As i mention in the pate sucree entry, this is one of my favorite desserts to make. I'm not great with dessert - i usually defer to Carol on that front - so having a few in my repertoire that are clear winners is important. I most recently made this for anne & Dave's 2002 Thanksgiving feast; of the three pastries i brought, this is the one that was almost gone at the end of the night. (We made it through half of the mini-not-so-key-lime pies, and about half of the pumpkin-bourbon pie with pecan streusel.) You'll need to make up a tart shell - i recommend the one in the pate sucree entry. Both recipes are from Chez Panisse Fruits.
I have only made this during the summer, and with the veeeeery last of the blueberries from summer. I haven't tried it with frozen ones; if anyone does, let me know how it works out!
Grated zest of 2 lemons
juice of 2 lemons (about 6 tablespoons)
3 tbsp water
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 lb (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 tsp salt
3 whole eggs
1 prebaked 11" pate sucree tart shell
3 cups blueberries
1/4 c. sugar
2 tbsp water
To make the lemon curd, put the lemon zest, lemon juice, water, sugar, butter, and salt into a 1-quart heavy-bottomed nonreactive saucepan. Heat slowly over low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves and the butter melts. Briefly whisk the eggs and egg yolks together in a bowl. Drizzle the hot lemon mixture into the eggs, whisking all the time, then scrape the contents of the bowl back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, constantly stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan, until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Strain the curt through a fine-mesh sieve and pour, still warm, into the prebaked tart shell. Spread evenly.
To make the blueberry topping, put 1 1/2 cups of the blueberries into a small saucepan with the sugar and water. Cook about fivec minutes over medium heat, stirring ans smashing up the berries until they turn into thick jam. Forlk the reamining blueberries into the jam, keeping them whole, and heat for aboutg 30 seconds, just enough to warm them slightly. Spoon the topping evenly over the lemon curd in the tart shell. Let the tart cool for 30 minutes before slicing.
Makes 1 11-inch tart
note: i used an extra lemon for juice when i made this; and the lemon zest was fine enough that i didn't strain it out, and noone (including me) noticed it in the final tart.
This is a great, simple tart shell pastry recipe. It's easy to make, it doesn't stick to pans, it barely shrinks at all. I've been sucessfull with it each time i've used it; in mini-tartlette pans, and in several larger tart pans.
My favorite use for this is in Chez Panisse's blueberry and lemon tart. I've done this tart three times, each a resounding success. Most recently, i made it yesterday for anne & Dave's Thanksgiving feast. Both recipes are from Chez Panisse Fruits.
1/4 lb (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Beat together the butter and sugar in a medium-size bowl until creamy. Add the salt, vanilla, and egg yolk and mix until completely combined. Add the flour and mix until there are no dry patches. Wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap and press into a 4-inch disk. Chill several hours or overnight, until firm.
To roll out the dough, first cut 2 14-inch-square pieces of parchment paper. Remove the disk of dough from the frige and unwrap it. Dust one of the pieces of paper with flour, center the disk on it, and dust the top of the dough with flour. Cover with the other pieces of paper and roll our the disk into a 13" circle about 1/8" thick. If the dough starts to stick to the paper while you re rolling, peel back the ppaer and dust again with flour, and replace the paper. Then flip the whole package over and repeat on the other side. chill the sheet of dough for a few minutes.
To make an 11-inch tart, remove the top sheet of paper and invert the dough into the tart pan. Peel off the remaining piece of apper, press the dough into the corners of the pan, and pinch off any dough overhang. Use the dough scraps to patch any cracks. Let the tart shell rest in the freezer for 10 minutes before baking.
To make 4-inch tartelts, remove the top sheet of paper from the dough and cut out six 5-inch rounds. Transfer the rounds to the 4-inch tartelt pans with a metal spatula. Press the dough into the corners and pinch off any extra dough from the edges. Let the tartlets rest in th freezer for 10 minutes before baking.
To prebake tart shells, preheat the oven to 350f. Transfer the shells directly from the freezer to the oven. Bake until slightly golden, about 15 minutes. Check the pastry halfway through baking and pat down any bubbles that may have formed. Let cool before filling.
Makes 11 oz of dough, enough for 1 11" tart or 6 4-inch tartlets.
I finally edited the pictures from our pre-isotope dinner with the Leckmans, Izzy & Jim - and i found some bonus pictures of the free-form tarts we had for breakfast the next morning. The tarts are done with the gallette dough from Chez Panisse Fruits, with a variety of fillings. Adrienne, Jim & Russell had sweet italian sausage, brunoise of red pepper, egg, and red onion; i had the same thing with the leftover etouffee sauce instead of egg. The sweet tarts were slices of pear tossed in vanilla and sugar, and apple tossed in calvados, sugar, and cinnamon. Click on the tarts to look at the photos!
So tell me about your key lime pie. I tried making some last night, after looking at several recipes, and i'm not sure i like what they are. I guess somewhere in my head i thought key lime pie was more like a lemon merengue pie with no merengue... and lime. It was clear from the recipes that that isn't true, but i'm not sure i'm willing to take these out to the Thanksgiving we're joining today, unless i hear that they're what they should be! They look gorgeous, but texturally, they're halfway to a fallen souffle, almost.... good flavor, but the texture is just weird for me. Russell likes them.... but tell me - what should a key lime pie be? More to report on the other pies in a few hours.
(oh, i settled on the recipe from How to Be a Domestic Goddess.)
Friday Morning addendum: The wee pies settled down into a much better texture after a night in the refrigerator - more like something between a custard and a cheesecake. The lime flavor really shone through - the adults loved them, and one of the kids said "It's too lemony!" and went back to the lemon-blueberry tart for more. Overall, i think they were a hit! I topped them with a dollop of freshly whipped cream, and a few strands of lime zest. Unfortunately, the battery on my camera was out of fuel, so no photos.
Okay so here's a favorite salad of mine:
It's been quiet around here - so it's about time for me to post another menu. Again, any recipes you want, just ask - i'll followup with a recipe posting. 8)
Last weekend, Adrienne and Jim came up to the city to take Russell & i to a party at Isotope - a single malt scotch tasting in honor of Warren Ellis' visit and the renaming of this fantastic comics shop. I take the opportunity to cook for Ades and Jim anytime i can, so we invited 3 of the 4 Leckmans (sadly, Soosh was relegated to Casa Leckman for the evening), and popped a quiet dinner party together.
We started with spicy southern-style almonds and a ginger ale, pomegranite, and lime punch. With the weather finally cooling down, i wanted to serve soup - the last of the season's corn let me make a soup that had no milk or cream, and fit into the allowed-veggie list for our motley crew. I love this soup - you'd swear it had cream in it while you're eating it, and it stays delicate and sweet with just the few ingredients.
Continuing on my recent pizza theme, our main course was a pile of salad greens dressed very simply with a pomegranite vinaigrette, topped with individual pizzas with pesto, fresh mozerella, pine nuts, zucchini, and fresh basil, draped with some proscuitto when they came out of the oven. (Well, except for Tad's. He misses out when he refuses the pig, but more for the rest of us!) Pizzas are great - they're so easy to adapt to any individual's particular food likes and dislikes. Someday i dream of having an oven where the bottom rack is a full-rack sized baking stone.
No desserts - we were just stuffed. Some tea and chatting, and the Leckman's walked home, and the four of us cabbed to the scotch tasting.
Finally - a few hours to myself. A chance to shrink down some photos of the food from Duane's birthday dinner a few weeks ago. Check them out. (Yes, yes, i know we forgot to photograph the etouffee - it's ok, it was tasty, but not terribly stunning.)
The SF Chronicle has a new Wine section. This is going to make my Thursday morning commute much more informative:
Duane likes spicy food. I promised a multi-course dinner for a birthday gift. We enjoyed it this last Saturday night. Of course, i was inspired to name the menu by these lovely kitties, who can smell your brain. Your spicy, spicy brains.
I'd be happy to post recipes or answer questions about timings and whatnot - just throw out requests in the comments, and i'll post some more entries! Dinner was for four: me, Russell, Duane, and Adam. We started around 6pm, and finished eating around 11.
aperitifs: gingered lemon/lime drops with spicy maple pecans
amuse bouche: a shot glass of butternut squash soup, with a scraping of mascarpone cheese and a tiny drop of pumpkin seed oil. (Someday i will have demitasse cups for this presentation!)
appetizer: chanterelle and d'affinois pizzas on baby greens
entree: freshwater shrimp etouffee with rice (Russell had a rolled chicken breast with mascarpone, parsley, and apricot filling.)
salad: caesar salad
cheese: composed plate of asian pears with point reyes blue, garnished with a few cherries
dessert: coconut and macademia nut tarts with vanilla ice cream
By popular demand, one of my favorite main-dish salads! This salad is featured in a really great book that's chock full of great main dish salads, called (appropriately enough) Main Dish Salads, by Norman Kolpas. I don't believe this book's offerings blaze any wild entree-salad trails, but sometimes when you want something green and are feeling uninspired it's glossy pictures can do wonders. It's a Canadian book and might not be available stateside, but if anyone wants to take a look at it, let me know! Ok, here we go...
Grilled Scallop and Maui Onion Ring Salad
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 pound sea scallops
1 large Maui onion
salt & white pepper to taste
12 cups mixed baby salad leaves
6 oz yellow teardrop or cherry tomatos
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
3 tbsp finely shredded fresh basil leaves
Make the dressing: in a small bowl whisk together the balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper until the salt dissolves. Stirring continuously, add the olive oil in a thin steady stream. Set aside.
Start the salad: in a small bowl stir together the lemon juice and half the olive oil, then add the scallops to marinate. Slice the Maui onion crosswise into 1/4-1/2 inch thick slices. Brush remaining olive oil on both sides of each sliced section. Sprinkle scallops and onion slices with salt and pepper, then grill or broil them until they are light golden brown - about 2 or 3 minutes per side.
Toss the salad greens and tomatos with enough dressing to coat everything well in a large bowl. Plate the greens in generous portions, separate the grilled onion slices into rings and strew them over the greens. Cut the scallops horizontally into two thinner disks and arrange golden-side-up on the salad. Top with pine nuts and basil shreds and serve immediately. Serves 4.
Substitutions: Any sweet onion can be used - walla walla, vidalia, or red onions. Shrimp can be used instead of scallops. To make the dish vegetarian, I have also used well-seasoned tempeh grilled in the same manner as the scallops. Good luck!
It was so yummy and easy the first time, I had to make the Miso-Glazed Salmon again tonight. For a different audience, of course. The glaze is just a mixture of brown sugar, soy sauce, hot water, and miso spooned over salmon before broiling the fish for 10 minutes. It carmelizes like magic.
And then Patrick made his white chocolate and kiwi crepes.
Do you know how rare it is to catch a recipe on tv where 1) you remember all the ingredients 8 hours later (without writing them down), 2) it looks like something you'd really enjoy, and 3) you actually have all the ingredients fresh in your 'fridge?
I whipped up an excellent salad tonight, based on a recipe I caught the tail end of on a cooking show this morning. Of course I didn't bother to look online for the recipe until after dinner, but miraculously it all came together really well in litterally under 6 minutes, and ended up being one of the best spontaneous meals I have made in a long time.
My Impromptu Beef Salad
1/4 pound fillet mignion
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Juice from one lemon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
2 scallions, thinly sliced, white parts only
1/4 cucumber, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced
1 handfull of cilantro, torn up
Big bowl of arugula/salad greens
Sear the steak in a hot pan until medium rare (about 3 minutes on the first side, season with salt and pepper, then flip for 1 minute on the second side). Remove from heat, let it cool a little and slice.
Whisk the juice of a lemon, cumin, and olive oil with a little salt and pepper to taste. Toss greens, cucumber, and cilantro with the lemon-cumin dressing. Add steak.
Ok. Coconut cream pie. Do you have a recipe? If not, what do you love about coconut cream pie? Or other coconut pies, for that matter? I don't care for them, but it looks like i'm going to try and cook one tonight to finish off the spicy birthday dinner. Help!
Karine asked for chocolate chip cookie recipes -- My classmate Jenny brought these in for a potluck party at school, and the entire class went crazy. They're the best cookies I've ever had. She's not kidding about the "more baking soda" than normal part. Think I'll try making these myself today or tomorrow.
Jenny's Chocolate Chip Cookies
Baker’s Note: This is your basic Toll House Cookie recipe, but with more
brown sugar, more baking soda, more chocolate chips, and the secret
technique to “break the crust”, which gives the cookies a nice texture.
One cup Crisco butter flavored all-vegetable shortening, (conveniently sold
in sticks, like butter)
Half cup regular white granulated sugar
One cup light brown sugar, packed and overflowing
One teaspoon pure vanilla extract, (use real extract, not imitation vanilla
Two large eggs, (eggs must be at room temperature and added one at a time)
One tablespoon baking soda
One teaspoon salt
Two and a quarter cups of all-purpose flour, (you may need to add a little
more for consistency)
Two bags of semi-sweet chocolate chips, (that’s 24 ounces total)
Mix the ingredients in the order listed. Use a mix-master if you have one.
Mix in the last cup of flour by hand. Of course, add the chocolate chips by
hand. Don’t over-mix as this may toughen the cookies. You may need to add
a touch more flour to achieve a perfect consistency.
Drop onto ungreased cookie sheet. Incidentally, the best cookie sheets are
the ones with the pocket of air in the middle, so the cookies bake evenly
and won’t burn. Also, keep in mind that the oven rack should be directly in
the center of the oven. Use only this center oven rack, and only place one
cookie sheet in the oven at a time.
Bake at 350 or so for about seven minutes, and then rotate the cookie sheet
so the cookies bake evenly. Bake for another four or five minutes, for a
total of about 10-12 minutes baking time. If you have a nifty convection
oven, then consider yourself lucky and you can skip the rotation step.
Now, this is the important part: When the cookies are a nice browned color
(not under-cooked, not over-cooked, just right), then take the cookie sheet
out of the oven and set aside for one minute to allow the cookies to set.
Keep in mind that the cookies are continually baking as long as they remain
on the cookie sheet. Don’t over-cook!
Place your wire cooling rack on the counter top. You must have a proper
OK, this might sound a little tedious, but this is the secret technique and
well worth the time: Take each cookie, one by one, off the cookie sheet,
and while it’s still on the spatula, “scrunch” the cookie with two thumbs
and two index fingers to “break the crust”. This will give you the nice
textured cookie top. Try not to burn your fingers on the hot chocolate
Let the cookies cool a bit and enjoy!
Wasabi mashed potatoes
Steamed bok choy
Once again my barometer was Laura, who doesn't really care for salmon. She asked for seconds.
I purchased some purple potatoes from Trader Joes the other night and thought it would be really cool to make them into mashed potatoes. So lastnight I made dinner for Shari and I and included the purple potatoes, mashed.
I boiled them, added butter, milk, salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic, mashed them up and served them. Shari would not eat them. She thought they were too strange. I thought they were really really cool.
As they cooled down they changed from blue to a deep purple. It was really neat.
So my question, would you find it too strange to eat if you were served purple potatoes mashed?
I have been looking for a good chocolate chip cookie recipe, and when I am feeling lazy I like bar cookies. I got this recipe off of epicurious, and modified it a little. I don't like nuts, so I swapped the pecans for shredded sweetened coconut. They are very yummy...
Whats your favorite chocolate chip cookie? How is it as a bar cookie?
CHOCOLATE CHIP BAR COOKIES WITH PECANS
1 pound dark brown sugar (about 2 cups firmly packed)
2/3 cup solid vegetable shortening, melted, cooled
3 large eggs
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 12-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and shortening in large bowl to blend. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Sift flour, baking powder and salt over batter; beat to blend. Mix in chocolate chips and nuts. Spread batter in prepared pan.
Bake until top is golden and tester inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs still attached, about 35 minutes. Cool in pan on rack; cut into bars.
Makes about 24.
Ok, folks. I have a menu challenge for y'all. I'm going to be cooking a birthday dinner for my friend Duane, who has a great love for all things of heat - capsicum, garlic, wasabi, or otherwise. I know a few things: cocktails and snacks are going to include gingered lemon&lime drops with sweet & spicy toasted almonds, the main course is going to be a shrimp and scallop etouffe, i'll follow it with a salad (maybe my caesar - Adam's been telling him about it), and end with something Chocolate. This leaves me needing an amuse-bouche and a starter, and potentially a different salad. Any advice? The entree is going to be rich,and full of heat -- so i'd like to balance the mouthfeel a bit with the app. I like the idea of doing something southern-fusion for the app as well, but i'm not heart-set on it. I think i'm going to do something with chanterelles for the amuse-bouche, but i'm not set on that, either. Thoughts? Help? Comment away!
For the last few years, Russell and i have quietly celebrated Dia de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead) at home, with a small private altar. This year, we decided to check out the neighborhood festivities with jD and Logan. It sounded like more folks might be interested, so we decided to host an open house - dinner before the 7pm processional, and Mexican hot chocolate and cookies afterwards.
The challenge: come up with a menu that would feed many or a few, quickly. Keep it vegetarian. Make sure the leftovers (in the case that you only feed a few) are enticing enough to reheat and re-embellish over the next week.
We decided to make butternut squash soup, a salad of romaine, bell pepper, apple & avocado with a spicy citrus-cumin dressing, and bread & cheese & olives. Oh, and the ubiquitous bowl of Halloween candy we keep trying to get everyone else to eat.
I think it turned out nicely - Raven, jD, and Logan joined us for dinner. We ran into Dan and Carol, jennyg, Forrest, and Chris Comparini & Jocelyn en route. Chris & Jocelyn joined jD , Logan, Russell and myself for dessert - hot chocolate made with Ibarra and Sharffenberger with freshly made whipped cream, and almond biscotti from Lucca. (Everyone should have a Lucca a block away to be their pastry chef.) We each chomped on a bite of the sugar skull that jD and Logan brought to share.
Today we repurposed some of the soup as a ravioli sauce; it will provide another meal or two as the week wears on.
This is actually a two-fold recipe; it starts with a roasted butternut squash puree that you can freeze off, turn into soup, make into a pasta sauce, or even whip up into a side dish. I've done all of those things with it. I especially like the sweet/tart/caramelized edge that the squash takes on from the roasting glaze - it's subtle, but it's definitely there, and definitely good. It's easy to make vegan - substitute soy margarine or olive oil in the roasting glaze, swap veggie stock in for the chicken stock, and either omit the half-and-half or sub in cooking-grade soy milk. The recipe comes from the Tra Vigne Cookbook, a gift a few Christmases ago from the Krists. Recipe follows.
Roasted Winter Squash makes about four cups puree
about 3 lbs butternut squash
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh sage
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup dark unsulfered molasses
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Peel the squash. Halve lengthwise, discard the seeds, then cut into 1-inch dice. Place in large bowl and season with salt and pepper.
Heat the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter ceases to foam and has turned a light brown, pull the pan off the heat and immediately add the sage, sugar, vinegar, and molasses. Mix well and let simmer over medium-low heat for 1-2 minutes to meld the flavors.
Pour the veingar mix over the squash and toss well, then tranfer to a heavy rimmed baking sheet or baking dish large enough to hold the squash in a single layer. Place in the oven and roast, tossing at least once, until very tender and caramelized, about 1 hour. Set aside until cool enough to handle but still warm.
Work in batches if necessary; transfer to a food processor and puree until smooth. Use immediately, refrigerate for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to two months.
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. diced onion (1/4-inch dice)
1/4 c. diced carrot (1/4-inch dice)
1/4 c. diced celery (1/4-inch dice)
1 cinnamon stick
salt and freshly ground pepper
about 4 c. chicken stock
1/2 tsp ground coriander (optional) (nb: i always use it)
1.5 c. roasted winter squash
1/2 c. half-and-half
1/4 c. mascarpone cheese (optional)
2 tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until hot. Add the onion, celery, carrot and cinnamon stick and saute until soft but not brown, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the chicken stock and the coriander, if using, and bring to a boil. Simmer for several minutes. Stir in the squash until smooth, then simmer gently to let the flavors meld, about 10 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick.
Puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Return the soup to the pan and reheat gently. Add the half-and-half, if using. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Garnish with a spoonful of mascarpone and/or a scattering of pumpkin seeds.
Additional notes from meriko: Always use the coriander. Sometimes if the soup is too, too rich, i'll add a tsp of white wine vinegar to brighten it up. (Be cautious - a little goes a long way.) I also often top this with a small drizzle of pumpkinseed oil instead of the pumpkin seeds.