Monday, December 15, 2008

Meat and Tomatoes!

This is long overdue, but I wanted to put up the instructions for the meal we had for the Project Runway season finale, Sirloin Roast with Roasted Tomatoes.

Top Sirloin roast is the first hunk of meat I learned how to prepare, and for good reason: you cook it a little under 30 minute per lb, in a 350º oven. 
First, you should stab it all over with a thin knife and stuff a clove of garlic into the pocket (or half, if your garlic cloves are as lusciously gigantic as the recent Monterey Market garlic has been). Next, rub it all over with coarse salt and pepper.

As for the tomatoes, get them started about an hour before you anticipate taking out the roast. Cut up some roma tomatoes into quarters
Arrange them (cut side down) snugly in a roasting pan
Tuck cloves of garlic in between the tomatoes
Drizzle generously with a nice olive oil
Sprinkle with lots of coarse salt and pepper
(you can scatter fresh shredded basil as a final touch if you'd like)

Add the tomatoes to the oven with the meat and roast for 45 minutes to an hour, until the tomatoes and garlic are soft, shriveled, and slightly caramelized. 

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Apple Pecan Tart

This is the tart I brought to the pig roast, lifted from the Nov. 12th Dining section of the New York Times. I might try making it in a pie dish next time, since a good portion of the filling ended up leeching out of the tart pan.

1 1/3 cups flour, plus extra for rolling
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 large egg yolk plus 3 large eggs
2 medium tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
1 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract [I used about a tablespoon]
1 cup heavy cream, whipped, for serving [if you feel like being fancy]

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place flour, sugar and salt in food processor. Pulse to blend. Dice 8 tablespoons butter, place in food processor and give it about 20 quick pulses, until butter is in tiny lumps. Beat egg yolk with 4 tablespoons ice water. Open cover of machine and sprinkle in egg mixture. Pulse briefly. Ingredients should start to clump together to form a dough; do not allow ball of dough to form. If dough is too dry to hold together, add another teaspoon or two of water and pulse again.

2. Transfer dough mixture to lightly floured work surface and gather together to form into a flat, smooth disk. Roll to a circle about 13 inches in diameter and fit into a 10-inch fluted tart pan. Line with foil, weight with pastry weights and bake 10 minutes, until dry-looking. Remove foil and weights, prick bottom of pastry in a few places and bake until golden, about 20 minutes more. Remove from oven.

3. While pastry is baking, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet. Add apples and saute over medium-high heat until lightly browned. Stir in brown sugar, then add pecans. Saute another minute. Remove from heat and spread in baked pastry. Beat eggs, stir in syrup and vanilla and pour over apples and pecans.

4. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake until set and browned on top, about 25 minutes more. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Garrrrlic Bread

Talk Like a Pirate Day is, unfortunately, several months past but this is what I would eat if it were that day. Or any other day, actually, because this is my absolute favorite bread recipe! 

If you want to only make the topping and spread it on a nice loaf of store bought bread it'll still be super tasty. But, if you do the whole nine yards and make the bread too it will be oh so chewy and amazing. The dough can also double as pizza crust and focaccia so use it whenever possible. After all, how often do you get to make pourable bread??

Garlic Topping:
9-10 medium garlic cloves, skins left on(!)
6 TBS unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Ground black pepper
1 loaf bread, sliced in half lengthwise (or see below)

Preheat oven to 500F 
Toast garlic cloves in small skillet over medium heat, shaking pan occasionally until fragrant and the skins darken, about 8 minutes. When cool enough, skin and mince the cloves. Using a dinner fork, mash garlic, butter, cheese, and salt in a small bowl until thoroughly combined. 
If using pre-bought bread: spread cut sides of loaf evenly with garlic butter mixture; season to taste with pepper. Place loaf halves, butter side up, onto baking sheet; bake until surface of bread is golden brown and toasted, 8-10 minutes. Cut into slices and serve immediately. 
Just to admit, I don't know if these are the exact right ratios of cheese and butter. I usually add a lot more cheese just because I love it so! Feel free to adjust for your own palette. It gives you an excuse to eat more!

3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 2/3 cups water, room temperature
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp sugar
5 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
2 TBS rosemary leaves (optional)

If you can't find instant yeast (as I can't) just warm 1/3 cup of water and bloom a package of active dry yeast with the sugar. Then add only 1 1/3 cups water to make the dough.
Mix flour, water, and salt in bowl of stand mixer fitted with a dough hook on low speed until no patches of dry flour remain, 3-4 minutes. Turn off mixer and let dough rest for 20 minutes.

Sprinkle yeast and sugar over dough. Knead on low speed until fully combined, 1-2 minutes, occasionally scraping sides and bottom of bowl. Increase mixer speed to high and knead until dough is glossy, smooth, and pulls away from sides of bowl, 6-10 minutes (don't worry, the dough will still be gloppy and fall back to the sides of the bowl when not agitated!)

Using fingers, coat large bowl with 1 TBS oil, rubbing excess oil from fingers onto blade of rubber spatula. Using oiled spatula, transfer dough to bowl and pour 1 TBS oil over top. Flip dough over once so it is well coated with oil; cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let dough rise at room temperature until nearly tripled in volume and large bubbles have formed, 2-2 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 500
Coat rimmed baking sheet with 2 TBS oil. Using rubber spatula, turn dough out onto baking sheet along with any oil in bowl. Using finger tips, press dough out toward edges of pan, taking care not to tear it. (Dough will not fit snugly into corners. If it resists stretching, let it rest 5-10 minutes and try again.) Let dough rest in pan 5-10 minutes. Using dinner fork, poke surface of dough 30-40 times and sprinkle with kosher salt. 
Bake until golden brown, 20-30 minutes. If you are putting toppings on, let the bread bake 15-17 minutes, remove from oven, adorn with toppings, and return the bread to the oven. 

Serve hot!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Smoky Scalloped Potatoes

These are the scalloped potatoes I brought to this evening's pig roast. They're from an America's Test Kitchen recipe. I like to add a bit of synthetic hickory smoke, but the potatoes are delicious without it.

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup minced onion [I like to use a bit more]
4 garlic cloves, minced [I use 6-8, depending on size]
4 teaspoons powdered mustard
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme [dried thyme works fine, if you don't have fresh on hand - the rule of thumb is 1/3 the fresh quantity, but I use somewhat more...]
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
[1-2 teaspoons liquid hickory smoke flavor]
5 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
8 ounces smoked Gouda cheese, shredded

1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Melt the butter in a Dutch oven [any thick-bottomed pot works fine] over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, mustard, thyme, salt, and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the potatoes, cream, buttermilk, baking soda, and liquid smoke and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until the potatoes are almost tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in the cheese and transfer the mixture to a 13 x 9" baking dish.

2. Bake until the cream is bubbling around the edges and the top is golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Do ahead option: You can prepare the potatoes through step 1 and refrigerate, covered with foil, for up to 25 hours. Bake covered at 400 degrees until hot and bubbly, about 40 minutes. Remove the foil and continue cooking until the top is golden brown, another 30 minutes.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Mojito Cupcakes

Here's the recipe, from Cream Puffs in Venice, for the mojito cupcakes I made for models this Wednesday. I think the recipe is actually pretty fantastic as written, but I might make a few small changes next time.

I halved the batter/syrup recipes and got 12 regular-sized cupcakes, for which the frosting recipe as written was just about right. The cupcakes rose pretty well, so I'd fill the tins closer to 1/2 full than 2/3rds.

I increased the rum in all three parts, and still didn't think the things were quite as boozy as I would have liked, but I'm not sure I could have added a whole lot more without creating runny batter/frosting. Next time I might supplement with a bit of imitation rum extract.

I'd also suggest making just a bit more syrup than the recipe calls for, and poking lots and lots of holes when you soak the cakes. I enjoyed the effect of the syrup, but don't think it soaked into the middle as thoroughly as I would have liked. It's also possible I let the cupcakes cool too much before glazing; five minutes, as the recipe suggests, is almost certainly too long.

If you're baking in cupcake tins, as I do, I suggest skipping the usual cupcake liners (which I actually never use anyways - what the hell is the point?), as I'd imagine paper liners would tend to absorb the syrup and become soggy. The soaking does make the cakes a bit sticky, but with well-buttered and floured tins, I still had little troubling unmolding.

I loved the lime and rum flavors, but thought the mint got a bit lost. Next time I'll either steep additional mint in the syrup, mincing and then straining rather than using only whole sprigs, or perhaps add a cap-full of peppermint extract to the batter.

I forwent the macademia nut crackle and garnished with mint sprigs and slices of lime. I think they turned out quite pretty.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Blueberry Boy Bait

That's right, bring all the boys to the yard with this light, moist, crackly-topped cake. As some designers might say, it's blueberrylicious! (Sorry, yes, those references were somewhat uncalled for) But that's okay, America's Test Kitchen wins again:

16 Tbs (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
2 cups plus 1 tsp all-purpose flour
1 Tbs baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen - if frozen, don't defrost)

1/2 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen - if frozen, don't defrost)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 13x9 inch baking pan.
Whisk two cups of flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. With an electric mixer, or at least in a different bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until just mixed in. Beat in one third of the flour mixture until incorporated; beat in half of the milk. Follow with half of the remaining flour mixture, then the rest of the milk, and finally the remainder of the flour mixture. Toss the blueberries with the remaining 1 teaspoon of flour, then fold into the batter. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth with a spatula.

For the topping: Scatter the blueberries over the top of the batter. Stir the granulated cinnamon and sugar together in a small bowl and sprinkle over the batter. Bake until your toothpick comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then pop it out and start eating.

I substituted dark brown sugar for the light and sprinkled on some more blueberries, but that seemed to have no ill effects. So start baiting the boys already! (We'll find a cake for luring the ladies too, don't worry)


Here's the recipe for the éclairs I brought to coffee hour on Wednesday, more or less adapted from a cream puff ring recipe in Dorie Greenspan's totally kickass Baking: From My Home to Yours.

For the choux pastry

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup whole milk
8 tablespoons (=1 stick) butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

For the pastry cream

2 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/2 tablespoons butter, softened and cut into bits
2 tablespoons rum (optional, but delicious)

For the glaze

4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon corn syrup

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.

Make the éclair shells:

Bring the water, milk, butter, sugar and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the flour all at once and mix it in with a wooden spoon, then keep stirring until the dough comes together in a shiny mass. Cook for another couple minutes, stirring constantly, than transfer the hot dough to the bowl of a stand mixer or another large bowl.

Beat in 3 of the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Whisk the remaining egg in a small bowl and gradually add enough to form a dough that is shiny and thick.

Working quickly, pipe or spoon the dough into twelve logs on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake 15 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees F and continue baking until the shells are puffed, brown, and firm. Transfer to a rack and cool completely.

Make the pastry cream (see below for chocolate alternative):

Whisk the yolks together with the sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Bring the milk to a boil and drizzle a small amount into the yolk mixture to temper; add the remaining milk slowly, whisking constantly, to avoid curdling. Put the pan over medium heat and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens to the desired consistency, then remove from the heat.

Add the vanilla extract and the rum if you're using it. Let the cream cool slightly, then add the butter, stirring until fully incorporated and the pastry cream is smooth.

Scrape the cream into a bowl, and either cool over an ice bath (if you want to fill the éclairs right away), stirring occasionally, or press a piece of plastic wrap over the surface of the cream - the seal must be airtight to prevent a skin from forming - and refrigerate until cold. I strongly recommend preparing the pastry cream a day ahead, particularly if you're using the rum, as chilling overnight improves the flavor in my opinion.

The pastry cream keeps up to 3 days in the fridge.

Fill and glaze the éclairs:

To fill the éclairs, you can either poke a hole in each shell and pipe the pastry cream inside, or slice the éclairs in half and fill them like sandwiches. I prefer the sandwich route - it's easier, I can tell exactly how much cream I've piped into each éclair, and they're always filled evenly.

Make the glaze by carefully melting the chocolate with the cream and corn syrup in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over very low heat, or in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. (Be careful not to overheat the chocolate and separate it.) Spoon, drizzle, or pipe the glaze over the filled éclairs, and toss them in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes to firm up the ganache.

Makes 12.

Alternate filling - chocolate pastry cream:

2 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks
6 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch of salt
7 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted
2 1/2 tablespoons butter, softened and cut into small pieces

Whisk the yolks together with the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring the milk to a boil and drizzle a small amount into the yolk mixture to temper; add the remaining milk slowly, whisking constantly, to avoid curdling. Put the pan over medium heat and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens to the desired consistency, then remove from the heat.

Whisk in the melted chocolate. Let cool slightly, then whisk in the butter, stirring until fully incorporated and the pastry cream is smooth and silky. Scrape the cream into a bowl, and cool either over an ice bath (if you want to fill the éclairs right away), stirring occasionally, or press a piece of plastic wrap over the surface of the cream and refrigerate until cold.

The cream can be kept covered for up to 3 days. If it tightens, use a fork or whisk to whip it back into creamy submission.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pomegranate-Strawberry Lattice Tart

For today's Coffee Hour, Sasha had requested "something with lots of berries," so I planned to make this. I got the raspberries a little too far in advance, though, so they were a little... mushy, and unusable. 

Instead, I used 1 c. pomegranate seeds (from 1 medium pomegranate), and 1 cup thinly sliced strawberries to make the filling, and added the zest from one small lemon.

Also, because I couldn't help myself, I added a substantial amount of black pepper to the almond filling.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sun-Dried Tomato Flans

I was attempting to make this recipe, but I was sort of missing the key ingredient (store-bought sun-dried tomato paste). HOWEVER, the emendation turned out just fine and, thanks to Rachel P., ended up enhancing the final product. 

Instead of the 1/4 cup tomato paste, take:

-1/2 loosely-packed cup of actual sun-dried tomatoes
-place in a coffee mug and add olive oil, just covering tomatoes
-microwave for a minute or two, and let the tomatoes steep in the oil for another five
(perhaps if you are classy you would simmer the tomatoes gently in the olive oil over the stovetop, stirring occasionally. But I find that the microwave works nicely for this sort of thing.)
-blend the tomatoes with the oil in a food processor or blender
-now you have quasi-chunky sun-dried tomato paste! Proceed to use this in the recipe as indicated
-however! When you get to the sieve-stage, reserve the solids (which will be more substantial than what you would have had with the legitimate paste).

After the flans are ready and have been plated over the arugula salad, now you can remedy the only flaw in this delicious recipe: the flans are a tad unattractive and stark sitting all boring-like over the salad. Top them with your fabulous cream-infused sun-dried tomato shreds (thanks Rachel!) for the insta-sexy! 

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Mustard & Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Well, since it is really fall now, here is my favorite (super easy, thanks Fine Cooking!) recipe for potatoes.
They start out a little gooey, but end up crispy, delicious and even good for leftovers:

1/3 cup plus 1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbs. dry vermouth or other dry white wine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs. chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp. coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 lb. red-skinned potatoes, cut into 3/4-1 inch cubes

Heat oven to 400F. Whisk together mustard, olive oil, vermouth, garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Add potatoes and toss to coat. Dump the potatoes onto a large rimmed baking sheet and spread them in a single layer. Roast, tossing with a spatula a few times, until the potatoes are crusty on the outside and tender on the inside (50-55 min.) Serve hot!

I've substituted many different types of liquor for the vermouth (sherry, brandy, etc.) and it always turns out fine. I've also used other kinds of mustard, but Dijon really does taste the best.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Apple Tart with Almond Cream

FYI, here's recipe for the apple/almond tart for coffee hour today. 

I doubled the rum, but in the future I would probably triple or quadruple what they have in the recipe. I think it would add more depth to the flavors; otherwise it's kind of OMG SWEET ALL THE TIME.

Also, I'd use roasted salted almonds (your food processor will make many noises, but it will be worth it). The raw slivered almonds made the filling a little bland. 

And finally, I would reduce the granulated sugar in the almond filling by, say, a third. And/or sub in some brown sugar.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Port Roasted Pears

6 servings

5 red anjou pears
1/2 cup port wine
1/4 cup  olive oil
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 packet thingie of raspberries
1/4 cup port wine
1 Tbsp brown sugar
mint sprigs for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350º. Slice pears into quarters, toss with olive oil, port, sugar, and black pepper. Roast for 40ish minutes, until golden.
Meanwhile, blend raspberries with remaining port and sugar in food processor or blender.
Simmer raspberry sauce at medium heat, until mildly reduced. Stir in butter.

Once pears have finished roasting, spoon 3 slices into each dish, drizzle with heavy cream, top with raspberry sauce, and garnish with mint.