Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Peach Clafoutis

My friend Max and I went peach picking last weekend and made a clafoutis from our pickings. It was deliciously eggy, and would have been even better if I'd had the time to make my friend Piper's peach ice cream to go with it! Maybe next year...

6 medium peaches (about 2 1/2 cups of cut fruit)
3/4 C heavy cream
Vanilla (seeds from a bean or extract)
1/2 C milk
4 eggs
1/4 C sugar
1 Tbs amaretto
2/3 C flour
Confectioner's sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Drop the peaches, whole, into a large pot of boiling water for about 2 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to an ice bath. The peels should come off easily. Slice the peaches, and arrange in a well-buttered baking dish.

Whisk the eggs with the sugar, flour and vanilla. Do not over whisk! Then add the cream, milk, and amaretto. Pour over the peaches and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until puffy and golden brown on top. Dust with a little powdered sugar and serve warm.

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

These are delicious on panini or bruschetta, or served on top of a juicy steak. I used them on these little open-faced steak sandwiches I made for a party last month, with blue cheese and arugula.

2 pints cherry tomatoes
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Slice the cherry tomatoes in half and arrange in one layer, cut side up, in a baking dish. Season well with salt and pepper, and drizzle generously with olive oil. Roast in a 300 degree oven for between 2-3 hours.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Cherry Ice Cream

Every year, my friend Jane and I go cherry picking, so I was really excited to see this recipe on Simply Recipes just days before our planned date! Unlike most ice cream recipes, this one does not call for eggs, so it's not quite as rich. If you have an ice cream maker (or an attachment for your mixer, like I do) I highly recommend it. Unfortunately we were so busy eating the ice cream that by the time I managed to take a picture, it had softened considerably... don't worry, none was wasted!

1 1/2 cups pitted ripe sweet cherries (from about 3/4 lb cherries)
3/4 cup milk
1 3/4 cups cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 Tbsp crème de cassis, kirsch, cherry liqueur, or rum (optional)
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine, keep in freezer until use

Put cherries, milk, one cup of the cream, sugar, and salt into a medium saucepan. Heat on medium heat until the mixture is steamy, then lower the heat to warm and just let sit for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Pour mixture into a blender, or use an immersion blender, and carefully purée. (Careful because you are dealing with a hot liquid. Make sure you hold the cap down on the top of the blender while puréeing.)

Put mixture into a large bowl. Stir in the remaining 3/4 cup of cream. Chill for several hours in the refrigerator until completely cold. (Can also place bowl over an ice bath, to speed up the cooling process.)

Before putting the mixture into your ice cream maker, stir in the lemon juice and the crème de cassis or other liqueur (or rum) if you are using. Note that you can skip the alcohol if you want, but the addition of it will help the ice cream from getting too icy, and the flavored liqueurs such as kirsch or crème de cassis can add a nice flavor boost to the ice cream. Churn the ice cream in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Once the ice cream has completed churning, the ice cream should be pretty soft. Gently fold in the finely chopped chocolate. Put in an airtight container and place in the freezer for at least an hour, preferably several hours.

Makes about one quart.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Grape Tomato Salad

I had a really amazing salad at Cafeteria in New York with fried green tomatoes, feta cheese, and grapes that inspired this salad. It's super simple: cherry tomatoes and grapes in a balsamic vinaigrette, tossed with crumbled feta and some mint. Delicious!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Lemon Cheesecake

I found this recipe through Deb at Smitten Kitchen , who found it in "Gourmet" magazine. The recipe calls for almonds in the crust (for Passover we can't use anything made with flour like Graham crackers), but I substituted pistachios. I topped the cake with candied lemon peel and fresh strawberries.

3/4 C pistachios (or toasted blanched almonds)
2/3 C sugar
2/3 C matzoh cake meal
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter melted and cooled slightly
3 8-oz packages of cream cheese
3/4 C sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pulse the pistachios, 2/3 C sugar, matzoh meal, and salt in a food processor until finely ground. Add the melted butter until combined well. Press into the bottom of a 9" springform pan, and up the sides 1 inch. Bake for about 12-15 minutes, until the crust is firm. Cool completely.

Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese and remaining sugar until smooth. Reduce speed to low and add the eggs one at a time, until combined. Add the lemon zest and vanilla. Pour filling into the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the filling is set around the edges but still a little wobbly in the middle. Immediately run a knife around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the pan. Let cool for at least 2-3 hours.

Monday, April 14, 2008


I made these with a pork filling, but you could substitute chicken, beef, or vegetables if you prefer. The dough recipe is from Tyler Florence. I made it without the masa, and I think it was a mistake. I imagine you could fry these as well, if you didn't want to bake them.

3-pound pork shoulder
Olive oil
1 can chipotle in adobo, minced
1 large onion, in large slices
Garlic, coarsely chopped
Fresh oregano
Salt and Pepper

Empanada Dough:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup masa harina
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
Butter, for greasing the pans

Season the pork well with salt and pepper. In large, oven proof pot, heat the oil and brown the pork on all sides. Remove the meat from the pot and add the onion, garlic, and half the chilis. When the onions become translucent, add the pork and oregano, and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and transfer to a preheated 350 degree oven for about two hours, or until the meat begins to fall apart.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, masa harina, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the melted butter. Gradually add 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of water, working it in with your hands to incorporate; the dough should be easy to handle and not sticky. Form the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic, and chill for 30 minutes.
Lightly flour your rolling pin and counter. Divide the dough in 1/2 so it will be easier to work with and roll it out to 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 4-inch cookie or biscuit cutter, cut out 10 circles of dough; repeat with the other 1/2. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Once the pork is done cooking, remove it from the pot and let it cool before shredding it with two forks. Mix the shredded meat with the remaining chipotles and season with salt and pepper.

Spoon the filling into the center of each pastry circle, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Brush the edges with the egg wash and then fold the dough over in 1/2 to enclose the filling and form a semi-circle. Tightly seal the edges by crimping with the tines of a fork. Chill at least 30 minutes before baking.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the empanadas on a buttered baking sheet and brush the tops with additional egg wash. Using a fork, prick a few holes in the top of the empanadas for steam to escape. Bake for 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Mid Century Supper!

Here are the pics from Jenn and my dinner experiment... The diptychs show the photo from the original cookbook on the left, with our version on the right. I was especially excited to finally make the "Meatloaf Train," which has always been one of my most prized recipes. I should note that the cake was decorated by a very capable 10-year old. We also served cheese fondue with the canapes, but I didn't get a good pic. I'm not posting recipes, but if anyone wants them, please let me know.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Arugula Tart

This recipe came from "The Produce Bible" and originally called for ricotta, but I thought goat cheese would be a good substitute. The consistency is very quiche-like, and I think that next time I would up the cheese to egg ratio.

1/2 C goat cheese, at room temperature
3 eggs
2-3 C arugula
1/2 small onion, finely diced
Olive oil
Nutmeg, salt and pepper
Puff pastry

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a greased tart pan with the puff pastry. Prick the pastry with a fork, cover with parchment, and fill with baking weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes, remove the weights and parchment, and then bake for another 5 minutes. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a pan and sautee the onions until soft. Stir in the arugula until just wilted. Meanwhile, combine the egg and cheese, and season with a little nutmeg, salt and pepper. Leave some lumps of cheese in the mixture. Add the arugula and combine. Pour into the pastry crust and bake for about 25 minutes, or until set.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Kumquat-Lime Marmalade

This recipe is adapted from "The Produce Bible." The original calls for either limes or kumquats, but I decided to use a combination of kumquats, mandarinquats, and key limes. Yum!

2 lbs fruit (limes, kumquats, or a combination)
5-8 C water
6-10 C sugar

Start by halving all the fruit and then slicing it very thin.
Remove the seeds and place them in the cheesecloth to make a little bundle. Put the fruit, seed bundle, and water in a large, non-metallic bowl and leave overnight, covered.

Transfer the contents of the bowl into a large pot. If you are using just kumquats, add 1/4 C lemon juice. Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 20 minutes before reducing to a simmer. Let cook for 30-45 minutes and then add the sugar. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil, stirring often, for another 20 minutes. Once the mixture acheives the desired consistency, transfer to jars and seal.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


These jelly-filled cookies are traditionally made for the Jewish holiday Purim, and the shape is meant to represent the three-cornered hat that the biblical villain Hamen wore when he tried to have Queen Esther (and all the Jews) killed. In some countries, people also eat Hamen's ears! This recipe is from Joan Nathan's "Jewish Cooking in America." Over the years, my mother and I have discovered that certain jams work better than others: fruits like blueberries, that have less natural pectin tend to get runny and ooze out of the cookies while they bake. For this same reason, store-bought jam is preferable to homemade, unless you have some very firm homemade jam on hand. Our favorite (for its flavor and consistency) has always been apricot.

2/3 C butter
1/2 C sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 C unbleached flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
Jellies or jams of your choice

Cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla and process till smooth. Add the dry ingredients and process until a ball is formed. Chill the dough for 2-3 hours, or overnight.

Taking 1/4 of the dough at a time, roll out on a lightly floured board to about 1/8 inch thick. Cut into 2 1/2 inch circles. Drop one teaspoon of jam in the center of each circle, and then bring the dough up around it, pressing the three corners down well. Bake at 375 degrees on a well-greased cookie sheet for 10-15 minutes, or until the tops are golden. Makes 36 cookies.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Dinner for One

First of all, I want to apologize for the lack of recipes in the last few months. Lately, I've had less opportunities to cook new and interesting things that seem to be worth sharing. Tonight's dinner is a good example of the sort of food I cook for myself: borsellini with goat cheese, pine nuts, and chervil. Simple, improvised, and easy. So from now on, I will probably only post here when I have a social occasion that allows me to prepare something more elaborate. Hope you understand!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Homemade Hot Cocoa (and Marshmallows!)

This hot cocoa mix is based on an Alton Brown recipe, but I spiced it up to be more like a Mexican chocolate. The marshmallows are from ReadyMade, but I added some cute color. You can see a video of the marshmallow recipe here.

Hot Cocoa

2 C powdered sugar
1 C cocoa
2 1/2 C powdered milk
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 Tbs cinnamon

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container.


1/4 C plus 6 Tbs water
1 1/3 C sugar
1/2 C light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
2 packets powdered gelatin (half an ounce)
Red food coloring
Powdered sugar

In the bowl of a mixer with the whisk attached, combine the gelatin with 6 Tbs water. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat the sugar, corn syrup, and remaining water. Cook over high heat until it reaches 240 degrees (use a candy thermometer). Immediately remove from heat. With the mixer running on low speed, pour the sugar mixture down the side of the bowl. Add the vanilla and salt and increase speed to medium-high. Whisk until the mixture becomes opaque and thick, like Fluff. Decrease the mixer speed to low and add the food coloring. Barely mix to swirl the color into the marshmallow before removing the bowl.

Pour the marshmallow into the prepared pan and spray the top with more vegetable oil. Cover with another piece of parchment and using a rolling pin or your hands, spread out to an even thickness. Let sit overnight, and then use a pair of clean scissors to cut into squares. Toss in a bowl of equal parts cornstarch and powdered sugar to prevent sticking.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Chocolate Amaretto Semifreddo

A semifreddo is a sort of quick ice cream- it has a softer consistancy but is no less of a treat! This recipe was inspired by a dessert I had at a restaurant a while ago, and based on Jamie Oliver's basic semifreddo recipe.

2 C heavy cream, plus 2 Tbs
4 eggs, separated
1/4 C sugar
1/2 C good, unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 C amaretto
1 vanilla bean
Italian Amaretto cookies

You will need three bowls to start. In one bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and the inside of the vanilla bean. In the second bowl, wisk the cream with the cocoa powder and amaretto until soft peaks form. In the third bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. Gently fold the cream and the egg whites into the yolk mixture. Transfer to a shallow container, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze for 6-8 hours, or overnight. Serve with the cookies on top.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


I hardly ever post salads here because they are so simple, and I usually improvise them, but lest you think that I never eat our veggies, I've decided to start sharing some favorites. For starters, here are three that I like having in the winter time. I don't think I need to post instructions, since these are pretty self-explanatory...

Baby arugula with blood oranges, smoked whitefish, and avocado (with a blood orange vinaigrette)

Raddichio with clementines, toasted pine nuts, and feta cheese (with an orange-honey vinaigrette)

Mixed baby greens with sliced apples (or Asian pears), spiced pecans (or almonds), and goat cheese (with an orange vinaigrette)

As you can see, these are all just variations on a theme. I generally make my dressing with the juices of whatever fruits I'm using (or the juice from olives), and I like to include something rich, like crumbled cheese, nuts, avocado, fish, or chicken. I think the best way to dream up a salad is to visit your local farmer's or produce market. Take a walk around and find one thing that looks particularly fresh and delicious, and then think of some other things that would go nicely together.

Blood Orange Margaritas

This is a pretty twist on the classic drink. Since blood oranges are in season, I have been juicing them and freezing the juice to use in future recipes, but I couldn't resist using some to make us a tasty beverage to go with our taco salad the other night (recipe below).

1 C fresh squeezed blood orange juice
1/2 C fresh squeezed lime juice
1/2 C tequila
Simple syrup, to taste (1 part water, two parts sugar simmered until dissolved and cooled)

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and serve over ice.

Taco Salad

This may have been the very first recipe I ever learned how to make, when I was about 9 years old at summer camp. It's a simple supper, and an all American classic.

1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
1 pint premade fresh salsa (homemade or store-bought)
Juice of one lime
1 large avocado, diced
2 C shredded cheese
1 lb ground turkey or beef
1 C sour cream
Chili powder
Ground coriander
Ground cumin
Dried oregano
Salt and pepper
1 small bag tortilla chips

Start by browning the meat on one side in a little olive oil. Sprinkle the spices on top, to taste, and stir the meat to brown all over. In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, half the salsa, and the avocado. Dress with the lime juice. Add the meat and top with the cheese, sour cream, and remaining salsa. Crumble some tortilla chips on top for extra crunch

Friday, February 8, 2008

Tuna and White Bean Salad

This is a Tuscan classic which I have reworked. I wanted a little bit of sweetness in the salad, to help balance out the tart and salty flavors of the tuna and capers, but it's winter, so the cherry tomatoes that immediately come to mind are not an option. Instead I used sweet onions and a little fennel, which I think was really nice with the rest of the dish. Sorry for the poor photo- we were too hungry to take more!

1 can tuna in olive oil
1 can or jar of white Canellini or Great Northern beans, drained
1 small bulb of fennel (or half a larger one), sliced fine
1/2 small, sweet onion, diced very fine
1 Tbs nonpareil capers, drained and rinsed
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
Ground pepper

Place the tuna and its oil in a bowl. With a fork, break the tuna up into small pieces and combine with the beans, capers, and onions. Dress with the lemon juice and vinegar, and a little ground pepper. Toss to combine and serve on top of a bed of arugula and fennel.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


This is Barbara Kingsolver's family pizza dough recipe, and it's very easy to make. It makes two pizzas about 12" in diameter, but you could also use it to make one giant pizza, or a few small ones. Of course there are infinite topping possibilities, but here are three of my seasonal favorites.

For the dough:

3 tsp yeast
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 C warm water
3 Tbs olive oil
4 1/2 C flour (BK recommends 2 C whole wheat and 2 1/2 C white)

Dissolve the yeast in the water. After it is thoroughly dissolved, add the salt and oil, and then add the flour, kneading well for about 8 minutes. Place the dough in a bowl, cover with a towel, and let rise for approximately 30-40 minutes in a warm place. When the dough has risen, divide it into two balls and roll each out on a well floured board. Transfer to a floured stone or pan and top with the toppings of your choice. Bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Classic Potato Pizza:

3-4 medium yukon gold potatoes
1 Tbs fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
Olive oil
Sea salt and pepper
Grated mozzarella cheese, to taste

Steam the potatoes until they are just tender. Let cool and then slice into thin slices. Drizzle the pizza dough with olive oil and then arrange the potatoes on top, allowing a little overlap. Sprinkle with sea salt and rosemary, and drizzle with more oil. Top with the cheese.

Sun-dried Tomato and Goat Cheese Pizza:

4 oz soft goat cheese
1 C sun-dried or roasted tomatoes, packed in oil
1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
Olive oil
Sea salt and pepper
Grated mozzarella cheese, to taste

Drizzle the pizza dough with a little olive oil and top with the tomatoes, goat cheese (crumbled or sliced), and herbs. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with a little more oil, and top with the cheese.

Sweet Potato and Proscuitto Pizza:

1/2 onion, sliced thin
2 Tbs butter
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 Tbs fresh thyme leaves
1/8 lb proscuitto di parma
1/4 C grated parmesan cheese
Grated mozzarella cheese, to taste
Olive oil
Ground pepper

In a small pan, cook the onions in the butter over a low flame, stirring constantly, until caramelized. Meanwhile, steam the sweet potatoes until tender. When the onions are finished, spread them over the pizza dough, and add a little bit of olive oil. Layer the potato chunks, the proscuitto, and the thyme, and season with ground pepper. Drizzle with a little more olive oil. Add the mozzarella and sprinkle the parmesan on top.

Lemon Curd

This recipe is from Alton Brown. I used the wonderful Meyer lemons that are in season right now, and I was really happy with the result. I recommend spreading a little on a warm, homemade scone- delicious!

4 lemons, zested and juiced (1/3 C juice)
1 C sugar
5 egg yolks
1 stick unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pats

Fill a medium sized pot with water and bring to a simmer. In a medium metal bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar, and then add the lemon zest and juice. Whisk until well combined, and place the bowl over the pot on the stove to create a double boiler. Reduce the heat to low and make sure that the bottom of the bowl sits above the water, not in it. Continue to whisk the mixture until it thickens and becomes pale yellow, about 8 minutes- it should coat the back of a spoon.

Remove from heat and whisk in the butter, one pat at a time until they melt. Transfer to a clean container and refrigerate. You can preserve the curd in jars processed in a steam canner for 15 minutes, or keep it in the refrigerator for a few days.

Makes one pint.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Spaghetti with Meatballs

My mother always served spaghetti with Bolognese sauce, rather than with meatballs, but Eric asked me to make it this way the other night, and I think I might be a convert! I based the recipe on one from Tyler Florence, with a few adjustments of my own.

Extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 cup milk
4 thick slices firm white bread, crust removed
1 1/2 pounds ground beef or turkey
1 1/2 pounds ground pork
1 large egg
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups heated tomato sauce (Bolognese without the meat or Vegetarian )

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in an ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and herbs and cook until the onionss are soft but still translucent, about 10 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and let cool.

Pour enough milk over the bread in a bowl to moisten and let it soak while the onions are cooling. Combine the meats in a large bowl. Add the egg and Parmigiano and season generously with salt and pepper. Use your hands to squeeze the excess milk out of the bread and add that to the bowl along with the cooled onion mixture. (Hang onto the pan - you'll need it to cook the meatballs.) Gently combine all the ingredients with your hands or with a spoon until just mixed together. Don't overwork or the meatballs will be tough. Shape the mixture into meatballs.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat a 3-count of oil in the frying pan over medium heat and brown the meatballs on all sides, about 10 minutes. Put them into a baking dish and spoon about half of the tomato sauce over. Put the meatballs in the oven and bake until the meatballs are cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and put it onto a large serving platter. Pour on the rest of the sauce and mix well. Spoon the meatballs on top of the spaghetti and serve immediately along with extra cheese.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Third Degree Potatoes

Believe me, I hate Rachel Ray as much as anyone, but I have to admit that I occasionally do take her tips and recipes to heart. This recipe is one that she adapted from Jacques Pepin (who is near and dear to my heart), and I have further adapted it, hence "three degrees." These potatoes are flavorful and buttery, and would be lovely alongside almost any meal.

3 lbs small Yukon Gold potatoes
3 C chicken broth (you could also use vegetable broth)
3 Tbs butter
Small bunch of fresh thyme
6 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper

Arrange the potatoes in a single layer in the bottom of a heavy bottomed pot or skillet. Add the chicken broth and butter, along with several whole sprigs of thyme and the whole garlic cloves (you can leave them unpeeled). Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on medium-high heat until the potatoes are just tender.

Remove the lid and with the back of a spoon, or the bottom of a glass, press down on the tops of the potatoes just to crack them open (don't smash them too hard!). Continue to cook until all the liquid has evaporated, and then brown the potatoes on both sides. Garnish with a little thyme and sea salt and serve.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Grilled Sea Bass with Fennel and Olives

I made this last night and it was quite good. I served it with a piece of garlic crostini, which gave a little crunch to the dish.

2 sea bass filets
1/2 pint good Greek olives, pitted and smashed
1 medium bulb fennel, sliced thin
1/2 medium onion, sliced thin
4 garlic cloves, halved
1/4 C fennel fronds, chopped
1 Tbs fresh thyme leaves
1 Tbs fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 C olive oil
Zest and juice of one lemon
Salt and pepper

Combine the lemon zest, herbs, and olive oil. Season both sides of the filets with salt and pepper and rub with a little olive oil. Place on the grill and cook until the fish is beginning to flake and turn opaque. Flip over, drizzle with half the herbed oil, and cook through.

Meanwhile, sautee the fennel, olives, and onion with the remaining herbed oil and garlic until soft. When the fish is done, serve over a bed of lightly dressed greens and top with the fennel and olives.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Jamie's Goulash

Jamie Oliver has a new show on the Food Network!!! It's all about using fresh produce, straight from the garden (or, in my case, the farmer's market). You know, even if he wasn't kind of cute, and even if he didn't make cooking look like a walk in the park, I would watch his shows because his producers make his food look GORGEOUS. Seriously, it is like pornography! Everything just glistens and the colors are brilliant, and you just salivate watching it. Or maybe that's just me. I'm a little jealous of the Brits, who are currently getting to watch Jamie's other recent effort, "Jamie's Fowl Dinners," which is about where our poultry comes from. What a guy!

Anyways, the show premiered this week with an episode devoted to chilis and peppers, and this is one of the recipes that was demonstrated. Goulash seems perfect for the cold, rainy days we've been having, so I thought I'd give it a go. I cut the recipe in half because I was only cooking for two of us, but we still have leftovers. I think it came out delicious, but I would add more of just about everything except water next time; it was a little runny, and a little bland. Also, I served it over egg noodles, which seems appropriately Eastern European, but Jamie recommends rice. I think a spaetzel would also be really good, but I was feeling lazy.

4 1/4 pounds pork shoulder off the bone, in 1 piece, skin off, fat left on
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
2 red onions, peeled and finely sliced
2 fresh red chiles, seeded and finely chopped
2 generous heaping tablespoons mild smoked paprika, plus a little extra for serving
2 teaspoons ground caraway seeds
Small bunch fresh marjoram or oregano, leaves picked
5 bell peppers (use a mixture of colors), sliced
1 (10-ounce) jar grilled peppers, drained, peeled and chopped
1 (14-ounce) can good quality plum tomatoes
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
14 ounces basmati or long-grain rice, washed
2/3 cup sour cream
1 lemon, zested
Small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Score the fat on the pork in a criss-cross pattern all the way through to the meat, then season generously with salt and pepper. Pour a good glug of olive oil into a deep, ovenproof pot and add the pork, fat side down. Cook for about 15 minutes on a medium heat, to render out the fat, then remove the pork from the pot and put it aside.

Add the onions, chili, paprika, caraway seeds, marjoram or oregano and a good pinch of salt and pepper to the pot. Turn the heat down and gently cook the onions for 10 minutes, then add the sliced peppers, the grilled peppers and the tomatoes. Put the pork back into the pot, give everything a little shake, then pour in enough water to just cover the meat. Add the vinegar - this will give it a nice little twang. Bring to the boil, put the lid on top, then place in the preheated oven for 3 hours.

You'll know when the meat is cooked as it will be tender, and will break up easily when pulled apart with 2 forks. If it's not quite there yet, put the pot back into the oven and just be patient for a little longer!

Stir the sour cream, lemon zest and most of the parsley together in a little bowl. When the meat is done, take the pot out of the oven and taste the goulash. You're after a balance of sweetness from the peppers and spiciness from the caraway seeds. Tear or break the meat up and serve the goulash in a big dish or bowl, with steaming rice and your flavored sour cream.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Chicken Soup

This recipe is from "The New Basics Cookbook." It's perfect for a cold day. I've added some fennel, and I think it would be nice with mushrooms if you wanted to add them at the end. I also set aside a couple of diced carrots to throw in at the end. I recommend serving this with either rice or noodles.

1 chicken (4 lbs)
2 large onions, halved
4 whole cloves
4 ribs celery, with leavs
4 carrots, peeled
3 parsnips, peeled
3 cloves garlic
1 small bulb fennel, quartered
6 sprigs dill
6 sprigs parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 quarts water
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 1/2 C cooked peas
1/4 C chopped fresh dill
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbs chopped fennel fronds
1 C chopped carrots

Rinse the chicken well and ploace in a large soup pot. Stud each onion half with a clove and add them to the pot along with the celery, whole carrots, parsnips, fennel, garlic, dill and parsley sprigs, and salt and pepper. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for two hours. Occasionally skim off any foam that forms on top.

Remove the chicken from the soup and allow it to cool. Strain the soup, discarding the vegetables, and return the liquid to the pot. Add the bouillon cube and adjust the seasonings. Bring to a boil and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove the skin and bones from the chicken and shred the meat. Set aside.

Cook the rice or noodles in the broth with the diced carrots. Before serving, stir in the chicken and the peas, chopped dill, parsley, and fennel. Heat through and serve.