25 December 2011

Happy Christmas Cooking

Happy Cooking

Our newest little elf, Treat, wishes you and yours happy cooking during this holiday season.

23 December 2011

Martha Stewart Living Christmas Cookbook

Christmas is here. And don't you wish you had some help with all that Christmas entails. Today, on Martha Stewart's blog, she featured a little party she had for her household staff at Bedford. All 17 of them.

You have no idea how much work I could get done with a staff of 17. I would be writing my blog (actually my blog writer would be writing my blog) and I would right now be asking for nice hot tea with a pumpkin scone from Starbucks. Since Starbucks no longer has pumpkin scones (that is another blog entry...) I would have my baker make and remake pumpkin scone until they were just like Starbucks. (Note to self: Have my secretary call Howard Schultz and give me that recipe.) But I digress...

After years of doing up Christmas in her magazine, Martha Stewart Living, Martha Stewart compiled a Christmas cookbook, Martha Stewart Living Christmas Cookbook. It is chocked to the gills with Christmas recipes, over 600 of them. Frankly, you do not have enough Christmases left on this earth to make all this stuff. So start now.

The recipes tend to be overcomplicated. And long. There is section of photos, but most of the recipes require the use of your imagination as to how they will look. Here is a recipe for that Italian classic, panettone. Martha likes to bake them in half-pound brown paper bags. But then again, Miss Martha has someone to go out an find half-pound brown paper bags. Feel free to get some of those little panettone cups from King Arthur's Flour.

Miniature Panettone

For Sponge:
1/3 cup warm water
1 envelope active dry yeast
½ cup all-purpose flour

For Bread Dough:
1/2 cup warm milk
1 envelope active dry yeast
2/3 cup sugar
4 large whole eggs
3 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, plus more, melted, for bowl, plastic wrap, and bags
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
2 cups mixed dried and candied fruit, such as currants, orange peel, apricots, and cherries, finely chopped
Grated zest of 1 orange
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon heavy cream
Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

1. Make sponge: Pour the warm water into a small bowl, and sprinkle with yeast. Stir with a fork until yeast has dissolved. Let stand until foamy, 5-10 minutes. Stir in flour, and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes.

2. Make the dough: Pour warm milk into a small bowl, and sprinkle with yeast. Stir to dissolve, and let stand until foamy, 5-10 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, 2 egg yolks, and vanilla. Whisk milk mixture into egg mixture.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and flour on medium speed until mixture is crumbly. With mixer on low speed, slowly add egg mixture; continue beating on medium speed until smooth.

4. Add sponge mixture; beat on high speed until dough is elastic and long strands form when dough is stretched, about 5 minutes. Beat in dried fruit and grated zests. Transfer dough to a buttered bowl, and cover with a piece of buttered plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.

5. Fold 12 paper bags down to make cuffs, about 3” deep. Generously butter the bags inside and out; set aside. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface; knead a few times, turning each time, until smooth. Divide the dough into 12 equal parts, and knead into balls. Drop balls into prepared bags. Place bags on a large rimmed baking sheet; cover loosely with buttered plastic. Let rise in a warm place until dough reaches just below the tops of the bags, 45 to 60 minutes.

6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, with rack in lower third. In a small bowl whisk together remaining egg yolk and the cream. Brush tops of dough with egg mixture. Using kitchen scissors, cut an X, centered, in the top of each loaf. Bake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F and continue baking until loaves are deep golden brown, about 20 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through. If they start to get too brown, drape a piece of aluminum foil over tops. Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack; let panettone cool completely; dust with confectioners’ sugar.

I totally recommend this recipe, especially if you have twelve staff a-leapin! If not, buy yourself a panettone and stuff it into a paper bag. And to all... a good-nite.

18 December 2011

Mrs. Bridges' Upstairs, Downstairs Cookery Book

Today we are featuring a television tie-in cookbook, Mrs. Bridges' Upstairs, Downstairs Cookery Book.
As you may know, Upstairs, Downstairs recently received a makeover. Returning to 165 Eaton Place gave a new generation a look into one of the best loved British television series of all time. And thanks to DVD, one can watch all 68 episodes from the 1970's to catch up to the new series. With a copy of this cookbook, one can cook exactly as Mrs. Bridges did for the Bellamy family.

The fictional cookbook is presented as the actual cookbook of Mrs. Bridges, even featuring a dedication to Lady Marjorie Bellamy. The recipes were pulled from many Edwardian cookbooks to give it that authentic feel. Alas, it does not always feature the dishes one can see being served in the show, which might be its biggest flaw.

When I need a recipe for spotted dick recently, (check out the reason and the "dick" at Lucindaville.) I turned to Mrs. Bridges and she did not disappoint.

Spotted Dick

4 oz flour
4 oz suet
4 oz breadcrumbs
2 oz sugar
5 oz currants
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt

Sieve the flour , salt and baking powder. Add the suet, finely grated, the breadcrumbs, sugar and currants. Mix into a stiff dough with water. Wrap in a floured cloth, then tie into a ball and boil. allow at least 2 1/2 to 3 hours' boiling. Turn out and serve with Custard Sauce.

If you are totally enamoured of British historical drama, do add this book to your collection, even if you don't make spotted dick.

15 December 2011

Avec Eric

I just got a Christmas present from my food-loving friend, Anne. She paid a visit to the wonderful kitchen shop in DC, Hill's Kitchen, to see Eric Ripert. while she was there she bought my Christmas present, Avec Eric. Now I will be frank, here, I really have not had the time to give to Mr. Ripert as I just got the book, but since it has been a few days since I have posted (got called away for work) I just couldn't resist.

At first glance, it is one of those books that one could give to anyone, cook or not. It is filled with glorious photos of food, France and... food and France, do you really need anything else? Actually there are many places other than France and a fair amount of artisanal producers who grace its pages.

I have been on a bit of a pasta binge as of late, so here is Eric's recipe for a lovely carbonara.


1/2 cup diced applewood-smoked bacon
2 cups crème fraîche
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- fine sea salt
8 ounces dried linguine
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus more for garnish
4 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh chives

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.

Meanwhile, sauté the bacon in a large skillet over medium-low heat until crisp, about 10 minutes. Add the crème fraîche and bring to a simmer. Whisk the egg yolks into the sauce. Add the black pepper and season to taste with salt.

When ready to serve, cook the linguine in the boiling salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce. Stir in 1-n cups of the Parmesan cheese and chives; let stand for 1 minute to allow all the flavors to blend.

Using a meat fork or carving fork, twirl a quarter of the pasta (for each serving) and place each swirl of pasta in the center of 4 bowls. Spoon some of the sauce over and around the pasta and top with more grated Parmesan cheese, as desired. Serve immediately.

Anne has seriously given Santa a run for his money... or his pasta!

09 December 2011

A New Turn In The South

I knew this would happen. One day "The South" would become this cool place and every Tom, Dick and Yankee would start saying "ya'll" and start eating the food from from our gardens, start stealing our ramps and okra, and we would get "cool." That day seems to have arrived. Not only are Yankee cooks showing up in our kitchens and cooking our food(check out Cooking In The Moment) but now even Canadians are doing it.

I admit, I didn't know when I first started following his really cool recipes, that Hugh Acheson was from Canada. Imagine my surprise! It turns out Acheson is a good ol' boy at heart. And really, that is the heart of the matter. He listens to R.E.M., he has a cooler full of beer, he shells peas(not those English green peas, but actual filed peas), and cooks up some amazing Southern grub.

We waited a long time for A New Turn In The South and we were not disappointed. Honest, if one didn't know better, one might just think this boy was from Georgia. Like my Daddy, marrying a lovely Southern Belle has a way of transforming a man, and Acheson is no exception. His fresh spin on Southern ingredients makes his recipes at the same time new and still remarkably comforting.

The other day I was on the phone and the caller asked, "What are you having for dinner?" Well, of course "dinner" is that mid-day meal some people call "lunch" and "supper" was what I was having, but I digress...
I told my caller that I was making a bog. Long silence. A bog, much like its name, is a sticky, wet rice dish. Famous rice historian(it's a tough job but someone has to be a rice historian!) Karen Hess, believes that bog began as traditional pilau, a sauteed and seasoned rice cooked with meats. When it was made by slaves in large batches, the rice overcooked and became steamy and wet and resembled a bog.

Now one might be surprised to find a Canadian who could even spell "bog" much less cook one. But Mr. Acheson seems right at home in this cleaned up bog.

Chicken Bog

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 chicken, cut into breasts, drumsticks, oysters, and thighs, skin removed
¼ pound andouille sausage, diced
½ cup finely chopped mixed giblets
1 bay leaf
1 leek, white and light green part, cleaned and diced (½ cup)
½ cup diced yellow onion
½ cup diced celery
½ cup diced red bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
¼ cup red wine
4 cups chicken stock reduced to 2 cups
1 cup beef stock
1 large ripe tomato, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Heat the oil in a large, wide 6-quart pot over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken breasts, drumsticks, oysters, and thighs evenly, about 3 minutes on each side, removing them to a platter when they are nicely browned.

To the pot, add the sausage and the giblets and cook until well browned. Remove to the platter. Discard all but a tablespoon of the cooking oil and add the bay leaf, leeks, onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic, and thyme. When the onions have just turned translucent, add the red wine and reduce until almost dry.

Add reduced chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the reserved chicken and sausage-giblet mixture, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until the chicken is just done, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the chicken pieces from the pot, pull the meat from the bones and return it to the pot along with the beef stock. Simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring all the while to break the chicken into threads. Stir in the tomato and parsley. Discard the bay leaf. Season with the salt. Serve with rice!

Now that's a bog! So grab a cold one, a copy of A New Turn In The South and get into the kitchen. Don't forget your favorite R.E.M. mix tape. If you don't have a favorite R.E.M. mix tape... get out of the damn kitchen... or check out Paste's 2009 article of the 20 Best R.E.M. songs and make that tape.

07 December 2011

Girl Hunter

What makes a hunter? Some hunters learn it from family and some through extended family. Georgia Pellegrini was farm girl in the afternoon and Manhattan school girl during the day. She left Wall Street for the kitchens of Blue Hill at Stone Barns. After having to actually kill food that was on the menu, she began an exploration of what it actually means to kill your own meat and how she became a girl hunter.

Girl Hunter is one of those hybrid memoir/cookbooks. I admit that I usually am not very fond of this type of work, as I feel the recipes get the short shrift. that was not the case in Girl Hunter. Pellegrini provides a thoughtful and rational insite into hunting. One soon finds that hunting is one of those sports that engenders some colorful characters and Pellegrini finds her fair share of them.

The book also explores that facet of hunting as not just a sport, but for many, a necessity for putting food on the table. Pellegrini puts some fine food on the table. I am most anxious to try her recipes for javelina, the famed "skunk-pig" found in the Texas countryside. We Southerners are always on the hunt for different pork.
Alas, I do not see Texas in my near future.

I decided to offer up something that even the non-hunter might try. Granted, wild turkey bears no resemblance to the turkey breast found in your grocer's freezer, but give this one a try.

Whiskey Glazed Turkey Breast

6 tablespoons butter
1 turkey breast, skin on and brined
salt and pepper
8 to 10 strips of bacon, or equivalent in lard (for breasts without skin only)
1 cup turkey stock
3 tablespoons honey
6 tablespoons whiskey
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1. Preheat the oven to 325F. In an ovenproof skillet or Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter until it begins to bubble. Sprinkle the skin of the brined turkey breast with salt and pepper. If the breast is without skin, wrap it with bacon or lard and fasten with toothpicks or kitchen twine as needed. Place the breast skin side down in the butter, sprinkle the underside with salt and pepper, and let the skin brown for about 5 minutes. Turn it over and add the stock. Cover with foil or a lid and transfer to the oven.

2. In a separate skillet, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Whisk in the honey until well incorporated. Add the whiskey along with the orange zest and juice, and cayenne and whisk together. Turn the heat to low and let the glaze reduce by half. Turn off the heat and set aside.

3. Once the turkey has cooked for 10 minutes, brush with half of the glaze and recover. Roast for 20 more minutes, brush with the remaining glaze, leave uncovered and increase the temperature to 400F. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes more, or until the internal temperature reads 140F to 150F.

4. Remove the turkey from the oven, cover with foil for 10 minutes before slicing, and serving.

For anyone who like game or a tall tale of hunting, Girl Hunter is for you. Check out more on Pellegrini's official web site.

03 December 2011

Cooking In The Moment

We have been waiting years, literally years, for Andrea Reusing to get this cookbook published. Reusing is a transplanted Southerner (and lately we have seeing a lot of those crop up in the cooking world.) She owns one of the best restaurants in the entire country, Lantern Restaurant, in Chapel Hill North Carolina (and you don't have to take our work for it, the lofty and extinct Gourmet said so.) Reusing was recently named the Best Chef of the Southeast by the James Beard Foundation. And if all that wasn't enough, she is married to Mac McCaughan, the frontman of Superchunk and co-founder of Merge Records.

All that info aside, she is a great storyteller. The stories in this cookbook along with casual and innovative twists on classics are what make this book great. While Reusing has made somewhat of a name for herself in that fresh, seasonal, up-to-the-minute, alright, Farm-to-Table, she has the right attitude about it. She was quoted as saying:

"In that same vein, there is a sort of fatigue that has settled in around the ubiquity of the words "local" and "organic." For many home cooks, "farm-to-table" has nearly been weaponized. Cooking with food grown near home — which was just called "cooking" until recently — has come to signify something rigorous and philosophical. The idea behind most recipes in my book is to show how seasonal, local food is the most efficient path to satisfying meals."

For quite some time we have struggling with the exact way to describe the "farm-to-table" phenom and when we read the word"weaponized" we were very disappointed WE did not think of it.

In the end, however Reusing gets the ingredients, she has a way of making them shine. Her Asian spin on Southern staples breathes life into the often monotonous repetition of Southern fair. Here Reusing gives a Southern classic an new profile.

Fried Okra with Indian Spices and Hot Tomato Relish

1 teaspoon coriander seeds
¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
1 clove
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large egg
¼ cup buttermilk
1 medium serrano chile, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chickpea flour
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pints okra (just under a pound), stems removed
Sea salt, for serving
Hot Tomato Relish

In a small pan over medium heat, lightly toast the coriander, fennel, and clove until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Allow to cool completely; then grind and set aside. Toast the cumin seeds in the same fashion and add them to the ground spices.

Fill a deep, heavy stockpot with about 3 inches of oil. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until a deep-fat thermometer reads 350°F.

Beat the egg in a small bowl and whisk in the buttermilk and serrano chile. In a medium bowl, combine the chickpea flour, all-purpose flour, salt, pepper, and spice mixture.

Cut the okra on a sharp diagonal into long ¼-inch-thick slices. Put the okra slices into the bowl with the flour mixture and combine, leaving a light dusting on each piece. Pour the egg mixture on top and mix with your hands, making sure to coat all surfaces. In batches, use a large slotted spoon to carefully lay loosely formed handfuls of 6 to 8 slices into the hot oil and cook for about 2 minutes, turning as necessary until the okra is golden brown and uniformly crisp. Drain on a clean brown paper bag, season with sea salt, and serve with the tomato relish.

Hot Tomato Relish

1 tablespoon expeller-pressed vegetable oil
½ teaspoon brown mustard seeds
3 garlic cloves, slivered lengthwise
½ teaspoon cayenne
1¼ teaspoons ground turmeric
5 ripe plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup distilled white vinegar
¼ teaspoon sugar

Heat the oil in a medium-size heavy nonreactive pot over medium-high heat. Add the mustard seeds and garlic, and cook until the garlic is turning light golden brown and the seeds are popping, about 2 minutes. Add the cayenne and turmeric. Cook for 10 to 20 seconds, and then add the tomatoes, salt, vinegar, and sugar. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until the tomatoes are soft and the relish has thickened slightly. Serve hot.

Pick out a recipe from Cooking In The Moment, throw No Pocky for Kitty on the turntable, grab a beer and crank up the volume and stove and get cooking.

02 December 2011

Odd Bits

As promised, one of the New York Times Notable Cookbooks of 2011, and one of our favorites...Odd Bits by Jennifer McLagan. We are big fans of offal. In the South the rule for eating pigs was: Everything but the squeal. That rule covered most every other meat. (Actually, Southerners were never big on fish with the heads still attached, but I digress.)

McLagan has made a bit of a career out of writing cookbooks for the parts of the animals that most people see, not as "odd" but as simply trash. Her other books were about fat and bones. I heard her talk of this book as being the final chapter in her trilogy. So Odd Bits offers up recipes for heads and cheeks and brains and tongues and our favorite "odd" bit, the gizzard.

One of our favorite uses of gizzards is in a confit. Every so often, D'Artagnan's, the gourmet meat purveyor has confit of gizzards or as the French would say, confit de gésiers. In France, they are a popular salad enhancement, like croutons. This recipe calls for prepared gizzards. Most of the gizzards one buys at a market are going to be cleaned. Occasionally, they will have a wrinkled, yellowish substance on them, just peal that away and discard. This method will work with gizzards of any type, chicken, duck or turkey.

We do like to see writes who use a particular spice blend, to keep us from constantly add 1/4 teaspoon of this and 1/2 teaspoon of that. For McLagan's confit of gizzards she offers up an easily changeable confit salt.

Confit of Gizzards

10 1/2 ounces / 300 g gizzards, prepared
1 1/2 tablespoons / 3/4 ounce / 20 g
Confit Salt
1 clove
Melted duck fat or lard

Sprinkle the gizzard halves with the salt, turning to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 1 day.

Preheat the oven to 200°F / 100°C.

Rinse the gizzards to remove the excess seasoning mixture and pat dry. Place them in a small, heavy flameproof casserole or Dutch oven and add the garlic clove and just enough fat to cover the gizzards. Place the pan over medium heat, and when you see the first bubble in the fat, remove the pan from the heat and transfer to the oven. Cook, uncovered, until the gizzards are very tender, about 3 hours.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the gizzards to a sieve placed over a bowl and let cool. Strain the fat into a large measuring cup and let stand for about 10 minutes so the cooking juices sink to the bottom.

Place the gizzards in a clean container and then pour enough of the fat over to cover them completely. Discard any cooking juices at the bottom of the measuring cup, and reserve any extra fat for another use.

Confit Salt

3 large sprigs thyme
2 fresh bay leaves, torn
1 1/2 ounce/40 g coarse salt
2 teaspoons black pepper corns
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

Remove the leaves from the thyme stems and discard the stems. Combine the thyme and bay leaves, salt, peppercorns, and nutmeg in a spice grinder and grind till powdery. Store in an airtight container; it will keep for several months. (
McLagan suggests that sage and fennel are excellent additions to the salt. Just add a bit to the grind.)

So if you are squeamish about gizzards do give this recipe a try.

Not A Cookbook -- Cookbook

There is just so much cookbook news flying around out there that we offer this little cookbook interlude. Ann sent me a link this morning informing me that Presidential candidate, Ron Paul, has a cookbook. Now it would seem that family cookbooks are a Paul family tradition, and this is no exception...except for the fact that they are using it for campaign contributions.

Frankly, we could get behind a candidate who give out cookbooks for campaign contributions!

New York Magazine couldn't resist suck an opportunity and featured a "page" from the cookbook which includes a "recipe" for scones.

Raspberry Scones

Who are we to order you how to make raspberry scones? You're and American. You have the God-given right to make your raspberry scones however you chose. And it's none of our business!
We don't care what your political affiliations are, we want to read more cookbooks... oh yes, and vote!
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