December 5, 2009

Curried Winter Squash Soup with Lentils and Clams

Well, my dears, it's been too wicked long since my last update. I've been a bit busy over the past few weeks, but here's an update now that I have a breather whilst down in the South visiting the family folks.

Winter squash, curry, lentils, and clams. Unlikely bedfellows in the soup pot, but the flavors work perfectly together. It's been eons since I made this, but I think I found the recipe via the lovely La Tartine Gourmande after picking up a pair of red kuri squash at the farmer's market and wondering what the hell to do with them. I imagine nearly any type of squash would work well with this recipe. The proportion of greatness in this soup also rises with the addition of more clams.

September 29, 2009

Fava Bean Risotto with Pancetta and Kale

It's been a while since my last visit to the Chelsea Market, so I moseyed on over to see if there was anything new to try. One of my favorite stores in the market is the Manhattan Fruit Exchange, and it did not disappoint: I ended up with a few pounds of fresh fava beans. Another trip to Buon Italia yielded some pancetta. What's a girl to do but make risotto?

September 7, 2009

Fig, Plum, and Almond Crisps

Ever had those Rainforest Crisps they sell at Whole Foods? I tried them once when they were giving out free samples, and oh were they good. I couldn't justify the $7.99 price tag though, so I resigned myself to never eating them again. Well, never say never, because I found this recipe at Seven Spoons and they ended up tasting just as good! I love how it's such a very versatile recipe, and you can easily adapt it to add whatever fruit/nut/spice combination you'd like.

I halved the recipe since I didn't have enough dried fruit on hand, but I recommend doubling the recipe to make two loaves, freeze them, and bake only the amount you'd want to eat. Maybe I didn't slice mine thinly enough, but they weren't as crisp the next day. A quick pop in the oven remedied that, but they lost their crispness soon after.

August 18, 2009

Black Velvet Apricot and Fig Frangipane Tartlets

You'd think with a name like What the Fig?, something fig-like would've made an appearance by now (or stories of WTF moments in the kitchen at the very least), and after almost a year since I've started this blog (where did the time go??), I give you these Black Velvet Apricot and Fig Frangipane Tartlets.

On my way home a few weeks ago, I walked by a produce stall in Chinatown selling 12 count boxes of fresh figs for $5. Normally, the quality of the produce at this stall is questionable at best, but these figs looked promising enough that I waited in the queue for some time before I got my greedy hands on two boxes of them. I'm sure you'd see the crazy in my eyes if you had seen me that day.

And the Black Velvet apricots! After some hesitation at the price ($3.99/lb at Whole Foods), I caved in and bought some and never regretted it. I do regret not trying them earlier, since I think they're out of season now. At least, I don't see them anymore, but I'm definitely picking up loads next year.

This is one of my favorite desserts I've made so far. The combination of the fruit, the almonds, and the buttery tart shell is pure heaven.

Black Velvet Apricot and Fig Frangipane Tartlets
Crust adapted from Bon Appetit, June 2009
Frangipane cream from Tartelette
makes one 9-inch tart or about 5-6 tartlets


7 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
pinch of salt

Frangipane Cream
8 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup almond flour
seeds from one vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons vanilla paste/extract
2 eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream

fresh figs, black velvet apricots - 3 total, more if making 9-inch tart

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Mix melted butter, sugar, and vanilla. Add the salt and flour. Transfer dough to a 9-inch diameter tart pan and press the dough evenly onto the sides and bottom of pan.

Bake until golden, about 18 minutes. Transfer crust to rack and cool.

Lower the oven temperature to 350ºF.

Frangipane Cream:
Whisk the butter, sugar, almond flour, vanilla, and eggs until smooth. Stir in the cream instead of whisking or it will emulsify and rise while baking.

Pour the frangipane into the 9-inch tart shell or spoon into the tartlets, about half full. Slice the figs and/or apricots in half and place them gently on the frangipane. Bake for 35-40 minutes (less for the tartlets), until the frangipane has set.

July 29, 2009

Red Currant Mini Cakes

I made these about three weeks ago when I picked up a carton of red currants at the farmer's market. I'd never had any before, and a wary nibble on one made me realize why the woman who sold them to me had warned that they should be cooked first. I'd rather gnaw on a lemon, honestly.

They tasted better in the cakes, though I'm not sure I really like the flavor. But they look very festive, no?

Red Currant Mini Cakes
from La Tartine Gourmande
makes 4

4 tablespoons butter, melted
5/6 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted
1/2 cup almond flour
3/8 cup flour, sifted
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Red currants
3 egg whites, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease four muffin molds/tartlet pans/ramekins/etc.

Mix the sugar, almond flour, flour, and baking powder together. Add the egg whites, mix, and add the melted butter.

Divide the batter into the prepared molds and drop in the currants.

Bake for 15-20 minutes. Best eaten on the same day.

July 14, 2009

Squash Blossoms

Off to Cackalacky for a week. I hope you all had a fantabulous Bastille Day!

June 25, 2009


I had dinner at Bianca about a year ago and made the fateful decision to order their Brodetto di Pesce. Oh! what a heavenly bowl of sublime goodness! The seafood was cooked perfectly, the broth well-seasoned, and the portion more than generous. Then I saw this post on Fat of the Land, and I decided I had to try making it myself.

It didn't even come close.

I predict a trip to Bianca in the very near future...

June 21, 2009

Blueberry Buttermilk Cake

This cake was essentially a giant muffin, which is quite unfortunate if you, like me, don't like muffins. Something to do with the texture, which is always a deal breaker with me. No matter how good something tastes, if I don't like the texture, I can't eat it.

Personal idiosyncrasies aside, be rest assured that the cake did not go to waste. My grandmother took a liking to it and must've eaten a good quarter of the entire thing. And my 12 year old cousin Eric, whose usual reaction to whatever baked goods I bring over is a straightforward "I don't like your cooking!", had two slices.

Blueberry Buttermilk Cake

adapted from Gourmet, June 2009

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 cup fresh blueberries (raspberries, etc.)

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and 1/3 cup sugar at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla, then the egg.

At low speed, mix in the flour in three batches, alternating with buttermilk, mixing till just combined. Pour the batter into the cake pan, smoothing the top. Scatter blueberries over the top and sprinkle with a bit of sugar.

Bake cake until it is golden and wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack to cool.

June 13, 2009

The Toaster Oven

It's like staring into the gaping maws of Hell...

The exposed heating elements of this oven makes it impossible to clean. Said heating elements also have a tendency to set my towels on fire if I'm not careful taking a pan out.

I've resigned myself to the puddles of chicken grease oozing from the door whenever I turn the oven on. If you squint and look carefully, you'll see a mini grease stalactite waiting to drip down the top left-ish of the oven.

I've also accepted that the door will not close with a 10-inch pie plate inside. But that's OK--there's nothing a sheet of aluminum foil covering the opening will not solve.

Despite all this, it is the one kitchen equipment I cannot live without. I dub thee Pip.

June 8, 2009

Raspberry Rhubarb Vanilla Custard Tarts

These tarts are so dangerously addictive I feel obligated to post a warning on behalf of your waistlines: make a batch of these with friends over lest you gobble all of them up. Even then it might be an exercise in self control.

So I can't remember how much puff pastry I used for this recipe. It was probably a third of the puff pastry I made a few weeks ago using Tartelette's recipe. And I fudged the measurements for most of the ingredients since the original recipe was in grams and milliliters, and honestly, the conversions were doing my head in.

Raspberry Rhubarb Vanilla Custard Tarts
adapted from Delicious Days

Puff pastry

Raspberry Rhubarb
3 stalks rhubarb
5 tablespoons raspberry puree
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon sugar

Vanilla Custard
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cream
1 vanilla pod, split in half and seeds scraped out
1/8 cup sugar
pinch salt
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
2 egg yolks

Roll out the puff pastry into a thin rectangle, and then, starting from the shorter side, tightly roll into a log, wrap it in foil, and chill in the freezer for about 20 minutes. Do not let it freeze. Cut the puff pastry into slices about as thick as your thumb, and form them into little cups. Fit them into a greased muffin pan, ramekins, mini tartlet molds, etc. Cover and chill in fridge while preparing the fillings.

Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Shave the rhubarb into thin slices and combine in a small saucepan with the raspberry puree, water, and sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer until the sugar has dissolved. Taste, and add more sugar if needed.

In another small saucepan, bring the milk, cream, and vanilla pod/seeds to a boil and then simmer for a few minutes. Remove the vanilla pod.

Combine sugar, cornstarch, salt, and egg yolks in a medium bowl and beat till combined. Continue beating very, very slowly while gradually pouring in the hot cream mixture. Return this mixture to the stove and carefully reheat while stirring continuously. Avoid boiling. Remove from heat when the mixture has thickened.

Fill the puff pastry shells with custard, about 1/2 to 2/3 full. Top with rhubarb raspberry puree. Do not overfill or the filling will overflow--puff pastry also tends to shrink a bit in the oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until pastry is a light golden brown.

May 17, 2009

Brown Butter and Blueberry Tart

What I learned from making this tart is that I should always buy berries in Chinatown. I walked by the crowded fruit stand at the corner of Chrystie and Grand and my cursory glance revealed only strawberries, so I continued on to Whole Foods. The raspberries there were a jaw-dropping $4.99 per package, but I had my heart set on making the tart so I went ahead and bought two. Imagine my outrage when I passed by that same stand again and saw, on a box set at knee height, the exact same packages of raspberries for $2 each!

The original recipe calls for raspberries, but this time round I used blueberries. It's delicious both ways. This makes one 9-inch tart or about 8 3-inch tartlets.

Brown Butter and Blueberry Tart
adapted from Bon Appetit, June 2009

7 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
pinch of salt

1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
pinch of salt
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, diced
2 6-ounce containers blueberries (raspberries, strawberries...)

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Mix melted butter, sugar, and vanilla. Add the salt and flour. Transfer dough to a 9-inch diameter tart pan and press the dough evenly onto the sides and bottom of pan.

Bake until golden, about 18 minutes. Transfer crust to rack and cool. Maintain oven temperature.

Whisk sugar, eggs, and salt, then add flour and vanilla.

In a small saucepan, cook the butter over low heat until dark brown, stirring often, about 6 minutes. Be careful not to burn it. Immediately pour the butter into a bowl or glass. Gradually whisk this into the sugar/egg mixture until well blended.

Arrange berries onto the bottom of the tart crust. Pour the butter mixture evenly over the berries. Bake until filling is puffed and golden and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

May 4, 2009

Spring Greens and Bean Soup

This is a very simple and flavorful soup. Easy to make and healthy, and what can be better than that?

I substituted cranberry beans for lima beans since they were all I had on hand. Nearly any bean would work with this soup, I think. Go crazy!

Spring Greens and Bean Soup
adapted from Bon Appetit, May 2009
serves 8

1 cup dried beans
2 bunches dandelion greens, Swiss chard, or mustard greens (1-1/2 pounds), tough stems removed, leaves cut into 2 inch pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
8 cups chicken broth
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained

Soak beans in water overnight.

Drain beans and place in a large pot with enough water to cover them by about two inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until beans are just tender, about 45 minutes. Add the greens and cook until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Drain.

Heat the oil in the same pot and toss in the celery, carrots, and onions. Saute them until the onions are translucent, and then add the broth, tomatoes, beans, and greens. Add salt to taste. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 20 minutes, then cover and let the soup rest for 15 minutes before serving.

April 23, 2009

Apple Puff Pastries

Puff pastry is surprisingly easy to make. Doing it myself certainly beats the $13 price tag for a box of them at Whole Foods. They also freeze very well, so I've divided what I've made into several parcels and squirreled them away for emergencies.

I used this recipe I found on Tartelette, and Foodbeam has a charming step-by-step visual on the technique.

I made 8 pastries using probably a third of the puff pastry recipe, along with 2 thinly sliced apples cooked with some butter, sugar, cinnamon, and a couple spritzes of lemon.

April 16, 2009

Chickpeas, Pumpkin, and Raisins with Couscous

In the original recipe, this dish is made of two parts--the couscous and the chickpea stew--but since I only had Lebanese couscous (mograbeyeh), I found it more convenient to toss them into the stew instead of serving them separately.

Chickpeas, Pumpkin, and Raisins with Couscous
from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian
serves 4

1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cinnamon stick, about 2 inches
1 medium onion, cut into fine half rings
3 medium tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped
2 cups cooked, drained chickpeas
2 heaped cups peeled, seeded pumpkin or butternut squash cut into 1 inch dice
2 tablespoons raisins
3-1/2 cups vegetable stock
salt to taste
1 cup zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

You also need
Couscous of your choice
Harissa (Moroccan Chile-Garlic paste) or any hot sauce, thinned with a little liquid from the stew

Combine the ginger, cumin, paprika, turmeric, and cayenne in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the cinnamon stick and stir for a few seconds. Add the onions, and stir and fry for about 3 minutes, until it is medium brown. Mix in the reserved spices, stir, and quickly add the tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes have softened, 3-4 minutes. Add the chickpeas, pumpkin/squash, raisins, stock, and salt and bring to a simmer. Cover, turn the heat down to low, and cook until the pumpkin is tender when pierced with the point of a knife, 13-15 minutes. Add the zucchini and simmer uncovered for another 5 minutes. If using (cooked) Lebanese couscous, toss in with the zucchini. Add the cilantro and parsley just before serving.

To serve: Put a mound of couscous on each plate. Make a well in the center and put some of the vegetables and beans from the stew in the well. Dampen the couscous generously with some of the sauce. Pass the hot sauce on the side.

April 4, 2009

Potato and Leek Frittata

This was a kitchen bits and bobs clearing dish, really, that turned out to be great. I had some potatoes that were starting to sprout, a surfeit of leeks, and some random leftover mushrooms, so I decided to toss them all together and make a frittata. Huzzah.

March 23, 2009

Spiced Apple and Sour Cream Cake

Have you ever baked a cake that was so good you had to make it again the next day? This was one of them. I made this a few weeks ago for a Sunday family dinner, and with the exception of this pitiful slice, my grandparents, aunts, and cousins had completely demolished it within five minutes.

The cake was very moist and tender, and I think the freshly ground spices made a big difference. I drastically reduced the amount of sugar since my family isn't fond of overly sweet desserts, so feel free to add more if you desire.

Spiced Apple and Sour Cream Cake
slightly modified from Kate Zuckerman's The Sweet Life

Sauteed Apples
2 tart apples (about 1 pound)
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon sugar

12 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
4 egg yolks, at room temperature
1-3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon clove
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sour cream
1 tablespoon raw sugar or granulated sugar

Peel, core, and dice the apples into small cubes. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add apples, and stir for 1 minute. Add the sugar and cook for 2 more minutes. Turn the heat down and continue to cook the apples until soft, 4-5 minutes. Cool and drain if any liquid remains.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF and grease an 8-inch springform pan.

Cream the butter on medium speed for 1 minute and then add the sugar, beating at medium-high speed until the mixture becomes fluffy and almost beige in color, 6-8 minutes. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, and continue to beat until the batter looks smooth and glossy, 1-2 minutes.

Mix together all the remaining dry ingredients except for the raw sugar. Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture on low speed and mix until fully incorporated. Mix in the sour cream. Fold in the remaining dry ingredients with a rubber spatula. Mix the batter for 1 minute on low speed until thoroughly combined. Fold in the sauteed apples.

Pour the batter into the cake pan and spread it evenly. Run a knife through the batter in a singular circular motion 1 inch from the edge of the pan to help the cake rise evenly. Sprinkle the raw sugar over the top and bake until the center of the cake is set, 60-70 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan.

March 20, 2009

Paprika Roast Chicken, Leek and Pea Risotto, and Sauteed Broccoli Rabe

I love roasting chickens even if it does destroy the interior of my poor toaster oven, now liberally coated with grease from sizzling chicken fat.

Paprika Roast Chicken
from Gourmet, February 2009
serves 4-6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 -1/2 tablespoons paprika
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 whole chicken (about 3-1/2 lbs), cut into serving pieces
1 onion, if you'd like, cut into wedges

Preheat oven to 500ºF, or 425ºF if using a toaster oven, and place rack in upper third.

Mix oil and spices in a large bowl, then toss in the chicken and onion to coat. Place chicken and onions onto a pan and bake for 30-45 minutes until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Leek and Pea Risotto
modified from Gourmet, March 2009
serves 4

6-1/4 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons olive oil, olive oil
2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced
1-1/4 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup grated Piave (or Parmigiano-Reggiano)

Bring stock to a bare simmer and keep it that way while you prepare the rice.

Cook leeks in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally until softened but not browned. Transfer to a plate.

Add remaining olive oil and rice to a pot and cook, stirring constantly until rice is coated, about 1 minute. Add about 1/4 cup of the chicken stock and stir until most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Add 1 cup of the stock and let the mixture simmer, stirring constantly, until the stock has been absorbed. Continue with the rest of the stock in this manner, 1 cup at a time, until the last cup. Add peas, leeks, and remaining stock and cook, stirring, until the rice is tender. Stir in the butter and cheese, and remove from heat. (I highly recommend soaking the pot immediately after serving the rice to make cleaning up easier.)

Sauteed Broccoli Rabe
I really don't have much of recipe for this, more like guidelines.

Broccoli rabe, hollow stems removed
Olive oil

Fill a pot with enough water to cover the broccoli rabe and bring to a boil. Throw in the greens and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain the water and fill the pot with cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain again and gently squeeze the greens to draw out excess water.

Heat oil in a pan over medium heat and saute the broccoli rabe, about 1 minute. Add the stock and season with salt to taste and saute until liquid has mostly cooked off.

March 13, 2009

Triple Cream Brie!

Whole Foods is dangerous not only because they take my whole paycheck but for introducing me to delicious foods I'd never try otherwise. Hence my new favorite snack: a slice of silky triple cream brie on a cracker with some cloudberry jam.

March 11, 2009

Pâte à Choux: Cream Puff Pastry

Oh, if only these tasted as good as they looked! I felt like I was chewing on paper, but I think the addition of sugar to the mixture would've definitely improved the taste. It was magical watching them puff up in the oven though.

Pâte à Choux
from Paula Peck's The Art of Fine Baking
makes approximately 90 small puffs or 25 medium sized puffs

1/2 cup butter
1 cup water
1 cup sifted flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs

Preheat the oven to 425ºF.

Bring water to a boil in a medium sized saucepan. Drop in the butter, and once it is melted, turn heat down to very low. Add flour and salt all at once and stir vigorously until a ball forms in the center of the pan, about 3-5 minutes.

Remove from heat. Add 3 eggs one by one, beating hard after each addition until completely mixed in. The last egg should be lightly beaten and added gradually. The paste must be just stiff enough to stand in a peak when a spoon is withdrawn; therefore, you need to add slightly more or less than 4 eggs depending on the dryness of the flour and the size of the eggs.

Pipe or drop the pâte à choux by spoonfuls onto a lightly greased pan. Bake at 425ºF until golden brown all over, about 15 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 325ºF until done, about 30-40 minutes. Turn off the oven, remove the pan, and using the tip of a knife, poke each of the puffs in the side to release steam. Return the pan to the oven for about 10 minutes, then remove and let puffs cool on wire rack.

Fill with pastry cream if you like.

Pastry Cream
slightly modified from Paula Peck's The Art of Fine Baking

2 tablespoons flour
1 cup light cream or milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine flour and 1/4 cup cream/milk in a small saucepan. Stir until smooth and no lumps remain. Gradually add the remaining cream/milk, whisking continually. Stir in salt and sugar. Cook over low heat, stirring until mixture thickens considerably.

Stir a spoonful of the cream mixture into the egg yolks, and gradually add about 1/2 cup more, whisking the entire time. This tempers the egg yolks and ensures no scrambled egg bits. Pour the egg yolks into the saucepan, mix, and heat on low for a few minutes to thicken. Be careful not to let it boil. Remove from heat. Add vanilla. Cool as quickly as possible.

February 22, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I usually don't really like baking cookies since I'm using a toaster oven that fits an 8"x9.5" baking sheet, but I wanted to try this one on my quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookies. I shouldn't complain anyway: this is a step up from my Easy Bake Oven days, when cookies were baked one by one.

I haven't reached the Holy Grail of chocolate chip cookies yet, but these were pretty awesome. They were nice and crispy with a lovely salty buttery toffee flavor. The secret is in chilling the dough for at least a day--this allows the flour to absorb the moisture in the mixture.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Jacques Torres via the New York Times
allow at least 24 hours chilling time

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons cake flour
1-2/3 cups bread flour
1-1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2-1/2 sticks (1-1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1-1/4 cups light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate chips/disks/fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content
Sea salt

In a large bowl, sift the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In another large bowl, cream the butter and sugars together until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla, then add the flour mixture until just combined. Add the chocolate. Press plastic wrap against the dough and refrigerate for 24-36 hours and up to 72 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter a cookie sheet.

Scoop mounds of dough the size of golf balls onto the sheet. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake for about 15 minutes (it might be more or less depending on your oven) until cookies turn a golden brown. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool for a bit. Give into temptation and eat one right out of the oven and burn your tongue.

It'll be worth it.

February 7, 2009

Unday Ki Kari: Egg Curry, Goan Style

I had some leftover coconut milk that I needed to use before it spoiled, so I decided to make this egg curry dish.  I balked the first time I saw this recipe since it didn't sound too appetizing, but I'm glad I decided to try it!  I'm definitely making this again.

Unday Ki Kari
adapted from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian

2 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
3 plum tomatoes fresh or from a can, chopped
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
15 fresh or dried curry leaves
3/4 cup coconut milk, about half a 14-oz. can
3/4 teaspoons salt
5 hard-boiled eggs, 3-4 long slits cut into the whites and yolk to allow sauce to penetrate

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium high heat.  Add the onions when hot, and stir and fry until slightly brown.  Throw in the garlic and ginger and stir for about 2 minutes, then add the cumin, coriander, cayenne, and turmeric, stirring for another minute.  Mix in the tomatoes and tomato paste, stirring often, and cook until the tomatoes are soft.  And 1/4 cup water and bring to a simmer.  Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

Remove the mixture from the skillet and puree with whatever gadget you have on hand until a paste forms.  Shield yourself from splatters if you (like me) thought it was a good idea to puree the mixture in a large bowl with a hand held blender.

Heat the remaining oil in a large skillet and add the mustard seeds when hot.  When they start popping, toss in the curry leaves.  Add the paste, the coconut milk, and salt.  Stir and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the hard-boiled eggs and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

Serve with rice or a thick crusty bread and enjoy the goodness.

January 30, 2009

Apple Pie with Cheddar Cheese Crust

At the risk of blowing up Craig's ego again, I have to say this, "Craig, you were right."

The subject of pie came up one day, and Craig told me that the best thing to eat with apple pie was cheddar cheese.  Cheddar cheese.  Cheese.  With apple pie.  I just couldn't wrap my mind around it.  In my world, there was a line with fruit on one side and cheddar cheese on the other and never the twain shall meet.

So he dared me to make one.

And it really was the best pie I've ever had.  (Not that I've had many, but still: this pie is pretty darn good.)  How the savoriness of the cheese complements the sweetness of the apples is a mystery, but I'm content now that I'm on the right side of the line with the cheese and apple pies.

Apple Pie with Cheddar Cheese Crust
adapted from Epicurious

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup + 2 tablespoons chilled butter, cubed
1 cup coarsely grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
5 tablespoons (or more) ice water

1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
4 medium sized tart apples, peeled, cored, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cubed

Mix the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.  Blend in the butter until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.  Add the cheese.  Mix in the water one tablespoon at a time until a dough forms--be careful that the dough does not become too wet.  Divide the dough in half, form each into disks, cover in plastic, and chill for at least 30 minutes and up to one day.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt.  Toss in the apples and lemon juice and mix.

Roll out the first disk of dough into a 12 inch circle and place in a 9 inch pie pan.  Brush the edges with the egg wash.  Pour the apple mixture into the pan and dot with butter.  Roll out the second disk of dough into a 11 inch circle and place over the filling.  Press and seal the bottom and top crusts together; trim overhang to 1/2 inch if necessary.  Tuck the overhang under and crimp.  Cut several slits on the crust to allow steam to escape, and brush the crust with the egg wash.

Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Cover the crust with foil and reduce the heat to 375ºF.  Bake for an additional 30 minutes or until filling begins to bubble.  Cool on rack.

January 26, 2009

Meyer Lemon Cheesecake with Blueberry Sauce

The first time I tried to make cheesecake must've been when I was 16 or 17.  It was such a total and utter disaster that I didn't even contemplate making one until my aunt requested one two weeks ago.

You see, I thought I could get by without using a mixer.  Rookie mistake!  It was impossible to achieve a smooth batter by hand, and the resulting mixture had blobs of cream cheese floating in raw eggs.  I still baked it, and what crawled out of the oven tasted nothing like cheesecake.

I'm happy to say that my second attempt was much more successful.  The Meyer lemons are sweeter than regular lemons, and they complement the blueberry sauce very well.

Meyer Lemon Cheesecake with Blueberry Sauce

1 cup finely ground graham crackers
1/8 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted

2 lbs. cream cheese
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon Meyer lemon zest
2-1/2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Blueberry Sauce:
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon Meyer lemon juice
3 teaspoons cornstarch in 1 tablespoon water

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Mix the graham crackers and sugar, then stir in the melted butter.  Press the mixture evenly onto the bottom of an 8- or 9-inch cake or springform pan.  (I made this with an ordinary cake pan, and other than the first couple of slices, the others came out perfectly.)

Bake the crust for 10 minutes or until golden brown.  Allow to cool.

With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth.  Add in the sugar until incorporated, and then beat in the eggs one at a time.  Mix in the zest, juice, and vanilla extract.  Pour the batter over the crust.

Cover the top of the cheesecake loosely with foil to prevent brown spots.  (If using a springform pan, encase the entire pan in foil.)  Set the cheesecake pan into a roasting pan and fill the latter up with water until in reaches halfway up the cheesecake pan.

Bake at 350F for 1-1/2 hours or until the cake is set.  Remove the cake from the roasting pan and allow to cool on a wire rack.  Chill overnight or for at least 6 hours in the fridge.

Blueberry Sauce:
In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the berries, sugar, and lemon juice and mix.  Keep on stirring until the berries start to release their juices.

In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch and water.  Add to the berry mixture and stir until the sauce thickens.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Chill in fridge.