Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Pecan Pie

I have always thought that pecan pies were too sweet, but then I tasted the pies Chris made for Thanksgiving this year using maple syrup and no corn syrup. They were very good. He used a recipe from The Best Recipe Cookbook by Cook's Illustrated magazine. I looked at other recipes and basically went with the recipe Chris used, but added a couple of ingredients from the recipe in the cookbook from Tartine Bakery. The taste was great and I wouldn't change the ingredients. The crust was somewhat soggy. The filling was pretty cool by the time I poured it into the crust and that may have been the problem. Best Recipe's recipe is the only one I have seen that uses a low temp (275) to bake the pie. It is hard to believe that other cookbooks I respect would have recipes that produce inferior pies and they all use higher temps. Tartine uses 350 and I think next time I will go with that. The directions I am giving are therefore based on the Tartine method, not Best Recipe's low temperature method.

Pecan Pie
3 lg eggs
1 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp bourbon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
finely grated orange zest (from about 1/2 a large orange)
2 cups chopped pecans
prebaked 9" pie shell

In a saucepan, combine sugar, maple syrup, bourbon, and salt. Place over medium heat and bring to a rolling boil. Boil for 1 min. Take pan off heat, add the butter, and whisk as it melts. Let the mixture cool to room temp. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Add vanilla and eggs to cooled mixture and whisk to mix well. Stir in pecans and orange zest.
Bake until filling is just set, 40 to 60 mins. If the top is browning too quickly, cover with a piece of foil.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cinnamon-Nut Pull-Apart, a Moore Family Holiday Treat

This has been the Moore family traditional breakfast bread for Christmas and Easter. I love that I can assemble it the day before I need it and then bake it just before breakfast. The original recipe called for 1 cup of raisons but the raisin hater in my family made me leave them out.

Pull-Apart Coffee Cake
1 tblsp (1 package) active dry yeast (9 grams)
1/4 cup warm (110 degree) water (59 ml)
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 grams) salt
1/4 cup sugar (50 grams)
1/4 cup salad oil (59 ml)
3/4 cup warm (110º) milk (177.5 ml)
1 large egg
about 3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (406 grams)
1/2 cup (1/4 lb) melted butter (113.5 grams)
Cinnamon-nut sugar (recipe follows)
Sprinkle yeast over warm water and let stand to soften, about 5 mins. Stir in salt, sugar, oil milk, and egg until blended. Stir in 3 1/4 cups of flour until smooth. Knead about 10 minutes, with a mixer or by hand, until smooth and elastic, adding flour as required to keep from sticking.
Divide dough into 3 equal portions, then cut each portion into 16 equal pieces. Shape into balls, roll in butter, then in cinnamon-nut sugar. Stagger balls, barely touching, in layers in greased 9- to 10-inch ring mold (angel food or bundt cake pan). Sprinkle with remaining nut sugar and drizzle with remaining butter.
Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place util puffy, about 45 mins. or chill 16 to 18 hours. Bake at 350 degrees until well browned, 30 to 35 mins.
Let cool in pan on a rack for at least 20 mins. or up to 3 hours. Run a knife between cake and pan side and then turn out onto plate.
Cinnamon-nut Sugar
Stir together 3/4 cup sugar (150 grams), 1 teaspoon (2.6 grams) ground cinnamon, and 1/2 cup (55 grams) finely chopped walnuts.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Sunset's Best-Ever Gingerbread

Yesterday I went for a lovely ride down San Andreas with Sue and Betsy. As often happens the subject of food came up and I mentioned this gingerbread. It is easy, moist, light, keeps well, and is delicious. They asked me to put it on my blog so they could have the recipe and so here it is.

Best-ever Gingerbread
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1 cup salad oil
1 cup molasses
2 tsps baking soda
1 cup boiling water
2 1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
2 eggs, well beaten
Grease 9x13 baking pan and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine sugar, salt, and spices in bowl. Stir in oil, then molasses, mixing well. Stir the soda into the boiling water and immediately stir into the mixture. Gradually blend in flour to prevent lumping. Then mix in the beaten eggs. Pour into pan and bake about 40 mins., until a toothpick comes out clean.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Panade of Leeks and Mixed Greens with Cantal Cheese

There is nothing better on a cold winter day than a panade. Think very rich stuffing without the turkey. The turkey is never as good as the stuffing anyway. I have never actually made this with Cantal cheese because I have only found Cantal in France. It is great with Comte, but Gruyere would be very good also. A good chewy bread is important. Feel free to vary the vegetables.
3 large leeks (white and light green parts only) chopped
1 red onion, chopped
5 green garlic shoots or 8 to 10 garlic cloves, sliced.
(leeks, onion, and garlic should equal 4 cups)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lb loaf of stale chewy bread with crust
1 1/2 lb mixed leafy greens (such as sorrel, chard, kale, spinach, arugula, a braising mix would be good) deribbed and shredded (about 10 cups)
juice of 1/2 lemon
freshly ground pepper
grated nutmeg
3 cups whole milk, heated to simmering
1/2 lb Cantal, Comte, or Gruyere cheese.
you might want to add pine nuts or walnuts
Slowly stew the leeks, onion, and garlic in olive oil for 10 minutes. Add 1 tsp salt and cook for 5 more minutes. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Cut bread into 1" cubes. You should have about 2 qts.
Spread cubes in one layer on an oiled baking sheet and bake for 45 min. or until just golden.
Add greens to the pot with the leeks and cook over low heat for 45 min. Uncover and boil away excess liquid. Allow to cool. Add lemon juice, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. Adjust salt. (Up to the point the recipe can be prepared 1 day in advance and refrigerated. Bring to room temp before continuing.)
About 2 1/2 hours before serving, oil a deep 3 qt casserole, perferably earthenware. Place 1/3 of the bread cubes in the dish, top with 1/2 the greens, and repeat, ending with the bread cubes and patting lightly to make an even topping. Gradually pour the hot milk down the insides and over the top of the panade so everything is moist. If necessary add 1/2 cup water. cover with the grated cheese and a sheet of foil.
Bake in 250 degree oven for 1 3/4 hours. Raise the oven temp to 400 degrees, uncover and bake 20 more min. Remove from oven and allow to relax for about 10 min before serving.
I have thought it would be good to bake the panade in a shallow pan so as to have more crust.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Apricot Pie

Anna and Doug came over for a fun and relaxed dinner (for me at least) so we could catch up on our time in France after we went separate ways. I made an apricot pie and Anna asked for the recipe and so here it is.

Apricot Pie
pastry for 2 crust pie
 6 heaping cups fresh (or frozen) apricots, preferably Blenheim apricots
4 tblsp tapioca
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
a couple of dashes of nutmeg
juice of 1 large lemon
Preheat oven to 400º. Toss fruit with tapioca and spices. Drizzle the lemon juice over the apricots. Roll out bottom crust, add filling, roll out upper crust and place on top of filling. Bake 10 minutes at 400 degrees, then turn the oven down to 375 and bake another 25-35 minutes or until the pie is browned and the filling is bubbling.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Banana Bread

This is the first quick bread recipe that I created. It is adapted from a couple of recipes I found in Cooks Illustrated Magazine's Best Recipes and a Sunset Best Recipes cookbook. I don't usually add nuts, but it would be very good with walnuts added if you prefer a nutty bread. This recipe doubles easily.

Banana Bread
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mashed banana
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla
Cream butter and sugar. Sift and measure flour. Measure all dry ingredients into bowl and whisk to mix and set aside. Add eggs one at a time to butter mixture, beating well after each. Add buttermilk, vanilla, and banana. Fold in dry ingredients until just combined. Place in greased and floured 9x5 inch loaf pan. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for about 1 hour, until toothpick come out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes and then remove from pan. Don't wrap until fully cool.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Cherry Clafoutis

Last year when we were in the Drome I had my first taste of clafoutis.  It was cherry and I knew to watch out for the pits.  The French leave them in to give an almond flavor to the clafoutis.  Now that cherries are in season here in California I got the urge to make a clafoutis myself and bought myself a fancy 4 at a time cherry pitter to make the process easier.  Other than pitting the cherries, making a clafoutis is very easy.  I added some finely chopped almonds, to make up for the lack of pits, to a recipe in the Tartine Bakery's cookbook.  Clafoutis recipes vary widely.  I liked Tartine's, but the next time I made it I reduced the sugar just a bit ( from 3/4 cup to 2/3 cup) and upped the quantity of fruit a bit.  I have made it with Blenheim apricots and Len liked it even better. Feel free to substitute any stone fruit you like.

Tartine's Cherry Clafoutis
2 cups whole milk (I didn't have whole milk and used 3/4 cup skim and 1/4 cup cream)
2/3 cup sugar (I used organic) the original recipe called for 3/4 cup
1/2 vanilla bean
pinch salt
3 large whole eggs
1/3 cup plus 1 tblsp all-purpose flour
2 cups cherries, pitted (plus some chopped almonds)
1/4 cup sugar for topping
Preheat oven to 425.  Butter a 10" ceramic quiche mold or pie dish.
In a small saucepan, combine milk, 2/3 cup sugar, vanilla bean, and salt. Place over medium heat and heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar, to just under a boil.  While the milk mixture is heating, break 1 egg into a heatproof bowl, add the flour, and whisk until free of any lumps.  Add the remaining 2 eggs and whisk until smooth.
Remove the pan from heat and slowly ladle the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking
constantly. (I scraped the seeds out of the vanilla bean.)  Pour the mixture into the mold and add the fruit, making sure that it is evenly distributed.
Bake until just set in the center and slightly puffed and browned around the outside, 30 to 35 minutes.  Remove from the oven, turn up the temp to 500.  Evenly sprinkle the 1/4 cup sugar over the top.  Return to oven for 5 to 10 minutes to caramelize the sugar.  Watch carefully, as it will darken quickly.
Let cool on wire rack for at least 15 minutes before slicing.  Serve warm or at room temp.
1/4 cup sugar for topping
The clafoutis is at it's best by far the day that it is made, but it still tastes great the next day.  It would be great for breakfast, but I have resisted that.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Pear Cake for Martha

I thought a ginger cake would be a nice thing to make for Martha and it sounded to good her. I found a few recipes that I used as a launching point and ended up with this, which was pretty good. Martha thought it was a bit too sweet, but I think that it wouldn't be too sweet for most everyone else. 


1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar (try 3/4 for Martha)
2 cups flour (scoop and level method)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp powdered ginger
zest of one lemon
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3 ounces finely chopped fresh ginger (use small bowl in processor)
3 to 5 peeled and chopped bosc pears

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time and then vanilla. Add fresh ginger and lemon zest. Stir dry ingredients together and add. Stir in pears. Place in buttered 9” springform pan lined with parchment at 350 for about 1 hour. Check for doneness with a toothpick after 50 minutes.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Remembrance of Dinner at Chez Panisse

Dessert at Chez Panisse the evening we ate included candied orange peel, yummy.  Here is the version from Alice Water's "Fruit".

Candied Orange Peel Dipped in Chocolate

5 oranges
4 cups sugar plus more for tossing
2 cups water
1/4 lb bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Cut washed oranges in half and juice them, saving the juice for another use.  Put the halves of peel in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water.  Bring to a boil over low heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Drain peel, return it to the saucepan, and cover with cold water; bring to a boil and simmer 10 more minutes.  Repeat this blanching process a third time, simmering until the peel can easily be pierced with the point of a knife.  After this third blanching, let the soggy peel cool.  Scrape out most of the white part of the peel with a spoon and slice the peel into long 1/4 inch thick strips.
Put the strips in the saucepan and add the sugar and 2 cups water.  Stir the mixture over low heat until sugar is dissolved.  Allow the peel to continue to cook slowly in the sugar syrup until it becomes translucent and the syrup is boiling in fast small bubbles; the temperature of the syrup should reach 230 degrees.
Turn off the heat and let the fruit sit in the syrup for 1/2 hour.  Drain and arrange the strips, not touching one another on a rack or baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  The next day toss them with about 1/2 cup sugar and store in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 6 months.
Four ounces of chocolate will cover about 60 pieces of orange peel.   Melt the chocolate gently and carefully dip the long strips into it, leaving the end of each uncoated.  Lay strips on a parchment lined baking sheet and refrigerate.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Chocolate Cake for Eeva's Gala

I have returned from a almost a week of back to back events in Washington D.C.  The most special were Barack Obama's inauguration and Eeva's 30th birthday.  Amy and Eric hosted a dinner party and I provided the cake.   I had a couple of requests for the recipe which is slightly altered from "Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme".  This is my most requested dessert and is very easy to make.

Suzy's Cake
9.7 oz bar bittersweet ScharffenBerger Chocolate
2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup organic sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 1 tblsp all-purpose flour
1. Butter 9" round springform cake pan that is at least 2" high, line bottom with parchment paper, butter the paper, and dust inside of pan with flour: tap out excess.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees with shelf in middle.
2. Melt chocolate (Cool until just warm to touch before mixing with rest of ingredients).
3. Cream butter and sugar on medium speed for about 4 min, scraping sides of bowl frequently, until butter is creamy and sugar well blended.  Add eggs one at a time, beating about 1 min after each.  Reduce speed to low and pour in the cooled chocolate. Mix just until incorporated. Stir in flour only until it disappears into the batter.
4. Scrape batter into pan, smooth top, and place into oven.  Bake 26 to 29 min or until cake rises slightly and top has lost its sheen.  The top may crack a bit and the cake may not look entirely set in the center; when you test the cake by inserting a slender sknife into the center, the knife will come out lightly streaked with batter, which is what you want.  (This light streaking, hasn't happened for me. It is always heavy streaking for me. It is important not to over bake the cake as it will be dry. I never bake it over 29 minutes.)  Transfer cake to a rack to cool.
5. When cake has cooled, chill it in the refrigerator for an hour or two to make it easy to unmold.  Turn cake out, remove parchment, and invert cake onto serving platter so that it is right side up.  Allow the cake to come to room temperature before serving.  Serve cake with whipped cream.  I sift powdered sugar lightly over cake, but it isn't necessary. I think it makes the cake more attractive.
The cake can be wrapped in plastic and kept at room temperature or in to refrigerator for 3 or 4 days or frozen for up to a month.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Recipes Old and New

I just enjoyed a weekend of eating and cycling with friends and my food contributions were my old cookie favorite Brandon's Chocolate Bars and Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa from Gourmet Magazine by way of  Both were big hits and the recipes were requested and so here they are.  I thought the quinoa would be better if the amount of black beans was increased just a bit, but nobody else agreed.

Brandon's Chocolate Bars
Crust:  1 cup butter
             1 cup brown sugar, packed
             2 cups flour
             1 tsp vanilla
Cream butter and sugar.  Add flour and vanilla.  Pat into 9 by 13 pan and bake at 350 degrees 15 to 20 minutes.
Topping:  3 large eggs
                  1 1/2 cups brown sugar
                  1 1/2 tsp vanilla
                  3 tblsp flour
                  3/4 tsp baking powder
                  12 oz pkg chocolate chips
                  3/4 cup chopped walnuts
Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla.  Beat in flour and baking powder.  Add cocolate chips and nuts. Spread topping over baked crust.  Return to oven for 25-30 minutes.  Cut into bars while still warm.

Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa
2 tsp grated lime zest
2 tblsp fresh lime juice
2 tblsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled (I omitted this)
1 tblsp olive oil (I used a bit more)
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup quinoa
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained (I cooked my own)
2 med. tomatoes, diced
4 green onions, chopped.
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (the original recipe called for cilantro)
Whisk together lime zest and juice, butter, oil, sugar, salt, and pepper in large bowl.  
Cook quinoa.  (For directions in orginal recipe, go to TEXT
and  type in Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa in the search box.)  Add quinoa to dressing and toss until dressing is absorbed, then stir in remaining ingredients.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Dermatology Department Party

Fancy has asked me what we served when we hosted the derm party.  It really couldn't have been simpler and made the party relatively stress free.  The only thing that I prepared from scratch was the gravlax which was served with small slices of pumpernickel bread and baguette, along with creme fraiche as a topping.  The other things merely needed to be set out: mixed nuts, a variety of olives, four different cheeses, crackers, tapenade, ham, small franchese rolls, and mustard .  The ham was Martha Stewart/Niman Ranch from Costco.  They have had it the last 2 Christmas's at Costco and it is really good, not too salty.  For dessert I picked up four different things from Gayles:  individual chocolate peppermint cakes, little mocha mousses in chocolate cups, pecan tassies, and lemon butter snowflake cookies.   For drinks we offered San Pellogrino sparkling water, champagne, white and red wine, and beer.  I borrowed wine glasses from Martha and had stemless flutes for the champagne.  I found great appetizer plates at the Crate and Barrel outlet.  It was wonderful not having paper plates and plastic cups.