Monday, August 29, 2011

Padron poppers

Like jalapeno poppers, but with largish, fairly spicy padron peppers. This is definitely the happiest I've been with a breaded fried thing I've made. I suppose that's not necessarily a skill I want to spend a lot of time perfecting, at least when it's only me and Lester at home this week (what with Laura at Burning Man and Candace in Ann Arbor). But if you're committing to both making and eating a fried thing then it may as well be good!

8 3" padron peppers
1/2 c homemade ricotta, salted to taste
2 egg whites + 1 yolk
1/4 c flour
2 T cornmeal

Roast the peppers in a hot, very lightly oiled cast-iron pan until blistered and slightly wilted. Chop off the tops and remove the seeds, then stuff with a spoonful or two ricotta.

Start heating enough oil to come half-way up the sides of the poppers. For breading step 1, whisk together the eggs for several minutes until very light and fluffy. (If you remembered to separate the first egg, then whisk the egg whites until stiff then fold in the egg yolk, but it worked just fine sans separation too.) For breading step 2, stir together the flour and cornmeal in a flat bowl. Dip each pepper in the egg to cover it with a good fluffy layer, then dredge it in the flour to cover all the egg surface. Fry in one or two batches until golden on each side, flipping once.

Eat in short order (with yogurt or another cooling sauce if the creaminess of the ricotta isn't quite a match for the hotness of the peppers) and with corn on the cob rubbed with a slice of lime (how Mom likes it).

Blackberry ricotta pie

Based on this, which looked amazing all by itself but didn't contain quite enough blackberries as written.

1/3 c sugar
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 egg yolk (don't need the white)
1/2 T milk
1/2 T sherry
1 c + 2 T flour (yes the extra 2 T made a difference)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

7 oz homemade ricotta
1/3 c sugar
1 T amaretto

other fillings:
1/2 c hazelnuts
1/4 c blackberry jam
1 T brandy

Preheat the oven to 325F. Cream together the butter, egg yolk, and sugar until fluffy and smooth. Stir in the milk and sherry. Stir in the flour and baking powder, and form into a ball of a workable dough. Press 2/3 of the dough evenly into the bottom and sides of a 8" or 9" pie pan, and save the rest of the dough for later. Stick the pie crust in the fridge while you make the fillings.

For the fillings, stir together the ricotta, sugar, and amaretto; grind the hazelnuts in the food processor; stir together the jam and brandy until smooth. When everything is ready, take the pie crust out of the fridge. Scoop the ricotta mixture into the pie crust and spread into a roughly even layer. Sprinkle the hazelnuts over the ricotta and press them in with your fingertips, evening the top of the ricotta-hazelnut layer. Spread the jam mixture over the filling; there should be just enough for a thin layer. With the reserved pie crust, pinch off bits and place them decoratively over the top of the pie, for instance in a lattice pattern. If the pie crust base extends past the filling, push it down all around the edge until even with the top of the filling.

Bake for 55 minutes until the crust is browned but not too browned, and the filling is bubbly. Let cool, then eat for midnight snack and again for breakfast.

Fresh ricotta

As seen here and used here and here and here.

1 gallon organic whole milk
1 quart buttermilk

Line a large colander with at least 4 layers of cheesecloth, and place over a large bowl. Pour the two milks into a large pot over medium heat. Heat, stirring occasionally to prevent milk bits sticking to the bottom, until it reaches 175F, at which point the curds (white cheesy chunks) will have separated from the whey (pale watery liquid). Ladle the curds and whey into the colander as pictured, letting the whey drain into the bowl. Tie the corners of the cheesecloth together and continue to drain for about an hour and a half, or until it reaches your desired degree of dryness or creaminess. Put the whole cheesecloth-wrapped package in a tupperware in the fridge and use within a few days.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Brown bread ice cream with blackberry ripple

I love Tillamook's marionberry pie ice cream, so I decided to try something similar with my blackberry jam. I even set aside a few pieces of baked sweet pie crust for this purpose when I made a lemon blackberry tart last weekend (which I guess I didn't get around to posting, sorry!). But looking around for recommendations on how to do the berry swirl step, I found this recipe and I remembered how much John likes the brown bread ice cream at Scoops. I'm not sure that brown bread was a better approach than pie crust, but it's certainly good (denser bread and maybe more brown sugar would have made it even better). And the blackberry ripple is just lovely.

2 c half-and-half
1/2 vanilla bean
3 egg yolks
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c 1% milk
1/2 c cream

2 large slices dense wheat bread, crusts removed
3 T melted butter
3 T brown sugar

4 T blackberry jam
2 T brandy

Pour the half-and-half into a saucepan. Scrape the insides of the vanilla bean into the half-and-half, then drop the bean pod in too. Heat over low until it smells and tastes as vanilla-y as you want, at least 10 minutes; remove the bean pod but leave in the seedy bits. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together. When you're ready, stir a bit of the vanilla dairy into the eggs to temper, then stir the eggs into the pot. Heat, stirring constantly, until thickened slightly. Pour into a bowl (straining if needed), stir in the milk and cream, and let cool in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment. With the food processor, grind the bread into coarse crumbs. Stir the bread crumbs and the brown sugar into the melted butter. Spread the mixture on the baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes until well browned but not burned. Let cool completely. Taste any bits that seem like they might be burnt and discard if they're not delicious.

While the custard and brown bread are cooling, go to a dance class at Hipline (Ziva was good today!). When you're back and done with lunch, stir together the jam and brandy until you have a smooth, pourable, but still very thick syrup. Churn the ice cream for 15 min, add the brown bread, and churn for another 5 minutes. Scoop 1/3 of the ice cream into a container, dollop half the blackberry over the ice cream, add another layer of ice cream, then the rest of the blackberry, then the rest of the ice cream. Stick a spoon through the layers in a few places to marble, then put in the freezer.

Roasted eggplant salad

Start by buying some gorgeous tomatoes at the market, a baguette at La Farine, and some mozzarella at TJs. Make caprese; eat it while you finish prepping dinner.

When you're sated with tomato goodness and are maybe starting to wish you'd picked up more mozzarella, preheat the oven to 400F and start making something along these lines. Specifically, cube a medium eggplant, cut half a head of cauliflower into florets, and drain a can of garbanzos. Toss them all in a big bowl with at least 1/2 c olive oil and some pepper, then spread the mixture on two baking sheets and start roasting. Deputize Lester to start the polenta at this point.

Slice half a bunch of asparagus, toss it with a bit more oil, and spread it on another baking sheet. After the eggplant/cauliflower/beans have been roasting for 10 minutes, stir them to detach and flip the pieces, and stick the asparagus in too. Roast for another 15-20 minutes until everything is tender, stirring another couple times. While Lester finishes seasoning the polenta, dump all the veggies into a big bowl and toss them with salt, pepper, a bit of white wine vinegar, and two sliced scallions. If you have some feta, by all means toss it in, but I didn't.

Serves 4 with a salad.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tapas dinner: gazpacho with sides

Tomatoes have officially taken over the farmers market, Todd's garden had more cucumbers than he could handle, it was actually warm enough today to wear a tanktop, Lester's soccer season has officially started, much of my non-kitchen time today was spent preparing for the classes I'm helping teach fall semester...must be August. The gazpacho was nice and light (add some chili if you want it spicy) and the sausage made the oyster mushrooms really amazing (I'd add more oyster mushrooms next time).

for gazpacho:

6 assorted heirloom tomatoes (just over 1 lb)
1 huge cucumber (just under 1 lb)
1 red pepper
1 large shallot
1 T olive oil
2 T lemon juice
1/2 t salt
a few grinds of pepper
1 avocado, mashed
1 green onion, white and green parts sliced

Put a strainer over a large bowl. Squeeze the tomato seeds into the strainer, letting the juice drip through. Peel the tomatoes, putting the skins in the strainer too. Chop the tomato flesh and put it in the bowl with the tomato juice. Peel the cucumber, scoop the seeds into the strainer, chop the flesh, and put the flesh in the bowl. Press down on the seedy goop in the strainer to get a bit more juice out, then discard. Mince the red pepper and shallot and add to the bowl. Stir in the oil, lemon, salt, and pepper. Process with a blender wand until it's your desired consistency. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for a few hours until dinnertime. To serve, stir some avocado and green onion into each bowl.

for the other dishes:

Brown some duck sausage from the butchers in just a tiny bit of oil. Add some thinly sliced shallots, then some oyster mushrooms, then some chopped kale, cooking for a few minutes between each addition. Deglaze with a splash of sherry. Taste before adding salt, it's probably quite salty enough as it is.

Fry some whole shishito peppers in a little oil over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until wilted and browned. Sprinkle with salt and eat as finger food, discarding the stems.

Blackberry jam

For the berries:

Bike to the Albany bulb on a sunny afternoon in August. Walk out near the end of the peninsula, turn right at the path that aims toward the two red-and-white radio towers, and walk down to the water. You will see bunch of art and a bunch of wild blackberry bushes. Pick about 3 quarts of berries and bike back home.

Rinse the berries thoroughly in a colander, spread them out on baking sheets, and pick out any tiny ants and tiny inchworms that you see crawling around (there will only be a couple of each, not bad at all). Put the sturdiest quart-worth of berries in tupperwares in the freezer; use the squishiest, ugliest 3 cups of berries for jam as described next; and put the rest of the berries in the fridge for tomorrow.

For about 1.5 c jam:

3 c blackberries
1 T lemon juice
1 T minced lemon peel (reserved from limoncello)
1.25 c sugar

Choose your jam jars, and clean and/or sterilize them as you see fit. I simply filled my clean jar with boiling water and let the lid sit in a bowl of boiled water while I cooked the jam.

For a seed-rich jam, put the berries in a large pot and crush them with a potato masher. For a seed-light jam (my preference), put the berries in a colander over a large pot, crush them with a potato masher to get as much juice out as you can, then squish even more juice out by pressing down on the remaining solids with the base of an appropriately-sized bowl. I ended up with about 2 c of juice (plus some seeds that slipped though) in the pot.

Either way, stir the lemon juice and peel and the sugar into the berries. Cook over medium heat, stirring almost continuously, for about 20 minutes or until the temperature reaches 222F; the jam should be obviously starting to jell. Carefully transfer the jam into jars, screw the lids on tight, and let cool on the counter overnight. Eat on biscuits for breakfast and store in the fridge.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Paneer pizza

What to do when you find paneer at Berkeley Bowl but you've already made two curries in the past week? Paneer pizza, apparently, which the internet says is a real thing in India. Some sites suggested letting the paneer and veggies sit in a light, dry yogurt marinade with some spices (not necessarily these) before putting them on the pizza, which makes for tasty toppings that you chop ahead of time and don't have to pre-cook. You could add some thinly sliced tomatoes or a smidge of tomato sauce if you want, but then the crust would take even longer to bake through, and anyway the toppings were moist and zingy enough as they were.

1 medium-large crust's worth of pizza dough
2 T yogurt
1 t cumin
1 t garam masala
1/4 t chili powder
1/2 t salt
juice of 1/2 lemon
7 oz paneer, cubed
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cherry tomatoes, quartered
olive oil
1-2 T grated parmesan
several T cilantro leaves

In the morning, transfer frozen pizza dough to the fridge to defrost, or mix up a new batch of pizza dough and put it in the fridge. Mix the ingredients for the marinade (yogurt through lemon juice) in a large tupperware, then stir in the things to be marinaded (paneer through tomatoes) until everything is lightly coated. Stick the marinade in the fridge too.

In the evening, take the pizza dough out of the fridge and let it warm up on the counter until workable. (Try out a pretty ok bellydance class in the meantime.) Preheat the oven to 450F and line a baking sheet with parchment. Form the pizza dough into a nice thin crust, place it on the baking sheet, and brush it lightly with oil (or ghee if you happen to have some around). Distribute the marinated paneer and veggies over the dough—it all fit on for me, but just barely. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the crust is cooked through and the marinade is sizzling. Sprinkle with parmesan, then with cilantro. Slice and eat.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Limoncello, day III

jar of limoncello from day II that's been sitting in the cupboard for a month and a half
hose for siphoning
big mixing bowl or jar
coffee filters and cone
6 or 7 375ml bottles with resealable tops

So, my bad: apparently powdered sugar contains a large fraction of cornstarch. Who knew? If, like me, you used powdered sugar instead of normal white granulated sugar in your simple syrup, a fluffy-looking layer of white gunk will have settled to the bottom of your limoncello. The bulk of your jar will still be full of a lovely bright yellow viscous liquid that is your limoncello (and if you were smart and used granulated sugar, that should be all you have).

Carefully transfer the jar of limoncello to a high surface, and use the hose to siphon the limoncello into your large vessel, leaving any settled-out particulate matter at the bottom of the jar. Wash out the jar, put a coffee filter in the cone, and set it on top of the jar. Filter the limoncello through the coffee filters, replacing the filter as needed (siphoning worked well here too). Fill the bottles with the limoncello, using the funnel (and again siphoning) to reduce spillage. Six 375ml bottles was perfect for me, but if you throw out less sludge then you may need a 7th bottle.

Seal well and make cute labels with packing tape and a sharpie. Put one bottle in the freezer for immediate drinking, and keep the rest in the cupboard to age. It's pretty strong—about 75-80 proof I think.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Roasted summer veggies

Making good veggies into even better versions of themselves by adding salt, pepper, oil, and heat. Not in any way original, but that doesn't stop it from being delicious! And the shishito peppers (similar to padrons) were seriously good.

olive oil
can of garbanzos, rinsed
cloves of garlic and shallot, crushed
cherry tomatoes, whole
bell peppers, chopped into large pieces
shishito peppers, whole
various small summer squashes, thinly sliced
coarse sea salt
cracked pepper
light carbs of choice, eg pappardelle or baguette

Preheat the oven to 400F. Put the garbanzos, garlic, shallot, and tomatoes in a square baking dish, drizzle on just enough oil, and stir to coat. Line as many baking sheets as you need with foil, drizzle on just enough oil, and spread it around with a brush. Place the rest of the veggies on the baking sheets in a single layer, flip each piece over to get a lightly-oiled side on top, and brush with a little more oil if needed. Sprinkle everything with salt and pepper. Roast for 20-30 minutes until everything is your desired balance of soft, crisp, and/or charred, stirring the garbanzos occasionally. (My slicing of the squashes wasn't the most even, so some bits were quite brown by the end, but they were still great. Use a mandolin if you want more consistency.) If you're making pasta, time it to be ready at the same time the veggies are. Assemble your own plate and eat while nice and hot, discarding the shishito stems.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Coconut okra curry

The cookbook calls it vendaka masala pachchadi. It's one of the more original curries I've had in a long time—the sweet, hot, rich, and tangy flavors are all very well balanced.

canola oil
big bag of okra, ends trimmed and stems in 1/2" slices
3 T cashews
2/3 c grated raw coconut
~1/2 c water
1/2 t cumin seeds
1 t black mustard seeds
1 onion, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1" piece ginger, peeled and minced
1 red chili pepper, minced
1/2 t tumeric
2 t ground coriander
salt to taste
3 nice tomatoes, diced

Fry the okra in hot oil in a large frying pan for about 6 minutes until lightly browned, drain if needed, and set aside. Grind the cashews and coconut together in a food processor until finely chopped, slowly process in enough water to make a paste, and set aside. Heat some oil over medium heat in another large pan and add the cumin and mustard seeds. When the seeds start sizzling, add the onion and saute until soft. Turn down the heat to medium-low, add the spices (garlic through salt), and cook for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes, then the coconut paste, then the okra, simmering for a few minutes between each addition. Keep over low heat for another 15 minutes until the red rice is ready, then serve to 3 or 4 housemates.

Black-and-white marble cake

My primary souvenir from this trip to NYC was Peyton and Byrne British Baking (plus a Strand tote bag to put it in). There are any number of exciting recipes in there that I look forward to sharing with you, like Sherry Trifle and Chelsea Buns and Victoria Sponge, but the most exciting ones were several levels above my baking capacity when I made it a few days ago. (How does a "non-stop" flight from Newark to SFO mean sitting on a plane for 9.5 hours and getting home at 3am west coast time? Hint: first answer the question "How many Continental airplanes does it take to change a lightbulb in Indianapolis?" Sigh and yawn.)

But a chocolate and vanilla marble cake, that seemed both festive enough for Chris's qual and simple enough for my jetlagged self. It doesn't have much to do with black-and-white cookies besides the vague NYC connection; maybe I should call it black-and-white-and-Brit instead. This is a 1.5x batch to upgrade it from loaf pan to bundt pan, plus some extra white chocolate in the cake, plus two ganaches instead of one frosting, plus some error bars from mass-to-volume conversions.

180 g (1 stick + 6 T) butter, softened
300 g (1.5 c) sugar
4 eggs
1.5 t vanilla
250 g (2 c) flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
250 g (just over 1 c) plain yogurt
100 g white chocolate, chopped
2/3 c cocoa powder
6 T boiling water

Preheat oven to 350F and butter and flour a bundt pan. Cream together the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl, then beat in the eggs one at a time and the vanilla. Mix the dry ingredients (flour, bakings powder and soda) in a small bowl and add in two or three additions to the batter, alternating with the yogurt.

Dump about 1/3 of the batter into a medium bowl, and stir the white chocolate into the larger fraction. In yet another bowl, stir together the cocoa powder and water until thick and smooth, then stir the chocolate into the smaller fraction of the batter (using the electric mixer if needed to make it smooth).

Drop the batter into the bundt pan, alternating spoonfuls of the black and white batters. I put 5 or so spoonfuls of the white batter evenly spaced around the pan, then added spoonfuls of the black batter in the spaces, then covered the black batter with spoonfuls of the white batter, then put spoonfuls of the black batter over the first round's spoonfuls of the white batter, and then you probably get the point. When all the batter is in the pan, run a spatula or knife once around the pan through the center of the cake to marble it.

Bake for 50 min until a toothpick comes out clean with maybe a couple moist crumbs and the top is brightly golden. Cool in the pan for 15 min before carefully inverting onto a baking rack to cool completely (mine stuck to the bottom a bit). When cool, cover the cake and cooling rack together with plastic wrap and let sit overnight.

7 oz dark chocolate, chopped
3.5 oz white chocolate, chopped
1 c cream

In the morning, make black and white ganaches by putting each chopped chocolate in a bowl, heating the cream just to a boil (3/4 c for dark chocolate, 1/4 c for white), pouring the cream over each chocolate, and stirring each until smooth. Unwrap the plastic wrap from the top of the cake but leave it underneath to catch the ganache drippings. When the dark chocolate has firmed up enough to make a good glaze, pour over the cake, letting it drip down the sides. When the dark chocolate has set a bit and the white chocolate is starting to firm up, drizzle the white chocolate over the cake too.

Monday, August 1, 2011

A few days of food in NYC

  • dinner with nice vegan sauces at V-Note and British banana bread beer at Jones Wood Foundry with Ruchi
  • totally decent bagels at Bagelworks and coffee at Java Girl before starting our >12 miles of walking each day
  • brunch at Tom's Restaurant (corned beef hash with scrambled eggs and grits was unexpectedly delicious, lemon ricotta pancakes were expectedly delicious) before strolling through Prospect Park and Park Slope
  • nothing eaten while wandering from Grand Central Station down Broadway past touristy things, but a British baking book was procured from Strand
  • Fentiman's rose lemonade at Chelsea Market after seeing the Young Dancemakers Company at the High Line park in the rain
  • dinner at Hi Life with Rula and Ruchi
  • iced tea at East Harlem Cafe after walking through Central Park with Rula
  • falafel snack at Mamoun's before walking through the East Village and down the East River
  • quinoa salad (vegetables! finally!) at Berkli Parc, then pistachio gelato at La Cremeria before people-watching through Little Italy, Chinatown, and the South Street Seaport
  • lavender lemonade at Teany to recharge legs and phone after making it all the way down to Battery Park (Gimme doesn't have seating, boo)
  • pesto and wine at Brittain's apartment in Williamsburg, then drinks at Sweet Ups
  • brunch at Sarabeth's with Rula before one last stroll through Central Park
  • bagels for plane food and presents from Ess-a-Bagel