Saturday, October 24, 2009

Earl Grey Cookies

2 cups flour
2 tablespoons Earl Grey tea leaves (= the contents of about six tea bags)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature

In food processor pulse together the flour, tea, and salt until the tea is spotted throughout. Add sugar, vanilla, and butter. Pulse together until a dough is formed. Roll into a log about 2.5 inches in diameter. Wrap log in plastic wrap like a sausage and tightly twist the ends. Refrigerate for 30 min.

Preheat oven to 375F.

Slice log into 1/3 inch discs. Place on parchment lined baking sheets and bake until the edges are just brown (about 12 minutes). Let cool.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Olive Oil Cake with Quince Jam

Ben was kind enough to share his cake recipe (to which he added homemade quince jam before baking):


5 eggs, separated
1/3 c. olive oil
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla, lemon, or orange extract (or scrape a vanilla bean)
zest and juice of one orange
zest and juice of one lemon
2 c. flour
1 tsp baking powder


preheat oven to 325; oil and dust with flour a 10" cake pan.

beat egg whites until stiff; set aside

beat sugar and oil until blended (you won't be able to cream them together as with butter). beat in egg yolks, then salt, cinnamon, extract, and citrus peels & juices, until smooth. add flour and baking powder in batches and mix until combined. fold in egg whites. pour into pan and bake for 45-60 minutes until firm, golden, and pulling away from sides.

Cool for 10-15 minutes

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Marjoram-Citrus Chicken

This recipes is an adaptation of something I saw the lovely ample-bosomed Giada di Laurentiis make on tv:

-1 whole chicken
-about 1/2 head garlic
-1 orange
-1 Meyer lemon
-1/3 cup lemon juice
-1/3 cup orange juice
-1/8 cup lime juice
-1/2 to 3/4 cup chicken stock
-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1 bunch of fresh marjoram

Place the chicken in a roasting pan and salt and pepper the cavity; squeeze the orange and lemon over the chicken and stuff the smooshed pieces into the cavity, alternating citrus pieces with whole sprigs of marjoram (using maybe 1/3 of the bunch) and garlic cloves. Salt and pepper the skin over the juice, tie the legs together with kitchen twine, and roast at 425º for about 45 minutes, occasionally pouring the stock into the pan to keep the drippings from burning, and basting the chicken once or twice with the accumulated juices.

Meanwhile, mix together the orange, lime, and lemon juices, olive oil, the rest of the garlic chopped very finely, and another 1/3 of the marjoram bunch (2-3 Tbsp), chopped. Season with tons of fresh-ground pepper.

After the 45 mins cooking time, start basting the chicken with the marjoram-citrus sauce every 10 minutes or so. Roast until the internal temp is about 170º, about 1/2 hour longer.

When the chicken is done and crispy and brown and pretty, remove from the pan and let it rest before carving. Scrape the drippings and accumulated pan juices into a saucepan, and add the remaining citrus-juice mixture. Bring to a slow boil and reduce over medium heat for 10-20 minutes, down to a bit more than half.

Strain the sauce into a small serving bowl and discard the solids. After skimming the fat off the top, stir in the remaining 1/3 bunch fresh marjoram, chopped coarsely, and adjust for salt and pepper. Pour some of the glaze over the chicken and pass the rest around table.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Basil Cupcakes with Mango Filling

Makes 12.

For the cupcakes

1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs

For the icing

8 oz cream cheese
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup icing sugar
Several basil leaves
Basil syrup (see below)

For the mango filling

1 large mango, diced small
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
Several basil leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons basil syrup (see below)

For the candied basil garnish

several basil leaves
1 egg white
superfine sugar

For the basil syrup

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 large bunch basil

To make the cupcakes:

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together; stir the vanilla into the buttermilk. Set both mixtures aside.

Cream the butter with the sugar until very light and fluffy, several minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time. On low speed, add a third of the dry ingredients, mixing just until fully combined and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add half the liquid ingredients, another third of the dry ingredients, the other half of the liquid ingredients, and the remaining third of the dry ingredients.

Fill twelve lined cupcake tins halfway, and bake at 325 degrees F for 25 minutes or until done.

Use a toothpick to poke several holes in each cupcake and brush with the basil syrup.

Allow cupcakes to cool completely, then stuff with the mango filling. Ice the cupcakes and garnish with sugared basil.

To make the icing:

Combine the basil leaves with the sugar in a food processor. Beat the butter and cream cheese together for several minutes. Add the basil sugar, mixing at low speed to combine, then beat at high speed until icing is light and fluffy. Beat in two tablespoons of the basil syrup. Use plastic wrap to form an airtight seal over the surface of the icing, and chill until ready to use (if it tightens, loosen it back up with a whisk before piping).

To make the filling:

Combine ingredients and chill overnight. Strain for an hour or so before using.

To make the garnish:

Using a pastry brush, coat each leaf lightly with egg white and dredge in sugar. Set on parchment paper to dry overnight.

To make the syrup:

Simmer water and sugar over high heat for a few minutes. Remove from heat, and steep the basil for several minutes. Strain.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pork and Leeks and Apples

Dinner was primarily this recipe (thank you, epicurious!); I made a few changes to suit my available ingredients and laziness levels:

Feeds 8ish

6 GIGANTOR leeks, what they have at Monterey Market right now. Seriously Gigantic, like 8ish normal-sized ones?
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 c heavy cream
Lots of sea salt and pepper

Slice leeks thinly, wash thoroughly. Heat butter until melty, add leeks, season with salt and pepper, sautee at high heat until much of the liquid is evaporated. Add the cream, reduce until thick and creamy and awesome, adjust salt and pepper.

4 large Fuji apples
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup peppercorns
2 Tbsp fresh thyme
1/4 c cognac
1/3-1/2 c chicken broth
Sea salt and pepper

Slice apples thinly, heat butter until melty, add apples, season with salt and pepper, add peppercorns. When much of the liquid has reduced, sprinkle with brown sugar and caramelize. Add thyme, toss, and add cognac. When liquid has reduced, add broth and simmer until most of the liquid has disappeared.

2-3 lbs pork loin roast
Sea salt and pepper
Sprigs of fresh thyme

Pre-heat oven to 400º. Slice loin in 2 lengthwise (I did this bc of time constraints), sprinkle with sea salt, pepper, and tuck sprigs of thyme under and on top of pork, put in oven. Roast for approximately 3o minutes (if using, meat thermometer should register 160ish--the meat will continue cooking once out of the oven), adjusting temperature if cooking too quickly.

Plate with a layer of leeks. three thin slices of pork, topped with apple slices. 

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Chicken Salad

These proportions are just an approximation, of course you can combine to suit your tastes!

-2 chicken breast halves, cooked (we like to roast a whole chicken and eat the legs the night of, and save the breast for this recipe)
-1 bunch scallions
-3-5 celery stalks
-1-2 lbs asparagus 
2-3 cups dried cranberries
-2-3 cups roasted cashews (either pre-roasted, or roast with a little salt and olive oil--allow time to cool off before adding to salad)

-Slice the asparagus into bite-sized portions; boil briefly until bright green and barely tender; drain and rinse under cold water
-Chop up and combine other ingredients!
-Season with salt and pepper
-Make a dressing with the following:

-Champagne (or white wine) vinegar
-Grainy dijon mustard
-A dab of mayo
-A little bit of white wine (optional)
-Salt and pepper
-Shake vigorously w olive oil until emulsified

Toss all together, chill if desired!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Cream of Asparagus Soup with Thyme Croutons

I started with this very simple Cream of Asparagus Soup, courtesy of Martha Stewart, and added the asparagus-and-crouton topping to vary up the textures: 

Serves 8: 
-3 Tbs butter
-1 1/2 c shallots (about 6 large)
-1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
-3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
-3 lbs asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces. Reserve the asparagus tips.
-coarse salt
-1/3 c heavy cream
-2 to 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

-Sautee the shallots and thyme in the butter until soft and golden; add flour and stir constantly until incorporated. 
-Add asparagus and 6 cups water, season generously w salt; cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer 2-4 minutes, until asparagus is bright green.
-Working in small batches, puree the soup in a blender or food processor until very smooth.
-Return to the pot, stir in cream and lemon juice, and adjust for salt (and white pepper if desired)

For the topping, in the meantime:
-Chop 1/2ish an old baguette into very small cubes, season with TONS of olive oil, thyme, sea salt, and pepper.
-Toast in a 375º oven until golden (7-10 minutes?)
-Heat a couple of Tbs olive oil in a skillet until very hot, add the asparagus tips, season with salt and pepper, and sautee/fry until tender and slightly charred on the outside.
-Combine the croutons and asparagus tips, and serve alongside the soup as a topping.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Turkey-Mushroom Stroganoff

5-6 medium shallots
7-10 cloves of garlic (oh yes)
1 1/2 - 2 lbs mushrooms, coarsely sliced or chopped
3 teaspoons thyme
3/4 cup dry white wine*
2 lbs ground turkey
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 to 3/4 cup broth (mushroom or beef are good options)
1 container (1 lb?) sour cream

-Sautee shallots and garlic (in olive oil or butter, whatever your preference) until soft.
-Add mushrooms, season with salt, pepper, and thyme
-Once the mushrooms soften, release their liquid and start to reduce, add the wine and cook until reduced by half
-Add the ground turkey with some salt and pepper, and brown; stir in the tomato paste and paprika
-Once the turkey is browned and the spices incorporated, stir in the Dijon mustard, add the broth and simmer until the meat is cooked through and tender, and most of the liquid reduced
-Stir in the sour cream and let simmer until heated through and the desired consistency is achieved. Adjust the salt and pepper, and serve over egg noodles or rice.

*The last time I made this it had excess liquid, so here I have reduced the amounts of wine and broth.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Meat and Potatoes!

London Broil: David Crane introduced me to this cut of meat; I eyeball about 1/4 lb or slightly less per person, since it's a dense, filling meat--so a little goes a long way, making it awesome for big gatherings. Marinate in a ziploc bag for as long as possible (overnight/all day in the fridge, or a few hours out of the fridge) with: 

balsamic vinegar (at least 1 1/2 cups)
dijon mustard
smashed garlic
salt and pepper
(other possibilities I've used are soy sauce, worcestershire, ketchup, red wine, any sort of dried herbs or spices--just make sure you have plenty of acid in the mixture)

Broil for 5-7 minutes per side, let rest for 10ish minutes, and slice very thinly on the diagonal against the grain.

Potatoes: I'm not a gigant0rz fan of mashed potatoes, but I really like this approach. These measures are approximate, and will feed maybe 12ish people:

Boil until tender in salted water:
8ish medium red potatoes (washed and scrubbed clean but not peeled)
4 garlic cloves

Drain and return to pot; mash! (The garlic will be soft and sweet and easily mashable.)

While you mash, add in approximately:
1, um, regular-size container of sour cream  (I think it's 16 oz)
1/4 to 1/2 cup buttermilk
4 scallions, sliced thinly (white and green parts)
salt and pepper to taste

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Macaroni and Cheese

For Marilyn, a pretty damn good macaroni and cheese recipe from the March 2008 issue of Fine Cooking. The author gives the serrano chiles and the crushed red pepper additions as separate suggested variations (along with pancetta, something I might try next time), but I liked it enough with both that I wouldn't consider leaving them out.

kosher salt
6 tbs unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely diced
a few fresh serrano chiles, minced (~3 tbs)
6 tbs flour
1 tbs dijon mustard
1/4-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 quart whole milk, heated
1 large sprig fresh thyme, plus 1 tsp chopped thyme leaves [I suggest more thyme]
1 bay leaf
8 oz (2 packed cups) grated extra-sharp white cheddar (sharpest you can find)
4 0z (1 packed cup) grated Monterey Jack
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. Tobasco sauce
freshly ground black pepper
1 lb elbow macaroni [I used penne because it was what we had]
2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil; more for the baking dish
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs [do make your own breadcrumbs; this is crucial]
1 1/2 oz (1/2 lightly packed cup) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Heat the oven to 400 F and put a large pot of well-salted water on to boil over high heat. Brush a 9x13 inch baking pan lightly with olive oil.

Melt the butter over high heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Add the onion, serranos, and 1/2 tsp salt and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until softened, 4-5 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, until slightly darker, 1-2 min. Stir in the mustard and crushed red pepper flakes. Switch to a whisk and gradually add the milk, whisking constantly.

When all the milk is in, switch back to the spoon and stir in the thyme sprig, bay leaf, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Let come to a bare simmer, and cook, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes to meld the flavors (reduce the heat to medium low or low as needed to maintain the bare simmer).

Discard the thyme sprig and bay leaf. Add the cheddar and jack cheese, stirring until melted, and then add the Worcestershire and Tabasco. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm, stirring occasionally. [better yet, time the sauce to finish at the same time the pasta is ready]

Cook the pasta in the boiling water until al dente [the chewy side of al dente, in my opinion, since you're going to bake it in cheese sauce]. Drain well and add to cheese sauce, stirring. Generously season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer pasta into baking dish.

In a medium bowl, toss the breadcrumbs with the Parmigiano, olive oil, chopped thyme, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Scatter evenly over pasta and bake until top is golden, about 15 minutes. Let rest 5-10 min before serving.

Apple bars

For Nandini, another recipe from the amazing Dorie Greenspan.

For the bars:
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp dark rum, applejack, or brandy
1 baking apple, peeled, cored and chopped fine
1/2 cup plump, moist raisins (dark or golden)
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

For the glaze:
2 1/2 tbsp heavy cream
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp light corn syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter and line a 9x13 baking pan with parchment paper, butter the paper, and dust the inside of the pan with flour.

Make the bars:

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt.

In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the brown sugar and stir with a whisk until it is melted and the mixture is smooth, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat.

Still working in the saucepan, whisk in the eggs one at a time, mixing until well blended. Add the applesauce, vanilla, and the brandy, and whisk until incorporated and mixture is smooth. Stir in the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear, then mix in the apple, raisins, and nuts. Transfer to baking pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

Bake for 23-25 minutes, or until the bars just start to pull away from the sides of the pan [NB; this didn't happen when I made these] and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer baking pan to a rack to cool while you make the glaze.

Make the glaze:

In a small saucepan, whisk together the cream, sugar, butter and corn syrup. Put the pan over medium heat and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking frequently. Adjust the heat so that the glaze simmers, and cook, whisking frequently, for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

Turn the bars out onto a rack, remove the paper, and invert onto another rack so they are right side up. Pour on the glaze and spread it evenly with an icing knife. Let the bars cool before cutting.