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  SAUCE MAGAZINE
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Dec 03, 2016
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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: Hubert Keller’s Souvenirs by Hubert Keller and Penelope Wisner

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

BTB_Nov16_Round3_1

 

Paging through Hubert Keller’s memoir/cookbook is intimidating. The man grew up in a kitchen in France. He’s cooked on more continents than I’ve been to. He’s served presidents and is apparently really into DJing (actually that last one made him more approachable thanks to goofy photos of him spinning with some guy named Frenchy Le Freak).

There are some seriously daunting recipes. I wasn’t going to make brioche dough, pastry cream, poached pears and a glaze all for one dessert. But further reading turns up milkshakes and a beer burger, too. The book is about his life, which hasn’t taken place entirely in fine-dining kitchens.

I chose to make the appropriately French but delightfully simple Galette des Rois – the traditional French king cake made with puff pastry and a rich almond filling. I’d made this seasonal dish before, but Keller’s recipe was better with a nice rum addition to the filling and an egg yolk wash that made the pastry brown and glisten (all my egg washes will be yolks-only from now on). The cake is practically done for you with frozen puff pastry – I’ll definitely make this again.

Skill level: French. Some recipes are simple with big payoff, but some are fine-dining level and could be prohibitively complicated for home cooks.
Other recipes to try: Spicy sesame kettle corn, poached pear brioche galette
The verdict: Keller and the three kings rule.

 

BTB_Nov16_Round3_2

 

Gallette des Rois/ Three Kings Cake
Serves about 8

8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter
½ cup sugar
1 large egg
3 large egg yolks, divided
1 cup finely ground almonds
2 Tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting work surface
2 Tbsp. dark rum
1½ lbs. puff pastry, divided
1 dried dean or 1 peeled baby carrot
1 Tbsp. powdered sugar

• In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy. Beat in the whole egg and 1 of the egg yolks until smooth. Stir in the almonds, 2 tablespoons flour and rum until evenly combined. Cover and refrigerate.
• Brush an ungreased baking sheet very lightly with water. Dust a work surface lightly with flour and roll 10 ounces of the pastry until 1/16th inch thick and trim into an 11-inch circle. Transfer it to the prepared baking sheet. Mound the almond filling on the dough, leaving a 1-inch border all around. Press the dried bean into the filling. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining 2 egg yolks with 1-teaspoon water. Brush the border with a little of the egg wash.
• On a lightly floured work surface, roll the remaining dough until 1/8-inch thick and trim into an 11-inch circle. Lay it over the filling and press the top and bottom pastry layers together to seal. Trim the pastry so the edges are even. If you like, make a scalloped border all the way around: with your thumbnail facing toward the cake, press your thumb down onto the pastry border. Position a teaspoon on one side of your thumb and pull the pastry back toward the cake with the spoon, snugging it up nicely. Move your thumb to the opposite side of the scallop and repeat all the way around to form a deeply wavy, decorative edge. If the dough warms too much and becomes soft and sticky, refrigerate the cake to allow it to firm up.
• Brush the egg wash over the entire top of the cake. With the back of a paring knife, without cutting into the pastry, draw a decorative pattern of cross-hatched lines or petals by marking sets of curved lines like open and closed parentheses.
• Chill the cake while the oven preheats to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Pierce a few holes through the pastry to allow steam to escape and dust the top with the powdered sugar. Bake until puffed and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Lower the heat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and continue to bake until the cake is firm, shiny on top, and toasty brown, about 5 minutes. If the sugar has not melted, run the cake quickly under a very hot broiler to finish glazing. Serve it warm or at room temperature. The cake is best served the same day it is baked. Any leftovers can be rewarmed gently before serving.

Reprinted with permission Andrews McMeel Publishing

By the Book: Cooking from the Heart by John Besh

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

112316_bythebook

 

James Beard Award-winning chef John Besh’s Cooking from the Heart is chock-full of recipes inspired by his native Louisiana, with whole chapters dedicated to types of seafood and wild game. Despite those more unfamiliar territories, the book was approachable and dishes were straightforward. I decided to try something from the wild game section. Since Kenrick’s doesn’t sell wild boar heads (yes, seriously), I went with something tamer: schmaltz with apples and rosemary.

Schmaltz usually refers to chicken fat, but here it’s made with good old-fashioned pork belly. The process is fairly simple: simmer all the ingredients in a large pot to render the fat, then let it cool and solidify in the refrigerator. Unfortunately, after nearly two hours of simmering and an overnight chill, my infused fat was still more liquid than solid. Only the top layer was hard enough to spread atop bread.

While the rosemary notes were pronounced, the apple wasn’t strong enough to power through the intense porky flavor. Slathering cold animal fat on a piece of bread was an odd way to consume it, too. Instead of eating it like butter, we brainstormed other possibilities for the remaining schmaltz: adding it to mashed potatoes, using it in place butter or lard for biscuits or tossing with root veggies for a decadent side.

Skill level: Recipes run the gamut from beginner to advanced.
Other recipes to try: Fried kale salad, cote de boeuf with red wine and porcini mushrooms, milk chocolate and hazelnut clafoutis
The verdict: Bourdain’s meatballs take the W this week.

 

112316_bythebook2

 

Schmaltz with Apples & Rosemary
Makes 1 small bowl

3 lbs. pork belly, cut into small chunks
2 onions, peeled and quartered
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 apples, cored and quartered
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

• Combine the pork belly, onions, garlic, apples, and 4 cups water in a large heavy-bottomed pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and slowly simmer for 45 minutes. Add the rosemary and reduce the heat to low. Simmer until the water has evaporated and the rendered fat is clear and slightly bubbly, about 1 hour.
• Strain the rendered fat through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Chill. Serve on warm, crusty bread.

 

Reprinted with permission from Andrews McNeal Publishing 

By the Book: Appetites by Anthony Bourdain

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

BTB_Nov16_Round2_1

 

Like most food writers in their 20s and 30s, I aspired to have Anthony Bourdain’s career once. Jetting around the world, partaking in phenomenal food and drink while someone else footed the bill? That was the life. Alas, Sauce Magazine doesn’t have the same travel budget as CNN, but I’ve continued to live vicariously through Bourdain’s TV series and memoirs. He finally released a cookbook inspired not by his decades of globetrotting, but rather by dishes he cooks on rare nights at home with his 8-year-old daughter.

Bourdain devotes an entire chapter to sandwiches, and I opted to make his Meatball Parm Hero. Equal parts ground beef, pork and veal (or in my case, lamb) are mashed with sauteed garlic, onion and fresh herbs, then pan-seared and gently braised in white wine and a homemade pomodoro sauce. Three meats seemed excessive, but each provided intense flavor and a different element: heft, tenderness and fat.

To assemble, simply pile three meatballs on a sturdy roll, add more sauce, drape with mozzarella and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and broil until the cheese is gooey and browned. I no longer want to be Bourdain (All that jetsetting seems exhausting.), but if this is how he cooks on nights off, I’ll happily eat like him.

Skill level: Easy-ish. Recipes are longer, but they are straightforward and incredibly helpful.
Other recipes to try: Chicken Satay with Fake-Ass Spicy Peanut Sauce, Cast-Iron Grilled Chicken, Meatloaf with Mushroom Gravy
The verdict: Tender meatballs and gooey cheese knocked the lemon cookies off the winner’s pedestal.

 

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Meatball Parm Hero
8 servings

3 Tbsp. plus ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow or white onion, peeled and finely diced (about 2 cups)
4 to 6 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
6 sprigs fresh oregano, leaves only, finely chopped
10 to 12 sprigs fresh Italian parsley, leaves only, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 lb. ground beef chuck
1 lb. ground veal
1 lb. ground pork
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 eggs, lighten beaten
1½ cups dry white wine
1 quart Pomodoro (recipe follows)
4 Italian semolina hero rolls with sesame seeds, cut in half lengthwise and crosswise
8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
4 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated

Special Equipment
Short-sided roasting pan large enough to hold 25 to 30 meatballs (11-by-14-inch or similar)
Instant-read thermometer

• In a large, heavy-bottom saute pan, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, oregano, and parsley, and stir well to coat with the oil. Season with salt and pepper and let cook over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and translucent but not browned. Remove from the heat and transfer the onion mixture to a large mixing bowl. Let cool to room temperature. Clean the pan, which you will use to brown the meatballs.
• Add the beef, veal, and pork to the mixing bowl, along with the breadcrumbs and eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well by hand. Form the mixture into 25 to 30 2-inch balls, placing each one on a sheet pan as you form it. Cover the meatballs with plastic wrap and refrigerate them for 15 to 60 minutes.
• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the meatballs from the fridge.
• Heat ¼ cup oil in the saute pan over medium-high heat. Working in batches, sear the meatballs on all sides in the oil, turning them carefully with the spatula and tongs and adding more oil as necessary to keep them from sticking to the pan. Remove the cooked meatballs to the roasting pan.
• Once all the meatballs are in the roasting pan, add the wine and 1 cup of the pomodoro sauce to the pan so that the liquid reaches about halfway up the sides of each meatball. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, until cooked through but still juicy (the interior of a meatball should reach 150 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
• While the meatballs are cooking, in a small, heavy-bottom saucepot, gently warm the remaining pomodoro sauce, stirring occasionally to keep it from scorching.
• Remove the meatballs from the oven, and set the oven to broil.
• On the clean sheet tray, arrange 3 meatballs in the center of each of 8 hero roll bottoms. Add a few tablespoons of pomodoro sauce to each set of meatballs and drape each with a slice of mozzarella and a good sprinkling of the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Place the sandwiches under the broiler for about 2 minutes, until the mozzarella is slightly browned and bubbling. Top each with the remaining bread and serve immediately.

 

Pomodoro
5 cups

10 ripe red plum tomatoes
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
1 28-ounce can peeled plum tomatoes and their juices
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. (¼ stick) unsalted butter
6 fresh basil leaves, gently torn into a few pieces

Special Equipment
Ice-water bath (large bowl filled with ice and cold water)
Immersion blender

• Fill a large, heavy-bottom pot with water and bring it to a boil. Use paring or serrated knife to cut an X on both ends of each fresh plum tomato. Once the water boils, add the tomatoes to the pot, working in two batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pot or reducing the temperature too drastically. Allow the tomatoes to simmer in the water for about 30 seconds, until the skin begins to loosen and peel away from the flesh. Using tongs, remove the tomatoes to the ice-water bath. Once the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel off and discard the skin, squeeze out and discard the seeds, and coarsely chop the flesh.
• In a large, heavy-bottom sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-low heat and add the onion, garlic, and pepper flakes. Let cook 1 to 2 minutes, stirring to keep the aromatics from browning, then add the chopped plum tomatoes and the canned tomatoes and their juices, squeezing the canned tomatoes by hand to crush them up a bit before they go into the pan. Stir well, season lightly with salt and pepper, and let cook for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have completely broken down.
• Remove the sauce from the heat and use the immersion blender to puree the sauce. (You may wish to carefully transfer the sauce to a large, deep mixing bowl, which will make it easier to manipulate the blender.) Return the sauce to gentle heat, add the butter, and cook and stir until the butter has been incorporated into the sauce. Stir in the basil leaves. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.

Reprinted with permission from Ecco Publishing 

 

By the Book: Home by Bryan Voltaggio

Friday, November 11th, 2016

BTB_Nov16_Round1_1

 

I am a major Top Chef fan (Season 14 starts Dec. 1!). Season six, which featured brothers Bryan and Michael Voltaggio, was a favorite – so much so that on a my first trip to Baltimore, I took a detour to Frederick, Maryland to eat at Volt, Bryan Voltaggio’s restaurant. It was a wonderful experience. One memorable chicken and beets dish featured local ingredients and several components that came together to make an unforgettable experience.

His cookbook, Home, reminds me of that dish. Many recipes have smaller sub-recipes that are additional components on a plate. I’m currently in a cooking rut, and the thought of making several recipes for one dish was daunting. So I decided to make simple lemon cookies.

There are only two recipes in for this dessert: one for the cookie and one for a glaze. The dough was easy to make, though the dough needed to rest at least four hours (surprise, I didn’t), and they must cool thoroughly so the glaze can harden (yeah, skipped that part, too). Even with my shortcuts, the recipes yielded tiny, slightly doughy treats with a hint of lemon and a sweet glaze that I’ll likely make again.

Skill level: Moderate. Recipes are long and detailed, but they sound delicious.
Other recipes to try: Everything mashed potatoes, loaded hash browns
The verdict: Check back next week!

 

Lemon Cookies
Makes about 18 cookies

1½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornstarch
1/8 tsp. fine sea salt
¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1 lemon

Glaze
3 Tbsp. water
2½ Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp. fine sea salt
2½ cups powdered sugar

Make the cookies
• Sift the flour, cornstarch, and salt together. Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on low speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the vanilla and lemon zest and mix until smooth. Stop the mixer and add all of the flour mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl, 2 to 3 minutes. Put the dough in a covered container and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.
• Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
• Use a ¾-ounce ice cream scoop to portion the dough into balls, and lay them out on the baking sheet, leaving 2 inches of space between each cookie. Bake for 8 minutes, or until the cookies are set and slightly golden brown around the edges. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Make the glaze
• Put the water, lemon juice, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk until the salt dissolves. Add the powdered sugar and whisk until smooth. Set a wire rack over a baking sheet. Dip the tops of each cookie into the glaze and then set them on the rack. Sprinkle the cookies with freshly grated lemon zest and leave them on the rack until the glaze hardens, about 20 minutes.

Reprinted with permission from Little Brown

By the Book: How to Boil an Egg by Rose Carrarini

Friday, October 28th, 2016

BTB_Oct16_Round4_1

 

How to Boil an Egg by Rose Carrarini is full of simple, timeless egg-centric recipes from a basic poached egg to quiche and pastries. What attracted me to the book, though, was its restrained British elegance with lush stills of popovers and Eton messes by botanical artist Fiona Strickland.

I want to be the person who can make an excellent scone. The classier-sounding British biscuits have always eluded me in their simplicity, and though this recipe made a clear and even pleasant read, that remains the case. Everything from the weather to the way you fill a cup with flour can affect the amount of liquid needed to bake scone, and it’s hard to adjust ingredients without overworking the dough. However, despite being a bit dry and tough, these cute teatime snacks were delightfully savory and deeply spiced – perfect with a generous pat of butter.

Skill level: Beginner to intermediate – the directions are clear and helpful, but some dishes require a little experience, or at least cooking common sense.
Others to try: Green tarts, popovers
The verdict: Despite the bold and interesting flavor of these scones, their dryness couldn’t beat Butter & Scotch‘s biscuits and gravy.

 

BTB_Oct16_Round4_2

 

Cheddar, Leek & Curry Scones
18 small scones

4½ cups (500 g.) self-rising flour, plus extra for dusting
4 Tbsp. caster (superfine) sugar
2 tsp. curry powder
½ tsp. salt
100 g. (scant ½ cup) butter
60 g. (generous ½ cup) grated cheddar cheese
2 eggs
120 ml. (½ cup) sour cream
Lightly beaten egg, to glaze

For the leeks:
40 g. (3 Tbsp.) butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
250 g. (9 oz.) leeks, thinly sliced
1 tsp. sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with baking parchment paper.
• First, prepare the leeks. Melt the butter with the oil in a pan, add the leeks and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes, until very soft.
• Stir in the sugar, season with salt and pepper and leave to cool, and then chill in the refrigerator.
• Meanwhile, put the flour, sugar, curry powder, and salt into a bowl, add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fresh breadcrumbs.
• Stir in the cheese and make a well in the middle.
• Lightly beat the eggs with 3 tablespoons of the sour cream in a bowl, stir in the leek mixture, and pour into the well.
• Using a fork, stir to mix, finishing by hand to bring the dough together, adding the remaining cream if necessary. Do not overwork the dough – it should just come together softly but firmly.
• Roll or pat out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 3 centimeters (1¼ inches) thick.
• Carefully stamp out 4 to 5 centimenter (1½- to 2-inch) rounds and put them on the prepared baking sheet.
• Brush with beaten egg to glaze. Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden.

Reprinted with permission from Phaidon

By the Book: Butter & Scotch by Allison Kave and Keavy Landreth

Friday, October 21st, 2016

BTB_Oct16_2_Round3_1

 

 

Though not explicitly a breakfast cookbook, Butter & Scotch knows its way around a brunch menu. The owners of the Brooklyn bar and bakery built their shop around two favorite things: cocktails and baked goods. Their Saturday brunch menu focuses on that most delicious of savory breakfast treats: biscuits.

Biscuits and gravy is a Midwest favorite, and the Brooklynites do the dish credit with this simple, comforting recipe. Two sticks of butter and a generous pour of heavy cream create a rich biscuit with a tender crumb, and apple cider vinegar adds a pleasant tang reminiscent of buttermilk without the extra trip to the grocery store.

You’ll be tempted to pour off the pool of fat that renders as you brown the sausage – don’t. Instead, gleefully add a tablespoon of butter or bacon fat and stir in the flour to make a roux for white gravy as thick as warm peanut butter. Dollop this atop the crumbly biscuits and dive in – then head back to bed and sleep it off.

Skill level: Medium. A home baker can tackle most of these recipes, but the home bartender should prepare to work for those cocktails.
Other recipes to try: Smoked trout Benedict, Magic Buns, Watchamacallthat Pie
The Verdict: Though the apple Dutch baby is a showstopper, this no-nonsense biscuits and gravy recipe stole our Midwestern hearts.

 

102016_btb
Biscuits & Gravy
4 servings

1 lb. (455 g.) loose sweet Italian Sausage
1 Tbsp. bacon fat or butter
¼ cup (30 g.) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups (480 ml.) whole milk
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 Brooklyn biscuits

• In a saucepan over medium-high heat, brown the sausage until it’s fully cooked. Add the bacon fat or butter and flour and mix with a wooden spoon or spatula, making sure it doesn’t burn on the bottom. After 30 seconds, add the milk. Stir, scraping up the bits from the bottom of the saucepan, then bring the gravy to a boil and let it simmer until the moisture thickens to the desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
• Split the biscuits in half and lay them open-faced onto plates. Spoon the gravy on top and serve.

Brooklyn Biscuits
8 to 10 biscuits

2½ cups heavy cream
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
4½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, chopped into ½-inch pieces

• Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
• In a small bowl, mix together the cream and vinegar and set aside.
• In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and baking soda and mix on low. Add the butter and mix on medium-low speed until the butter is broken down to small, pea-size pieces. Turn the mixer back to low and slowly add the cream and vinegar mixture. Mix just until the dough comes together. Do not over mix, or the biscuits will be tough.
• Pour the dough onto a floured surface and pat it down until it’s about 2 inches thick. Use a 3-inch cookie or biscuit cutter to cut out 8 rounds. Arrange the rounds on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Pat together the scraps and cut out more rounds if possible; you should be able to get another biscuit or two. Be gentle so the biscuits don’t get tough. Discard any remaining scraps.
• Bake the biscuits for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Remove them to a wire rack, then serve warm. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Reprinted with permission from Abrams Publishing

By the Book: America’s Best Breakfasts by Lee Brian Schrager and Adeena Sussman

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

BTB_Oct16_2_Round2_1

 

Authors Lee Brian Schrager and Adeena Sussman tapped into their network of culinary friends and chefs across the U.S. to discover some of the country’s best breakfasts. Each region gets its due (shoutouts to Prasino and Half & Half, who represented St. Louis), and I headed to Miami to make chef Ingrid Hoffmann’s Colombian pan de yuca.

Tapioca flour comes from the starchy roots of the yuca plant (also known as cassava), which is found in South and Central America. This superfine powder is easy to find in the specialty aisle of most grocery stores. The instructions were simple; mix everything together and knead to combine. The rich yuca buns came out soft, golden and very cheesy. Unfortunately upon cooling, they deflated into flat discs and the cheese and tapioca flour created a gelatinous core, the texture of which some people found off-putting. Next time, I’ll add more baking powder so they puff up more.

The accompanying oatmeal “smoothie” was a bit of a misnomer. A smoothie implies that fruit comes to the party, but with just oatmeal, milk, cinnamon and vanilla, this “smoothie” was akin to a oatmeal cookie batter milkshake. After that soupy mess, I doubt I’ll eat oatmeal any time soon.

Skill level: Easy – there’s nothing too crazy here, and the book goes well beyond the traditional bacon and eggs.
Other recipes to try: Kimchi pancakes, tortilla de papas
The verdict: The smoothie dampened the experience, so Big Bad Breakfast takes the win this week.

 

BTB_Oct16_2_Round2_2

 

Yuca Buns
10 buns

1 cup tapioca starch (also known as tapioca flour), plus extra for kneading
1 tsp. baking powder
1¼ tsp. kosher salt
¼ cup heavy cream, plus more as needed
2 cups finely grated Oaxaca cheese or other fresh white cheese, such as mozzarella
2 large egg yolks

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together the tapioca starch, baking powder and salt. Stir in the cheese, egg yolks and cream. Once the dough forms a ball, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using your hands, knead the dough until smooth and not sticky. Add extra cream a tablespoon at a time if necessary to make the dough supple.
• Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces and shape them into balls. Arrange them 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet and bake until pale golden, tender, and soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Serve hot.

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal (Avena) Breakfast Smoothies
4 servings

6 cups milk, plus more if needed
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 Tbsp. sugar, or more to taste
Pinch of cinnamon, or more to taste
1 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)

• In a medium saucepan, bring the milk and oats to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to prevent the oatmeal from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring constantly, until the oatmeal is thick, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the sugar and cinnamon to taste, and cool slightly, 10 to 15 minutes.
• Refrigerate the oatmeal in a sealed container for at least 2 hours or overnight. Transfer the oatmeal to a blender, add the vanilla (if using), and puree until smooth, adding more milk for a thinner shake or ice cubes to chill further. Serve cold.

Reprinted with permission from Clarkson Potter Publishers

By the Book: Big Bad Breakfast by John Currence

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

BTB_Oct16_2_Round1_1

 

Big Bad Breakfast sounded like a fun cookbook, and author John Currence has the credentials to back up his recipes. He won a James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: South in 2009, and he is the chef-owner of several restaurants in Oxford, Mississippi, including (of course) Big Bad Breakfast.

I chose to make his German pancake. Like its Dutch baby cousin, it’s baked rather than cooked on the stovetop, producing a gloriously puffy breakfast treat that elicits oohs and ahs when it hits the table. Currence’s version fills a simple batter with apples and butter, then pours into an oven-proof skillet atop even more butter, apples and dark brown sugar, creating a sticky caramelized base.

The pancake puffed up as promised, but it took much longer than the recommended 12 to 14 minutes. After nearly 20 minutes, the top still had not browned as I’d hoped, so I helped it along with the broiler. Though it wasn’t quite the voluminous showstopper I’d hoped for, it tasted wonderful when finished with a squeeze of fresh lemon and a splash of maple syrup. I’d definitely make this again.

Skill level: Moderate. There are some recipes in here that require more time and more obscure ingredients.
Other recipes to try: Sauteed trout, soft scrambled eggs, chanterelle mushrooms, Louisiana crabcake Benedict
The verdict: Check back next week when Big Bad Breakfast takes on the next breakfast challenger.

 

BTB_Oct16_2_Round1_2

 

German Pancake
1 to 2 servings

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. salt
½ cup whole milk
¼ cup buttermilk
6 eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
1 Granny Smith apple, cored, peeled and sliced into thin wedges
¼ cup clarified butter or your preferred cooking fat
1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
Confectioners’ sugar and freshly squeezed lemon juice, for sprinkling

• Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
• In a bowl, stir together the flour, granulated sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and whisk together until smooth. Whisk in the melted butter, then stir in half of the apple.
• Warm an 8-inch cast-iron skillet (or nonstick skillet) over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the clarified butter, then place the remaining apple slices around the bottom of the skillet and sprinkle with the brown sugar. Pour the batter evenly over the top and slide the skillet into the oven. Bake until the top of the pancake is golden brown, puffy and firm to the touch, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice, and serve immediately, preferably directly from the pan.

Reprinted with permission from 10 Speed Press

By the Book: À la Grecque, Our Greek Table by Pam Talimanidis

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

BTB_Oct16_Round3_1

 

Thus far in our By the Book challenge, the selected Greek cookbooks have produced delicious Mediterranean dishes, but they were surprisingly lax in their instruction. À la Grecque had its confusing moments, but considering the vagaries of the previous cookbooks, it was downright educational.

This recipe called for saffron, which I always regarded as an unnecessary luxury in my kitchen. But once I bit the bullet and purchased a half-gram from Penzey’s (only $9), I learned a little goes a long way. A wee pinch turned the onion-based sauce a lovely golden hue – and I still have plenty of those delicate red threads to make paella.

Once browned, it only took 20 minutes of braising for the chicken to cook through. The meat fell from the bone when I served it the next day; though to be fair, a rest overnight likely contributed to that tenderness. A quick note: This dish must be served over a base of rice or couscous, which will absorb the salty, schmaltzy sauce.

Skill level: Easy. Most dishes require 10 ingredients or less, and nothing is too difficult to track down.
This book is for: Semi-skilled home cooks who want a taste of Greece without leaving home
Other recipes to try: Mussels with rice and dill, slow-cooked beef with braised eggplant
The verdict: While last week’s lamb shanks were downright decadent, olives and lemon zest brightened up this multidimensional chicken dish. À La Grecque takes the win.

 

BTB_Oct16_Round3_2

 

Braised Chicken with Green Olives, Lemon and Saffron
4 servings

1 lemon
Salt
1 1.6 kg. (3½ lb.) free-range chicken
125 ml (4 oz.) extra-virgin olive oil
2 onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
20 threads saffron*
200 g. (7 oz.) green olives, pitted and sliced
500 ml (17 oz.) chicken stock
Freshly ground black pepper

• Use a vegetable peeler to peel fine strips of zest from the lemon. Slice the zest into thin julienne strips. Place them in a small saucepan and cover with boiling water from the kettle. Add a teaspoon of salt and boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain well and reserve the zest.
• Joint the chicken into thighs, drumsticks and wings and cut each breast in half, keeping it on the bone.
• Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan or casserole dish. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and fry the chicken pieces in batches over a high heat until the skin is crisp and golden. As each batch is browned, transfer to a bowl. If the chicken has a lot of fat, drain some of it away.
• Add the onions to the pan and saute for a few minutes until they begin to soften and turn a light golden brown. Add the garlic, saffron and olives and stir. Return the browned chicken pieces to the pan and add the reserved lemon zest and chicken stock.
• Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and bring to the boil. Lower the temperature and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve with couscous or Saffron Pilaf.

*Saffron can be found at Penzey’s Spices

Reprinted with permission from Hardie Grant Books

By the Book: “The Islands of Greece” by Rebecca Seal

Friday, September 30th, 2016

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The Islands of Greece: Recipes from Across the Greek Seas is a travelogue of recipes collected by Rebecca Seal. The book offers a wide range of dishes with varying degrees of difficulty and indulgence. Torn between frying cheese in philo dough and making a salad, I opted for Volcanic Lamb with Egg and Lemon Sauce – solely because of the name.

The recipe was incredibly simple and clear, but lacked a few necessary details and had some practical problems. It instructed me to soften onions gently in a wide pan (Over what heat? Until translucent?), then increase the heat (to what?) and brown the lamb. I ended up removing the onions mid-lamb searing so the onions wouldn’t burn. I also used a lot more than five tablespoons water to deglaze the pan. Otherwise, the recipe went off without a hitch. Don’t be afraid to place a Dutch oven full of lamb in the oven without even a little wine to bask in; the shanks produced their own braising liquid of pure savory, fatty goodness. This hands-off recipe produced the richest dish I’ve ever made with a show-stopping silky egg sauce, a pop of fresh thyme and extremely little effort.

Skill level: Intermediate. The recipes are simple, but require some cooking common sense.
This book is for: Cooks who want a culinary tour of Greece from their home kitchens.
Other recipes to try: Cheese pies from Alonissos, chickpea fritters, chicken baked in yoghurt
The Verdict: The Kokkari steak was a tender treat, but it couldn’t beat the miles-deep richness of these roasted lamb shanks.

 

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Volcanic Lamb with Egg & Lemon Sauce
4 servings

Lamb
1 sliced onion
1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 lamb shanks, weighing 300 g. to 400 g. (10.5 to 14 oz. each)
6 sprigs thyme, plus more to serve
salt and freshly ground black pepper
400 g. (14 oz.) baby new potatoes, in their skins
A little butter

Sauce
1 egg
Juices from the lamb
1 Tbsp. lemon juice, or to taste

• Preheat oven to 140 degrees Celsius (275 degrees Fahrenheit, Gas 1).
• For the lamb, soften the onion gently in a wide pan with the olive oil. Increase the heat and add the lamb, browning the shanks thoroughly on all sides. Deglaze the pan with 4 to 5 tablespoons water, scraping up any bits that have stuck. Tip the whole lot into an ovenproof dish with a tight-fitting lid and add the thyme, salt and pepper. Place the lid on the dish and put into the oven. Cook 3 hours, or until the meat is falling from the bone.
• Just before the lamb comes out of the oven, boil the new potatoes in salted water until just tender. Drain and dry on paper towels then saute gently in the butter over a medium-low heat, until lightly browned all over.
• When the lamb is cooked, spoon off most of the juices from the dish, leaving just enough so the meat doesn’t dry out. Keep it somewhere warm, with the lid on.
• Make the sauce. Beat the egg until creamy. Very slowly drizzle in the hot pan juices, whisking constantly to ensure the egg doesn’t cook and make the sauce lumpy, then add the lemon juice. Pour it all into a clean pan and warm over a very, very gentle heat, but do not bring anywhere close to boiling. If you feel there isn’t enough sauce, add a little stock or even water. You can also add more lemon juice, to taste. Remove from the heat and serve with the lamb, onions and potatoes, scattered with a few thyme leaves.

 

Reprinted with permission from Hardie Grand Books

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