Sunday, December 7, 2008

It's a Gingerbread House

Years ago I bought a book by Vera Williams called, "It's a Gingerbread House". You can't believe what a great discovery this was for me as a young parent. It is a simple story about a Grandfather passing on the family gingerbread recipe. The directions are written in story form and my daughter and I have made one every year. I still have the original templates tucked in the book for safe keeping. I'm not going to post the recipe, which makes really tasty cookies, because I think people should buy their own copy. Here's where you can find it on Amazon. I'm sure it's in local bookstores as well. The picture above is our gingerbread house this Christmas, our first winter in Portland. My daughter and her friend ate at least as much candy as they used on the house. This is a simple project, the recipe couldn't be easier, and it's a ton of fun.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Alma Chocolates in Portland

We were on Alberta Street having a coffee and the barista gave us the low down on the Portland chocolate scene, according to her. After listing all of the stores she highly recommended we trek to the North East side of town to check out Alma Chocolate.

I am so glad we did. Not only is the store incredible cute but the chocolate is amazing. The Basil flavored one was such a surprise, really successful and they had a number of spicy truffles including a paprika chocolate which M. cared less for then me but I thought it was interesting.

We are going back this weekend to pick up some of their bark which looked terrific. We can't wait till my sister, who makes chocolates back in Vermont, visits.

Finally, I am going to try the bacon caramel in honor of my friend Ross who thinks bacon is the best. I know it is all the rage but it just doesn't appeal to me. Who cares! I'm trying it!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Our first breakfast in Portland

This delicious plate was served to us this morning at the Tin Shed in Portland, Oregon. Yesterday W's daughter called to wish me happy birthday and told us to go immediately to this restaurant. First, we are very loyal to our favorite place, Penny Cluse, in Burlington Vermont. The food there is so good, so tasty, so spicy that we are disappointed at almost every other breakfast place.
The Tin Shed however was amazing and is neck-in-neck with Penny Cluse, something I thought would never happen. I had the plate above, spicy chorizo and eggs on potato rosti with fresh salsa and a biscuit. The heat level was medium to high with a smokey taste, really good. M. had black beans and rice with tortillas and eggs, simple yet perfectly prepared. A great dish. We can't wait to go back....possibly next weekend. We think we can bike there pretty easily so as soon as our stuff arrives on the truck we're going to ride over on 2 wheels.

Monday, June 16, 2008

New camera and a spicy fig sauce for dessert

I've been waiting to post, my trusty Canon Powershot of 5 years finally called it a day. It took me a couple of weeks but I finally have a replacement and I'm so happy!!!! I switched to a Sony after really looking and shopping around, I can be irritating that way but it was worth all of the effort. My new camera is great and with a little direction from me, it takes amazing pictures.

I have made 2 things recently that I really liked. One is this sour cherry pudding pictured here. I can't pass this recipe along, a friend was nice enough to share one of his Grandmother's recipes that they are publishing in a family cookbook. Needless to say, it was amazing and unusual. It bakes up like a crusty biscuit. I served it with vanilla ice cream.

I also bought beautiful figs over the weekend. I served them with the Goat Cheese Custards that are already posted here. You could also serve this over ice cream, especially caramel or a dulce de leche. It's a two part process but totally worth it and you can make modifications easily. Unfortunately everyone devoured them before I could get a time!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Socca Socca Socca

This is a delicious quick bread that is made from chickpea flour so it's gluten free and really tasty. It's crispy, toasty and has a smokey, roasted flavor, it's that sort of snack. I really like it with a ton of pepper but it was also excellent with the rosemary and onion. I saw this a while ago in the NYTimes and then Mark Bittman mentioned it on his blog and David Lebovitz wrote about it a year ago. So I broke down and tried it. I say broke down because I'm trying to eat fewer carbs, ha, impossible. This is one of those simple recipes that is easy to get right time after time and it's really tasty. I made this multiple times and the best recipe mash-up is below.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Favorite Breakfast variation - Pancake with Apples

I make a puffy pancake for breakfast that is so good and really easy. You heat up 1/4 cup butter in a 9 inch skillet. Then you mix two eggs, 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup flour, leaving the lumps in, and pour that into the skillet when the butter is really hot but not brown yet. That goes into the oven for 15 minutes. It comes out completely puffed up. I sprinkle sugar over the top and put it back in for a couple of minutes. Then I squeeze a lemon over the top right before slicing and serving. So good and best eaten immediately.

Tonight I made a variation for dessert. I sautéed 2 apples in brown sugar and then added them to the batter that I usually make. I also threw in some vanilla and salt for good measure. It came out quite good. Let the pancake sit in the pan a minute to absorb some of the caramel sauce in the bottom before serving. And definitely saute the apple slices on med high for 10 minutes so they take on the caramel taste of the sugar. We had ours with vanilla ice cream, excellent vehicle for it.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Mark Bittman's Banana almond chocolate chip cake

Whenever I make a savory dish of Mark Bittman's I'm usually happy. He gets flavor, texture and contrast. Sometimes dessert is a disappointment. Recently on his blog, Bitten, he posted a recipe for a banana cake that he said was his Mother's favorite cake. Well, when you invoke the M word I have to try it. It's a great recipe and I think you could split it between two loaf tins if you wanted. The texture is perfect, just like a fine cake with a hint of nuttiness from the roasted almonds. The half and half also adds richness along with the chocolate. Don't throw in more chips than specified, it is the perfect amount as is. I am definitely making this again. You can serve it with whipped cream but I promise you, it is perfectly good without.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Oatmeal White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

C to the 3! Chocolate Chunk Cookies that aren't ruined by white chocolate. I know, everyone is only eating dark chocolate. White and milk are being shunned by everyone but me...Ok, and a few others.
First, I bought another Milk chocolate bar by Green and Black with almonds. Wow, so good. Rich smooth chocolate taste with a smoky almond crunch. So worth crossing that dark chocolate line in the sand.
Second, I was reading smitten kitten earlier. If you haven't checked them out yet please do, they post some solid recipes. He had just posted this cookie recipe that M. and I made tonight. I didn't alter a thing. The salt is a great addition, it really works with the butter. I purchased the oats at our local market which were great, super fresh. Stale oats are the worst.
Great recipe, I highly recommend it. The cookies are crisp and crunchy with a soft chewy center. 5 to the C!
Anyway, hit the link above to see the recipe on their site or check it out below.

Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
14 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

6 ounces good-quality white chocolate bar, chopped (not "white chocolate" chips; they're almost always artificial. I am adamant about this.)

1/2 teapoon good quality flaky sea salt (for sprinkling on top)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and table salt in a medium bowl.

2. Beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula, then add egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Scrape down bowl again. Add flour mixture gradually and mix until just incorporated and smooth. Gradually add oats and white chocolate and mix until well incorporated.

3. Divide dough into 24 equal portions, each about 2 tablespoons. Roll between palms into balls, then place on lined baking sheets about 2 1/2 inches apart. Using fingertips, gently press down each ball to about ¾-inch thickness.

4. Sprinkle a flake or two of sea salt on each cookie

5. Bake until cookies are deep golden brown, about 13 to 16 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack to cool.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Goat Cheese Custard with Strawberries

Another rainy Spring Saturday. I've cleaned every cabinet since discovering some unwanted guests...I leave you guessing on that one. I also went and saw the new movie Iron Man. I actually enjoyed it. I read a lot of comics growing up and I feel pretty protective of them. Nothing irritates me more than a lot of money being thrown at a movie that ends up sucking.
First, Jeff Bridges, who doesn't love him? He is insane! He brings all the weight to this movie and even though Gweneth Paltrow is weak at times he more than makes up for it. The there's Robert Downey Jr. with a super tight performance. He plays it straight with just enough depth to suggest character. For a comic book hero that's the perfect approach. Some scenes had me on the edge of my seat and even though he should have died, won't tell you when, I still throughly enjoyed the movie, start to finish, even the stale popcorn which I ate all myself.

On a better food note, David Lebovitz posted this last week and I finally made it. Really good, tangy and sweet. I poached the strawberries in the wine and added smoked cinnamon and black pepper. When you want something late at night but you're taking a break from ice know who you are...this is a good alternative.

Goat Cheese Custard with Strawberries
By David Lebovitz

5 ounces fresh goat cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup cream
2 large egg yolks
1/8 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350F

2. Place four custard cups or ramekins in a deep baking dish or pan.

3. Blend together the goat cheese, sugar, cream, egg yolks, and vanilla for 30 seconds until very smooth.
4. Divide the mixture into the custard cups; each should be a bit more than half full.

5. Add warm tap water to the baking pan, to make a water bath for baking the custards. The water should reach to about halfway up the side of each custard cup.

6. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 20-minutes.

7. When done, remove the custards from the water bath and cool completely.

Strawberry sauce
1/2 cup red wine
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 to 1 small basket of strawberries
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

1. In a non-reactive skillet, cook the red wine and sugar until the bubbles get thick.
Once the syrup is reduced to half its original quantity, 1/4 cup, remove from heat and scrape into a bowl to cool completely.

2. Rinse, hull, and slice strawberries. Toss in syrup, add cinnamon and black pepper and let stand for a minute to two, then spoon onto custards.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Caramelized Spicy Peanuts

This is my mash up of two recipes from David Lebovitz. He had posted a praline almond recipe a while ago that I tried exactly as posted. They were good without being incredible. Then he posted a caramelized peanut recipe a couple of days ago. I decided to sort of do both at once. I choose peanuts and added cinnamon, chili, and butter. They turned out great and totally worth all of the stirring that you have to commit to in order to make them.

Really, lots and lots of stirring. Put on a good radio program and settle in by your stove top.
Good with a beer or served over ice cream which is my plan.
Always dessert oriented…what can I say? I love dessert.

Caramelized Spicy Peanuts
2 cups raw peanuts
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
A pinch of coarse sea salt (or smoked salt)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp chili powder
1 tablespoon butter

1. In a wide, heavy-duty skillet, mix the peanuts with the sugar and water. Cook the ingredients over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until the liquid seizes up. It will take 5 minutes or so. Don’t get impatient…it will happen.

2. The peanuts will get crusty and the sugar will crystallize.

3. Then the peanuts will become dry and sandy, which is perfectly normal. Lower the heat and keep going, scraping up any syrup collecting in the bottom of the pan and stir the peanuts in it, coating them as much as possible. If the sugar isn’t caramelizing turn the heat up a little.

4. As you go, tilt the pan, removing it from the heat from time-to-time to regulate the heat and the syrup, so you can coat the nuts with the liquid as it darkens without burning the peanuts or the syrup. This is the only tricky part—I like to get the peanuts as deeply-bronzed as possible. if the mixture starts to smoke, remove it from the heat and stir.

5. I sprinkled the peanuts with a sizable pinch of flaky salt. I also sprinkled on cinnamon and chili powder while mixing the peanuts

6. When the peanuts are dark and coated remove from heat and mix in the butter and stir till fully mixed in. Then, tilt them out onto a baking sheet or a marble countertop.

7. Let the peanuts cool completely, then break up any clumps. Store in an airtight container, where they'll keep up to a week.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Dorie Greenspan Coffee Cake

Yes, I am a fan of Dorie Greenspan. I've been working my way through her baking book and I like pretty much everything. On Sunday I made her Sour Cream Coffee Cake with interesting results. First, I have to admit I changed the recipe. Usually I make it exactly as printed the first time but I had some almond cream left over and decided to add it to the cake. I made it Sunday night so we could have a piece warm with ice cream for dessert and then I'd serve it again for breakfast the next day. Because I decided to add my almond cream I removed a half cup of sugar and the raisins from her recipe.

Mistakes? Yes, I should have cut the crumb mixture in half. The way I constructed the cake was by putting 1 quarter of the batter in the bottom of the bundt pan. Then I pipped in the almond cream. Then I layered 2 quarters of batter on top of this. Then I layered in the crumb mixture and topped with the final quarter of batter. Too much crumb, the top layer had a hard time connecting, literally, to the cake. Some of the chocolate and cinnamon sugar leaked out the side and really cooked to the pan making extraction difficult.

When I did remove the cake it was very floppy. I didn't even cup a piece for dessert for fear it would collapse. Instead I served it for breakfast. The cake has orange zest, cinnamon, chocolate, pecans and almond cream...almost too much on first try. We had it again this morning and it was much better. All of the flavors had mellowed and were quite good. Also, the cake was a little dryer this morning making it easier to dunk in my coffee cup. I do think the almond cream was a good addition. you can decide to experiment or not!

Coffee Cake
For the filling
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped
1/3 raisins or currants
2 1/2 tsps ground cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of salt

For the cake
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
Grated zest of one orange
8 ounces unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla
1 cup sour cream

1. Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees. Center a rack in the oven. Butter a 9-10 inch (12 cup) bundt pan. Dust the interior with flour.

2. To make the swirl, mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl.

3. Cake: Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, add the sugar and orange zest, mixing with your fingers till incorporated. Now add the butter. With the paddle or whisk attachment beat on medium speed for 4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute inbetween. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add sour cream. Still working on low, add the flour mixture and mix only until incorporated.

4. Scoop one third of the batter into the bundt pan. Evenly sprinkle on half the swirl mixture. Layer in the rest of the batter. With a spatula make a shallow indentation in the center ring of the batter. Fill it with the remaining swirl mixture. Cover the mixture with the batters on the side. It doesn't have to be perfect.

5. Bake for 60-65 minutes or until a knife comes out clean. Transfer to a rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Then unmold and cool to room temp.

Don't forget, this cake gets better the next day.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Incredible Milk Chocolate - Michel Cluizel's Grand Lait

My favorite local store Amandine has started carrying this chocolate by Michel Cluizel It's a milk chocolate bar with 45% cacao. Please go buy it, it is amazing. The only reason I'm going to bike this afternoon is so I can justify eating half a bar at lunch. And when I say half a bar...I'll probably eat the whole thing. It is only 3.5 ounces after all. It has an interesting smokey taste, the bar is very smooth. The creamy milk chocolate and the dark chocolate are perfectly balanced so you get to enjoy both aspects. That gives this bar a really complex taste.

Last night I melted a bar with a little butter. Then I heated up some cream, corn syrup, sugar and a little salt. I blended with the chocolate and ended up with an amazing hot fudge sauce that I served over vanilla ice cream. I know...more biking, but totally worth it.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Lemon-Blueberry Yogurt Loaf

I have really been suffering through the end of a long winter. I know, the snowboarding was amazing...maybe the best year ever but still, how much ice is one girl supposed to take? The good news is it is finally Spring. I can tell because I'm dying to make an asparagus quiche, strawberries with a little balsamic over ice cream, a fresh green salad with just a little lemon and garlic. you get the picture. So, I started with this blueberry lemon loaf. I found the recipe on another blog and made some changes. They soaked it in a lemon syrup after baking. I instead left it alone, even reducing the over all amount of lemon because I wanted something you could toast and put a little butter on, which by the way was really good. You see, even though it is 60 during the day right now it is still 30 overnight. So, when I wake up, I want something warm with my coffee. Something I can dunk that won't fall apart. This bread was perfect and the blueberries didn't sink. Here's the bad news, I accidentally left my camera at a friend's house so I don't have my pictures. You'll just have to settle for a picture of a market I visited in Jaurez, Peru. I know onions and lemon bread don't really go together but I almost posted a picture of the guinea pigs that we had for dinner...not very satisfying and definitely not a good match with lemon bread. p.s., Susan sent my camera back! Now you can see how great look this bread is right out of the oven.

Lemon-Blueberry Yogurt Loaf
Adapted from Ina Garten

1 ½ cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp kosher salt

1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs

2 tsp grated lemon zest

½ tsp vanilla extract

½ cup vegetable oil

1 ½ cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, thawed and rinsed

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 ½ by 4 ¼ by 2 ½-inch loaf pan. Grease and flour the pan.

2. Sift together 1 ½ cups flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl.

3. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla.

4. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.

5. Mix the blueberries with the remaining tablespoon of flour, and fold them very gently into the batter.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 (+) minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

7. When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before flipping out onto a cooling rack until it is room temperature.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Dulce de Leche Brownies from David Lebovitz

I've been so sick I haven't wanted to eat anything. This has been going on since Sunday evening. Well, I must be feeling better because tonight m. and I made dulce de leche for the first time. I've wanted to try this forever, don't know what took so long. I read a recipe on one of my favorite sites; David the sweet life in paris. The recipe mixes brownie batter and dulce de leche. To make dulce de leche you boil a can of sweetened condensed milk for 2-3 hours. Sounds crazy but it is amazing. You have to let the can cool but once you open it you have sweet caramel cream. I've always been worried about the can exploding which is silly because thousands of grandmothers all over south american have been making it this way and you never hear horror stories about the one who lost her face while making dessert, right?

Dulce de Leche Brownies

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1 cup Dulce de Leche

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 8-inch square pan with a long sheet of aluminum foil that covers the bottom and reaches up the sides. Grease the bottom and sides of the foil with a bit of butter or non-stick spray.

2. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the chocolate pieces and stir constantly over very low heat until the chocolate is melted. Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Add in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the sugar, vanilla, then the flour. Mix in the nuts, if using.
3. Scrape half of the batter into the prepared pan. Drop one-third of the Dulce de Leche, evenly spaced, over the brownie batter, then drag a knife through to swirl it slightly. Spread the remaining brownie batter over, then drop spoonfuls of the remaining Dulce de Leche in dollops over the top of the brownie batter. Use a knife to swirl the Dulce de Leche slightly.

4. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. The brownies are done when the center feels just-slightly firm. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Mark Bittman's Bourbon Apple Cake

Almost every recipe Mark Bittman posts is amazing. I am a huge fan. Last night I made the Shrimp stir fry and the Bourbon Apple Cake. Man, the stir fry just didn't work for me. I will take responsibility for some cook's error. However, I found the end result was too sweet. Next time I'll add a jalapeno or some hot pepper flakes to the garlic...maybe even a little lemongrass. The beans were disappointing. I'm going to try it again and maybe rework it a little.

The apple cake was amazing, thank good. Both my dinner companions ate the main course though I did get some, "we're happy you cooked dinner for us but this isn't that great" comments. I made the cake in the food processor, so easy, and baked it in a bundt pan. I'll post a photo when I get home today. I really cooked the bourbon sauce down. The intense alcohol flavor was softened and this morning the cake was perfect. Especially with a cup of coffee.
I am reposting the recipe here. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Salame Dolce - Sweet Italian Dessert

I am totally frustrated with the amount of ice surrounding our home right now. It is glacial and I feel stuck. I know Spring is coming but it is taking forever.
I am planning a party. Really it's a distraction from the 10 degree mornings and the late nights working.
I always start with dessert so I'm scouring cookbooks, notes, the web, for interesting weird intensely tasty little bites. I made the first recipe today. It's called Salame Dolce. Mario has one version on the food network as do a few other Italian sites. I had this in Tuscany. It came with an after dinner drink and I really thought it was a savory slice of salami. Quite the opposite and really good. I served mine with soft whipped cream, slightly sweet. It's sort of fun and super easy. You can play around with the ingredients. I'm going to try it with different cookies next time. Our local coffee shop has these homemade biscotti that are almond orange flavored. For next time. Possible on the first warm day when we can sit outside.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ricotta Custard with Tomato Gravy - A little bit of heaven

I can't believe I found this recipe online. I had this custard in Florence at a restaurant called Cibreo. This was no discovery, this place is very established and incredible. Everything we had seemed so simple, as far as ingredients go, but the tastes were very complex. Make this ricotta custard, you won't regret it.
Cibreo's Ricotta Sformata

1 pound ricotta
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Chopped herbs
( in cibreo’s cookbook it is made with additional 2 kg of spinach, washed cooked down and finely minced)

Butter an 8x8 pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix all the ingredients above and pour into buttered pan.
Bake uncovered at 350 till a film forms on top, about 5 minutes.
Cover with foil and finish baking for 30 - 40 minutes.
It is like a quiche,when the knife comes out clean it is done!

This is like heaven in your mouth! Truly wonderful. It is also amazing with the spinach. You can serve it with additional grated parmesan and a little spoonful of fresh pesto or with the following tomato gravy. I also served it with sautéed artichokes. You can see the tomatoes cooking in the background.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Butternut Squash - easy and great!

I grabbed the following recipe from Katy Sparks web site today. A friend sent me the link so of course I took a look around. I also made the curried Cauliflower soup for dinner but wasn't as thrilled with the end result. The squash, however - amazing. I can't recommend this recipe enough. You don't need to change anything. I served it with a good baguette and it was really satisfying, warm, but with a spiciness. Definitely check this out. It would be a good side dish with pork as time.

Roasted Butternut Squash

6 cups of 1-inch cubed squash (acorn or butternut)
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons maple syrup
3 sticks cinnamon
6 strips of orange zest and juice of the orange
6 pieces whole star anise, or 6 whole cloves
3 sprigs of thyme or sage
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400F.
1. Lay the 3 sheets of foil out on a work surface. In the center of each piece, place 2 cups of
diced squash, 1 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1 stick cinnamon, 2 peels of orange zest, 3 pieces star anise or cloves, and 1sprig of thyme or sage. Season the contents of the packages with salt and pepper. Squeeze the juice from the zested orange evenly over each package.
2. Carefully fold the foil to enclose the contents, making sure that no opening exists for the steam to escape. If your foil is thin, use a double layer. Place the packages on a baking sheet and into the hot oven. Roast the squash for 25-30 minutes.
3. Serve along with the juices that have accumulated in the package, discarding the whole spices, herbs, and orange.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Gingerbread cakes - First, you must love molasses

We're finally home and it's good to be back except there is basically nothing fresh in our fridge. On our first night back we threw frozen peas into chili ramen and called it a night.
Tonight, however, we were in the mood for something homey. It's raining outside and there is a lot of work to catch up on so nothing better then procrastinating in the kitchen.
MC and I are in love with Dorie Greenspan so we read every Thursday's; Baking With Dorie hoping it will be something that tempts us. Last week's recipe did the trick. Gingerbread cakes. Not just the average, mild, sweet cakes you usually get, faintly tasting like ginger, these babies have umph! A teaspoon of black pepper, lots of fresh ginger and espresso powder, just to name a few. The only thing I changed in the second batch was reducing some of the molasses for maple syrup.
Daniel Day Lewis' character in, There Will be Blood, would have liked these, he might have even smiled that crooked smile after consuming a small cake or two.

Note: You must love molasses, if you don't, take a pass on this cake.

Johanne Killeen's Gingerbread Baby Cakes

From, Baking with Dorie

- makes two loaves or one 10-inch cake -
2 cups all-purpose flour (Johanne uses unbleached flour)
1/4 cup instant espresso powder
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 1/2 tablespoons peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
1 ½ cups unsulphured molasses
½ cup maple syrup

1. Positon a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush the insides of two tea loaf pans with a light coating of butter, dust with flour and tap out the excess. (Or use a 10-inch round cake pan.)

2. In a small bowl, whisk the flour, espresso powder, cocoa, ground ginger, baking powder, salt and black pepper together just to mix; reserve.

3. Put the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. The butter and sugar must be beaten until they are very light and fluffy, so don't rush it—the process can take 6 to 8 minutes with a hand-held mixer, 3 to 4 minutes with a heavy-duty mixer. Reduce the speed to medium and add the eggs one at a time, beating on high speed for 30 seconds to 1 minute after each addition. The mixture may look curdled, but that's OK—it will smooth out as you continue to mix the batter. Beat in the fresh ginger and add the molasses and maple syrup, mixing on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes, until completely smooth.

4. With a rubber spatula, fold in the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated.

5. Divide the batter among the prepared pans and rotate the pans a couple of times to level. Bake the loaves or The 10-inch cake for take 50 to 60 minutes. Take care not to overbake the cakes; they should remain moist.

6. Transfer the cakes to a rack and cool for 10 minutes, then run a thin knife around the edges of the pan to loosen and unmold the cakes. Turn the cakes over so they cool right side up.

7. Serve the cakes warm or at room temperature with a generous dollop of lightly whipped cream and a shower of chopped candied lemon peel, if desired.

Storing: These moist cakes will keep covered at room temperature for 3 days or, wrapped airtight, can be frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw, still wrapped, at room temperature.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Milk Chocolate is back!

I'm on vacation out West for a week and my normal cookie jar is out of reach. What to do? Well, the New York Times wrote an interesting article a couple of weeks ago making a case for some of the new milk chocolates on the market. I know, everyone loves dark chocolate, milk is so last century. Fortunately, Ketchum, Idaho, like all super wealthy enclaves, has an amazing market called Atkinson's. I was able to find the two bars pictured above and immediately went about sampling them.
The Scharffen Berger 41% Cacao Milk with sea salted almonds was excellent, really, better than I expected. Smokey, not too sweet and excellent on the tongue. I will definitely buy another, the first being consumed in the name of thorough testing.
The second bar, a Valrhona straight milk with 40% Cacao, was more typical but still good. A little sweet for my liking but clean on the palette. I had the last bit with a cup of coffee, it was a good match.
We'll be in Jackson soon so I'll pick up some other varieties and you should definitely check out the Times article.
It's like dark chocolate is Obama and milk chocolate is don't HAVE to hate milk chocolate just because you've discovered dark chocolate.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Broccoflower Soup

So, I made a soup this weekend because my co-op had the most beautiful broccoflowers ever and I heard on the news that Barack Obama supporters are loving broccoflower...I did a little looking around and customized a recipe that I found on La Tartine that sounded interesting.
In case you were wondering, what is a Broccoflower, here you go:
  • Broccoflowers are a cross between broccoli and cauliflower
  • Broccoli and cauliflower are closely related and fully cross compatible.
  • Broccoflowers are generally considered to have a milder and slightly sweeter flavor than their close cabbage-family relatives. 

Sautéed Broccoli Raab

This is broccoli raab but you can also call it rapini, or just raab. It's official name is Brassica rapa (ruvo group) cultivar spring raab.
Susan sent me this really simple delicious recipe for raab so I made my first batch Saturday night. It was so good that I did the same thing to Chard on Sunday night. I also added some toasted pine nuts.

Sautéed Broccoli Raab

1/4 cup olive oil
6 cloves garlic
bunch of raab, chopped up with large stems removed

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium, thinly slice the garlic and add to the oil. Don't burn the garlic, slowly brown it till they are slightly crunchy chips.
Strain garlic out and place in a cup until ready to use.
Drain off most of the olive oil and save for another day, it will be garlic flavored.
Reheat the saute pan with about 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the chopped up raab and aute. I let it go till some of it was actually slightly browned. I removed with a slotted spoon and served with the garlic chips on top.
This is really good! Try it! You'll end up loving Broccoli Raab!
Thanks Susan.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

It's snowing out again and we might get a new foot of powder. Mona insisted on making my favorite cookies. I have to say, I was so tired after work today that I was not motivated but once we got started it was actually nice. Hanging together in the kitchen is always good. We talk about all the random stuff, without much direction. Mona's hoping for a snow day so having cookies and milk for a late breakfast tomorrow sounds good, cross your fingers.
Here's the recipe, definitely use maple syrup, the real stuff, it makes the flavor of the peanut butter even better and they aren't too dry like some recipes.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
8 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup salted peanuts, optional
10 ounces good quality chocolate chips, can be bittersweet or dark

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a mixing bowl, cream the butter, peanut butter, and the brown sugar until blended. Then add the maple syrup, egg, and vanilla.

2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and peanuts. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the liquid, be careful not to over mix. Add chocolate chips last...

3. Drop spoonfuls onto a baking sheet about 3 inches apart and flatten slightly with floured fork tines. Bake until pale golden, 7 - 8 minutes. Cool the cookies on a wire rack.
About 2 dozen.

I forgot what spiked my real inspiration for peanut butter friend Susan made a recipe from Dorie Greenspan's Baking and sent me her picture. Peanut butter cookies look exactly like they taste, sandy, rich and delicious. I almost always add the way, how incredibly good looking is Daniel Day Lewis? I mean really, it shouldn't be allowed. Him walking around looking like that.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Beet Frittata Muffins

In my quest for more vegetables on my table I made this frittata that I saw on one of my favorite sites, Lucullian. 4 ingredients, you can't go wrong and it was really good. I added more parmesan and it worked for me. I served it with korean style ribs that, although not vegetarian, were really, really good. The rib recipe is from David Lebovitz's blog which is one of the great sources for dessert recipes. Anyway, check these out, they're interesting.

Beet Frittata Muffins
1 medium red beet
2-3 eggs
3-4 tblp freshly grated parmesan cheese
1-2 tsp fennel seeds
Extra-virgin olive oil

1. Dice the beetroot and braise it slowly in some olive oil. Add the crushed fennel seeds when they are half done. You will need to slowly cook on the stove top for about 10-15 minutes.

2. Whisk eggs, parmesan and salt together, just to mix them.

3. Mix the beets with the eggs and then pour it into muffin cups or a lined muffin tin, and then bake them at 350 degree for 5-10 minutes.

Let them sit for a minute and don't cook too long.

If you love Cauliflower

I am trying to only eat meat and fish once or twice a week so I'm mixing up as many vegetarian recipes as I can find or remember. This frittata is so easy to make and it's really great. You quick stir fry the veges and then pour on the eggs. I think the whole thing takes me 30 minutes. I don't like to use breadcrumbs from the store so I'll toast a piece of bread and then break it into small bites for the top. I also grate the parmesan roughly not fine. That way everything is sort of chunky with individual tastes coming through. Do make sure to use good parmesean.

3 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small or half a large head of cauliflower cut into 1 inch florets
sea salt
1 med. onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced, don't bother mincing
8-10 large eggs, lightly beaten
Bread-crumbs, enough to lightly cover top
Freshly grated Parmesan

Serve with good sea salt and balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
1. In a large skillet melt 1 Tbsp butter with the olive oil and add cauliflower. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes over high heat without stirring, till they start to turn brown on bottom.
After 3 minutes start stirring cooking till golden all over, about 3 more minutes. Add the onion and another tablespoon butter. Cook stirring about 3 more minutes, trying not to burn the onion. Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic cooking for about a minute. Add the final tablespoon of butter to the pan and set aside for a minute.

2. Whisk the eggs together with 3/4 tsp salt. Pour over the cauliflower and put back on medium heat. Gently cook the frittata for 2 minutes, till the bottom is set. Then, start lifting the edges and tilting the pan so that the raw egg mixture pours underneath. Continue this till the top is just runny, about 3 minutes.

3. Lightly cover the top with your breadcrumbs and put in the oven for 3 minutes or so, till it is just set, try not to overcook, it's good a little soft. When you pull it out, add the parmesan and serve with good salt and balsamic vinegar if you like.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Bostock or the best almond breakfast bread ever

We were in a pastry shop in Brooklyn called Joyce Bakery near my sister's apartment and they had this amazing breakfast treat. A slice of Brioche or Challah covered with an almond cream and then finished off in the oven. I went every morning assuming I'd never have it again. Then, while flipping through my Dorie Greenspan cookbook a saw a small aside about this combination. Apparently it's called Bostock and it is so easy and delicious to make.

6 Tbsp butter, softened
2/3 Cup sugar
3/4 ground blanched almonds
2 tsp flour
1 tsp cornstarch
1 large egg
2 tsp dark rum or 1 tsp vanilla

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Slice some challah or brioche into 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick pieces. If the bread is slightly stale it is easier to work with.

3. Cream the butter and sugar in a food processor, I use my mini prep.

4. Add the ground almonds until blended.

5. Add the flour and cornstarch and mix until incorporated then add the egg. Process for about 15 seconds so the cream is homogenous.

6. Add either the rum or the vanilla, pulse till just blended.

I make the almond cream the night before so it solidifies and is easier to spread in the morning. Put about 3 tbsps on each slice leaving a little border around the edge. Scatter some sliced almonds on the top, if you like, and toast for 10 to 15 minutes.

Serve warm.

Pierre Herme Chocolate Cookies

MLC and I made these cookies for our weekend at Susan's. They are sort of tricky in that they are very dry and have to have faith and sort of wing it. They have a great cocoa taste with a hint of cardamon. Really good with coffee and not too sweet.

Pierre Herme Chocolate Cookies
2 3⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
Pinch of cinnamon (I used cardamom)
Pinch of salt
2 1⁄2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1⁄2 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
1⁄4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
sugar for coating

1. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, cardamom, and salt together and set aside.

2. Place the butter in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed to soften it. Gradually add the sugar and the vanilla and continue to beat, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until the mixture is smooth and creamy but not airy.

3. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture, blending until the ingredients are just combined. Do not over mix. The light touch is what will give the cookies their characteristic crumbly texture. Divide the dough in half, shape each half into a ball, wrap the balls in plastic, and chill for 30 minutes.

4. Working on a smooth surface, form each piece of dough into a log that’s about
1½ inches thick and 7 ½ inches long. Roll the log gently under your palms to smooth it out. Wrap the logs in plastic and chill for 1 to 2 hours, or even overnight. At this point, the dough can be stored in the freezer for up to 1 month).

5. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside. Position the racks of the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350F.

6. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk until it is smooth and liquid enough to use as a glaze. Spread some sugar on a piece of waxed paper.

7. Remove the logs of dough from the refrigerator, unwrap them, and brush them lightly with a small amount of the egg yolk. Roll the logs in the sugar, pressing gently to get to stick. Then using a sharp slender knife, slice each into cookies ½ inch thick. Arrange the cookies on the baking sheets, spacing them a little bit, and bake for 18 minutes, rotating the pans front to back and top to bottom at the midway mark, until the cookies are just firm to the touch. Cool the cookies on a wire rack.

8. The cookies can be kept in an airtight tin at room temperature for 3 to 5 days.

Roasted Green Beans and Emmett!


This is my friend's beautiful 3+ month old baby boy! We spent the weekend together at their house in Columbia County, NY., and you can't believe how docile and good natured this baby was the whole time. Mom and Dad looked great and we spent a lot of time hugging their dog who is getting a little less love these days.
I've also included a picture of the lentil soup that Susan heated up for us...I love the picture, yes it was frozen but ultimately really good.

MLC and I made Roasted Green Beans. We have to go back and make them again because the three of us managed to eat them all....without Mike even having one bite. They were great with the soup and Susan also made a quesadilla with goat cheese, black beans and pineapple salsa.
The green beans are really easy and great warm or cold the next day though they never seem to make it that long.

Roasted Green Beans w/Lemon, Pine Nuts, and Parmigiano

1.5 lbs. green beans, rinsed and trimmed
1 head garlic
1/4 Cus + 2Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/2 Tbsp grated lemon zest
lemon juice from half a lemon
1tsp Sea salt
1/2 Tsp Fresh ground pepper
1/3 Cup pine nuts
1/4 Cup coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 Tbsp coarsely chopped parsley

Heat to 450.
1. Put beans in large bowl. Peel garlic, slice cloves lengthwise into quarters and add to beans. Mix in 1/4 cup oil, 1 Tbsp zest, salt, pepper. Spread evenly on rimmed baking sheet and roast on top rack 10 minutes, stirring once. Bake 10-15 minutes more until lightly browned and tender.

2. Spread pine nuts on another baking sheet and toast on bottom rack 5 minutes (or just toast the nuts in a frying pan).

3. Put beans on platter, add lemon juice and 2 tbsp oil. Toss; add more salt/pepper to taste. Sprinkle on nuts, zest, cheese and parsley. Serve hot or at room temp.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Rethinking how much meat we consume

The New York Times ran an article on January 27th by Mark Bittman titled, "Rethinking the Meat-Guzzler". I hope everyone takes a minute to read it, it's not preachy, instead it tries to relate problems with the meat industry to other industries already being scrutinized.
Bittman also shows how curbing our intake can reduce our impact on the environment.
"...calculated that if Americans were to reduce meat consumption by just 20 percent it would be as if we all switched from a standard sedan — a Camry, say — to the ultra-efficient Prius. Similarly, a study last year by the National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science in Japan estimated that 2.2 pounds of beef is responsible for the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the average European car every 155 miles, and burns enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for nearly 20 days."

Anyway, check it out. Having meat only a couple times a week might not be such a bad idea, consider it a special treat rather than a staple.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Chocolate Toffee Crisp from David Lebovitz

This recipe was recently posted by David Lebovitz. If you haven't made anything by him you must! He totally gets dessert and the whole sweet/salty thing that I also love.
He's living in Paris and posting his experiment's on his blog. I check in once a week and usually try something.

When I was making this last night I got a lot of comments. No one thought it was going to be good. A friend was over who makes Nougat for a living, he's so talented, anyway he was intrigued.
Mona and I made them together, they were fun and easy, I really think anyone could do it and they are totally delicious. We even crunched them up and had them over vanilla ice cream.

Chocolate Toffee Matzoh Crunch
4 to 6 sheets unsalted matzohs (can be lightly salted)
1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 cup (215g) firmly-packed light brown sugar
big pinch of sea salt (don't skimp)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (160g) semisweet chocolate chips (I mixed with bittersweet)
1 cup (80g) toasted sliced almonds

1. Line a rimmed baking sheet (approximately 11 x 17", 28 x 42cm) completely with foil, making sure the foil goes up and over the edges. Cover the foil with a sheet of parchment paper.
Preheat the oven to 375F.
2. Line the bottom of the sheet with matzoh, breaking extra pieces as necessary to fill in any spaces.
3. In a 3-4 quart (3-4l) heavy duty saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together, and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the butter is melted and the mixture is beginning to boil. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add vanilla, and pour over matzoh, spreading with a heatproof spatula.
4. Put the pan in the oven and reduce the heat to 350F degrees. Bake for 15 minutes. As it bakes, it will bubble up but make sure it's not burning every once in a while. If it is in spots, remove from oven and reduce the heat to 325F, then replace the pan.
5. Remove from oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips. Let stand 5 minutes, then spread with an offset spatula.
6. Sprinkle with toasted almonds (or another favorite nut, toasted and coarsely-chopped), a sprinkle of flaky sea salt, or roasted cocoa nibs.

Let cool completely, the break into pieces and store in an airtight container until ready to serve. It should keep well for about one week.

Sables - not too sweet - from Mona!

Here is the recipe for Mona's butter cookies. You can reduce the amount of sugar, try experimenting till you find the amount you like. These are also good with a simple lemon glaze or any icing for that matter.

Mona's Sable Cookies
1 1/2 Sticks unsalted butter
2/3 c Sugar
2 Egg yolks
2 c Flour
1 Egg yolk plus 1 teaspoon
-water; beaten


1. Fit processor with steel blade. Process the butter and sugar until
creamy. Add the 2 egg yolks and mix for 30 seconds. Add half the flour and
process until smooth. Add remaining flour and process until blended. Wrap
dough in plastic wrap and chill until firm, about 2 to 4 hours.

2. Keep dough in the refrigerator until ready to use, and then roll only a
third at a time on a very well-floured board. Roll about 1/8-inch thick.
Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters, or a biscuit cutter, and
transfer immediately onto a buttered baking sheet. Keep the cut cookies
chilled until you have finished cutting all the dough.

3. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Brush the top of each cookie with
yolk-and-water glaze; sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake 8 to 10 minutes,
until cookies are pale golden. Remove to rack and cool.

NOTES : When we make this cookie we frequently use less sugar then called decide. It can be a butter cookie that Mona occasionally puts a lemon glaze on top...also very good.

Monday, January 21, 2008

My Version of Daniel Boulud's Pots de Creme

Ok, I know I should stay away from the big boys but it was really cold Saturday afternoon and I'd already snowshoed up Bolton Mountain to the Long Trail, at a fast clip, so I was feeling ready for a really tasty treat.
I went straight for my Daniel Boulud cookbook and tried the recipe Dorie Greenspan published last week on one of my favorite blogs; Serious Eats.
Really interesting flavor. Strange but easy to make. I had ground my beans at the store so I used them, they were hard to strain, had to use a really fine mesh strainer. The cardamon flavor was terrific with the caramel and I always scald cream, on purpose, which made it great.
My daughter though it was weird. I loved it with my coffee for breakfast.
Here's the recipe:

Coffee-Cardamom Pots de Crème

Adapted from The Café Boulud Cookbook

Makes 6 servings


3 ounces (1 cup) coffee beans, preferably an espresso roast
2 tablespoons cardamom pods
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups (approximately) heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
7 large egg yolks

1. Put the coffee beans and cardamom pods in the workbowl of a food processor and pulse on and off several times to roughly chop—not grind—the ingredients. Turn the chopped beans and pods into a medium saucepan and add 1/2 cup of the sugar. Put the pan over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the sugar starts to melt. Patience—this will take a few minutes. Once the sugar has melted, continue to cook, still stirring without stop, until the sugar caramelizes—you want the color of the caramel to be deep amber. Now, standing away from the stove so you don’t get splattered, slowly pour in 1 cup of the cream and the milk. Don’t panic—the caramel will immediately seize and harden—it will all smooth out as the liquids warm and the sugar melts again. Bring the mixture to a boil and, when the sugar has melted and everything is smooth again, pull the pan from the heat. Cover the pan (we do this with plastic wrap at the Café to get a good seal) and allow the mixture to infuse 20 minutes.

2. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F.

3. Working in a bowl that’s large enough to hold all the ingredients, whisk the yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar together until the mixture is pale and thick. Strain the coffee-cardamom liquid into a measuring cup (discard the beans and pods) and add enough heavy cream to bring the liquid measurement up to 2 cups. Very gradually and very gently—you don’t want to create air bubbles—whisk the liquid into the egg mixture; skim off the top foam, if there is any.

4. Arrange six 4-ounce espresso or custard cups in a small roasting pan, leaving an even amount of space between the cups, and fill each cup nearly to the top with the custard mixture. (If you liked, line the roasting pan with a double thickness of paper towel or a kitchen towel to steady the cups.) Carefully slide the pan into the oven; then, using a pitcher, fill the roasting pan with enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the espresso cups.
Bake the custards for about 40 minutes, or until the edges darken ever so slightly and the custards are set but still jiggle a little in the center when you shake them gently.

5. Remove the pan from the oven and let the custards sit in the water bath for 10 minutes. Lift the cups out of the water and cool the custards in the refrigerator. (The pots de creme can be prepared a day ahead and, when cool, covered with plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator.)

To serve: The pots de creme are at their best at room temperature, so remove them from the refrigerator and keep them on the counter for about 20 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Extra Virgin Olive Oil Bread

This breakfast bread recipe was posted by Dorie Greenspan last week. I am her biggest fan, not in a scary way mind you. I have almost all of her books and her recent baking book is insane. Mona and I have made dozens of recipes and they all work matter what.
This recipe has no butter, just olive oil and plain yogurt. So simple to make and amazing. Moist, good texture and excellent flavor. I used lemon zest because I didn't have any limes.
Next week I'll try it with limes. We had it with breakfast and it dunks in coffee really well.
p.s., Mona made the French butter cookies pictured above for her midterms snack attack.

EVO Oil and Yogurt Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 lime
1/2 cup plain whole milk yogurt
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup EVO (extra-virgin olive oil)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter an 8 1/2-x-4 1/2-inch loaf pan, place the pan on a lined baking sheet and set aside. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and keep near by.

Put the sugar and zest in a medium bowl and rub the ingredients together until the sugar is fragrant. Whisk in the yogurt, eggs and vanilla. When the mixture is well blended, gently whisk in the dry ingredients. Switch to a spatula and fold in the oil. The batter will be thick and shiny. Scrape it into the pan and smooth the top.

Bake the cake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until it is golden and starts to come away from the sides of the pan; a knife inserted into the center of the cake will come out clean. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes, then run a knife between the cake and the sides of the pan. Un-mold and cool to room temperature right-side up.

p.s., You should keep the cake at room temperature, don't refrigerate, the taste gets better as the cake ages.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Spicy Curry Noodle Soup With Chicken And Sweet Potato

My daughter is crazy for spicy food and she is also in the middle of midterms so I decided to try a recipe that was just posted on Bon Appetit's Editor's blog.

It's a spicy curry soup with a distinct sweetness from the lemon-grass and coconut milk. I purchased the ingredients from City Market in Burlington. I was unable to find chili paste so I added a half teaspoon hot chili oil at the end. I also didn't add the fish sauce because that taste doesn't usually appeal to me, too fishy.

In the middle of all this prepping a friend emailed me; Are you here? I had to laugh...where's here...still waiting for his answer.

Anyway, here's the recipe and the link to their site is above. It's a great soup and really easy, don't be put off by the long list of ingredients. Also, the sweet potatoes are great and don't forget sliced limes...the juice freshens up the whole bowl.

p.s., I took this picture in Brazil, they make incredible hot, spicy sauces, every street vendor has their own collection.

Spicy Curry Noodle Soup With Chicken And Sweet Potato
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons chopped shallots
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons minced lemongrass* (from bottom 4 inches of about 3 stalks, tough outer leaves discarded)
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 tablespoons Thai yellow curry paste*
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon hot chili paste (such as sambal oelek)*
2 cans, 14-ounces each unsweetened coconut milk
5 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)*
2 teaspoons sugar
3 cups snow peas, trimmed
2 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled red-skinned sweet potato (yam; from about 1 large)
1 pound dried rice vermicelli noodles or rice stick noodles*
3/4 pound skinless boneless chicken thighs, thinly sliced
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 red Thai bird chiles or 2 red jalapeño chiles, thinly sliced with seeds
1 lime, cut into 6 wedges

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add next 4 ingredients; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in curry paste, curry powder, and chili paste. Add 1/2 cup coconut milk (scooped from thick liquid at top of can). Stir until thick and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add remaining coconut milk, broth, fish sauce, and sugar; bring broth to boil. Keep warm. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Refrigerate until cold, then cover and keep chilled.

Cook snow peas in large pot of boiling salted water until bright green, about 20 seconds. Using strainer, remove peas from pot; rinse under cold water to cool. Place peas in medium bowl. Bring water in same pot back to boil. Add sweet potato and cook until tender, about 7 minutes. Using strainer, remove sweet potato from pot and rinse under cold water to cool. Place in small bowl. Bring water in same pot back to boil and cook noodles until just tender but still firm to bite, about 6 minutes. Drain; rinse under cold water to cool. Transfer to microwave-safe bowl. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 hour ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Bring broth to simmer. Add chicken; simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add sweet potato; stir to heat through, about 1 minute. Heat noodles in microwave in 30-second intervals to rewarm. Cut noodles with scissors if too long. Divide noodles among bowls. Divide snow peas and hot soup among bowls. Scatter red onion, green onions, cilantro, and chiles over soup. Garnish with lime wedges and serve.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Orange Chocolate Ricotta Breakfast Bread

I read a lot of food blogs. I occasionally check out lucullian because it has amazing photos and I'm a little jealous of her lifestyle, I mean, the woman lives in Tuscany...but I've never been tempted to make any of her recipes. They always seem a little off/strange. Well, last week she ran an orange, chocolate ricotta breakfast bread recipe which really appealed to me. We made it last night.

Here's the deal:
It was very easy to make. You melt the butter so you don't have to remember to soften it, that speeds things up. The ricotta was easy to mix in and you sift the flour right into the bowl with the wet ingredients. She recommended 350 degrees for the oven temp and 25-30 minutes cooking time. I knew that was wrong. No bread is that fast. It actually took 55 minutes. We used really good quality dark chocolate and didn't fine chop it, rather, we left it chunky and it was amazing hot of the oven. Mona had her's with vanilla ice cream while I had mine plain.
We had it again for breakfast this morning. I toasted it in the broiler and it was wonderful. The whole kitchen smelled of orange and chocolate...good combination.
Pre-heated oven to 350°
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
4.4 oz fresh ricotta
3 oz butter
1.5 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 oranges
3 oz dark quality chocolate, chopped

Whisk egg and sugar until light yellow in a bowl.
Grate the zest of the oranges and then squeeze them for juice.
Melt the butter in a small pan and add the orange zest and the juice.
Mash the ricotta and incorporate it with the eggs and sugar.
Add butter and mix it.
Sift flour and baking powder into the bowl and stir until it's smooth.
Add the chopped chocolate and mix well.
Pour the the whole into a greased cake tin and bake for about 55 minutes.
Check it with a toothpick.
Recipe from
this food/lifestyle blog: Lucullian

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Mark Bittman's Pernil recipe

Mona and I made this last weekend. Only, we used the recipe on country style ribs in our Crock Pot...interesting.
Here's the link to the actual article and he has a great video you can watch.
NYTimes Pernil Recipe

I don't know why he doesn't recommend the crock pot. He roasts the should in the oven for 5 or 6 hours, that is such a waste of energy.
I threw the whole think in our slow cooker on low at about 7 AM and then went to Stowe for a morning of snowboarding.
We got back around 3 and it was ready. Delicious pork ribs. You definitely have to serve it with lots of lime wedges and you can make a great pork panini with the meat...I know, we are majorly into panini love right now.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Breakfast Pancake

I am posting this recipe because I was skeptical when I first read it in the Times.
I am a fan now, it is so easy and absolutely delicious.
When you take it out of the oven it puffs up like jiffy pop.
Make sure you put tons of lemon and powdered sugar on top.
Everyone loves it in my family and it is so simple...

Breakfast pancake
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
Pinch of ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
Juice of half a lemon
Fig or blackberry jam, pear butter or any kind of marmalade, for serving (optional, I never use, it's too good with just the lemon juice).

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the flour, milk and nutmeg and lightly beat until blended but still slightly lumpy.

2. Melt the butter in a 12-inch skillet with a heatproof handle over medium-high heat. When very hot but not brown, pour in the batter. Bake in the oven until the pancake is billowing on the edges and golden brown, about 15 minutes.

3. Working quickly, remove the pan from the oven and, using a fine-meshed sieve, sprinkle with the sugar. Return to the oven for 1 to 2 minutes more. Sprinkle with lemon juice and serve with jam, pear butter or marmalade. Serves 2 to 4.
This recipe appeared in a Times article by Craig Claiborne.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

You have to try making this bread!

Delicious simple-to-make Bread
This article ran in the NYTimes over a year ago. Prior to it's publication I had never made bread. Who has the time, right? Most bread makers bragged about the lengthy process, their commitment to enduring.
Well, this recipe changed everything for me.
It is so simple and you can't believe how good the bread is not to mention the satisfaction you'll feel when you serve it to friends.
Here is the original link: NYTimes Bread Recipe

Please try it, you won't be disappointed!

No-Knead Bread

Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery
Time: About 1 1/2 hours plus 14 to 20 hours' rising

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 1 1/2-pound loaf.

Panini Love

For Christmas my daughter gave me a panini machine.
We have been making grilled sandwiches like mad!
Our favorites are:
Basil leaves with a sprinkling of cayenne and paprika

Home roasted cherry tomatoes

I'll post a picture tonight.