Sunday, October 24, 2010

Under Construction

Hey everybody! Sorry to have been away for a while, but my new site is under construction. It will have bigger, better photos and lots more information. Can't wait for you to check it out. I'll let you know when it's ready!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Put yer Hoes Down!

Last weekend, I had the absolute pleasure of attending the 23rd annual Hoes Down Harvest Festival at Full Belly Farm in Yolo County, CA. There are so many amazing things to point out about this particular event. Established in 1985, Full Belly farm was one of the first (if not, THE first) organic farms in California. Today, they have 400 acres of mind blowing biodiversity. In addition to crops ranging from tomatoes and peaches to walnuts and wild flowers, the farm boasts an extensive livestock collection including pigs, chickens, bees, lamb, sheep, llamas, and goats!

Two of the four owners/ farmers of Full Belly were featured in book called Farmer Jane. It's definitely on my must read list, and I think it should be on yours, too!

Now on to the party...Every year, the farm hosts the now famous Hoes Down festival. Attended by thousands of yuppies and hippies alike, the primary goal of the celebration is to educate people about agricultural arts and sustainable rural living. There is an abundance of good food, music, dancing, arts, crafts, sustainable farming talks and demonstrations. There are also countless activities for the kiddies...petting zoo, bobbing for apples, pumpkin carving contests, making wildflower crowns, weaving wool, etc etc etc. With so much going on, it is no wonder that many families make the choice to camp out in the orchard over night.

In addition to promoting agricultural education, the fest is a fundraiser benefiting many community organizations like EcoFarm, Future Farmers of America, Yolo Land Trust, and their local 4H chapter.

So, whether you want to make pine nut bracelets, shop for handmade candles, gaze at the blacksmiths in wonder, play in the creek, or enjoy a hayride through the farm, there is a little bit of something for everybody.

Grilled Pizza

Just a photo that I wanted to share with you from our trip home to St. Louis back in August. Grilled pizzas are becoming quite popular. The bonus is that they are super easy to make. Just keep the dough thin and the heat high!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Lamb & Figs

Roast lamb with figs, and then roll out the flatbread
By Karoline Boehm Goodnick, Globe Correspondent | October 6, 2010

Once a common roast for midday Sunday dinner, leg of lamb has lost its place of prominence. One reason is that the joint is known to be hard to carve. But now legs come boned and rolled and take about an hour to roast. With shared Mediterranean origins, lamb and figs are a natural match. Add couscous, a North African staple, and you have an appealing plate. Rub the meat with a smoky, sweet combination of paprika and rosemary. Halfway through roasting, surround the lamb with chopped fresh mission figs so their juices meld with the drippings. While the meat rests after roasting, make a quick pan sauce that will serve you again on flatbreads.

Whether you call it pizza or flatbread, this stylish pie has been embraced by chefs everywhere, and is a terrific way of repurposing leftovers. Buy pizza dough, divide it into pieces, then flatten them (don’t worry if you’re not good at this; misshapen rounds add rustic elegance). Top each with fig sauce, arugula leaves, lamb, and goat cheese. Bake them near the bottom of the oven until they’re firm and golden, then sprinkle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. New England practicality meets modern flare.

Roast leg of lamb with figs

Serves 4, with leftovers

1 boned rolled leg of lamb (3 1/2 pounds)
3 cloves garlic, halved
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoons olive oil
18 fresh black mission figs, stemmed and chopped
1 cup red wine
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey

1. Set the oven at 450 degrees. With a small knife, cut 6 small slits in the lamb, and place 1/2 clove garlic in each slit. Sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper.

2. In a small bowl, mix together rosemary, paprika, and olive oil. Rub lamb with the rosemary mixture. Set it in a large cast iron skillet or heavy roasting pan (not ceramic).

3. Roast the lamb for 20 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Continue roasting for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from oven and set the figs around the edges of the pan. Roast for 20 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted in the center of the meat registers 125 to 130 degrees for rare lamb. (Total roasting time is 55 minutes.) For medium to well-done meat, continue roasting for 5 to 10 minutes or until the temperature reaches 145 to 160 degrees.

4. Transfer the roast to a metal rack set over a plate. Let it rest for 5 minutes (the temperature will continue to rise a few degrees).

5. Pour off the fat from the pan, keeping the juices. Place the pan on a burner over high heat. Add the wine and vinegar. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and let it bubble for 5 minutes. Add honey, salt, and pepper. Set aside 1 1/2 cups sauce with some figs in it for the flatbreads.

6. Discard twine from lamb. Carve the lamb on a slight angle into thick pieces. Set aside 1/4 of the lamb for the flatbreads.

7. Divide the remaining lamb and couscous among 4 plates. Ladle fig sauce over the lamb.

Fig and lamb flatbreads

Serves 4

Olive oil (for sprinkling)
2 pounds commercial pizza dough
Flour (for sprinkling)
1 1/2 cups fig sauce from lamb
2 cups fresh arugula, stemmed
2 cups chopped roast lamb
8 ounces fresh goat cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
Balsamic vinegar (for sprinkling)

1. Set the oven at 500 degrees. Position a rack at the lowest part of the oven. Lightly oil 2 large rimmed baking sheets.

2. Punch down the dough. Divide it into 8 equal pieces. Dust each lightly with flour, and cover 7 of them with a clean towel. Using a rolling pin, roll 1 ball firmly and evenly, flattening it into a 6-inch disk, dusting with flour when the dough becomes sticky. Slip it under the towel and shape the remaining rounds in the same way. Divide the rounds between the baking sheets.

3. With the back of a spoon, spread about 3 tablespoons of fig sauce on each round, then add 1/4 cup arugula, 1/4 cup chopped lamb, 2 tablespoons goat cheese, salt, and pepper.

4. Bake the pizzas for 5 minutes or until the crust is firm and golden. With a wide metal spatula, transfer the pizzas to a large platter. Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar and pepper. Brush crust with olive oil.

Happy Birthday!

B's birthday is my favorite day of the year...because it means he is, once again, as old as I am! Can't wait to celebrate!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Fortune Cookie Factory

If you google "free things to do in the Bay Area," chances are that a tour of a fortune cookie factory will pop up at the top of the list. Always game for free AND food-related activities, I hopped on the chance to find out just how they got those hidden messages tucked safely inside the folds of the wafer.

Paranoid as I am about arriving at a place after hours or on an off day, I called ahead to inquire about the day's schedule. The man on the phone was clearly not a native English speaker; he merely kept repeating, "We open till 7 pm. You come any time." "Ok," I thought to myself, "This is kind of bizarre, but what do I have to lose?"

Several BART stops later, I found myself wandering through the brightly colored, lanterned maze that is Chinatown in San Francisco. 9-5ers raced through the streets around me as I desperately tried to keep stride with the New Yorker that accompanied me on this adventure. Guided by her I-phone (god knows I don't have one), we turned down an alley that looked more like a zone for illegal abortions than fresh baked delights.

And then we saw it. On the right hand sign was a miniature sign indicating that we had indeed arrived at the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory. In an airy, open storefront the size of a postage stamp, we were immediately greeted by the three employees and entire operation!

The same man who answered the phone stood by the doorway offering the rejected cookies as a sample of their wares and ensuring that anyone with a camera paid the requisite 50 cents for a photo of his ladies. This included the Floridian man, armed with a video camera, who kept referring to the edibles as "egg rolls" while filming!

Behind him, two women worked the assembly lines, making sure the batter was loaded into the dispenser, discarding cookies that didn't meet their exacting standards (boy, there seemed to be a lot of them), and carefully plucking off the prime tuiles from the hot iron press, filling them with a message, and folding them to fully envelope the surprise. Together, these two women made thousands of fortune cookies everyday, and I am pretty sure that they were all the nuts and bolts of the operation.

Satisfied with our discovery, we paid for a bag of adult fortune cookies and went on our way. A word of advice: don't spring the extra 50 cents (or whatever it was) for the naughty notes - out of about 10 that I ate, 9 were the same nonsensical and non-naughty message!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


No, this isn’t some kind of plug for an old Usher album. Nor does it have anything to do with time spent in a wooden box with a man wearing a robe. Instead, I fear that I must confess that my year of “unprocessed” eating has gone slightly askew. In all honesty, I would say that we made it until about June…and, then, I fell off the wagon – big time. A series of weddings, vacations, and out of town guests really threw my willpower for a loop. And, let’s face it folks, I’ve never been too strong in the willpower department.

To clarify, however, things aren’t all bad. We still aren’t drinking soda, eating chips (except for the rare drunken wedding night – yes, I did indeed raid the mini bar after Leslie and Reed’s wedding), digging into paper wrapped fast “food”, or binging on candy. The basic ideas are still in tact, but there are a few things to be learned here. I have three jobs. Ben has one that adds up to the time commitment of four. The reality of the situation is that if we want to eat, sometimes, we have to make exceptions. The efforts made gave me an even better understanding of just why busy Americans might turn to convenience foods even when they truly don’t want to. Something else that occurred to me ‘round about July was that healthy as my eating may have been, I was not getting enough of certain nutrients or food groups. Most of you know that I don’t eat a lot of meat – it totally sketches me out on a lot of levels. Yet, a girl needs protein. Trying to stick to our rules meant a lot of dinners of fruit and veggies – read: unprocessed and easily prepared. If I allow for healthy processed foods like fat free yogurt (God, I love Fage) and hummus (protein, fiber, AND heart healthy fats), my diet stays more balanced.

My hope, moving forward, is to really return to home cooking. Our trips for the year are mostly done, and we are only expecting a couple more visitors. Not only will we get our eating back on track but our financial situation as well! We have loosened some rules, but remain steadfast in others. I intend for this blog post to be a re-assertion of our unprocessed goals and a return to a better diet.

There’s one more reason that all of this is particularly important. At the onset of this project, I told you all that I have PCOS – a nasty condition that causes hair loss, abdominal fat, acne, insulin resistance, and totally out of whack hormones. Perhaps the most devastating symptom is that women who have PCOS don’t ovulate regularly. I recently read that a 30 year old woman with PCOS has a 60-70% chance of conception IF she maintains a healthy weight, eats well, and exercises daily. Odds go down drastically with age. So, here I am, 30 years old, practicing yoga 4 times a week, and trying every day to reign in my overwhelming desire to eat junkfood. I’ve even given up drinking alcohol. I can’t wait any longer as I know it’s going to be a long journey. I invite you to come along for the ride -- not literally – Ben and I will keep that part to ourselves! ;) ewww… – as this woman journals the trials and tribulations of eating well to achieve and maintain a healthy pregnancy. In less than two weeks, the goalie will be out of the game.

Whole Wheat Pancakes with Apple Compote

Whole-wheat pancakes with apple compote
September 29, 2010
Boston Globe

Serves 4

Whole-wheat pancakes, made with beaten egg whites, are hearty and nutty, a good match for an apple compote with walnuts, raisins, maple syrup, and warm spices. Double the compote recipe to keep on hand for other breakfasts or to set beside pork chops at supper.


4 baking apples (see Page 19), peeled, seeded, and chopped
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup water
Juice of 1 lemon
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt

1. In a heavy saucepan over high heat, combine apples, walnuts, raisins, butter, maple syrup, water, lemon, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

2. Bring liquid to a boil, lower the heat, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until apples soften.


4 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Canola oil (for the pan)
1/2 cup heavy cream, softly whipped (optional)

1. In a bowl, whisk the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks; set aside.

2. In another large bowl, stir together yolks, milk, sour cream, sugar, canola oil, and salt. With a rubber spatula, fold in the baking powder, baking soda, and whole-wheat and all-purpose flours. Fold in the whites.

3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add a few drops of canola oil and swirl it around in the pan.

4. Ladle the batter by the 1/4 cupfuls, adding about 4 to the pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until bubbles form on the tops of the pancakes. Turn and cook 2 to 3 minutes more or until golden on the undersides. Wipe pan with oil between batches.

5. Serve pancakes with apple compote and whipped cream, if you like.

Apple Clafoutis

Apple clafoutis
September 29, 2010
Boston Globe

Serves 6

Traditionally made in the Limousin region of France with sour cherries, this rustic dessert offers a platform to showcase seasonal fruit. The mixture is similar to a crepe or pancake batter. Let it rest and it will develop flavor. Saute apples in butter and sugar, then combine the fruit and batter in a baking dish. As it cooks, it turns into a souffle with a golden crust, which falls as it cools (it’s supposed to) and tastes almost creamy.


2 eggs plus 2 extra yolks
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream

1. In a blender, work the eggs, extra yolks, sugar, salt, and vanilla for 30 seconds. Add the flour and blend until smooth.

2. With the machine running, pour in milk and cream. When the mixture is smooth, set aside for 30 minutes.


2 tablespoons butter
4 baking apples, peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Salt, to taste
2 tablespoons brandy
Butter (for the dish)
1 teaspoon granulated sugar mixed with 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Confectioners’ sugar (for sprinkling)

1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the butter. Add the apples, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, and salt. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes, or until apples are tender. Remove pan from heat, and add brandy. Return pan to heat, and cook for 2 minutes.

2. Transfer the apples to a plate; leave to cool.

3. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter a deep 9-inch baking dish.

4. Lay the apples in the dish. Cover with batter. Sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

5. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the mixture is puffed and golden, and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

6. Cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.

Honey Caramel Apple Dip

Honey-caramel apple dip
Boston Globe
September 29, 2010

Serves 6

You may have noticed individual packs of caramel sauce lining produce shelves for dipping apples. It’s easy enough to make your own. You need a candy thermometer and a large saucepan (the steps are simple, but working with sugar is precise). Use caution with children around as caramel reaches extremely hot temperatures and crawls high up the sides of the pot. For added fun, set up a dipping bar with chocolate chips, chopped nuts, and red hot cinnamon candies. Skip the stick.

1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup honey
6 apples, cored and cut into wedges

1. In a large, heavy bottom saucepan, heat 1 1/2 cups of the cream and salt over high heat just until small bubbles begin to form on the surface (just before a simmer).

2. Stir in the honey and bring to a boil. Let the mixture bubble steadily, stirring often with a wooden spoon, for 10 minutes or until a candy thermometer registers 240 degrees. Carefully remove saucepan from the heat.

3. In a small saucepan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons cream. Stir warm cream into hot caramel.

4. Transfer caramel to a heatproof bowl. Set aside to cool completely. Serve at room temperature with apple wedges.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Modern 3 Bean Salad

Modern three-bean salad
From The Boston Globe
September 15, 2010

Serves 4

Once the result of several cans of beans tossed with sugar and vinegar, three-bean salad has been updated. For ease, keep at least one can in the mix (kidney beans) and toss in your favorite variety of frozen beans (such as limas). Blanched green beans add freshness, limas and kidneys protein, bell pepper and red onion some crunch. Instead of cilantro, substitute dill or parsley, if you like. Add chopped smoked salmon for a more substantial dish, and move the salad from the side table to the main course.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 can (15 ounces) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 package (10 ounces) frozen lima beans, rinsed with cold water
1 green bell pepper, cored and chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1. In a skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the ground cumin and red kidney beans. Stir well for 1 minute. When they are hot, stir in vinegar.

2. Stir in limas beans. Cook for 1 minute more.

3. In a large bowl, combine bell pepper, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper. Add kidney bean mixture. Toss gently and set aside for 30 minutes or until cool.

4. Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add green beans and cook for 3 minutes, or until tender but still have some bite. Drain and rinse with cold water until the beans are no longer hot. Pat them dry with paper towels.

5. Add the green beans and cilantro to the kidney bean mixture. Toss well. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt and pepper, if you like.

Karoline Boehm Goodnick

Friday, September 3, 2010

Foodista - Best of the Food Blogs

Woohoo! My recipe for farro with asparagus and mushrooms was selected to be an entry in the Foodista Best of the Food Blogs Cookbook! Thanks to all of you who voted. I can't wait to see the book; you can pre-order a copy at Happy reading!

Hog Island - Tomales Bay

We've loved Hog Island oysters and their seafood bar at the Ferry Building for a long time now, but when you want to avoid the crowds and enjoy a serene picnic on the water, Tomales Bay is where its at!

Not only can you enjoy a perfectly packed picnic, but you can check out the farm as well -- watching the sorter spin round and round as hundreds of tiny bivalves fall to one side or the other.

Whole wheat pasta salad with grilled sardines

Serves 4-6

½ pound whole wheat pasta
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 large tomato, chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon capers
½ cup chopped olives
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons African basil flowers (or chopped basil)
Salt and pepper, to taste
8 whole sardines, fileted
Olive oil, for rubbing

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, and cook for 7 minutes, or until al dente.
2. Drain pasta water, and set noodles aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine all other ingredients. Add warm pasta, and toss.
4. Let stand for 1 hour at room temperature. Set the oven to broil, or heat a grill to high heat.
5. De-bone sardines and portion into filets (you can also ask your fishmonger to do this for you). Season each side with salt and pepper. Rub each filet with olive oil.
6. Place the sardines on a metal baking sheet or sizzle plate. Broil or grill for 2-3 minutes, skin side down, or until cooked through.
7. Remove sardines from pan, and serve atop pasta salad.

A special thanks to Diana, the photographer for the day, since I forgot my memory card. And, thanks to Nick, whose name-dropping even saved us a few pennies!

Mexican Corn on the Cob

Mexican corn on the cob
By Karoline Boehm Goodnick, Globe Correspondent | August 18, 2010

Serves 6

Also known as elote, Mexican-style corn on the cob can be boiled first or grilled over hot coals until the kernels are charred and toasty. It’s a dish that began as street food and is now served in good restaurants. The white cheese cotija is at many specialty markets, but you can substitute a dry, crumbly cheese such as feta. Sprinkle with cayenne pepper for a kick of spice, guajillo for smoky notes, or paprika for sweet earthiness. Finish with a spritz of lime to make it pop.

Salt, to taste
6 ears of corn, shucked
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 cup crumbled cotija cheese
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper, guajillo, or paprika
2 limes, quartered
1. In a large shallow pot, bring several inches of salted water to a boil. Add the corn, cover, and cook for 3 minutes, turning once.

2. Remove the corn from the water, and pat dry with paper towels.

3. Spread 1/2 tablespoon mayonnaise on each ear. Sprinkle corn with crumbled cheese, pressing lightly so it sticks. Sprinkle with salt and cayenne pepper, guajillo, or paprika. Serve with lime.


Have a meltdown
By Karoline Boehm Goodnick, Globe Correspondent | September 1, 2010

Raclette is both a European cow’s milk cheese and a popular Swiss dish which typically consists of melted cheese scraped onto a heaping pile of boiled potatoes, pickled onions, and gherkins. Today, there are a variety of instruments used to re-create this fondue-like appetizer at home, none simpler than the Barbeclette ($12.39). Made by Boska Holland, in the Netherlands, the nonstick tray has a heatproof handle for use on outdoor grills. A campfire setting was once an essential component for raclette, dinner for Alpine cattle herders. But the tool has other uses. Melt mozzarella as a topping for vegetable skewers; combine provolone, tomatoes, and oregano in the pan for a variation of provoleta; stick by the traditional Swiss or appenzeller, melted and poured over cured meats and grilled potatoes; or top your favorite burger. Whatever way you slice it, there are few things greater than gooey, melted cheese. Available at Boston Cheese Cellar, 18 Birch St., Roslindale, 617-325-2500; Idylwilde Farms, 366 Central St., Acton, 978-263-5943.

Monday, August 16, 2010

An Austrian Celebration

This year, my father celebrated his 60th birthday. Since he is the definitive "man who has everything," we decided to make him an old school dinner as a tribute to his Austrian heritage. (My great-grandmother, Karoline, was born in Vienna; as a young teen, she migrated to the U.S. where she worked as a professional cook!) Of course, when I think of Viennese cooking, I think of breakfast pastries (they invented the croissant), intricate tortes, and schnitzel. So, the choice of Sacher Torte for dessert was a given. But how exactly does one incorporate the fresh gulf catch of the day into a menu based on the cuisine of a small, landlocked European nation? Turns out that lightly poached fish topped with a cucumber sour cream sauce was the perfect choice! Check out the rest below...

Pretzel rolls from 1994 issue of Bon chewy and salty.

Ben's luxurious snapper bisque -- a high note of the meal, made even more surreal by the soothing sounds of Vienna's finest composers.

An old-school throwback of German-style potato salad.

Spinach souffle seemed a logical choice given the German name - Spinatauflauf Karoline! The recipe came from Gourmet magazine's hardback publication of "Old Vienna Cookbook" -- another vintage keeper!

The main course of poached snapper.

The famous Sacher Torte - named after a hotel in Vienna, it is a light chocolate cake, filled with apricot jam, and glazed with ganache. It's sinful when topped with whipped cream.

The final touch of the evening was the genuine silver coffee service. An extremely tarnished coffee urn was polished to reveal the United Airlines logo! It appears to be a retro pot from the 1970s, used for service in the first class cabin. The rest of the set came from a 25th anniversary gift to Ben's parents. Note the whipped cream (or "schlag") -- a worthwhile indulgence that takes coffee to another level! Happy Birthday, Dad! Hope you enjoyed the gastronomic virtual trip to the mother land!

(Mom - thanks for taking the photos while we cooked!)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

More From Top Chef

Other recipes we've been working on at Top Chef are panzanella (Italian bread salad) and hummus! This salad recipe is a great way to get kids to eat their veggies; everybody wants to dive right into the salad that they made with their own two hands!

Hummus becomes extra magical when Auritte explains the ritual consumption in her homeland of Israel. Wipe it up with pita or spread it on a whole wheat dinner roll.

We make hummus at home from dried garbanzo beans, but canned is easier for the kids, and you might find out the same. This simple recipe has great results.

Hummus is a middle-eastern dip made with chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans), seasonings, and tahini (sesame seed butter). The dip is often served with raw vegetables, spread on pita bread, or schmeared on a sandwich.

Drizzling in the olive oil helps us to understand the process of emulsification. Think about what happens when you try to mix oil and water. The oil will float to the top and will not mix in with the water. Emulsification is the process of blending the fat and liquid together. By drizzling the oil into the machine while it is running, we can emulsify the oil and create a smooth, homogenous dip.

Serves 6 people as a dip

1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained
2 cloves garlic, smashed
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons olive oil
Olive oil for drizzling
Paprika for sprinkling

1. Put chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and tahini in a food processor. Process until slightly smooth.
2. With the machine running, slowly stream in the olive oil.
3. Continue processing until hummus is smooth.
4. Taste for seasoning. Add more salt or lemon juice if necessary. Garnish with olive oil and paprika.

Whole wheat dinner rolls
Makes 12

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
1 cup warm (105 to 115°F) milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup all-purpose flour

1. In a large bowl, stir together whole wheat flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Stir in milk, butter, and egg. Beat until the mixture is smooth.
2. Add all-purpose flour and mix again until the batter is smooth.
3. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours, or until it has doubled in size.
4. Stir the batter to deflate it slightly. Grease the muffin pans with pan spray. Scoop even amounts of batter into each muffin cup.
5. Cover with plastic and set aside. Proof for about 1 hour, or until rolls have grown up over the top of the muffin pans. Set the oven at 400 degrees.
6. Bake rolls for 15- 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with homemade butter.

Top Chef Class

As many of you already know, I am teaching a few classes at Celsius & Beyond. This summer camp is more specifically called Top Chef. The kids range in age from 6 - 12. My lessons focus on fermentation and a few other processes of country cooking such as emulsification. In previous posts, I have laid out some of the recipes we have been working on: gazpacho, soft pretzels, & homemade butter.

Of course, the kids' choice favorite is always the cinnamon rolls. How can you resist that smell? With only a minimum amount of guidance, they cranked out some really gorgeous buns!

Feel free to try this at home - if the little guys can do it, so can you!

Cinnamon Rolls
Yield 12

6 ½ tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
5 ½ tablespoons butter
1 egg, beaten
Zest of 1 lemon
3 ½ cups flour (you may need to add extra flour if the dough seems very wet)
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 ¼ cups buttermilk
1 cup water
6 ½ tablespoons sugar
1 ½ tablespoons ground cinnamon
4 cups powdered sugar
6 tablespoons water

1. Cream together sugar, salt, and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle (on medium-high speed).
2. Scrape down sides of bowl. Mix in egg and lemon zest. Scrape down again.
3. Add flour, yeast, buttermilk, and water. Mix on low speed until dough begins to form a ball. Switch to dough hook. Mix on medium speed for 10 minutes.
4. Place the dough in an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Rest for 2 hours or until dough is doubled in size.
5. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured counter. Roll the dough into a rectangle that is 12 inches by 14 inches.
6. In a small bowl, mix together cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar onto the dough. Roll the dough into a cigar-shaped log.
7. Using a serrated knife, cut the log into 12 pieces.
8. Transfer the pieces to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
9. Proof at room temperature for 60 minutes, or until doubled in size. Set the oven at 350 degrees.
10. Bake the cinnamon rolls for 20-30 minutes, or until golden. Cool for 5 minutes.
11. In a small bowl, whisk powdered sugar with water to make a glaze. Brush each roll with glaze. Serve warm.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sand Torte

This elegant recipe makes the perfect dessert when you are in the mood to indulge but know that you have to squeeze into a bathing suit the next day. Light as a feather, the recipe was originally published in the July 1977 issue of Gourmet magazine. The ground almonds give the cake a somewhat grainy texture - hence the name "Sand Torte". It is a classic in our family as was the tradition of reading Gourmet. Even though the magazine is no longer in publication, we will continue to cook from its many phenomenal recipes. (Thanks to my broski for sharing these photos with us!)

3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup blanched almonds
4 eggs
2 yolks
1/2 cup sugar
6 tablespoons clarified butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
Powdered sugar, for sprinkling

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. In a skillet over medium heat, lightly toast almonds. Transfer to a food processor and pulse until finely ground.
2. Sift flour and blanched almonds together and set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine eggs, yolks, and sugar. Set the bowl over a saucepan containing 2 inches of hot but not boiling water. Stir occasionally until it is lukewarm.
4. Transfer the bowl to the machine, and whip on medium high speed for 10 minutes, or until it is light and tripled in volume.
5. Sift in the flour mixture, about 1/4 cup at a time, folding gently.
6. Gently fold in clarified butter, vanilla, and lemon zest one tablespoon at a time.
7. Pour batter into a buttered and floured 1 1/2 quart kugelhupf pan (or a bundt pan).
8. Bake 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick is inserted into the center and comes out clean.
9. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Invert onto a plate. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sausage & Peppers To Dirty Rice

Italian sausages and peppers
August 4, 2010

Italian sausage and bell peppers make a hearty pair, no matter how you do them — grilled and lightly charred, braised in beer, slow cooked, served on a bun, or tossed with pasta.

Another great way to present the satisfying duo is to cook them in a skillet and spoon them over soft polenta. Brown the sausages and remove them from the pan, then cook the onions and peppers in the meaty bits. Simmer them together in beer. Stir a potful of golden polenta while they cook. Slowly stream polenta flour into boiling water and keep stirring until it thickens. Season with butter and cheese.

The following day, leftover sausages, peppers, and onions become dirty rice, a Cajun specialty in which ground meat muddies (in a good way) white grains. The mixture is cooked pilaf style, typically with chicken livers. Cooking the livers separately guarantees a crispy exterior and pleasant flavor. Chop them finely and stir them into the cooked rice with a classic New Orleans garnish of scallions and parsley. Serve with a splash of Louisiana hot sauce. Beads optional.

Serves 4, with leftovers


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
10 Italian sausage links (mixture of hot and sweet), pricked well all over
5 bell peppers (red, yellow, green), cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
2 large red onions, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh oregano
12 ounces lager beer
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. In a large flameproof casserole with a tight fitting lid, heat the oil over high heat. Add sausages and cook, turning several times, for 5 to 7 minutes or until nicely browned. Transfer to a plate.

2. Add peppers and onions. Cook, stirring often, for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender. Return sausages to pan. Add bay leaf, oregano, beer, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove lid, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes more.

3. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt and pepper, if you like. (Reserve 4 sausages and 1 1/2 cups peppers and onions for dirty rice.)


3 1/3 cups water
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup coarse polenta flour
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup freshly grated asiago or Parmesan cheese

1. In a large saucepan, bring the water and a large pinch of salt to a boil. Stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, add the polenta in a slow, steady stream. Reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer, stirring often, for 20 minutes or until the polenta is thick and smooth.

2. Stir in butter, cheese, and pepper. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt and pepper, if you like.

Dirty rice

Serves 4

Cajun seasoning is a ready-made mixture of ground peppers, usually including garlic powder. You can make your own combination of ground chili powder, cayenne pepper, and black pepper.

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
4 cooked Italian sausages, crumbled
1 1/2 cups cooked peppers and onions
2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning (available at specialty markets)
1 1/2 cups basmati or other long-grain white rice, rinsed
2 1/4 cups chicken stock
Salt, to taste
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 pound chicken livers (optional)
2 tablespoons butter
3 scallions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
Hot sauce (for serving)

1. In a large flameproof casserole over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil. Cook the celery and garlic, stirring often, for 3 minutes.

2. Add the sausage and pepper mixture, and 1 tablespoon of Cajun seasoning. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

3. Stir in the rice, chicken stock, and salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover the pan, and simmer for 15 minutes.

4. In a shallow bowl, combine the remaining 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning, flour, and salt.

5. Pat the chicken livers dry with paper towels. Toss chicken livers in flour mixture to coat them.

6. In a skillet over medium high heat, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. When it is hot, add the butter. Cook the chicken livers 3 to 5 minutes on a side until they are firm and golden. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. When livers are cool enough to handle, chop roughly.

7. Stir livers into the rice mixture. Add scallions and parsley. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt, if you like. Serve with hot sauce.

Spicy Melon Salad

Spicy melon salad
From the Boston Globe on August 4, 2010

Serves 6

Popularized by street carts in Mexico and Latin neighborhoods throughout the United States, this versatile dish can be served any time of day. Vendors sell zip-top bags filled with diced fruit. They add salt, lime juice, and dried chili powder to order. Bring these fresh flavors to your table, replacing chili powder with sliced jalapeno and chopped mint. Mix it up with pineapple, papaya, jicama, or mango. Season with salt just before serving, as it quickly leeches juices from the fruits.

2 cantaloupe, honeydew, or other ripe melons (about 6 pounds total), halved, seeded, peeled, and chopped
Grated rind of 1 lime
Juice of 2 limes
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. In a large bowl, combine melon, lime rind and juice, jalapeno, and mint.

2. Stir well, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour. Sprinkle with salt and stir gently.

Karoline Boehm Goodnick