Category Archives: Year Round

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.

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.

Coffee Ice Milk

Combine a rounded ¼ cup of cornstarch and ¾ cup whole milk in a large saucepan. With your fingertips stir until all the cornstarch is dissolved. Add 1½ cups extra-strength coffee, 1½ cups whole milk and ½ cup sugar. Stir over high heat until mixture is steaming. Continue cooking one medium to low heat until mixture thickens completely: 4-5 minutes. Strain mixture in fine wire mesh, then stir in 1½ tsp pulverized coffee (a commercial coffee grinder will do this at the finest setting).

Cool custard and freeze in an ice-cream freezer.

NOTE: I used decaf coffee, and to make the extra-strength just used half as much water as I normally would for the amount of coffee.

Stuffed Vegetarian Vine Leaves

Cook 1 cup brown rice with 1 tsp salt and ¾ tsp dried thyme until almost cooked. Meanwhile finely chop 1 medium onion and saute in oil until tender; do not brown. Let onions and rice cool for 10 minutes, combine with ½ cup toasted pine nuts, ½ cup currants and a sprinkling of cinnamon — probably about ¼ tsp. Stir thoroughly and season with additional salt and/or cinnamon to taste.

Rinse and drain vine leaves. Trim off any stems. (I used a jar that was marked “8 oz. drained weight” and was about the size of a 1 lb. jar of another brand.) With veined side up, stuff with a 1-2 tsp of filling according to the size of the leaves, rolling tightly (see Stuffed Vine Leaves for details). Place on steamer rack and when you’ve stuffed them all, cook for 45 minutes in the covered steamer, being sure it doesn’t dry out.

This made about 30 vine leaves.

Root Beer Float Ice Cream

Put 2 cups heavy cream, 1 cup milk, ½ cup sugar and a pinch of salt in a sauce pan. Add 1¼ tsp root beer concentrate (Schilling’s make this). In a bowl, combine 4½ TBL (that’s a generous ¼ cup) of corn starch and ¾ cup milk. Stir with fingertips to confirm there are no lumps. Add cornstarch to sauce pan and heat until steaming, stirring constantly. Lower heat and keep stirring for 5 minutes, or until thoroughly thickened. Strain and chill a couple of hours and freeze in ice cream maker.

NOTE: It struck me after making this that I should have added the flavoring after the mixture came off the heat. Next time.

Chipotle Vinaigrette

ATTNTurn on the vent over your range or your house will smell from vinegar!

In a very small saucepan, boil

  • ½ cup wine vinegar
  • ½ cup orange juice

on a high heat until the volume is reduced by half. Cool to room temperature and mix in

  • ¼ cup mayonnaise

until thoroughly blended. Add

  • 1 TBL pureed chipotle in adobo
  • 1½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1½ TBL lime juice

Use to make Tuna-Tomato Napoleons.

NOTE: You can buy a can of chipotle chiles in adobo. I put the entire contents of the can into the food processor and use the resulting puree any time I want a spicy and smokey flavor. Just freeze the extra and use it as needed, straight from the freezer.

Toaster Biscuits

Our little easy-bake oven of a toaster works for making biscuits. We usually use these for strawberry shortcake
4 biscuits
Shopping List

1 cup flour (or ½ cup flour and ½ cup cake flour)

1½ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

2½ TBL Crisco

⅓ cup buttermilk

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In a medium-size bowl, mix

  • 1 cup flour (or ½ cup flour and ½ cup cake flour)
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda

If you are making to serve with savory food, add

  • ¼ tsp salt

When the dry ingredients are combined, cut in

  • 2½ TBL Crisco

Then stir in

  • ⅓ cup buttermilk or sour milk (1 tsp vinegar plus ⅓ cup milk)

Knead for 30 seconds and pat to form a layer ⅝-inch thick. ATTN I try to form a square so I can make square biscuits with two cuts of a knife. (If you use a round cutter you can reform the remaining dough but the biscuit cut from this dough will have a different texture.)

Cook on tray for 10-11 minutes at 425 F. (As toaster ovens vary a great deal, keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn, or worse.)

Chicken Tikka ‘dempte

OK, this is neither Eastern European nor is it Indian, but I like how it tastes.

Saute 1 diced onion, 2 cloves minced garlic and 1 seeded and minced jalapeno pepper. When onions are golden, push mixture aside and brown trimmed meat; I used chicken thighs (bone-in, but skinned and trimmed of all fat). When all pieces of meat are cooked on both sides, add ¼ to ⅓ cup tandoori paste (I used Patak’s brand) and 1 cup water. Mix around a bit, reduce to a slow simmer and let cook covered for 45 minutes. Every 10-15 minutes, turn the pieces and move the ones on bottom to the top.

When meat is tender, whisk a little gravy into 6 ounces of yogurt, and then add the mixture back to the pot. Let cook 5 minutes more. Serve over rice

Chicken with Yogurt Sauce

Trim of excess fat and place 8 skinless chicken thighs in a skillet large enough to hold them in a single layer. Add water to cover, 1 TBL ground cardamom, 1 tsp ground white pepper and 1 tsp salt. Bring to slow simmer and cook for 20 minutes; chicken should be cooked through.

Remove chicken from pan. In a saucepan, combine 1⅓ cup chicken broth (reserved from cooking chicken), an equal amount of thick Greek-style yogurt, 1 TBL cornstarch. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly until thickened. Adjust salt and pepper. Serve sauce over chicken on platter, garnished with toasted pine nuts.

This dish has a lot of sauce, so consider serving it with couscous you’ve cooked with some turmeric and added minced carrots or red peppers. The main dish is so white you’ll want some contrast.

Adapted from a recipe in The New York Times, Feb 11, 2009.

Stuffed Vine Leaves

Start cooking 1½ cups brown rice; you will want to stop it just short of being fully cooked. Meanwhile, chop 1-2 medium onions, finely: you will have about 1½ cups onions. Saute the onions and 2 cloves minced garlic in olive oil. Season with salt pepper and herbs; I used a mixture of fresh thyme, dried thyme and dried oregano. Add 1¼ pounds ground meat; I used turkey, but lamb or beef will give a more flavorful result. Saute until cooked, but don’t dry it out, and be sure to keep it broken into small bits.

While the rice is finishing up, prepare the vine leaves. I used a 2-pound jar of leaves (but only used about half of the leaves in the jar). Fresh leaves would be better, but you’d need to pour boiling water over them to soften them up. Rinse the leaves, remove the stems and arrange them in stacks so the side with the veins is up. Don’t use torn leaves or ones with many holes.

When the rice is almost cooked, add the drained rice to the mixture and check the seasonings. Now start filling. With the stem end facing you and the veined side up, put a spoonful of filling at the center of the leaf. Fold the left and right lobes nearest the step over the filling at a 30-degree angle, then bring the sides in and finish rolling up. Squeeze it a bit to hold it in shape and put it in a steamer basket. (You want a steamer with a flat surface, not a basket made for steaming vegetables.) Pack them tightly.

Put the steamer into a pot with water in the bottom and a tight-fitting lid. Steam for 45 minutes: the leaves will have softened up. Check the water level from time-to-time because if it runs out, you’ll burn up all your hard work.

This makes a really large number of stuffed leaves, but the exact number will vary according to how large the leaves are that you use.