Saturday, January 30, 2010

Say Cheese

Patate Maritate With Pecorino Fresco


  • 4 cups fresh plain bread crumbs (see NOTE)
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, lightly crushed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Whole leaves from 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley (1 cup)
  • 3 pounds potatoes, such as Yukon Gold (preferably older potatoes)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil (see headnote)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup olive oil (not extra-virgin)
  • 1 pound pecorino fresco, scamorza or supermarket mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Have a 9-by-13-inch baking pan at hand.

Combine the bread crumbs, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, a generous grind of pepper and the parsley in a medium bowl and toss to incorporate. Let the mixture sit while you prepare the potatoes.

Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1/4-inch-thick slices.

Combine the oils in a large liquid measuring cup.

Pour half the mixed oils into a large baking pan. Arrange one layer of potatoes in the bottom. Sprinkle them with a third of the remaining teaspoon of salt.

Remove the garlic from the bread crumbs (reserve for another use, if desired).

Scatter one-third of the bread-crumb mixture over the potatoes. Sprinkle with a third of the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Top with half of the pecorino fresco. Arrange a second layer of potatoes over the pecorino; sprinkle with a third of the remaining salt. Top with a third of the bread-crumb mixture, a third of the Parmigiano-Reggiano and the remaining pecorino fresco. Make a third layer of potatoes; sprinkle with the remaining 1/3 teaspoon of salt. Top with the remaining bread-crumb mixture and the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano. Drizzle the remaining oil mixture over the potatoes.

Bake uncovered for 1 1/2 hours, or until the potatoes are very tender and the bread crumb topping is a deep golden-brown. Let it sit for 5 minutes.

Cut the potatoes into wedges and serve immediately.

NOTE: To make fresh bread crumbs, trim the crust off a one-pound oaf of country or peasant-style bread. Break the interior of the loaf into large chunks. Working in 2 batches, place them in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the bread chunks have broken into small crumbs.

Recipe Source:Adapted from chef Laura Decina of Ristorante Plistia in Abruzzo, Italy.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

1/2 lb (225 g) butter
1 cup (250 ml) confectioner's sugar
1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt
1 egg plus 1 yolk
2 tsp (10 ml) vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups (625 ml) all-purpose flour

Cream the butter, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy. Add the egg, yolk, and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Add the flour and beat just until the flour is incorporated. rap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. (The dough may be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.) Roll to a thickness of 1/8 inch (3 mm) on a floured surface and cut into desired shapes. Transfer to a lightly greased baking sheet - you may have to use a metal spatula to lift the cut dough from the work surface. Bake in a preheated 375F (190C) oven for 6 to 8 minutes, until evenly golden brown. Transfer immediately to a wire rack to cool. Makes from 5 to 8 dozen biscuits, depending on size.


Butterscotch Biscuits - Substitute 1 cup (250 ml) packed brown sugar for the confectioner's sugar.

Chinese Five-Spice Butter Biscuits - Add 1 tsp (5 ml) Chinese five-spice powder to the flour.

Chocolate Butter Biscuits - Add 1 oz (28 g, 1 square) melted chocolate to the butter and substitute 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the flour with 1/4 cup (60 ml) cocoa.

Cinnamon Butter Biscuits - Add 1 tsp (5 ml) ground cinnamon to the flour.

Coconut Butter Biscuits - Stir 1 cup (250 ml) toasted sweetened flaked coconut to the finished batter.

Ginger Butter Biscuits - Add 1 tsp (5 ml) ground ginger to the flour and stir 1/4 cup (60 ml) finely chopped crystallized ginger into the finished dough.

Lemon Butter Biscuits - Add 2 tsp (10 ml) grated lemon peel to the butter mixture.

Lemon Poppy Seed Butter Biscuits - Add 2 tsp (10 ml) grated lemon peel to the butter mixture and 2 Tbs (30 ml) poppy seeds to the finished batter.

Nutty Butter Biscuits - Add 1 cup (250 ml) finely chopped walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, or almonds to the butter mixture.

Orange Butter Biscuits - Add 2 tsp (10 ml) grated orange peel to the butter mixture.

Spice Butter Biscuits - Add 1 tsp (5 ml) ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp (2 ml) ground ginger, and 1/4 tsp (1 ml) each of nutmeg and allspice, and a pinch of ground cloves to the flour.

Worldwide Recipes

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sparkling Passion-Fruit Aperitifs

6 tablespoons passion-fruit nectar

  • sparkling white wine, such as champagne or Prosecco, well chilled
  • Divide the passion-fruit nectar between two champagne flutes. Top with sparkling wine.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Mae West
Camembert Cream
2 tsp. shallots, minced
1 tsp. butter
1 C. heavy cream
1 tsp. white truffle oil
2 tsp. finely chopped fresh chives
4 oz.Camembert, room temperature
salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions: In saucepan, cook shallots in butter over med-high heat, until softened.

Add cream. Simmer, uncovered, until reduced to about 2/3 cup.

Remove from heat. Stir in truffle oil.

Add salt and pepper to taste and stir in chives.

Cut Camembert cheese into two wedges and arrange on plates.

Pour hot cream sauce over and around cheese.

Serve with your choice of fresh fruits, nuts, and breads.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet.
1 pinch of rosemary
2 teaspoons of black tea
3 pinches thyme
3 pinches nutmeg
3 fresh mint leaves
6 fresh rose petals
6 lemon leaves
3 cups pure spring water
Place all ingredients in an earthenware or copper tea kettle. Boil three cups of pure spring water and add to the kettle. Sweeten with sugar and honey, if desired.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

"In January
it's so nice
while slipping
on the sliding ice
to sip hot chicken soup with rice.
Sipping once
Sipping twice
- Maurice Sendak, In January

Chicken Soup with Rice

1 2-pound rotisserie chicken

3 celery ribs

1 large onion, quartered and left unpeeled

6 fresh parsley sprigs plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

3 fresh thyme sprigs

1 bay leaf

4 14 1/2-ounce cans chicken broth plus 2 cans low-sodium chicken broth

2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick

1/2 cup uncooked long or short grain white rice.

1. Remove meat from chicken, reserving skin and bones. Coarsely chop 1 celery rib and place in a 6- to 8-quart pot along with chicken bones and skin, onion, parsley sprigs, thyme sprigs, bay leaf, both chicken broths and 6 cups water.

2. Simmer, partly covered, for 1 hour. Meanwhile, shred enough chicken meat to yield 1 1/2 cups (pieces about 1 inch long and 1/4 inch thick), reserving remaining meat for another use. Cut remaining celery ribs into 1/4-inch dice.

3. Pour chicken broth through a fine-mesh sieve into another large pot, pressing hard on solids with back of a spoon, then discarding them. If necessary, skim fat. Add carrots, diced celery and rice.

4. Simmer, partly covered, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and rice is very soft, about 30 minutes. Stir in shredded chicken and chopped parsley. Serve hot.

Yield: About 2 1/2 quarts.

Friday, January 22, 2010

You don’t have to be Shakespeare to write the perfect love letter. All you need to know is how you feel. What makes a love letter so romantic is that it is deeply personal. It shows your beloved how well you know them, and that knowledge is the very stuff of love. Before you start writing, take a few moments to think about your beloved. The following questions can help to get your thoughts going:

  • What is his greatest strength?
  • What do you see in him that he doesn’t see in himself?
  • What is the most romantic thing he has ever done for you?
  • What does he do on a regular basis that shows you he cares about you?
  • When did you fall in love with him?
  • What about him pleasantly surprised you?
  • What is your favorite memory of the two of you?
  • How has your world changed since you got together?
  • Written by Claire Colvin

    Thursday, January 21, 2010

    Dust of Snow
    by Robert Frost (1923)
    The way a crow
    Shook down on me
    The dust of snow
    From a hemlock tree

    Has given my heart
    A change of mood
    And saved some part
    Of a day I had rued.

    Makes eight servings

    2 cups all-purpose flour
    2 tablespoons cornstarch
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon ground cardamom
    1 teaspoon ground ginger
    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
    1 cup sugar
    3 large eggs
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    1 cup cooked winter squash Puree (e.g., acorn, butternut, etc.--frozen squash puree can be used)
    1/4 cup buttermilk

    Preheat the oven to 350F. Coat a 9 by-5-by 4-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Sift the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon and salt. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter at high speed until fluffy. Gradually beat in the sugar. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating between additions. Beat in the vanilla. At low speed, beat in the flour mixture, alternating with the squash puree and buttermilk. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Turn it out onto a rack and let cool completely.

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010

    Braised winter squash in caramel sauce

    This dish employs a Vietnamese technique that uses sugar to create a unique sauce that balances sweet and bitter flavors. Here the seasonings are a little different, adding a bit of heat and acidity to the mix. Serve this with simply cooked whole grains, like millet, barley, or wheat or rye berries.

    1 cup sugar

    1/4 cup sherry vinegar

    2 tablespoons minced garlic

    1/2 cup chopped red onion

    1 1/2 to 2 pounds any winter squash or sweet potatoes or yams or any waxy potatoes, cleaned and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 4 cups)

    Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    1 tablespoon minced fresh chile (like jalapeƱo or Thai), or to taste, or hot red pepper flakes or cayenne to taste

    Put a large, deep skillet with a tight-fitting lid (preferably non-stick or cast-iron) over medium heat and add sugar and a tablespoon or two of water. Cook, gently shaking pan occasionally, until sugar liquefies and begins to bubble, about 10 minutes. Cook for another minute or so, until melted sugar darkens; turn off the heat. Mix the vinegar with 3/4 cup water; carefully, and at arm's length, add the liquid and turn the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring constantly, until the caramel melts into the liquid, about 2 minutes.

    Add garlic and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften, about 5 minutes. Add squash, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stir to coat.

    Turn heat down to medium-low, cover, and cook, undisturbed, for about 3 minutes. Uncover the pan, stir, and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens and the squash can be pierced easily with a fork, about 10 minutes. Stir in the chile. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and serve.

    From "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian" by Mark Bittman

    Sunday, January 17, 2010

    Shrimp Salad with Blood Oranges and Slivered Fennel


    1/4 cup fresh blood orange juice (about 1 orange)

    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

    2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

    1/2 teaspoon sea salt, divided

    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    24 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 1 1/2 pounds)

    Cooking spray

    3 blood oranges, peeled and cut crosswise into thin slices

    2 cups thinly sliced fennel bulb (about 1 small)

    Chopped fennel fronds (optional)


    1. Combine orange juice, lemon juice, 1 1/2 tablespoons oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper, stirring well with a whisk.

    2. Prepare grill to medium-high heat.

    3. Combine shrimp, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; toss to coat. Thread 4 shrimp onto each of 6 (12-inch) skewers. Place skewers on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove shrimp from skewers;

    keep warm.

    4. Divide orange slices evenly among 4 plates; top each serving with 1/2 cup fennel and 6 shrimp. Drizzle 1 tablespoon dressing over each serving. Sprinkle with fennel fronds, if desired. Serve immediately.

    Recipe from Cooking Light.

    Wednesday, January 13, 2010

    "That grand old poem called Winter"
    - Henry David Thoreau

    Tuesday, January 12, 2010

    mug of hot chocolate
    • Mexican Hot Chocolate
    • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
    • 4 cups milk, divided
    • 2 (3.5-oz.) dark chocolate bars (at least 70% cacao), chopped
    • (I use Ghirardelli Intense Dark Twilight Delight
    • 72% Cacao dark chocolate bar)
    • 1/3 cup honey
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
    • Pinch of salt
    • 1. Whisk together cornstarch and 1/2 cup milk until smooth.

      2. Cook remaining 3 1/2 cups milk in a large, nonaluminum saucepan over medium heat until bubbles appear around edge of saucepan (about 4 minutes; do not boil). Whisk in chocolate, honey, vanilla extract, cinnamon, chili powder, and salt until blended and smooth. Whisk in cornstarch mixture.

      3. Bring milk mixture to a light boil, whisking frequently (about 4 minutes). Remove from heat. Let cool slightly. (Mixture will thicken as it cools.)

      This recipe is my favorite! I can't remember where I got it, I know it was from a magazine. I have tried quite a few Mexican Hot Chocolate recipes and this one is the best so far. Top with whipped cream or marshmallows drizzled with chocolate syrup.

    Sunday, January 10, 2010

    Winter, a lingering season, is a time to gather golden moments, embark upon a sentimental journey, and enjoy every idle hour. ~John Boswell

    apples antioxidant

    Apple Confit

    3 pounds firm cooking/baking apples, such as Granny Smith, Northern Spy, Rome or Golden Delicious
    1/4 cup sugar
    1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    Peel the apples and slice 1/4 inch thick. (You should have about 9 cups). Place the apples in a 4-quart or larger slow cooker. Add sugar and cinnamon to taste, and toss to coat well. Cover and cook until the apples are very tender and almost translucent, but not pureed, 2 to 2 1/2 hours on high or 4 to 4 1/2 hours on low. Stir in vanilla. Transfer to a bowl and let cool slightly. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.
    Recipe from Eating Well.

    Saturday, January 9, 2010

    "To read a poem in January is as lovely as to go for a walk in June."
    - Jean-Paul Sartre

    Friday, January 8, 2010

    Smoked Paprika by foodistablog.

    Soft Chicken Tacos With Smoked Paprika Sour Cream

    Makes 8 soft tacos (3 to 4 servings)


    For the smoked paprika sour cream
    • 2 to 3 limes
    • 1 cup low-fat sour cream
    • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
    For the tacos
    • 1 medium onion
    • 1 1/2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 teaspoons chili powder
    • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
    • 1 pound ground chicken (may substitute ground pork or turkey)
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 8 6-inch soft corn tortillas (may substitute whole-grain wheat tortillas)


    For the smoked paprika sour cream: Squeeze enough juice from the limes into a medium bowl to yield 1/4 cup. Add the sour cream, paprika and salt, stirring to combine.

    For the tacos: Cut the onion into small dice (about 1 cup total). Cut the tomatoes into halves or quarters, as desired.

    Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, until lightly browned; then add the chili powder, oregano, cumin and garlic powder, mixing to coat the onion evenly.

    Add the ground chicken, using your fingers to break it up into small pieces as it falls into the skillet. Stir to combine, then add the water and half of the tomatoes, breaking up the chicken further with a wooden spoon.

    Reduce the heat to medium; cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Use the spoon to break up any large clumps that might remain. Add the rest of the tomatoes, stirring to combine; taste and season with salt as needed. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

    To assemble: Have a clean kitchen towel ready.
    Heat a separate dry skillet over medium heat. Working with one at a time, place each tortilla in the skillet and heat for 1 minute, then turn the tortilla over and heat for 1 minute. Wrap it in the towel to keep it warm.

    (Alternatively, stack the tortillas, wrap them in a clean kitchen towel and heat them in the microwave for 1 minute.)

    Place a generous 1/2 cup of the chicken mixture on one half of each tortilla. Distribute about 2 tablespoons of the smoked paprika sour cream on top. Fold the tortilla over; serve immediately.

    Adapted from Sass's "Whole Grains for Busy People"