Wednesday, February 23, 2011
I prefer desserts that strike the right balance between novelty and simplicity. As a pastry chef in San Francisco, my desserts were once described in the San Francisco Magazine as "homey" and "soul-satisfying", so it is no surprise that I gravitate towards recipes that conjure up images of childhood, flecked with a bit more imagination.
Especially stellar ones, like this pumpkin-walnut bread that are moist, full of spice and not too sweet. I obviously also love it because it is dairy-free and comes together almost effortlessly. Canned pumpkin is fine in this recipe, if you are feeling more adventurous you can roast your own pumpkin (or winter squash) and use that instead. I give instructions on how to do that here.
Adapted from Gourmet
Makes 1 loaf
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup water
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1 cup (9 ounces) pumpkin puree
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (4 ounces) chopped toasted walnuts
1. Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Grease a 9 x 5in loaf pan and dust with flour, knocking out the excess.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs , water, sugar, pumpkin, oil, and vanilla until smooth. Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk until blended and smooth. Add walnuts and stir to incorporate. Use a spatula to scrape into prepared pan and smooth top.
3. Bake for 55-65 minutes, until bread is firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
First of all I have a miniature file cabinet underneath my desk specifically for recipes. Each course has its own folder, with some garnering two folders; dairy-free desserts, for example.
Then, above my desk I have a magazine file, which holds more recipes, separated into loose categories, each tucked away in its own plastic binder.
Next up, a folder purchased at the local pharmacy downtown that looks like something a 9-year-old boy might carry around with a picture of a sporty soccer player high-kicking the ball to eminent glory. This holds all the recipes I have cooked that I want to write about on this here blog, as well as some things I think I might like to cook and then write about on this here blog.
Please don't look over at my book shelf. No, not the one with a million cookbooks, the other one, with the endless 3-ring binders of recipes I thought were so fabulous I couldn't bare to part with, oh yes, and the row upon row of magazines that I never look at, but have been neatly packed away in boxes and moved from apartment, to apartment, across the country, and unpacked again.
Not to mention the notebooks where I have simply written ideas down. Can someone please tell me what I did with the recipe for Pumpkin Doughnut Muffins, 'cause that sounds real good.
When I actually dive into this mess it is always fun to see what treasure I may find. This recipe for a moist cider pound cake was a recent discovery. The recipe was yellowed around the edges and I have not a clue when I ripped it out, but I honestly don't know why I didn't make it sooner. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
Adapted from Food and Wine Magazine
Makes 12 servings
2 cups unsweetened apple juice
3 cups granulated sugar
3 sticks, plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
3 cups sifted cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 large eggs, room temperature
8 ounces sour cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans
1. Bring apple juice to a boil over high heat in a large saucepan, swirling pan occasionally, until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 15 minutes. Add 1 cup of sugar and continue cooking until a dark amber caramel forms, about 5 minutes.
2. Remove from heat and swirl in 2 tablespoons of the butter until melted. Add apples and return to the heat to cook, until apples are softened, about 8 minutes. Pour into a heatproof bowl and let cool.
3. Heat oven to 350°F and adjust rack to the lower third. Butter and flour a 9 x 5 1/2in loaf pan. Sift the flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt, and baking soda onto a sheet of parchment or waxed paper.
4. Beat the remaining 3 sticks of butter in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until creamy. Add the remaining 2 cups of sugar and vanilla and beat at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well between additions. Add the dry ingredients in 3 batches, alternating with the sour cream; beat until just combined. Stir 1/2 cup of the batter into the apples, then stir the apple mixture into the remaining batter.
5. Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 1 hour or until the top is golden and cracked and a skewer inserted in the center comes with a few moist crumbs attached. Transfer cake to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes before turning out of the pan to cool completely.
For the Glaze:
1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add brown sugar and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until thick and smooth. Gradually stir in heavy cream and bring to a boil.
2. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until thick and bubbling, 3 minutes. Let cool completely, then stir in powdered sugar and vanilla.
3. Set cake on a plate and drizzle the glaze all over it. Sprinkle with pecans and serve.
This recipe was included in Seasonal Sundays and Sweets for Saturday.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
A Birkenstock wearing tree-hugger?
A body-obsessed Hollywood actor?
A nerdy, know-it-all Berkeley professor?
Possibly, but I think a man who doesn't eat meat is like the male version of Lois Lane—let call him Larry Lane—because they know the hidden identity that is the vegetable.
Unlike the one-dimensional hunk of meat a vegetable can transform itself into many guises. It can be a focal point, a background note, or in the case of this soup, blend itself into a smooth puree defying all laws of mouthfeel that say a creamy soup must contain cream. Cauliflower is wonderful in this way, as is potato, squash, or almost any root vegetable.
There are two helpful cooking tips in this recipe. The first is how to clean leeks. Leeks like to hang on to dirt for dear life and then release it into the final dish so you get that all so pleasant crunch of grit between your teeth. They need a few more steps to get really clean, so I've described in detail how to do that below.
Also, I've included step-by-step instructions of how to puree hot soup—spoiler alert—it involves a clean kitchen towel.
Makes 4-6 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon curry powder
5 cups vegetable stock
3/4 cup pecans
finely chopped roasted red pepper (optional, for garnish)
1. Remove stem ends and dark green stalk of the leeks. Cut in half lengthwise, then in 1/4-inch thick slices. Transfer to a bowl, cover with cold water and swish leeks around to remove any dirt hiding in between the layers. Give dirt a second to settle to the bottom, then lift leeks out of the water and transfer to a plate or cutting board.
2. Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add leeks and season with salt and pepper. Add cauliflower, turmeric, and curry powder, and stir to coat. Season with more salt and pepper and cook until cauliflower is tender, and starts to brown, about 8 minutes.
3. Add stock and pecans and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook until cauliflower is soft, about 15 minutes. Fill a blender 2/3 full with soup. Place a clean kitchen towel that you don't mind getting dirty (or doubled over paper towel) over the top of the blender. Holding towel down with one hand, turn blender onto its lowest setting. Slowly increase the speed of the blender until soup is smooth and creamy. Repeat with remaining soup, then pour back into the pot and return to the heat.
4. Bring soup to a simmer adding more stock or water if too thick. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Ladle into bowls, garnish with roasted red pepper and serve.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
I think the old adage if you can't beat 'em, join 'em is a good way to think about the fact that it is -13°F outside right now. Instead of instantly tensing with the thought of having to step out my creaking back door, I will relax and embrace the glories of winter, those things in a couple of months that won't be available to me. I will not miss them, but I might as well enjoy them now.
More specifically, cranberries and desserts served warm with tons of melting ice cream. Like savoring peaches in the summer, I savor the eye-popping tartness of cranberries in the winter. Their vivid garnet color is perfect for Valentine's Day and I'm a sucker for dessert straight from the oven.
This crisp is dairy-free, but you can substitute a stick of butter for the vegetable oil if you'd like. Just cut the butter into small pieces and rub into the flour mixture with your fingers until it resembles small cake crumbs.
Makes 10-12 servings
3 pounds apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
zest and juice of 1 large orange
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1. Heat oven to 375°F and arrange rack in the middle. Combine apples, cranberries, sugar, orange zest and juice, and ginger in a large bowl and toss until fruit is well coated. Pour fruit into a 9 x 13 baking dish.
2. Combine flour, oats, brown sugar, hazelnuts, salt, and cinnamon in a separate medium bowl and stir until sugar is broken up and everything is incorporated. Add oil and stir until the mixture sticks to itself when squeezed.
3. Pick up handfuls of the oat mixture and squeeze together to create a clump. Then break-up the clump over the fruit so you get good-sized pieces of topping. Repeat until all topping is used and fruit is covered.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
The key to my man's heart lies hidden in a steaming bowl of Pho. Even though I was the culinarian, I have to admit I was a little ethnically challenged before I met The Professor.
As a matter of fact, one of our first dates was my introductory trip to a burrito truck. I still remember sitting on the railroad tracks biting into a burrito the diameter of a wine bottle thinking, this is not the most romantic date, but Hot Damn! this is good.
And herein lies the wonderment that is my husband. He will have you thinking—no convinced—that he has no idea what he's talking about, to the point where you are saying to yourself, what have we gotten ourselves into, only to take you to the most brilliant place for a meal he knew you would love before you even knew it existed.
Even after 10 years I am constantly surprised, so this mi amor, is my Valentine to you. It may not be a box of chocolates, but you'd rather have a bowl of Pho anyway.
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine
Makes 6 servings
5 cups water
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup white wine
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1-inch cube peeled fresh ginger, smashed
1 bunch chives (1 cup cut into 1-inch long pieces, the rest left whole)
3 garlic cloves, smashed
10 fresh parsley stems
2 (2-inch-long) pieces tangerine peel
4 star anise pods
6 black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon dried chile flakes
2 1/2 pounds meaty beef short ribs
1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 pound linguine
1 jalapeño, thinly sliced
basil leaves, torn
1. Bring water, soy sauce, wine, brown sugar, ginger, whole chives, garlic, parsley, tangerine peel, star anise, black peppercorns, and chile flakes to a boil in a large soup pot. Reduce heat to a simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes. Add short ribs and gently simmer, covered, turning occasionally, until meat is very tender, but not falling apart. 2-3 hours. Let meat stand in cooking liquid 1 hour, or overnight.
2. Transfer meat to a cutting board with tongs and discard bones and membranes, then cut meat across the grain into 1/2-inch thick slices.
3. Pour beef broth through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl and discard solids. Transfer broth to a 4-quart saucepan add chicken broth and meat and reheat soup over low heat.
4. Meanwhile, bring a large stockpot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add linguine and cook according to package instructions. Drain and divide noodles between 6 bowls. Ladle soup over noodles and serve with jalapeño, basil leaves, lime wedges, and remaining chives for garnish.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
I will not be attending a Super Bowl party this year. This is nothing new, I think The Professor and I have been to one in our whole lives together, or apart for that matter. And that was way back in 2002, I don't remember who was playing, but I do remember the party took place in a trailer in Montana and our host was wearing those MC Hammer pants for white guys with the team logo running down the sides.
If I had been invited to a Super Bowl party this year, I would mainly be going for the food and would be extraordinarily pleased if they whipped out a huge platter of pasta tossed with a tender pork ragú. Not typical football food I admit, but if anyone out there wants me to come over and talk during the entire game, here's the recipe.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma
Makes 6-8 servings
3 pounds boneless pork shoulder roast, cut into 3-inch pieces
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced
1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup red wine
1 cup chicken broth
2 pounds dried pasta
1. Generously season pork on all sides with salt and pepper. Dust with flour, shaking off any excess. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pork pieces a few at a time, leaving room in between the pieces. Brown on all sides (about 5-8 minutes per side) then transfer to a plate, repeat with remaining pork pieces.
2. Add bacon to the pan and brown until crisp. Add onion, carrot, and celery and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and starting to brown. Add garlic and mushrooms and continue cooking until pan is almost dry.
3. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, and chicken broth. Stir, scrapping up any darkened bits that have stuck to the bottom and incorporate tomato paste. Return pork to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer until pork easily pulls apart with a fork, about 3 hours.
4. When pork is tender, remove pork from the sauce and set aside to cool slightly in a bowl or on a cutting board. While pork is cooling, set a large pot of heavily salted water on to boil over high heat. Add pasta and cook according to package instructions.
5. While pasta is cooking, shred pork with 2 forks, or your fingers and return to the sauce. Drain pasta and return to pasta pot. Ladle sauce over pasta (you may not use all of it) and toss to combine. Serve with Parmesan cheese if desired.