Monday, November 23, 2009

Gobble Gobble!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I made these little turkeys at the neighborhood holiday cookie decorating session I hosted this past Friday. Hope to see posts of all your feasts this holiday season. Lots of love to you and your families. Hopefully we will see most of you in Napa for our own blogger feast.
Here are three recipes that Kate shared with me from Brussels if you are looking for little hosting nibbles over the holidays.
250g raw almonds, shelled but still with thier skins
1 T EV Olive Oil
2 t chopped fresh thyme
2 t sea salt
oven at 200C. All ingredients in a bowl and toss. Transfer to paper lined tray and bake for 5-7 mins. Leave to cool before serving

Marinated Parmesan
250g parmesan
1 garlic clove crushed
2 T finely chopped spring onions
1 t dried chillie flakes
125 ml olive oil
2 t finely chopped oregano
black pepper
Break parmesan into small bite sized pieces. put in a bowl with the garlic, spring onions, chilli and oil and stir well. Cover and leave to marinate for at least 2 hours. Just before serving stir through the oregano and season with black pepper. Serve with warm bread.

2T olive oil 4 large cloves aof garlic, unpeeled and lightly crushed.
2 srigs of rosemary
350g small black olives
4 strips of lemon rind
oven at 200C. put all ingreds in small oven proof dish and toss together. Roast for 15 mions and serve warm.

I also found Lahey's cheese bread recipe. Haven't tried it yet. But its on my to-bake list.
Start to finish: 15 hours (30 minutes active)
Makes one 10-inch round loaf

3 cups bread flour
21⁄2 cups cubed (1/2-inch cubes) pecorino cheese
1 teaspoon salt
3⁄4 teaspoon instant or other active dry yeast
1⁄2 teaspoon ground black pepper
11⁄3 cups cool (55 to 65 degrees) water

Wheat bran, cornmeal or additional flour, for dusting

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cheese, salt, yeast and pepper. Add the water and, using a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until you have a wet, sticky dough, about 30 seconds.

Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature until the surface is dotted with bubbles and the dough is more than doubled in size, 12 to 18 hours.

When the first rise is complete, generously dust a work surface with flour. Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to scrape the dough out of the bowl in one piece.

Using lightly floured hands or a bowl scraper or spatula, lift the edges of the dough in toward the center. Nudge and tuck in the edges of the dough to make it round.

Place a tea towel on your work surface and generously dust it with wheat bran, cornmeal or flour. Gently place the dough on the towel, seam side down. If the dough is tacky, dust the top lightly with wheat bran, cornmeal or flour.

Fold the ends of the tea towel loosely over the dough to cover it and place it in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for 1 to 2 hours. The dough is ready when it is almost doubled. If you gently poke it with your finger, it should hold the impression. If it springs back, let it rise for another 15 minutes.

Half an hour before the end of the second rise, heat the oven to 475 degrees, with a rack in the lower third. Place a covered 41⁄2- to 51⁄2-quart heavy pot in the center of the rack.

Using pot holders, carefully remove the heated pot from the oven and uncover it. Unfold the tea towel and quickly but gently invert the dough into the pot, seam side up. Use caution; the pot will be very hot. Cover the pot and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the lid and continue baking until the bread is a deep chestnut color, but not burnt, about 15 to 30 minutes more.

Use a heatproof spatula or pot holders to gently lift the bread out of the pot and place it on a rack to cool thoroughly.

Monday, November 16, 2009

My Bread

Jim Lahey's new book My Bread just came out and its fantastic. I remember trying his no knead bread recipe way back when the NY Times ran an article on it years ago. I loved it then but hadn't made it in a while. I just bought the book and it inspired me not only to make it again but to play around with different ingredients. I made two this weekend: a cranberry walnut loaf and an olive loaf. Oh my goodness, they were both delicious (perfect crust; soft inside) and as easy as I remember it to be years ago. A friend at work told me to replace a few tbls of water with some beer for better flavor, and she was right (Cook's Illustrated played around with the recipe a while back and came up with the beer idea). If you want to make people in your homes happy this winter I suggest buying the book for inspiration (most of the recipes are variation of the same theme) and start making some of the easiest and wonderful bread you will make at home.

As an aside, the same friend here also told me how to make homemade butter. I did and it was absolutely delicious. Imagine the taste of fresh creme and sea salt in a perfectly spreadable butter. Try it, you won't be disappointed!

Take some fresh whipping cream and mix in your kitchen aid. Add some salt to taste. Let it whip beyond the point of making whipped cream. At some point it will fall and separate into curds of butter and buttermilk. Save the buttermilk for another use (I made buttermilk and herb salad dressing with Pt Reyes blue cheese ... inspiration from the Ad Hoc cook book which is also fabulous). Take the curds of butter and squeeze out the remaining moisture. Put into ramekins and sprinkle with really good sea salt.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Fennel Spiced Pork Loin

Cath introduced me to this tasty rub. I strongly recommend you try this rub on anything! I brined my pork loin, put lots of this rub on my tied pork loin to make sure everything cooked evenly. Put it on a baking sheet . Roasted at 500 in the middle rack. After 30-40 min, I moved the pork loin to make sure it didn't stick. Tossed butternut squash and red onion wedges, sprinkled the fennel rub on top of veggies and placed them on the other half of the same baking sheet at the same time I moved my loin. Its a Michael Chiarello recipe:

1 cup fennel seeds

3 tablespoons coriander seeds

2 tablespoons white peppercorns

3 tablespoons kosher salt

Put the fennel seeds, coriander seeds, and peppercorns in a heavy pan over medium heat. Watch carefully, tossing frequently so the seeds toast evenly. When light brown and fragrant, pour the seeds onto a plate to cool. They must be cool before grinding, or they will gum up the blades.

Pour the seeds into a blender and add the salt. Blend to a fine powder, shaking the blender occasionally to redistribute the seeds. Store in a tightly sealed glass jar in a cool, dry place, or freeze.

Makes 1 1/4 cups

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


We had three couples over and all their children on Sunday and I made a batch of lasagna Bolognese and chicken lasagna. It was delicious and we’ve been eating the chicken lasagna leftovers the last two nights. Pete keeps saying this is one of (if not) the best dish I’ve ever made. High praise indeed so I thought I’d share.

For sauce, I sautéed an onion, 2 carrots and 2-3 celery sticks (all diced to a fairly uniform size) in butter and olive oil. Add some tomato paste and some wine and 2 cans of San Marzano tomatoes (if you want add a half stick of butter). Simmer for a few hours and season to taste with salt/pepper.

Separately bake two bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts that have been rubbed with olive oil and seasoned with salt/pepper (the Ina Garten method for her salads). When cool to touch, shred.

When sauce is done, add shredded chicken. For Bolognese, I did a classic recipe (pancetta, ground pork, ground beef, ground veal, carrots, celery, onions, San Marzano tomatoes, a little paste, a little wine, and some whole milk …. Simmer for several hours).

Instead of making my pasta like I normally do, I bought pre-made fresh lasagna from a local Italian restaurant and it was great. I did five or six layers, each layer with the sauce and alternating layers with shredded parmeseano reggiano and sliced fresh mozerella.

I topped both lasagnas off with fresh béchamel seasoned with salt and nutmeg.

For dessert, I made Elaine’s chocolate molten cakes and Julie’s oreo truffles. They were both a huge hit!

We forgot to take pictures :-(