several changes of water to get rid of sand. Chop well. Place a heavy stockpot over medium heat and when hot, add butter. When butter has melted, add leeks and cook until wilted, 10 to 15 minutes. Add tomatoes and their juice, stock, and basil, raise heat to high and bring to boil. Lower heat to low and cook, uncovered, 1 ½ hours. ..Turn off heat and gradually stir in goat cheese and pepper. Serve immediately, garnished with basil, or transfer to a container, cover, and refrigerate overnight. Serve hot or cold.

Note: if you reduce the stock to 3 cups, this makes a great sauce for shrimp and/or pasta.

savoy cabbage soup with bacon and cream

¼ lb bacon, finely chopped
1 Spanish onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
¼ c all-purpose flour
8 c chicken stock
2 medium potatoes (about ¾ to 1 lb), diced
1 Savoy cabbage, shredded
1 T caraway seeds
½ t black pepper
1 to 1 ½ c heavy cream
crumbled blue cheese for garnish (optional)

Place heavy stockpot over med heat, add bacon, cook until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Set bacon on paper towel and discard all but 2 T of bacon fat. Set aside. Reheat the stockpot. Add the onion and carrots and cook until tender, about 10 to 15 mins. Sprinkle the flour on the vegetables, stirring all the while. Slowly add stock, stirring constantly; raise heat to high and bring to boil.

Lower the heat to low, add potatoes, cabbage, caraway seeds and pepper and cook until tender, about 1 hour. Do not let it boil again. Gradually stir in heavy cream, lower the heat to very low, and cook until heated through, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately garnished with the reserved bacon and blue cheese if desired.

oven caramel corn

18 c popped corn
2 c light brown sugar
1 c butter or marg
½ c light corn syrup
1 pinch of salt
½ t soda

Mix sugar, butter, syrup, and salt; boil over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add soda and mix well. Pour over corn; stir until corn is coated fairly evenly. Spread on cookie sheets and bake for 1 hour at 200-225º F., stirring every fifteen minutes. Spread on clean countertop to cool, breaking to separate as it cools.

Lavender, Orange, and Almond Cake

Source: adapted from Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons by Diane Henry
Serves: 8-10

for cake:
4 teaspoons dried lavender
250g/9oz (1 1/4 cups) sugar
225g/8oz (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
juice from 2 large oranges
finely-grated zest from 2 large oranges
1 teaspoon almond extract
4 eggs
1 scant teaspoon salt
200g/7oz (1 2/3 cups) flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup ground almonds

for topping:
1/2 cup flaked almonds
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon dried lavender (optional)

Put the lavender and some of the sugar in a clean coffee grinder (or a food processor) and grind to a powder. Combine this with the rest of the sugar. Cream the lavender sugar and butter together until light and fluffy, then add the orange juice, zest, almond extract and the eggs. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, and beat into the wet mixture, along with the ground almonds.

Pour the batter into a 9-inch greased and lined springform pan. Sprinkle the flaked almonds evenly over the top, and sift the powdered sugar over them. Bake in a preheated oven at 350F/180C for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake, unmold and sprinkle with the remaining teaspoon of dried lavender.

chocolate delight cookies

12 oz semisweet chocolate chips
1 ½ c whole-wheat pastry flour
½ c all-purpose flour
½ t baking powder
½ t salt
½ c unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 c sugar
2 large eggs
2 t vanilla
48 chocolate-covered almonds (about 1 cup)

Place chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and melt in the microwave on medium in 30 second bursts, stirring after each burst to ensure even melting, until completely melted.

Meanwhile, whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Beat butter and sugar until well-combined. Add eggs, and vanilla, beat until creamy. Add the melted chocolate; beat to combine. Stir in the dry ingredients with a spoon until just combined. Refrigerate the dough until barely chilled, 15 minutes.

Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350º F. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

Roll tablespooonsful of dough into 1” balls and place on the prepared baking sheet, 2” apart.

Bake the cookies, one batch at a time, until puffed and slightly dried on top, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and gently press an almond into the center of each cookie. Let cool for 5 minutes on the pan before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Allow the pan to cool slightly between batches.

Makes about 48 cookies.

Per cookie: 113cals, 6g fat, 14mg chol, 15g carb, 1g protein, 1g fiber, 33mg sodium

Gramma's coconut macaroons

2 eggs
1/8 t. salt
¾ c. sugar
½ c. flour
1 T. melted butter
2 c. coconut
6 oz. chocolate chips
1 t. grated lemon rind
1 t. vanilla

Beat eggs & salt until foamy. Gradually add sugar, beat until thick and ivory colored (6-7 minutes). Fold in flour and melted butter, stir in coconut, chips, lemon and vanilla. Drop by teaspoons on lightly greased and floured cookie sheets. Bake at 325 degrees 12-15 minutes.

pecan shortbread

(from the Barefoot Contessa)

1 c unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 c sugar, plus 2 T for sprinkling
1/2 t vanilla extract
1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
2 1/4 ounces whole pecan halves, toasted
2 drops almond extract

Cream together the butter, 1/2 c sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer, until mixture is light in color, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the flour, salt, pecans, and almond extract, and mix until combined and the pecans start to break up.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator at least 1 hour or overnight. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 1/4-inch thickness. Using 2 1/2" diameter fluted cookie cutters, cut cookies, and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Return to refrigerator 1 hour more. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Sprinkle cookies with the remaining sugar, and bake until lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool.

boiled chocolate cookies

2 c sugar
1 stick butter or margarine
1/2 c milk
3 T cocoa
1/2 c peanut butter
2 c quick oats

Combine sugar, butter, milk, and cocoa in a heavy saucepan and boil for 90 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add peanut butter and quick oats and blend well. Drop by spoonfuls quickly onto wax paper and allow to set.

chocolate rum cake

1 package Duncan Hines Devil's Food Cake mix
1 small package chocolate instant pudding mix
1 c sour cream
1/2 c vegetable oil
1/4-1/2 c cold coffee
1/4-1/2 c dark rum
4 eggs
2 c chocolate chips
1/2 c butter
1/4 c water
1 c sugar
1/2 c dark rum

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, oil, cold coffee, dark rum, and eggs. Mix until blended. Beat at medium speed for one minute. Scrape sides of the bowl and beat one more minute. Fold in chips. Pour into greased Bundt pan or tube pan. Bake 40-60 minutes or until cake springs back when touched. Cool in pan on rack for 30 minutes, turn onto platter.

While cake is baking, melt butter in pan. Stir in water and sugar. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in rum. Poke small holes in the cake with a toothpick. Pour glaze onto cake. It is best to make this a day ahead of time, so that the chocolate chips harden.

tequila lemon/lime mousse

3 lemons or limes
3 eggs, separated
1/2 c castor sugar
4 t gelatin
3 T tequila
2/3 c cream

Zest the lemons, then juice them.

Put a few inches of water in a saucepan, place over medium heat. In a large bowl over the saucepan, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and lemon rind until smooth.

In another large-sized bowl, put tequila and sprinkle the gelatin on top. Leave to soften about 5 minutes. Place over a saucepan and stir until gelatin is completely dissolved. Allow to cool slightly, then stir in the lemon juice.

Stir the gelatin-lemon juice mixture into the egg mixture until fully incorporated. Whip the cream and fold in. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then fold into the other ingredients. Transfer to serving bowls. Allow to set in the fridge for a few hours.

We actually like this with lime just as well as with lemon. Use decent tequila if you can, but nothing too aged.

Aunt Beatrice's Dinner Rolls

1 c lukewarm water
1 rounded T yeast

Mix gently and let set 5 minutes.

3 rounded T sugar
2 T melted crisco
1 beaten egg
about 3 c sifted flour (White Lily bread flour)
1 t salt

Combine sugar and crisco, add a small amount of the sifted flour, then the beaten egg. Add flour a little at a time with a wire whip, then with your hand. Cover and let rise 1 1/2 hours or til doubled. Punch down. Knead a little bit. Roll out and cut. Let rise, covered. When transferring to the pan, dip the bottom half in butter. Put in the pan, fold over, and mash with your finger to keep from popping up. Be careful not to use too much flour when rolling out to cut. Bake at 450 degrees, when they start browning, brush the tops with melted butter.

savory zucchini muffins

3 c unpared zucchini, cut in quarters and thinly sliced
1 c Bisquick
1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
1 t seasoning salt
1/2 t basil
1/2 t oregano
1/2 t marjoram
1/4 t white pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 c vegetable oil
1/2 c chopped onion
2 T chopped fresh parsley

Grease muffin tins thoroughly with cooking spray. Combine all ingredients except zucchini. Add zucchini and put immediately in muffin tins (1/2 c per muffin, if using full-sized pans). Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 muffins until golden brown.

crescia al formaggio (easter cheese bread)

from The Baker's Catalogue newsletter, April 2006

Crescia al Formaggio, Italian Easter cheese bread, is still mostly unknown in this country, and that's a pity. This light-textured, golden egg bread, loaded with Parmesan and Romano cheese, perfumes the kitchen with its wonderful savory aroma as it bakes. A nice change from the usual Easter sweet breads, it goes wonderfully well with the Easter ham-both at dinner, and later, when you're making those yummy ham and cheese sandwiches (plain, or even better, grilled).

Note: The dough for this bread is very soft and sticky, and it's best made using a mixer or bread machine.

2 1/2 c (10.5 oz) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose flour
1 1/4 t instant yeast
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, white reserved
1/4 c water
1/4 c (2 oz) butter
1 t salt
1 t ground pepper, black or white
1 1/2 c (6 oz) freshly grated Parmesan, Romano, or Asiago cheese, or a combination

reserved egg white (from above)
2 t water

To make the dough in an electric mixer: Combine all of the dough ingredients except the cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer, and beat on medium speed for 10 minutes, until the dough becomes shiny and satiny. Add the cheese and beat until blended. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and set it aside to rise for 1 hour. Gently deflate the dough, turn it over, return it to the bowl, and allow it to rise for an additional hour, or until it's nearly doubled in size.

To make the dough in a bread machine: Place all of the dough ingredients into the pan of your machine, program the machine for manual or dough, and press Start. Check the dough about 10 minutes before the end of the final kneading cycle, and adjust its consistency as necessary with additional flour or water; it should be shiny and elastic. Allow the machine to complete its cycle.

To shape the dough: Oil or flour your hands. To make one large loaf, form the dough into a ball, andplace it in a greased pandoro (star) or panettone pan, large souffle dish, or other round, deep pan; the pan should be about 6" to 7" wide and 3" to 4" deep. To make two medium loaves, divide the dough in half, shape it into two logs, and place it in two greased 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pans. Cover the loaf or loaves lightly, and allow them to rise for 2 hours (or longer, depending on the warmth of your kitchen); the bread should have beecome noticeably puffy, though it may not have doubled in size.

To bake the bread: Put your oven rack in a lower position, just below the middle, and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Whisk the reserved egg white with the water and brush the top of the loaf/loaves. Place the bread in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, tent the bread lightly with aluminum foil, and bake for an additional 25 minutes, until it's a deep, golden brown, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 190 degrees F.

Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Use a knife to loosen the edges, if necessary and turn the loaf/loaves out onto a rack to cool completely before slicing.

Airlie's Onion Herb Bread

1/2 c milk
1 1/2 T sugar
1 t salt
1 T butter
1 pkg yeast
1/2 c warm water
2 1/4 c flour--white, wholewheat, or combination
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 t dill (1 1/2 t chopped if fresh)
1 t rosemary (1 T chopped if fresh)

Scald milk and dissolve in it sugar, salt, butter. Cool to lukewarm. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add cooled milk, part of the flour, onion, and herbs. Add rest of flour and stir til smooth. Cover with towel and let rise til triple in bulk (45 min). Stir down and beat vigorously for a few minutes. Turn into greased loaf pan. Let stand 10 min in a warm place. Bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven for 45 min to 1 hour (until golden brown).

26 April 2005

buttermilk biscuits

from America's Test Kitchen

2 cups (10 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbs double-acting baking powder
1 Tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
4 Tbs cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1.5 cups cold buttermilk

To form and finish biscuits:
1 cup (5 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour, distributed in rimmed baking sheet
2 Tbs unsalted butter, melted

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 500 degrees.

In food processor, pulse flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and baking soda to combine, about six 1-second pulses. Scatter butter cubes evenly over dry ingredients; pulse until mixture resembles pebbly, coarse cornmeal, eight to ten 1-second pulses. Transfer mixture to medium bowl. Add buttermilk to dry ingredients and stir with rubber spatula until just incorporated (dough will be very wet and slightly lumpy).

Spray 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. Generously spray inside and outside of 1/4 cup dry measure with nonstick cooking spray. Using 1/4 cup dry measure and working quickly, scoop level amount of dough; drop dough from measuring cup into flour on baking sheet (if dough sticks to cup, use small spoon to pull it free). Repeat with remaining dough, forming 12 evenly sized mounds.

Dust tops of each piece of dough with flour from baking sheet. With floured hands, gently pick up piece of dough and coat with flour; gently shape dough into rough ball, shake off excess flour, and place in prepared cake pan. Repeat with remaining dough, arranging 9 rounds around perimeter of cake pan and 3 in center. Brush rounds with hot melted butter, taking care not to flatten them.

Bake 5 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 450 degrees; continue to bake until biscuits are deep golden brown, about 15 minutes longer.

Cool in pan 2 minutes, then invert biscuits from pan onto clean kitchen towel. Turn biscuits right side up and break apart. Cool 5 minutes longer and serve.

brie and fruit french toast

For 12 sandwiches:

6 eggs, lightly beaten
2 c. milk
¼ t nutmeg
¼ t cinnamon
1 apple<>
Cranberry or apricot or other preserves

Slice French bread in 24 slices and put 12 of them in a large baking dish. Core apple and thinly slice into 12 or 24 pieces. Put 1 or 2 apple slices on each piece of bread. Slice the Brie into thin pieces and put the cheese on top of the apple. Put a spoonful of preserves on each sandwich and top with the other slices of bread. Mix eggs, milk, and spices together well and pour half over the sandwiches. Turn each sandwich over and pour the rest of the egg mixture, making sure each sandwich is thoroughly coated. Cook on lightly oiled, preheated griddle heated to 360°. Place sandwiches brie side down, turning once after cheese has begun to melt. Toast should grill to an even golden brown. Serve immediately with fresh berries, bacon, and warm maple syrup.