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.