Thursday, December 11, 2008

coconut marshmallows

Full disclosure: marshmallows are awkward.
Think about it. When do you eat them? Oh, never. In hot chocolate, maybe. In Rice Krispie Treats, perhaps, if you're having a nostalgic snacking moment. It's just weird to sit around popping marshmallows, unlike, say, chocolate chip cookies.
That said, I think it is important to make another key point. Homemade marshmallows are absolutely delicious.
These are not the wimpy, half-stale marshmallows of your childhood. They are light, melt on the tongue, and full of flavor. This version calls to mind tropical paradise (or sunscreen, if you're a cynical 16-year-old sister).
And you might not believe me, but they're really easy. My favorite part is letting my Kitchenaid do its thing for 15 minutes.

This is just one of those recipes that must be made so you can say you did. Insert "I was making some marshmallows last night..." before any sentence, and I promise you will be stopped dead in your tracks.
Rightly so, since this marshmallow deserves to be savored in both its physical form and its role as a kitchen conquest.

toasted coconut marshmallows

2 cups dried coconut
3 (1/4-ounces) envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 cup water, divided
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

Preheat oven to 350.
Toast coconut in a shallow baking pan in oven, stirring occasionally, until golden, 7 to 10 minutes. Oil 9-inch baking pan, then sprinkle bottom with 1/2 cup toasted coconut.

Sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup water in bowl of mixer and let soften while making syrup.

Heat sugar, corn syrup, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup water in a small heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil over medium heat, without stirring, washing any sugar crystals down side of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Put a candy thermometer into syrup and continue boiling, without stirring, until it registers 240°F (soft-ball stage). Remove from heat and let stand until bubbles dissipate.

With mixer at low speed, pour hot syrup into gelatin in a thin stream down side of bowl. Increase speed to high and beat until very thick, about 15 minutes. Add vanilla and coconut extracts and beat 1 minute more.

Spoon marshmallow over toasted coconut in baking pan and press evenly with dampened fingertips to smooth top (it will be very sticky), then evenly sprinkle top with 1/2 cup toasted coconut.

Let stand, uncovered, at room temperature until firm, about 2 hours.

Run a sharp knife around edge of marshmallow and invert onto a cutting board. Cut into 3/4-inch-wide strips, then cut each strip into 3/4-inch squares.

Put remaining toasted coconut in a small bowl and dredge marshmallows in it to coat completely. *gourmet 2007

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

grape jelly

What they don't tell you in cookbooks about making jam and jelly may just be the one thing that actually gets you cooking it.
Drumroll, please: you only need all those sterilized glass jars if you are making a lot of jelly, with the intention and hope of enjoying it for over a month.
For me, knowing that I could whip up a small batch of fruit preserves without purchasing special equipment or hot sterilizing baths set me free. I was promptly off to the grocery to buy some Concord grapes (whose incredible flavor deserve their own ode-y blog post). What else did you buy, Marti? Oh, nothing. Because the only other things you need are some (okay, lots of) sugar and lemon juice.
I know, I know. Why doesn't everyone make their own jelly? I no longer have an answer.

Concord Grape Jelly*

1.5 lbs concord grapes
1.5 cups sugar
scant tbsp lemon juice

Chill 2 small plates (for testing jam).

Slip skins from grapes and purée skins with 1/3 cup sugar in a food processor, then transfer to a 4- to 6-quart wide heavy pot. Stir in lemon juice, peeled grapes, and remaining sugar and boil over moderate heat, stirring frequently and skimming foam, until pulp is broken down, about 20 minutes.

Force jam through food mill or sieve set over a large bowl. Discard remaining solids. Return jam to pot and cook at a slow boil, skimming foam occasionally and stirring frequently as mixture thickens to prevent scorching, about 25 minutes, then test for doneness.

To test jam, remove from heat, then drop a teaspoonful on a chilled plate and chill 1 minute. Tilt plate: Jam should remain in a mound and not run. If jam runs, continue cooking at a slow boil, testing every 5 minutes, until done, up to 15 minutes more.

*Gourmet 2005

Saturday, November 22, 2008

tomato sauce? yawn.

I'm going to try to start this off positive. Pizza is one of those things that always tastes great, even at its most predictable. A hot steaming cheese pie, let's face it, really hits the spot sometimes. But. BUT. I really kind of hate pizza. Well, maybe not pizza but the lackadaisical attitude with which many approach it. Yeah, slap on some tomato sauce, some cheese, a meat or veggie, you're done. No! Not me.

In honor of this sentiment, I have been making efforts to stretch the yeasty dough canvas beyond its wildest imagination. I started, of course, with the sauce. Because some things just don't go that well with tomato, I wanted to explore other options, and I came up with this awesome sauce whose leftovers can be used in many a creative way.

pizza with caramelized onion sauce, chicken, and goat cheese

1 recipe basic dough (see below)
4-5 onions
2 tbsp butter
4 oz goat cheese
1 large chicken breast

Make dough. *NOTE: Extras freeze well; I especially enjoyed the texture of dough after it had been frozen. Simply thaw for an hour or so to use. Preheat oven to 400.
Melt butter over medium heat. Add onions, stir to coat, then turn heat to med. low. Cook for 45 minutes, stirring only a few times, until goldenly beautiful brown. Transfer to food processor and blend, adding water if needed to thin to desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Coat chicken breast in spices (your choice! simply salt and pepper, or i used Emeril's Essence). Saute in pan over med. heat until cooked through.
Spread onion sauce over prepared dough.
Tear chicken into pieces and distribute over pizza.
Sprinkle goat cheese evenly across. Give it a couple of grinds of black pepper for good measure. Bake for 12 minutes, or until edges of crust are golden.

pizza dough

1 1/3 c warm water
1 pkg active dry yeast
3 1/2 c flour
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp sugar

Combine yeast and water in bowl until dissolved. add the remaining ingredients and mix for about one minute. knead for about ten minutes. transfer dough to a bowl coated w/olive oil, cover and let rise for 1 1/2 hours. preheat oven to 475, grease baking sheet and dust with cornmeal. punch down dough, divide in half. roll each half into a ball and let rest for 10-15 minutes. flatten and roll out balls and let rest for ten more minutes, top, and bake about 12 min. from Joy of Cooking

Thursday, November 20, 2008

the chocolate chip cookie.

The search ends here.
This is my favorite kind of post: when a beloved food has been perfected and I get to share it with you. The chocolate chip cookie, for all its simplicity, is a difficult one to nail. I would venture to say the chocolate chip cookie is probably featured in more bad recipes than any other food. But here we have an amazing cookie: crunchy around the outside, chewy in the middle, with a crisp crust whether you eat it out of the oven or two days later. There are subtle hints of toffee; the chocolate is not an intrusive chip but a layer of cocoa heaven.
Now, disclosure here, the day that I can perfect something to this level will be the day that I am too famous and busy and wonderful to have anything to do with a little old blog. This recipe is courtesy of the New York Times. You can read the several-thousand word article about the journey to this recipe on their website. I followed it to a t, and some hints for you are: splurge on the specified chocolate (find it at whole foods), let the dough rest for the full amount of time!, and make sure the ingredients are at room temp. But enough-- here it is:

The Chocolate Chip Cookie

Time: 45 minutes (for 1 6-cookie batch), plus at least 24 hours’ chilling

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons

(8 1/2 ounces) cake flour

1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter

1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract

1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content (see note)

Sea salt.

1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lily Confit: un recuerdo

I don't have a photo of this, since I made it for a dark bonfire at my friend mat's house, but here is a facsimile of the lily confit from dell'anima in New York (an amazing restaurant, pictured above, which everyone should eat at). So named because all the ingredients are members of the allium family (like lilies!), this is a brilliant topping for bruschette. At the restaurant, we paired it with their delicious housemade ricotta with sea salt, but ricotta from Whole Foods was just fine for a casual outdoor gathering.

3 cipollini onions (sliced)
5 large shallots
5 large heads of garlic
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 400. Chop off top of garlic heads, drizzle with olive oil. Peel shallots, drizzle with olive oil. Roast until golden brown.
Pop garlic cloves out, into a sauce pan, along with shallots and onion. Cover with olive oil (mix half and half with canola, if desired) and bring to a boil. Add some generous pinches of salt. Put heat on low and simmer for at least 45 minutes, longer if possible, until tender. Serve in a bowl with liquid alongside toasted Italian bread and ricotta with sea salt.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

i hate coleslaw.

Coleslaw is nasty. At least, that's what I thought until this little number came along. Raised on mayonnaise-based horrors, always ice-cold and served on styrofoam, it's not exactly surprising that I thought ill of slaw.
What no one told me was that technically, coleslaw is just shredded cabbage, tossed in a dressing. So, if you use a nice, mild cabbage and toss it in something that tastes delicious, the result is a delightful side dish. Called coleslaw.
So, now I am a slaw lover. I don't just throw that terminology around, though...I suppose I prefer to think of it as a salad. Feta cheese only helps. Use more or less, depending on your tastes. And join the dark side.

Greek Coleslaw

1 head of Napa or Savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
bunch of green onions, thinly sliced
1 lb feta, crumbled
3/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
juice of 1 lemon

Whisk together canola oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper (to taste). You may desire more or less lemon juice (or more of anything...go ahead!)
Stir in green onions. Then stir in coleslaw, coating well.
Sprinkle feta over and mix thoroughly.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

tomato bruschetta

Another easy, delicious way to celebrate the end of summer. A simple, luscious topping for a crusty baguette.

3 tomatoes
about 15 basil leaves
clove of garlic
bread, sliced and toasted
juice from one lemon
1/4 c. olive oil
baguette, cut into slices

Preheat oven to 350. Toast bread slices.
Meanwhile, whisk lemon juice with olive oil. Ad a generous pinch of salt, whisk. Chiffonade the basil leaves (roll several leaves tightly and cut thin strips), whisk into oil. Cut tomatoes in a large dice, add to oil. Add either more lemon juice or more oil to taste. This can sit for up to two hours at room temp (do not refrigerate).
Rub garlic clove on each piece of bread. Top with tomato mixture. Serve.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

the one, the only...macaroni

Surprise, surprise...I am very picky when it comes to macaroni and cheeses. Flour and milk-thickened sauces just don't cut it for me. My mom has made this version, which uses egg as a magic ingredient, since I was a little girl. It was always for special occasions; something I don't understand now that I have the easy, easy recipe. I guess all that cheese grating was just too much to come home to on a weekday...but I'm happy to enjoy this any (and every) day of the week.

the ONLY macaroni and cheese

1 cup dry macaroni
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp butter, melted
1 egg
3 cups cheese (cheddar if you feel traditional...i like a mixture of manchego and gruyere)
1 cup milk

Boil macaroni to al dente, then toss with salt and melted butter. Whisk egg and milk in small bowl, then add to noodles. Stir in 2 1/2 cups of cheese. Place in ovenproof dish, sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes (covered). Bake 10-15 minutes more uncovered.

OPTIONAL TOPPING: toss crushed breton crackers with melted butter, sprinkle on top before baking.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Caramelized Onion Bruschetta

Another happy topping for toasted bread. Don't skip this recipe if you think you don't really like onions. These are nothing like the obnoxiously crunchy white things on fast food burgers, people. There are so many uses for a sweet, crispy-on-the-end caramelized onion...this is merely the tip of the root vegetable.
These are wonderful at room temperature or warm.

4 oz goat cheese (herbed if desired)
3 onions, sliced
2 tbsp butter
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
8-10 baguette slices, toasted

Melt butter over medium heat. Add onions, stir to coat, then turn heat to med. low. Cook for 45 minutes, stirring only a few times, until goldenly beautiful brown. These are caramelized onions!
Meanwhile, spread goat cheese over baguette slices.
Top with onions and serve!

Friday, August 29, 2008

party corn

When I don't have pink-eye peas for summer succotash (see earlier post), this is my new go-to corn dish. This is what would happen if an ear of corn from Greece went on spring break to Cancún and got cooked. This culture clash, however unlikely, makes for a succulent summer dish. It's such a shame to eat boiled corn on the cob when you can eat THIS.

3 ears of corn, de-kerneled
1 oz feta, crumbled
1/2 lime
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 clove garlic, minced

Mix garlic with a pinch of salt and pound to a paste. Stir into butter (this can be done 2 days ahead).
Saute corn kernels on med. high heat in a bit of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Once the kernels are golden brown (for the most part) add 1 or both tbsps of butter to skillet and continue cooking for another minute, tossing to coat.
Plate the corn, squirt lime over the top and sprinkle with feta.
Serves 2.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

the essential travel accessory

This summer my travels have taken me from the Gulf of Mexico to the Memphis countryside, and I have found one singular accessory more useful than anything else in my luggage--a jar of black peppercorns topped with a built-in grinder. There is nothing that finishes a dish quite as well as freshly cracked pepper. I really don't even know what those gray-white-black specks that come in those cardboard shakers are, but my guess is if they ever were peppercorns, they were ground several years ago. One thing I do know--they are flavorless and therefore useless.
Bringing along my own pepper feels a little snobbish, but the multitude of dishes that have benefited from it (greek coleslaw, pimento cheese, summer vegetable soup, tomato basil bruschetta, homemade pasta with bacon-cream sauce) make it clear that it's not a matter of elitism but one of taste.
I can't wait to go through airport customs and have to explain this one.

Friday, August 22, 2008

roasted feta

This is an inordinately impressive appetizer, considering the five minutes of work that go into it. And, best of all, it's mostly stuff that's laying around. Served with a baguette (or lime tortilla chips, when desperate), it is the perfect prelude to a cool summer salad or pasta dish. It is a riff off of a recipe I read long ago, I think in Gourmet.

2 1/2" slabs of feta
1-2 tbsp fresh chopped oregano (or 1 tsp dry, crumbled)
a few grinds of pepper
1/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers
2 tbsp olive oil

Preheat broiler.
Place feta on ovenproof plate, sprinkle oregano and pepper over. Mix red peppers with oil, and drizzle over feta.
Place under broiler until golden brown, about five minutes.
Serve, with baguette or any other bready item laying around.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Things You can Do When You Raise Chickens

1) Have hours-old scrambled eggs with goat cheese and herbs
2) Bake hot, steaming loaves of challah
3) Egg wash things to your heart's content
4) Make homemade pasta with just flour, salt, and a fork
5) BLT-fried egg n cheese sandwiches
6) Turn aforementioned challah leftovers into a killer bread pudding
7)Improvise vanilla butter cakes, with little more than flour, eggs, butter, vanilla, and baking powder.

Thanks to Eliot and Lee for the down-home farm vacation!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

it's not summer without succotash

This is a dish my family prepares every summer when the farmers' market starts up. Every time I make it, I wonder to myself why I don't make it every day. Every vegetable is in its utmost perfect state in this dish: the peas simmered with simple salt water, the corn sauteed to near-caramelization, the tomatoes marinated at room temp with fresh herbs, and the okra, fried, of course.
If the ingredient list looks daunting, just know that you already have most of it, and the rest is just a stop at the market away. Do not even think about substituting black-eye peas for the pink-eye...we're talking a different species. Purple hull peas are an acceptable substitute. A lot of this can be made ahead. All that really needs to happen last minute is frying the okra.
Please make this. It is honestly the best thing you will put in your mouth this summer. Heck-this IS summer.

Summer Succotash

1 lb pink eye peas
1 tbsp salt
6 spoonfuls of mayo
juice of one lemon (or two small)
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
5 ears corn
3 tomatoes, cut into 16ths
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
tbsp fresh oregano
about 30 okra
3 cups flour
3 eggs
1/3 cup milk
tbsp cajun seasoning
tbsp seasoning salt
vegetable oil for frying
8 slices of prosciutto

Simmer peas with in water with tbsp salt for two hours.

Whisk together mayo, chives, lemon juice and season to taste.
Set aside

Whisk together olive oil and balsamic vinegar (3 parts oil to one part vinegar) as well as the oregano. Marinate tomatoes in dressing, turning occasionally.

Shuck corn, cut the kernels off the cob, and saute until dangerously golden with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Keep warm

Combine flour, seasoning salt, cajun seasoning, and heavy shakes of salt and pepper in a double lined plastic bag. Shake to combine. Cut off the tops of the okra. Whisk together eggs and milk. Soak okra in the egg/milk mixture, shake off extra, toss into the bag to cover with flour mixture, then fry over high heat until golden. Keep warm.

Fry up the prosciutto until crisp.

Plate the peas, then the corn, then tomatoes on top of that. Place the okra around the sides. Top with prosciutto, drizzle with mayo dressing and enjoy.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

top three nuts.

Growing up in the South it was all pecans and peanuts.
For a long time, I wasn't really aware of the existence of any other nut species, except maybe the almond, because my mom happened to love Almond Joys. Peanuts, in all their plebeian glory, are a bit underwhelming. The third world has a one up on the US when it comes to incorporating them into sauces, soups, and other delicacies. And by some failure of the Southern genome, I lean more towards hating pecans than loving them.
So, when I got out in the world and realized the variety of nuts that are there for the toasting, it was somewhat of a revelation. To celebrate the world of nuts, here's my top three list. Give nuts a thought today: asking someone to name their top three and seeing how they respond on the fly is a really good way to get a sense of the person. Seriously.

3*pine nut

Sunday, May 25, 2008

onion-endive flatbread

My love affair with romesco sauce began at a small French restaurant here in town. The original sauce hails from Cataluña, a region in the northeast of Spain. Strictly speaking, it's a tomato, chile, breadcrumb and nut concoction. But here, I have used roasted red peppers, no tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and no ñora chile, which typically only crosses the borders of Spain in sneaky gourmands' backpacks.
The sauce makes an amazing replacement for the traditional pizza dressing of tomato sauce. Combining this with the subtle touches of roasty toasty root onions and endive, and the happy tang of goat cheese results in a heavenly, why-didn't-i-think-of-this-sooner flavor combination. The arugula adds a fresh, cool pop with a bitter bite, and the chipotle mayo gives it just enough spice.
It requires a little effort, but you can do the dough, sauce, and chipotle mayo ahead of time, and you make enough to recreate the meal one or two more times with minimal effort. The making of this recipe usually ends in the disastrous event of me consuming the entire thing alone (that arugula just won't reheat very nicely, right? might as well finish it off).

onion-endive flatbread

1/2 recipe dough
1/2 recipe red pepper romesco
4 oz goat cheese
1 onion
4 endive
2 tbsp olive oil
2 handfuls of arugula
1 tbsp diced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
5 tbsp mayo
dash of cumin
2 cups arugula

Make dough and romesco sauce (see below). *NOTE: Extras freeze well; I especially enjoyed the texture of dough after it had been frozen. Simply thaw for an hour or so to use.
Preheat oven to 400. Cut onions into thin wedges and cut endive into one inch pieces (crosswise). Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast until browned, turning several times, about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix chipotle chiles, mayo, and cumin. Salt and pepper to taste. Put in a squirt bottle (find them at WalMart, Dollar Tree, Williams Sonoma, etc; I use a diner-style ketchup container.) or, if you must, just use a spoon to dollop.
Top dough with romesco, then the onion endive mixture. Sprinkle goat cheese evenly across. Bake for 12 minutes, or until edges of crust are golden. Remove from oven; scatter arugula and drizzle chipotle mayo over the top.
Slice and serve.

red pepper romesco

2 red bell peppers, broiled/roasted and peeled
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts
1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 small garlic clove
1/4 tsp cumin
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2-3 tbsp olive oil
2-3 tbsp water

Put first 7 ingredients in a food processor; blend. Add oil and water with processor running to desired consistency.

pizza dough

1 1/3 c warm water
1 pkg active dry yeast
3 1/2 c flour
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp sugar

Combine yeast and water in bowl until dissolved. add the remaining ingredients and mix for about one minute. knead for about ten minutes. transfer dough to a bowl coated w/olive oil, cover and let rise for 1 1/2 hours. preheat oven to 475, grease baking sheet and dust with cornmeal. punch down dough, divide in half. roll each half into a ball and let rest for 10-15 minutes. flatten and roll out balls and let rest for ten more minutes, top, and bake about 12 min. from Joy of Cooking

Friday, May 16, 2008

basic chicken salad

Are you creamy or chunky?
An essential question when it comes to deciding what kind of chicken salad you prefer.
I am creamy...and in a recent attempt to recreate a certain creamy chicken salad, I came up with this delicious, albeit not exact duplicate, of the spread. It comes together in about five minutes, and it's just really, really good.
I think I may keep going in my quest to replicate the aforementioned salad. It drives me crazy when I can't make something at home that I love. Especially when it costs a wing and a leg.

meat from a whole baked/rotisserie chicken
4 celery ribs
1 onion
2 heaping tbsp mayo
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp yellow mustard

Chop onion and celery in food processor. Add chicken, process about 10 seconds. Add mayo, salt, pepper, vinegar and mustard, process or stir until combined, depending on desired texture.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

strawberry buttermilk pancakes

For me, some mornings Honey Bunches of Oats just don't cut it. Then, I usually eat an apple. But sometimes that doesn't cut it either. That's when I get out the big guns. And these, my friends, do indeed qualify.

Generally, I just whip up Southern Living's Buttermilk Pancakes, but with the last of the strawberry crop flooding the market, it seemed like a good idea to take these buttermilk pancakes to a new level. The addition of strawberry puree gives an overall strawberry flavor as well as a light pink coloring, and then the diced strawberries add that chunky goodness that I require in almost all foods I consume.

1 c flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 egg
1 /2 c buttermilk
1/8 c veg oil
1/2 c strawberry puree
1/2 c diced strawberry

combine dry ingredients, stirring well.
combine eggs, buttermilk, water, oil, and strawberry puree in a bowl, then add to flour mixture. add the diced strawberries. don't stir it a lot; just until mixed.
cook pancakes until the tops bubble, then flip.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

pimento cheese

I have finally found my pimento cheese. That delicious spread, ranging from creamy to chunky, traditional (orange cheddar) to modern (white cheddar and bleu), that every southern girl is expected to be able to "whip up." This one is made super special with some homemade mayonnaise. Easy, I promise! Whisking is key. And when you bite into sourdough slathered with this spread and grilled til melty, you will experience utter self fulfillment.

pimento cheese

1 roasted red pepper, finely chopped
8 oz. finely grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
2 oz. softened cream cheese, cut into pieces
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 tbsp mayo (see below)

Mix cheese, cream cheese, mayo, red pepper and its liquid, and the red pepper flakes with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until mixed (about 2 min). Season to taste.

homemade mayo

1 egg yolk
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/4 c vegetable oil
1/4 c olive oil
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Whisk egg yolk with juice. Add oils, first in drops, whisking constantly, then in a thin stream. Continue whisking until emulsified. Once thickened, add vinegar, salt, and pepper. Whisk vigorously.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

black beans

this is an incredible dish that is a favorite of my family's. we love pairing it with rice or bread, but we love even more enjoying it the next day, after the flavor has developed, over stone-ground grits. it really couldn't be any easier to prepare, which is kind of embarrassing to reveal when you get asked breathlessly for the recipe. the longer you can let it simmer, all the better to allow the water to turn slowly into black, meaty liquid gold.

16 oz dried black beans
16 oz polish sausage
8 oz bacon
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried oregano

Rinse black beans in large sauce pan. Drain. Add water to two inches above, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer one hour.
Slice sausage, and add to beans. Simmer another hour, adding water if necessary. You can also keep the top on to retain water.
Dice bacon and saute in skillet. Cook over med heat. When bacon begins to brown, add onion, pepper, bay leaf, oregano, pepper and salt. Saute until veggies are tender and translucent.
Add veggies and bacon to beans and simmer at least another 45 minutes. Season to taste

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

late night thoughts and theories at blankpalate

So, generally this is a place for food, recipes, and what have you. But I have two important thoughts.
1) I would like to propose a theory, which any sociologist is welcome to explore as long as I am properly credited in the footnotes. It is this: The Later A Person Eats Dinner, The More He Loves Life.
Just take a moment to think about this. Look at examples in your life. What time do you eat dinner? I bet not before 6:30, if you are reading this blog. If you cannot bring to mind any specifics, think first of senior citizens, those valuable members of society who, regrettably, are drawing ever closer to the end of their lives. What time do they eat that final meal of the day? Yeah.
Or, take the French or Spanish, those fun-loving ancestors of ours. Their GDP may not match that of the US, but their enjoyment per lifetime is far greater. And--guess what-- you won't catch a single one of them eating before 7:30. Unthinkable. More on this in an upcoming New Yorker article.

and, on the opposite side of grandiose,

2) it's 9pm and i am really enjoying peanut butter spread on wheat bread.

Monday, April 28, 2008

toffee almond bars

These are my attempt to recreate some similar (staler, more expensive) bars found at a certain well-known coffee shop. These are little chewy bites of heaven, mixed with a healthy (in a manner of speaking) dose of toffee and nuts. The texture is a bit lighter than the original, which I found to be a pleasant change.

3 Heath bars, chopped
1/2 cup almonds, toasted and chopped
16 oz light brown sugar
3/4 cup butter
3 large eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp pure almond extract

Melt sugar and butter in a saucepan over medium heat until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir into sugar/butter mixture. Stir in toffee, almonds, and extract.
Pour into a greased 13 X 9 pan and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.
Makes about 2 dozen.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

quiche, or kwee-chee

This is not hard, and it's not even my own creation*. It is, however, a simple and perfect recipe. I like to add 8oz of bacon and some smoked gouda, or some sauteed spinach and crumbled feta.  Experiment and delight in the perfect quiche creation....

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Large pinch sea salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut in small pieces
5 to 6 tablespoons chilled water

Place the flour and the salt in the bowl of a food processor and process to mix. Cut the butter in chunks and add it to the flour. Process it, using pulses, until the butter is incorporated into the flour and the mixture looks like coarse cornmeal. With the food processor running, add the water and process briefly, using pulses, just until the pastry beings to hold together in large clumps. Turn the pastry out onto a floured work surface and gather it into a ball.

Let it rest one hour. Roll out the pastry to fit a 10-1/2 inch glass or metal pie plate . Crimp the edges, poke the bottom with a fork or the tip of a sharp knife, and place the pastry in the freezer for 30 minutes.

6 large eggs
2/3 cup heavy cream or crème fraîche
1 cup milk (preferably whole)
8 ounces gruyère, emmenthal, or other Swiss-type cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg - optional

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Line the pastry with aluminum foil and pastry weights or beans and bake in the bottom third of the oven until the pastry is golden at the edges, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove the aluminum foil and pastry weights. Return the pastry to the oven to bake until the bottom is golden, an additional 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and reserve.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, and the milk until thoroughly blended. Season with the salt and pepper, then add the cheese and stir until it is blended, Turn the mixture into the pre-baked pastry, and spread out the cheese evenly over the bottom of the pastry. Sprinkle the top with nutmeg if you've used a Swiss-type cheese, and bake in the center of the oven until the filling is golden and puffed, and is completely baked through, about 30 minutes. To test for doneness, shake the quiche - if it is solid without a pool of uncooked filling in the center, it is done. You may also stick a sharp knife blade into the center of the filling and if it comes out clean, the quiche is baked through.

Remove the quiche from the oven and serve immediately.

*bon app 99