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  SAUCE MAGAZINE
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May 23, 2015
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Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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By the Book

By the Book: Everyone’s Favorite Birthday Cake from ‘Baked Occasions’

Saturday, May 16th, 2015

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I love New York City bakeshop Baked. Granted, I’ve never actually been there, but I’ve tried plenty of its desserts using recipes from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking and the follow-up, Baked Elements: The Importance of Being Baked in 10 Favorite Ingredients. Co-owners Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito have provided me with many delicious desserts. Each cake and batch of cookies turned out wonderful, though by far the best – in fact, the best dessert I’ve ever made – was their Sweet and Salty Cake.

 

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However, between the cake, the frosting and the caramel, this dessert takes hours. So when I got my hands on a copy of their latest book, Baked Occasions: Desserts for Leisure Activities, Holidays and Informal Celebrations, I decided to go with something a little simpler.

 

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Everyone’s Favorite Birthday Cake was described as my favorite: yellow cake with chocolate frosting. I’ve made my share of dry cakes, but when a recipe has two fats in the batter, that never happens. This recipe calls for both sour cream and butter. I used Plugra, a European butter with a higher butterfat content. The cake was indeed moist, but the sour cream also made it pretty dense. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but in my mind, a birthday cake has a tender, airy crumb, and the hit of cinnamon in the batter took this from birthday cake to breakfast cake status.

 

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The chocolate frosting uses cream cheese, butter, chocolate and confectioners’ sugar, which I really liked. I tend to shy away from buttercream frostings, but this one didn’t disappoint. The cream cheese balanced it out and tempered the sweetness of the other ingredients. Unfortunately, because this dessert had the consistency of a coffee cake, I wanted a sugary glaze instead of birthday cake frosting.

 

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I probably won’t make this recipe again because it wasn’t my taste, but there’s no denying that it was a quality dessert. I would definitely turn to this book again for other ideas.

 

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Everyone’s Favorite Birthday Cake
Sour cream cake with chocolate cream cheese frosting
1 8-inch two-layer cake
10 to 12 servings

For the sour cream cake:
2½ cups plus 2 Tbsp. (330 g.) cake flour
1 scant Tbsp. baking powder
1½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
7 oz. (1¾ sticks/200 g.) unsalted butter, softened, cut into ½-inch pieces, plus more for the pans
1 cup (200 g.) granulated sugar
¾ cup (165 g.) firmly packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs
1½ (345 g.) cups sour cream

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter 2 8-inch round cake pans, line them with parchment paper and butter the parchment. Dust with flour and knock out the excess.
• In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon; set aside.
• In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs 1 at a time and beat until just incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Reduce the speed to low; add the flour mixture in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, alternating with the sour cream, and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
• Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Set the pans on a wire rack to cool for at least 20 minutes before loosening the sides of the cakes from the pans with a small knife and inverting them onto a wire rack. Remove the parchment paper and turn the cakes right side up; let them cool completely.

For the chocolate cream cheese frosting:
4 oz. (1 stick/115 g.) unsalted butter, softened
1 (8 oz. /226 g.) package cream cheese, softened
3 to 3½ cups (340 to 395 g.) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
¼ tsp. kosher salt
3 oz. (85 g.) dark chocolate, melted and cooled

• Beat the butter in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until smooth. Add the cream cheese and beat until well combined. Add only 3 cups (340 g.) confectioner’s sugar and the salt; beat until smooth. Add the chocolate and mix until well combined. If the frosting seems too loose, add additional confectioners’ sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it becomes thicker. Do not overheat. The frosting can be made up to 24 hours in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator; let it soften at room temperature before using.
• Place 1 cooled cake layer on a serving platter. If necessary, trim the top to create a flat surface. Spread about ¾ cup (200 g.) of frosting on top. Add the top layer and trim if you want (some people prefer a domed cake top). Spread a very thin layer of frosting over the sides and top of the cake (called a crumb coat, this helps to keep loose cake crumbs under control when you frost the outside of the cake), and place it in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to firm up. Spread the sides and top of the cake with the remaining frosting. Refrigerate for another 10 minutes to set before serving.

Reprinted with permission from Stewart, Tabori & Chang

What’s your go-to birthday dessert? Tell us in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of Baked Occasions.

By the Book: Julie Reiner’s Americano Highball

Sunday, May 10th, 2015

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My at-home bartending skills leave a little something to be desired. For example, I have a decent selection of spirits, but I never seem to remember to buy vermouth. My rocks glasses and whiskey stones are lovely, but I don’t own a shaker. I can make a solid Manhattan or Old-Fashioned, but that’s about it.

It’s high time I upped my cocktail game, and Julie Reiner’s new book, The Craft Cocktail Party: Delicious Drinks for Every Occasion, is the perfect beginner bartending textbook. Reiner’s resume speaks volumes about her prodigious skill; she is co-owner of the Clover Club in Brooklyn and Flatiron Lounge in Manhattan, and she’s been featured in Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, The Wall Street Journal and umpteen other publications.

Reiner intended this book to serve as a resource for home bartenders, not an industry guide, which means the tips, techniques and equipment she recommends are accessible to the rest of us. She goes into detailed explanations about the difference between a Boston shaker and a cobber shaker or a Hawthorne strainer and a julep strainer, but doesn’t insist you buy one of each. Just choose what works best in your home.

The recipes are divided by season as opposed to spirit, which is a welcome change from most cocktail books. Instead of automatically flipping to the bourbon section, as I usually would, I paged through a wide variety of fresh spring beverages that use berries and bright young herbs – perfect for brunch or evenings on the patio.

 

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While there are dozens of more complex cocktails (a verdant concoction named Green Giant called for sugar snap peas and tarragon leaves), I opted for a simple classic that even my beginner abilities couldn’t screw up: an Americano.

Reiner calls the Americano Highball a perfect brunch drink, and I’m inclined to agree. No complicated proportions or techniques to master, no endless parade of garnishes piled on top – just equal parts vermouth and Campari topped with club soda, garnished with an orange twist. It’s a balanced drink that cuts the sweet vermouth with bitter Campari, and it has just enough fizz to gently cure any lingering ails from the night before.

 

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Americano Highball
1 serving

1½ oz. sweet vermouth
1½ oz. Campari
Club soda
Orange twist, for garnish

• Fill a highball glass with ice and add the sweet vermouth and the Campari. Top with the club soda and gently stir with a bar spoon. Garnish with the orange twist.

Reprinted with permission from Grand Central Life & Style

Bloody marys and mimosas are brunch classics, but what cocktail do you enjoy when you mix things up at brunch? Tell us in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of The Craft Cocktail Party.

By the Book: Gastón Acurio’s Mixed Ceviche

Saturday, May 2nd, 2015

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When I held up Peru: The Cookbook to a trio of Peruvians at a recent dinner party, I was met with shrieks with delight. “¡Ay, Gastón Acurio!” Acurio is a superstar in his own country, but his culinary influence reaches much farther. He owns nearly four dozen restaurants around the globe, including La Mar in San Francisco and Miami. With Peru: The Cookbook (to be released May 18), Acurio makes Peruvian cuisine even more accessible to the English-speaking cook.

My dinner pals salivated over the 500 recipes in this compendium of classic Peruvian dishes. There were so many they longed for – lomo saltado (beef stir fry), tacu tacu (a patty of rice and mashed beans, often served with breaded steak or a fried egg) and especially fish dishes. We agreed that ceviche showcases the fresh flavors of Peruvian cuisine. Among the 30 ceviche recipes in the cookbook, Acurio’s mixed ceviche – squid, white fish, prawns, octopus and scallops – appealed most to the seafood lover in me.

 

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Although ceviche is usually a dish of raw fish or seafood marinated in acid, Acurio’s recipe cooks the squid and octopus and blanches the prawns. The upside to this method is that it shaves a lot off the marinade time.

 

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While I prepped the seafood, a friend got a workout juicing the lemons. The recipe calls for the juice of 20 small lemons. As it happened, the Asian market where I purchased fresh produce for this recipe only sold lemons the size of a fist. In the end, seven of these humongous lemons produced the equivalent of 2½ cups juice, which I poured over the chopped seafood.

 

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Ceviche is often enhanced with the flavors of onions, corn, chiles and culantro, a relative of cilantro. True to tradition, Acurio’s recipe called for all of these. While I didn’t intend to deviate from his recipe, the Asian market threw another wrench in my plans. The only sweet potato was a Japanese variety, and fresh corn was unavailable so I settled for a can of baby corn, I don’t think Acurio would mind the Japanese inflection I added to the ceviche since Japanese is one of many international cuisines that has Peruvian culture over the years. “These people arrived in Peru with their memories, their ingredients, their techniques, and they started mixing with the locals,” said Acurio in one interview.

The dish was delicious. The flavors were fresh and bright. The produce lent crunchy texture to the chewy seafood medley. If you haven’t already jumped on the Peruvian culinary bandwagon that is gaining traction in the U.S., once you get your hands on Acurio’s book, you, like his compatriots, will shriek, “¡Ay, Gastón Acurio!”

 

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Gastón Acurio’s Mixed ceviche
4 servings

5½ oz. squid, cleaned
1 6-oz. white fish fillet
12 shrimp (prawns), blanched
7 oz. cooked octopus, thinly sliced
12 scallops, cleaned
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
2 tsp. chipped limo chile
Juice of 20 small lemons
1 tsp. chopped culantro or cilantro leaves
2 or 3 ice cubes
1 red onion, sliced into half-moon crescents
1 corncob, cooked and kernels removed
Half sweet potato, boiled and cut into 8 slices

• Put the squid in the boiling water for 40 seconds. Drain and cut in ¼-inch rings.
• Cut the fish into ¾-inch cubes and place in a bowl with the shrimp, squid, octopus and scallops. Season with the salt and pepper. After 1 minute, add the garlic and limo chile. Mix together well.
• Pour over the lemon juice and add the culantro or cilantro leaves and ice cubes. Stir and let stand for a few seconds. Add the red onion and remove the ice cubes. Mix together and adjust the seasoning to taste.
• Serve in a large shallow bowl with cooked corn kernels and boiled sweet potato slices.

Reprinted with permission from Phaidon

What is your most memorable experience with Peruvian cuisine? Tell us in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of Peru by Gastón Acurio. 

 

 

By the Book: Sara Forte’s Spring Noodles with Artichokes, Pecorino and Charred Lemons

Saturday, April 25th, 2015

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Over the years, I have occasionally visited Sara Forte’s blog, Sprouted Kitchen, but I always wrote it off as one of those blogs. You know, the ones so obsessed with making everything wholesome, nutrient-packed and healthy that I assumed recipes like Deconstructed Beet Stacks and Shiitake Mushroom and Lentil Asian Tacos would never mesh with my love for cheese and meat. I thought the same when Forte’s cookbook, The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl + Spoon, crossed my desk. I was wrong.

To be fair, many of the recipes in Forte’s cookbook are focused on healthful eating. They’re mostly vegetarian with only a few lean animal proteins like salmon and ground turkey tossed into a few of the heartier recipes. What did hook me, though, was the book’s concept: Every dish is meant to be served in a bowl. I love assembling bowls for any meal – breakfast hash with a sunny egg, lentils or rice with roasted vegetables and shrimp, a gooey helping of mac-n-cheese or a big scoop of meaty chili. Everything is better in a bowl.

 

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The nearly 100 recipes in The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl + Spoon, which range from side dishes to desserts, are all meant to be served in my favorite eating vessel. And while some recipes sounded entirely too hippie for me (there actually is a recipe for a Hippie Bowl), others like Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Sauce and Creamy Mushroom Pasta with Frizzled Leeks appealed to my shared love of Midwestern comfort food and fresh vegetables.

Forte’s bowl of Spring Noodles with Artichokes, Pecorino and Charred Lemons bowl delivered a powerful punch of spring produce – endive, artichokes and great heaping handfuls of peppery arugula – all wrapped in a luxurious cream sauce. Yes, cream sauce, made with a whopping half-cup of creme fraiche, a half-stick of butter and an unholy amount of grated cheese.

 

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What really makes this dish sing, though, is the hit of charred lemon. Unable to find Meyer lemons at my local supermarket, I opted for two small organic lemons instead. I made quick work of them in my cast-iron skillet, then chopped them up and tossed them into the sauce while the pasta cooked. A word of advice: taste your lemons first. Forte prescribed two teaspoons sugar to sweeten them, but they were still a bit too bitter. Another half teaspoon will do the trick next time.

 

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And there will be a next time. While my gluttonous side indulged in the rich sauce, I still felt slightly virtuous thanks to the plethora of vegetables swimming around my pasta shells. I may never add flaxseed meal to my falafel and my chili will always contain meat, but if this dish is any indication, plenty of Forte’s recipes will hit the balance of satisfying and healthy – especially when served in a bowl.

 

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Spring Noodles with Artichokes, Pecorino and Charred Lemons
4 servings

2 small Meyer lemons
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. natural cane sugar
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
2 endives, trimmed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14 oz.) can, 1 (12 oz.) frozen package, or 3 large, fresh steamed artichoke hearts, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
½ cup plus 2 Tbsp. creme fraiche
¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. dried Italian herbs
12 oz. (¾ lb.) fusilli or shell pasta
1 egg, at room temperature
1¼ cups coarsely grated pecorino cheese
2 to 3 cups arugula
Fresh parsley, for garnish
Fresh dill, for garnish

• Slice the lemons crosswise into ¼-inch rings and remove the seeds with a small knife. Toss the slices with the olive oil and sugar. Grill or broil the slices, flipping halfway through, until char marks appear on the lemons and they begin to soften. Set aside.
• Bring a stockpot of salted water to a boil.
• In a large saute pan over medium heat, melt 2 Tbsp. of the butter. Slice the endive lengthwise, discarding the tough core, and then into ½-inch half moons. Add the garlic and endives to the warm butter and saute for 1 minute, just until softened. Add the artichoke hearts and a few pinches salt and sauté until warmed. Stir in the remaining butter, white balsamic, crème fraiche, nutmeg, cayenne and dried herbs. Chop the lemons into small pieces and add them to the pan as well. Keep the heat on low and cover.
• Cook the noodles according to package instructions. Drain and reserve ½ cup of the pasta water. In a small bowl, whisk the egg with ½ cup of the cheese and ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water. Into the vegetable mixture, add the noodles and egg mixture and toss until everything is coated and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the arugula and a few more pinches salt and pepper to taste. Toss to mix, adding pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce.
• Serve each bowl warm with a generous sprinkle of cheese and the fresh herbs.

Reprinted with permission from 10 Speed Press

What is your favorite food blog and why? Tell us in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl + Spoon.

By the Book: Erin McKenna’s Carrot Bread

Saturday, April 18th, 2015

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As fellow gluten-free and dairy-free diners can attest, eating with dietary restrictions is easier said than done. At restaurants, we must ignore our friends’ barely-concealed cringes as we deconstruct an entree to conform to our needs. At home, we spend hours scouring niche food blogs for our next meal. Perhaps the biggest test of my willpower, though, is when an unknowing waiter places an overflowing bread basket in front of me. After years of coveting that basket of forbidden gluten, I was thrilled when my editor Catherine Klene dropped a copy of Bread & Butter: Gluten-Free Vegan Recipes to Fill Your Bread Basket by my desk.

Sauce interns get to try a lot of food on the job, and my editors always search for something I can eat among the loot, usually only to be foiled — a slice of cake might be gluten-free, but not dairy-free, or vice versa. That’s why McKenna’s book, featuring indulgent recipes that are gluten-free and vegan, seemed the perfect end to a semester-long quest for “something Tori can eat.”

McKenna, who also passed on the bread basket for two decades due to a gluten sensitivity, now runs BabyCakes, a gluten-free vegan bakery with locations in New York City, Los Angeles and Orlando. Based on recipes pioneered in her bakery, her new cookbook begins with a break down of basic ingredients and baking tips invaluable to those new to specialty baking. From there, her book is broken up into chapters by category: morning treats, breads (of course), sandwiches, pizza and focaccia, kids’ recipes, international cuisine, puff pastries and tarts, snacks, dips and dressings (including vegan butter!), and desserts. While the pain au chocolate looked tempting, I chose the carrot bread because it looked both doable and delicious.

 

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McKenna’s recipes are straightforward and concise throughout, usually taking no more than a page of text punctuated with beautiful photos and colorful design. Her carrot bread calls for walnut oil or coconut oil, vegan sugar, gluten-free baking flour (we used Cup 4 Cup), arrowroot, xanthan gum, shredded carrots and optional chopped walnuts. Gluten-free home cooks already have most of these items in our kitchen pantries.

As an amateur baker, I found McKenna’s instructions easy to follow. The only painstaking part of the baking process was shredding all those carrots. Next time, I’ll do this the night before or use the shredder attachment on a food processor. Also be aware that this recipe takes some time – as a yeast bread, the dough needs an hour to rise, and then requires another 35 minutes in the oven. Keep a good book on hand or start trolling the Internet for more niche foodie blogs.

Despite these few bumps, I found the finished product to be well worth the wait. For someone who hasn’t eaten bread, much less homemade bread, in quite some time, McKenna’s carrot bread truly was a treat. I found the bread to be spongy and light, with a slight texture and crunch from the walnuts. Though the book claims that even non gluten-free and vegan people will love this recipe, my Sauce coworkers claim they could tell the difference. Still, for those gluten-free and vegan among us, this carrot bread is a real indulgence.

 

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Carrot Bread
Makes 1 7-by-4-by-3-inch loaf

3 Tbsp. walnut oil or melted unscented coconut oil, plus more for the pan
1½ cups warm water (about 100 degrees)
4 Tbsp. vegan sugar
2¼ tsp. active dry yeast
2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour
2 Tbsp. arrowroot
½ tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
1½ tsp. salt
2 cups firmly packed shredded carrots
¾ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

• Lightly grease a 7-by-4-by-3-inch loaf pan with oil.
• In a small bowl, combine the oil, warm water, sugar and yeast. Stir once and set aside to proof until it bubbles, about 10 minutes.
• In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, arrowroot, xanthan gum, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Pour in the yeast mixture and, using a rubber spatula, stir until it is the consistency of cake batter. If the dough is too thick, add additional warm water one splash at a time. Fold in the carrots and the walnuts (if using). Pour the dough into the prepared loaf pan, cover with a dish towel, and let the dough rise for 1 hour.
• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
• Bake the bread for 20 minutes, and then rotate the pan 180 degrees. Bake until the crust is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 15 minutes.
• Let the bread cool in the pan for 1 hour before slicing.

Reprinted with permission from Clarkson Potter

What’s the most creative recipe you’ve used to accommodate someone’s dietary restrictions? Tell us in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of Erin McKenna’s Bread & Butter.

By the Book: A New Eggs Benedict from ‘A Modern Way to Eat’

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

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Sometimes I look at a cookbook like A Modern Way to Eat by Anna Jones and think, “God, who eats like this on a regular basis?” (No, hipster rooftop-gardening vegans who make nut milk on the weekends don’t count.) I’m talking super healthy options like cashew and chestnut sausages; cilantro and orange-scented buckwheat; or mint, pistachio and zucchini balls. I’ve tried my fair share of “good-for-you” recipes, and I always feel baited. They tell me it tastes good, but more often than not, those recipes fall flat.

However, I’ve recently tried to focus on my fitness, so I figured I probably should eat clean – at least until I can’t stand it any longer. A Modern Way to Eat has lots of pretty pictures of food, and though you don’t see any faces, I can just imagine how fabulously young and dewy their faces look from all the greens they’re eating.

 

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I have a thing for brunch, particularly eggs Benedict, so I decided to try Jones’ version. Her New Eggs Benedict swaps a sweet potato for the English muffin and an avocado-cashew sauce for luscious buttery hollandaise. At least I got to keep the poached egg.

 

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I admit, this was actually pretty delicious. The sweet potato rounds, roasted with oil, salt and pepper, were a nice base, and the sauteed onions gave a necessary savory burst. The greens added an earthy bite, but the hollandaise was the most surprising finish. I thinned it with quite a bit of water in order to pour it, but the cashews and avocado still provided that buttery richness necessary on a Benedict. It’s hard to make healthy food both crave-able and filling, but this dish was indeed satisfying and, as promised, I felt amazing after eating it.

 

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A New Eggs Benedict
4 servings

2 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed and sliced into 3/8-inch rounds
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive or grapeseed oil
2 medium red onions, peeled and finely sliced
6 handfuls spinach, with any big stalks removed
4 organic or free-range eggs

For the quick hollandaise:
A small handful cashew nuts, soaked* in water
½ an avocado
A small bunch fresh tarragon or dill, leaves picked
Juice of ½ a lime

• Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
• Lay the sweet potato slices on a couple of baking trays, season with salt and pepper, drizzle lightly with oil, and roast for 20 minutes until soft throughout and crisping at the edges.
• Now on to the onions. Put a pan over medium heat, add a little oil, and then add the onions and a pinch of salt. Fry for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the onions are soft and sweet and starting to brown. Scoop them into a bowl and set aside, keeping the pan to use later.
• To make your hollandaise, grind the drained cashews in a food processor until you have a crumbly paste. Add the avocado and most of the tarragon or dill with the lime juice and a good pinch of salt and pepper and blend again. If you need to, thin the sauce with a little water until it is thick but pourable.
• Heat the pan you cooked the onions in over medium heat. Add the spinach and a drop of olive oil and cook for a couple of minutes until it starts to wilt but is still vivid green.
• Next, poach the eggs. Heat a pan of water until boiling – I use a frying pan, but use whatever pan is most comfortable for you for poaching eggs. Turn the heat down until the water is barely bubbling, then crack in the eggs and leave them to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and drain on some paper towels.
• To serve, lay some of the sweet potatoes in the middle of each plate. Top with the onions and wilted spinach, then add the egg and a spoonful of hollandaise. Scatter over the rest of the tarragon or dill, season with salt and pepper, and dig in.

* Soak the cashew nuts in water overnight, but if you forget, half an hour’s soaking will do.

Other ways to use your quick avocado hollandaise:
Spoon over grilled asparagus.
On top of a green spring risotto.
Next to a simple poached egg on toast.
In sandwiches in place of mayonnaise.

Reprinted with permission from 10 Speed Press

Eggs Benedict has come a long way from the traditional English muffin, ham, egg and hollandaise. The variations on this brunch classic are endless. What’s your go-to nontraditional Benedict and why? Tell us in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of A Modern Way to Eat.

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated to include the correct amount of avocado in the recipe. 

 

By the Book: Shrimp, Mango, Scallions and Chile Salad from Salad Love

Saturday, April 4th, 2015

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David Bez’s photo-driven salad blog, Salad Pride, and his newly published book Salad Love: 260 Crunchy, Savory and Filling Meals You Can Make Every Day, are the result of his yearlong project of creating a new salad for lunch every day. That’s a healthy endeavor of which we at Sauce heartily approve. In fact, last year, we embarked on a similar challenge, albeit only for 31 days.

Bez asserts in the introduction that the book is not a cookbook. “It won’t teach you how to cook,” he writes, instead describing Salad Love as “a collection of salad combinations.” The salads are grouped by season, which is helpful for those who cook in sync with Mother Nature. Also nice are the color photos of each recipe: there’s no guessing what your mélange is going to look like. Some readers may find the notations on each recipe that denote it as vegan, vegetarian, raw, pescatarian or omnivore (and adaptation suggestions) to be useful.

The day I worked with this book, it was a balmy 70 degrees outside, sunny and beautiful. I wanted something light and fresh that screamed springtime. Mangos are just coming into season, so Bez’s composition of mangoes and shrimp on a bed of greens fit my mood.

When composing a salad, Bez divides it into layers that include the base (often lettuce or hearty greens, but sometimes grains or pasta); raw vegetables and fruit; a protein; toppings like nuts, seeds, olives or dried fruit; fresh herbs; and a dressing. For this salad, mixed salad greens form the base layer. Mangoes offer a pop of tropical fruit flavor and color, shrimp lends protein and chew, and willowy cilantro adds citrus and pepper notes.

 

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The shrimp is where Salad Love’s non-cookbook character became evident. The recipe calls for a handful of cooked shrimp. Plain cooked shrimp tastes blah. I wanted bright flavor and a hint of heat, so I broke By the Book rules and let the shrimp marinade for nearly an hour in a bowl with fresh lime juice and crushed, dried ancho chiles. Much better.

A well-stocked pantry will have most of the ingredients needed to whisk the majority of dressings in Salad Love, including the one for this salad: sunflower oil, soy sauce or Thai fish sauce, salt, pepper and red chile flakes. I tried the dressing with soy sauce and with fish sauce, and ended up using equal amounts of both. I liked the anchovy flavor of the fish sauce, but as a backdrop, not a fish-flavored bomb. My taste-testers thoroughly enjoyed their salad bowls; there wasn’t a green leaf, mango cube or shrimp remaining.

Salad Love didn’t teach me anything new about salads. However, the book is a hefty collection of nutritious, filling options that can serve as inspiration for someone stuck in a salad rut.

 

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Shrimp, Mango, Scallions and Chile
1 serving

For the salad, assemble:
2.5 oz. mixed salad greens
1 small mango, cubed
Handful cooked shrimp
2 scallions, sliced
Handful fresh cilantro leaves

For the dressing, mix:
1 Tbsp. sunflower oil
1 tsp. light soy sauce (or Thai fish sauce)
Pinch salt and pepper
Pinch dried red pepper flakes

Raw alternative: Replace the shrimp with a handful of cashews; and soy sauce with lemon juice in the dressing.

Reprinted with permission from Clarkson Potter Publishers

What’s the most innovative salad you’ve ever created? Tell us about it for a chance to win a copy of Salad Love.

 

 

By the Book: Warm Pear Crumble

Saturday, March 28th, 2015

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I love cooking seasonally. I refuse to buy zucchinis and tomatoes in winter, and I question the logic behind serving butternut squash risotto in June. But about this time each year, I find my resolve weakening. I’m desperate for something green and raw, and the thought of roasting one more carrot or sweet potato is enough to send me into fits. Are supermarket summer squashes imported from South America really so bad?

So when Veronica Bosgraaf’s Pure Food: Eat Clean with Seasonal, Plant-Based Recipes crossed my desk, I immediately flipped to her March recipes. Bosgraaf, who rose to fame with her line of organic snack bars, penned this cookbook to make simple, season-driven vegetarian meals using whole, unprocessed ingredients. Each chapter is dedicated to a month of produce, and as a fellow Midwesterner (she lives in Michigan), I imagine Bosgraaf can relate to my longing for springtime seasonality.

 

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Recipes for March still include those winter ingredients (oranges, carrots, cabbage, potatoes) and while she isn’t breaking any new ground with her dishes (curried carrot soup, pickled vegetables) they are definitely welcome respite from roasted everything. I chose to test Warm Pear Crumble, arguing that if we must eat winter produce, I wanted it paired with ice cream.

 

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Sauce intern Tori Sgarro had no trouble following Bosgraaf’s clear, simple instructions, though the recipe took nearly two hours after all the prep work and baking time. As with all crumble recipes, Team Sauce agreed that we wanted double the buttery, almond-oat topping. Admittedly that cuts down the health factor, but isn’t the buttery crust the real reason people make crumbles in the first place? The pear filling, while plentiful, fell flat; a pinch of salt did wonders to enhance the fruit flavor, and next time I’ll add depth with a bit of cinnamon or grated nutmeg. We served our crumble with a scoop of Serendipity’s Big O Ginger ice cream, which played nicely with the fresh ginger and added necessary richness.

 

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Warm Pear Crumble
4 to 6 servings

¼ cup (½ stick) plus 2 tsp. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
¼ cup honey
2 Tbsp. tapioca starch
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
¾ tsp. grated fresh ginger
6 firm, ripe Anjou pears, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped
¼ cup rolled oats
½ cup almond meal
2 Tbsp. organic cane sugar
1/8 tsp. sea salt

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish with 2 teaspoons of the butter and set aside.
• In a large bowl, combine the honey, tapioca starch, lemon juic, and ginger. Add the pears and toss to coat. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and cover loosely with foil. Bake until hot and bubbly, about 45 minutes.
• Meanwhile, put the oats in a food processor and process until coarsely ground. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add the almond meal, sugar and salt. Add the remaining ¼ cup butter and, using a fork, blend in the butter until the mixture is crumbly.
• Remove the foil from the baking dish and sprinkle the crumble topping over the pears. Return the pan to the oven and cook until the top is golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.
• Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Reprinted with permission from Clarkson Potter Publishers

How do you get creative with winter produce in the last days before spring vegetables finally arrive? Tell us in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of Pure Food.

By the Book: Jeanne Kelley and Sarah Tenaglia’s Pimm’s Punch

Saturday, March 21st, 2015

I used to break out the punch bowl for two very different occasions: the holidays and college parties. Holiday punch bowls were filled with vodka-kissed juices, rich buttered rum or citrus-studded mulled wine. College party punch bowls were filled with my friend Jesse’s Jungle Juice: the remnants of our liquor stash, a package of powdered lemonade mix, a two-liter of Sprite and our sanity.

I’ve recently come around to the joys of batched cocktails and more sophisticated punch bowls when hosting parties, but aside from those holiday renditions and sangria, I admit I’m not great at DIY-ing my own punch. Enter Punch Bowls & Pitcher Drinks, a slim but pretty volume by Jeanne Kelley and Sarah Tenaglia that offers dozens of batched cocktail recipes for all palates and occasions: sangrias and Champagne-inspired drinks, lazy Sundays, fireside cocktails and even a few nonalcoholic options.

 

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Since this punch would be shared with my Sauce co-workers, I turned to the classic cocktail-inspired punches. Here, simple recipes with pretty, thirst-inspiring photos are shared for things like an Old-Fashioned-Manhattan Punch, a Skinny Moscow Mule, Gin Fizz with Lemon Verbena, and – for reasons I cannot fathom – Jungle Juice, an actual recipe for our early-20s shenanigans gussied up with slices of fruit.

 

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I opted for a lighter, more grown-up Pimm’s Punch, a modified batched version of a Pimm’s Cup. The simple recipe was perfect for a busy Friday afternoon. Muddle together orange slices, lemon slices, cucumber rounds and apple wedges with fresh mint, cover with 2 cups Pimm’s No. 1 and fresh lemon juice, and let all the flavors get acquainted with one another for an hour. Then, I topped off the concoction with ginger ale and sparkling water and served it over ice with fresh mint.

 

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Despite only eight slices of cucumber, it’s bright, refreshing qualities powered through the liqueur. The ginger ale and sparkling gave the punch a lovely effervescence, and we all agreed this would be a perfect brunch or summer party cocktail. We all also agreed that it desperately needed more booze, topping off each of our cocktails with at least two ounces more liquor. If preparing this for a party, I’d advise placing the bottle of Pimm’s next to the punch bowl and letting guests add to taste.

 

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Pimm’s Punch
6 to 8 servings

8 ½-inch-thick unpeeled cucumber rounds or spears (from 1 cucumber)
1 large orange, cut into rounds, seeds removed
1 large lemon, cut into rounds, seeds removed
1 large apple, cored and cut into wedges
16 fresh mint sprigs
2 cups Pimm’s No. 1 Cup
½ cup fresh lemon juice
2½ cups chilled ginger ale or lemon-lime soda
1½ cups chilled sparkling water
Ice cubes

• Combine the cucumber, fruits and half the mint in a large pitcher. Using a muddler or a wooden spoon, press on the fruit and mint several times. Add the Pimm’s and lemon juice. Refrigerate 1 hour, then mix in the ginger ale and sparkling water.
• Fill tumblers with ice cubes, then add the chilled punch and its fruits. Garnish with the remaining mint sprigs.

Reprinted with permission from Clarkson Potter Publishers

What was your most embarrassing college “cocktail” concoction? Tell us about it in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of Punch Bowls & Pitcher Drinks.

By the Book: The Perfect Egg

Saturday, March 14th, 2015

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When I don’t have the energy to come up with a good dinner, I usually make breakfast instead. It’s easy, it’s reliably good and it’s fast. I recently decided to do just that while flipping through The Perfect Egg: A Fresh Take on Recipes for Morning, Noon and Night by Teri Lyn Fisher and Jenny Park.

Of course there were plenty of options for other meals. Dishes are readily available for any time of day, from typical breakfast to snacks, lunches, dinners, afternoon treats and even sweets. I passed up a tempting recipe for Egg Clouds – a cute dish of whipped egg whites with Parmesan baked with a sunny yolk nestle in each dollop. I also firmly passed on the poached yolk-stuffed ravioli. Maybe I’ll try it on day when I’m feeling particularly ambitious or apathetic toward failure.

 

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Alas, yesterday was a breakfast-for-dinner kind of day, and I was in the mood for classic buttermilk pancakes. I don’t like the fruit and other mix-ins nearly as much – blueberry pancakes aren’t my thing. But I did appreciate the eight variations that Fisher and Park provide like carrot cake, chai and whole-wheat or bacon and chive.

 

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However, these plain pancakes hit the spot. They were fluffy, a little tangy from the buttermilk and delivered perfectly crisp edges from a hot, generously buttered pan. Served with a bit of breakfast sausage and maple syrup, they were the perfect breakfast-for-dinner meal.

 

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Buttermilk Pancakes
Makes 8 to 10 5-inch pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1½ Tbsp. superfine sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled, divided
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
Unsalted butter and maple syrup, for serving

• Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl, mixing well. Stir in the egg, buttermilk, 2 tablespoons of melted butter and vanilla just until the ingredients are evenly distributed but the batter is still lumpy. Do not over-mix.
• Place a large griddle or skillet over medium heat, add 1½ teaspoons of the butter, and when the butter melts, swirl the pan to cover the bottom evenly. Making 3 to 4 at a time, ladle ¼ cup of the batter into the skillet and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until bubbles form on the top of the pancake. Carefully flip the pancake over and continue to cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until cooked through. Transfer the pancake to a serving platter. Cook the remaining batter in the same manner, adding butter to the pan as needed.
• Serve warm with butter and maple syrup.

Reprinted with permission from 10 Speed Press

Make your case. What is the best breakfast item: pancakes, waffles or French toast? Tell us why in the comments below for your chance to win a copy of The Perfect Egg.

 

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