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.