Monday, October 09, 2017

Chai-Spiced Pound Cake

This is straight-up fantastic. This highly spiced cake is like a cross between a pound cake and sponge cake ... so we could just call it a bundt cake and be done with it. That said, the texture is just heavy enough to be substantial and the cake has a lovely, moist texture. I was surprised to find there was a bit of a bite at the end which felt as if I'd eaten fresh ginger. Turns out the spice mixture has black pepper as an ingredient.

I've never liked chai-spiced drinks but then I saw this recipe in the King Arthur Flour catalog which looked so enticing that I bought their chai spice so I could make it. Of course, I don't love to drink chai but I might like to eat it in a dessert. As it turns out, the investment was well worth it.

I saw among the comments at King Arthur that someone topped this with a powdered sugar glaze made with a teaspoon of the chai spice. That sounds like a variation I might try next time. Because I will be making this again ... and again ... and again.

Chai-Spiced Pound Cake

16 tablespoons (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup honey
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons chai spice or 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ginger, 2 teaspoons cardamom, 1-1/2 teaspoons allspice, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 cup sour cream or yogurt, full-fat preferred
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and honey until smooth and somewhat lightened in color; this will take about 2 minutes at medium speed of an electric hand or stand mixer.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute or two and scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl between additions.
  4. Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and chai spice blend (or spices).
  5. Measure the flour by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Gently but thoroughly stir half the flour into the butter/egg mixture. Add the sour cream (or yogurt) and vanilla, stirring to combine. Finally, stir in the remaining flour. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat briefly, to incorporate any sticky residue.
  6. Thoroughly grease a 9- or 10-cup Bundt pan. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until a cake tester, bamboo skewer, or long toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Remove the cake from the oven, and cool in the pan for 15 minutes before turning it out onto a rack to finish cooling.
  8. Cool completely before slicing. Store any leftovers, tightly wrapped in plastic, at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Cheesy Chicken-and-Spinach Stromboli Ring

Another one from the September Cooking Light, which is proving to be a real winner. This was absolutely delicious. I'd never heard of a Stromboli before and when I went researching it most of the recipes looked like variations of an Italian sub sandwich made in a pizza dough jelly roll. Which I'm also fine with. But this has a creamy element which I'd be loathe to give up as well as a satisfying heft.

We wound up adapting the recipe a fair amount:
  • We made a white flour pizza crust (using flour instead of Parmesan in the linked recipe). I just felt like whole wheat would compete with the filling too much.
  • We did use the fresh spinach specified by the recipe but will use thawed frozen spinach next time since it just gets cooked in with the rest of the filling.
  • We didn't want to buy a rotisserie chicken (which we almost never do) just for this recipe so just cooked up a chicken breast ourselves in the oil and garlic. It would be a perfect recipe for using leftover chicken.
  • The ring adds a very festive air but we might also try it as a straight Stromboli.

Cheesy Chicken-and-Spinach Stromboli Ring
Serves 4

12 ounces fresh prepared whole-wheat pizza dough (Cooking Light's note: Most store-bought pizza dough comes in 1- or 1 1/2-pound portions, but you only need 12 ounces for this recipe. Use the leftovers to make breadsticks or flatbread the next day.)
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
8 ounces fresh spinach
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/4 cup)
6 ounces shredded skinless rotisserie chicken breast (about 1-1/2 cups)

Step 1
Let pizza dough stand at room temperature 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 450°F.

Step 2
Heat a large skillet over medium-low. Add oil and garlic; cook, swirling occasionally, until garlic is golden, about 2 to 4 minutes. Drain oil from skillet into a small bowl to reserve, keeping garlic in skillet. Add spinach to skillet; increase heat to medium-high, and cook, tossing constantly, until spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes to cool.

Step 3
Stir together ricotta and Parmesan in a medium bowl. Add spinach mixture and chicken; stir well to combine.

Step 4
(Cooking Light has pictures which really help with this part.)

Place dough on a large piece of parchment paper, and roll dough into a 20- x 6-inch rectangle. Spoon chicken mixture down center of dough to make an approximately 20- x 3-inch strip.

Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, create tabs in dough on both sides of filling: Starting at the edge of dough, cut 1-1/2-inch-long diagonal slits (1/2-inch to 3/4-inch apart) in toward filling.

Fold tabs over filling, and pinch tabs together to seal.

Carefully shape stuffed dough into a ring; pinch ends of dough together to seal.

Step 5
Transfer stromboli ring on parchment to a baking sheet; fold or cut away excess parchment to fit baking sheet. Brush half of reserved garlic-infused oil over dough. Bake stromboli at 450°F until dough is browned, about 18 minutes. Remove from oven; brush with remaining garlic oil. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

White Cheddar and Bacon Risotto

This is from Cooking Light and loaded with flavor. I got Hannah a subscription for her birthday and gave her the August issue so she had something to unwrap. It had so many interesting recipes that I had to get myself the August issue also!

The only change we made was to double the bacon and just going from two slices to 4 was not that unhealthy.

The cooking time is half an hour, but that doesn't include things like dicing onions. So plan on 30-45 minutes.

White Cheddar and Bacon Risotto
Serves 4 (serving size: 1 cup)

4 cups unsalted chicken stock
2 fresh thyme sprigs (we used a pinch of dried)
2 bacon slices
1-1/4 cups diced onion
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme (we used a bigger pinch of thyme)
3 ounces white cheddar cheese, shredded (3/4 cup)
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

Step 1
Bring stock and thyme sprigs to a simmer in a saucepan over medium; keep warm over low.

Step 2
Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium for 4 minutes or until crisp. Remove from pan; crumble.

Add onion; sauté 4 minutes. Add rice; cook 1 minute, stirring to coat. Add wine; cook 2 minutes or until liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently.

Stir in 1-1/2 cups stock; cook 4 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring frequently. Add 2-1/4 cups stock, 3/4 cup at a time, stirring frequently until each portion is absorbed before adding more.

Reserve remaining 1/4 cup stock; discard thyme sprigs. Stir in salt and pepper.

Step 3
Stir in peas, chopped thyme, and cheese; cook 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat; stir in reserved 1/4 cup stock.

Divide rice mixture among 4 bowls; top with green onions and bacon.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Southwestern Chicken Alfredo Fettucine with Peppers

The creaminess of Alfredo Sauce combined with the zestiness of southwestern seasonings and peppers. Perhaps the perfect fusion of two cultures.

Southwestern Chicken Alfredo Fettucine with Peppers

Step 1:
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (reserve 2 tablespoons for garnish)
2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
2 tablespoons cleaned, minced jalapeno pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (reserve tablespoon for saute )
1/2 cup chicken stock (preferably homemade)
2 tablespoons gold tequila
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lime juice

Cook 1/3 cup cilantro, garlic and jalapeno in 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes. Add stock, tequila and lime juice. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until reduced to a paste-like consistency; set aside.

Step 2:
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1-1/4 pound chicken breast, diced ¾ inch

Pour soy sauce over diced chicken; set aside for 5 minutes.

Step 3:
1/4 medium red onion, thinly sliced
3 poblano peppers, thinly sliced
1-1/2 cup heavy cream

Meanwhile cook onion and peppers, stirring occasionally, with remaining butter over medium heat. When the vegetables have wilted, add chicken and soy sauce mixture.

Toss and add reserved tequila/lime paste and cream. Bring sauce to a boil; simmer until chicken is cooked through and sauce is thick (about 3 minutes).

Step 4:
1 pound dried fettuccine

Meanwhile prepare boil pasta until al dente. Toss with sauce and reserved cilantro.

This is based on a knockoff of a California Pizza Kitchen recipe which used ½ each of a red, green, and yellow bell pepper instead of the poblanos.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Tomato-Basil Soup

This has become a classic soup during my lifetime. I recall when La Madeleine restaurants in Dallas served it to rave comments, sold it bottled at grocery stores, and yet ... I never tried it.

I love regular Tomato Soup and though I believed the accolades I just didn't think I needed to eat Tomato Soup that often. It turns out I was wrong.

Rose came across it when living in L.A. and immediately found a recipe which she made regularly. Now that she's back in Dallas, living at home, it has become a staple for our meatless Friday meals. We love it, especially paired with a Grilled Jalapeño Jack Cheese Sandwich.

As my husband observed, "I always just thought I didn't like Tomato Soup before. Turns out I was eating the wrong soup!"

It helps that it is super easy.

Tomato-Basil Soup

Step 1:
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 red onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced

Heat olive oil over medium-low heat in a dutch oven or large pot. Once hot, add onions and season generously with salt. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until soft and starting to turn golden brown, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute, stirring to avoid burning the garlic.

Step 2:
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
4 cups good-quality chicken stock
Salt and pepper

Stir in the tomatoes and chicken stock. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower heat to maintain a simmer for at least 15 minutes. Feel free to leave it longer if you forget about it.

Purée mixture using an immersion blender or carefully transfer soup to a blender and blend until smooth. If using a blender, return mixture to the pot.

Step 3:
1 cup heavy cream
1 bunch basil, torn into small bite-size pieces
Parmesan cheese, grated for garnish

Stir in the cream and basil and let simmer for at least 15 minutes or until preferred consistency. Serve immediately, topped with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, black pepper, and basil.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Hash Brown Frittata

This is from Cook's Country and is a real find. They say it makes enough for 4 but we all agreed that it can feed six.

It's got a fresh but filling quality that is an unusual combination, but very satisfying. Somehow the asparagus remains crisp.

Note: we used a whole pound of asparagus instead of the 8 ounces called for. Hey, it comes in pound bundles and what are we gonna do with a leftover half pound? We already know — nothing but watch it wilt. And it was delicious with all that crispy asparagus in there.

Hash Brown Frittata

12 large eggs
1/3 cup whole milk
Salt and pepper
8 ounces asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/4 cup minced fresh chives
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled, shredded and patted dry
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded (1 cup)

Whisk eggs, milk, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together in large bowl. Stir in asparagus and chives and set aside.

Melt butter in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add potatoes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes begin to brown, about 4 minutes. Using rubber spatula, spread and pack potatoes into even layer in bottom of pan. Pour egg mixture over top and sprinkle with Gruyere.

Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until egg mixture has set, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from heat nd let rest, covered, for 5 minutes. Transfer to cutting board, slice into wedges, and serve.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Spicy Tuna Fish Cakes

These are from Gordon Ramsay's Home Cooking and they will completely revolutionize the image that springs into your head when someone says "fish cake." They are fresh, lively, and absolutely delicious.

Notes: we made this with tuna canned in water and they seemed rather dry. Later I realized that tuna packed in oil is much more common and would be a better choice both for moisture and (possibly) to help hold them together better.

We couldn't find the kaffir lime leaves and, behold, the dish was delicious without them!

Spicy Tuna Fish Cakes

1 pound good-quality tinned tuna (we used four 6-ounce cans)
6 tinned water chestnuts, drained and finely sliced
3 green onions, trimmed and sliced
1" piece of ginger, peeled and grated
3 tablespoons chopped coriander
1 red chili, seeded and finely chopped
3 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped (rehydrated for 5 minutes in boiling water if dried)
2 teaspoons Thai fish sauce
2 eggs, beaten
Vegetable oil, for frying
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Dipping Sauce:
Good pinch of sugar
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 tablespoons chopped coriander

First make the dipping sauce. Mix together all the sauce ingredients, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Taste and adjust the flavours as necessary. Set aside.

Drain the tuna and place in a bowl; use a fork to separate the chunks. Add the water chestnuts, spring onions, ginger, coriander, chilli and lime leaves and season with salt and pepper.

Add the fish sauce and beaten eggs. Mix well.

Squeezing the mixture to tightly compress it and get rid of any excess liquid, shape it into balls the size of golf balls. Flatten them lightly into patties.

Heat a frying pan over a medium heat, add a little oil and shallow-fry the fishcakes on each side for 1–2 minutes until golden on all sides and heated through. Serve with the dipping sauce.

Friday, March 10, 2017

North African Eggs

These are from Gordon Ramsay's Home Cooking. Rose loves Ramsay's cookbooks and I definitely have come around to her way of thinking. Not only are the recipes generally simple and well conceived but they always work. Someone really tested these and, the state of cookbook testing being what it is these days, I appreciate that a lot!

This is essentially eggs poached in a flavorful tomato sauce. It makes a wonderful meatless meal and is a lot more filling than you would think. Gordon Ramsay suggests them for breakfast but I'm just not that adventurous in the morning.

We serve them with a crusty sourdough roll and it makes a simple and exotic meal.

North African Eggs

Olive oil, for frying
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
1 green pepper, seeded and diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 red chili, seeded and chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
5 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped (add a pinch of sugar if the tomatoes aren’t quite ripe)
4 eggs
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
To serve

1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
1 green onion, trimmed and finely chopped
Crusty bread


Serves 2-4

Heat a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. Add a dash of oil and sweat the onion for 5 minutes until soft. Add the peppers and continue to sweat for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and chili and fry for 1–2 minutes until soft and tender.

Add the cumin and fry for 1 minute, then add the tomatoes, season and cook for 15–20 minutes until the tomatoes have completely collapsed (add 3–4 tablespoons of water to the mixture if the tomatoes aren’t that moist). The mixture should be the consistency of a thick sauce. Stir to mix well, taste and adjust the seasoning.

Make 4 wells in the tomato mixture and break an egg into each well. Cover the pan and cook gently over a medium-low heat for 5–6 minutes, or until the egg white is set and the yolk is still a little runny.

Serve sprinkled with coriander leaves and chopped green onion, plus plenty of crusty bread on the side to mop up any juices.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Green Soup (Hara Shorva)

This is from Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking. She says it is India's version of cream of pea soup. But It is both more highly spiced and more delicious than a traditional pea soup. The spices lift this soup to a whole new level. With a salad and maybe a roll it is a delicious meatless meal.

Green Soup

1 medium potato, peeled and roughly diced
1 medium onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
5 cups chicken stock
3/4 inch cube of fresh ginger, peeled
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
5 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/2 fresh hot green chili
10 ounces shelled green peas, fresh or frozen
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground roasted cumin seeds (we usually skip this step)
2/3 cup heavy cream

Combine the potato, onion, chicken stock, ginger, ground coriander and ground cumin in a pot and bring to a boil. Cover and turn heat to low, simmer for 30 minutes.

Fish out the cube of ginger and discard it. Add the cilantro, green chili, peas, salt, lemon juice and ground roasted cumin seeds. Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered for 2-3 minutes or until the peas are just tender.

Empty the soup into the container of an electric blender in 2-3 batches and blend until it is smooth. Put the soup into a clean pot. Add the cream and bring to a simmer to heat through. Serves 5-6.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Ferrari (Pan-Fried Potatoes with Peanuts, Black Pepper, and Lemon Juice)

This is another side from Meera Sodha's Made In India. I feel like India gets forgotten when Americans learn about other cultures, which is a huge loss because it's a country with so many complex, amazing cultures and such a long history. Learning about Indian food is exciting for me, because it's so much more than most non-Indian Americans suspect.

Meera writes, "'Ferar' means 'to fast' by abstaining from certain foods, which a lot of Gujarati Hindus do on designated days throughout the year. Peanuts and potatoes are some of the things which can be eaten on a fast day, hence the creation of Ferrari."

I personally like that this dish can also be eaten by Catholics on Fridays, because this dish was so much more than I thought it would be. It's fast, easy, and its wonderfully flavorful and spiced.

2 oz peanuts, unsalted and unroasted
20 peppercorns (1/2 teaspoon)
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
14 oz new potatoes, chopped into 1 1/4 inch cubes
1 fresh green chili, very finely chopped*
1 3/4 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 oz cilantro, chopped
1/2 lemon

*I used a jalapeno. I seeded mine because I'm a wimp. This did not make the dish bland, so if you're worried about too much heat, you should have no compunctions about seeding it.

Coarsely grind the peanuts using a food processor or mortar and pestle, remove, and set to one side, then grind the peppercorns in the same way.

Put the oil into a wide-bottomed frying pan on a medium heat. When it's hot, add the ground peppercorns and cumin seeds and, a minute later, the potatoes.

Stir-fry the potatoes for around 12 minutes, until they start to brown. Spear them with a knife to see if they're done (they will slide off easily if they are, and, if so, add the green chili, ginger, and salt. Continue to cook for another 5-6 minutes to cook the ginger and brown the potatoes.

When the potatoes are nicely brown, check the seasoning and transfer to a serving bowl. Scatter over the peanuts, add the cilantro, and squeeze over the lemon before serving.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Leek And Potato Soup

This is from James Beard's American Cookery which is one of my favorite cookbooks. This is a recipe that everyone should have because it makes a simple, delicious soup which is still hearty enough to be a main meal with a salad and perhaps a roll on the side.

The nutmeg and cayenne add a flavor signature which is not common but which I find addictive. (This also makes a good breakfast if your taste runs to the untraditional as mine does.) I have tinkered with it, of course, and my variations are listed below the main recipe. The other variations are James Beard's.

Leek And Potato Soup

5 leeks
3 tablespoons butter
3 cups potatoes, diced
1 quart chicken broth
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour

Wash the leeks, split them lengthwise, and cut into thin slices after removing all sand. Saute in 3 tablespoons butter in a large skillet for about 4 minutes. Add the potatoes and the broth and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender. Season to taste with salt, cayenne and nutmeg. Strain out the vegetables and puree in food processor. Return to the broth. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over low heat and stir in the flour. Add 1-1/2 cups of the broth and blend well until the mixture thickens. Return to the kettle and stir until soup comes to a boil.

My variation:
  • Use a small onion instead of leeks
  • Use 4 cups potatoes and do not thicken with roux.
  • Use 1/8 t. cayenne
Vichyssoise variation:
  • Prepare soup as above and allow it to cool. Add 1-1/2 cups heavy cream and blend well. Chill in refrigerator. Serve chilled.
  • Or chill the soup without the heavy cream. Serve in chilled cups with a large spoonful of sour cream and chopped chives.
Still another variation:
Do not put the vegetables through a food mill but serve pieces of leek and diced potatoes in the thickened soup.

Whole-Grain Mustard

The other mustard recipe I made from America's Test Kitchen's Foolproof Preserving is for whole-grain mustard. My mother (Julie) was less thrilled than I, responding with a disgusted, "Why?" But I actually have several recipes in my regular rotation that ask for this (including the previously posted crab mac and cheese). I've actually had trouble finding whole-grain mustard, so I've been using stone ground, but I'll be using this from now on.

As with the Dijon, this has to soak 8-24 hours, then sit out for 1-2 days for desired spice.

YIELD: 2 1-cup jars

3/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup yellow mustard seeds
1/3 cup brown mustard seeds
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt

Combine vinegar, water, yellow mustard seeds, and brown mustard seeds in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.

Measure out 1/2 cup vinegar-mustard seed mixture and set aside. Combine remaining vinegar-mustard seed mixture, sugar, and salt in food processor and process until coarsely ground and thickened, 1-2 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed; return to medium bowl. Stir in reserved vinegar-mustard seed mixture.

Using funnel and spoon, portion mustard into two 1-cup jars. Cover and let mustard stand at room temperature until it has reached desired spiciness, 1-2 days; mustard becomes spicier as it rests. Once desired spice level has been reached, refrigerate and serve.

Mustard can be refrigerated for up to 6 months; once refrigerated, flavor will continue to mature but will not become more spicy.

Dijon Mustard

I will preface this recipe by saying that I don't know where I thought mustard came from, but it blew my mind to see recipes for it while leafing through America's Test Kitchen's Foolproof Preserving. I was very interested in trying them out, partly for the novelty, partly because this house loves mustard, and partly because it turns out mustard is extremely easy to make.

I was curious to see if this was one of those things better made by the professionals, but after trying our homemade mustards, I think it's worth the (small) effort. We made Nigel Slater's crab mac and cheese with the Dijon and whole-grain we made, and it was definitely our best attempt yet, largely because of the mustard!

The first step in these recipes is to mix ingredients and then wait 8-24 hours. The Dijon also needs to be aged 5 days for best use. Plan accordingly.

YIELD: 2 1-cup jars

1 1/3 cups water
3/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup yellow mustard seeds
3 tablespoons dry mustard powder (try Coleman's)
4 teaspoons onion powder
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 1/3 cups dry white wine

Combine water, vinegar, mustard seeds, mustard powder, onion powder, salt, garlic powder, cinnamon and turmeric in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit a room temperature for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.

When ready to make mustard, simmer wine in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until it has reduced by half (down to 2/3 cup), 10-15 minutes.

Process reduced wine and mustard seed mixture in blender until smooth, about 2 minutes. Transfer mixture to now-empty saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until slightly thickened, 5-8 minutes. Using rubber spatula, push mustard through fine-mesh strainer set over bowl. Work solids against strainer to extract as much mustard as possible.

Using funnel and spoon, portion mustard into two 1-cup jars. Let mustard cool to room temperature. Cover, refrigerate, and let flavor mature for at least 5 days before serving.

Mustard can be refrigerated for at least 6 months; flavor will continue to mature over time.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Pineapple Sage Cake

This is one of my favorite last-minute recipes for an easy offering for book club or a dinner party. I found it when we moved into the house we're currently living in and I discovered the flowering bush in the front planter was an herb called pineapple sage or tangerine sage, which is a type of salvia (salvia elegans). It will put out tons of flowers as long as you water it, and attracts bees, butterflies, and even hummingbirds. I think they die off in winter in colder areas, but this is Texas and mine appears to have been here for at least a few years now. I'm not sure cuttings of this herb are sold anywhere, so if you want some you may have to grow your own. Trust me, it's worth it.

I found this Jamie Oliver recipe while searching for uses for the large bush of it we have. I've never put the pineapple in the recipe, partly because I've never felt it was worth purchasing just for this and partly because I dislike most cooked fruit. I also have baked this in everything from one larger loaf pan to four mini Bundt cake pans to muffin tins. Don't worry if you don't have the specific pan size he wants.

1 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey (light wildflower or sage preferred)
5 eggs
2 tablespoons chopped pineapple sage leaves (small, new leaves have the most flavor)
3 tablespoons chopped pineapple sage flowers (optional) [these pepper the cake with red/pink confetti]
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
4 tablespoons well-squeezed, chopped pineapple
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in honey.

Add eggs one at a time, making sure to beat one minute after each addition.

Beat in sage leaves, flowers, and lemon peel.

Stir dry ingredients together and add to butter mixture. Fold these together gently until just blended.

Pour into 4 mini loaf pans (6"x3"x2"). Bake for 45 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan.

Spicy Lamb Burgers

Another Meera Sodha recipe to go with your baked masala fries. Because many Indians do not eat beef, lamb is a common base for meat dishes. You can always substitute beef if you wish, but we did use lamb when we made these.

As Meera notes: This recipe uses chickpea flour (besan) which is readily available in most big supermarkets, but if you can't get hold of it, you can use all-purpose flour to bind your mixture instead.

1 onion, very finely chopped
1 fresh green chili, finely chopped
3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
1 3/4-inch piece of ginger, peeled
2 cloves of garlic
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons garam masala
a few grinds of the pepper mill
1 1/2 tablespoons chickpea flour (besan)o
14 oz ground lamb
1 tablespoon canola oil

Put the onion, green chili, and cilantro into a bowl. Grate the ginger and crush the garlic and add them, too. Then ass the salt, garam masala, black pepper, chickpea flour, and ground lamb and use your hands to mix everything together.

Divide the mixture into four balls and flatten them into round patties with your hands. Put the oil into a non-stick pan on a medium to high heat and, when it's hot, add the patties. Cook for 5-6 minutes on each side.

Baked Masala Fries

I checked out a Meera Sodha book from the library in the hopes of expanding my culinary horizons to Indian food, and I'm not giving it back until I have to. Made In India is a wonderful introduction to many basic, mostly simple Indian recipes. These baked masala fries are easy and very good, as well as versatile. I say versatile because we actually made them with sweet potatoes instead of the suggested varieties, which changed them a little, but I would have loved them either way. Put some of these in the oven and they'll be ready by the time your spicy lamb burgers are done!

4 large potatoes (russets, Yukon Gold, or all-purpose)
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon canola oil
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Peel the potatoes and chop them into your perfect fries. I cut each potato into 3 pieces lengthways and 3 again to make 9 long fat fries from each one.

Put all the potatoes into a lidded saucepan, cover generously with cold water, add 1 teaspoon of salt, and put the lid on the pan. Bring to a boil on a medium heat, then lower the heat and simmer for another 5 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft and fluffy around the edges.

Drain the potatoes in a sieve and shake them a bit to fluff up the edges, but be careful not to break them. These fluffy edges will turn into nice crispy ones later.

Put the oil into a roasting tray and put the tray into the oven for around 2 minutes to heat it. Take the tray out of the oven and carefully put the potatoes into the oil (lower them gently so the oil doesn't splash out), then coat the potatoes in it.

Put the tray back into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, shaking it a couple of times during the cooking time to turn the fries over. When you take them out they should be crispy and brown all over. If not, leave them in for a bit longer.

In a bowl, mix together 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, the chili powder, and cumin, and sprinkle evenly over the fries.

Serve them as quickly as you can, while they're still hot!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Sauteed Mustard Greens with Garlic and Peanuts

From Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison, this was the recipe that taught me I like mustard greens! As Madison writes, you can use a mix of red and green mustards, or go with just one kind if you prefer.

8 heaping cups stemmed mustard greens (about 8 oz)
2 teaspoons roasted peanut oil
1 plump garlic clove, slivered
Sea salt
Few drops of soy sauce
A handful of roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Chop the mustard greens into large pieces and give them a rinse.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and then add the garlic. As soon as the garlic starts to sizzle, add the mustard greens and season with a few pinches of salt. Saute, turning the greens frequently, until the water from the leaves is largely gone and the leaves are tender. This should take about 5 minutes, depending on the plant. Add the soy sauce, cook for another minute, then toss with the peanuts and serve.

With soba: Toss the mustard greens with soba noodles and garnish with the peanuts
With smoke: Season the cooked greens with a few pinches of smoked salt
With tofu: Serve these garlicky greens with cubes of steamed tofu or golden friend tofu and season with red pepper flakes or a few pinches of shichimi togarashi (a Japanese seasoning blend that can be found at Japanese groceries or made at home)
With sesame: Instead of using peanut oil, cook the greens in light sesame oil, then toss with toasted sesame seeds and finish with a few drops of toasted sesame oil

Serves 1-2

Friday, January 27, 2017

Stir-Fried Yellow Chives and Eggs

All Under Heaven by Carolyn Phillips is an amazing compilation of authentic recipes gathered from all areas of China. This recipe is very easy in execution, but it was hard for me to find yellow chives, which are chives grown under a tarp or pot so they don't develop their normal green color. It also decreases their oniony flavors. I had to go to a Korean grocery store (after searching a Thai grocery, a Vietnamese grocery, and a Chinese grocery), and the last time I was at the same store I couldn't find them. So I don't know how available these will be in most areas, but on the chance you can find some, I'm giving this recipe because I loved it.

Warning: If you do manage to find yellow chives, try to use them the same day or as quickly as possible. Even in a container and a freezer bag, the chives made my entire fridge smell funky as long as they were there. Worth it!

1 pound yellow chives
6 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil (or use half unsalted butter and half oil)
1 teaspoon sea salt
4 large eggs, lightly beaten

Rinse the chives and pat them dry. Trim off any dry ends or less-than-perfect leaves. Either finely chop the chives if you like them particularly tender, or cut them into 1-inch lengths if you prefer a crunchier texture.

Place a wok over high heat, and when it's hot, add the oil and salt. Swirl the oil to dissolve the salt, and then add all of the chives. Quickly toss the chives until they wilt and a few strands start to brown.

Scoot the chives to one side and add a bit more oil if you don't see any at the bottom of the wok. Pour the eggs in and stir them around as they curdle. As soon as most of them have formed large curds, chop them up with your spatula and then toss them with the chives. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Plate and serve immediately.

Serves 4-6

Notes from Phillips on this recipe:

There are many variations on this dish. Instead of eggs, try julienned pressed bean curd, shredded pork or chicken, little shrimp or even thin strips of fresh black mushrooms. Or, instead of the yellow chives, chop up some garlic chive flowers, which will serve as a sweeter, crispier companion to the eggs.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Artichokes and Cannellini

Artichokes and cannellini have become a quick, weeknight staple at my house. It's from Nigel Slater's Eat, which I love because the recipes in it are all pretty easy with only a few ingredients.

3 tablespoons butter
1 lemon
2 green onions
10-oz jar water-packed artichokes
15.5-oz can of cannellini beans
Parsley (optional)

Melt butter in a shallow pan. As it melts, squeeze in the juice of half the lemon. Chop green onions and let them soften in the butter over moderate heat. Drain artichoke hearts, rinse well, then slice each one in half and add to the butter.

Add cannellini beans to the pan and leave to quietly bubble over medium heat until a sort of impromptu creamy juice has developed. Season with salt, black pepper, and perhaps a little more lemon and some parsley.

Serves 2

Notes from Slater on this recipe:

This is not a recipe where anything should be allowed to brown in the pan. Keep the colors pale.

Tarragon is good here, as it always is with beans, and so would be mint. Add mint at the last minute, so it doesn't  discolor much. You could cook your own artichokes if you wish. Prepare and boil them until tender, then add them, halved, to the melted butter and lemon as above.

Swap the beans for Puy lentils and add more parsley for an earthier style.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Corn and Pancetta Risotto

This is one of my favorite recipes. I love all risotto, but this one especially. This is from Salt to Taste by Marco Canora with Catherine Young.

The corn can also be pre-cooked for this recipe (grilled or sweated in butter) then added with the last ladle of broth.

1/4 pound thinly sliced pancetta
4 ears of corn, husked
6 to 8 cups Brodo or chicken broth
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
About 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and diced
2 cups Arborio or other short-grained rice
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup freshly grated

Preheat oven to 400. Divide the pancetta between 2 rimmed baking sheets, laying it out in a single layer. Bake the pancetta until the fat renders and the meat is beginning to crisp, 7 to 10 minutes. Pour off the rendered fat and reserve it. Chop the pancetta; add the chopped pancetta to the fat and set the mixture aside. (I only baked the pancetta the first time I made this. Now I just crisp it in a pan on the stove.)

While the pancetta cooks, cut the corn from the cobs. Reserve the corn kernels, break the cobs in half and put them in a large pot. Add the broth and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat slightly and simmer until the broth has reduced by one-third, about 30 minutes. Remove and discard the cobs. Season the broth lightly with salt and pepper and reserve.

Melt the 2 tablespoons butter in a rondeau or high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add enough oil so the bottom of the pan is generously coated, about 2 tablespoons. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until it softens, about 10 minutes.

Increase heat to high and add the rice. Using a wooden spoon, stir the rice with the onion and fat until the rice no longer looks chalky and the grains begin to crackle, 2 to 3 minutes.

Make sure the pan is really hot, then add the wine/ The wine will almost immediately begin to boil. Stir constantly until the rice absorbs the wine, about 1 minute.

Add enough warm broth to just cover the rice, 1.5 to 2 cups. Cook at an active summer, stirring and scraping the rice away from the sides occasionally. As the rice cooks, the broth will become viscous. Cook the rice until it is once again almost dry, about 5 minutes. Then again add enough broth to cover. Add the raw corn and simmer, scraping and stirring every so often, until the broth is incorporated, about 5 minutes more.

At this point, add the pancetta and fat and no more than 1/2 cup broth. Stir frequently and add broth in small increments until the rice is just tender. Depending upon the age of the rice and how soft and brothy you like your risotto, you can expect to add 1 to 2 more cups in all. Just take care to go slowly so you don't add too much.

Stir in the Parmigiano and the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and serve.


This is the Brodo mentioned in the corn and pancetta risotto, both recipes from Salt to Taste by Marco Canora with Catherine Young.

I've never made this, but I'm not the boss of your kitchen, and it's technically part of the risotto recipe. All that follows is the Brodo recipe as written by the authors.

Author's Note:
Brodo is not stock, but broth. Stock is made from simmering bones and broth is made from simmering meat. The practical difference is that stock contains more gelatin and is therefore an easier starting place for sauces. Because broths are made with whole pieces of meat and poultry rather than bones, they usually have deeper, more complex flavor. Broths also tend to be less cloudy - the protein in the meats in the pot acts as a filter that clarifies the broth as it simmers, leaving you with a beautifully clear liquid.

Brodo is easy to make with ingredients from the supermarket. Start with a chicken. Put it whole in the pot, then add 2 pounds of beef stew meat on the bone and a turkey drumstick (or two wings). Cover the meat by about 4 inches with water (you'll need about 7 quarts in all) and bring it to a boil over high heat.

As soon as the broth boils, begin to "clarify" it, lowering the heat to medium and pilling the pot to one side of the burner so it's partially off the burner. This forces the broth to boil in an oval circuit from top to bottom, circulating all the liquid over and around the meat. As the broth circulates, the fat and other impurities in the broth float to the surface. What will you see when you look into the pot? The broth will bubble along one side of the pot. The rest of the surface will look active but not be bubbling. Fat and scum will rise with the bubbles and settle on top.

Skim every 5 minutes or so. Be finicky about how you do this. Dip the ladle into the broth near the center of the pot just deep enough to barely submerge the front edge. Then keep it still. A thin stream of fat and foamy broth will be drawn into the ladle. Do this a couple times, then wait another 5 minutes and do it again, continuing until the brodo looks clear, about half an hour.

Once the broth is clear, add aromatic vegetables. Chop and then add 2 onions, 1/2 bunch of celery, and 3 carrots. Add a 12-oz can of tomatoes, 1 teaspoon peppercorns, and 1/2 bunch of flat-leaf parsley and simmer the broth until it's flavorful, about 2 hours.

Strain the broth; discard the vegetables but not the meat. (In my mind brodo is forever linked with polpettone, the fried morsels of minced meat that, in my family, give a second life to the chicken, beef, and turkey used in the broth.) You'll wind up with 3.5 quarts of broth that can be refrigerated or frozen.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Chard Soup with Cumin, Cilantro, and Lime

This is from Deborah Madison's Vegetable Literacy. Smaller, tender chard leaves are best (says Madison), but I used giant ones and it was still delicious. Don't worry about chopping too precisely during prep, because this is all going into a blender when it's done.

8 cups packed trimmed chard leaves (about 1 pound or 20 leaves)
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 small potato (about 4 ounces), scrubbed and sliced
1 carrot, scrubbed and sliced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1.5 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Finely cut cilantro stems and leaves to make 1 cup
Sea salt
1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt
Freshly ground pepper
Grated zest and juice of 1 lime

Rinse the chard, chop it coarsely, and set aside in a colander to drain.

Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, potato, and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes to soften. Stir in the tomato paste, smashing it into the vegetables, and then add the cumin, coriander, cilantro, and chard leaves. Sprinkle over 1.5 teaspoons salt, cover the pan, and allow the leaves to cook down substantially before adding 5 cups water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer, cover partially, until the potato has softened.

Cool slightly, then add the sour cream and puree in a blender until smooth. Return the soup to the pot over gentle heat. Taste for salt, season with pepper, and stir in the lime zest and juice. Ladle into bowls and serve.

With Texture: Add cooked rice, crisped coarse bread crumbs, or skinny tortilla strips to each serving.
With Other Greens: In spring and early summer, include other greens, such as tender sorrel leaves, wild nettles, lovage leaves, lamb's-quarters, and so on.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Corn Griddle Cakes

This is a recipe from Cucina Viansa, which is a collection of recipes from the Viansa Winery in California. The cakes are mostly polenta with corn kernels. They weren't what I expected, but they were so good that I had to move the plate with the finished cakes away from the stove so I would stop eating them while I was cooking.

Note: They are not kidding about the nonstick pan. I started with a metal pan and had to switch because I couldn't get the cakes off without destroying them.

3 cups milk
1 cup polenta or corn meal
3 cups fresh yellow corn kernels (about 4 medium ears)
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons fresh baking powder
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions
2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
6 egg whites
Olive oil

Warm the milk in a large saucepan over medium-low heat and slowly drizzle in the polenta, stirring to incorporate. Cook over low heat for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring constantly, just until the milk is absorbed. Transfer polenta to a large bowl and cool for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, plunge corn kernels into boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes and drain.

Add the flour, baking powder, basil, green onions, salt, pepper, and blanched corn to the cooked polenta and mix together thoroughly. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites into firm peaks and fold gently into the corn mixture.

Heat a large non-stick saute pan and brush lightly with olive oil. Pour about 3 tablespoons of corn mixture into pan, forming a small cake about 3 inches across. Cook about 1 minut, until the underside is golden brown. Turn and brown the second side. Brush more oil on pan if needed. Transfer the cooked corn cakes onto paper towels, and reheat in a warm oven if necessary.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Mama Chang's Hot and Sour Soup

This is Joanne Chang's recipe from Flour, Too, and it makes me want to see the rest of her recipes. It's easy, fast, and delicious. I've never had hot and sour soup that I liked before this, although I tried to like it several times. This recipe is a keeper, though.

Chang writes that she wrote the recipe with button mushrooms because they are easy to find, but suggests using wood ear mushrooms if you can get them. I will further suggest that if you use wood ear mushrooms, buy them dried and rehydrate them instead of using fresh ones. I have only used button mushrooms in this recipe, but I did once use fresh wood ears in a different soup recipe and they were very slimy the next day. I ended up removing them before eating the rest of the soup.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
4 scallions, white and green parts, minced, plus 2 tablespoons chopped for garnish
8 ounces ground pork
4 cups chicken stock
One 1-pound block soft or firm tofu (not silken and not extra-firm), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 or 5 medium button mushrooms, wiped clean and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2/3 cup rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sesame oil, plus 2 teaspoons for garnish
1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
2 large eggs
White pepper for garnish

In the saucepan, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the garlic, ginger, scallions, and ground pork and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 1 minute. Break up the pork into smaller pieces but don't worry about breaking it down completely. Add the stock and bring to a simmer.

Add the tofu, mushrooms, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, black pepper, sesame oil, and Sriracha sauce and bring the soup back to a simmer over medium-high heat. (Taste the soup. If you want it hotter, add more Sriracha sauce; if you want it more sour, add more vinegar.)

In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until blended. With the soup at a steady simmer, slowly whisk in the eggs so they form strands. Bring the soup back to a simmer. Divide the soup among four bowls and garnish each with a little sesame oil, scallion, and white pepper. Serve immediately. The soup can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Sauage and White Bean Gratin

This gratin is very nearly one-dish, very good, and very easy. This is from Kathy Brennan's and Caroline Campion's Keepers.

2/3 cup panko or regular dried breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausages, casings removed
1 small yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
1 scant tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 scant teaspoon dried
1/2 cup dry white wine
1.5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Two 15.5-oz cans white beans, such as cannellini or Great Northern, drained and rinsed
4 large handfuls of baby spinach (optional)

Preheat oven to 425, with a rack in the middle position. In a small bowl, combine panko and butter, season with salt and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over high heat until it shimmers. Add the sausages and cook, stirring often and breaking up the meat, until browned, about 4 minutes. Leaving as much of the oil in the pan as possible, transfer the sausage to a medium bowl and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened, about 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and thyme and stir for about 30 seconds. Add the wine and briskly simmer, scraping up any caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan, until almost evaporated, about 2 minutes.

Add the broth and bring to a simmer, then add the beans, cooked sausage, and any juices. Season with salt and pepper and simmer, stirring occasionally, until heated through and some of the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. The mixture should be wet, but not drowning in liquid. Off the heat, stir in spinach (if using). Check the seasonings, then transfer the mixture to a 3-quart baking or gratin dish.

Top evenly with the panko mixture and bake until bubbling and the top is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.