Saturday, December 29, 2007

Cocktail Sauce (For Shrimp)

I will admit to cheating here: I buy the pre-peeled, pre-cooked shrimps to save myself the trouble, but you could just as easily clean and cook your own shrimp if you so desire. This is Alton Brown's recipe.

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup prepared chili sauce
4 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon sugar
Few grinds fresh black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sprinkle Old Bay seasoning

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Golden Pear Cream Puffs

I made these for New Year's Eve dinner, and they were delicious! The recipe is from Martha Stewart, and originally was meant to make about 40 cream puffs, but I cut it down a bit. It's definitely a special occasion dessert, as it requires a lot of effort, but I think it is well worth it.

For the Filling:
3 medium pears
6 egg yolks
pinch of salt
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbs cornstarch
1 2/3 C whole milk
1 Tbs butter, softened
1/2 C heavy cream

For the Pastry:
1/2 C butter
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 C flour
5 large egg, lightly beaten (plus one more, just in case)

For the Syrup:
1/4 C butter
3 large pears, peeled, quartered, cored, and cut into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 C sugar
1 tsp lemon juice

Start by making the filling: Peel and core the first pear, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Place in a steamer over boiling water and cook until soft, about 15 minutes. Let cool. Puree in a blender until completely smooth.

Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in the cornstarch. Heat milk in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until bubbles begin to form, about 3 minutes. Using a ladle, gradually add the hot milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Return mixture to pan; cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture begins to bubble and becomes very thick, about 8 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the sides and bottom of the pan as the mixture thickens. Remove from heat.

Pour through a large-mesh sieve into a bowl. Add butter and stir until melted. Add the pear puree; stir to combine. Place plastic wrap on the surface to prevent a skin from forming, and refrigerate until cold, about a half hour.

Meanwhile, make the pastry. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat 1 C water, the butter, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until butter has melted and the mixture is boiling. Remove from heat. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour. Return to medium heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan and forms a film on the bottom, about 4 1/2 minutes.

Transfer the pastry mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until slightly cooled, about 2 minutes. Raise the speed to medium. Add the egg and mix until incorporated. The batter should be shiny. Test the batter by touching it with your finger and lifting to form a string. If a string does not form, add a little more egg until it does.

Transfer to a pastry bag and pipe two-inch rounds onto a baking sheet lined with parchment, 2 inches apart. Whisk the remaining egg and a little water and brush over the tops of the rounds.

Bake until rounds are puffed and pale golden, about 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake until golden, about 20-25 minutes more. Turn off the oven and prop the door open with a wooden spoon to release steam; let puffs dry for about 15 minutes. Using a spatula, transfer to a wire rack and let cool before filling.

Now back to the filling: Put the heavy cream into the bowl of an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment. Beat on medium high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold whipped cream into the refrigerated pastry cream.

Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4 inch tip. Poke a small hole in the bottom of each pastry puff with a skewer. fill the puffs with pastry cream. Arrange the puffs in a large pyramid, or in small pyramids for individual serving.

Now make the caramel sauce. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add pears, and toss to coat with the butter. Sprinkle sugar over the pears. Cook, stirring occasionally, until deeply golden, about 30 minutes.

Add lemon juice and 1/4 C of water. Cook, stirring occasionally until the liquid is syrupy, about 3 minutes more. Drizzle over the cream puffs.

French Toast Bread Pudding

This is a recipe my mother came up with after we fell in love with something similar at a restaurant when I was a child. It's always a big hit at brunch, and is really good leftover. I recommend soaking it overnight, as it gives the pudding a little extra moisture.

1 C heavy cream
1 C whole milk
4 large eggs
1/4 tsp salt
2-3 Tbs sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
10-12 oz cinnamon challah, cut into slices

Beat together all ingredients except the bread. Break the bread into large chunks and piece it into a greased 8" square baking pan. Pour the egg mixture over the bread. Cover and let soak in the refrigerator at least one and a half hours, or overnight. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 50 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Roast Chicken Redux

I posted some new pics of my (Jamie Oliver's) roast chicken recipe from tonight's dinner. I don't know why I don't make roasted chicken more often; it's so incredibly simple, and always a winner.

Click here for the recipe.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Dad's Potato Latkes

My dad makes these latkes once a year for Chanuka. Unlike the traditional latke, which is made with shredded potato and fried until crispy, these latkes are made with pureed potato and therefore have the consistency of a regular pancake. We like to serve them with homemade applesauce and sour cream.

1/4 C milk
1 egg
2 C raw, diced potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes, or 3/4 lb)
1 small onion, diced
2 Tbs flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder

Put all ingredients (in the order listed) into a blender. Cover and blend on high speed until all the potatoes go through the blades (do not overblend, or the potatoes will be liquified!).

Pour in small amounts onto a hot, greased griddle or frying pan. Fry until golden brown on both sides, turning once. Allow 15 minutes cooking time per batch.

Cake Donuts

Cake donuts are my favorite kind, especially Old-Fashioneds. These ones come from the Food Network and are very tasty. I cut mine into star shapes, because I didn't have a round cutter, and then dusted them in cinnamon sugar.

1 gallon vegetable or canola oil
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup canned evaporated milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1 teaspoon fine salt
For coating the doughnuts (optional): 1 cup granulated sugar, or 1 cup granulated sugar mixed with 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, or 1 cup sifted confectioners' sugar

Melt the shortening in a small saucepan over medium heat. Set aside to cool slightly but still liquid.
In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and shortening together on medium speed, until just combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the milk and vanilla, and continue beating until the mixture is light, about 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, mace, and salt into a medium bowl.

Reduce the mixer's speed to low, add the flour mixture until just combined. (The texture of the dough will be soft and loose.) Transfer the dough to a large piece of plastic wrap and wrap it well. (Make sure you scrap off all the dough clinging to the paddle.) Refrigerate the dough for 4 hours or overnight.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll the chilled dough out into a rectangle about 1/2-inch thick. Dip the edges of a 2 1/2-inch-round doughnut cutter in flour and cut the dough into doughnuts. Place the doughnuts and holes on a baking sheet lined with parchment.

Put enough vegetable shortening into a tall, heavy-bottomed pot to fill it about a third of the way up. Heat the shortening over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer inserted in the oil registers 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.

Working in batches, fry the doughnuts and holes, turning once, until they are golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the doughnuts to the paper towels to drain and cool. Repeat until all the doughnuts and holes are fried. (Make sure the shortening returns to 375 degrees F. between batches.)

For sugared doughnuts, roll the doughnuts in sugar or cinnamon sugar while they are still warm. To cover the doughnuts with confectioners' sugar, allow them to cool completely before rolling in the sugar.

Yeast Donuts

This recipe is for the fluffier type of donut. They require a little more work, but I think it is worth it! The recipe is from Alton Brown. My only criticism is that the glaze never really set up, so the donuts were a bit sticky. Perhaps more sugar to milk next time? Also, be warned: the dough will seem way too wet, but don't be afraid to really flour it when you are rolling it out, and it will come out fine.

1 1/2 cups milk
2 1/2 ounces vegetable shortening, approximately 1/3 cup
2 packages instant yeast
1/3 cup warm water (95 to 105 degrees F)
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
About 2 C all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting surface
Canola or vegetable oil, for frying (1 to 1/2 gallons, depending on fryer)
For the glaze: 1/4 cup whole milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 cups confectioners' sugar

Place the milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat just until warm enough to melt the shortening. Place the shortening in a bowl and pour warmed milk over. Set aside.

In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl of a stand mixer and add the milk and shortening mixture, first making sure the milk and shortening mixture has cooled to lukewarm. Add the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and half of the flour. Using the paddle attachment, combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then turn the speed up to medium and beat until well combined. Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increase the speed to medium and beat well. Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 3/8-inch thick. Cut out dough using a 2 1/2-inch doughnut cutter or pastry ring and using a 7/8-inch ring for the center whole. Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 365 degrees F. Gently place the doughnuts into the oil, 3 to 4 at a time. Cook for 1 minute per side. Transfer to a cooling rack placed in baking pan. Allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes prior to glazing, if desired.

Once the donuts have cooled, make the glaze. Combine milk and vanilla in a medium saucepan and heat over low heat until warm. Sift confectioners' sugar into milk mixture. Whisk slowly, until well combined. Remove the glaze from the heat and set over a bowl of warm water.

Dip doughnuts into the glaze, 1 at a time, and set on a draining rack placed in a half sheet pan for 5 minutes before serving.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Rice Pudding

I've been making this recipe on cold and rainy days for years. It's really more of a traditional Arroz con Leche than a real "pudding" (because of its lack of eggs), but it's delicious. Be warned: you will need to stand over the stove, stirring, for about 45 minutes, to keep the milk from burning.

1 C arborio or short grain rice
3 C milk
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 vanilla pod (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
1/2 C sugar

Combine the rice, milk, cinnamon and vanilla in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and stir constantly until the rice is soft, and most of the liquid has been absorbed. If you need more liquid, you can add more milk or water. Once the pudding has reached the desired consistency, stir in the sugar. Top with a sprinkling of cinnamon.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Candied Cranberries

I got this recipe from Lisa the other day and was really excited to try it. The berries were very tasty, but the sugar didn't stick to them very well. I think it might help to make the sugar syrup a little more dense, by adding only one cup of water, instead of two.

2 C fresh cranberries
2 C granulated sugar
2 C water
3/4 C superfine sugar

Bring the water and granulated sugar to a simmer, stirring until the sugar dissolves. (Be sure not to boil the mixture or the cranberries might pop when you add them.) Remove from heat and stir in the cranberries. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

Drain the berries, reserving the syrup for later use (cocktails, etc.). Place the superfine sugar in a shallow dish and roll the cranberries in it to coat. Spread the berries in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment, and let stand for one hour at room temperature to dry. They can be stored for up to a week in an airtight container.

Farro with Sweet Potatoes and Feta Cheese

1 1/2 C farro (wheat berries)
3 large sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and diced
1/4 C feta cheese, crumbled
1 medium onion, sliced thin
1 Tbs olive oil

Start by soaking the wheat berries overnight in water. Drain and rinse well.

In medium pot, bring to the farro to a boil with 3 C water, and simmer for about an hour, adding more water if necessary, until soft. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pan and add the onions. Cook slowly over low heat, stirring frequently, until caramelized.

Steam the sweet potatoes until just tender. Drain and set aside in a bowl. Add the farro, onions, and salt and pepper. Top with the crumbled feta cheese and serve at room temperature.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Martha's Cranberry Meringue Pie

This recipe from Martha Stewart was a huge hit last year, and as far as I'm concerned it will always be a staple of my Thanksgiving meal. A little lighter than pumpkin or pecan pie, it's a refreshing treat after a heavy dinner.

3 3/4 C fresh cranberries (or frozen ones)
1 3/4 C sugar
3 tsp finely chopped orange zest, plus 1/2 C orange juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground cloves
4 Tbs cornstarch
4 large egg whites
Pinch of cream of tartar
1/2 recipe pie dough

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, flatten the dough slightly. Sprinkle the dough with 1 tsp of orange zest, and fold over. Proceed to roll out to 1/8 inch thick. Fit into your pie plate, pierce the bottom with a fork, and freeze for 15 minutes.

Line the shell with parchment and fill with pie weights or dried beans . Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the weights and parchment, return to oven, and bake until just golden brown, about 5 minutes more. Allow to cool on a rack while making the filling.

Bring 2 1/2 cups of cranberries, 1 1/4 cup of sugar, and 2 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the berries have burst, about 5 minutes. Pour through a sieve and discard the solids. You should have about 1 3/4 C of liquid- if you have less, add water.

Bring the strained cranberry juice, 1/4 cup of sugar, the remaining orange zest, spices, and remaining cranberries to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat, and simmer until cranberries are soft, about 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, stir the cornstarch, orange juice, and 1/4 C water in a bowl; whisk into the cranberry mixture. Return to a boil, stirring constantly until translucent, about 1 minute. Pour into the pie crust, and refrigerate until set (at least an hour, or up to overnight).

Preheat the broiler. Put the egg whites and remaining 1/4 C sugar into the metal bowl of an electric mixer set over a pot of simmering water. Whisk until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is hot to the touch. Attach the bowl to the mixer and beat until foamy on medium speed. Raise the speed to high and add the cream of tartar. Beat until glossy peaks form, and spoon over the pie.

Set the pie under the broiler until the top is browned, about 30 seconds. Be careful not to burn!

Pumpkin Pie from Scratch

I'm not knocking canned pumpkin, and goodness knows I've used it many times before with excellent results, but in my book nothing can beat pie made from fresh pumpkin. If you can't get fresh pumpkin, or don't have time, canned will work just fine. This is James Beard's recipe.

1 medium Sugar Pie pumpkin (should yield 2 cups of flesh), or Butternut squash
3 eggs
1 C brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
Ginger (I like to use fresh ginger, but powdered is fine)
Ground Cloves
1 to 1 1/2 C half and half, or evaporated milk
1/2 recipe pie crust (click for recipe)

Cut the pumpkin in half and remove the seeds and pulp. Place in a baking dish with enough water to cover halfway, and cover with foil. Roast in a 375 degree oven for about 30-45 minutes, or until the flesh is tender. Once cooled, scoop out the pumpkin flesh from the halves into a mixing bowl. Run a fork through it, or use a potato masher, to break up the pumpkin.*

Add the spices, sugar, cream and eggs, and whisk well. Pour the mixture into your pie crust, and bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 325 and bake for about 30 more minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

*If you want to make a little extra to save for another pie, you can use this technique and freeze the pumpkin flesh for later use.

Cornbread Stuffing

You can make this stuffing with dried cornbread stuffing mixture, but I prefer to make my own cornbread the day before, and let it get a bit stale before I crumble it up.

For the cornbread (follow package instructions):
Cornbread mix
Melted butter

For the stuffing:
1 C diced carrots
1 C diced celery
1 C diced onions
1 large apple, diced
8 chopped garlic cloves
Fresh thyme
1/2 C dried cranberries
1 C sliced almonds
1/2 C butter
4 C chicken stock (or vegetable)

Crumble the cornbread into a large bowl and add the rest of the ingredients except the butter. Stir to combine, and transfer to a large baking dish. Dot with the butter, and bake at 350 for at least one hour, or until the stuffing is as dry or wet as you prefer. If you want the stuffing to be more moist, add more broth or water.

Mom's Corn Pudding

This casserole is a family tradition, and a favorite of mine. The texture is almost like a souffle, and I can't imagine Thanksgiving without it.

3 Tbs melted butter
2 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs flour
1 tsp salt
4 eggs
16 oz corn kernels (frozen or fresh)
1 1/3 C half and half

Combine all ingredients and pour into a buttered casserole dish. Bake for about an hour at 325 degrees, stopping halfway to stir the mixture.

Sweet Potato Casserole

This is my version of the classic, sans marshmallow (which you could certainly add if so desired). One of my favorite things about cooking Thanksgiving dinner is that all the dishes are so simple to put together. Most of my recipes have the following instructions: combine all ingredients, bake. This one is no exception, and can be made with pumpkin or squash as well.

8 large sweet potatoes or yams
1/2 C butter
1 C cream
1 1/2 C brown sugar
1 C chopped pecans

Peel and quarter the sweet potatoes. Place them in a steamer basket over boiling water; cover and cook until fork tender, and drain. In a large bowl, mash the potatoes with the cream, butter and spices, and half the sugar. Spread the mixture into a baking dish and top with the remaining sugar and the pecans, and dot with bits of butter (or drizzle with melted butter). Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Creamy Gravy

In my family we have never been able to agree on gravy. My dad likes his made with the giblets and everything, all ground up in the food processor, and my mom likes hers clear (just the drippings from the turkey, with the fat removed). I like the creamy kind (somewhere in between, I guess), which is pretty easy to make.

1 Tbs butter
2 C turkey drippings
3 Tbs flour
Fresh sage

Melt the butter and whisk in the flour to thicken. Gradually add the drippings, stirring constantly until thick and creamy.

Thanksgiving Turkey with Roasted Root Vegetables

This year I am used a heritage turkey, which is an ecologically and economically wise choice. This was also my first time brining a bird, having heard great things about the results, but I honestly didn't see much difference in the flavor or texture of the meat. I've included the instructions (from Martha) I followed here. I also love roasting root vegetables, and I make this combination of them often as a vegetarian side dish, even when I'm not serving poultry. It's easy to just place the chopped and steamed vegetables in a baking dish, and toss them with herbs and a little butter or olive oil, and bake for about an hour at 350 degrees.

1 turkey, 12-14 pounds
3 large turnips
6 parsnips
4 purple potatoes
8 carrots
2 yams
1 celeriac root
2 medium onions
1 bulb garlic
1 blub fennel
1/4 C fresh thyme leaves
2 medium apples
2 Tbs fennel seed
2 Tbs cumin
1/2 C olive oil
1/2 C butter

For the brine:
7 quarts water
1 1/2 C kosher salt
6 bay leaves
2 Tbs whole coriander seeds
1 Tbs juniper berries
2 Tbs black peppercorns
1 Tbs fennel seed
1 tsp mustard seed
1 bottle dry riesling
2 medium onions, quartered
6 garlic cloves
1 bunch fresh thyme

24 hours in advance, combine the brining ingredients in a large bucket or brining bag, and submerge the turkey. If necessary, weigh the bird down with a plate, so that it is fully submerged. Refrigerate or keep chilled in a cooler, turning over halfway through.

Meanwhile, chop all the vegetables into large and somewhat uniform sized pieces, and shell the garlic. Steam the turnips, carrots, parsnips, celeriac, yams, and potatoes until just tender. Toss all the vegetables with the olive oil, cumin, fennel, and fresh thyme. Place in the bottom of a large roasting pan, and dot with butter.

After 24 hours, remove the bird from the brine and dispose of liquid. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Rub the turkey all over with canola oil or butter, and place in the roasting pan on top of the vegetables. Stuff the cavity with the onions and herbs from the brine, or with stuffing if you prefer. Roast for 30 minutes, and then turn the oven temperature down to 350 degrees. Cover the breast of the turkey with a double layer of aluminum foil to prevent burning. Continue to roast for 2 1/2 hours more, or until the temperature of the meat is about 180 degrees. Remove from the oven and allow the turkey to sit for at least 10 minutes before carving.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Pistachio Pralines

I have been thinking about nut brittles ever since Halloween, when I thought about making some for our party, so I was thrilled to see a whole article about pralines in Martha Stewart Living this month! The pistachio praline/ brittle looks gorgeous and tastes even better! I am making a big batch to give away at Thanksgiving dinner. These are Martha's instructions, but I made some changes when I tried the recipe: I used a silpat to line my pan, and then I inverted the pralines onto parchment before I cut them. Also, I cannot stress enough how fast you have to work once you remove the sugar from the heat. My first batch came out very clumpy (but still tasty) because I took too much time pouring it.

Vegetable oil
2 C sugar
1/4 C water
2 C finely chopped pistachios
1/2 tsp coarse salt

Lightly coat a 13x9 inch baking sheet with oil. Line with parchment, allowing 2 inches to hang over the long sides.* Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, tilting pan to swirl, and washing down the sides with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystals from forming. Boil, without stirring, until mixture turns medium amber, 10-12 minutes.

Remove from heat, and stir in the pistachios and salt. Pour mixture onto the baking sheet and quickly spread evenly with a spatula. Let cool until just set but still soft, about 2 minutes. Using the parchment as handles, transfer the warm praline to a cutting board. Immediately cut into bars of desired size using a serrated knife lightly coated in oil. Let cool completely. Bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Shepherd's Pie

Eric has been asking me to make this for ages, so I thought I'd give it a try. This is Michael Chiarello's recipe, but I've made a few changes, based on what I did and what I would do next time.

1 Tbs olive oil
1 1/2 lb ground beef, lamb, or turkey
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped fine
1 C green peas
2 medium onions, diced
1 level Tbs tomato paste
2 Tbs fresh thyme leaves
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbs flour
1/2 C red wine
1 C beef or chicken stock
Salt and pepper
2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes
2 Tbs butter
1/2 C cream or milk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a deep pan. Brown the meat and remove from the pan with a slotted spoon. Add the onions and sautee until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the copped carrots and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the tomato puree, herbs and cinnamon. Stir for a couple of minutes to combine, and then stir in the flour until the liquid is absorbed. Now add the red wine and stock. Season with salt and pepper. Return the meat to the pan and bring to a boil. Add the peas. Cover, turn the heat to low, and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the meat is fully cooked.

Meanwhile, peel the potatoes, cut them, into large pieces, and place in a pot of cold, salted water. Bring the water to a boil and cook the potatoes until tender, about 10 minutes.

When the potatoes are done, drain them, return them to the pot, cover with a cloth to absorb the steam, and leave them for about 5 minutes. Next, add the butter and cream, and mash them. Season with salt and pepper. When the meat is ready, spoon it into a large baking dish and level with the back of the spoon. Spread the potatoes evenly all over. Bake until the top is crusty and golden, about 25 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining thyme on top, and let stand a few minutes before serving.

Mashed Butternut Squash

I can't get enough squash in the winter, and when we have some leftover (like from the risotto below), I like to make an easy puree as a side dish.

3 C butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1" pieces
2 Tbs butter
4 Tbs mascarpone cheese (or heavy cream)
2 Tbs brown sugar
Pinch of nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon

Boil the squash until tender. Drain and return to pot. Allow any extra water to evaporate, and then use a potato masher to mash. Stir in the remaining ingredients.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Carrot and Winter Squash Risotto

Here's another recipe from "The Produce Bible." I have made a lot of risottos, and I think this one is going up there with my favorites! I would recommend serving it with a little mascarpone cheese on top. Yum!

1/3 C butter
1 onion, finely diced
1 3/4 C diced winter squash (I used Butternut)
2 large carrots, diced
8 C vegetable stock, heated (or chicken stock)
2 C arborio rice
1 C shaved Romano or Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Heat three tablespoons of butter in a large, heavy bottomed frying pan. Add the onion and sautee until soft. Add the squash and carrots, and cook for about 10 minutes, until tender. Mash slightly with a fork. Add the rice and cook for a minute until the grains are translucent, and add the first 1/2 C of vegetable stock. Simmer the rice until the stock is absorbed, and add more stock. Continue until you have used up all the liquid, or until the rice is creamy and soft. If you need more liquid, add water. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining butter, cheese, and nutmeg. Season with freshly ground pepper and salt. Allow to sit, covered, for 5 minutes before serving.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Dr. Pepper Cupcakes

This recipe comes from a 1965 Dr. Pepper cookbook I have in my collection (Pineapple-Roquefort Cheese Sandwich Filling, anyone?). The frosting is James Beard's basic buttercream, to which I added ginger, cherry syrup, and cocoa powder. We were disappointed that the cake didn't taste very Dr. Pepper-y, but the texture was good, and the frosting was a winner!

1/2 C butter
2 1/2 C brown sugar
3 eggs
3 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, melted
1/2 C buttermilk
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 C cake flour
2 tsp vanilla
1 C boiling Dr. Pepper

Cream the butter and add the brown sugar. When well blended, add the eggs, one at a time, beating well. Add the chocolate, slightly cooled.

In a small bowl, add one teaspoon of baking soda to the buttermilk. Mix your remaining dry ingredients in another bowl. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk to the butter mixture alternately. Add the vanilla, and finally mix in the Dr. Pepper.

Pour into cupcake molds and bake for 20-25 minutes at 375 degrees.

For the frosting:
1/3 C soft butter
3 C confectioner's sugar
1/2 C dark cocoa
4 Tbs heavy cream
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 can cherries in syrup (or in liqueur)

Cream the butter, cocoa and sugar together and stir in the cream. Add the ginger and enough cherry syrup to create the desired consistency. Refrigerate if necessary, and spread over the cupcakes when they have cooled. Top each cupcake with half a cherry.

Guinness Cupcakes

Last night my friends Amanda, Jenn, and Kara, and I convened to attempt another cupcake tasting. This time we had a beverage theme: Guinness cupcakes and Dr. Pepper cupcakes (recipe to follow). Jenn had found this recipe through another friend, who found it on the Food Network. The results were surprisingly good- the Guinness cake was light and moist, and you can actually taste the beer! The cream cheese frosting was a nice touch, because it creates the appearance of a foamy head on a glass of Guinness, but we weren't completely sold on the flavor combination. I wonder if a white chocolate frosting would be better.

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, plus more for dusting finished cupcakes
2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purposeflour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch fine salt
1 bottle stout beer (recommended: Guinness)
1 stick butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened at room temperature
3/4 to 1 cup heavy cream
1 (1-pound) box confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt. In another medium mixing bowl, combine the stout, melted butter, and vanilla. Beat in eggs, 1 at time. Mix in sour cream until thoroughly combined and smooth. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet mixture.

Lightly grease 24 muffin tins. Divide the batter equally between muffin tins, filling each 3/4 full. Bake for about 12 minutes and then rotate the pans. Bake another 12 to 13 minutes until risen, nicely domed, and set in the middle but still soft and tender. Cool before turning out.

To make the icing:
In a medium bowl with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the heavy cream. On low speed, slowly mix in the confectioners' sugar until incorporated and smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. Icing can be made several hours ahead and kept covered and chilled.

Top each cupcake with a heap of frosting and dust with cocoa.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Leek and Parsnip Puree

This is from "The Produce Bible," by Leanne Kitchen. I like that it uses vegetables that are in season in the winter, and it's a nice alternative for mashed potatoes.

1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced
3 large parsnips, peeled and chopped
2 Tbs snipped chives
2 Tbs butter
3 Tbs creme fraiche

Put the leeks and parsnips in a saucepan of boiling salted water. Cook for about 10 minutes, until tender. Drain and allow to cool slightly before blending in a food processor to a smooth puree.

Put the puree in a clean saucepan and add the chives and butter. Season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Cook the puree until heated through. Remove from the heat and stir in the creme fraiche.

Tyler's Ultimate Meatloaf

This is my favorite meatloaf recipe (sorry, mom!). I always order it at Cafeteria, so I was really excited to see Tyler Florence make it on his Food Network show a couple years ago. I like to make extra Tomato Relish and save it to serve with burgers.

1 recipe Tomato Relish (click for recipe)
2 1/2 lbs ground beef, pork, or turkey
3 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into chunks
1/4 C milk
2 eggs
1 Tbs fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper
3-4 bacon slices, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the torn bread in a bowl and add the milk to cover, letting the bread soak while you put together the rest of the ingredients.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the ground meat, 1 1/2 C tomato relish, eggs, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Squeeze the excess milk from the bread and add the bread to the mixture. Transfer the mixture into a loaf pan, and coat the top with another 1/2 C of relish. If you like, lay the bacon across the top.

Bake for 1- 1 1/2 hours until the meatloaf is firm. Serve with the remaining tomato relish on the side.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Ginger Peanut Stir-Fry

This is such an easy dinner, and can be adapted to include all kinds of vegetables, tofu, or beef.

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 medium, red bell pepper, sliced
1/4 large onion, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 fingers of ginger, grated
2-3 C broccoli, chopped
2 Tbs sesame oil
1 Tbs chili sauce
2 Tbs soy sauce
1/2 C unsalted peanuts
1/4 C water
2 Tbs brown sugar
1/2 C torn basil leaves

Heat the sesame oil in a wok or large frying pan. Add the garlic, ginger, and onions, and sautee until soft. Add the red peppers, the chicken, the soy sauce, and chili sauce. Once the chicken is browned on all sides, add the broccoli and water and cook until the broccoli is bright green. Remove from heat and stir in the brown sugar. Top with basil and serve over rice.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Cranberry Sauce

1 lb fresh cranberries
2 clementines, mandarins, or tangerines
3/4 C sugar
1/2 C water

Wash the cranberries and discard any that are bruised or spoiled. Slice the oranges in half, and squeeze into a pot. Add the whole peels, cranberries, and water, and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. You should hear the berries popping. Once the popping stops, allow the sauce to sit until a foam forms all over the surface. At this point, add the sugar (to taste), and stir until thickened. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Cheese Buttons

This is adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe for cheese straws. They are like little, cheesy biscuits, and they are delicious!

6 oz sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/2 C flour, plus more for board
8 Tbs butter, room temperature
1 tsp dry mustard powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/3 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 C milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a food processor, grate the cheese. Switch to a cutting blade and add the remaining ingredients. Pulse until combined. With the food processor still running, add just enough milk to hold the dough together.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured board, roll out to about 1/4 inch thick. With a small, round cookie cutter, or a bottle cap, cut into 1" rounds. Place about 1 inch apart on a baking sheet. Bake until golden and firm to the touch, 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Goat Cheese and Caramelized Onion Tartlets

I love almost anything made with goat cheese, and these little bite sized tarts are perfect for entertaining.

3 eggs
12 oz goat cheese, at room temperature
1 large sweet onion, sliced very thin
2 Tbs fresh thyme leaves
1 Tbs olive oil
2 1/2 C flour
1 tsp salt
1 C cold butter
Ice water

In a medium frying pan, heat the oil and add the onions. Sautee over low heat, stirring frequently until caramelized, about 45 minutes. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, make the crust. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the butter into the flour and salt with a pastry cutter or food processor, until the mixture is coarse, like breadcrumbs. Add just enough ice water so that the dough comes together. On a floured board, press down on the dough to flatten slightly (do not knead!), and sprinkle with half the thyme. Fold over twice and roll out into a large rectangle. Using a biscuit cutter or glass, cut into 24 3-inch rounds, and press gently into a mini cupcake pan. Pierce the bottoms of the shells with a fork, and bake for 10 minutes.

Whisk together the goat cheese, eggs, and the remaining thyme until creamy. Stir in the onions into the mixutre, and spoon into the tart shells. Bake for another 30 minutes, and serve warm. Makes 24 tartlets.


I have been making this recipe since I was about 13 years old. It comes from Maida Heatter's "Book of Great Cookies." The cookies are not super soft, but they are not the hard type either; Maida calls them "semi-soft." My mother and I like to add some fresh ginger, as well as come chopped crystallized ginger for an extra gingery cookie! The cookies in the photo were rolled in black sugar for Halloween.

2 1/4 C flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp fresh ginger
1 tsp powdered ginger
1/2 tsp powdered cloves
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp finely ground black pepper
6 oz butter
1 C dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg
1/4 C molasses
1/2 C finely chopped crystallized ginger
Granulated sugar (to roll the cookies in)

Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. In an electric mixer, cream the butter. Add the brown sugar and fresh ginger and beat well. Add the egg and the molasses, and beat until the mixture is light in color. On low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients, scraping the bowl as you go. Fold in the crystallized ginger. Refrigerate the dough until you can handle it (as little as 15 minutes).

Pour some granulated sugar into a shallow bowl. Use a rounded tablespoon of dough for each cookie. Roll it into a ball between your hands, and then roll around in the sugar to coat. Place the balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake the cookies for about 13 minutes at 375 degrees, until they feel semi-firm to the touch. The tops should just be cracked. Transfer to racks to cool. Makes approximately 36 cookies.

Cheese Crisps

These are really good on top of a salad, and also make a crunchy, salty snack.

8 oz shredded jack cheese
8 oz shredded parmesan cheese

Combine the cheeses. Drop six small handfuls onto a baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch of space between them. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees until just golden, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for a minute before lifting with a spatula and placing on a paper towel to drain the oil. Repeat!

Marinated Bocconcini Skewers

I love using little bocconcini (mini mozzarella balls) in pasta salads, so when I saw Martha marinating them and serving them for parties, I got pretty excited about the idea. I altered the seasonings a little bit, and I chose to pair the cheese with cherry tomatoes, but Martha also recommends folded slices of proscuitto.

1 1/2 C bocconcini, drained
1 tsp chili flakes
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
Zest of one lemon
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1 C olive oil
20 rosemary stems, stripped of most of the leaves
1 pint cherry tomatoes

Combine all of the above in a ziploc bag or bowl, and refigerate for at least 2 hours. Using the rosemary stems, skewer one or two mozzarella balls and tomatoes.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Tomato Tarte Tatine

This recipe is adapted from "The Produce Bible," by Deborah Madison, a recent acquisition that is chock full of amazing recipes and interesting facts about all kinds of produce. Mine came out a little soggy, but I used Early Girl tomatoes, which are more watery than plum tomatoes (aka Romas). Regardless, the combination of the caramelized flavors of the tomatoes, onions, brown sugar, and balsamic vinegar with the tangy goat cheese and buttery pastry was delicious!

12 plum tomatoes
4 Tbs olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced very thin
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1 tsp soft brown sugar
1 handful fresh thyme
1 C crumbled goat cheese
1 sheet puff pastry

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Cut the tomatoes in half, lengthwise, and season with salt and pepper. Place them, cut side up, on a wire rack in a baking dish. Roast in the oven for 3 hours.

Heat two teaspoons of olive oil in a heavy bottomed sauce pan, and add the onions. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until caramelized (about 45 minutes). Meanwhile, in an 8 inch oven-proof frying pan, heat the remaning olive oil. Add the garlic, balsamic vinegar, sugar, and one tablespoon of water, and cook until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat.

When the tomatoes are done, remove from the oven and increase the temperature to 400 degrees. Place the tomatoes, cut side up, in one layer in the pan with the vinegar mixture. Top with the onions, thyme, and crumbled goat cheese. Cover with the puff pastry, trim the edges, and tuck the pastry into the side of the pan around the tomatoes. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Carefully run a knife around the edges of the pan, and invert onto a plate. Cool to room temperature and serve.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Roasted Winter Squash Soup

This soup is like autumn in a bowl! I like to use a variety of squashes, but you could make this with just Butternut or Acorn, if you can't find the others.

2 medium Sweet Dumpling squashes
2 medium Butternut squashes
1 medium Sugar pumpkin (plus four to serve in)
2 large carrots, chopped
4 small parsnips, chopped
1/4 C butter, softened
1/4 C brown sugar
1 onion, sliced
4 5 cloves of garlic, halved
8 C chicken stock
2 C white wine
1/2 C half and half
Salt and pepper
1 tsp allspice
2 tsp sage
2 Tbs chopped chives
Creme fraiche

Cut the squashes in half and remove the seeds. Place cut-side up in two roasting pans, and fill the cavities with the butter and brown sugar. Rub a little butter on the cut flesh of the squash as well. Surround the squashes with the garlic, onions, parsnips, carrots, and sage. Sprinkle everything with salt and pepper. Pour a half cup of wine and a half cup of stock over each of the pans, and cover with foil. Bake for about a 45 minutes at 400 degrees, or until the vegetables and squash are soft.

Scoop the flesh out of the squashes and discard the skins. Put the flesh in a large pot with the rest of the vegetables and the remaining liquids. Add the allspice, and simmer for 10 minutes. Puree in a blender (or with a hand-held blender) and serve with a spoonful of creme fraiche and a sprinkling of chives.

Stuffed Pork Chops with Roasted Pears & Port Wine Sauce

I made this one up, so the proportions might not be very precise, but use your judgement, and you will be fine!

4 pork chops
1 C cornbread crumbs (see cornbread recipe below)
1/4 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs fresh thyme
3 Tbs olive oil
1/4 lb thinly sliced proscuitto
4 small pears, cut into wedges
1 C port or red wine
2 Tbs butter

Cut a pocket in each pork chop with a sharp knife. Mix together 1 Tbs olive oil with the cornbread crumbs, garlic, onion, and thyme, and stuff the mixture into each chop (you could also add half a pear, finely diced, for a little sweetness). Sprinkle both sides of the pork chops with pepper, wrap with proscuitto, and place in a skillet over high heat just to crisp each side. Add the pears to the pan and drizzle half the port over them. Move to the oven, and bake at 400 degrees for about 25-30 minutes.

Remove the meat and pears to a serving platter. Return the skillet to the stove top, add the butter and let melt. Add the wine and reduce until a sauce is formed. Pour over the pears and meat.