Tomato-Fennel Sauce

Use this to make Striped Bass with Braised Fennel. You can prepare this sauce a couple days ahead of time.

In large saucepan, heat 1-2 TBL oil. Saute 1 diced onion, 2 cloves garlic (sliced), ½ tsp salt, pinch red pepper flakes and 0.4g saffron threads you’ve broken up with your fingers. Cook until onions are translucent.

Chop and drain large can of San Marzano tomatoes (reserve juice in case sauce reduces too much). Add tomatoes, 1 tsp tomato paste, 1½ tsp ground fennel seed (I prefer freshly ground) and 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock. Simmer for 20 minutes.

In small batches, process in blender. Drain liquid through strainer, stirring to get a lot of the solids through the strainer; the strainer should be fine enough to stop any seeds from getting into the sauce. The sauce gets its body from the pulp that makes it through the strainer.

Gedempte Chicken

Dice one large onion and mince 2 cloves garlic. Heat oil in stew pot, saute garlic and onions. It’s okay if they brown a little. Season with salt, pepper and paprika (or cayenne, my personal preference). Push vegetables to one side of pan and chicken pieces (one whole chicken cut in pieces or use your favorite parts) in one layer. Brown on both sides. Continue until all meat is browned, lifting vegetables on top of meat. The more color the meat gets, the more flavor the dish has.

Add about ⅓ cup water, cover and lower heat to lowest possible temperature you can just get a slight simmer. Every 15 minutes. turn pieces of meat so each side of each piece gets to cook at the bottom of the pan, making sure it doesn’t dry out — but don’t add any extra water beyond the minimum needed. When the meat is tender, it’s done.

Some variations: This recipe was originally for beef, but chicken works well, or meatballs. You can add potatoes cut into large chunks just as you turn down the temperature. The recipe works well in a pressure cooker, but be careful to add enough water so you don’t risk cooking the pressure cooker dry!

Potato Gateau

Is it a potato (pan) cake? Well, yes, and no.

Peel and very finely slice 5 baking potatoes. In a cast iron frying pan, heat olive oil and add the potatoes. Sprinkle generously with salt. Stir to cook them all a bit. Let them start to cook on one side without stirring — I did this in a more griddle-shaped pan. As they brown, move it to a 400-degree oven and finish them there. I flipped it mid-cooking. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes in the oven to cook through.

Be sure to do this in a heavy metal pan or don’t bother with it. The potatoes won’t get crispy and you’ll be disppointed. My sources tell me this is much better when made with duck or goose fat, but I didn’t have any around this time.

Pan Pizza

From Mark Bittman, with some adjustments.

In food processor mix together 1 cup flour, scant ½ tsp yeast, ½ tsp kosher salt. Turn on machine. Through feed tube, add ¼ cup water and 1 TBL olive oil. Process 30 seconds, adding a bit more water if necessary to get dough to form a ball. Coat lightly with olive oil and place in covered bowl. Let rise 1-2 hours.

Divide in 2 and form balls. Dust with flour. Let rest 20 minutes. When ready to cook, press each ball into 10-inch circle. Over medium heat, film skillet with olive oil. Let dough brown on one side; push down bubbles if any form.

Flip to second side. Add tomato sauce, cheese, salt & pepper, and any other ingredients. We used thinly sliced fennel on one and mushrooms & anchovies on the other. Cook until well browned on bottom and cheese is melting; or place briefly under broiler to brown cheese a bit. Eat immediately; the steam that collects underneath isn’t kind to the lovely crust that forms.

Kasha Fusillichkas

Okay, it’s supposed to be made with bow-tie pasta (and then it’s called Kasha Varnichkas), but I’m not so traditional. This makes a lot, so you might want to cut it in half. Just use the white of the egg if you do.

Bring a large pot of water to boil.

Mix together 1 beaten egg and a cup of medium granulation kasha. Saute in oil or butter in a hot skillet — be sure you have a lid for it. Cook to dry out egg, breaking up kasha so it’s in separate granules. Sprinkle with salt. Pour in 2 cups of hot water or stock; it will spatter. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook fusilli (1 pound). Drain pasta when done and mix with cooked kasha and gravy from Gedempte Chicken, or something else that’s tasty. Serve hot.

Mascarpone Cream

Combine 750 grams (1.5 pounds) Mascarpone, 7 egg yolks and 6 TBL sugar using a wooden spoon. Beat until ingredients are incorporated smoothly. Refrigerate 8 to 24 hours and serve. It will be somewhat thick and is delicious served over a slice of Pandoro, pound cake or alone as a pudding. This supposedly serves 7 people but I would say it easily serves 10 or more.

For a smaller batch, estimate 100g cheese, 1 egg yolk and 1 TBL sugar per serving.

Gougères

These are high-class cheesy poofs, and very simple to make.

In a 2 quart saucepan, heat ½ cup milk, ½ cup water, 1 stick of butter (8 TBL) and ½ tsp kosher salt. When it comes to boil, dump in 1 cup of flour and stir with a wooden spoon until the mass congeals into a smooth dough. Keep stirring for another minute and remove from heat. Transfer to a 2- or 3-quart mixing bowl.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, using a convection setting if available. One at a time, add 4 whole eggs. The mixture will look very gloppy each time you add an egg, but keep stirring until the egg is fully incorporated before you add the next one. Each successive egg will take a little longer to mix in fully. When it’s completely mixed, add 4 ounces of grated gruyere cheese, a little black pepper and a pinch of nutmeg.

Transfer the dough to a pastry bag with a ½-inch tube, or use a clean plastic bag that has a ½-inch diameter opening cut in one corner. Using a baking sheet covered with parchment paper pipe out generous teaspoon-sized balls, leaving an inch between them. (35 fit comfortably on a large baking sheet.) Use the back of a wet teaspoon to smooth down any points that are created when you piped them out. Place a bit of additional grated cheese atop each one. Bake for 18 minutes or until golden; if cooking unevenly, spin the tray around after 10 minutes. You may even decide to remove some from the oven and bake the rest longer. They really should look golden with nice brown highlights. I bake one tray at a time, just so I can pay attention to what’s going on, but the recipe will make 2 or 3 trays, depending on the size of the baking sheet you use.

While the gougeres can be served right away, you can also freeze or refrigerate them, once they cool, and reheat them for 5 minutes at 350 degrees. This recipe makes about 70 gougeres. (TIP: to freeze the gougeres, place them on a baking sheet in the freezer, so they aren’t touching. Once frozen, transfer to a bag or container.)

Creamy Polenta

Mix ½ cup corn meal, 2 cups cold water and ½ tsp salt in a saucepan. Stirring constantly, bring to boil over a high heat. Cover pan when it begins to boil  and reduce heat to lowest possible temperature. It will need to cook for 5-8 minutes more. Stir in 1-2 TBL butter.

NOTES

  • If you mix the corn meal with cold water it won’t develop any lumps… especially if you stir constantly until it boils. I’m not sure why the cold water trick isn’t widely published.
  • I prefer the consistency from Quaker Corn Meal, but you should find a granulation you like.

Monkfish Liver

Purchase a very fresh monkfish liver; I bought one that weighed about a half-pound. Trim any pieces of membrane or visible blood vessels from it. Place it on a plate and arrange a steamer large enough to hold the plate. Steam the liver on the plate for about 20 minutes. A larger one will probably take a bit longer, but since the timing has a lot to do with the thickness, I wouldn’t suspect the time is linear in relationship to the weight. When it’s done cooking, place the liver on a cutting board and let it sit for a minute, then cut in to ¼-inch slices. Serve at room temperature with finely grated daikon and ponzu sauce.

A half-pound liver makes about 4-6 servings, depending on how much of this rich food you like to eat. The daikon goes very well with the liver, but go easy on the ponzu sauce… it can overwhelm the flavor of the liver. Leftovers can be refrigerated, but not for long. I have read that it also can be frozen, but haven’t tried that.

Shorter No-Knead Bread

In large bowl, measure 8 cups flour, 2 TBL salt, ¾ tsp yeast. Stir to mix. Stir in about 3¾ cups water. Dough will be shaggy. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in warm place for 12-24 hours. Stir dough down and get lots of flour on its underside (many tricks, mine is just to push it aside with a rubber scraper and dump some flour in… move it around). 90-120 minutes later, turn on oven to 500, with covered ovenproof pot in the oven (NO bakelite handles). When oven is at temperature, remove pan, sprinkle 1 TBL of corn meal on bottom of pot, dump in dough, cover and return to oven. Uncover after 25 minutes and remove from oven after another 30.

See No-Knead Bread if you want the whole Megillah.

No-Knead Bread

See Shorter No-Knead Bread and New York Seedy Bread recipes.

Combine in a large-sized mixing bowl: 3 cups flour, 2 tsp salt and generous ¼ tsp yeast. Stir in 1½ cups tap water (any temperature) and stir. The mixture may look a bit shaggy. Let rise, in bowl covered with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel for 10-18 hours, the timing isn’t too fussy. Dust counter or cutting board with heavily with flour. Dump out dough. Sprinkle with a bit more flour. Fold dough over on itself once. Leave on board or put back in bowl, with the fold down and cover loosely. Wait about an hour to 90 minutes.

Place a pot with oven-resistant handles and cover (see note below) in oven on middle shelf. Preheat oven (and pot) to 450 to 500 degrees F, depending on how dark you like the crust. The hotter the better in my opinion. Carefully remove the pot from the oven, dust the pan’s bottom with cornmeal, if desired or else generously dust the top of the dough with little more flour. In one “plop,” dump the dough into the pan, replace the cover and put it in the oven. Don’t worry if it looks uneven, although you can shake the pan once if it looks unevenly distributed. Cover and bake for 25. Continue cooking uncovered for another 20-25 minutes, depending on how dark you like the crust.

The original recipe came from The NY Times and you can find much discussion on the NY Times web site and across the Web, but these are the tips I think are most important:

  • Use a pan that is really oven resistant at high temperatures. Le Creuset and other manufacturers only suggest oven temperatures of up to 350 F for their pans with bakelite-type handles.
  • Feel free to try other kinds of flour: I like to use ⅓ semolina or whole wheat. Sprinkle the bread with seeds just before it goes into the oven. Check out my High-Fiber No-Knead Bread recipe.
  • You can also make loaves of bread. When you flip over the bread, go light on the flour, grease a loaf pan and let it rise in the pan. Put the pan, uncovered, into the oven after the rising period. It may stick, hence the suggestion to grease the pan.
  • You can make much larger loaves: my favorite trick is using a fish poacher to make a 9-cup batch of bread. It makes nice square bread for even sandwich-style slices.
  • Experiment!

The bread is moist and will last several days in the room, especially if you leave it with the cut end down on a cutting board or plate.

Winter Squash Soup

Chop, clean and saute 1 large leek in some olive oil. While it softens, trim 4 cups of winter squash into 1- to 2-inch cubes. Add to pot and add a mixture of water and chicken stock to cover. Add 1 tsp salt, ¼ tsp cayenne and either ½ tsp cumin or ¼ tsp pimenton. Bring to simmer for 35-45 minutes (until squash is soft). If using a pressure cooker, it will need about 10 minutes. Puree in blender and strain. Add a bit of light cream and serve.

NOTE: If saving for later, reheat and then add the cream.

Meyer Lemon Ice Cream

Heat ½ cup sugar, 1 cup whole milk, 1 cup heavy cream and 1 TBL butter until just shy of simmering. Remove from heat.

With a mixer, beat 4 egg yolks and ¼ cup sugar until it’s thickened and the color is very yellow. Continue beating the mixture and add the hot cream, in a very slow stream so you don’t cook the eggs by raising the temperature too quickly. When it’s all combined, return to heat and bring to 185 degrees. The mixture will be thick and coat the spoon. Pour through a strainer to remove any lumps.Chill in refrigerator.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine ¼ cup sugar, ¼ cup water and 1 TBL grated lemon rind and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add ½ cup Meyer lemon juice. Pour through a strainer to remove the rind (it’s bitter) and any pulp or seeds in the juice. Chill.

When the flavoring and custard are both thoroughly chilled, combine and process in an ice cream maker.

NOTE: I had only Meyer lemon juice and regular lemon rind. It worked very well.

Sesame Ice Cream

In a large saucepan, combine rounded ¼ cup cornstarch with ¾ cup milk. Stir with fingertips until you can no longer find any lumps. Add 1 cup tahini, 2 cups 2% milk, ¾ cup sugar. Heat mixture on high until milk is steaming, reduce heat to medium to low and cook for 3-5 minutes until mixture thickens. Remove from heat, and pour through fine-mesh wire strainer. Stir in ¼ cup toasted sesame seeds.

Cool custard and freeze in ice-cream freezer.

TIP: Use soy milk instead of cow’s milk and you’ve got vegan ice cream! The fat from the tahini helps make a very rich ice cream. Tahini has more fat per tablespoon than whole cream, so despite using fat-reduced milk, this isn’t low-calorie.