Monday, December 29, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
I've been baking cookies here and there and waiting until Larry finishes up one batch before I make the next. As I was blog-hopping the other day I discovered Emily of http://backtothecuttingboard.com/ and her chocolate-filled Mexican wedding cakes. Although I make Mexican wedding cakes and their close cousin Russian teacakes, I decided I'd try out Emily's idea with my butterballs. The essential difference among these 3 cookies is that the wedding cakes and tea cakes are made with nuts and lard and the butterballs are made with butter, coconut, and no nuts.
Roll dough around chocolate, covering completely
Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets
Saturday, December 20, 2008
French Onion Soup Gratinee - Serves 4 - 6
Friday, December 19, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
Beat together cream cheeses and butter; add confectioners sugar, vanilla, and salt, and beat until smooth.
TO MAKE CINAMMON ROLLS
Friday, December 12, 2008
There's no doubt about it, Ina is shaking things up in my kitchen. A few posts back I wrote about trying her recipe for scampi after making my own version for years and years. Since that experiment was so tastefully successful, I decided to try again with another of my "revered" recipes, this one for Italian wedding soup. While I don't mind standing and rolling tiny meatballs, I draw the line at frying them and generally poach them in the broth. Ina's version calls for pre-baking the meatballs. My meatballs are beef-based. Hers were supposed to be chicken-based, but there's got to be a little wiggle room in a recipe, right? I used turkey and turkey sausage. Ina replaces my standard escarole with baby spinach.
The results were every bit as delicious as my original recipe. In fact, Larry prefers her version because he loves sausage. I made a vat of this soup and served it with homemade focaccia (from Carol Field's book Focaccia). Nothing smells as wonderful as a pot of soup simmering on the stove and a loaf of bread baking in the oven. There were no leftovers to freeze, but I'm quite certain that if you kept the pasta separate, this soup would freeze beautifully. The recipe that follows is my interpretation of the Ina Garten's recipe, though very little is changed except some methods and the omission of dill, which I really don't find very Italian.
Italian Wedding Soup - Serves 6 to 8
FOR THE MEATBALLS
3/4 lb ground turkey
1/2 lb Italian turkey sausage, casings removed (I used hot)
2/3 cup fresh white bread crumbs
2 cloves minced garlic
3 tbs fresh chopped parsley
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 tbs milk
1 egg, beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE SOUP
2 tbs olive oil
1 cup minced yellow onion
3 carrots, 1/4 inch dice
2 stalks celery, 1/4 inch dice
10 cups chicken broth (I used ready-made low sodium)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup tubetini pasta
12 oz baby spinach, washed and trimmed
*place the ground turkey, turkey sausage, garlic, parsley, cheese, bread/milk mixture, egg, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper in a bowl and combine well
*shape mixture into approximately 40 meatballs, placing them on the parchment lined sheet
*bake for 30 minutes
*as the meatballs bake, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot
*add the onion, garlic, carrot, and celery and saute for 5-6 minutes
*add the chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil
*add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook 6 - 8 minutes
*add the meatballs and simmer 2 minutes
*taste for salt and pepper
*stir in the fresh spinach and cook 1 minutemore, until the spinach is just wilted
*serve with extra grated cheeseBASIC FOCACCIA
1 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
3/4 cup unbleached, all purpose flour
1 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup warm water ( 105 - 115 degrees F)
3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 - 1 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
TO MAKE THE SPONGE: Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water in a large mixing bowl, whisk it in, and let stand about 10 minutes (until creamy). Stir in the flour. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise until very bubbly and doubled (about 45 minutes).
TO MAKE THE DOUGH: Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water in a small bowl, whisk it in, and let stand 5-10 minutes, until creamy. With a wooden spoon, stir the yeast mixture and olive oil into the sponge and mix well. Whisk in 1 cup of the flour, stir in the salt and remaining flour, and mix until the dough is well blended. Knead on a lightly floured surface until soft and velvety, 8 - 10 minutes.
FIRST RISE: Place the dough in a lightly oiled container, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise 1 1/4 hours, until doubled.
SHAPING AND SECOND RISE: The dough will be soft, delicate, and filled with air bubbles. Flatten it on an oiled 11 X 17-inch baking pan and press it out with oiled hands. The dough will be sticky and may not cover the bottom of the pan. Cover it with a towel and let it relax for 10 minutes, then stretch it again. Cover with a towel and let rise for 45 mintues to an hour, until the dough is filled with air bubbles. Just before baking, dimple the vigorously with your knuckles, then drizzle olive oil over the dough , and sprinkle with the coarse sea salt.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees with a baking stone inside it. Place the focaccia pan directly on the stone and spray the walls and floor of the oven with cold water 3 times during the first 10 minutes of baking. Bake about 20-25 minutes, until the crust is crisp and the top is golden. Remove to a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Don't be afraid of yeast. Nothing is more calming than kneading dough. I love my food processor, but never use it to make bread.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Have you ever had an inexplicable craving for something? A craving so strong that it's all you can think about? A craving for something you almost never eat and seldom, if ever, make? Well, that's what happened to me. I hadn't reread Gone with the Wind or passed a Popeye's or heard The Battle Hymn of the Repubic, but out of nowhere I began to think it was the perfect weather for a piece of crispy fried chicken. I can't remember the last time I made fried chicken. In fact, it's been so long since I used my deep fryer that it's way in the back of the closet over the stove. The closet I can only reach by standing on a chair. Once the craving hit, nothing would do but to put it on the rotation. I happen to love buttermilk fried chicken and, since this was right after Thanksgiving, I already had a wonderful gravy. That, of course, meant that I had to make some more mashed potatoes. My craving was satisfied after a thigh and a leg, so Larry had plenty of leftovers for lunch and for dinner the night I ate out with friends.
Serves 4 - 6
1 - 3 lb chicken cut into 8 - 10 pieces
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 cups flour
- place chicken pieces in a gallon-sized, ziplock bag; mix the buttermilk with 1 tbs salt and 1/2 tsp pepper; pour in buttermilk, seal, and refrigerate for 2 - 24 hours
- place the flour, 2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper in a large brown paper bag and shake to combine
- lift half the pieces of chicken from the buttermilk mixture into the bag and shake to coat completely
- remove from bag and place on a large wire rack set over a baking sheet until you are ready to fry; do the other half of the chicken in like manner
- spoon enough shortening into a 12 inch skillet to measure about 1/2 inch; heat to 350 degrees
- drop chicken, skin side down, into hot oil; COVER and cook for 5 minutes; after 5 minutes, lift with tongs to make sure pieces are frying evenly, then cover and cook for another 5 minutes
- turn chicken over and cook, UNCOVERED, for another 10-12 minutes
- drain on paper towels and serve
Any kind of fried food is a rare treat. While most people think of fried chicken as a summer dish, I must tell you it tasted wonderful in the dead of winter with creamy mashed potatoes with my leftover turkey gravy. Giving in to one's cravings every once in a while is a wonderful treat.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
If you're fortunate enough to live in the Hudson Valley area, among the many perks is the close proximity to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park. I once hoped to attend as a full time student, but the school district I worked for "made me an offer I couldn't refuse," and so that was the road not taken. When I retired 4 years ago, one of my first adventures was to take one of their Saturday classes. I've since taken 5 more classes and hope to attend another in the near future. That first class was on appetizers and we ate our classwork. After that, the classes I took were all in the baking department, so in additon to bringing home armloads of baked goods, we were served a fabulous lunch in one of their beautiful halls. One of those classes was Christmas baking. We made cookies and tarts and breads from around the world. After your first class, you learn to bring lots of Tupperware and bags. I've been making this Christmas stollen every year since. Although it's supposed to "develop," I couldn't resist cutting into one of the loaves last night and sampling it with a cup of tea. It's still my favorite recipe for stollen. It's more cake-like than bread-like.
Like Panettone (Italy) and brioche (France) and Gugelhupf (Germany), stollen has a rich history. Its origins are in the 14th century when this delicious bread was given by the Bakers' Guild to the aristocracy and the ruling church in the form of a tax. The shape of the loaf alludes to the Christ Child, swaddled in white cloth. Stollen is very popular throughout central Europe during Christmas. It is often made days and weeks in advance of Christmas to allow the flavors and aromas to heighten. It's sweetened with sugar as well as candied fruits and raisins. My only deviation is to substitute regular raisins for sultanas. There's just something about the golden raisins that I don't find aesthetically pleasing.
INGREDIENTS - makes 3 loaves
- 10 oz raisins
- 2 oz candied lemon peel
- 3.5 oz candied orange peel
- 3.5 oz toasted slivered almonds
- 2 oz rum
- 8 oz unsalted butter
- 5 1/2 oz granulated sugar
- 9 oz cream cheese
- 5 extra large eggs (4 oz)
- 1/3 oz pure vanilla or 1/2 vanilla bean
- 3 drops almond extract
- zest of 2 lemons
- 1 lb., 2 oz all purpose flour
- 1/2 oz baking powder
- 1/8 oz baking soda
- 1/4 oz salt
(1-2 sticks unsalted butter, melted)
OPTIONAL: almond paste, softened and rolled into 3 logs, roughly the length of each loaf
The Day Before You Bake: combine the almonds, raisins, lemon peel, orange peel, and rum and soak overnight.
The Day You Bake:
- cream the butter and cream cheese in mixer bowl; add sugar and continue to mix; add eggs one at a time and continue to mix; add the almond extract and lemon zest
- sift dry inrediens together and add to the butter mixture
- add the dried nuts and fruit mixture
- scale into 1 lb, 4 oz loaves; shape the dough by rolling or patting it into an oval, placing an almond log in the middle; seam on bottom
- bake immediately at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes
- brush the stollen with melted butter as soon as you take it out of the oven
- cool the stollen completely, then brush with butter again and roll in granulated sugar
Wrap the stollen in aluminum foil and store in a cool place. Dust with confectioners' sugar, if you wish, before serving.
I wrapped several pieces of cardboard with foil to place my wrapped loaves upon so they won't break in the middle. Whole loaves or slices of the loaves make a wonderful hostess gift.
Monday, December 1, 2008
You've no doubt heard the old adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix." Grammar aside, there's a certain truth to the saying. A case in point: I have been making scampi the same way for over 25 years. My recipe is delicious served hot for dinner or warm to room temperature as part of a buffet. However, I have such faith in my new cookbook, Back to Basics by Ina Garten, that I decided to try a new recipe. The Barefoot Contessa is batting 1000 because her recipe was fantastic! Larry's comment was that you couldn't get something this delicious in a restaurant. He thought it took a lot of work, but frankly, aside from a bit of chopping, it assembled easily and, better yet, would be a wonderful dinner party dish since it CAN be assembled ahead of time and takes under 15 minutes to bake. I couldn't get the 12-15 count shrimp called for in the recipe, so made do with the 9-12 count. I served the scampi with my microwave risotto--if you haven't tried it yet, you're missing out on a great, simple dish--and roasted brussel sprouts and carrots. I got the recipe for the roasted sprouts in this same cookbook and just added diagonally sliced carrots. I scaled the recipe down for the 2 of us.
1 lb shrimp in the shell
1 1/2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs dry white wine
6 tbs unsalted butter, softened
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large shallot, chopped
2 tbs minced fresh parsley
1 tsp minced fresh rosemary
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tbs lemon juice
1 extra-large egg yolk
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
Kosher salt and pepper
lemon wedges, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
- Peel, devein, and butterfly the shrimp (leave tails on)
- Place shrimp in mixing bowl and toss with olive oil, wine, salt and pepper; allow to sit at room temperature while you prepare the butter mixture
- In a small bowl, mash the softened butter with the minced garlic, shallots, parsley, rosemary, lemon zest, lemon juice, egg yolk, panko, salt and pepper until combined
- Arrange the shrimp in a single layer in a gratin dish, cut side down and tails toward the center of the dish. Pour remaining marinade over the shrimp. Divide the butter mixture evenly over the shrimp
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, until hot and bubbly; to brown the top, broil 1-3 minutes, watching carefully so as not to burn; garnish with lemon wedges
The only additon I would make to this dish is to add wonderful bread to sop up the butter mixture. I was unhappily out of bread, but will know better next time. I may serve the scampi over pasta next time.
Others have found this and other Contessa recipes to be the "bomb," too. Check out www.whatsonmyplate.wordpress.com ).
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Our first book was Lily Prior's novel La Cucina, subtitled A Novel of Rapture. We follow our heroine Rosa through the seasons of her life, beginning with the harsh winter she loses her first love Bartolemeo to a blood feud. Rosa purges her soul through her cooking. Who of us has not salved a broken heart with crusty loaves of bread, nibbles of freshly-baked cookies, or pots of braised meats and vegetables? While the spring of her life does not awaken until nearly 15 years later, Rosa meets a kindred spirit in L'Inglese. No longer using her kitchen as catharsis, Rosa enters a period of sexuality matched by her culinary creations. For a light read that is sure to "stir your juices," pick up a copy of La Cucina and discover for yourself how it resolves.
Now it was time to get down to some serious use of this wonderful cheese which reminds me of a cross between provolone and asiago. I decided to use one of my favorite pastas--cavatelli--with the Bolognese-style meat sauce I have made since I purchased my copy of The Classic Italian Cookbook by Marcella Hazan back in the early 70's. This incredible meat sauce does not freeze well, so must be used within a few days of making it.
Meat Sauce, Bolognese Style
2 tbs. chopped yellow onion
3 tbs olive oil
3 tbs butter
2 tbs chopped celery
2 tbs chopped carrot
3/4 lb lean ground beef (chuck)
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup milk
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 cups canned Italian tomatoes (San Marzo is my pick), roughly chopped with their juices
I use my wonderful LeCreuset to make all my sauces.
- Put the chopped onion in with the oil and butter and saute briefly over medium heat until just translucent
- Add the celery and carrot and cook gently for about 2 minutes
- Add the ground beef, crumbling it with a fork; add 1 tsp salt and cook just until the meat loses its raw color; add the wine and turn the heat up to medium high; cook until all the liquid has evaporated
- Turn the heat back to medium, add the milk and nutmeg and cook until the milk has evaporated, stirring frequently
- Add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly; when the tomatoes start to bubble, turn the heat down to the barest simmer and cook uncovered for 3 1/2 - 4 hours, stirring occasionally
- Taste and correct for salt
After cooking the fresh cavatelli and topping it with this flavorful ragu, I topped it generously with grated cacciocavallo. A few stirs and it melted beautifully. Along with my new, favorite garlic bread--use roasted garlic with just a bit of butter--I toasted Rosa and L'Inglese and added cacciocavallo to my arsenal of foods of love.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I have a whole new respect for the Barefoot Contessa. Her recipes are right on the money. There hasn't been one that I've tried that hasn't gotten a "10" and been added to my rotation.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
1 large butternut squash
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Peel and seed the squash (or buy it already done, as I did), then cut it into 3/4 to 1 inch cubes.
Place the squash and the whole, unpeeled garlic cloves on a sheet pan in one layer.
Bake for 20-30 minutes.
Sprinkle the pancetta and sage (or seasoning) evenly over the squash and bake another 20-30 minutes until the squash and garlic are tender and caramelized.
Serve the roasted garlic as a spread for the hot French bread
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
1/2 cup flour
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
This pizza dough challenge marked my third Daring Bakers' Challenge and the second challenge in a row of savoury instead of sweet. I've made pizza dough before, but never this easily. Our hostess, Rosa from http://www.rosas-yummy-yums.blogspot.com/ chose a recipe from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice and it will be one that I use again and again. So excited was I to try this new recipe--and so busy multi-tasking (I made ale-sauced ribs, cranberry walnut salad dressing, and chocolate cake simultaneously) that I grabbed the wrong bag of King Arthur's flour. Not to worry, my whole wheat pizza dough worked very well. Next time, however, I'll go for the bread flour.
The basic recipe goes together quickly and makes 6 small pizza crusts or 4 larger ones--I opted for the larger and froze 2 for future use. I like whole wheat pizza dough for my Reuben strombolis (stay tuned, I'll make them soon).
4 1/2 cups (20 1/4 oz) unbleached high-gluten (14%) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast
1/4 cup (2 oz) olive oil
1 3/4 cups (14 oz) ice cold water
1 tbs sugar
cornmeal for dusting
Method -- Day One
- Mix together the flour, salt, and instant yeast in a big bowl
- Add the oil, sugar, and cold water and mix well to form a sticky ball of dough
- On a clean surface, knead for about 5 - 7 minutes, until dough is smooth
(If dough is too wet, add a little flour; if too dry, 1-2 tsp more of water.)
- Flour a work surface. Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper and oil the paper
- Cut the dough into equal pieces--4 or 6 pieces
- Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Flour your hands and gently round each piece into a ball
- Tranfer the dough balls to the lined jelly roll pan and mist them generously with spray oil
- Enclose the pan in a plastic bag or cover with plastic food wrap
- Put the pan in the refrigerate and let the dough rest overnight or up to 3 days (or freeze)
Method -- Day Two
- On the day you plan to eat the pizza, 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the work surface with flour. Place the dough balls on the floured surface and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch thick. Sprinkle with flour, mist with oil, and loosely cover dough balls with plastic wrap. Allow to rest for 2 hours.
- At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone in the lower third of your oven. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees
- Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly roll pan with cornmeal
- Flour your hands and place 1 piece of dough carefully across your fists and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion; move to a full toss when the dough has expanded outward
- When the dough has the shape you want, lay it on the floured surface and shape; you may use a rolling pin, if necessary; let dough rest a few minutes
- Lightly top the dough, remembering that the best pizzas are not topped too generously
- Slide the garnished pizza onto the baking stone or bake on the inverted pan for 5-8 minutes
- I made 2 pizzas, my Turkey Alfredo Pizza and a simple Three Cheese Pizza.
1 cup shredded smoked turkey breast
1 cup chopped cooked spinach (I used fresh, but defrosted, squeezed dry frozen works)
2 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
4 oz sliced mushrooms sauteed in 1 tbs butter
1/2 cup Alfredo sauce (I used jarred)
3 oz shredded Fontina cheese
Combine the first 4 ingredients. Spread the Alfredo sauce evenly over crust. Top with turkey mixture. Sprinkle on cheese. Bake as directed above.
For my 3 Cheese Pizza, I spread 1/2 cup pizza sauce evenly over crust. Season with oregano, garlic powder, and grated Asiago cheese. Top with 2 ounces each of shredded Fontina and shredded mozzarella cheese and bake as directed above.
AND NOW, for a little FOODIE FUN:
Gloria from Cookbook Cuisine passed this challenge on to Teresa at http://www.mexicanbordercooking.blogspot.com/ after getting it from Camille, at Croque-Camille. Teresa passed it along to me.
Follow along and join us on our phenomenal gathering. We're stranded on a deserted island; or, as Teresa rethought it, a “desserted island”? What 5 foods would you bring? This didn't require too much thinking on my part since I know what I love:
- Chocolate-of course I'd bring dark chocolate so that not only would I be feeding my soul, I'd be getting important antioxidants that wouldn't be available since the island is deserted and has no cosmetics' counters.
- Pizza-I just can't conceive of a life without pizza. Preferably this would be brick oven pizza with the thinnest of crusts, topped with the freshest buffalo mozzarella and basil and just a touch of tomato sauce, thickened with sun-dried tomatoes. See above for a glorious recipe.
- Bread-if I could have just one kind of bread, foccaccia would be my choice. If I could add a few favorites, my bread basked would include a few loaves of ciabatta, semolina, and baguettes.
- Soppressata-or salami, or both. I need to have something to put on the bread. Maybe there'll be some leftover mozzarella from the pizza and I can put them BOTH on the bread; yum!
- Wine-I'd like to have a combination of reds and whites--a nice Santa Margherita and a really good Sangiovese.
It may not be your food pyramid on a good day, but I would find sustenance in this combination. And now I'd like to "tag" a few more of our fellow foodies to play:
Kathy of http://paninihappy.com/ and I share a love of our Breville Ikon panini grills. Her photographs and recipes always make my mouth water. I challenge you not to want to run right out and buy a grill to try one of her happy concoctions.
Rachel, The Crispy Cook of http://wheat-free-meat-free.blogspot.com/ is living one of my dreams. In addition to being a foodie, she owns a used and rare book store in upstate NY. I met her at http://cookthebooks.wordpress.com/ where we're presently reading Lily Prior's La Cucina. Rachel's recipes inspire me to eat healthier.
Deb of http://www.kahakaikitchen.blogspot.com/ has been living in paradise for 7 years. Another foodie friend living out one of my dreams--my 13 trips to Hawaii instilled a deep love for this magical place--Deb's recipes are always something that I want to eat...right now! Deb is one of the 3 creators of Cook the Books.
So, Kathy, Rachel, and Deb, what 5 food items would you need to survive on your deserted island?
Sunday, October 26, 2008
- unroll 1 piecrust onto work surface; it into bottom and up sides of 9 inch deep pie dish and prick bottom of crust all over with fork; refrigerate
- in small bowl, blend sugars, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt, and allspice; set aside
- prepare apples
- in large skillet, melt butter over medium heat; add apples, lemon juice, and sugar mixture and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until juices thicken; cool on rack for 25 minutes
- pour cooled apple mixture into prepared pie plate, then unroll top crust, fit over, crimp and seal; cut 1 inch vent in top
- brush egg over top and sprinkle with a teaspoon of granulated sugar
Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, then lower temperature to 350 degrees and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool at least one hour before serving.
This apple peeler is an antique; it belonged to Larry's Aunt Ruth, a wonderful woman whom we miss. It makes quick work of peeling apples. I'm told she and Larry's mom used to peel mountains of apples for their church fair. I love having a remembrance of Aunt Ruth.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
- Place 2 cans of the drained and rinsed cannellini beans in the bowl of a food processor and puree until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the remaining can of beans
- In a deep skillet over medium heat, warm half the olive oil and saute the onion for about 5 minutes
- Add the garlic, pancett, parsley, oregano, and rosemary and saute for another 4 minutes
- Add the rest of the olive oil, the beef stock, the diced tomatoes, and the bean mixture and bring to a boil
- Season with salt and pepper (some people like to add a dash of red pepper flakes)
- Add the pasta shells and cook until the pasta is tender (about 15 minutes)
If the soup is too thick, add water or additional beef broth. I served this with a salad of mesclun lettuce and garlic bread. We enjoyed the leftovers for the next 2 days.