May 30, 2008
Homemade olive oil gelato
I’ve reached a bit of a landmark here on my blog – I’ve received my first recipe request. My sister-in-law’s husband is a fan of Mario Batali’s Otto Enoteca Pizzeria on Fifth and 8th St. in Manhattan, and especially of their olive oil gelato.
“You … you can make that?” he queried hopefully.
“Absolutely,” I assured him with the bravado of the very arrogant or the very foolish.
A quick google search later, I discovered that Chef Mario had included the recipe for his famous olive oil gelato in one of his cookbooks. Thank goodness.
Olive Oil Gelato
(adapted from The Babbo Cookbook)
6 egg yolks
1 C. sugar
2/3 C. extra virgin olive oil
3 C. milk
1 C. heavy cream
Combine the egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Use the whip attachment to beat them for 5 min on medium speed, or until the mixture is thick and very pale and forms a ribbon when the whip is lifted. Continue beating and drizzle in the olive oil; beat for 2 more minutes.
Warning: this recipe uses raw eggs. Williams-Sonoma has a variation of this recipe with cooked egg; however, it does add a couple of hours to your cooking time since you must wait for the mixture to cool completely.
Add the milk and cream and continue to beat until all ingredients are combined.
Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. This took some planning since I needed to pre-freeze the bowl of the ice cream maker for 8+ hours.
I thought it would taste fruity, but no, it tastes like olive oil. However, olive oil paired with frozen cream is unexpectedly delicious and refreshing. The sweetly salty fluer de sel is the perfect counter to the rich creaminess of the gelato. Molto bene, Mario.
Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of fluer de sel sea salt.
(Your gelato is in the freezer, Blake.)
May 28, 2008
Let them eat cake! My Marie Antoinette-inspired opéra cake.
This was my very first Daring Bakers Challenge and what a month to join! We were to create an opéra cake, a French pastry traditionally done in chocolate and coffee flavors. It usually consists of five components: a joconde (a cake layer), a syrup (to wet the joconde), a buttercream (to fill some of the layers), a ganache or mousse (to top the final cake layer) and a glaze (to cover the final layer of cake or of ganache/mousse). However, in honor of the season, we were not allowed to use any dark colors or flavors.
I am not a trained chef - I’ve never even taken a cake decorating class. I mused on how to make my cake different from the hundreds of other Daring Bakers, some of whom are professional bakers and chefs. Hmmm …. opera … Phantom of the Opera … French pastry … aha! I have it!
Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI, Halloween 2005
I had created Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI costumes for my children several years ago, pre-dating Sophia Coppola’s visually delicious Marie Antoinette (2006). How could I not use a palette inspired by the doomed queen infamous for her alleged love of cake?
My little homage to Kirsten Dunst as Marie-Antoinette.
I settled on raspberry buttercream, partly for the taste and partly for the color. The almond in the joconde led me naturally to flavor the syrup and ganache with Amaretto. I chose to tint the glaze with a single drop of blue candy dye to tie in the color palette I was striving for. The glaze was a bit sweet and the next time I make this, I will definitely make the layer of glaze very thin (1/8″ thick). The joconde was delightfully substantial on the teeth (translation: it had a slight crunch), the raspberry buttercream sweetly creamy with the hint of tartness, the white chocolate ganache ethereally light and the white chocolate glaze richly gooey and sweet. All the elements melded in my mouth to create a symphonic movement, dare I say, of operatic proportions. Così fan tutte? I am not sure, but I think Marie-Antoinette would have approved.
Raspberry Amaretto Opéra Cake
Part I: The Joconde
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
2 C. ground blanched almonds
2 C. powdered sugar, sifted
6 large eggs
½ C. all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1. Divide the oven into thirds by positioning a rack in the upper third of the oven and the lower third of the oven.
2. Preheat the oven to 425◦F.
3. Line two 12½ x 15½- inch jelly-roll pans with parchment paper and brush with melted butter.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or using a handheld mixer), beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar and beat until the peaks are stiff and glossy. If you do not have another mixer bowl, gently scrape the meringue into another bowl and set aside.
5. If you only have one bowl, wash it after removing the egg whites or if you have a second bowl, use that one. Attach the paddle attachment to the stand mixer (or using a handheld mixer again) and beat the almonds, icing sugar and eggs on medium speed until light and voluminous, about 3 minutes.
6. Add the flour and beat on low speed until the flour is just combined (be very careful not to overmix here!).
7. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the meringue into the almond mixture and then fold in the melted butter. Divide the batter between the pans and spread it evenly to cover the entire surface of each pan.
8. Bake the cake layers until they are lightly browned and just springy to the touch. This could take anywhere from 5 to 9 minutes depending on your oven. Place one jelly-roll pan in the middle of the oven and the second jelly-roll pan in the bottom third of the oven.
9. Put the pans on a heatproof counter and run a sharp knife along the edges of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Cover each with a sheet of parchment or wax paper, turn the pans over, and unmold.
10. Carefully peel away the parchment, then turn the parchment over and use it to cover the cakes. Let the cakes cool to room temperature.
Part II: The syrup
½ C. water
⅓ C. granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. of amaretto
Stir all the syrup ingredients together in the saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. The syrup can be made up to 1 week in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator.
Part III: The buttercream
1 C. sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 Tbs. of strained fresh raspberry puree
Put the sugar and the egg whites in a mixer bowl or other large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar will be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream. Remove the bowl from the heat.
Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment, if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and smooth, 6 -10 minutes. During the time, the buttercream may curdle or separate – just keep beating and it will come together again. On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon juice and raspberry juice/puree, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more and then the vanilla. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream if you want to set it aside.
Part IV: The white chocolate ganache (mousse)
7 ounces white chocolate
1 C. plus 3 Tbsp. heavy cream
1 Tbsp. Amaretto
Melt the white chocolate and the 3 tbsp. of heavy cream in a small saucepan. Stir to ensure that it’s smooth and that the chocolate is melted. Add the tablespoon of Amaretto to the chocolate and stir. Set aside to cool completely. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream until soft peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate to form a mousse. The mousse can be made ahead and refrigerated until you’re ready to use it.
Part V: The glaze
14 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ C. heavy cream
Melt the white chocolate with the heavy cream in a small saucepan. Whisk the mixture gently until smooth. Let cool for 10 minutes and then pour over the chilled cake. Using a long metal cake spatula, smooth out into an even layer. Place the cake into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set.
(Note: The finished cake should be served slightly chilled. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 day).
Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.
Working with one sheet of cake at a time, cut and trim each sheet so that you have two pieces (from each cake so you’ll have four pieces in total): two 9.5″ squares and two 9.5 x 4.75″ rectangles.
Place one square of cake on the baking sheet and moisten it gently with the flavored syrup.
Spread about half of the buttercream over this layer.
Top with the two rectangular pieces of cake, placing them side by side to form a square. Moisten these pieces with the flavoured syrup.
Spread the remaining buttercream on the cake and then top with the third square of joconde. Use the remaining syrup to wet the joconde and then refrigerate until very firm (at least half an hour).
Prepare the ganache/mousse (if you haven’t already) and then spread it on the top of the last layer of the joconde. Refrigerate for at least two to three hours to give the ganache/mousse the opportunity to firm up.
Make the glaze and after it has cooled, pour it over the top of the chilled cake (be careful not to let it cool too much or else it won’t pour nicely). Refrigerate the cake again to set the glaze. Using a hot knife, cut the edges in sawing motions to make clean edges. Serve the cake slightly chilled and cut into long, thin rectangular slices. This recipe will yield approximately 20 servings.
Eating the edges is my son’s favorite part.
I wrote “Opéra” in melted white chocolate on parchment paper and placed the hardened writing on to the slices of cake.
The final product
May 24, 2008
Grilled yellowfin tuna and spicy corn salad
The last in my three part series of barbecue recipes, I end with the most delicious. Yellowfin tuna is fairly expensive – I spent about $20 for three steaks (that was the sale price), but oh-so-worth every penny. I got this recipe for Nantucket-style grilled fish off Epicurious and I am hooked (bad pun entirely intended). The recipe couldn’t be more simple while simultaneously off-putting.
Take your gorgeous fresh fish steaks (can be any kind – tuna, swordfish, halibut or sea bass)…
and slather both sides with mayonnaise. Salt and pepper to taste.
Sound repulsive? The ruination of perfectly good fish? Don’t worry – the mayonnaise cooks off and you can’t taste it. It helps keep the fish juicy and creates nice carmelization.
Pre-heat grill. Cover and cook on each side for 3 – 4 minutes, depending on the thickness of your steak. You definitely do not want to over cook! Let stand for few minutes before serving. This is delicious served with just a little lemon. I paired it with fresh corn salad and we all (including the kids) couldn’t get over how good this meal was.
Spicy Corn Salad
Now I make a lot of different salads, and this is one of my favorites. I guarantee you will be the hero at your next BBQ if you bring a big bowl of this fresh corn salad. Just make sure to save some for yourself.
Spicy Corn Salad
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 red onion, diced (about 1 C.)
1 minced jalepeño chile, seeds and veins removed
1 red pepper, diced
4 cooked ears of corn, kernels sliced from the cob
2 Tbs. champagne vinegar
1 tsp. maple syrup
zest and juice of 1/2 a lime
1/4 C. minced chives
2 Tbs. minced cilantro
I like to cook my corn on the grill. Simply place in grill with husks on and cook covered for about 20 minutes or so, turning to prevent one side from becoming completely charred. You can also steam the shucked corn if you don’t want to or can’t grill.
Heat olive oil in a skillet or wok over medium heat. Add red onion, jalepeño, and red pepper and saute until just softened (about 3 minutes). Add corn kernels and cook for another 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Add vinegar, maple syrup, lime zest and juice. Mix and add more lime juice if needed. Salt and pepper to taste. Top with chives and cilantro.
May 22, 2008
London broil: the ugly step-sister of steaks
London broil is one of those foods with which most people have a love-hate relationship. Love the price tag (often on sale for $5 for a 2.5 lb steak), but hate the toughness. Firstly, it’s not really a steak – it’s a roast (top round roast cut into “steaks,” to be specific). London broil refers to the cooking method, not the cut. And secondly, it’s a very lean cut of meat. One can easily get a sore jaw from over-mastication of what can be leather-like meat.
Nonetheless, London broil can still be a tasty meal when prepared and cooked properly. I’m not going to lie to you – it’s no rib-eye steak. But between its low cost and low(er) fat content, London broil is a good choice for many. The key to a good London broil is marinating for many hours (overnight is best) and not overcooking (medium rare is the most you would want to cook it).
London Broil Marinade
4 large garlic cloves, minced
4 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
4 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
3 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs. soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried hot red pepper flakes
2/3 C. olive oil
1 (2 to 2 1/2 pound) London broil (top round steak)
Whisk marinade ingredients until combined well in a medium bowl. Put London broil in a large ziplock plastic bag and pour marinade over it. Refrigerate overnight (this marinade is thick it should cover all sides of the meat and won’t need to be turned over).
Preheat a grill and cook meat covered on medium high about 8-9 minutes on each side, or until it reaches 125 to 130 degrees on a meat thermometer for medium-rare meat. You do not want to cook it more than medium rare or you will feel like you’re eating beef jerky. Let it stand 5 minutes or so. Cut meat diagonally across the grain into thin slices.
Lean enough to get my husband’s stamp of approval.
Tangy three bean salad
Traditional three bean salad has been an old stand-by in our home during the hot summer months, but why not try this Southwest version? Quick, easy and inexpensive, this three bean salad would be great for barbecues, Mexican nights, or just because.
Tangy Three Bean Salad
1/4 C. fresh lemon juice
1/3 C. extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 Tbs. crushed red pepper flakes
1-2 Tbs. sugar
1/2 C. cilantro leaves
salt and pepper to taste
1 can kidney beans rinsed and drained (15 oz.)
1 can chick peas rinsed and drained (15 oz.)
1 can black beans rinsed and drained (15 oz.)
Place lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, sugar, red pepper flakes, and cilantro in a blender. Puree until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste, then toss with beans. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours (or overnight).
May 19, 2008
Spicy Korean-style pork spare ribs and cool watermelon salad
My version of spare ribs are spicy and sweet, using Korean red pepper paste (gochu jang). I measured out this recipe for the first time since I’ve always made this to taste, depending on how many ribs I was cooking. This recipe should feed 4 very hungry people (or 6 people who had a snack before dinner).
Gochu jang is available at Korean and Asian grocery stores (and online, apparently).
This red pepper paste is not for the weak-hearted.
Spicy Korean pork spare ribs
1/3 C. Korean red pepper paste (gochu jang)
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 C. sugar (or less, depending on how sweet you like it)
3 Tbs. sesame seed oil
1/4 C. water
4-5 scallions cut into 3 inch long pieces
1 medium onion, sliced
2 Tbs. crushed toasted sesame seeds
4-5 lbs. pork spare ribs
toasted sesame seeds for garnish
Combine red pepper paste, garlic, sugar, sesame seed oil and water in a large bowl until smooth and runny.
Add scallions, onions and crushed sesame seeds to mixture. Add spare ribs and coat well.
Refigerate for at least a half hour (I like to put them in for an hour). Heat up grill and cook on medium high, covered for about 6-8 minutes on each side, depending on your grill and the thickness of the ribs. You can cook the onions and scallions on the grill (they will fall through unless you use a grill pan), or discard. Sprinkle cooked ribs with sesame seeds, if desired.
Serve with lots of moist towelettes.
Something this spicy must be served with something to cool the tongue, and this watermelon salad fits the bill.
3 C. cubed watermelon
1 1/2 C. cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 C. thinly sliced red onion
1 C. diced seedless cucumber, peeled
3 Tbs. lime juice
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
fresh ground pepper to taste
Combine watermelon, cherry tomatoes, red onions, cucumber, lime juice and olive oil in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and toss lightly. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour. Serve chilled.
May 18, 2008
The mother of all stains is a Sharpie mark (good luck with that one), but second only to that are kim chi stains. Spaghetti sauce? Hah! Mere child’s play. Anyone who has had the pleasure of eating kim chi knows the true second burn: finding that tiny vermilion drip on your pants or shirt as you throw it into the laundry. And then finding that same stain undiminished after it comes out of the wash. After three or four washes, you pretty much resign yourself to the fact that that unflaggingly red stain is now a permanent part of your wardrobe.
Despair no longer! Here’s the simple trick to getting out kim chi and any tomato-based stains. Simply place the stained clothes in direct sunlight for several hours. I usually wash the clothes and then place it outside still damp, but inside by a very sunny window will do the trick. The problem I’ve found with placing it outside is the other things that fall on it (leaves, pollen, etc.), forcing me to wash it yet again. The stain will disappear like magic. I promise.
The downside to my kids’ love of Korean food: kim chi stains on their clothes.
Here’s my daughter’s shirt after a couple of washes – the stain did not budge even after direct scrubbing with my first line of defense (Shout gel, Fels Naptha soap, Oxiclean soak).
Her shirt after a couple of hours in the sun. The hard part was waiting for a sunny day.
May 15, 2008
A colorful spring dinner
This mercurial spring weather is very trying, to say the least. After what seems like interminable dreary rainy days, the weather clears to a glorious sun-drenched day. In honor of the lovely weather, I thought I’d make something light and springy for dinner.
Freshly picked salad from our garden
Our mesclun mix is ready for picking, so we had a dinner of spring mix salad, Spanish mackerel with herbs from our garden and Nigella Nawson’s recipe for new potatoes. Mackerel is one of those “throw back” fish and often ignored at the fish market. Full of omega-3 fatty acids, mackerel is prolific reproducer and earns a “best” rating from Seafood Watch. If you don’t normally care for oily fish, try this recipe. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Broiled Spanish Mackerel with Tomato and Herbs
(adapted from Gourmet)
2 lb. Spanish mackerel fillets with skin on
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 C. mayonnaise
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbs. chopped fresh dill
2 Tbs. chopped fresh chives
3 medium tomatoes (3/4 lb total), cut into 3/8 inch thick slices
Preheat broiler. Line rack of a broiler pan with foil. Put fish skin sides down on foil and sprinkle with pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Whisk together mayonnaise, lemon juice, dill, and chives in a small bowl. Spread evenly over fish, then cover with tomato slices, overlapping slightly, and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Broil fish 3 to 4 inches from heat until just cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes.
This is my all-time favorite potato recipe, but try to use new potatoes which are in season right now. New potatoes have a sweetness to them not found in russet, red or even Yukon gold potatoes. If you’ve never tried this recipe, you are depriving you and your loved ones of the most delicious potato dish ever.
Nigella Lawson’s Sticky Garlic Potatoes
2 lbs small new potatoes (you can substitute Yukon Gold potatoes, but new potatoes taste vastly superior)
8-10 whole garlic cloves (don’t be shy)
1/2 cup olive oil
Bring a pan of salted water to a boil, and cook the potatoes with skin on for 30 minutes. Drain and put back into the dry pan. Peel and crush the garlic cloves and put them in the dry pan with the potatoes. Mashes the potatoes loosely (I love to leave big clumps of unmashed potatoes).
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and place a roasting pan in to heat up at the same time. When the oven is hot, pour the oil into the pan and leave it to heat up for 10 minutes.
Carefully place the potatoes and garlic into the hot oil and cook for 15 minutes. Then turn the potatoes over and cook another 15 minutes until browned and crispy. Serve immediately.
May 13, 2008
What do you cook when it’s raining, 50 degrees outside (in mid May) and you have these two items on the counter?
The answer is coq au vin, bien sûr. I just cannot bring myself to cook it the traditional way by using an entire bottle of wine, but I think this recipe still results in a rich full flavor. And you can still have a couple glasses to drink with your delicious dinner.
Coq au Vin
6 slices of chopped bacon
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 C. plus 3 Tbs. flour
4 chicken leg quarters, excess skin and fat trimmed (or small whole chicken cut up)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, sliced
2 medium onions, quartered
10 oz. button mushrooms, quartered
2 Tbs. fresh thyme, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 C. dry red wine (Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, French burgundy)
2 C. chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbs. butter for rue
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook chopped bacon in dutch oven until crisp, about 4-5 minutes.
(shhh…. don’t tell my husband there’s bacon in this dish. Hey, the red wine makes it heart-healthy!)
Transfer bacon to paper-towel lined plate and drain all but 1 tablespoon of bacon fat out of pot. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to pot and heat on medium high. Coat chicken with flour and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Working in batches, sear chicken until brown, about 4-5 minutes per side. Transfer to plate.
Add garlic to pot and saute for about a minute. Then add onions, mushrooms, carrots and thyme until onions begin to brown, about 10 minutes.
Add red wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any brown bits. Add chicken stock, bay leaf, and bacon and boil about 5 minute more. Place chicken back in the pot, cover and bake for about 1 1/4 hours.
Optional: If you like your sauce thicker, make a rue (heating 2 Tbs. butter and 3 Tbs. flour) in small saucepan. After chicken is cooked, transfer wine sauce into the saucepan with the rue, bringing to a boil, whisking until thickened. Season with salt and pepper and pour over chicken and vegetables.
Serve with mashed potatoes, egg noodles or a crusty bread. And of course, your left-over wine (Bearboat Pinot Noir 2005).
May 11, 2008
We’ve been watching a robin family in one of our bushes for the past few weeks gathering twigs for a nest in preparation for their soon-to-be hatchlings. The children love getting a peak at the nest and the lovely blue eggs.
Mama robin keeps her eggs warm. She looks like she’s smiling, no?
The newest addition to the flora and fauna of our yard, hatched just yesterday.
Is that mama I hear?
Happy mother’s day to all mothers, great and small.
May 10, 2008
Drool-worthy: not my kitchen.
I recently picked my daughter up at a birthday party and I was taken aback to see she was crying. My attempts to get to the bottom of it was met with complete resistance. Her entire vocabulary seemed to have been whittled down to “I don’t know” and “I can’t explain.” But as it often happens, bedtime hugs and snuggles were the pick to the lock of the secrets of the day.
“I was … *sniff* … jealous, “ she wailed. Not of the fact that it was someone else’s birthday (she’s a veteran of at least 50 birthday parties with nary a glisten in her eye), but of its fabulousness. The party was held at her home, you know, one of those typical suburban McMansions (the irony that people who use the term McMansion are those who cannot afford to live in a McMansion is not lost on the writer), with 34 of her closest friends. I couldn’t physically have 35 seven year olds in my house (well, I suppose I could, but only with the aid of a Xanax). And the party favors - well, let’s just say the hostess spent more of the favor than I did on the gift.
It was such a raw, open statement, breath-taking in its simplicity and honesty. It was the kind of statement that most people spend the rest of their lives diligently avoiding saying unless lying on a couch and paying someone to listen to them. I kissed her for her bravery and told her it’s natural to feel jealous, but you can’t burst into tears every time someone has something better than you (otherwise I’d have mascara running down my face every time I walked past Williams-Sonoma or Neiman Marcus). We talked about how blessed we are and how there will always be people who have better, faster, more expensive things than us. And of the many, many more who have much less than us.
In that funny way the stars can align, I read this article after I put my daughter to bed (still slightly weepy – she is nothing if not dramatic). But we all need to acknowledge the seven-year-old in all of us whenever the green-eyed monster bubbles up. For me, it’s when I walk into the take-out queens’ gourmet kitchens the size of the entire first floor of my house. I just say hello to it and then beat it down with my Le Creuset Dutch oven. That sucker’s heavy.