Monday, December 21, 2009

Ruth's Pancakes

I love the description in The Gourmet Cookbook regarding these pancakes:

"If you need to pull out all the stops for an Extremely Special Breakfast, these pancakes from Gourmet's editor-in-chief are for you. They are rich with butter, and the flavor is incomparable. "

Random Capitalizations... I heart you.


1 cup milk (preferably whole milk)
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
4 teaspoons sugar
1/2-1 teaspoon salt (I usually do about 3/4 tsp. salt)

Optional: Chocolate Chips, blueberries to put in pancake batter. Also amazing served with fresh sliced strawberries and the crowd favorite, REAL maple syrup.


Whisk together milk, eggs, and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a medium bowl, then whisk in butter.

Stir together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in another medium bowl. Whisk in egg mixture until just combined.

Heat 1/2 tsp. of oil in a large nonstick skillet, cast iron skillet, or griddle, until hot but not smoking. Working in a batches of 2-3 pancakes, and adding a drizzle of oil between batches, pour 1/3 measurements of atter into skillet until bubbles have formed throughout the pancake and broken to the surface, about 2 minutes or so (this is also the time when you can sprinkle in some blueberries or chocolate chips before they cook too long.) Flip pancakes with a spatula and cook until undersides are golden, about 1 minute more. (Lower heat if pancakes brown too quickly.) Serve warm with preferred topping.

*Note, the last time I made these i used only about a 1/2 stick of melted butter and added a big more vegetable oil, which also turned out scrumptious. Do what you will! These pancakes rock. They are also good when refrigerated and re-heated in the oven up to a week later...I know from personal experience.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Cranberry-Apple Crumble Pie

From Gourmet, via Epicurious


For pastry dough:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening (trans-fat-free)
Rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt
3 to 4 tablespoons ice water

For crumble topping:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

For fruit filling:

2 pounds apples (about 5), peeled, cored, and thinly sliced (use a sweeter apple, like Gala to counteract the tartness of the cranberries. I like to throw in a sour apple too, just for fun).
8 ounces fresh or frozen (not thawed) cranberries
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces


For pastry:
Blend together flour, butter, shortening, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size butter lumps. Drizzle 3 tablespoon ice water evenly over mixture and gently stir with a fork until incorporated.

(Squeeze a small handful: If dough doesn't hold together, add more ice water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, stirring until incorporated. Do not overwork dough or pastry will be tough.)

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 4 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather all dough together (using a pastry scraper if you have one) and form into a 5-inch disk. If dough is sticky, dust lightly with additional flour. Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.

For crumble topping:
Stir together flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Blend in butter with your fingertips until large clumps form, then stir in pecans. Chill until ready to use.

For fruit filling:
Stir together apples, cranberries, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and lemon juice in a large bowl.

Assemble pie:
Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in lower third.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 13-inch round, then fit into pie plate. Trim edge, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang, then fold overhang under and crimp decoratively. Transfer fruit filling to pie shell and dot with butter. Loosely cover with foil and bake until apples droop slightly, about 30 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Sprinkle crumble topping over filling and bake, uncovered, until crumble is browned, filling is bubbling, and apples are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour more. Cool completely, 2 to 3 hours.

Note: Dough can be chilled up to 3 days and refrigerated (but you must bring dough to almost-room temparature to be able to roll out when you do use it.)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Apple Pie with Cheddar Crust

Adapted from Gourmet, September 2009


For Crust:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 pound extra-sharp Cheddar (preferably white), coarsely grated (2 1/2 cups)
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening
6 to 8 tablespoon ice water
1 tablespoon milk (optional)

For Apple Filling:
1 1/2 pound Gala, Fuji, or Pink Lady apples (3 medium)
1 pound Granny Smith apples (2 medium)
2/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter


For cheddar crust:

Stir together flour, salt, and cheese in a large bowl. Add butter and shortening and blend with your fingertips just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size butter lumps. Drizzle 6 tablespoon ice water evenly over mixture and gently stir with a fork until incorporated.

Squeeze a small handful: If dough doesn't hold together, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring until incorporated. Do not overwork dough or pastry will be tough.

Turn out dough onto a work surface and divide in half, then form each half into a 5-inch disk. Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.

To make apple filling and bake pie:

Put a foil-lined large baking sheet in middle of oven and preheat oven to 450°F.

Peel and core apples, then slice 1/4 inch thick. Toss apples with sugar, flour, lemon juice, and salt until evenly coated.

Roll out 1 piece of dough (keep remaining disk chilled) on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into approximately a 13-inch round. Fit into pie plate. Roll out remaining piece of dough into approximately an 11-inch round.

Transfer filling to shell. Dot with butter, then cover with pastry round. Trim edges, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Press edges together to seal, then fold under. Lightly brush top crust with milk (or if you don't have milk, use a well-beaten egg white), then cut 5 (1-inch-long) vents.

Bake on hot baking sheet 20 minutes. Reduce oven to 375°F and bake until crust is golden-brown and filling is bubbling, about 40 minutes more. Cool to warm or room temperature.

*Note: dough can be chilled up to 2 days in advance.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Tortilla Española

Adapted from The Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook by Sharon Kramis and Julie Kramis Hearne

This is a pretty basic recipe that can be tweaked to your liking. Want less onion and more potato? Go for it. I personally like the current ratio: it’s well balanced and flavorful. Keep in mind this dish can be served warm or cold, and is excellent as a sandwich as well.


¼ cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 pound Yukon Gold, red-skinned, or russet potatoes (the first two work a bit better) peeled, halved, and sliced into approximately ¼” slices
Salt and Pepper
6 eggs


Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil to your skillet and warm to medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes until they start to turn translucent. Turn down the heat to medium-low, and cook until the onions are a light brown color, about five more minutes, and lightly season them with salt. (Be careful not to burn them, just cook the onions to your desired level of done-ness). Remove the onions to a plate and set aside.

Heat the same skillet again over medium heat, adding the ¼ cup of olive oil to the pan and allow the oil to heat up, about 2 minutes. Carefully add the potatoes and cook for about 10 minutes (reduce heat if smoking from the pan occurs). Halfway through, flip the potatoes over so the other side cooks as well, and be careful to keep the slices separate from each other so they don’t stick. When the potatoes are done, remove them to a paper-toweled covered plate to soak up a bit of the extra oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Taste one to make sure it’s to your liking (and yum! Fried ‘tatoes!) Leave any remaining oil in the pan for future use.

Break the eggs into a medium bowl and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Whisk until frothy. Add the cooked potatoes and onions to the eggs in the bowl. Preheat the oven broiler.

Place the skillet with the remaining olive oil over medium-low heat. (Note: I have learned the hard way—always cook eggs over a lower heat so you have more control. Otherwise, they cook too quickly and brown and are gross.) Allow skillet to warm up a bit, and add the egg-potato-onion mixture to the pan, then reduce the heat a bit to low. Cook until the pan-side of the omelet is set, and very lightly brown, approximately 5 minutes. Place the skillet in the oven and broil until the top of the omelet is golden brown and when you stick a knife in the middle, it comes out clean. (Note: if you do not have a cast-iron skillet, simply wrap the handle of a regular skillet with a towel so you can pull it out with your oven mitts when the dish is ready). This should take about 3 to 5 additional minutes in the oven.

Season with a bit of salt and freshly ground pepper. Use a spatula to loosen the omelet from its pan, and slide the omelet onto a plate. Cut into wedges and serve with toasted bread or as-is. With a salad, it would be a lovely light lunch or dinner.

Buen provecho!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Maple Pecan Sticky Buns

Adapted from The Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook and Bon Appetit (via Epicurious).

They might be a little work intensive...but they're definitely worth it. Perfect for a lazy Fall day.


For Dough

1 package dry yeast
¼ cup warm water
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour (divided)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ cup milk
2 eggs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

For Glaze

¾ cup pure maple syrup
9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter
¾ cup golden brown sugar
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

For Filling

2 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
½ cup granulated sugar
2 cups raisins (optional)
¼ cup (½ cup) unsalted butter, softened


To prepare the dough, dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a mixing bowl. Let rest for five minutes, until the yeast expands. Add ½ cup flour, sugar, salt, vanilla, milk, and eggs. Mix, on low speed with a mixer (or by hand) until well blended. Slowly add the rest of the flour and mix well. Add the butter and mix until utter is well incorporated and the dough is smooth. Place in a well-greased owl, cover with a moist clean towel, and place on the stove top (with the oven turned on) or place in a warm part of the kitchen, until doubled in size, about 45 minutes. Punch down the dough, knead a couple of times, cover again, and allow to double again in a warm place for 4 hours.

While the dough is rising, prepare the glaze. In either a glass baking dish or cast iron skillet, combine the butter and maple syrup and melt together over low-medium heat, stirring until fully melted. Add the sugar, mix until it is melted in, and turn off heat. Sprinkle chopped pecans throughout bottom of the dish.

When the dough has fully risen, remove from bowl and transfer to a floured surface. Keep the flour on hand, as you will definitely have to add more in, little by little, till it gets to the point where you can work with it and actually roll it out. Roll the dough into a 10 x 15 inch rectangle. To prepare the filling, mix together the cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, and raisins (if you’re using them). Spread the softened butter over the dough, and use your hands to make sure the whole surface is covered. Sprinkle the dough with the filling mixture (you might have some of the sugar mix leftover… just use as much as you want.)

Roll up the dough long-ways so you can cut 12 slices into the log that you form. Each slice should be approximately 1.5 inches wide. First mark on the dough where you want to slice so you can first make sure you have an accurate count of the sticky buns, then swiftly slice through, taking care not to squish the dough too much. Place the slices flat on top of the glaze in the skillet or pan, cover with the towel, and let rise for another 30 minutes.

While the buns are rising, position a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Bake the buns uncovered for 20-25 minutes, till they are golden brown and firm to the touch. When ready, remove the skillet or baking dish from the oven, and carefully turn the sticky buns onto a larger plate, glaze side up. Serve warm.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Poached Egg Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette

Adapted from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters

Basically, you gather as many greens as you'd like for however many people you're having. You obviously wash the lettuce/spinach (whatever you choose to use), and have enough bacon crumbles to make people happy with one poached egg on top of each individual salad. The following dressing recipe is enough for two large to three small salads, and you can increase the proportions as you see fit-- I's just salad dressing.

Red Wine Vinaigrette


2-3 bacon slices
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove finely chopped or crushed into a paste
2.5 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon bacon fat (from the drippings of when you cook the bacon. also optional)
Fresh cracked pepper


Cook the bacon in a skillet on medium-high heat till the fat begins to render and you think it's done to your taste (some people prefer soft, some people like it bone-dry. I prefer it somewhere in between the two). Remove the bacon and allow to cool on a paper towel to soak up the extra fat. Crumble or cut into pieces when cool. Reserve the fat in the pan for the vinaigrette.

In a small jar (I think leftover jam jars are ideal for making a just shake it all together and serve! Another option is a tupperware with a tight lid or even just a whisk and small bowl), just mix together the remaining ingredients, and season with the salt and pepper to your taste. Set aside.

Poached Egg Salad


Fresh eggs (one per person, depending on how many you cook for)
Greens (this can be a mixture of baby lettuces, spinach, curly endive--you name it)
Parmesan cheese
Homemade croutons, baby tomatoes, spring onions, etc are all optional, but lovely as well.
Bacon (from directions above)
Red Wine Vinaigrette (directions above)


To poach an egg, first heat a pot (or deep skillet) of water till it's very hot, but right at the level where it just starts to simmer. It shouldn't be a rolling boil by any means. First crack the egg into a small bowl, careful to remove any bits of shell. Add some vinegar to the water (this helps the egg keep its form in the hot water). The average amount of vinegar to poach an egg is, at the minimum, one tablespoon to four cups of water, but I always add a bit more because I love a good vinegar. Place the bowl with the egg near the top of the hot water and gently slide it in, and, once it falls in and the white actually turns from clear to white, gently stir the water to prevent the egg from sticking to the bottom of the pan, but be careful not to puncture the egg. The average time for a poached egg in the hot water is 3 minutes if you'd like the yolk to still be liquid with the whites set properly (which is the best way to have it on a poached egg salad, mind you.)

Once the egg is done, gently remove it from the hot water and place on a paper towel, and be very careful to pat it gently to remove any excess water. Repeat as necessary for the number of eggs you will be poaching.

Take the red wine vinaigrette and toss it with the lettuces you choose. Divide the dressed salad onto individual bowls or plates, sprinkle with bacon and freshly grated parmesan, and add chopped spring onions if you'd like. Additionally, if you have croutons around, toss those on too! A hunk of fresh baguette is also great with this salad. Place the poached egg on top of your salad and voila!! A most wonderful salad at any time of the year.

p.s. bacon is optional but is just SO good on this salad. Oh, and the dressing is a winner, even without the bacon, always. This is actually one of my go-to dressings.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Watermelon Salad

Adapted from Nigella Lawson's book, Forever Summer

As Nigella points out, you can make this recipe as simple or as complicated as you like (though it's not complicated at all). If you're really pressed for time, you can just serve the chunked watermelon with a sprinkling of feta and mint and a squeeze of lime, but where's the fun in that? Also, the proportions can all be adjusted to your own taste, so this is more of a guide, really, than a strictly measured recipe that you need to follow.


1/2 small red onion
2-4 limes, depending on how juicy they are
1 small seedless watermelon, or 1/2 of a larger watermelon
Feta cheese (the kind that comes in a big block, not the pre-crumbled kind)
Fresh mint sprigs
2 tablespoons olive oil
Pitted Kalamata Olives
Salt and Black Pepper, to taste
Pine nuts (optional)


Peel the red onion and slice thinly, into half-moon shapes, and place in a small bowl. Squeeze the juice of about 2 limes over the onions, and allow to steep as you make the rest of the salad (this diminishes their harshness, and the onions will become slightly more transparent.)

Chunk up the watermelon into large bite-sized pieces, (removing the rind in the process), and place into a large bowl. If you get a seeded watermelon, try to remove the seeds as well. Chop up the mint,( as much as you like, but at least 1/3 cupful,) and add to the bowl of watermelon pieces.

Tip the onions and lime juice over the salad, and add the olive oil and chopped Kalamata olives. Sprinkle with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and as much freshly crumbled feta as you please, and give it a gentle toss so that the watermelon doesn't break up. Taste for saltiness and lime, add more as you wish. Sprinkle with pine nuts if desired (or even toast them lightly and then sprinkle them on. Yum!)

This recipe is easily doubled or tripled for larger dinner parties or BBQs.... add as much mint, lime, salt, olives, and feta to your liking, just start with minimal amounts as it can get too salty so make sure to taste it along the way.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Vietnamese Crack Salad

Via Orangette, Adapted from Lynne Rossetto Kasper’s Splendid Table Weeknight Kitchen e-mail newsletter

This salad, in short, is pimpin'. You can probably use chicken or tofu, if you don't like shrimp. I even made it with nothing but the veggies and noodles once, but it wasn't nearly as fun. For herbs, you can use cilantro, mint, or basil, either one or a combo of whichever you love best. You can probably also throw in other veggies, like edamame, etc. I like it the way it is though, with the spring onions and carrots and cabbage.

1 pound thin rice noodles (roughly the thickness of linguine)
3 large cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar, to taste (or I actually use 4 heaping tablespoons)
2 tsp. (your discretion how hot you want it) of Red Chili Flakes
1/2 a Napa cabbage of the leaves, washed and thinly sliced
8 scallions, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded or julienned
1/2 cup tightly packed cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup mint or basil or a combo, coarsely chopped
3/4 -1 pound of shrimp, sauteed with olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, lime juice
1 cup cashews, salted, and toasted if desired

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the rice noodles and cook for 5 minutes, or until tender but not mushy. Drain the noodles into a colander, rinse with cold water, and then place them in a large bowl.

Place the garlic cloves in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse to mince. Add the fish sauce, water, lime juice, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, and chilies, and purée them together. [The mixture will get quite frothy.] Taste, and if necessary, add more chile and adjust the sweet/tart balance. Pour the dressing into a serving bowl, and set it on the dining table. (*Note, if you are out of rice vinegar, I've cheated and used white wine vinegar. Nothing was destroyed, so go for it!)

Toss the vegetables and herbs in a large bowl, top with the shrimp and cashews. Traditionally, this salad is eaten in individual bowls, so place some of the cold rice noodles at the bottom, the salad and shrimp on top, and pour as much dressing you want on your own portion. Be warned--it's super addictive.

Serves 4-6.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Pasta with Goat Cheese, Lemon, Asparagus

Adapted from Bon Appetit

So here's the deal. I replaced the tarragon with mint because i think it goes well with peas and asparagus, but do whatever you choose.


3/4 box of fusilli (spiral-shaped pasta)
1 pound asparagus spears, trimmed, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 bag of frozen peas
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel (save lemon to squeeze on dish later)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon plus sprigs for garnish (or mint)
1 4- to 5-ounce log soft fresh goat cheese


Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until almost tender, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes. Add asparagus and cook until pasta is tender but still firm to bite, about 3 minutes longer.
While pasta and asparagus is boiling, boil the peas separately till tender (about 5-7 minutes).
Meanwhile, combine oil, lemon peel, and chopped tarragon (or mint) in large bowl. Coarsely crumble in goat cheese.
Drain pasta and asparagus, and peas, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid from the pasta. Add hot pasta, asparagus, peas and 1/4 cup reserved cooking liquid to bowl with cheese mixture. Toss to coat, adding more reserved liquid if dry (I found that 3/4 cup worked best for me...just test it.) Season pasta liberally with salt and pepper to your taste. Squeeze the lemon on the pasta and toss, also to your taste. Transfer to shallow platter.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Flour Tortillas

Adapted from Saveur Cooks Authentic American, via Orangette

Since I was only cooking for two, i halved this recipe and got nine tortillas but could have definitely squeezed 10 out of the dough.

4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 ¼ tsp salt
6 Tbs vegetable shortening (I went with Crisco, but do what you will)

In a small saucepan, bring about 2 cups of water to a boil.

In a large bowl, stir the flour and salt together with a whisk. Mix in the shortening with your fingers until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Stir in enough boiling water (about 1 ¼ to 1 ½ cups) that the dough holds together; you will want to begin by stirring with a spoon, but you need to finish by kneading the dough with your hands.

Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth, 2-5 minutes, but no more. It should be mildly went, and easy to manage. Form the dough into a ball, cover it with plastic wrap, and allow it to rest for 30 minutes.

Set a well-seasoned skillet over medium heat. Place the ball of dough on a lightly floured surface, and cut it into 6 wedges. Cut each wedge into 3 smaller wedges, for a total of 18 wedges. Use a rolling pin to roll out a wedge into a very thin circle—as thin as you can make it, like a sheet of fabric—the size of any tortilla you would normally eat a taco out of. When the skillet is hot, cook the tortilla until slightly puffed, about 20-30 seconds. Flip, then cook for 20-30 seconds more, or until flecked with golden or brown (whichever you prefer) spots. Remove to a plate. Repeat the process with the other 17 wedges. Stack away, and have some of the easiest, best-tasting tortillas in your life.

With a hefty side of self-pride, I might add.

Mexican Seafood Saute with Avocado-Mango Salsa

Courtesy of Bon Appetit

So, i know this is called "Seafood Saute" but I just made this with shrimp since my grocery store was plumb out of scallops. but scallops would rock this dish too, and do what you will! It's your taco after all.

Ingredients for the Salsa

1 mango, peeled, pitted, diced (about 1.5 cups)
1 large avocado, peeled, pitted, diced
1 large shallot, chopped
1 jalapeno chile, seeded, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
one lime's worth of juice (and more if you want, like I did, because I adore lime)

Ingredients for Seafood Taco

1/2 cup chopped shallots (about 2 medium shallots)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup tequila (we omitted this because I didn't feel like spending the cash and it was STILL amazing, but your choice)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 cup plus 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1.5 pounds uncooked jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined (so for the 2 of us, we used a little less than 3/4 of a pound, and was plenty...totally up to you)
1 pound sea scallops, side muscles removed (totally optional, but it would be fun to try it next time)
12 green onions, thinly sliced

For Salsa: Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. Season to taste with salt. Cover and chill.

For Seafood Saute: Whisk first 5 ingredients in a small bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in 1/2 cup oliv oil. Season marinade to taste with salt and pepper.

Place shrimp in large resealable plastic bag. Place scallops (if you choose to make this too) in another large resealable plastic bag. Pour marinade into bags, dividing equally (about 1/2 cup each). Seal bags, turn to coat. Chill at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.

Drain shrimp and scallops, reserving the marinade. Pat scallops dry. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add scallops to skillet and saute until beginning to brown, about 1.5 minutes per side. Transfer to large bowl. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to skillet. Add shrimip and green onions, saute until shrimp are almost opaque in the center, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Return scallops with any accumulated juices to skillet. Add the reserved marinade and simmer until seafood is cooked through and the mixture is thoroughly heated, about 2 minutes. Transfer to large shallow bowl, garnish with lime slices if you want to be fancy about it. Serve with the mango salsa.

Like I said, you don't need to make the scallops, and it will completely cut your time and effort in half. The shrimp alone are super amazing with this recipe.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Harris Ranch's Pecan Drops

Makes 3 dozen cookies

2 1/2 cups brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup egg whites (3 to 4 large egg whites)
1 1/2 pounds coarsely chopped pecan pieces (you can do this by hand which takes a while, or mash them with something heavy, or buy pre-chopped or zazz them up in the food processor. So many options!)

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl combine the brown sugar, salt, vanilla and pecan pieces. With a hand-mixer or your trusty Kitchen-Aid mixer(thanks Mom and Dad!) beat on low speed to incorporate the ingredients, then drizzle in the egg whites. Increase the speed to medium-low and beat for 4 to 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

2. Drop the dough in rounded tablespoons onto a greased baking sheet. If the cookies aren't holding together well, you might need to beat in an extra egg white. I'd start with three, then add the fourth if your batter needs it to hold together.

3. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven and immediately remove the cookies from the baking sheet to a cooling rack or plate. The cookies will be soft but will firm up as they cool.

Try not to devour all of them at once. Also, this is a good way to get your coworkers to think you are a culinary genius. Tricky, tricky.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Adapted from Ina Garten on the Barefoot Contessa show (via Food Network)


3 tablespoons good olive oil
Half a french baguette, torn into chunks (about 5-6 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/3 red onion,thinly sliced
Handful of basil, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons capers, drained

For Vinaigrette:

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons vinegar (I typically use Red Wine Vinegar, but Ina's recipe calls for Champagne)
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed, and some fresh cracked pepper to your tasting.

For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together and set aside. I personally like to use a little jar to add all dressing ingredients then shake the life out of it. It keeps everything contained and its easy.

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. Add the toasted bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Savoy Cabbage Gratin

Adapted from Orangette and Molly Stevens book, All About Braising


3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 Savoy cabbage, quartered, cored, and sliced into ½-inch-wide shreds
1 bunch scallions, white and green parts, sliced into ½-inch-wide pieces (I actually used a yellow onion here as I had no green onions on hand...worked just fine)
Kosher salt
1 ¾ cups good chicken stock
1 ripe Saint-Marcellin cheese (again...I just used a good-sized mixture of Parmesan and Havarti which was fantastic)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a large (roughly 10”x 14”) gratin dish, or another dish of similar size.

Melt the butter in a large skillet or pot over medium-high heat. Add the cabbage and onion/scallions, season with salt, and cook, stirring, until the cabbage is wilted and just beginning to brown, which takes anywhere from 10 minutes to 15 minutes. Add the stock, bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes.

Transfer everything in the pot into the prepared gratin dish. Cover tightly with foil, and bake for 45 minutes (this is where the braising comes in). Remove the foil, and continue to bake until the liquid is mostly evaporated, about 20 minutes more. Then remove the dish from the oven. Cut the cheese into small lumps and scatter it over the cabbage. Increase the oven temperature to 375°F, return the dish to the oven, and cook until the cheese is thoroughly melted and/or bubbling, about 10 minutes.

You can serve this as a side dish but i say grab some bread and a glass of wine, and call it a day.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Here is the simple and basic recipe that my mom and G-ma have made for decades (and probably decades before that, but that's back in the old country and I just have to guesstimate how long they've been making this for).


Tub of yogurt (like I said, I use low-fat or whole-milk, but if you just LOVE fat-free yogurt, go for it.)
Ice Cubes

A cup and a half of yogurt, plus a handful of ice cubes and a couple tablespoons of sugar are all blended together and should fill a very tall glass, or two small glasses if you're going to be meek about it. Which is silly, because there is nothing meek about the awesomeness of this drink. You just multiply the quantities for the amount of lassi you want, and, if you so choose, add some mango nectar and go crazy. YUM. As a side note, you might need a small splash of milk or water to make it a bit frothier and drinkable, but just play it by ear and taste.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Like I said, I got this recipe off another website that claims it is from Cooks Illustrated. I have my doubts. HOWEVER, it is still a good basic recipe... I took the liberty of adding dried cherries and walnuts in because it just sounded good. I also sprinkled a little sea salt on top of each cookie for an added oomph.


1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt, (and more for sprinkling if you'd like, but if you decide to sprinkle, omit the salt here)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups oats (not the quick-cooking kind)
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preaheat oven to 350 degrees, and butter a cookie sheet. Whisk flour, salt and baking powder together in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, by hand or by mixer, beat butter until creamy. Add sugars and beat the mixture until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir dry ingredients into butter-sugar mixture with a wooden spoon or a large rubber spatula. Stir in oats and chocolate chips (and additional mix-ins if you like: nuts, dried fruit, etc). Place dough onto cookie sheet by large spoonfuls (about 2 tablespoons each), leaving at least 2 inches between. Bake until cookie edges turn golden brown, about 20 minutes. Slide cookies onto cooling rack. Let cool, and store in airtight container.

They're good warmed up! I'm just saying.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Lemon Curd

I'd say that the basic recipe for Lemon Curd is pretty simple...I found that the easiest one was in The Gourmet Cookbook, and did just fine. If anything, I would reduce the sugar to one cup (I like it on the tart side rather than sweet) and increase the amount of zest.

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 cup fresh lemon juice (this ended up being about 4 big, juicy lemons worth)
1 1/3 cup sugar
4 large eggs
Pinch of salt
1 3/4 sticks (14 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons

Whisk together zest, juice, sugar, eggs and salt in a heavy saucepan. Add butter and cook over moderately low heat, whisking constantly, until curd is thick enough to hold marks of whisk and first bubbles appear on surface, about ten minutes.

You can then either force the curd through a fine-mesh sieve into a owl and discard the zest, or, like me, you just skip this step altogether because you like having your curd with a little zest in it. Cool to room temperature, stir occasionally if you like (I didn't). Refrigerate in an air-tight container until cold (I put the curd into two jars I had laying around).

Note: The lemon curd can be refrigerated, covered, for up to one week. If it even lasts that long, which I doubt, since it is so dee-lish and you probably won't be able to stop yourself from opening the jar and scooping yourself some at any given opportunity.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Pasta Alla Norma

Adapted from Jamie Oliver, via Jamie's Italy


2 large, firm eggplants
extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
dried red chili flakes (optional)
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
large fresh bunch of basil, stems chopped, leaves reserved
1 tsp. good herb or white wine vinegar
2 14 oz. cans of good-quality chopped tomatoes
sea salt, and pepper (to taste)
1 lb. dried spaghetti (i used the fresh refrigerated kind)
salted ricotta or pecorino or parmesan cheeses, grated (whichever you have on hand or prefer)

Slice the eggplants and cut into quarters lengthwise. If they have seedy, puffy centers, remove them and throw away. Cut the eggplants across the length into finger-width pieces. Fry up the eggplant (in two-three batches) with some olive oil, but dont let them get too greasy. Add some dried oregano and salt, and brown them on all sides until they are soft and golden. Once you finish with the first batch, remove to a plate and continue the process till all of the eggplant is cooked.

Once the eggplant is done, add the first batch to a larger pot (something that will hold the sauce, and pasta). Add a bit of the dried chili flakes, if you like. Turn the heat to medium and add a little oil, the garlic, and the basil stems. Stir so everything gets evenly cooked, and add a bit of the vinegary and the cans of tomatoes (which you can leave chunky like I did, or whir up in a food processor to make it smoother). Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, then taste and correct the seasoning with salt and pepper. Tear up half of the asil leaves, add to the sauce, and stir it around.

Meanwhile, get your spaghetti boiling in salted water and cook according to the instructions. When it's al dente, drain it in a colander and reserve a bit of the pasta water in case you need to add it to the sauce. Add the spaghetti to the pot of norma sauce and toss it around...add a bit of the cooking water if desired, and make sure it is well combined. Adjust the seasoning. Heap onto plates (or in bowls, as I prefer). Sprinkle with the remaining basil leaves and the cheese, and a drizzle of olive oil.

Twirl on a fork, and enjoy.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

French Onion Soup

Slightly modified from and Bon Appetit

Like I mentioned in this post...I got bored stirring the onions and had fun playing with flour, salt, pepper, and thyme. You should do the same and make it your own.


1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
6 onions (about 3 pounds), sliced
6 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 cup red wine (I used a Beaujolais)
4 cups good beef or chicken broth
2 cups water
2-3 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Baguette, sliced
Gruyere, grated
or a mixture of Swiss and Parmesan cheeses, grated

Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until very tender and brown, about 45 minutes. Add wine and simmer until reduced to glaze, about 3 minutes. Stir in chicken or beef broth, water, and mustard. Simmer 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Refrigerate. Return soup to simmer before continuing.)

Preheat broiler. Now, you can either: ladle soup into broilerproof bowls and top each with slice of toast and grated cheeses, broiling until cheeses melt and bubble, OR you can be lazy (or just lacking in boiler-proof bowls like me) and just toast the bread and cheese and then put it on top of the soup.

As for my next tweaking of the recipe, I think next time I'll do mostly chicken or a combo of chicken and beef broth, and use a white wine instead. It's fun to play with soup.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Tave Tiranse

The great thing about this dish is it is highly adaptable for vegetarians...just don't add the meat. We made it vegetarian-style for one of the people in our group and she was in love with it.

As they say in Albania, Ju befte mire!
(Bon Appetit for those of us who aren't quite hip with Albanian lingo yet.)

2 red peppers, cubed
1 16 oz can of diced tomatoes
1/4 pound of cubed lamb or veal
A large chunk of feta cheese, preferably medium consistency to soft
Olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle olive oil in a deep pot and saute the peppers on low to medium heat. The peppers should saute for about a half hour, till they've softened. Add the cubed meat and allow the meat to brown for about 15-20 minutes. Add the tomatoes with all of their juices and simmer together for another 10 minutes. Finally, add in the crumbled cheese and let everything simmer for 10 additional minutes. Test the meat to see if it's cooked to your taste and test for saltiness. Add freshly cracked pepper. The consistency should be thick, but juicy. Pour the stew into a clay pot and put in the oven to bake for about 10-15 minutes. The dish is done baking when the top has browned, but has remained juicy in the middle. Allow the dish to cool for about 15-20 minutes before eating. Make sure to have some crusty bread on hand to soak up the juices.