Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Cookies

For years I made plates full of cookies to give to our neighbors and a very few friends. Several years ago I didn't have time to make the cookies and then Mom died in December one year and I felt like Christmas had passed us by, and then I just wasn't making the cookies anymore. Well, this year I thought I really should make the cookies again and I am so glad that I did. People really seem to enjoy them. I tried 2 new recipes, rich chocolate cookies from Tartine Bakery and lemon sablés from Dorie Greenspan's "Paris Sweets". The old recipes I used were the molasses crinkles, lemon bars, and Brandon bars. I have had two recipe requests and they are for the cookies that always have seemed to be the most popular. Both came from a co-worker at Stanford, Helen Okuda. She always brought the best things to potlucks. I have lost touch with Helen and the recipes only exist on note cards, time to back them up on the blog.

Lemon Bars
Crust: Blend together-1 cup butter
2 cups flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Press into lightly butter 9"x13" pan; bake @ 350 for 25 minutes.
Filling: Blend together-2 Cups sugar
4 beaten eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tblsps lemon zest, grated (from about 3 lemons)
1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup lemon juice
Pour filling over baked crust and bake @ 350 for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown (top will crack). When cool, cut into squares and dust with powdered sugar (through sifter).

Brandon's Chocolate Bars
Crust: 1 cup butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp vanilla
Cream butter & sugar. Add flour & vanilla. Pat into 9"x13" pan; bake @ 350 degrees 15 to 20 minutes.
Topping: 3 eggs
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 tblsps flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
12 oz. pkg semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla. Mix in flour and baking powder; add chocolate chips and nuts. Sread topping over baked crust; return to oven for 25-30 minutes. Cut while still warm.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Galette Dough

This is an outstanding galette dough, but it is important that you add the butter exactly as given in the recipe. It is from Alice Waters Chez Panisse Fruit and originally came from Jacques Pépin. This makes enough dough for 2 galettes and keeps well in the freezer.

Galette Dough
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
12 tblsp unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
7 tblsp ice water
Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Cut 4 tblsp butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender, mixing until the dough resembles coarse cornmeal. Cut in the remaing 8 tblsp butter with the pastry blender, just until the biggest pieces of the butter are the size of large peas--or a little larger.
Dribble 7 tblsp of ice water (that's 1/2 cup less 1 tblsp) into the flour mixture in several stages, tossing and mixing between additions, until the dough just holds together. Toss the mixture with your hands, letting it fall through your fingers. Do not pinch or squeeze the dough together or you will overwork it, making it tough. Keep tossing the mixture until it starts to pull together: it will look rather ropy, with some dry patches. If it looks like there are more dry patches than ropy parts, add another tablespoon of water and toss the mixture until it comes together. Divide the dough in half, firmly press each half into a ball, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap, pressing down to flatten each ball into a 4" disk. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.
When you are ready to roll out the dough, take one disk from the refrigerator and let it soften slightly so that it malleable but still cold. Unwrap the dough and press the edges of the disk so that there are no cracks. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the disk into a 14" circle. Place the dough on a piece of baking parchment on a baking sheet.
To make a fruit galette, spread fruit over the dough leaving about a 1 1/2" border. Sprinkle sugar over the fruit. Fold the border over the fruit, crimping and pushing it against the fruit. The rim must act as a dam, preventing juices from escaping. Brush the border with water or melted butter and sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake in the center of a 4o0 degree oven for about 45 minutes, rotating every 15 minutes.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Memphis Style (Dry Rub) BBQ'd Spareribs

I wanted to try to branch out beyond burgers for the 4th and this recipe in Cook's Illustrated looked pretty good. The ribs came out well, had a decent "bark" like a dry rub rib should and smelled a bit like bacon. They were a hit at the BBQ. The picture is of the ribs ready to go in the oven to be finished.

2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon table salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

2 racks St. Louis style spareribs, 2 1/2 to 3 pounds each
1/2 cup apple juice
3 tablespoons apple cider vineagar
large disposable aluminum tray
1/2 cup wood chips, soaked

1. Combine rub ingredients. Place racks on rimmed baking sheet Sprinkle rub on both sides of each rack, rubbing and pressing to adhere. Set aside while prepping grill.

2. Combine apple juice and vinegar and set aside. Open top and bottom grill vent half way and arrange 15 unlit charcoal briquettes evenly on 1 side of grill Place disposable aluminum pan filled with 1 inch water on other side of grill. Fill chimney with about 33 briquettes and light. When coals are covered with a thin layer of ash pour them on top of the unlit briquettes. Sprinkle wood chips on top, place the cooking grate over coals and cover the grill until the grate is hot, about 5 minutes.

3. Place the ribs, meat side down over the water pan. Cover grill positioning the cover vent over the ribs to draw smoke through the grill. Cook for 45 minutes fiddling with the vents to keep the inside of the BBQ 250-275 degrees (I didn't have any way to measure this temp but it was a hot day so I kept the vents pretty well closed). Flip the ribs meat side up, switch their positions, and rotate them 180 degrees. Apply two tablespoons of the apple juice mix to each. Cook for another 45 minutes. Adjust oven rack to middle positions and preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

4. Transfer ribs to wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet (I used my roti pan), meat side up. Apply each rib rack with another 2 tablespoons of the apple juice mix. Pour 1 1/2 cups of water into the baking sheet and roast for 1 hour. Apply the rest of the apple juice mop and roast for 1 to 2 hours more. The meat should be tender, but not falling off the bone and internal temp should be 195 to 200 degrees. Transfer to a cutting board, tent with tin foil and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Eat.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Asparagus Galette

I returned from a weekend in DC to a large bunch of asparagus waiting in the fridge. Eeva had made us a lovely rhubarb galette and that inspired me to create a savory galette to use up most of the asparagus. Yes her galette was sweet, but the lovely crust left me wanting to see if I could improve on the galettes I have been making. I have been using Alice Water's galette pastry recipe from her "Chez Panisse Vegetables" cookbook. This time I used the recipe Eeva used, Alice Water's galette pastry from "Chez Panisse Fruit". The ingredients are identical, but the technique is different and the result is much better. I also made fresh ricotta for the first time. It tasted very fresh, but there is definitely room for improvement. I used a recipe I found at I'm going to research technique before I try it again.

Asparagus Galette
10 oz galette pastry (1/2 recipe from Alice Water's "Chez Panisse Fruit")
fresh ricotta--enough to cover pastry, leaving a 2" border
1/4 lb pancetta chopped and lightly browned
cleaned and trimed asparagus--enough to mostly cover pastry
olive oil
grated parmesan cheese
Roll out pastry and refrigerate for an hour. Spread ricotta over pastry, distibute pancetta over it. Toss asparagus in olive oil and arrange like the spokes of a wheel. Break to create pieces short enough to fit and fill gaps with the trimmed ends. Sprinkle parmesan over the asparagus. Fold over edges. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes and then increase temperature to 425 and bake until edges are browned, 5-10 minutes longer.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Oven Roasted Rhubarb

I picked up some lovely rhubarb at the Cabrillo farmers market and roasted it for the first time. It was so delicious. I just finished up the last of it with some crème fraîche, yum. Next time I think I will make double the recipe.

Roasted Rhubarb
1 lb rhubarb cut into 2" pieces
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup crisp white wine
zest of 1/2 orange
1/2 vanilla bean
Place ingredients in baking dish and roast at 350 for about 30 minutes, until tender. Stir occasionally. Serve over ice cream or topped with crème fraîche. It is good warm or cold.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tarte Flambée

When Len took his leave of absence we were able to spend a bit longer than usual in France. After visiting Jukka and Pipsa in Luxembourg we drove through Alsace. We stopped in Kayserberg for lunch and I had my first tarte flambé. It was enormous, but I managed to eat almost all of it. I have managed to recreate it at home, though sadly I can't cook it in a wood burning oven. Enjoy with a good beer or an Alsatian riesling.

Tarte Flambée

1 pizza crust thinly rolled and stretched into a large rectangle
1 large onion sliced
as much lean bacon as you will allow yourself, sliced
crème fraîche 1/2 to 1 cup
extra virgin olive oil (optional)
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
Place a pizza stone in the oven and heat to 500 degrees. Cook the onions in a little butter or olive oil until golden. Mix crème fraîche, onions, a pinch of nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread on crust. I cook the bacon before distributing it over the crust, but the French recipes don't. If you like, sprinkle a little evoo over the tarte. Bake until the edges of the crust are browned, 8-10 minutes.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Eureka, a Goat Cheese Salad Len likes!

One of the things Len has never liked is goat cheese and so I even though I love it, I only make dishes that include it when I make something to take somewhere. I found a salad on-line at "the kitchn" and made it to take to a potluck. I found the original recipe too bland even for my timid taste buds and revamped it. To my amazement, when I served Len the leftovers, he asked me to write down what I had done so I could recreate it.

Meyer Lemon Grain Salad with Asparagus and Chevre
4 ounces uncooked farro
4 ounces uncooked pearl (Israeli) couscous
1 lb asparagus
olive oil
1 cup toasted sliced almonds
3 ounces soft chevre, crumbled
2 Meyer lemons, zested and juiced
1 lg shallot, finely diced
1 tblsps olive oil
1 tblsp walnut oil
salt and pepper
chopped Italian parsley
Cook farro and couscous according to directions and allow to cool. Coat the asparagus with olive oil, salt it, and roast it. Slice the asparagus into bite sized pieces. Mix all the ingredients and add salt and pepper to taste.
This salad keeps well in the fridge and improves the next day. We had it with leftover chicken breasts and they were great together. The chicken breasts were dusted with salt, herbes de Provence, and chopped garlic, then drizzled with Meyer lemon juice. They were then sautéd in olive oil.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Cacio e Pepe

This is out of the February 2010 Cook's Illustrated. It's a good quick weekday pasta for which boiling the water is the biggest time suck. I've made it a couple times now and think it may be something of a replacement for my famous ham and cream pasta which often ends up too hot for Eeva's taste. I fudge a lot of the stuff in the recipe (don't measure or use a Dutch oven) and it turns out just fine.

6 ounces Pecorino Romano, 4 ounces finely grated (about two cups) and 2 ounces coarsely grated (about 1 cup)
1 lb spaghetti
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons finely ground pepper

1. Place finely grated Pecorino in medium bowl. Set colander in large bowl.

2. Bring 2 quarts water to boil in large Dutch oven. Add pasta and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt;cook, stirring frequently. Drain pasta and reserve cooking water. Return pasta to bowl.

3. Slowly whisk 1 cup reserved water into finely grated Pecorino until smooth. Whisk in cream, oil, and black pepper. Pour mixture over pasta, toss to coat. Let rest, adding up to 1/2 cup more water to adjust consistency as needed. Serve passing coarsely grated cheese separately.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tartiflette...Soul Food of the Alps

Approximately 1.5lbs potatoes
At least 6oz diced smoked bacon/poitrine fumé/ streaky bacon
1 onion
Whole Reblochon cheese
Crème fraiche
1 glass dry white wine (optional, preferably Savoyarde or Alsacien)

Peel and boil the potatoes in water until cooked. Drain and allow to cool.

Preheat oven to 220 degrees C or 425 F
Dice bacon into small pieces (thick, rectangular pieces) and dice onions. Start cooking the bacon first then after it cooks for a few minutes on medium throw in the onions. Cook until browned.
Thinly slice the cold potatoes.

Rub garlic on a gratin dish then butter.

Make up the Tartiflette in layers: First potatoes, then the lardon/onion mixture. Then spread a layer of crème fraiche.
Next, cut half of the Reblochon, rind removed, into thin slices and layer. Then add another layer of potatoes, and finish with the other half of Reblochon thinly sliced, this time with the rind left on.
I have not tried adding the dry white wine as some recipes have recommended, but I'm sure it would add to the flavor quite nicely.

Bake in the oven for about 20-30 minutes, until the cheese has melted and browned.

The last time I made this, I forgot to butter the dish and rub with garlic and I did not notice the not skimp on the quality of the bacon as the smokier the better!

Jordan's Tartiflette sounded so good I had to make it while we were in the Alps even though we were experiencing a heat wave.
I also didn't use white wine. The only thing I did differently was just lay the bacon on the top. I must say the bacon I got from the butcher in Thones was fantastic. I had to cook it longer so that the bacon was crisp. The bacon flavor penetrated the entire tartiflette. My tartiflette is the round one. If you have a chance to eat tartiflette, go for it. Yum! Joan