Tuesday, August 31, 2010

You Must Do This To Your Potatoes

I'll admit it straight up, I'm a sucker for duck fat. Oh I realize that a few of you are probably thinking "weirdo," but I'm okay with that, because I'm going to assume it's because you haven't had enough duck fat. When I saw this recipe, I knew it was for me (and not just because I felt an immediate kinship with anyone who has 4 tubs of duck fat in his freezer). How could anyone resist taking a nearly perfect food - roast potatoes, and coating it in something heavenly?

These are crispy and rich on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. Just so good.

stolen from Wrightfood - I would just post a link, but I personally needed a few extra tips, so I'm going to rewrite the recipe.

potatoes - I used 4 smallish red potatoes
duck fat* - I used 3-5 T
salt (as it pleases you)

*Where I am supposed to get this duck fat you ask? From a duck! You could probably buy it at some specialty store but I'm too cheap for that.

Preheat your oven to 450 F. Place a large cast iron pan in the oven to heat up as well.
Peel the potatoes and cut into 1"or 1.5" chunks. The original recipe didn't specify, and I started with much bigger pieces and then they needed longer to boil, it was annoying. Place chunks in cold water and bring to a boil, boil for 5 minutes. My larger pieces were totally hard at this point, so I let them go another 2 minutes. You do not want them very soft. Just soft enough that a fork goes in without undue force. Drain. Return them to pan and gently toss around a few times. Take the hot pan out of the oven. Use a pot holder. Place about 2-3 tablespoons of duck fat into the pan. Allow it to melt, then add the potatoes. Gently toss the potatoes until completely coated in fat. Return the pan to the oven and roast potatoes for 20 minutes. Remove and recoat with fat (the original left adding more fat as optional, I needed to add about 2 more tablespoons). Return the pan to the oven and roast potatoes for 20 more minutes. Remove and sprinkle with salt. Mmmm.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

When the Cat's Away...

Ryan is out of town. As much as I love him, sometimes that makes me really, really happy. It means I can do whatever I want (sadly, this meant scrubbing the apartment from top to bottom), watch whatever I want (Sleepless in Seattle) and of course, EAT whatever I want. You see, we eat together just about every night. A real meal, cooked from scratch. We go out or take out once every few weeks, and Ryan certainly does some of the cooking, but cheating around here is frozen ravioli. And that probably only happens once every few months. So secretly I get really happy when I can make whatever I want for dinner. Even if that's something Ryan would strongly maintain is NOT dinner. Last night, I made a little variation on Welsh Rabbit. Mmm. Yummy. So what do you do when the cat's away?

for one

2 pieces of good bread - I used a loaf of french country
1/2 a large tomato sliced thick
3/4 - 1 C sharp cheddar cheese shredded
1 t Worcestershire (I would have used 2 but my bottle ran dry. Alas.)
1 t dijon mustard
teensy pinch cayenne
salt and pepper
Most recipes call for some beer - I skipped that. If you want, add a T.

Cut your tomato slices and remove the seeds. Then sprinkle with salt. Lay them on a wire rack, or a pad of paper towels to dry out a bit. Grate your cheese, mix with the other ingredients. Turn on your broiler (I use my toaster oven's broil setting). After 5-10 minutes, pat the tomatoes dry and place them on the pieces of bread (you can toast your bread first if you like). Then cover the tomatoes with the cheese mixture. Put in a baking dish or on lots of foil or on an oven proof plate if you're working with your toaster oven. Broil for 3-4 minutes until you have a melty cheesy mess.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Adventures in Boston (or Thereabouts)

So, I've spent the last three days with my dearest friend and her ridiculously smile-y adorable baby girl. I actually did end up cooking a bit. She was delayed by a marathon drive home from Maine, and I entertained her cousin with dinner and her famous brownies. Although I've cooked in her kitchen countless times, doing it without her there was another experience entirely. She has a somewhat obscene number of cabinets filled with cooking gear and pantry items, a fridge and two freezers. Her cousin and I spent much of the time doubled over with laughter as we tried to figure out where things were (How can she not have butter?? - She did, we just couldn't find it.) and what things were (J, if you're reading along, what in the Sam Hill is the thing in the corner cabinet that looks like a massive garlic press?) and also how things worked (The oven that lights up is definitely the one that works, and we sincerely apologize if we didn't put the pepper grinder back together properly after we accidently disassembled it trying to figure out how to make it work.)

The next day we baked sugar cookies, which you may get to read about on her brand new marvelous food blog, My Family Table. I know she took pictures, so keep checking back!

We also had a truly exciting trip to the grocery store. No sarcasm. I'm really serious. The whole store is on the second floor, so they have special escalators for your cart. Behold.

Yeah. I could have watched that all day. I'm a really big dork. I'm also amazed that parents can tear their children away from this. Even I was tempted to ask "Just one more cart?"

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sorry Folks

As about 90% of my readership already knows - I'm on vacation. Right now I'm on Cape Cod, visiting my Nana. I'm not going to lie, I've had lobster twice in the past two days. Life is good, but I can't say as I've been doing much cooking. I'll be home in a week and I just can't guarantee anything new or exciting until then. For now, have a little scallop pasta to tide you over.

adapted from Marcella Hazan

3/4 lb bay scallops (you can use sea scallops, but you'd need to chop them into smaller, maybe 1/2", pieces - if you live in New England and you wait until November - March, you can get Cape Bay Scallops which are the best!)
1/2 lb spaghetti
1/8 cup bread crumbs
1 T butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cloves garlic minced
1 t red pepper flakes

Start your water for the pasta. When it boils, add the pasta and start the sauce. In a large pan, heat the olive oil and the garlic and the red pepper flakes on low heat until the garlic is pale golden. Wash and dry the scallops. Turn the heat up a bit and add the scallops. Cook for 1-2 minutes until they are no longer translucent. Add the pasta when it is done and swirl it around, mixing well so it picks up all the oil and garlic and scallopy goodness. In a small pan, combine the bread crumbs and a tablespoon of butter. Stir until butter melts into the bread crumbs. Serve the pasta and top with sprinkles of bread crumbs. You do not need to use all the bread crumbs.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Not Enough Time

This summer I'd become a little obsessed with the idea of making this recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I hadn't done it, in part because Ryan and I had a small spat at the Farmer's Market. I asked him if he wanted to come to the market, he said yes, and then when we got there, he refused to have an opinion about anything.

Me: "Should I get some more of the delicious tomatoes?"

Ry: "I don't care. What would you make?"

Me: "Do I need to know now? They're tomatoes!"

Me: "Would you like some peaches?"
Peaches are Ryan's favorite fruit.

Ry: "I don't know. Did you want to get them?"

Me: "Is there anything here you want?"

Ry: "I just don't care."

I didn't get the peaches.

Then last week my dad called and told me he had an excess of peaches and would I please do something about that. I did not have to be asked twice. It was time for bourbon peach hand pies. Right. Time. This recipe takes hours. All day kind of hours. You better not have anything else you want to do hours. I thought they were delicious, but I don't know that the end result justified the work. Ryan reports they are "pretty good." Which really does not justify the work.

adapted from SmittenKitchen

for the dough
All right folks, the dough is what causes this to be too much work. It's a delicious soft dough, but after it's been out of the oven for awhile it loses some of it's light flakiness - think of how a croissant wilts slightly after it's been out a bit. Smitten says this is the only dough that will work properly, but as I've used my standard dough for empanaditas, I can tell you it will fold easily too. It will not be as light and flaky, but you also won't spend the whole day doing it.

2 1/2 C all purpose flour
1/2 t salt
2 sticks of butter cut into small pieces
1/2 C sour cream
4 t fresh lemon juice (honestly I felt the lemon flavor came out too much, but I don't know if it's needed to tenderize the dough or some such)
1/2 C ice water

for the filling
2 pounds of peaches
1/4 C flour
1/4 C salt
1 t bourbon
1/2 t vanilla
pinch cinnamon
pinch nutmeg

for topping
one egg yolk beaten with a bit of water

Clear your agenda for the whole day. Mix the flour and salt together in one bowl. Stick the chopped up butter in the other. Put in the freezer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter and muscles the size of The Rock's. You should do this until the texture resembles coarse meal. I ended up busting out a pair of steak knives and cutting the butter in that way. Whisk together the sour cream, water and lemon juice. Make a well in the center of your flour/butter and add half of this mixture. Use your fingers to smoosh this into the the flour mixture. Keep pressing it all together. Get another bowl. Transfer out the doughy parts to the new bowl, so you just have crumbly flour butter meal in your first bowl. Then add the rest of the sour cream/water/lemon stuff and repeat. Then put all the doughy parts together and pat it all into a ball, trying to get up all the flour bits, but not overworking the dough! Refrigerate the dough for an hour.

Divide the dough in half. Roll out half the dough and cut it into circles using a 5 1/2" cutter. I used the metal top of a cookie jar. Place the circles on a parchment covered cookie sheet and stick back in the fridge (I made layers of parchment/dough circles). The unused scraps can be reused, but they'll need to be refrigerated again first, because this dough will be so soft by the time you're done it will be melting into your counter. Repeat with the second half of the dough. Chill the circles for 30 minutes. I don't think I chilled them that long. Maybe 10-15? It depends on how hot it is in your kitchen.

Preheat your oven to 375 F. Make the filling. Chop the peaches into 1/2" dice. Mix with flour, sugar, bourbon, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Spoon the filling onto the circles. Use a bit of ice water around the edge of the circle to help create a seal when you fold it over. Use the tines of a fork to seal the edge in a pretty design. If needed refrigerate for another 30 minutes (I definitely skipped this). Baste the top with egg wash. Cut a small slit in the top of each. Bake for 20 minutes until lightly browned and cracked.

You could cut out a lot of trouble by using a dough that did not need constant refrigeration, I promise.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Summer Soup

For our anniversary a few weeks ago, Ryan and I went to our favorite local restaurant. For my appetizer, I had an amazing cucumber avocado soup with some peach and corn salsa. It was so refreshing and delicious, we knew we had to try to make some version of it. Of course, I decided to make it last night, which was probably the coolest night we've had all summer, and therefore the only night we wouldn't have minded turning on the stove, but I can't really complain about a no-cook dinner right?

I made enough for two, and felt that perhaps the soup to crab ratio was a bit off. I didn't mind at all when I was eating it. I'm giving you a doubled soup recipe, so there'll be enough for four smallish soups (or two with leftovers), but what you do with the crab is up to you.

I used 1/2 lb jumbo lump crabmeat. You could use this much for four people, if you wanted the focus on the soup. Or you could use more.

2 ripe avocados
3 cucumbers, peeled and seeded
2 T red onion
2 t seeded jalepeno
4 T fresh squeezed lemon juice (this would have been two whole lemons for me)
6 T plain yogurt (I used low fat)
2 T water
2 T olive oil
a bit of chopped tomato as garnish (optional)
hot sauce as garnish if you like (optional)

Carefully pick through the crab and remove any hard bits. Jumbo lump won't have many, so you shouldn't have too much work to do. Chop the avocado and cucumber roughly and put them in a blender with the red onion, jalepeno, lemon juice, yogurt, water and oil. Process until smooth. I put mine through a strainer, partially because I put in two bits of cucumber with skin before I decided to peel it, but if you like your texture, feel free to skip the straining. Chill the soup. Top with crabmeat and a bit of tomato and a drizzle of hot sauce if you like.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

An Attempt at a Puddle Cookie

This is what things have come to around here. I had to actually stop my husband as he was about to grab one of these and beg to take a photo before the last of the batch disappeared into his belly.

My father's words on tasting these? "If you had a store to sell these, you wouldn't need to sell anything else."

All of which was very reassuring to me, since I tweaked a recipe I found on 101 Cookbooks, and I think the end result was not exactly what was intended. I'm pretty sure mine were a bit chewier than the originals. The upside is, whatever these are, they are good. Delicious even. And to be perfectly honest, they're more candy than cookie. No flour. That my friends is highly suspicious, but it tastes so good I'm not complaining.

Also, off topic - but just in case you missed it, my Friday post on a tomato and bacon topped pizza somehow ended up posted before the kale salad. So if you haven't seen it, scroll on down to check it out.

adapted from 101 Cookbooks

3 C confectioner's sugar
2/3 cocoa powder
2 1/2 C toasted pecans chopped
1/2 C egg beaters whites only
1 t vanilla

Mix ingredients together. I toasted my pecans by putting them on a baking sheet in the toaster oven at 350 for about 6-10 minutes. Anyway, just mix it all and then spoon onto a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment or a silpat mat. The batter will be looser than a normal cookie batter. Don't try for more than six on a sheet as they expand somewhat. I baked mine at 350 for 10 minutes and tried to ignore dire warnings that underbaking and overbaking would ruin my life. I pulled them when they looked done, not wet anymore but dry and with a bit of a gloss and crackle.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

If at First You Don't Succeed, Steal, Steal Again

Lately, I've been feeling like a failure. I just can't seem to do anything right. It's been about a million different little things from grammar mistakes to (pesky, not serious) health stuff that has me at physical therapists or doctor's appointments three days a week. And then there's my cooking. I made those baked mozzarella sticks. They were pretty yummy, except that I turned my back on them for one minute too long and they were melting piles of goop. Then I made a no-cook pasta sauce I saw on another blog. Flavorless and watery. I tried a hand at dessert - Julia's Baked Yogurt Tart topped with fresh raspberries. I suppose I should not be surprised that it tasted very much like lukewarm yogurt. I'm hoping refrigeration helps matters, but I'm not holding my breath or anything. So basically, I just keep trying. And failing.

Considering my recent streak it should not be a big surprise that this recipe isn't even mine. It's stolen from my mom's friend Joanne. You remember Joanne right? She's the one responsible for the highly addictive cauliflower crisps? Trust me, these days you're much safer making something I'm not responsible for. Also, please tell me in the comments what I left out. It seems unlikely given my recent track record that I would have written this up properly.

serves 4

for the salad:
6-8 large leaves of kale, center rib removed, torn into bite sized pieces (wash thoroughly, kale lives in sandy soil, so be sure to remove all the grit)
4 medium beets, cut into a small dice
1T olive oil for roasting beets
red onion (about a slice per person)
goat cheese- 1-2 oz crumbled
salt and pepper

for the dressing:
2 T olive oil
2 t balsamic
one crushed garlic clove (remove before pouring dressing)

Peel and chop the beets to a small dice. Spread the beets on a foil lined cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil and toss with salt and pepper. Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes until tender and sweet. While the beets are cooking, mix up the dressing and let it sit, this will give the garlic time to release its flavor.

Allow the beets to cool completely. Remove the garlic from dressing and toss the kale with the dressing. Arrange the kale on plates, top with beets, goat cheese and red onion. Run for your camera, demand the recipe and post to your blog. Continue to consider yourself a failure, if a well-fed one.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I'm sorry. I feel as though I've been neglecting you. I can look at the main page and see that I posted Wednesday, so I do have evidence that I haven't abandoned ship, but mentally, I'm afraid I've been a bit off. Not a single thought has entered my mind about how to tell you about this pizza, other than the usual: Tomatoes. Mmmm. Drool. The cause of my distraction is my new blog Between the Pages, in which I use my amazing teacherly reading skills to tell people what is up in kids' books these days. If you have kids, or need to buy books for them sometimes, check it out! If you have no interest whatsoever in children's books, then let's just pretend this little digression never happened.

It's still summer. There are still tomatoes to be eaten.


1/4 recipe dough - this makes a pizza for 2, maybe about a 10" or 11" had it been round - I did not 1/4 the recipe, I made a whole recipe a long time ago and portioned it out and froze it.
2 tomatoes, sliced thin
1 1/2 C grated mozzarella
1/2 C parm (divided into 1/4 C and another 1/4 C)
4 slices bacon

2 cloves garlic
3 T olive oil.

Preheat your oven to 475 F. Put the pan in the oven to preheat as well. Chop up the bacon, I liked mine big enough to taste, so not a small dice or anything. Pop the bacon in a hot pan and cook until crisp. Remove when done and put on a paper towel to drain a bit. In a small pot, heat up the olive oil and garlic together, for about five minutes. Roll out your dough. Transfer your dough to the pan. Brush on the olive oil that you've infused with garlicky goodness. Cook for 7 minutes or until the bottom is firm. This is not a dough that you want crispy or it will be like a cracker. Top it with the mozzarella and the first 1/4 C of parm. Then add the tomatoes and bacon. Add the rest of the parm. Stick it back in the oven for 4-6 minutes or until the dough is lightly golden brown and the cheese is melty. Bite. Sigh at how good real tomatoes are. Steal the leftovers from your husband the next day at lunch.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

When I first made these cookies there was not going to be any blog post. Then I got mad. I wrote a scathing report in order to share with you the VERY important news that Mark Bittman is a fool. I was going to take back any points I had given him over the delicious shrimp and white beans dish because he had so led me astray.

It all began when I stopped buying Nestle's chocolate chips and started buying Ghirardelli chips. I somehow failed to realize that I would no longer get the recipe for chocolate chip cookies on the bag. I do realize that with the age of the internet, I would easily be able to google up the recipe, but I said to myself, Mark Bittman knows how to cook everything. It says it right there on the front of the book: How to Cook Everything.

So I mixed up his chocolate chip cookie recipe, filled with hope. It was a disaster. The cookies stuck to the tray. They stuck to parchment. They stuck to silpat. I chipped and pried them up and fed my not very discriminating husband bits and pieces of ooey gooey chocolate goop and slightly charred crumbles. And then I had to try to clean up. It is possible at this point that there was some combination of swearing, crying and banging of pans. I was so annoyed and upset that I took the second dozen and shoved them on a tray in the freezer, froze them, and then threw them in a bag to be dealt with later.

It is now LATER.

Later is a delicious place to be. Also, remarkably less sticky.

from How to Cook Everything*
*except chocolate chip cookies

2 sticks of butter softened
1/4 C white sugar
1/4 C brown sugar
2 eggs
2 C all purpose flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 t vanilla extract
2 C chocolate chips

Cream together the butter and sugar, then add the eggs one at a time, mixing well until blended. Then add the vanilla. Sift together the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt). Add to the butter/sugar/eggs mixture and mix until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Form into balls and place on a cookie sheet in your freezer. In about 30 minutes to an hour, take the balls off the cookie sheet and place in plastic freezer bags.

To bake from frozen, place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or a silpat mat. Cook 10-12 minutes at 375. Let cool on the sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a baking rack to cool further. Or transfer directly to your mouth. Your choice.


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