Thursday, February 25, 2010

Privacy issues, Rao's, blogs and meatballs...

I really like the BA Foodist column in Bon Appetit. It's always full of interesting questions and witty answers from Andrew Knowlton. Andrew (yes, I used his first name) is really "easy on the eyes." At first I worried his picture might be like a Dear Abby/Ann Landers ruse and that, somehow, he turned into an old man with wrinkles and crazy (all over the place) hair in his ears. Alas, I saw him recently. I thought he was handsome.

I digress.

Anyway, his column in the March issue of Bon Appetit has a question from Sarah in Philadelphia. "Isn't it time for restaurants to step in and ask diners to cool it with the mid-meal photography? I know everyone loves playing foodie photog for their blogs and Twitter accounts, but at some point, isn't enough enough?"

Insert outrage.

The "easy on the eyes" guy wasn't on my side. He used words like "food paparazoo" . . . and suddenly, he's just not that cute to me. Long story short, there are actually some restaurants out there who have banned the practice.

Insert outrage.

And then it dawned on me. YOU DON'T DO THAT ANYMORE.

It's true. My blog is "recipes only" now. I shared too much (huge surprise) and someone referred to my husband as The Mayor. At Stake Conference.

If I still had a blog telling all my secrets I would have told you about the birthday dinner my husband treated me to at Rao's. And how I had a bolognese like I'd never tasted before. With potato gnocchi. And a veal chop that was hammered into a cutlet that covered the plate . . . still attached to the bone. And an apple tart that rivaled the Mon Ami Gabi specialty. This was one of those experiences . . . sort of like waking up in Hawaii with a fork in your bed. Yes, I am dreaming about my birthday dinner.

I digress. Again.

The bottom line is I miss blogging about life and observations. Also, when one blogs, the world then knows you're not just sitting at home eating Tipperary Bon Bons and watching Modern Family. By the way, BEST COMEDY ON TELEVISION. And the bon bons aren't bad, either.

So there. I've explained myself. I do, however, expect to be posting two new recipes a month from Bon Appetit, as long as they don't decide to devote another (extra small) issue to "Irish cooking". In that case I'll have to opt out. I'm still traumatized by that kidney stew my grandmother made for my Mum once a year.

Peremptory measure: To my dear cousins (Claremarie and Cathy), please pretend I didn't write the last three sentences of this blog post.

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7 Minute Frosting (or Fluffy White Frosting)

I'm such a sucker for this recipe. It's like homemade marshmallow . . . and on a deep chocolate cake it's the only way to go, even the next day after it crystalizes a little. I don't care.

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar or 1 tablespoon white corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup water
2 egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Place sugar, cream of tartar or corn syrup, salt, water, and egg whites in the top of a double boiler. Beat with a handheld electric mixer for 1 minute. Place pan over boiling water, being sure that boiling water does not touch the bottom of the top pan. (If this happens, it could cause your frosting to become grainy). Beat constantly on high speed with electric mixer for 7 minutes. Beat in vanilla.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Peanut Swirl Brownies

1 pound unsalted butter
1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, divided
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 extra-large eggs
3 tablespoons instant coffee granules (or whatever)
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 12 by 18 by 1 1/2-inch sheet pan.

Melt together the butter, 1 pound of chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl over simmering water. Allow to cool slightly. In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla, and sugar. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, sift together 1 cup of flour, the baking powder, and salt. Add to the cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the remaining 12 ounces of chocolate chips in a medium bowl with 1/4 cup of flour, then add them to the chocolate batter. Pour into the prepared sheet pan. Spoon the peanut butter over the top of the chocolate mixture and using a knife, swirl it through the chocolate mixture.

Bake for 20 minutes, then rap the baking sheet against the oven shelf to force the air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes more or until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake! Allow to cool thoroughly, refrigerate, and cut into large squares.

Copyright 2007, Ina Garten, All Rights Reserved

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Hominy Grill Chocolate Pudding

From Chef Robert Stehling

* 8 ounces dark, Belgian bittersweet chocolate, chopped
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 6 egg yolks
* 4 cups heavy cream
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1/2 teaspoon salt

Reserve chocolate in a large bowl. Separately, whisk 1/4 cup sugar into egg yolks. Mix remaining sugar with cream and vanilla in medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour a little hot cream into the bowl with the egg yolks and whisk, then pour the remainder of the cream over the chopped chocolate, stirring with a spatula until smooth. Add the egg yolk mixture and salt, and then strain into a pitcher. Refrigerate to cool.

Pour into 2/3 cup ramekins, place ramekins in a shallow pan half filled with water (water bath) and cook at 300 degrees for about an hour. Chill for at least 3 hours before serving and serve with a dollop (or more) of fresh whipped cream.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Parmesan Basket

Bravo has the best reality shows, yes? Chef Academy was a favorite . . . the first time I saw Chef Novelli make this parmesan basket I knew I'd give it a shot. They were simple to make. Fill with small bunches of tossed greens with some halved grape tomatoes and crumbled gorgonzola.

Click here to watch Chef Novelli's demonstration of how to make this parmesan basket.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Cook's Illustrated Chewy Brownie Recipe...

This month's Cook's Illustrated has a fascinating article devoted to the chewy brownie and the tricky nature of duplicating that box brownie everyone loves. After a detailed chemistry lesson (fat ratios, etc.) and lots of time in the test kitchen . . . they came up with the following recipe, just in time for Valentine's Day.

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon table salt
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate

1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Referring to directions in Making a Foil Sling (related), make sling using the following steps: Cut 18-inch length foil and fold lengthwise to 8-inch width. Fit foil into length of 13 by 9-inch baking pan, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhang pan edges. Cut 14-inch length foil and fit into width of pan in the same manner, perpendicular to the first sheet (if using extra-wide foil, fold second sheet lengthwise to 12-inch width). Spray with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Whisk cocoa, espresso powder (if using), and boiling water together in large bowl until smooth. Add unsweetened chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted. Whisk in melted butter and oil. (Mixture may look curdled.) Add eggs, yolks, and vanilla and continue to whisk until smooth and homogeneous. Whisk in sugar until fully incorporated. Add flour and salt and mix with rubber spatula until combined. Fold in bittersweet chocolate pieces.

3. Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake until toothpick inserted halfway between edge and center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack and cool 1½ hours.

4. Using foil overhang, lift brownies from pan. Return brownies to wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve.

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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Donut Muffin

Ever see The Best Thing I Ever Ate? Big fan. Yesterday one of the celebrity chefs talked about the Donut Muffin - this donut muffin. I had to make them again. They're even better than they look.

Originally posted February, 2008

One of the blogs I frequent sent me on a quest for recipes for a Donut Muffin. Thank you The Wednesday Chef. Thank you...

For the muffins:

12 oz. (24 Tbs.) unsalted butter, warmed to room temperature
1-3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 lb. 11 oz. (6 cups) all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. plus 2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1-3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1-2/3 cups milk
1/4 cup buttermilk

For dipping:

8 oz. (16 Tbs.) unsalted butter; more as needed
2 cups sugar
2 Tbs. ground cinnamon

To make the muffins:

Put a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. In a stand mixer or a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until just mixed in. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. Combine the milk and buttermilk. With a wooden spoon, mix a quarter of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture. Then mix in a third of the milk mixture. Continue mixing in the remaining dry and wet ingredients alternately, ending with the dry. Mix until well combined and smooth, but don't overmix. Grease and flour a standard-size muffin tin. Scoop enough batter into each tin so that the top of the batter is even with the rim of the cup, about 1/2 cup. (A #16 ice-cream scoop gives you the perfect amount.) Bake the muffins until firm to the touch, 30 to 35 min.

To finish:

Melt the butter for the dipping mixture. Combine the sugar and cinnamon. When the muffins are just cool enough to handle, remove them from the tin, dip them into or brush them all over with the melted butter, and then roll them in the cinnamon sugar.

From Fine Cooking 42, pp. 54-55

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Barefoot Contessa's Lemon Yogurt Cake

Have you made this? It's light and fluffy and delicious. Try ...

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
3 extra-large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice


1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 ½ x 4 ¼ x 2 ½ - inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into one bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it’s all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice and pour over the cake.

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