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Recipes

Brownies that knocked me out en route to Bagram Airfield

Posted by Sheryl Julian November 11, 2013 07:17 PM

mastbrosbrown2resize.JPGThese luscious lilttle squares are from "Mast Brothers Chocolate: A Family Cookbook." They're brownies made with hazelnuts, pecans, and almonds and they knocked me out. Once they cooled, I packed them in two tins lined with foil, secured tightly with masses of clear tape, and enclosed in bubble wrap. They're going to Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan to some soldiers from Massachusetts.

Last week I made chocolate ginger snaps, which are also memorable, from the Mast Brothers' book.  The brothers are artisan chocolate makers based in Brooklyn. They will be in Boston on Tuesday. They have Red Sox beards, though doesn't everyone in Brooklyn?

Brownies with hazelnuts, almonds, and pecans

Makes 16

12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut up

1 3/4 cups brown sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

5 eggs

3/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts

1/2 cup chopped almonds

1/2 cup chopped pecans

 

1. Set the oven at 325 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan.

2. In a saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate, butter, and brown sugar. Stir in the vanilla.

3. Beat in the eggs until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the flour, salt, baking powder, and nuts. Mix until blended. Transfer the batter to the pan.

4. Bake the brownies for 30 minutes or until they are firm to the touch. Cool completely. Cut into 16 squares. Adapted from “Mast Brothers Chocolate: A Family Cookbook”

Spanish-French cabbage soup from Majorca

Posted by Sheryl Julian October 21, 2013 09:53 PM

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The new book, "Elizabeth David on Vegetables," compiled by Jill Norman, with recipes from the well-regarded British cookery writer, has many interesting things, including this Mayorquina, from the Mediterranean island of Majorca. The soup is little besides cabbage, tomatoes, and leeks, which simmer with water for a couple of hours.

It's peasant cooking at its best, with characteristics of both the French and Spanish kitchens, writes Norman. It might have cooked in an earthenware marmite. At one time the soup would have been poured into a tureen over slices of dark bread. Today, says Norman, you can put the bread in individual bowls and ladle in the soup. For a bowl that costs a few cents, the flavors are wonderful.

Someone overheard me recently going on and on about the wonderful Elizabeth David (1913-1992). Who is Elizabeth David? she asked.

"God," I answered.

Mayorquina

(Cabbage soup from Majorca)

Serves 6

 

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 leeks, sliced

1 Spanish onion, chopped

5 cloves garlic, chopped

Salt and black pepper

2 plum tomatoes, peeled and sliced

1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and sliced

3 quarts hot water, or more if needed

1 small whole cabbage, coarsely chopped

Few sprigs fresh thyme

1 whole clove

1 bay leaf

Extra olive oil (for serving)

Extra fresh thyme (for garnish)

 

1. In a soup pot, heat the 3 tablespoons olive oil. Cook the leeks, onion, garlic, salt, and black pepper, stirring often, for 10 minutes, or until soft but not brown.

2. Add the tomatoes and bell pepper and cook, stirring often, for 15 minutes.

3. Slow add the hot water and bring to a boil. Add the cabbage, thyme sprigs, clove, bay leaf, salt, and pepper. Set on the cover askew. Cook the soup, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the cabbage has almost melted.

4. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Ladle the soup over slices of whole-wheat bread into bowls. Sheryl Julian. Adapted from “Elizabeth David on Vegetables”

 

 

Swordfish is pretty wonderful this year

Posted by Sheryl Julian October 1, 2013 03:38 PM

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I can't remember when swordfish tasted as good as it does this year. I prefer broiling to grilling because the hardwood charcoals tend to dominate the dish. Under a hot broiler, the fish cooks quickly and you can keep a closer eye on it. Tomatoes are still fleshy. Chop up a couple, add lots of black and green olives, fresh parsley or whatever herbs you have growing, and you have an elegant meal.

Broiled swordfish steaks with tomato-olive relish

Serves 4

 

1 1/2 pounds thickly cut (1-inch) swordfish, cut into 4 pieces

Olive oil (for sprinkling)

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 ripe tomatoes, cored and chopped

3/4 cup mixed pitted black and green olives, chopped

3 scallions, trimmed and chopped

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

 

1. Turn on the broiler.

2. Sprinkle the fish with olive oil, salt, and pepper; set aside for 5 minutes.

3. In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, pepper, olives, scallions, and 2 tablespoons of the parsley. Taste for seasoning and add salt, if you like.

4. Sprinkle a cast-iron skillet or heavy broiler pan with oil. Add the fish. Broil about 5-inches from the element for 6 minutes (do not turn) or until the fish is just cooked through.

5. Arrange a piece of fish on each of 4 dinner plates and add relish. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon parsley. Sheryl Julian

Our version of a popular New England apple cake

Posted by Sheryl Julian September 17, 2013 11:41 AM

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Many communities have cakes whose recipes are passed around and around. The confections in New England typically contain blueberies or apples. In the case of apples, some of the cake batter is spooned into the pan, a layer of apples goes on top, then another layer of cake. For the version pictured here, a crumb topping covers the round.

Boston Globe Food contributor Jean Kressy sent in this cake, which has just about everything a simple farmhouse confection should: tender crumb, moist apples, and a crunchy, buttery walnut topping.

This apple recipe and many more are in tomorrow's paper. Here it is, in case you have baking apples on hand and can't wait.

Apple crumb cake

Makes one 9-inch cake

 

CRUMBS

1/4 cup flour

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/3 cup walnuts, chopped

 

1. In a bowl, combine the flour, granulated and brown sugars, and butter.

2. With your fingers or 2 blunt knives, cut the butter into the mixture until it resembles crumbs. Add the walnuts and toss well.

 

APPLES

2 large baking apples, cored, peeled, and thinly sliced

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon flour

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

 

1. In a bowl, combine the apples, granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

2. Toss well.

 

CAKE

Butter (for the pan)

Flour (for the pan)

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup buttermilk

Confectioners’ sugar (for sprinkling)

 

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Sprinkle the pan with flour and tap out the excess.

2. In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to blend them.

3. In an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat the butter and granulated sugar until well blended. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla.

4. With the mixer set on its lowest speed, blend in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Spread about 2/3 of the batter in the pan. Arrange the apple mixture on top. Drop the remaining batter over the apples and spread with a spatula. Some fruit will not be covered; that’s OK. Sprinkle the crumbs on top.

5. Bake the cake for 55 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and cut into wedges. Jean Kressy for The Boston Globe 

End-of-summer golden salad

Posted by Sheryl Julian September 16, 2013 02:34 PM

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Here's how recipes get around. In August I was in Manchester, Vt. at Al Ducci's Italian Pantry, a shop that friends own just off the main drag. Their new cook, Yvonne Gomez, a cheerful sort who reads cookbooks thoroughly and takes them into her home kitchen in her spare time, had made a corn and yellow split salad with a garlicky pesto and salad greens. "You have to love cilantro," said Yvonne. I couldn't get enough of it.

 

She found the recipe in Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Everyday” (she's the talent behind the 101cookbook blog) and adapted it to make it with corn. What I particularly liked about the dish was the fresh crunch of corn with the soft and immensely satisfying taste of the yellow split peas.

 

By the time I returned home yesterday from the farmstand with all the ingredients, it was too late to make pesto. Ditto toasting pepitas, as in the original recipe. So I made a simplified version.

 

Recipes get around and people change them for all sorts of reasons: time, preference, appeal, cost, and more. I've decided, after seeing and experiencing this for many years, that they're all good. Thank you, Heidi Swanson and Yvonne Gomez! 

 

 

End-of-summer corn, yellow split pea, and cilantro salad

Serves 6

 

2 cups yellow split peas

Salt and pepper, to taste

4 tablespoons olive oil, or more to taste

4 ears fresh corn, kernels removed from cobs

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

2 jalapeno or other chili peppers, cored, seeded, and finely chopped

1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

 

1. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add the split peas and simmer for 25 minutes or until the peas are tender but not mushy. Add a generous pinch of salt at the end of cooking.

2. Drain the peas and transfer to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.

3. In a skillet heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the corn, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Add the chili powder, coriander, and cumin. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more or until the corn is tender.

4. Tip the corn and all the spices into the split peas. Add the chilies, red onion, and cilantro. Stir well, taste for seasoning, and add more oil, salt, and pepper, if you like. Sheryl Julian. Adapted from Al Ducci's Italian Pantry and “Super Natural Everyday” 

Favorite farmers' market trio in my pan

Posted by Sheryl Julian September 9, 2013 06:46 PM

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Here's my theory about shopping at the farm stand or farmers' market this time of year: Get it while you can.

Last weekend, I made this twice in a row, in huge batches. I gave some to my pilates teacher (labeled "summer succotash"), and poached rolled up flounder fillets on it one night. There's no recipe. Just add the ingredients to the pan. Use this as a base and add bell or hot peppers, green beans, leafy greens. Serve as a pasta sauce, ladle over warm white beans tossed with olive oil and parsley, or fold in shreds of poached chicken and wrap in a tortilla. 

Summer succotash

For 4 servings, saute 4 sliced zucchini in 2 tablespoons hot olive oil until they start to brown. Cut 3 large ripe tomatoes into wedges and add them to the pan with salt and crushed red pepper. Cook until the tomatoes start to collapse. Add corn from 4 ears and a large handful of fresh basil. Cook 2 minutes. Sprinkle with plenty of parsley. Eat hot, warm, or at room temperature. Sheryl Julian

How to cook ears of corn, even if you think you know

Posted by Sheryl Julian August 12, 2013 03:21 PM

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I bought some really gorgeous corn at the farmers' market over the weekend (Kimball Fruit Farm) and took some ears to a friend, adding instructions on how to cook it. This seems obnoxious but when I go to other houses and I see how people are cooking corn... well, forget everything you know and do it my way.

In a deep skillet or Dutch oven (or another flameproof casserole) over high heat, bring a couple inches of water to a boil. Add the corn, keep the heat high, and cover the pot. Cook 2 minutes. Using tongs, turn the corn, cover, cook 2 minutes more. Add butter, olive oil, or just salt.

Corn doesn't take much time to cook and it certainly doesn't need a stockpot of water. The Kimball corn was superb. Best so far this year.

Heat wave cookery

Posted by Sheryl Julian July 22, 2013 09:33 PM

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I cooked for guests last Saturday and honestly, on Friday when I was shopping, it was so hot I thought I'd have to come home and put my feet in an ice bucket. I kept changing the menu until I had one that didn't require the oven.

This is pea and mint soup, garnished with yogurt. I've been serving cool (not cold) soups in glasses as an appetizer lately. I did sweat a couple of onions and bring chicken stock to a boil, but that required turning on the burner only briefly. Then I ladled and garnished the glasses assembly-line fashion.

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The main course was pan bagnat, the classic Nicoise sandwiches in which you layer tuna salad with onion, capers, and olives into hollowed-out sandwich rolls, with basil, tomatoes, and hard-cooked eggs (there are many variations; help yourself to other typical Provencal vegetables). Use tuna in olive oil and don't skimp on the salt and you get a great sandwich. Wrap in paper and tie with string and store in a cool place for several hours (not the refrigerator). Here is the stack I made and stored in my husband's wine cooler. No oven, no burners.

bastillewrappedpanbag.jpg

Finally, fruit in cream. It began as a fool, the refreshing British dessert of pureed fruit swirled into cream, but honestly, I couldn't face making purees from blueberries and strawberries. So I folded the fruits with crushed meringues into cream and garnished it with almonds.

bastillefruitdessert.jpg

We put a fan on the porch, ate leisurely, and finally felt a little breeze.

Pea soup, pan bagnat, and fruit in cream all taste wonderful on a steamy Sunday morning, by the way.

Pan bagnat

Makes 2 sandwiches or enough to serve 4

 

The traditional sandwiches pan bagnat (“bathed bread”) from Nice are really Nicoise salad in a roll. They have to sit for several hours for the flavors to mellow. Don’t skimp on the olive oil or the salt.

 

2 eggs

2 crusty French or Italian sandwich rolls (each about 6-inches long)

Olive oil (for sprinkling)

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 cans (6 to 7 ounces each) light tuna in olive oil

4 anchovy fillets, coarsely chopped (optional)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons white or red wine vinegar, or more to taste

1/4 red onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup pitted black or green olives, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons capers

2 large handfuls fresh basil leaves

2 medium tomatoes, cored and thinly sliced

 

1. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add the eggs and cook for exactly 10 minutes. Lift out and transfer to a bowl of very cold water. Tap the egg shells and remove a large band. Return to the cold water until the eggs are cold. Peel them; dry on paper towels.

2. Halve the rolls and with your fingers, remove most of the soft crumb. Sprinkle the rolls with olive oil and salt.

3. In a bowl, combine the tuna and the oil in the cans, anchovies, if using, the 2 tablespoons oil, vinegar, onion, olives, capers, salt, and pepper. Stir well. Taste for seasoning and add more vinegar, if you like. Divide the mixture among the bottom pieces of bread. Top with basil leaves and tomatoes, setting them overlapping slightly.

4. Use an egg slicer to slice the eggs and arrange the slices overlapping slightly. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Close the sandwiches and wrap each tightly in parchment paper. Secure with string.

5. Set the sandwiches in a cool place (not the refrigerator) for 3 to 4 hours.

6. Unwrap, cut in half, and serve. Sheryl Julian

Alma Nova's orecchiette with sausage and greens

Posted by Sheryl Julian June 10, 2013 02:20 PM

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In last week's Food section, we had a story on sausages, which seem to be on every menu in town (lucky us). A dish of orecchiette with crumbled pork sausages and greens from Alma Nova in Hingham was on the cover.

Owner and chef Paul Wahlberg talked me through the dish, which I made on the weekend. To make it, cook orecchiette, which is a firmer pasta than most and may take a little longer, saute greens, make a little porky sauce with sausages, and toss everything together with romano cheese and pine nuts. It's Wahlberg's specialty and may become mine too.

Orecchiette with sausages and greens

Serves 6

 

Alma Nova owner and chef Paul Wahlberg is known for this dish; he calls the greens by their Italian name, erbette. Use sweet or hot sausage and assemble the dish at the last minute, stirring in romano cheese, and garnishing with toasted pine nuts.

 

1 large bunch Swiss chard, kale, or collard greens (or a mixture of greens), stemmed

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 pound orecchiette

Extra olive oil (for sprinkling)

4 tablespoons olive oil

Pinch crushed red pepper

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 onion, finely chopped

1 pound sweet or hot pork sausage, removed from casing

3/4 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup grated romano cheese

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted until golden

 

1. In a large bowl of cold water, soak the greens for 5 minutes. Lift them out (don’t tip out the water), refill the bowl and soak the greens two more times. Cut them into fine strips; set aside.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the orecchiette and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes or until the pasta is almost tender. Drain and without rinsing, transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle with olive oil and set aside, stirring occasionally.

3. In a flameproof casserole large enough to hold all the pasta, heat the 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over high heat. Add the greens, salt, red pepper, and half the garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, for 4 to 5 minutes or until the greens are tender. Use a slotted spoon to press the greens against the side of the pan and remove them from the pan. Discard any liquid in the pan and wipe it out.

4. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan. Add the onion and remaining garlic and cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up with the edge of a metal spoon, for 5 minutes or until it is golden. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil, stirring. Stir in the orecchiette and greens and cook, tossing constantly, until the pasta is hot and blended with the sausage.

5. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or red pepper, if you like. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese. Divide the pasta among 6 shallow bowls and garnish with pine nuts. Adapted from Alma Nova

 

 

Longing for shrimp grits I ate all over the South

Posted by Sheryl Julian May 27, 2013 02:51 PM

shrimpgrits.jpgShrimp grits
Serves 4

There is something totally irresistible about the sweet creaminess of grits, the briny taste of shrimp, and a smoky element (bacon, sausage). Last Spring on a road trip across the South, I had grits two or three times a day and couldn't get enough. After my story came out in the Travel section, Patrick Long, chef of The Green Room Restaurant & Bar in Greenville, S.C. (three hours from Charleston) sent me his version. I didn't get to his place. He uses stone ground white grits (we used yellow), which he simmers in milk with a generous dash of hot sauce. You don't have to stir the grits constantly like you do polenta, but don't leave the kitchen. The shrimp are tossed in Old Bay seasoning and sauteed with andouille and tomatoes. Cook the grits in a larger pot than you think you need. They splutter as they thicken. I took the advice of an innkeeper I met in Alabama: Cook grits in much more liquid than you need for much longer. It's the secret to getting them creamy.

GRITS
3 cups whole milk
2 cups water
Few dashes liquid hot sauce, or more if needed
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup stone ground white or yellow grits

1.
In a saucepan, combine the milk, water, hot sauce, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Whisk in the grits and when the mixture returns to a boil, turn down the heat. Simmer, stirring often, for 20 minutes or until the grits absorb the liquid.
2. Taste for seasoning and add more hot sauce, if you like.

SHRIMP
1 can (28 ounces) chopped tomatoes, drained
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 pounds shrimp, shelled and deveined
8 ounces andouille, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup white wine
1 cup clam broth mixed with 1 cup water
4 scallions, chopped

1.
In a bowl, toss the tomatoes and balsamic vinegar.
2. In another bowl, sprinkle the shrimp and sausage with Old Bay, salt, and pepper.
3. In a skillet over high heat, heat the oil. Add the shrimp and andouille. Cook, stirring constantly, for 4 minutes or until the shrimp start to turn pink. Remove from the pan.
4. Pour in the wine, clam broth mixture, and tomatoes. Cook, scraping the bottom of the pan, until the mixture comes to a boil. Simmer, stirring often, for 10 minutes.
5. Return the shrimp and andouille to the pan. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the mixture is hot and the shrimp is cooked through. Ladle grits into shallow bowls, add shrimp mixture, and sprinkle with scallions. Sheryl Julian. Adapted from The Green Room Restaurant & Bar

Chicken tikka masala (on the menu during the lockdown)

Posted by Sheryl Julian April 30, 2013 03:30 PM

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Chicken tikka masala

Serves 4

 

During the lockdown in and around Boston on Apr. 19, blogger Kathryn Nulf made this spicy chicken dish, which she posted on her blog www.litfromwithinwellness.com. The recipe originally comes from The Chicago Tribune, who published it on Apr. 17, 2002 (almost 11 years to the day when Kathryn made it). She found it on food.com and likes to make it with coconut milk and/or coconut milk yogurt, she writes, and add vegetables to the sauce. Serve it in bowls over rice.

 

CHICKEN

1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 cup plain yogurt

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons crushed red pepper

2 teaspoons ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1 piece (1 inch) fresh ginger, chopped

 

1. Soak 6 bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes.

2. In a bowl, combine the yogurt, lemon juice, cumin, red and black pepper, cinnamon, salt, and ginger. Add the chicken pieces. Thread the chicken on the skewers and refrigerate for 1 hour.

3. Discard marinade.

 

SAUCE

1 tablespoon butter

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 jalapeno or other small chili pepper, cored and chopped

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground paprika

1 teaspoon garam masala (available at specialty markets)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce

1 cup heavy cream or coconut milk

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

 

1. In a flameproof casserole over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic and jalapeno or other chili pepper. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the coriander, cumin, paprika, garam masala, and salt. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

2. Stir in the tomato sauce and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

3. Stir in the cream or coconut milk and simmer 5 minutes.

4. Light a grill or turn on the broiler. Grill or broil the chicken skewers, turning occasionally, for 8 minutes or until cooked through. Slide the chicken off the skewers and add it to the sauce. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

5. Serve over rice, sprinkled with cilantro. Adapted from The Chicago Tribune

 

The fabulous oatmeal cookies I baked in the lockdown

Posted by Sheryl Julian April 26, 2013 11:04 AM

oatmealcookcity.jpgCity Bakery oatmeal raisin-chip cookies

Makes 4 dozen

 

Maury Rubin of The City Bakery taught cookbook author and baker Tracey Zabar how to make tarts, she writes in "One Sweet Cookie: Celebrated Chefs Share Favorite Recipes." The version in her book uses organic flour and oats. When I made these cookies during the lockdown in Watertown after the Marathon Bombings, in what I call The Stress Kitchen, I used all chips, instead of a combination of raisins and chips. Allow at least 6 hours for the dough to sit before shaping cookies.

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 2/3 cups old-fashioned oats

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup dark chocolate chips

1/3 cup raisins

1. In a bowl, stir the flour, baking soda, salt, and oats to blend them.

2. In an electric mixer, cream the butter. Add the granulated and brown sugars and blend well. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Add half the flour mixture, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the other half.

3. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand. Use a large metal spoon to stir in the chips and raisins. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, press plastic wrap directly onto the surface, then cover the bowl with another sheet of plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 6 to 24 hours.

4. Let the dough sit at room temperature for 1 hour so it is soft enough to scoop.

5. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

6. Scoop out about 2 tablespoons of the dough for each cookie, and place on the prepared pans, spacing them 1 inch apart. Press slightly to flatten the balls.

7. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown, turning the position of the baking sheets from back to front halfway through baking. Cool on wire racks; store in an airtight containerSheryl Julian. Adapted from “One Sweet Cookie”

Taste of South Boston coming Sunday, March 24

Posted by Doug Most March 12, 2013 10:12 AM

The 11th annual Taste of South Boston will be held Sunday, March 24, from 6-9 p.m. at the Seaport Hotel. Always one of the biggest neighborhood food fests of the year, this year's event will have 30 local restaurants and live music, and for $50 it's usually a bargain and a fun night, to boot.

Here is the full announcement from the South Boston Neighborhood Development Corp.

The South Boston Neighborhood Development Corporation (South Boston NDC) will hold its 11th Annual Taste of South Boston on Sunday, March 24, 2013, from 6 - 9 p.m. at the Seaport Hotel. This event has become one of the city's premier food events enjoyed by over 500 attendees. For an entrance fee of $50, attendees can sample food and beverage offerings from 30 local restaurants while enjoying live music.

This year's event boasts the largest number of participating restaurants, from the traditional South Boston neighborhood, the South Boston Waterfront and the Fort Point areas. As of press date, 28 local restaurants have committed to providing tastings including: 75 on Liberty Wharf, American Provisions, Aura Restaurant, Café Porto Bello, Cranberry Café, Empire, Franklin Southie, Jerry Remy's Seaport, Larry J's BBQ Cafe, Lincoln, Local 149, LTK, Lucky's Lounge, Papagayo, The Paramount, Rosa Mexicano, Salsa's, Salvatore's, Sportello, Strega Waterfront, Sweet Tooth Boston, Tamo Lounge, Temazcal Cantina, Trade, Water Cafe at the ICA, and The Whiskey Priest. Al's Liquors will be sampling select wines, and Harpoon Brewery will be pouring samples of their latest brews.

South Boston NDC is a recognized 501c(3) that has successfully developed over 180 units of affordable housing in the community. The Taste of South Boston is South Boston NDC's annual fundraiser. Proceeds from this event support the South Boston NDC's mission to provide affordable housing for working people, families, elderly and Veterans in our community. This spring, South Boston NDC and its partner Caritas Communities, will begin construction of Patriot Homes, 24 affordable apartments for Veterans.

Tickets can be purchased online at: www.tasteofsouthboston.com or at the office of South Boston Neighborhood Development Corporation located at 365 West Broadway, South Boston. For general inquiries, email us at: info@tasteofsouthboston.com or call 617-268-9610.

A favorite (easy) apple pie

Posted by Sheryl Julian November 21, 2012 11:42 AM

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This recipe for an open-faced farmhouse apple cream pie was sent to The Recipe Box Project (recipebox@globe.com) last year by Melinda Kessler Spratlan of Amherst. We had our doubts. Instructions called for whisking sugar, flour, and cream until smooth. We worried that this mixture, which contains 1/4 cup flour and 1 cup light cream, wouldn't set. Well it does set and turns into a pretty terrific, easy pie. You can arrange sliced apples in concentric circles or use chunks, which we prefer; they make a homier pie.

Kessler wrote, "My mother, Nelle McFarland Kessler, was raised on a farm in east central Indiana. She and her mother, Bessie, often baked pies for the farm hands when they came in from the early morning chores." Her mother also made the pie for Thanksgiving, a tradition that Kessler continues with her own family.

If you have a favorite recipe to add to The Recipe Box Project, please forward it to us. We'd love to hear from you.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our readers. We hope your table is full of good food and laughter.

 

Farmhouse apple cream pie

Makes one 9-inch open-faced pie

One 9-inch unbaked pie shell, chilled

3 or 4 large tart cooking apples (such as Cortland or Mutsu), peeled, cored, and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks

3/4 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup flour

1 cup light cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons butter

Ground cinnamon (for sprinkling)

1. Set the oven at 400 degrees.

2. Pile the apples into the pie shell.

3. In a bowl, whisk together the sugar, salt, and flour. Add the cream and vanilla and mix until smooth. Pour the mixture over the apples. Dot the top with butter and sprinkle lightly with cinnamon.

4. Bake the pie on the lowest rack of the oven for 15 minutes.

5. Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees and continue baking for 45 minutes or until the filling sets. Total baking time is 1 hour. Adapted from Melinda Kessler Spratlan

 

 

 

One delicious way to get through the storm

Posted by Sheryl Julian October 29, 2012 03:55 PM

 

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Tracey Zabar (above) wrote "One Sweet Cookie," in which 70 well-known New York chefs give her their favorite cookie recipes. And yes, she's related to the famous Zabar family and the kitchen, shown here, looks pretty grand.

I leafed through the volume, very nicely printed and photographed by Rizzoli, and wanted to call in sick for a week of cookie baking. The oatmeal-raisin cookies from Maury Rubin of City Bakery were burning a hole in my curiosity. I've been searching for a very crisp cookie with a little chew, not a soft round like usual.

Alas, the book sat and sat on my desk until this weekend, when I thought it imperative to fill the freezer with cookies, just in case Hurricane Sandy cut power and heat and we were huddled in front of the fire. We have wine, plenty of chicken soup, thanks to a pressure-cooker batch I made yesterday, some baguettes and cheese, lots of apples, canned beans if things get real tough, and now cookies. Couldn't wait for the emergency to eat them. This recipe is perfect.

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Oatmeal-raisin cookies
Makes 4 dozen

Allow time for the batter to sit overnight, then come to room temperature.

1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups regular oats
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups raisins

1. In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, and oats to blend them.

2. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter. Add the brown and granulated sugars and beat to blend them. Beat in the egg and vanilla.

3. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the flour, half at a time.

4. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand. With a wooden spoon, stir in the raisins. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight or for up to 1 day. Let the batter sit at room temperature for 1 hour or until pliable enough to scoop.

5. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

6. Scoop walnut-sized balls of dough onto the sheets, setting them 2-inches apart. Bake the cookies for 15 minutes or until they are just firm and the edges are golden. Slide the parchment onto wire racks to cool for a few minutes, then use a wide metal spatula to transfer the cookies directly to the racks. Continue baking cookies until all the batter is used. Store in an airtight container. Adapted from "One Sweet Cookie"

Smart Cooks video: Making skirt steak with chimichurri sauce

Posted by Glenn Yoder, Boston.com Staff October 9, 2012 05:56 PM

Check out the latest video in our Smart Cooks series with Catherine Smart, in which the cook shows how to make skirt steak with chimichurri sauce.

Hello September. Time to start baking again.

Posted by Sheryl Julian September 10, 2012 02:56 PM

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My intense fall baking sessions actually begin in August at our summer rental, which has a lovely kitchen and a KitchenAid mixer. The closest market is over 30 minutes away, so I also bring many ingredients and all baking pans, etc. Basically we look like sherpas as we load the car in Boston and fools as we unload it four hours later in Vermont.

Then, when the aromas start filling the cabin, we remember why we went to all the trouble. After making miniature versions of Lisa Yockelson's cakey brownies, I turned my attention to these chocolate-chip mandelbrot (above), a favorite cookie, similar to biscotti, but much easier. They're made with canola oil, and sprinkled on top with cinnamon and sugar. I usually sprinkle them with sparkly white decorating sugar.

cookiesalicemedrich.jpgI had enough sparkling sugar to make Alice Medrich's crunchy sugar cookies (recipe to follow in a future blog). They're especially delicious.

Then I made a cream cheese and butter pastry for rugelach, and tried to shortcut the time-consuming classic method of making a round, scattering a raisin and brown sugar filling on it, cutting it into triangles, then rolling each one individually. Instead, I formed little jelly rolls, which I cut into 2-inch lengths. They taste good, but they're distinctly uncharming and look a lot like pigs in a blanket. Some wintry night, when the freezer is also looking kind of sorry, the homely rugelach will seem like a treasure.

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And finally, these very thin almond cookies, sent in many years ago by Jillian Greene, a reader whose great-grandmother, Jean Fine, gave her the recipe. They won a cookie contest in the Food section and they look very professional.

Almond squares

Makes 48

 

Butter (for the pan)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1 egg, separated

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups flour

1 cup sliced almonds (skinned or unskinned)

 

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter an 11-by-16-inch jelly roll pan.

2. In an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light. Add the egg yolk and vanilla. With the mixer set on its lowest speed, beat in the flour.

3. Pat the dough into the pan, pressing it into the corners. It will be quite thin, and you may think you don’t have enough; just keep patting.

4. In a bowl, whisk the white until frothy. Spread it on the dough with your fingertips. Sprinkle with the almonds, pressing them onto the dough.

5. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until the dough is cooked through and the nuts are beginning to brown.

6. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes.

7. With a long straight knife, make 5 lengthwise cuts in the dough and 7 horizontal cuts to form 48 pieces. Let them cool completely. Use an offset metal spatula to remove them from the pan. Store in an airtight container. Adapted from Jean Fine

One of France's great sauces is really British

Posted by Sheryl Julian July 20, 2012 04:01 PM

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All I want for dessert these days is something cold and fruity. I spent the first part of the summer layering fruit and yogurt in little glasses. I've moved to a less austere dessert. Now it's fruit and creme Anglaise, the luscious, yolk-laden pourable sauce that makes any sweet taste better. The French sometimes call it creme a la vanille, the British call it vanilla custard sauce.

Use any small glasses (including miniature Ball jars) and layer them with fruit. Here are blueberries layered with ripe nectarines -- they taste so good this year! -- and a spoonful of stewed rhubarb.

After the creme Anglaise cooled, I poured it into the glasses and just before serving, added fresh mint leaves to the top. With a little salty-topped chocolate cookie and one of Boston Globe contributor Lisa Yockelson's feathery light blueberry cakes (below), the little fruit cups made a fine ending to my annual Bastille Day feast last weekend.

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Creme Anglaise

Makes 1 1/2 cups

 

4 egg yolks

3 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Extra sugar (for sprinkling)

 

1. Set a strainer over a bowl.

2. In another bowl with a wooden spoon, beat the yolks and sugar.

3. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the milk until it is very hot. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Pour half the milk into the yolk mixture, stirring constantly. Pour the yolk mixture back into the saucepan. Return to medium heat.

4. Cook, stirring constantly (do not leave the stove) for 3 to 4 minutes or until the custard thickens and a clear trail remains when you draw a finger across a custard-coated spoon. Do not let the mixture boil or it will curdle.

5. Immediately pour the custard through the strainer. Stir in the vanilla. Sprinkle with sugar and leave to cool. Refrigerate until cold. Sheryl Julian

Salty-topped chocolate cookies

Posted by Sheryl Julian July 10, 2012 01:50 PM

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This recipe for salty-topped chocolate cookies ran in the Boston Globe a couple weeks ago.  They come from A-Frame, the Los Angeles restaurant owned by Roy Choi (of LA food truck fame). Pastry chef Beth Kellerhals sandwiches the cookies with Sichuan black pepper ice cream.

I started making the cookies, which are gigantic, in a much smaller version and sprinkling them with only a few grains of Malden sea salt -- a little goes a long way. If you shape heaping tablespoons of batter onto baking sheets, you get about 3 dozen cookies (bake 12 minutes only or just until the tops crack).

The salt with the fudgy chocolate is pretty spectacular.

A stunning little nibble of spicy whipped feta

Posted by Sheryl Julian July 9, 2012 06:46 PM

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On Saturday, I had a long chat with one of the gracious owners of Sevan Bakery in Watertown about his whipped feta spread. He sells it, but he also sells all the ingredients that go into it. The last time I tried to whip feta it came out too runny (I pureed it in a food processor).

Anyway, I bought French feta and Turkish red pepper spread (called Ajvar in Serbian cuisine), in an enormous jar, and just inched my way to a spread.

I happened to mention to my friend Sara, a very good cook, that I was trying whipped feta again even though it wasn't much of a success the one other time I tried it. "You need to add something like yogurt to give it body," she said.

My yogurt is Liberte, which is delicious, but doesn't have much body. I did have fromage blanc from Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery (I keep it on hand to make a quick, herby nibble if someone drops by). So I whipped the French feta, added a couple generous spoonfuls of the brick-red pepper spread, a little maras pepper (this is the Turkish version of crushed red pepper and a favorite ingredient of mine), some grated onion, and fromage blanc.

Pulse, pulse, pulse, then taste, taste, taste, taste, taste. I couldn't stop. I called my husband to the kitchen to indulge with me.

For her good advice, Sara got a sample of whipped feta and a jar of red pepper paste.

Spicy whipped feta spread

Serves 6

8 ounces creamy feta (such as French feta)

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons mild Turkish red pepper paste, or more to taste

1/2 teaspoon maras or other crushed red pepper

2 tablespoons grated onion

4 ounces fromage blanc, Greek yogurt, or sour cream

Olive oil (for sprinkling)

Extra maras or other crushed red pepper (for garnish)

1. In a food processor, combine the feta, olive oil, red pepper paste, maras or other crushed red pepper, and onion. Pulse the mixture until smooth.

2. Add the fromage blanc, Greek yogurt, or sour cream. Pulse just to mix it. Taste for seasoning and add more red pepper paste, maras pepper, or grated onion, if you like.

3. Pack the spread into a bowl and sprinkle with olive oil and extra maras or crushed red pepper. Sheryl Julian

 

Coronation Chicken: endless work, stunning results

Posted by Sheryl Julian May 29, 2012 04:38 PM

Chickenelizabeth.jpgThis is the famous Coronation Chicken (later called Chicken Elizabeth) invented by the Cordon Bleu Cookery School in London and prepared for the queen upon her elevation to the British throne 60 years ago. The story is in tomorrow's Boston Globe. To make it, you poach chicken breasts, prepare a curry mayonnaise, and a big, colorful rice salad tossed with vinaigrette dressing. It takes ages, but the finished dish is pretty wonderful.

Coronation Chicken

Serves 8

 

CHICKEN

8 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 cup water

1. Set the oven at 400 degrees.

2. Sprinkle the breasts with oil, salt, and pepper. In a large roasting pan, arrange them, tightly packed, skinned side up; do not overlap. Pour in the water at the side. Cover with parchment paper and cook for 25 to 30 minutes or until the chicken is firm to the touch and cooked through.

3. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Transfer the chicken to a container to chill. (Use the cooking liquid in any recipe calling for chicken stock.)

 

MAYONNAISE

1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil

1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder

1/2 cup tomato juice

1 tablespoon apricot jam

2 teaspoons red or white wine vinegar

1 cup mayonnaise

1. In a skillet, heat the oil and cook the curry powder over low heat, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add the tomato juice, jam, and vinegar. Cook, stirring, until the jam dissolves. Bring to a boil and let the mixture simmer over medium heat, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until it reduces by half. Set aside to cool.

2. In a bowl, whisk the mayonnaise until smooth. Add 2 tablespoons of the curry mixture and blend well. Add more curry, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the mayonnaise is a pourable consistency.

3. Transfer to a container and refrigerate. Refrigerate the curry mixture separately.

 

RICE SALAD

3 tomatoes, cored

Salt and black pepper, to taste

2 1/2 cups long-grain white rice

1/2 lemon

1/2 cup slivered almonds

4 carrots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced on the diagonal

1 cup golden raisins, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes and drained

2 yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded, and cut into 1-inch strips

1 1/2 cups green peas, thawed and rinsed with cold water

1/2 English cucumber, quartered lengthwise, seeded, and thinly sliced

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 bunch fresh watercress (for garnish)

1. Bring a stock pot of water to a boil. Drop in the tomatoes, count to 10, and use a slotted spoon to transfer to a bowl of ice water.

2. Generously salt the water. Add the rice and lemon half. Cook over high heat, uncovered, stirring often, until the water returns to a boil. Turn the heat to medium-high heat and cook exactly 12 minutes, checking after 11 minutes  (the rice will not absorb all the water). Drain into a colander and with the end of a wooden spoon, poke a dozen holes in the rice. Set aside to cool. Discard the lemon.

3. Peel, halve, and seed the tomatoes. Cut them into thin strips.

4. In a skillet, toast the almonds, tossing constantly, for 2 minutes or until they are lightly golden.

5. In a saucepan of salted water, cook the carrots for 3 minutes or until they are tender but still have some bite. Drain and rinse with cold water.

6. In a large bowl, combine the rice, tomatoes, almonds, carrots, raisins, yellow peppers, peas, and cucumber. Toss gently.

7. In another bowl, whisk the vinegar, salt, black pepper, and mustard until smooth. Gradually whisk in the oil until the mixture emulsifies. Toss the rice mixture with the dressing and 1/4 cup of the parsley. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like.

8. Arrange the rice on a large platter.

9. Cut the chicken into large strips and transfer to a bowl. Whisk the mayonnaise until smooth. Add more of the curry mixture, if you like, to make a sauce that is a pouring consistency. Add enough mayonnaise to the chicken to coat it all over. Set the chicken on the rice and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup parsley. Sheryl Julian. Adapted from The Cordon Bleu Cookery School


 

She foraged for ramps and made pesto

Posted by Sheryl Julian April 25, 2012 03:12 PM

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A friend in Western Mass was out the other day and discovered a field of wild ramps. They are also known as wild leeks. The bulbs are white with purple tinge and though many people put them into all kinds of dishes, they are very strong, almost garlicky.

rampscloseup.bmpHere is what Ingrid MacGillis wrote from Western Mass:

"I was just out in the woods behind the house to pick ramps. And voila, 40 minutes later, I have a big bowl of pesto. I make it differently each time, so I can't deliver a fixed recipe, but there are so many online if you want a specific one.

"This time I used pecans (only because I was out of walnuts) and I chopped them separately because I wanted nice chunks, not pecan meal. Then, let's see what cheese I had. There, about 1 cup of Parmesan.

"I tied the big fat bunch of ramps together with a long twisty tie to make the transfer from blanching water to ice water easier, then drained the bunch in a colander, spread the leaves on a kitchen towel, rolled them up, and added them to the cheese in the food processor. Whir, whir, pour in [my daugher] Lucy's olive oil, then transfer the green pulp to the bowl with the chopped nuts, add a bit of salt. Mmmmm.

"All in an hour, including the nice stroll in the woods."

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A skillet of bright green vegetables to tuck under fish

Posted by Sheryl Julian April 17, 2012 04:49 PM

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There's a lot of hake in the market lately, at a good price, but when I can't get it, I sometimes splurge on grouper (fished off the coast of Panama). It's a meaty fish, something like monkfish, so dense that you cannot use the 10-minutes-per-inch-in-a-very-hot-oven rule. The thick piece in the photo took more than 20 minutes (granted, I never leave fish on the counter to come to room temperature as some chefs do; it starts to deteriorate too quickly).

The bright greens under the fish are sauteed leeks and escarole mixed with roasted fennel and asparagus, and at the very end, fresh or frozen peas. I've been making the greens for a couple of weeks and they're good fresh the first night and even reheated the second.

Grouper with leeks, escarole, fennel, asparagus, and peas

Serves 6

 

Give the vegetables a head start, then cook the fish when the fennel is done and it’s time to add the asparagus to the pan. Use the same hot oven for both.

 

2 pounds boneless grouper

Olive oil (for sprinkling)

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 bulbs fresh fennel, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 bunch asparagus, ends snapped, stalks cut into thirds

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 leeks, thinly sliced and soaked in cold water for 20 minutes

1/2 head escarole

1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed or fresh peas

1 tablespoon chopped fresh regular or lemon thyme

1 lemon, cut into 6 wedges

 

1. Set the oven at 450 degrees.

2. Cut the fish into 6 even pieces. If the grouper is very thick, halve it lengthwise, then cut each half into 3 pieces. Rub both sides with oil, salt, and pepper. Set in a baking dish and cover; refrigerate.

3. On a large rimmed baking sheet, spread the fennel. Sprinkle with oil. Roast for 25 minutes. Add the asparagus, toss well, and continue roasting for 10 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and when it is hot, add the leeks, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 12 minutes, or until the leeks are beginning to brown. Add the escarole and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Add the peas and cook for 3 minutes more or until they are hot. Stir in the fennel and asparagus.

5. Cover the fish with parchment paper. Roast it for 20 to 25 minutes or until it is tender and flaky.

6. Divide the greens among 6 plates. Add a piece of fish to each one. Sprinkle with thyme and serve with lemon. Sheryl Julian

Some handsome cuts of lamb in the market

Posted by Sheryl Julian April 2, 2012 05:27 PM

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The meat case has lots of lamb because that’s what everyone who isn’t serving ham on Easter wants. It’s not the baby lambs, which are roasted on a spit by Greeks and other ethnic cooks. What you see in the markets now is lamb from the U.S. (often Colorado) and New Zealand, and a little from New England. Local lamb (Maine, Vermont) is expensive -- frankly, it’s all high -- and I think the best tasting. American lamb in general has a stronger flavor then New Zealand, which butcher John Dewar once called “grassy.”

 

Last week I made lamb shanks with carrots and onions, simmered in tomatoes and lots of garlic (above), for a friend who cannot get rid of a cough and feels sluggish. I thought he needed a big injection of meat. The American shanks are huge; this pot of three serves at least four, with a generous spoonful of mashed potatoes, of course.

 

I spent the weekend testing legs of lamb for a Sunday Supper & More coming out on Wednesday. Lamb is tricky to roast. As I explain in the column, you don’t get any practice year round, so you’ve got this big cut you paid heaven and earth for, and you want it to be nice and pink and moist, not cooked to death.

 

And on the subject of Sunday Supper, download our new free e-cookbook here. This is the spring edition, heartier dishes for the nights that are chilly, lighter fare for suppers when it’s warmer.

 

We love working on this project, which was highlighted in the Nieman Journalism Lab in Ken Doctor's column. Here is a video with tips for your nightly meals (it takes a few seconds to load).

 

Braised lamb shanks with tomatoes

Serves 4

 

4 lamb shanks

Olive oil (for sprinkling)

Salt and pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons olive oil

6 carrots, cut into thirds

2 large onions, roots intact, each cut into 6 wedges

3 cloves garlic, smashed

1 can (16 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes, crushed in a bowl

1 quart water, or more if necessary

1 bay leaf

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

3 tablespoons black olive tapenade

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (for garnish)

 

1. Turn on the broiler.

2. In a roasting pan, rub the shanks all over with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Slide them under the broiler and cook for 8 minutes or until starting to brown. Turn and cook 8 minutes more.

3. Turn the oven temperature down to 350 degrees.

4. In a large flameproof casserole that will hold all the shanks, heat the 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add the carrots, onions, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until the onions start to brown. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

5. Set the shanks in the pan. Add the water, bay leaf, and rosemary. Bring to a boil, remove from the heat, and cover the pan. Transfer to the oven and cook the shanks for 1 1/2 hours or until they are very tender and the meat has pulled away from the bone.

6. Skim off and discard the fat from the pan. Discard the bay leaf and rosemary. Stir the tapenade into the sauce. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Sprinkle with parsley. Sheryl Julian

Giada's coming to Boston

Posted by Sheryl Julian March 2, 2012 01:09 PM

giadaweeknights.bmpGiada will be at Williams-Sonoma in Copley Place on Mar. 30 at 11 a.m. Here's one of the dishes from her new book.giadabreakfast.jpg

Crispy breakfast pita

Serves 6

 

This is a twist on a piadina, an Italian flatbread. For weeknight ease, instead of making dough, I use store-bought pita rounds as the base. They get topped with a creamy mascarpone spread, a salty bite of prosciutto, a lightly dressed arugula salad, and a fried egg.

 

6 pita breads (6 inches each)

5 tablespoons olive oil

6 eggs

3/4 cup (6 ounces) mascarpone cheese

Grated rind of 1/2 large lemon

Salt and pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons lemon juice

3 packed cups (3 ounces) arugula or baby spinach

8 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto

 

1. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush each side of the pita rounds with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil. Grill for 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until crisp. Remove from the grill and cool slightly.

2. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Crack the eggs directly into the pan and cook 2 to 3 minutes or until the egg whites are set.

3. In a bowl, combine the mascarpone cheese, lemon rind, salt, and pepper.

4. In another medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice, and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper.

5. Add the arugula and toss until coated. Spread each pita with 2 tablespoons of the mascarpone mixture. Divide the prosciutto among them, and mound the top with arugula.

6. Carefully place a fried egg on top of each and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Adapted from “Weeknights with Giada”

Just what her doctor ordered

Posted by Sheryl Julian February 28, 2012 05:41 PM

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I've been wanting to make Nina Simonds's cinnamon-beef noodle soup since it appeared in the Food section in early January, from her new "Simple Asian Meals." What finally nudged me in the right direction was a friend who is not feeling well and only wants to eat soup. Specifically, pho, from a shop in Dorchester near the Boston Globe. I intended to prepare homemade pho, but then remembered Nina's soup and changed course.

In these plastic containers, hidden under the noodles is a bed of spinach, and under that is succulent beef, which simmers in water that turns deeply aromatic for 1 1/2 hours, flavored with cinnamon sticks, star anise, and ginger. I used my pressure cooker and timed it for 20 minutes (how does anyone live without one?).

Here is the recipe and here is the tempting bowl from Nina's book, photographed by Romulo Yanes (without the plastic containers, of course; but then, his wasn't taking a car ride).

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Tuna salad for pickle lovers

Posted by Sheryl Julian February 1, 2012 02:49 PM

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This is Travis Grillo of Grillo's Pickles at a pop-up store in Inman Square. Grillo is a phenom, in business for four years, making his grandfather's pickles with his cousin, Eric. They first sold pickle spears while wearing a pickle suit, from a pushcart on Boston Common.  

Here is the official Grillo's Pickles tuna salad, made with the brine, spears, garlic, and dill in the jars.

Tuna salad with pickles
Serves 2

1 can (6-to-7-ounces) tuna in water, drained
2 tablespoons pickle brine
3 pickles spears, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon garlic from the brine, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dill from the brine, finely chopped
1 tablespoon breadcrumbs
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 stalk celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
Salt and black pepper, to taste

1. In a bowl, mix the tuna, pickle brine, pickles, garlic, and dill. Let sit for 10 minutes.
2. Add breadcrumbs to soak up any extra moisture. Stir in bell pepper, celery, scallions, mayonnaise, salt, and black pepper. Adapted from Grillo's Pickles

These sugared cranberries are everywhere!

Posted by Sheryl Julian November 22, 2011 02:55 PM

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When I came into work this morning, these sugared cranberries were waiting on my desk. They're from one of the boston.com lifestyle producers, Rachel Raczka, who wrote about them on her blog, and read about them on Ramshackle Glam.

What a quinkydink! Another boston.com producer and I were talking about them last week. An editor here was telling us that his daughter brought them to school last year and someone from Ocean Spray contacted her about the recipe.

Well, it's everywhere.

You make a simple syrup of sugar and water, add the cranberries, and let them sit overnight. Then you toss the drained cranberries with superfine sugar and spread them out to dry.

Sugared cranberries

Serves 8

3 cups granulated sugar

3 cups water

3 cups fresh cranberries

1 cup superfine sugar

1. In a large saucepan, combine the granulated sugar and water. Cook, stirring, over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and add the cranberries. Leave to cool. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

2. Tip the superfine sugar into a shallow bowl. Strain the cranberries. Transfer them to the superfine sugar and toss well.

3. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Transfer the cranberries to the paper and set aside at room temperature for at least one hour to firm up and dry. Rachel Raczka. Adapted from Ramshackle Glam

Exquisite tacos

Posted by Sheryl Julian November 15, 2011 11:24 AM

 tacosmeat3.gifIsn't this gorgeous? It's from "Just Tacos: 100 Delicious Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch,and Dinner," and it's been tempting me for days now. The book is a pretty slender volume written by a former Gourmet magazine editor, Shelly Wiseman, who worked in kitchens in Mexico and hosted her own radio program, "The Creative Cook," in Mexico City. She is also co-author of "The Mexican Gourmet Cookbook."

The photo was shot by star food photographer, Cuban-born Romulo Yanes, whose work was often on the cover of Gourmet. Yanes works with the talented stylist Paul Grimes, and whatever they shoot makes you want to head straight for the kitchen. If you do, here's what you should make.

 

Tacos with shredded meat in tomato-chipotle sauce

Serves 6

"Just Tacos" author Shelley Wiseman writes, "David Ortego, a chef and caterer in Mexico City, gives cooking classes to a series of regular devotees. I joined his class the night he was making these delicious tacos. Brushing the tortillas with a little oil (they should not end up greasy but softer) helps them absorb the sauce from the meat without breaking." Simmer the meat for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or cook it in a pressure cooker for 45 minutes.

MEAT

1 pound flank steak or brisket, cut into 2-inch pieces

1 pound lean pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch pieces

3 quarts water

1 teaspoon salt

Skin and ends from 2 large white onions (used in the sauce)

6 cloves garlic, unpeeled

1. In a large pot, combine the steak or brisket, pork, water, and salt. Bring to a boil, skimming the surface.

2. Heat a dry flat griddle or large heavy skillet. Toast the onion skins and ends with the garlic, stirring often, for 8 minutes or until everything is blackened in patches and the garlic softens. Add to the meat. Partially cover the pot and simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until the meat is fork-tender.

3. Transfer the meat to a cutting board and leave until cool enough to handle. Shred with 2 forks.

SAUCE

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 large onions, thinly sliced lengthwise

1/2 teaspoons salt, or more to taste

1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar

2 pounds tomatoes, quartered

2 canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce

1 cup water

6 bay leaves

1. In a large, wide pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Cook the onions with 1/2 teaspoon salt and the sugar, stirring often, for 15 minutes or until golden and blackened in spots.

2. In a blender, work the tomatoes chipotle chilies, water, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Strain through a sieve into the onions. Discard the solids in the strainer.

3. Simmer the sauce for 30 to 45 minutes or until it thickens to a velvety texture and deep red color.

4. Add the shredded meat and bay leaves to the pan. Simmer for 30 minutes. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the meat. Continue simmering if necessary. Discard the bay leaves.

TORTILLAS

20 corn tortillas

1/4 cup vegetable oil, or more if necessary

Refried beans

Gaucamole

1. Heat a flat griddle or large heavy skillet over medium-low heat until hot. Lightly brush one side of the tortillas with oil, stacking them as you oil them (this will lightly oil the second side). Heat the tortillas, turning often, for 1 to 2 minutes. Stack on a plate as they are heated.

2. Spread a spoonful of refried beans on a tortilla. Top with meat and guacamole. Continue until all the tortillas have been filled. Adapted from "Just Tacos"

 

 

 

Weekend baking project

Posted by Devra First September 16, 2011 04:30 PM

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Baby, it's cold outside. Well, it's a little chilly, at least. Perfect Irish coffee weather! And perfect baking weather! Two great things that go great together. Or maybe it's someone's birthday this weekend. And cupcakes are so not trendy at this point, you don't need to feel like a cliche when you make them. OK, enough rationalizing. You don't need a reason to make David Lebovitz's boozy and amazing Irish coffee cupcakes (for adults only). Go preheat the oven!

Irish Coffee Cupcakes
Makes 12

CUPCAKES
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup strong brewed coffee
6 Tbs. unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners.

2. Into a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

3. In a medium saucepan, heat the coffee until almost boiling. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cocoa until dissolved, then add the 1/2 cup unsalted butter, stirring until melted. Whisk in the brown sugar and let cool until tepid. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla, then stir in the flour mixture, mixing just until incorporated. Don't overmix.

4. Divide the batter among the cupcake liners and bake until the cupcakes feel just set in the center, 20 to 22 minutes. Let cool completely.

FILLING
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 Tbs. salted butter, at room temperature
6 Tbs. powdered sugar
1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. Irish cream liqueur, such as Bailey's Irish Cream

1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a food processor fitted with a metal blade, beat together the cream cheese, 4 Tbs. salted butter, and powdered sugar until smooth. Beat in the Irish cream liqueur.

2. To fill the cupcakes, use a sharp knife to cut a 2-inch cone-shaped hole in the center of each cupcake. Remove the plug-like pieces. Trim off the tip of each plug to create a disk-shaped piece that is 1/3 inch thick. Save these disks for capping the filled cupcakes. (What to do with the leftover triangles of cupcake? I recommend smearing a bit of filling on top, dunking in the glaze, and popping them into your mouth one at a time.)

3. Divide the filling among the cupcakes, then gently press the caps into the filling. They won't fit perfectly.

GLAZE
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tsp. light corn syrup or agave nectar
2 Tbs. whiskey

1. Melt the chocolate with the cream and corn syrup or agave nectar in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the whiskey.

2. Dip the tops of the filled cupcakes in the glaze, completely sealing the tops and generously coating them. Let cool, right side up, until the glaze is firm.

Adapted from "Ready for Dessert," by David Lebovitz.

My favorite Vietnamese dish is easier than I thought

Posted by Sheryl Julian September 13, 2011 03:43 PM

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I would walk a mile for bun, the Vietnamese dish of lettuce, rice noodles, sprouts, and lots of crispy vegetables, with a gingery sauce. I rubbed chicken breasts with rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sriracha, which made a wonderful golden skin under the broiler, then removed the meat and sliced it for the top.

When I went shopping, the Asian sprouts in the market didn't look good, so I bought other sprouts. In this bowl, the rice noodles are buried, but they're on the bottom and a wonderful surprise when you get there.

Vietnamese bun

Serves 4

 

SAUCE

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup seasoned rice vinegar

1 cup Asian fish sauce

1 piece (3 inches) fresh ginger, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

 

1. In a bowl, combine the sugar and vinegar. Stir well until the sugar dissolves.

 2. Add the fish sauce, ginger, and garlic; set aside.

 

CHICKEN,  NOODLES,VEGETABLES

8 ounces rice vermicelli

4 chicken breasts halves, on the bone

1 tablespoon peanut oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon sriracha or other hot sauce

1/2 head red or green leaf  lettuce, cored and coarsely chopped

4 carrots, grated

3 cups fresh sprouts

6 Armenian or pickling cukes, thinly sliced

1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths

1/2 cup dry roasted peanut, chopped

 

1. Turn on the broiler. Bring a kettle of water to a boil.

2.  In a bowl, combine the noodles with 3 cups hot tap water. Add enough boiling water to submerge to cover the noodles. Set aside for 15 minutes. Drain the noodles and transfer to a bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of the sauce and toss well.

3. Set the chicken, skin side up, in a rimmed pan that can withstand the heat of the broiler element.

4. In a bowl, combine the oil, soy sauce, and sriracha or hot sauce. With your hands, rub the mixture over the chicken skin. Broil about 10-inches from the element for 5 minutes or until starting to brown. Turn the oven temperature down to 400 degrees. Continue cooking for 25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

5. Set the chicken aside to cool. Remove the meat from the bones in one large piece. Halve the meat lengthwise, then cut crosswise into slices.

6. Divide the noodles among 4 bowls. Add lettuce to each one. Top with carrots, sprouts, and cucumbers. Spoon some of the dressing over the vegetables.

7. Add chicken and spoon more dressing on top. Garnish with scallions and peanuts. Sheryl Julian

 

 

Sorry, Dorie

Posted by Sheryl Julian September 6, 2011 02:40 PM

doriebasque.jpgI was working fast to pull together a quick summer supper a couple weeks ago, which would end with Gateau Basque from a recent Dorie Greenspan book, "Around My French Table." I had eaten this buttery cake many times when I was in the Basque region some years ago. It's essentially two rounds of shortbread that sandwich jam or pastry cream.

I would have had plenty of time to assemble the cake if I had not decided to go to a pilates class that afternoon, then walk a few miles on the treadmill, and return to my kitchen minutes ahead of the guests. The two pastry rounds were in the fridge and I quickly brushed them with egg glaze, cross-hatched the top, and put them into the oven to bake. When they emerged I cut triangles. The results: Wow! 

Dorie Greenspan's Gateau Basque Baked as Cookies
Makes 24 large triangles

2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 extra egg, beaten with a pinch of salt (for glaze)

1. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment (or whisk, if necessary), beat the butter with the brown and granulated sugars at medium speed for 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat for 1 minute, scraping down the sides of the bowl. The mixture may look curdles, that's OK.
4. With the mixer set on low speed, beat in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, mixing only until incorporated. The dough is soft and sticky.
5. Place half the dough on one sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and roll the dough to an 8-inch round, lifting off the plastic wrap often so it doesn?t form creases in the dough. Prick the dough well all over and refrigerate. Repeat with the other piece of dough and refrigerate.
6. Set the oven at 350 degrees.
7. Brush the rounds with beaten egg. To crosshatch: Using the back of a fork, mark the rounds across in one direction. Then make a set of marks diagonally to the first set, still using the fork.
8. Bake for 30 minutes or until the rounds are golden and firm. Remove from the oven and set aside for 10 minutes. While they are still warm, use a long sharp knife to cut the round into quarters. Cut each quarter into 3 triangles. Separate on the baking sheet and set aside to cool completely. Store in an airtight tin. Sheryl Julian. Adapted from "Around My French Table"

When there's eggplant in the garden

Posted by Sheryl Julian August 23, 2011 04:50 PM

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In my kitchen, lots of eggplant means poor man's caviar, named for the tiny dots in the vegetable. I roast the eggplant in the oven or set them on the grill after the other food has come off, so they can cook over the waning coals (you just have to remember to fetch them off the rack before you close the kitchen.

Poor man's caviar

(Eggplant spread)

Serves 6

2 large eggplant, pierced several times

Olive oil (for sprinkling)

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/4 onion, coarsely chopped

1 large tomato, peeled and chopped

1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves

1. Set the oven at 400 degrees or light a grill to medium. Rub the eggplant very lightly with oil. Set them in a baking dish or on the grill rack. Roast for 45 minutes, turning several times, until the eggplant are beginning to collapse and they are tender when you insert a skewer into the thickest end.

2. Let the eggplant sit until they are cool enough to handle. Halve them and use a spoon to scoop the flesh onto a cutting board. Chop it coarsely. Transfer to a food processor. Add a generous sprinkle of oil, salt, and pepper. Work until coarsely chopped.

3. Add the onion, tomato, and parsley. Continue pulsing the eggplant until the mixture forms a chunky puree. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour for the flavors to mellow. Serve with crackers or pita toasts. Sheryl Julian

Eggy fried rice recipe

Posted by Glenn Yoder, Boston.com Staff August 16, 2011 05:22 PM

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Eggy fried rice
Serves 1

1 tablespoon peanut oil

1 piece (1-inch) fresh ginger, chopped

4 scallions, chopped

2 cups cooked white rice

2 eggs, lightly beaten

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander or parsley

1. In a large skillet, heat the peanut oil. When it is hot, add the ginger and 3 of the scallions. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until the grains are coated with oil and starting to brown.

2. Make a well in the center of the rice. Add the eggs, salt, and pepper. Stir well until they start to set on the bottom. Start incorporating the rice from the edges of the pan, stirring constantly, until the rice is coated with egg and the egg is cooked all over.

3. Transfer to a large bowl. Sprinkle with the remaining scallion and coriander or parsley. Sheryl Julian

Can't get enough corn on the cob (and it's great this year!)

Posted by Sheryl Julian August 9, 2011 02:55 PM

cornrelish.JPGSo that endless heat was great for the fields (and then badly needed rain). The corn is wonderful this year. We go to Wilson Farm on Sundays and bring home too much. Corn on the cob, of course, this corn relish, and corn chowder are three favorites.

Corn relish

Serves 6

 

Salt and pepper, to taste

6 ears fresh corn, kernels removed from cobs

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

3 scallions, thinly sliced

1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

 

1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the corn and cook exactly 2 minutes (the water may not return to a boil, but that’s OK).

2. Drain into a colander and rinse with cold water. Shake the colander to remove excess water.

3. Transfer the corn to a serving bowl. Add salt, pepper, oil, and vinegar. Stir well. Set aside for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the corn cools.

4. Add the bell pepper, jalapeno, and parsley. Stir well. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Sheryl Julian      

Summer in a bowl

Posted by Sheryl Julian August 2, 2011 04:18 PM

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Luckily, I always buy too much corn, and this pasta salad is a favorite dish to use it up. Use any other salad vegetables you have on hand. I had freshly picked zucchini and yellow squash on the counter to add to this bowl -- uncooked and very thinly sliced -- but it didn't seem to need it. A box of colorful cherry tomatoes will serve you well, as will sugar snap peas, or green beans, cut on the diagonal, or all kinds of colorful peppers.

There's a neat cooking trick for the pasta and corn (see recipe below), which saves time, pot washing, and gets the tiny kernels into the curly pasta edges.

Summer pasta salad with corn and tomatoes

Serves 6

 

The easiest way to cook the pasta and corn is to drop the corn in the pasta cooking water. The corn has a magical way of tucking itself into the shells so the dish looks wonderful when served.

 

Salt and pepper, to taste

8 ounces small pasta shells or any other curly shape

6 ears fresh corn, kernels removed from cobs

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1/2 red onion, cut into slivers

1/2 pound sugar snap peas, cut on the diagonal

1 pint red and yellow cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered

Handful fresh oregano, leaves coarsely chopped

 

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes or until the pasta is almost tender. Add the corn and when the water returns to a boil, drain the mixture into a colander and rinse with cold water until it is no longer warm.

2.Transfer the corn mixture to a large bowl. Sprinkle with oil, more salt, and pepper. Set aside, stirring occasionally, until the mixture cools.

3. Add the vinegar, onion, sugar snaps, tomatoes, and oregano. Stir well. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, pepper, olive oil, or vinegar. Cover and chill for 1 hour. Sheryl Julian

Grilled vegetable gazpacho

Posted by Sheryl Julian July 26, 2011 03:53 PM

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Most tomato-based gazpacho recipes produce a thin, bright red soup. When you grill the vegetables first, however, and work all those luscious charred bits into the mixture, the soup thickens dramatically (think salsa), and isn't as clear. But it's more substantial than the versions made with uncooked salad vegetables. Add cubes of avocado to the top, along with cilantro or parsley, if you like.

Grilled vegetable gazpacho

Serves 6

 

2 zucchini, halved lengthwise

1 yellow squash, halved lengthwise

1 red bell pepper, cored, halved, and seeded

1 jalapeno or other small chili pepper, cored, halved, and seeded

2 leeks, trimmed and halved lengthwise

Olive oil (for sprinkling)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Handful fresh basil leaves, stemmed

32 ounces vegetable or tomato juice

Generous dash sriracha or other hot sauce

1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

2 limes

 

1. Light a charcoal grill or set a gas grill to medium-high.

2. In a roasting pan, lay the zucchini, squash, bell and hot pepper, and leeks in one layer. Sprinkle them with oil, salt, and pepper.  Grill the vegetables, turning several times, for 10 to 15 minutes or until they are tender. Set aside to cool.

3. Chop the vegetables into 1-inch pieces.

4. In a blender, combine the vegetables, basil, and 3 cups of the juice. Work the mixture until it is a coarse puree.

5. Tip the vegetables into a bowl, add the remaining juice and taste for seasoning. If you prefer more heat, add the hot sauce. Ladle into bowls.

6. In a small bowl, toss the avocado with the juice of 1 lemon. Garnish the bowls with the avocado. Cut the remaining lime into 6 pieces. Serve the soup with lime. Sheryl Julian

 

 

 

 

 

tags gazpacho

Too hot to cook

Posted by Sheryl Julian July 19, 2011 02:31 PM

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I found these beautiful, fresh red onions at Wilson Farm and thought of a dozen things to do with them.

We had nice bread in the house. I've been buying Nashoba Brook Bakery whole wheat loaf lately and it's a fine tasting, very hearty bread, and thankfully, made without molasses (what is it with breadmakers that they think every New Englander wants molasses in a healthy loaf?). I was thinking about layering the onions with cucumbers and lettuce with a little mayo.

Or they could go into an onion frittata. Or caramelized onions as a side for something off the grill. Or chopped and sprinkled on canned sardines (this last suggestion isn't for everyone, but if you love sardines, you know what I mean).

Finally, the onions went into a chicken salad with snow peas and some other oddments I had in the fridge. It's my summer stand-by. If we're lucky, there's a little left for someone to take for lunch.

Don't worry. The onions are so mild your colleagues won't avoid you after you eat.

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Chicken salad with snow peas

Serves 4

 

3 chicken breast halves, grilled or roasted (or 3 whole cooked legs)

1/2 pound snow peas, strings removed and halved on the diagonal

1 fresh red onion or 1/2 regular red onion, very thinly sliced

2 stalks celery, thinly sliced on the diagonal

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

 

1. Remove and discard the skin and bones from the chicken. Cut the flesh into 2-inch strips.

2. In a bowl combine the chicken, snow peas, onion, celery, and tomatoes. Toss gently.

3. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss again. Sprinkle with vinegar and parsley. Toss until well mixed. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Sheryl Julian

When it's too hot to cook

Posted by Sheryl Julian July 12, 2011 05:35 PM


raita.JPGOn dog days, you have to cook something quickly on the grill, in a skillet, or whatever you do when you want a quick blast of heat and then nothing. And then make raita, the cooling Indian dish of yogurt and finely chopped vegetables.

This one, from the smart looking and enticing new "My Indian Kitchen," by former chef and food consultant Hari Nayak, is a particularly good version. Nayak grates his cukes, chops the tomato, and adds a chili pepper, fresh mint and coriander, and chaat masala (a spice blend). I had no chaat, so I used garam masala.

Last night I had it with Nayak's curry in a hurry (watch for more of his recipes in upcoming blogs).

Cucumber and yogurt raita

Serves 4

2 cups plain yogurt, whisked until smooth

2 small seedless or 1 European cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded, and grated (with skin)

1 tomato, peeled and chopped

1 fresh chili pepper, chopped (with seeds)

1 tablespoon each chopped fresh mint and fresh coriander

1 teaspoon chaat masala or garam masala

Extra chopped mint and coriander (for garnish)

Salt, to taste

1. In a bowl, stir together the yogurt, cucumber, chili pepper, mint, coriander, chaat or garam masala, and salt.

2. Transfer to a bowl. Garnish with extra mint and coriander. Adapted from "My Indian Kitchen"

 

Make your own ramen

Posted by Devra First July 6, 2011 01:28 PM

There are a lot of steps involved, but this video illustrates them clearly and simply. And it continues our recent canine theme. The video is part of the useful and charming online "Cooking With Dog" series (tagline: "It's not what you think..."), which shows how to prepare a wide variety of Japanese dishes.

Chicken piccata

Posted by Sheryl Julian June 28, 2011 04:06 PM

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For an upcoming story, I am making a list of all the dishes newlyweds would want. This chicken piccata might be one, a light, summery entree that only needs lots of fresh greens. It cooks quickly in a large skillet and you need a glass of wine to deglaze it, along with a little chicken stock. The two make a fine instant sauce, along with capers and lots of parsley.

Chicken piccata

Serves 4

 

A good way to prepare the breasts is to butterfly the thickest part of them, then pound them with the bottom of a small skillet to make them thinner.

 

4 skinless boneless chicken breasts

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup white wine

1/2 cup chicken stock

2 tablespoons capers

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 lemon, cut into wedges (for serving)

 

1. Sprinkle the breasts with salt and pepper.

2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook without disturbing for 5 minutes. Turn the cook the undersides for 5 minutes more.

3. Remove the chicken from the pan.

4. Add the wine and stock. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil. Let it bubble steadily until it reduces by half. Return the chicken to the pan (tip in any juices that accumulated around the meat). Simmer for 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

5. Sprinkle with capers and parsley. Serve with lemon. Sheryl Julian 

The Recipe Box Project update

Posted by Sheryl Julian June 23, 2011 12:01 PM

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This came in from Food section contributor Debra Samuels, who is overseeing The Recipe Box Project. We're asking readers to send us their favorite dishes. From time to time we'll publish them here or in the food section on Wednesday. To send a recipe, email Debra at recipebox@globe.com

Dear Readers,

Thank you for sending us some great recipes and for the warm memories you wrote about.

We hope you saw Veda Clarke's grandmother's potato salad we printed a few weeks ago. It is made with baked potatoes and Cain's mayonnaise, a delicious addition to any summer picnic.

Next Wednesday, a blueberry cake sent in by reader Jane Connelly is going to be entered into a blueberry cake tasting.

Here are a few notes that we received. Former Bostonian Roseanne Surette, now retired to South Carolina, writes, "I have been saving recipes, mostly from the Globe and other newspapers, magazines, friends, etc., and have spent mucho $$ on sheet protectors to put into binders. I've often questioned my sanity as I thought there was no one else out there that was a nutty as I was/am! "

Meg Sullivan, one of 6 siblings raised in Boston, who are scattered around New England, sent us a photo from 1975 with recipes from each of her sisters and brother. "Today, in order to disprove the adage that there can be too many cooks in a kitchen and in homage to group shots and large, New England families," she writes, "I give you the recipes of my siblings and me:" With it came Maura's coffee cake, Anne's Irish soda bread, Megan's rice and beans, Kate's carrots au gratin, Kara's quiche and Rob'salsa.

Jake Walker of the W.E.B. Du Bois Library writes: "We have at the library of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, The New England Chowder Compendium, a visual database examining all things chowder from the 1700s to today. Our blog, Clammy Hands, and a Facebook account feature submissions from home cooks, chefs, and old recipe boxes."

We also disovered that at one time there were oyster beds in Lawrence. Joyce Bodenrader of North Andover tells us, "I volunteer in the Lawrence History Room of the Lawrence Public Library and have come across recipes from 1919. There were published in the newsletter from the American Woolen Co. mills called the A.W. Booster.

Archivist Louise Sandberg, says that the shores of the Merrimack River provided oysters as an inexpensive food for the mill workers. These beds were destroyed by pollution later. Citizens were asked to have wheat-free Wednesdays and meat-free Tuesdays to support the war effort.

And here is an ice box cake from Cynthia Delia Coddington. It came from her mother, Marylin Adessa Delia. "Ice box cakes, made with various flavors of pudding, originally used stale pound cake between it's layers," Coddington writes. "This was a way to stretch the household groceries a little further. My mother updated it and now uses graham crackers and fresh whipped cream. It's still a favorite amongst my siblings and the next generation too."

 

Icebox cake

Makes 1

Layer a 9-inch baking dish with graham crackers. Add a package of vanilla pudding, cooked according to package directions. Leave to cool. Add a layer of graham crackers to the dish. Add a package of chocolate pudding, cooked according to package directions. Do the same with a butterscotch pudding and more crackers. Refrigerate. Before serving, cover with whipped cream and sliced bananas. Cynthia Delia Coddington 

Broiled chicken salad with orange vinaigrette

Posted by Sheryl Julian June 21, 2011 05:12 PM

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I finally got the date straight for the potluck I was invited to. I couldn't make the fussy little curried egg sliders again, and it was too hot to grill, so I broiled chicken (my favorite way, actually), and pulled the meat off the bones, along with some of that succulent skin. In went toasted walnuts, red grapes, lots of celery and scallions, and a simple vinaigrette made with freshly squeezed orange juice.

The party I went to was a huge success. I love potlucks because it doesn't matter if you go to a lot of trouble or none at all. The buffet looks splendid and each plate has a personality. 

Broiled chicken salad with toasted walnuts and orange dressing
Serves 8

6 pieces chicken (3 whole legs and 3 breast halves)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Olive oil (for sprinkling)
2 cups walnut halves
2 cups seedless red grapes
Grated rind and juice of 1 orange
1 bunch scallions, sliced on the diagonal
4 stalks celery, halved lengthwise and sliced on the diagonal
1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1. Turn on the broiler.
2. Trim excess fat from the chicken. Lay the pieces on a rimmed baking sheet. Rub the skin side with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil the chicken about 12 inches from the element for 10 minutes, watching it carefully. Turn and broil 10 minutes more. Turn the oven temperature down to 400 degrees. Continue cooking the chicken for 5 to 10 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken registers 165 degrees. Let the chicken cool.
3. When you turn the oven down, spread the walnuts in a baking dish. Toast them, turning several times, for 8 minutes or until they are aromatic. Cool.
4. In a bowl, combine the walnuts, grapes, orange rind, scallions, and celery.
5. In another bowl, whisk 1/2 cup orange juice with salt, pepper, and mustard. Gradually whisk in the oil.
6. Remove the chicken from the bones and cut it into 1-inch pieces. Add the meat and some of the skin to the salad. Pour over the dressing. Toss well. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Sheryl Julian

Egg and bacon sliders

Posted by Sheryl Julian June 13, 2011 07:54 PM

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These little honeys were my contribution to a pot luck last weekend: Iggy's baby brioche rolls filled with curried egg salad, crisp bacon, and a few greens. When I got the invitation for the party, instructions were to sign up online at luckypotluck, which I dutifully did soon after the email came.

Then on Saturday, I set to work. Nothing here was difficult, but everything was so tiny. I thought at one point about slipping on my jeweler's glasses.

Ha! Joke was on me. After putting together two dozen sliders and resisting all but a taste, I decided to check the time on the invitation. The party is next weekend!

Anyone want a slider?

Egg and bacon sliders

Serves 16

 

8 slices bacon, cut in half

14 eggs

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder

1 tablespoon water, or more if needed

1 cup mayonnaise, or more if needed

Salt and pepper, to taste

24 small eggy rolls (such as Iggy’s baby brioche, 12 to a package), split in half

6 leaves lettuce, stemmed and torn up

 

1. In a large skillet, render the bacon until it is golden brown. Transfer to paper towels.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add the eggs. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes exactly. With a slotted spoon, transfer the eggs to a bowl of cold water. Let cold water run into the bowl while you crack the shells with the back of a spoon, slip off a band of shell, and return the eggs to the water. Peel all the eggs and let them sit in cold water until cold.

3. With a potato masher, mash the eggs in a bowl.

4. In a small skillet heat the oil. Stir in the curry powder and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the water. If necessary, add another 1 tablespoon water to make a paste.

5. Transfer the curry mixture to a bowl. Add 3/4 cup mayonnaise, salt, and pepper. Stir well. Stir the curried mayonnaise into the eggs. Add enough additional mayonnaise to make an egg salad that just holds together.

6. Use the remaining mayonnaise to make a very thin coating on the cut sides of the rolls. Spread the egg salad on the bottom of each roll. Crumble the bacon and add some to each roll. Add lettuce and close the sandwiches. Refrigerate until serving. Sheryl Julian

 

Exceptionally creamy hummus

Posted by Sheryl Julian May 31, 2011 02:44 PM


purplecitrusjacket.jpgLast week, I was looking over the high stacks of cookbooks that come to my desk for review. "Purple Citrus & Sweet Perfume: Cuisine of the Eastern Mediterranean," with its stunning jacket design, jumped out of the pile. The soup is chilled sweet pea and watercress with a rose petal cream. The author, Silvena Rowe, was raised in Bulgaria, near Istanbul (her father is Turkish). Rowe, executive chef at Quince at the May Fair Hotel in London, is a popular TV personality there.

She begins her discussion of hummus with this: "I wasn't going to include a hummus recipe in this book -- there are just so many of them, and everyone knows how to make it, at least I thought so." Her own version is "deliciously light, silky and creamy," she writes. That's because she removes the skins of dried chickpeas. The task is laborious, but she thought it was the only way to do it. Then she met a Syrian chef, Muhanad Jazier, who told her to simmer the soaked chickpeas in boiling water with baking soda. Then, when it's time to puree them, add chips of ice to the food processor. The cooked chickpeas taste like sweet mashed potato nuggets after cooking.

It's magic. The finished hummus is as light and silky as promised. I make hummus often, from both dried and canned chickpeas, and no recipe I've ever made touches this.

 creamyhummus.JPGExceptionally creamy hummus
Serves 8

2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in cold water to cover
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 to 5 ice cubes, crushed
1/4 cup tahini
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Juice of 1 to 2 lemons
Salt, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground sumac

1. Drain the chickpeas and transfer to a large saucepan. Add cold water to cover by several inches and the baking soda. Bring to a boil, skim the foam from the surface, and simmer, skimming often, for 30 minutes or until the chickpeas are tender. Drain into a colander.
2. In a food processor, work the chickpeas, dropping in the ice cubes one piece at a time. Stop the machine from time to time to scrape down the sides of the workbowl.
3. Add the tahini, garlic, juice of 1 lemon, and salt. Taste for seasoning and add more lemon, if you like. Transfer to a shallow bowl, smooth the top, and garnish with olive oil and sumac. Sheryl Julian. Adapted from "Purple Citrus & Sweet Perfume"

Curried chicken salad for the picnic table

Posted by Sheryl Julian May 23, 2011 06:05 PM

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Give me a chicken and some warm weather (please!) and I'll produce a delectable chicken salad. This one is curried, with a dressing of mayonnaise and yogurt. Cook the curry powder first in a little hot oil and it mellows the spice. The curry is subtle here. You can make it school-bus yellow, if you like, by adding much more. Lots of crunch from celery and cashews, juicy surprises from grapes, bite from red onion. Pass the sunblock.

Curried chicken salad with cashews

Serves 8

 

6 chicken pieces (breast halves on the bone or whole chicken legs or a combination)

4 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups cashews

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 tablespoon curry powder

1/2 cup mayonnaise

6 ounces (3/4 cup) plain non-fat yogurt

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, or more to taste

Pepper, to taste

2 stalks celery, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced

3 cups seedless red or green grapes

1/2 red onion, cut into thin strips

4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

3 scallions, trimmed and sliced on a diagonal (for garnish)

 

1. In a soup pot, combine the chicken pieces, water, and salt. Bring to a boil, skim the surface thoroughly, and lower the heat. Cover the pan and simmer the chicken for 30 minutes or until it is cooked through and starting to pull away from the bone. Remove the chicken from the liquid and set aside to cool.

2. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Spread the cashews on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast them for 10 to 12 minutes or until they are brown, watching them carefully near the end of cooking.

3. In a small skillet, heat the canola oil. Stir in the curry powder and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Remove the skillet from the heat.

4. In a bowl large enough to hold all the ingredients, whisk the mayonnaise and yogurt. Whisk in the vinegar. Add the curry mixture, salt, and pepper. Stir well.

5. Shred the chicken, discarding the skin and bones. Add the chicken to the mayonnaise mixture with the celery, grapes, red onion, and parsley. Stir gently but thoroughly.

6. Garnish the salad with scallions. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour for the flavors to mellow. Sheryl Julian

 

The sweetest fish

Posted by Sheryl Julian May 10, 2011 03:19 PM

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Branzino, which are shipped from Europe, appear in markets this time of year with their heads, tails, and bones intact. The flesh is a little like striped bass, a meaty fish but not dark fleshed. Though some fishmongers will bone it for you, roast it until the skin is crisp -- tuck a bunch of sauteed lemons into the belly -- and eat with fork and fingers. It's the sweetest fish.

Roasted branzino

Serves 4

 

4 whole branzino, heads and tails intact, fish cleaned

3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 lemons, 1 thinly sliced and 1 cut into wedges

1 teaspoon sugar, or more to taste

1/2 bunch fresh thyme

 

1. Set the oven at 450 degrees. Rub the fish all over with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

2. In a skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the sliced lemons and sprinkle with half the sugar. Cook until the undersides brown. Turn and sprinkle the other sides with sugar. Cook until browned.

3. Tuck the lemons into the fish cavities with the sprigs of thyme. Set the fish in a roasting pan and transfer to the oven.

4. Roast the fish for 20 minutes or until it is cooked through (check by piercing the skin through to the bone to make sure the flesh is opaque). Serve with the lemon wedges. Sheryl Julian

 

tags branzino

If life gives you carrots, make carottes rapees

Posted by Sheryl Julian May 3, 2011 03:23 PM

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In tomorrow's Food section, you'll find a cluster of wonderful baking recipes from some staff members and contributors. One is a carrot cake from the Living/Arts' and g's favorite employee, Cheryl Holland. She keeps the place running!

Over the weekend, I grated lots of carrots to see how many it took to make the three cups necessary for Cheryl's cake. I also bought a package of grated carrots to see how much you would need for the required amount. So there sat mountains of grated carrots.

Carrots waiting to be turned into carottes rapees, I decided. In France, where partially and fully prepared foods are much more tempting than ours, you can always find this grated carrot salad ready made. It's on the menus of ordinary cafes, student restaurants, cafeterias, and other simple establishments.

To make it, grate carrots until your nicked fingers tell you to stop (a food processor shreds carrots and other root vegetables to death, so I prefer a hand-held grater). Then toss with a vinaigrette dressing you make right on the salad. Add chopped fresh parsley. It's healthy and beautiful.

Carottes rapees

(Grated carrot salad)

 Serves 4

8 carrots, peeled and shredded

Salt, to taste

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

 

1. In a bowl, combine the carrots and salt. Set aside for 10 minutes.

2. Toss with vinegar , mustard, olive oil, and parsley until the dressing is blended. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, if you like. Sheryl Julian

I'll have what she's not having

Posted by Sheryl Julian April 26, 2011 01:30 PM

 artichokesalad.JPGYou've all been there: Standing in line at the meat or deli counter, watching someone order loads and loads of things. I'm always behind the person getting 1/4-pound of seven items at the deli. Last weekend, the customer before me was getting everything in the prepared foods case that looked good. I was staring at an artichoke salad wondering how much she was going to buy. She took the pasta salad, rice pilaf, meatballs, potato salad, steak tips, chicken breasts. Never mentioned the artichokes.

I was almost ready to check out, but ran around, collected the ingredients, and put the salad together the next day.

Begin with canned artichokes (frozen are even better; those you have to blanch first). Save fresh artichokes for a day when you have some time to invest in the project. This dish is instant.

Artichoke and red pepper salad
Serves 4

2 cans (about 16 ounces each) artichoke hearts, drained
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 roasted red peppers (from a can or jar), cut into slivers
2 tablespoons capers
1/4 cup pitted black or green olives, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1. In a bowl, combine the artichokes, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss gently.
2. Add the red peppers, capers, olives, and parsley. Stir well. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Sheryl Julian

Perfect hard-cooked eggs

Posted by Sheryl Julian April 18, 2011 06:15 PM

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I have survived a lot of Passover seders and Easter dinners faced with that unsightly green rim around the yolk of the egg. Making perfect eggs is very simple. It involves a timer and a bowl of cold water.

I call the eggs hard-cooked because the word "hard-boiled" implies just that. Let the water bubble too vigorously and you'll have tough whites. Gentle bubbles yield tender whites, bright yellow yolks.

Hard-cooked eggs

Serves 4

 

If you stir the water as the eggs come to a boil, the yolks set in the center of the whites. Transfer the eggs quickly from the boiling water to very cold water.

 

4 eggs

Salt and pepper, to taste

 

1. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil.

2. With a slotted spoon, lower the eggs into the water. Use the handle of the spoon to stir the eggs in the water in a circular motion until the water returns to a boil. Let the water bubble gently for 9 minutes exactly.

3. Quickly transfer the eggs to a large bowl of very cold water. Use the back of a spoon to tap the shell to crack it. Remove a wide band of shell from each one. Return the eggs to the cold water. Add more cold water to the bowl, if necessary.

4. Remove the remaining shells. Serve with salt and pepper. Sheryl Julian

Perfect chocolate-chip meringues for Spring celebrations

Posted by Sheryl Julian April 11, 2011 01:28 PM

 

chocolatemer.JPGI've been looking for years for a very crisp, flavorful meringue that takes no effort at all. I like chocolate meringues but have had no luck melting chocolate and adding it to the beaten whites. Flipping through one of my favorite authors, Alice Medrich's "Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-In-Your-Mouth Cookies," I noticed a recipe for chocolate meringues with several variations. One calls for chopping the chocolate finely in a food processor with some of the sugar, and folding that into the whites.

I had everything on hand, decided not to pull out a pastry bag (though I own half a dozen!), but rather shape the meringues like you would shape quenelles, with two oval soup spoons.

I wish they looked as good as they tasted. We swooned. They are very crisp, very dry, beautiful chocolate taste (thanks for 70% bar), and very low in fat. Ideal for the Passover, Easter, or bridal shower table. 

Alice, thank you! You write the most dependable baking books. I love cooking from them.

Chocolate-chip meringues
Makes about 2 dozen

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70% cocoa if possible), coarsely chopped
2/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 egg whites, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

1. Set the oven at 200 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a food processor, pulse the chocolate, 1/3 of the sugar, and the salt until the mixture looks like fine crumbs.
3. In an electric mixer, combine the egg whites and cream of tartar. Beat at medium-high speed until the mixture is no longer translucent, but creamy white, and holds a soft shape when the beaters are lifted. Continue beating, adding the remaining sugar a little at a time, taking 1 1/2 to 2 minutes to add it all, until the egg whites are very stiff.
4. Sprinkle the chocolate mixture over the whites and fold it in with a rubber spatula.
5. Using 2 oval soup spoons, pick up a mound of the mixture on one spoon, then use the second spoon to lift the meringue off the first spoon and drop it onto the baking sheet. You should have an egg shape. Continue until all the batter is used.
6. Bake the meringues for 2 hours and 20 minutes. Turn the oven off and let the meringues cool in the oven. Remove from the oven and set them on wire racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to several weeks. Adapted from "Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies"

Asparagus mimosa looks and tastes like spring

Posted by Sheryl Julian April 4, 2011 06:32 PM

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Mimosa is the simple garnish of grated hard-cooked egg that looks beautiful on asparagus and green beans. If you cook the egg so the yolk is still bright yellow (no unsightly gray rims around the yolk), the garnish is light and sunny and springlike.

Asparagus mimosa

Serves 8

 

This was a specialty of the Cordon Bleu Cookery School in London, where I learned it. I just saw the same recipe in the new Ottolenghi cookbook. That’s the chic shop with several London locations, where the food, I’m told, is delicious and beautiful.

 

2 eggs

2 bunches fresh asparagus, stems trimmed

Salt, to taste

Olive oil (for sprinkling)

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon capers, drained

 

1. In a saucepan of boiling water, lower the eggs and start the timer. Cook them for 10 minutes exactly. Transfer to a bowl of very cold water. Crack the eggs with the back of a spoon and remove a band of shell. Return to the cold water. When they are cold, peel off the shells. Dry the eggs. Grate the egg through the fine holes of a box grater onto a plate.

2. In a large skillet filled with 2 inches of boiling salted water, cook the asparagus for 3 minutes, moving the stalks on the bottom to the top for even cooking. Remove from the water and rinse with very cold water. Set on paper towels to dry.

3. On a platter, arrange the asparagus. Sprinkle with olive oil, vinegar, salt, and half the capers. Use the tip of a knife to arrange the grated egg in a band across the asparagus. Add the remaining capers. Sheryl Julian

 

Swiss chard soup with turkey meatballs

Posted by Sheryl Julian March 29, 2011 03:40 PM

 escarmeatsoup.JPGI've been making meatballs almost every week since I wrote a recipe for the Sunday Supper & More column earlier this year. The recipe makes 48 minis and though I contemplated making fewer, there's nothing like having cooked meatballs in the fridge. For subs! For pasta! To nibble right out of the container -- cold and delicious!

When I went to buy Swiss chard, I spotted escarole nearby. I love it cooked and in salads. So this version of the soup contains escarole, which is ready to eat as soon as it wilts. 

escarole.JPGThe week I made this soup, we had also stewed a whole chicken. On Friday, all the leftovers, plus whatever was in the fridge, went into one pot. A fabulous mish-mash -- and nourishing.

 

Swiss chard and turkey meatball soup

Serves 6

 

The recipe makes many more meatballs than you need. You'll be delighted with the leftovers.

 

MEATBALLS

5 slices sandwich bread (enough to make 3 cups bread cubes)

1/2 cup milk

2 pounds ground dark turkey

3 eggs

1 clove garlic

1 cup grated Parmesan

1/2 cup chopped parsley

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

 

1. Set the oven at 450 degrees. Lightly oil a rimmed (preferably nonstick) baking sheet.

2. In a bowl, combine the bread and milk. Stir well; set aside for 10 minutes.

3. In another larger bowl, combine the turkey, eggs, garlic, Parmesan, parsley, salt, and pepper. Squeeze the bread with your fingers to break it up. Add it to the turkey mixture and mix with your hands to blend them thoroughly.

4. Using wet hands, shape 48 walnut-size balls. Transfer them to the baking sheet. It’s OK if they’re very close. Brush the balls with vegetable oil.

5. Bake the meatballs for 20 to 25 minutes, turning once, or until they are golden and cooked through.

 

SOUP

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Salt and black pepper, to taste

1 can (16 ounces) peeled tomatoes, crushed in a bowl

2 quarts chicken stock

1/2 head Swiss chard, escarole, or other leafy greens, cored and coarsely chopped

1 cup Parmesan (for serving)

 

1. In a soup pot, heat the oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes.

2. Add the red pepper, salt, black pepper, and tomatoes. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes.

3. Add the stock and 12 meatballs. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.

4. Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan. Sheryl Julian 

Old-fashioned hermits

Posted by Sheryl Julian March 22, 2011 02:51 PM

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I often serve a bowl of sliced navel oranges for dessert, but they need something sweet to accompany them. Last weekend, I decided that would be old-fashioned hermits. New Englanders have been making them for centuries (they keep well in tins, so fishermen took them to sea).

This recipe comes from Elaine "Cookie" McGinn, a Brookline resident, who entered them in a Boston Globe cookie contest some years ago. McGinn got them from a cousin in Nova Scotia. Her original recipe was made in a rimmed baking pan, then cut into squares, but I prefer this traditional shape. You make and bake the batter in logs, then cut them into bars. I had some large crystal sugar around, so I sprinkled them with that, but granulated sugar works well.

Hermits

Makes 40

 

3 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup molasses

3 eggs

1 cup raisins

Extra granulated sugar (for sprinkling)

 

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and allspice.

3. In an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Add the molasses and beat well. Add the eggs, one by one, until the mixture is smooth. It will look curdled; that’s OK.

4. With the mixer set on its lowest speed, beat the dry ingredients into the batter until it is smooth. Remove the bowl from the mixer.

5. Use a spoon to stir in the raisins. The dough is quite sticky.

6. Spoon the dough onto the sheets in 4 log shapes (2 on each sheet). Use an offset spatula dipped often into cold water to smooth the tops and sides. Don’t worry about wetting the dough too much. Each log should be 12-inches long and no wider than 2 1/2 inches.

7. Sprinkle the logs generously with sugar. Bake them for 25 to 30 minutes or until they are firm when pressed with a fingertip. The logs spread and flatten during baking.

8. Transfer the logs on the parchment paper to wire racks to cool completely. Cut each log into 10 slices. Store in an airtight container. Adapted from Elaine “Cookie” McGinn 

Longing for fresh greens

Posted by Sheryl Julian March 8, 2011 04:54 PM

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Every spoon-tender pot roast, beautiful bird, succulent chop needs something fresh, green, and crisp. This time of year, I long for greens. In the salad bowl recently went a few endive, sliced on the diagonal; several mini cucumbers, cut into dice; plump radishes, cut into thick rounds; and handfuls of baby arugula, though they could have been sprouts, or shelled edamame, or even frozen peas.

The point is something that looks and tastes bright. Spring, where are you?

Winter salad

Serves 4

3 Belgian endive, thickly sliced on the diagonal

4 mini cucumbers, cut into 1/2-inch dice

4 radishes, thickly sliced

2 large handfuls baby arugula, sprouts, shelled edamame, or frozen peas (rinse peas in cold water to defrost)

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1. In a large bowl, combine the endive, cucumbers, radishes, arugula or sprouts or edamame or peas.

2. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt, pepper, and vinegar. Toss lightly. Sheryl Julian

Ravenous for this black bean soup

Posted by Sheryl Julian March 8, 2011 04:36 PM

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Last week, I interviewed Dayna Macy (above), author of "Ravenous: A Food Lover's Journey From Obsession to Freedom" for tomorrow's G Force. She works at Yoga Journal and spent a year trying to figure out why she overeats.

She began by visiting artisan producers of the things she loves: triple creme cheeses, olives, unusual chocolates. If she saw how they were made, perhaps a small amount would satisfy her. That didn't work. Then the Berkeley, Calif. resident returned to New York, where she was raised. to see if she could tackle any demons left behind. Not that either.

Finally, she realized that it's a matter of deciding what to do and then practicing it. She wanted to do a full lotus pose, for instance, and spent many hours working on it. Same with dinner. She researched, read, and finally decided it was a matter of portion control. She could not eat what her husband can eat and not gain weight (pizza, pasta, etc.). She has to watch the quantity. She uses a measuring cup at meals and got herself down from a size 18 to a size 12.

The old rule: moderation. Why is it so hard to learn sometimes?

Black bean soup with sherry and pancetta

Serves 8

 

2 cups dried black beans, picked over

1 tablespoon pancetta

4 ounces pancetta, diced

1 small onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 teaspoons dried thyme

8 cups water

2 ounces dry sherry

Salt and pepper, to taste

 

1. In a soup pot, combine the beans and plenty of water to cover them. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 1 hour. Drain the beans and set aside. Rinse the pot.

2. In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Cook the pancetta, stirring often, for 7 minutes or until crisp. With a slotted spoon, remove it from the pan.

3. Discard all but 2 tablespoons fat from the pan. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and thyme. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the beans and 8 cups water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover the pan, and simmer for 3 to 4 hours.

4. Return the pancetta to the pan. Add sherry, salt, and pepper. Adapted from “Ravenous: A Food Lover’s Journey From Obsession to Freedom”

I'll make what he's making

Posted by Sheryl Julian March 1, 2011 03:27 PM

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This little honey is the turkey pot pie served at the Boston Public Library cafe, where I went last week. I was meeting friends who have been dining together for many years, including Holly Safford of The Catered Affair, who runs the restaurant at the BPL and caters many of events there. The restaurant was practically empty! I met Holly many years ago when she was doing dishes for Julia Child on her TV set at WGBH. I was food editor of the Boston Phoenix.

I had taught a food writing seminar at BU that morning, raced to get to Back Bay, and sat down famished. So I went right for the little pie, which was covered with a handful of tiny cress. The stalks sat on a puffy little round of pastry, with a wonderfully flavorful mixture of root vegetables and turkey in the bottom. The chef seems to be working in something of a camp kitchen, but managed to produce this lovely dish.

Here is another version of pot pie that I also like, from the Dorset Inn in Vermont.  This one is made with a biscuit crust.

Turkey pot pie with apples and biscuit crust

Serves 6

 

Roast a turkey breast for this or use good delicatessen turkey. Initially, the top is baked separately from the filling, so it’s golden and crisp after it’s baked again on the turkey mixture.

 

CRUST

2 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 cup whole milk

Extra flour (for rolling)

 

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter a deep 10-inch baking dish. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or butter it lightly.

2. In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and shortening.  With your fingers or the tines of a fork, work the mixture together until it resembles sand. Add the parsley and milk and use a fork to work the liquids into the flour mixture to form a moist dough.

3. Transfer the dough to a floured counter and knead it lightly, adding a little more flour to make it manageable but not dry.

4. Roll the dough into an oblong or rectangle (the same shape and size as the baking dish). Carefully lift the dough onto the baking sheet. Bake the dough for 10 minutes. Set it aside to cool.

 

FILLING

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups chicken stock, heated until hot

1/4 cup apple cider

Salt and pepper, to taste

4 cups cooked turkey meat, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped

 

1. In a small skillet, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Cook over medium heat, stirring, for 2 minutes or until it is starting to brown. Whisk in the stock, cider, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more.

2.  Stir in the turkey, parsley, and apples.

3. Transfer the filling to the baking dish. Cover with the crust. Bake the pie for 35 to 45 minutes or until the mixture is bubbling at the edges and the crust is golden. Sheryl Julian. Adapted from the Dorset Inn, Dorset, Vt.

When restaurant chefs write recipes

Posted by Sheryl Julian February 22, 2011 04:32 PM

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Some back story from Ike DeLorenzo on "Dinner for 2,000," in tomorrow's paper.

A chef at a top-tier restaurant would seem to be the ultimate authority on his or her own printed recipes. Recipes that appear in the Boston Globe that come from restaurant chefs are tested by Globe writers before publication. Usually, significant modifications are necessary. Chefs cook by instinct and write what they think are correct quantities.

For one article I wrote, a chef abruptly took back his handwritten recipe when I mentioned that the food editor would be testing it herself. He e-mailed a much more detailed (and correct) version later that day. A recipe is correct, of course, if the cook following it winds up with the right dish, made well.

For the story on Boston's upscale convention center kitchens, I had a chance to see how recipes from chefs work on the other end of the spectrum -- that is, with quantities increased to serve 1,000.

The menu for the 12th annual Big Night fundraising dinner for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay, held on Jan. 22, consisted of courses designed by local chefs who donated their services.

Paper copies of the recipes were then heavily marked up by the chefs at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (BCEC). In black pen, in the margin, there are lots of comments -- and exclamation marks. Parts were crossed out (more exclamation marks). Scaling these recipes up to feed that many people isn't a matter of simple multiplication. Does 1/4 teaspoon chili powder become 1/4 pound?

After the BCEC chefs redo the recipe, they prepare the dish and invite the original chef-author to the kitchen to approve the taste. Of all the chefs who contributed recipes for the fundraising dinner, only one, Joanne Chang, required no modifications. Comment in the margin for her Banana Cream Pie: "Perfect!" And Chang is up for a James Beard award this year. Can this woman do no wrong? Ike DeLorenzo

A peek at the menu for the "Big Night" fundraiser, and a few of the convention center chefs' more printable comments:

Appetizer from Michael Schlow of Radius
Smoked Bacon, String Bean, and Avocado Salad with Buttermilk-Tabasco dressing
BCEC chef notes: "Chop the bacon," "More tabasco & picked onion," "Citrus juice on the avocado."

Appetizer from by Seth Raynor of The Pearl
Nola BBQ Shrimp
BCEC notes: "With French bread," "the 2 teaspoons Sriracha = 1 gallon"

Main course from Chris Schlesinger of East Coast Grill
Pecan-Crusted Braised Short Rib with Crispy Crawfish Grit Cake and Seared Greens
BCEC notes: "Change pecan breadcrumbs," "Greens portion?"

Dessert from Joanne Chang of Flour
Individual Banana Cream Pie in Pate Sucree
BCEC notes: "Perfect!"

(Sort of) homemade crackers

Posted by Sheryl Julian February 21, 2011 01:48 PM

 

 lavashcrackers.JPGI'm no Sandra Lee, in that I never use partially prepared dinners, but I love crackers and almost everything that comes out of a package seems too ordinary to serve with nice cheeses when guests are over. I've been making pita crackers for years, by tearing apart pita bread, brushing it with olive oil, and toasting it. Time for something new.

 

lavash.jpgThen I remembered something my colleague Julie Riven does: she snips big squares of lavash (shown above) with a scissors into neat rectangles (a scissors works far better than a knife), sprinkles them with olive oil, and toasts them like the pita crackers. When the lavash crackers emerge from the oven, they look like they just came from the factory. They're exceptionally crisp and lovely with good cheeses.

Lavash, made all over the Middle East, is very pliable bread often used for roll-ups, and it's totally transformed when toasted. It's available in many markets, but freshest in Middle Eastern markets.

Lavash crackers

Serves 6

 

1 package (about 8 sheets) white or whole-wheat lavash

Olive oil (for sprinkling)

Kosher salt (for sprinkling)

 

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Have on hand 2 rimmed baking sheets.

2. Using kitchen shears to cut 2 sheets of lavash into quarters. Cut each quarters into quarters again. Continue cutting lavash until it is all cut. Lay the rectangles as close together as possible on the baking sheets. You’ll have to bake the crackers in several batches.

3. Pour some olive oil into a saucer. With the tip of a pastry or basting brush, add a dab of oil to each cracker (only a dab). Sprinkle sparingly with salt.

4. Bake the crackers for 8 minutes or until they are lightly browned. The ones at the edges may brown more quickly than the ones in the middle. Check the sheets often during baking.

5. Transfer to a bowl. Bake remaining crackers in the same way. Sheryl Julian 

One bowl, three whole grains

Posted by Sheryl Julian February 15, 2011 12:00 PM

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I love harira, a Moroccan soup traditionally served at Ramadan. I've been making it a lot this winter. I decided to take the elements -- lentils, chick peas, pasta -- and alter the proportions slightly. I also used whole-wheat pasta bow-ties, which I crushed in a bowl, rather than vermicelli, which is traditional. It's a very hearty bowl, entirely vegetarian. Sprinkle hot pepper flakes on top and Parmesan, if you like.

Vegetarian lentil, chick pea, and pasta soup

Serves 6

 

3 tablespoons olive oil

10 ounces white or baby portobello mushrooms, trimmed and sliced

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

2 carrots, coarsely chopped

2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped

2 teaspoons paprika

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 1/2 cups French lentils

1 can (15 ounces) tomatoes, crushed in a bowl

2 1/2 quarts water

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 cans (15 ounces each) chick peas, with their liquid

1 cup small whole-wheat pasta (bow-ties, macaroni, penne), crushed in a bowl

Crushed red pepper (for sprinkling)

 

1. In a soup pot, heat the oil and when it is hot, add the mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until they begin to release their juices.

2. Add the onion, carrots, and celery. Cook, stirring, for 10 minutes or until they soften.

3. Stir in the paprika and cumin. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute more or until the spices are aromatic.

4. Add the lentils and tomatoes. Stir well. Pour in the water, add 1/4 cup of the parsley  with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and set on the cover askew. Simmer for 15 minutes.

5. Add the chick peas and their liquid and the pasta. Cook, stirring often, for 20 minutes or until the lentils and pasta are tender. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like.

6. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup parsley and crushed red pepper. Sheryl Julian

Fruit with sriracha vinaigrette? People love it.

Posted by Sheryl Julian February 8, 2011 03:01 PM

 In  an interview with "The Sriracha Cookbook" author Randy Clemens, he told me that sriracha.jpgwhen they did the photos for his book, he was surprised that everyone devoured a big bowl of tropical fruit salad with sriracha-sesame vinaigrette.

Clemens, 26, a California-based culinary school grad, came up with endless dishes on which to add some sauce, including grits, cornbread, butter, sour cream, and salt.

He said that the sauce is popular all over Thailand and Vietnam. One Thai brand he particularly likes is called Shark, which has a sweetness plus a kick.

"Rooster sauce," as the one from Huy Fong Foods is known (pictured on left), was once distributed to Asian markets and restaurants only. Now you see it on the condiment tray in every cafeteria.

 

Tropical fruit salad with sriracha-sesame vinaigrette

Serves 6

 

DRESSING

1/4 cup toasted sesame oil

1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar

1/2 cup honey

2 tablespoons sriracha

2 tablespoons white sesame seeds

1/4 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce

 

1. In a bowl, combine the sesame oil, vinegar, honey, sriracha, sesame seeds, and soy sauce.

2. Whisk thoroughly; set aside.

 

SALAD

1 medium pineapple, peeled, cored, and cubed

2 mangoes, peeled, cored, and cubed

1 papaya, peeled and cubed

2 bananas, peeled and sliced

2 kiwis, peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced

1 pint strawberries, hulled and quartered

1/2 cup sweetened flakes coconut

Handful fresh mint leaves, cut into ribbons (for garnish)

 

1. In a large serving bowl, combine the pineapple, mangoes, papaya, bananas, kiwis, and strawberries.

2.  Add the dressing and toss gently.

3. Sprinkle with coconut and mint. Adapted from “The Sriracha Cookbook”

Summery flavors in a frigid month

Posted by Sheryl Julian February 7, 2011 07:31 PM

 smokedfish.jpgI wanted to serve something summery by the fire last weekend. As thunder and lightening made clatter outside, we ate smoked trout mixed with mayonnaise and yogurt, spiked with sliced cornichon pickles, crunchy with celery. I also served homemade crackers (blog for another day). The whole thing was a bit hit. It was followed by a big hunk of pork, so the smoky fish was just right in porportion and flavor.

Smoked trout salad
Serves 4

8 ounces boneless smoked trout

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

3 tablespoons plain yogurt

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1/4 cup cornichon pickles or other unsweetened small pickles, thinly sliced

1 stalk celery, halved lengthwise and very thinly sliced

4 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced

Squeeze of lemon juice

Salt and pepper, to taste

 

1. Remove the skin and any bones on the trout.
2. In a bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, yogurt, parsley, pickles, celery, scallions, and lemon juice. Stir in the fish. Taste for seasoning and add salt, if you like, and plenty of pepper.
3. Serve in ramekins or on small dishes with crackers or crusty bread. Sheryl Julian

Carrot cake for a party

Posted by Sheryl Julian January 31, 2011 05:23 PM

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I don't often make my own celebration cakes. Not that I buy them. I prefer to offer a handsome pound cake or another confection that isn't either layered or frosted.

But a special guest came recently, celebrating a special birthday. So I pulled out a favorite recipe for carrot cake, which restaurateur Cary Wheaton gave me years ago. There is no better, moister, more delectable cake than this. Who can resist a spicy batter studded with flecks of carrot, walnuts, and raisins? Both cake and frosting are flavored with fresh orange rind, and the top is sprinkled with lightly toasted nuts. It keeps well (ha!), looks grand on the cake platter, and slices beautifully.

Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting

Makes 1 large cake

 

You need a one-piece 10-inch tube pan to make this, or use an angel food cake pan with a solid, not detachable, base.

 

CAKE

Butter and flour (for the pan)

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

2 cups granulated sugar

4 eggs

1/4 cup orange juice

Grated rind of 1/2 orange

1 pound (4 cups) grated carrots

1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

3/4 cup dark raisins

 

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter a one-piece 10-inch tube pan. Line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. Butter the paper. Dust the pan with flour, tapping out the excess.

2. In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger until blended.

3. In another, larger bowl, use a wooden spoon to stir together the oil, sugar, eggs, orange juice, and orange rind until smooth. Gently stir in the carrots, walnuts, and raisins.

4. Stir the flour mixture into the batter until it is blended. Pour the batter into the pan. Gently tap the pan on the counter to settle any air pockets.

5. Bake the cake for 65 minutes or until the top springs back when gently pressed with a fingertip. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool.

6. Turn the cake out onto the rack. Invert a cake plate onto the cake. Turn the plate and cake right side up. Leave to cool completely.

 

FROSTING

1 large package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature

1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Grated rind of 1/2 orange

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted until browned and coarsely chopped

 

1. In a mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Gradually blend in the sugar until it is all incorporated. Beat in the vanilla and orange rind.

2. Tuck strips of waxed paper around the base of the cake so you don’t get frosting on the cake plate. With an offset spatula, spread the frosting all over the top and sides of the cake, making the frosting as smooth as possible. Sprinkle the top with walnuts. Remove the strips of paper.

3. Set the cake in a cool place for several hours for the flavors to mellow and the frosting to set. Sheryl Julian. Adapted from Cary Wheaton

Something delectable for winter brunch

Posted by Sheryl Julian January 24, 2011 05:56 PM

oniontart.JPGDear friends were in town recently and came for an early brunch. I made eggs in custard cups, this onion tart, a simple smoked trout salad (I'll figure out exact proportions; that day, I was making it up as I went along), and carrot cake (a divine version; recipe next week). We lit a fire in the dining room, the sun was shining after a storm, and it was a memorable morning. It wasn't the food, it was the company. But when the company is that good, it always makes me love the food.

Freeform onion tart
Serves 6

PASTRY
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 egg plus 1 extra yolk
1/3 cup sour cream
Flour (for sprinkling)

1. Have on hand a large rimless baking sheet.
2. In a food processor, pulse the flour and salt to sift them. Scatter the butter on the flour mixture and pulse again until the mixture forms coarse crumbs.
3. In a bowl, beat the egg, extra yolk, and sour cream. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and pulse until the dough forms large clumps. Do not let it come together to form a ball.
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead gently for a minute until smooth. Shape into a flat disk and wrap in foil. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
5. On a lightly floured counter, roll the dough to a rectangle about 16-inches long and 12-inches wide. Lift it onto the rolling pin and ease it onto the baking sheet. Moving around the dough, turn the outside edge onto itself like a hem. With the tines of a fork, press the hem all around, dipping the fork in flour when necessary. Prick the bottom of the pastry well all over.
6. Refrigerate the dough.

FILLING
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large onions, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the onions, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 25 minutes or until the onions begin to melt. Set the onions aside to cool.
2. Set the oven at 400 degrees.
3. Spread the onions in the pan up to the edges, so there are no onions on the forked area. Bake the tart for 40 minutes or until the pastry is golden. Do not remove the tart from the oven until the seams where the forked hem and the edges of the onions are browned.
4. Let the pastry cool slightly on the pan. Slide it onto a board. Sprinkle with parsley and cut into large squares. Sheryl Julian

National Pie Day is Jan 23. Do you need another excuse to eat pie?

Posted by Sheryl Julian January 20, 2011 03:58 PM

bostoncreampie.jpgThis is the Boston Cream Pie served at Parker's Restaurant, in the Omni Parker House. Tomorrow through Sunday, a portion of the proceeds from the pie will go to the Charlestown Club, part of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston.

If you go to the hotel tomorrow, you can get a slice of the pie, on the house, in the lobby.

Boston Cream Pie made the old-fashioned way, isn't as pretty as this picture. It's a two-layer cake sandwiched with custard and topped with chocolate. The pie was invented at the Parker House in the mid-19th century, when it was sponge cake filled with custard, and drizzled with chocolate.

I'm going to retest a recipe I like to make and post it soon. If you don't get to the Parker House, here's a recipe from Flo Braker, one of my favorite cooks, to tide you over.  

It warmed Dr. Zhivago

Posted by Sheryl Julian January 17, 2011 04:32 PM

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In my never ending quest for a hearty bowl to chase away the frigid weather, I asked a Russian acquaintance I see at the gym for her recipe for hot meaty borscht. "We make it without meat," said Natasha Raevich, an artist born in Moscow, who now lives in Newton. "Just plenty of vegetables and lots of cabbage." Simmer carrots, potatoes, and tomatoes, she instructed, cook beets sepatately, then shred them. Finally, combine everything and simmer together. Sprinkle with chopped fresh garlic, or -- this came as a surprise -- chopped olives or dates, and sour cream. "Whatever you like," said Natasha. I garnished bowls with chopped cornichon pickles and unflavored yogurt (in the interests of my waistline). Borscht warms you to your toes.

Vegetarian borscht

Serves 10

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 large onion, chopped

3 carrots, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 Yukon Gold potatoes, chopped

1/2 Savoy cabbage, cored and chopped

1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

3 quarts water, or more if necessary

6 medium (2 bunches) beets, trimmed at both ends

2 cloves garlic, chopped (for garnish)

1 1/2 cups sour cream (for serving)

1. In a soup pot over medium heat, heat the oil until hot. Add the onion, carrots, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes.

2. Add the potatoes and cabbage. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes.

3. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir well. Pour in the water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, set on the cover askew, and simmer for 45 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, scrub the beets. In a saucepan, combine the beets with water to cover. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 40 minutes or until they are tender when you pierce them with a skewer. Drain the beets and rinse with very cold water. When they are cool enough to handle, working over a plate, pull off the skins with your fingers (they'll stain red, but the stain will rinse off).

5. Working over a shallow bowl, on the coarse side of a box grater, grate the beets. Add the beets to the soup. Simmer for 15 minutes more. (Total soup simmering time is 1 hour.) 

6. Garnish the soup with garlic and serve with sour cream. Adapted from Natasha Raevich

For rooster fans everywhere

Posted by Sheryl Julian January 11, 2011 12:50 PM

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Ah, the little rooster and the wonderful sauce. The most puzzling line in "The Sriracha Cookbook," a sweet little volume -- filled with the most appealing recipes -- appears on the first page: "This book is not associated with or endorsed by California-based Huy Fong Foods, Inc." That's the company that makes Sriracha sauce. Why would they want to disassociate themselves with a book that essentially tells you how to eat their hot sauce for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?

Author Randy Clemens tells the origins of the sauce, which is known as "rooster sauce." It was begun by David Tran, who is Chinese, born in Vietnam, and came to this country in 1970s as a refugee. He had been making chili sauce in Vietnam, then fled his homeland on a Taiwanese ship named Huy Fong. His first stop was Hong Kong, then Boston. He eventually went to L.A., where he began the business. 

A couple Sriracha tips:

To make divine mayonnaise: mix 2/3 cup mayonnaise with 3 tablespoons Sriracha (or more) and 1 tablespoon lime juice.

To make hot cream cheese: Mix a soft 8-ounce package of cream cheese with 2 tablespoons Sriracha.

A fine recipe:

Sriracha slaw

Serves 6

DRESSING

1/3 cup chunky peanut butter

1/4 cup lime juice

1/4 cup pineapple or orange juice

1/4 cup Sriracha

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce

1 tablespoon ginger paste or finely chopped fresh ginger

2 tablespoons sugar

1. In a bowl, combine the peanut butter, lime juice, pineapple or orange juice, Sriracha, garlic, fish sauce, ginger, and sugar.

2. Whisk well.

SLAW

1 1/2 pounds Napa cabbage, very thinly sliced

1/2 pound red cabbage, very thinly sliced

2 carrots, grated

2 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into matchsticks

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped

1 bunch scallions (white part only) thinly sliced on a diagonal

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

Salt and black pepper, to taste

Few sprigs fresh Thai basil, leaves chopped

1 lime, cut into wedges (for garnish)

1. In a large bowl, toss the Napa and red cabbages, carrots, bell and jalapeno peppers, scallions, cilantro, mint, salt, and black pepper.

2. Pour the dressing on top and toss again. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, if you like. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with basil and lime. Adapted from "The Sriracha Cookbook"

Low-fat, nourishing, and great for winter

Posted by Sheryl Julian January 4, 2011 01:23 PM

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I decided that the only way to treat my stopped-up head, sniffles, scratchy throat, and general fatigue for the last two weeks was with lots of soup. This is my latest pot. I use every root in the fridge, which often includes celeriac and rutabagas. This version contains carrots, branch celery, purple-topped turnips, golden potatoes, butternut squash, and kale. When the pot gets low, I add more water and beans. It costs nothing to put together and will cure whatever ails you.

Root vegetable soup

Serves 8

1/4 cup olive oil

1 large onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice

2 carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice

2 stalks celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice

Salt and black pepper, to taste

2 turnips, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1/2 peeled, seeded butternut squash, cut into 1/4-inch dice

2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch dice

2 quarts vegetable stock

1/2 bunch kale, stemmed and chopped

2 tablespoons crushed red pepper (for serving)

1. In a soup pot, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, salt, and black pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes.

2. Add the turnips, butternut, and potatoes. Cook, stirring often, 5 minutes more.

3. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, set on the cover askew, and simmer for 35 minutes.

4. Add the kale and continue simmering, cover askew, for 10 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender. Add water to the pot if the soup seems thick. (Total simmering time is 45 minutes.)

5. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with crushed red pepper. Sheryl Julian 

Maine shrimp are in season!

Posted by Sheryl Julian December 14, 2010 04:27 PM

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One of the nice things about Maine shrimp coming into season in mid-winter is that they have such a summery, back-porch quality. When it's warm, we often serve a heaping bowl of Gulf shrimp with a roll of paper towels, plenty of lemons, and a little spicy mayo for dipping.

Maine shrimp are tiny and some come with their heads intact. I cook them in plenty of water with Old Bay Seasoning or Zatarain's Crawfish, Shrimp, and Crab Boil and serve them much like Gulf shrimp. After simmering -- they take about 2 minutes -- rinse them quickly with cold water to stop the cooking. Then toss with a little olive oil, salt, and crushed red pepper.

Maine shrimp with spicy mayo

Serves 4

 

You decide whether you want to eat these shrimp with their shells intact or peel them. The shells are quite crunchy and good.

 

2 tablespoons Old Bay or Zatarain’s seasoning

1 pound Maine shrimp

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt, to taste

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

2/3 cup mayonnaise

Generous dash liquid hot sauce

2 lemons, cut into wedges

 

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil with the seasoning. Add the shrimp. Stir well. Cook for 2 minutes or until the shrimp turn pink and firm.

2. Drain the shrimp into a colander and rinse with cold water until they are cool.

3. In a bowl, toss the shrimp, oil, salt, and red pepper.

4. In another small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, hot sauce, and a generous squeeze of lemon juice. Serve the shrimp with the mayo. Sheryl Julian

My all-time favorite chocolate chip cookies

Posted by Sheryl Julian December 6, 2010 04:43 PM

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Every year about this time, I start to bake like a mad woman. I need to find the perfect cookie in every category: simple sugar cookies that roll out like a dream, but aren't too sweet. Crisp chippers that have a little chew and are dense with chocolate morsels. Something in a bar, perhaps with nuts. I get a little crazy.

This is the chocolate chip cookie I come back to again and again. It simply puts all others to shame. It's from "Alice Medrich's Cookies and Brownies," which came out some years ago. Medrich has a new volume, "Chewy Gooey Crispy Crumbly Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich," which I have not baked out of yet. The chippers are made with melted butter and must sit overnight, so you can't make them on the spur of the moment. You stir the batter together in a saucepan, much like old-fashioned brownies.

They're everything a great cookie should be. 

Chocolate chip cookies
Makes 3 dozen

2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups chocolate chips plus 1 cup chopped walnuts or 3 cups chocolate chips

1. In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt to blend them.
2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Set it aside to cool.
3. Add the granulated and brown sugars to the butter. Stir in the eggs, one by one, followed by the vanilla.
4. Stir in the flour mixture. Stir in the chips and nuts, if using.
5. Transfer the batter to a plastic container, cover, and refrigerate for 1 day.
6. Let the dough sit out for 30 minutes to soften. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
7. Scoop the dough onto the baking sheets in walnut-sized balls. Bake the cookies for 12 to 14 minutes, rotating the sheets, or until they are firm to the touch. Slide the parchment paper onto wire racks to cool. Store in an airtight container. Adapted from "Alice Medrich's Cookies and Brownies"

My weekly pot of soup

Posted by Sheryl Julian November 29, 2010 12:40 PM

 

wintervegsoup.jpgIt doesn't take much to make me happy this time of year. A fire in the fireplace, a few slices of hearty bread, lightly toasted, a big bowl of soup.

This pot of winter vegetables goes onto the stove weekly and changes with the day. Last night, for instance, after the soup was made -- and the clear broth looked almost pristine -- it received a post-Thanksgiving injection of chopped Brussels sprouts, rutabagas, roasted red onions, and turkey. Other days, it might be simmered with cooked cauliflower florets, stir-fried bok choy, potatoes, green beans, even the leftover salad (you'd be surprised how delicious it tastes in soup, though only if dressed with oil and vinegar, not something creamy).

Every night, after the leftovers are added, I top it up with more water or chicken stock. Then the hot pot goes onto the screened-in porch for the night. At the beginning of the week, the soup is the main course. When the pot gets low, the soup is an appetizer, served in small cups, often sprinkled with plenty of Parmesan and chopped parsley.

Winter vegetable soup
Serves 6

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
2 leeks (white and green parts only), sliced and soaked for 20 minutes in cold water
Salt and black pepper, to taste
2 turnips, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 Savoy cabbage, coarsely chopped
1 quart chicken stock
1 quart water
1 can (16 ounces) tomatoes, crushed in a bowl
1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans with their liquid
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1. In a soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. When it is hot, add the carrots, leeks, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes.
2. Lift the leeks from the water and add to the carrot mixture. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add the turnips and cabbage. Cook for 5 minutes more.
3. Add the stock, water, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and set on the cover askew. Simmer for 30 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender.
4. Add the beans and their liquid. Simmer for 10 minutes more. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Stir in the thyme and ladle into bowls. Sheryl Julian

A southern classic for the holiday

Posted by Sheryl Julian November 22, 2010 08:32 PM

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I always wanted to make a real southern chess pie, which is essentially eggs, butter, sugar, and a little cornmeal or flour. I found a recipe that also calls for lemon juice. Since I miss my mother's unparalleled lemon meringue pie this time of year, I made the lemon version. First I made a pie crust and used foil and dried beans to bake it well. 

chesspie2.JPGThen I poured in the filling and continued baking. (My handiwork around the edge could be better....) When it' was done, the center was still slightly wobbly. I was worried that it wouldn't set. But it did, and beautifully. The result is a very sweet filling, lemony, quite good. Slices look high, golden, and firm. I'll make it again and again.

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The recipe comes from Mrs. Rowe’s Restaurant & Bakery in Staunton, Va., in the Shenandoah Valley, where Globe staff writer John Burgess goes for fried chicken, and where I went years ago for biscuits and ham. Last year, a book of recipes came out and this pie was in the collection.

Lemon chess pie

Makes one 9-inch pie

PASTRY

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut up

1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening

1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon vinegar and 1 tablespoon ice water

Extra flour (for sprinkling)

1. In a bowl, stir the flour and salt to blend them. Add the butter and shortening and use a pastry blender or two blunt knives to work the mixture until it forms crumbs.

2. Sprinkle the egg mixture on the flour. Stir with one knife or a fork until the mixture comes together to form large moist clumps. Add another tablespoon of ice water, if necessary, so the dough comes together.

3. Turn it out onto a lightly floured counter and knead lightly to form a dough. Shape it into a flat disk. Wrap in foil and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

4. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Have on hand a 9-inch pie pan and baking beans.

5. On a lightly floured counter, roll the dough to an 11-inch round. Lift it on the rolling pin and ease it into the pie pan. Fold under the edges and crimp them. Line the pastry with foil and beans. Bake the pie for 15 minutes or until it is set at the edges. Remove the foil and continue baking for 10 minutes or until the bottom is cooked. Set on a rack to cool.

6. Turn the oven temperature down to 350 degrees.

FILLING

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut up

1 1/4 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 tablespoon cornmeal

Juice of 1 1/2 lemons

1. In a saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the cornmeal and lemon juice.

2. Set the pie on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour the filling into the pie crust. Bake the pie for 35 minutes or until it is deep golden brown and the center is set, but may wiggle a little if you shake the pie gently. Set aside to cool completely. Adapted from "Mrs. Rowe's Little Book of Southern Pies"                                  

 

 

  

Faster than baked beans, but still nice and beany

Posted by Sheryl Julian November 2, 2010 03:28 PM

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When the nights get chilly, I want something stewy, beany, and hot. It's my New England heritage, I guess. This dish is made with turkey sausages, which are browned first, then simmered briefly with canned beans and canned plum tomatoes. It's a 30-minute meal and just right for -- tonight!

Sausages and beans

Serves 4

 

6 hot and sweet turkey sausages (total 1 1/2 pounds)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 can (1 pound) Italian plum tomatoes, crushed in a bowl

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 cans (15 ounces each) white beans, with their liquid

1 cup water

2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

 

1. Prick the sausages well all over. In a deep skillet, heat the oil and when it is hot, add the sausages. Cook without moving for 2 minutes. Turn and brown the other sides for 2 minutes more. Remove the sausages from the pan.

2. Add the plum tomatoes and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add salt, pepper, white beans and their liquid, and water. Bring to a boil. Return the sausages to the pan. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the oregano. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, turning the sausages once.

3. Remove the sausages from the pan and slice each on the diagonal into thirds. Return them to the sauce. Taste it for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Sprinkle with the remaining oregano. Sheryl Julian

What to do with leftover red wine

Posted by Sheryl Julian October 25, 2010 08:57 PM

lambshankswine.jpgLamb shanks braised in red wine
Serves 4

American lamb shanks are giant things; three are plenty for four guests. New Zealand are smaller (more like large drumsticks), so you need one per person. Make this a day in advance for the flavors to mellow and the fat to solidify on top of the sauce.

3 American or 4 New Zealand lamb shanks
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red onion, cut into wedges
2 medium yellow onions, cut into wedges
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups canned plum tomatoes, crushed in a bowl
2 cup red wine
3 cups chicken stock
Few sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves chopped
1/2 cup pitted black olives, chopped

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees.
2. Sprinkle the meat all over with salt and pepper.
3. In a large flameproof casserole over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the shanks and brown, without moving, for 5 minutes. Turn and brown the other side, without moving, for 5 minutes. Using tongs, tip the shanks onto their meaty ends so the bones are standing in the air; hold them up with the tongs if necessary. Brown 2 minutes more. Remove the shanks from the pan.
4. Add the red and yellow onions, cut sides down. Cook for 2 minutes. Turn the onions to brown the other cut sides. Add the garlic. Cook 2 minutes more.
5. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the wine and stock. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more.
6. Return the shanks to the pan meaty sides down, nestling them in to make one layer. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the rosemary. Let the liquid return to a boil. Cover and transfer to the oven.
7. Cook the shanks for 1 hour. Turn and cook 1 hour more. Turn again and without covering the pan, cook the shanks for 30 to 60 minutes or until they are tender when pierced with a fork. (Total cooking time is 2 1/2 to 3 hours; after removing the cover, New Zealand shanks will take 30 minutes more, American 60 minutes more.)
8. Transfer the shanks and solids to a large container. Tip the liquid into another container. Let both cool. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
9. Skim the fat from the liquid. Tip it into the flameproof casserole. Add the shanks and olives. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and set on the cover askew. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the mixture is very hot. Taste the sauce for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Sheryl Julian

Never too early for turkey

Posted by Sheryl Julian October 19, 2010 11:53 AM

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During last week's live chat, someone wrote about making turkey tenderloins -- the boneless nuggets of breast meat that are sold in pairs -- and how much she liked them. You can also bone the turkey breast yourself, which gives you a wonderful meaty bone for soup (less expensive too). I bought them already boned and roasted them on a bed of potatoes, onions, and apples. The dish is a little like turkey with stuffing -- only quicker.

Turkey tenderloins on potatoes and apples

Serves 4

2 Yukon Gold or Yellow Finn potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Olive oil (for sprinkling)

Salt and pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 pounds turkey tenderloins or 1/2 turkey breast, meat removed from bone

1 red onion, chopped

2 Cortland or other cooking apples, peeled and sliced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

1. Set the oven at 425 degrees. Have on hand a 9-to-10-inch baking dish.

2. Scatter the potatoes in the dish, sprinkle with oil, salt, and pepper. With your hands, toss the mixture. Roast the potatoes for 30 minutes, turning several times, or until they brown at the edges and are almost tender.

3. Meanwhile, sprinkle the tenderloins with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. When it is hot, add the tenderloins and brown for 3 minutes without moving. Turn and brown the other side for 3 minutes. Remove the meat from the pan.

4. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet. When it is hot, add the onion. Cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes or until the onion softens and begins to brown at the edges.

5. Stir the onion and apples into the potato mixture. Set the turkey on top. Roast the turkey for 30 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the tenderloin registers 160 degrees. Let the meat rest for 5 minutes.

6. On a cutting board, cut the tenderloins on a diagonal into thick slices. Arrange on the apple mixture and sprinkle with thyme. Sheryl Julian  

All you need is naan

Posted by Sheryl Julian October 12, 2010 11:43 AM

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I have been making Indian food from Madhur Jaffrey's books for years and couldn't wait to take "At Home with Madhur Jaffrey: Simple Delectable Dishes from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka" into the kitchen.

I was looking for a dish that did not depend on coconut milk for its sauce. Coconut milk tends to give all dishes a sameness that is tiring. It's a complaint I have about Indian restaurant food too. I found a recipe for a whole chicken dish with the most unusual method. You pull all the skin off the bird (I've boned many chickens, but oddly enough, never skinned one; the bare flesh leaves the legs all wobbly because the skin keeps them attached to the body).

Jaffrey explains that Indians like to cook chicken without the skin because it helps the spices penetrate the flesh. She usually doesn't call for that in her book, but thinks it's important here. 

You set the chicken in a paste of yogurt, onions, almonds, cayenne, ginger, and garam masala, ground aromatic spices (which I cheated and bought). I left the bird in the paste overnight and then transferred the entire thing to a covered casserole and baked it for over an hour. You will not think you're going to get something remarkable. The paste is tan and a little unappealing.

This is a wonderful dish. If you ordered it at an Indian restaurant, you'd be thrilled. The meat is very flavorful, the sauce intense, rich, and mildly hot.

Madhur Jaffrey will be talking about her new book at the Wellesley Free Library on Oct 20 and at The Coolidge Corner Theatre on Oct 21.

Whole chicken baked with almond and onion sauce

Serves 4

PASTE

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 cup plain yogurt

1 medium onion, chopped

1 piece (3 inches) fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 3/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons garam masala

2 tablespoons slivered blanched almonds

1. In a blender, combine the lemon juice, yogurt, onion, ginger, garlic, cayenne, salt, garam masala, and almonds.

2. Work the mixture until it forms a smooth paste.

CHICKEN

1 whole chicken (about 3 3/4 pounds)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3 tablespoons canola oil

1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

1. Remove as much of the skin on the chicken as you can. Begin with a small knife and cut a slit in the skin near the breastbone. The skin should pull off easily with your hands.

2. Cut 2 or 3 deep diagonal gashes in the fleshy part of each breast and thigh. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon salt and the lemon juice over the chicken, inside and out. Leave for 15 minutes.

3. Put half the paste into a bowl. Add the chicken and the remaining paste, so it covers the flesh and cavity of the bird. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 24 hours.

4. Set the oven at 400 degrees.

5. In a large, deep flameproof casserole, heat the oil and add the cumin seeds. Cook 10 seconds or until they sizzle. Add the chicken, breast side up, and all the paste. Bring to a boil and remove from the heat. Cover the pot and transfer to the oven.

6. Cook the chicken for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking for 40 minutes, basting often with the sauce, until the chicken is tender (total cooking time is 70 minutes). Cut the bird into serving pieces. Adapted from "At Home with Madhur Jaffrey"

In my kitchen, Cortlands = apple pie, tart, or crostata

Posted by Sheryl Julian October 4, 2010 01:57 PM

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It seems too early for apple pie. Not sure why. I associate pies with deepest, chilliest fall. I love tarts, but don't like the idea of laying the apples in perfect overlapping rows. Fussy! So last weekend, crostata won out.

In a departure, I sauteed the Cortlands first, and when they were almost tender, tossed them with flour, let them cool, then tipped them into the crust. The method was something Vicki Lee Boyajian mentioned to me when I interviewed her a couple weeks ago about baking with apples.

Apple crostata

Serves 6

PASTRY

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut up

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon vinegar and 2 tablespoons ice water

Extra flour (for sprinkling)

1. In a food processor, pulse the flour, salt, and baking powder to blend them.

2. Add the butter and pulse to form crumbs. Add the sugar and pulse to mix well.

3. Sprinkle the egg mixture onto the flour mixture. Pulse just until the dough forms clumps (it should not form a ball). Add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if necessary to make the clumps.

4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead lightly to shape it into a flat 4-inch disk. Wrap in foil and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

FILLING

5 tablespoons butter

5 Cortland apples, peeled, cored, and sliced

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons flour

Grated rind of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons milk (for brushing)

Extra granulated sugar (for sprinkling)

Confectioners' sugar (for sprinkling)

1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large skillet, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter. Add the apples. Cook, turning gently, for 2 minutes or until the apples are coated all over with butter. Add 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar and continue cooking for 4 minutes or until the apples are beginning to soften. Transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle with flour, stir thoroughly, and set aside to cool.

3. On a lightly floured counter, roll the dough to a 12-inch round. It's OK if it's not perfect. Leaving 1 1/2 inches around the edge of the pastry, layer the apples, lemon rind, remaining 1 tablespoon sugar, and all but 1 tablespoon of the butter in the center. Sprinkle the top layer of apples with sugar and dot with butter.

4. Fold the pastry edges over the apples and press lightly. If the pastry looks floury, dust off the flour with a dry pastry brush. Brush the pastry with milk and sprinkle it with granulated sugar.

5. Bake the crostata for 40 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. It's thick in places, so make sure it is cooked through. Set the sheet on a wire rack to cool. Transfer the crostata to a cake platter and dust with confectioners' sugar. Sheryl Julian

My favorite apple cake

Posted by Sheryl Julian September 28, 2010 02:37 PM

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If guests are coming, if I'm going somewhere and need to bring dessert, if I just feel like baking, this is the cake I make in the fall. It comes from Julie Riven, with whom I wrote the Globe magazine food column for many years, and then a cookbook. Her mother made it.

What is special about this cake is its remarkably moist texture, from oil and orange juice. When you layer the batter with four apples (Julie and I both use Cortlands), you wonder if there's enough batter to hold the apples together. But there is. The cake tastes delicious, it's easy to put together, it keeps well, and it's high in the pan. Head to the kitchen.

Julie's mother's apple cake

Makes 1 large cake

Butter (for the pan)

Flour (for the pan)

1 cup canola oil

4 eggs

1/4 cup orange juice

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 cups flour

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 baking apples (Cortland, Baldwin, Mutsu, Northern Spy, Opalescent, Rhode Island Greening, Rome Beauty, Spigold), peeled, cored, and thinly sliced

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon mixed with 5 tablespoons granulated sugar

Confectioners' sugar (for sprinkling)

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter a 10-inch tube pan, line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit it, and butter the paper. Dust the pan with flour, tapping out the excess.

2. In an electric mixer, combine the oil, eggs, orange juice, and vanilla. Beat until smooth.

3. Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat just until smooth again, scraping down the sides of the bowl.

4. Spoon one-third of the batter into the pan (barely a layer). Smooth the batter with a metal palette knife. Gently press half the apples into the batter (OK to overlap). Sprinkle with half the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Add one-third more batter, the remaining apples, and all but 2 tablespoons of the remaining cinnamon-sugar. Cover with batter, smooth the top (it may not cover the apples; that's OK), and sprinkle with remaining cinnamon-sugar. 

5. Bake the cake for 60 to 70 minutes or until the top is firm and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

6. With a small knife, cut around the inside and outside edges of the cake to release it from the pan. Turn the cake out onto a plate. Set another plate on top and invert again so the cake is right-side up. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. Adapted from "The Way We Cook"

Shoulder season in the kitchen

Posted by Sheryl Julian September 23, 2010 11:04 AM

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Every so often I stop by the Callie Crossley Show on WGBH radio to talk about food, as I did yesterday. The subject was making the transition from summer to fall, and as anyone who shops at a farm stand knows, it's an exciting time in the kitchen. Many of the warm weather crops -- tomatoes, zucchini, herbs -- are still in season, but so are some of the cool weather vegetables.

Yesterday, I brought this vegetarian stew to Callie, who is an amusing, warm, smart, and remarkable interviewer (she knows a ton about food!), with a soft-cooked egg on top. We decided that cooking in September and October is a matter of layering. You know you have to take a sweater and perhaps a jacket to work in the morning because the day begins cool, heats up, then turns chilly at night. In the pot, the layers come from adding tender ingredients, such as zucchini, to heartier ones, such as butternut squash.

Before I left for the show, I went out to the garden to snip oregano and thyme for the garnish, noticed the fresh mint still thriving, and decided to add some of that too. Layer your own nourishing pot.

Vegetarian stew

Serves 6

2 tablespoons olive oil

5 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced on a diagonal

Salt and black pepper, to taste

6 plum tomatoes, cored and halved lengthwise

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper

4 cups vegetable stock

2 cans white or red beans (or a combination), with their liquid

1/2 butternut squash, peeled and seeded, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

Extra oregano (for garnish)

1. In a large flameproof casserole, heat the oil and when it is very hot, add the zucchini. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Cook without moving for 3 minutes. Turn the zucchini and cook again without moving for 3 minutes. The bottom slices should get very brown. Continue cooking in this way for 3 minutes more.

2. Move the zucchini to the edges of the pan. Add the tomatoes rounded sides down to the middle. Cook without moving for 3 minutes. Turn the tomatoes and cook them flat sides down. Turn the zucchini while the tomatoes cook. With tongs, pull off the tomato skins if they come easily.

3. Add the cumin, allspice, and red pepper. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Pour in the stock and beans, with the liquid from the cans. Cook, stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, in a saucepan fitted with a steamer basket and several inches of boiling water, steam the butternut for 10 minutes or until tender.

5. Add the butternut squash to the pot with the oregano and mint. Continue cooking for 5 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender and the flavors have blended. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or red pepper, if you like. Ladle into bowls and garnish with oregano. Sheryl Julian

When you need a drop-dead chocolate cake

Posted by Sheryl Julian September 20, 2010 05:00 PM

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This is a handsome and delicious chocolate cake that Holly Safford of The Catered Affair gave me when I was editing "The New Boston Globe Cookbook" last year. I made it several times when she sent me the recipe, and then moved on to other desserts.

I made it over the weekend to bring to a dinner and I fell in love with the cake all over again. It's surprisingly light because you beat the whites separately and fold them into the batter. When the cake is cooled, you spoon a delectable chocolate-espresso glaze over the cake, which seeps in just a little.

Holly calls the cake "Aunt Selma's Chocolate Cake," but no one remembers whose aunt Selma is. When Holly got the recipe, it was signed Helen Daly.

Aunt Selma's Chocolate Cake with Espresso Glaze

Makes 1 large cake

CAKE

Butter and flour (for the pan)

1 cup cool black coffee

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

2 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups sugar

4 eggs, separated

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter a 10-inch Bundt pan. Dust the pan with flour, tapping out the excess.

2. In a saucepan over low heat, combine the coffee and chocolate. Cook, stirring, until they melt; do not boil.

3. In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt to blend them.

4. In an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until well combined. Add the yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition.

5. Stir in the chocolate and vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer set on its lowest speed, blend in the flour. Scrape the batter up from the bottom to make sure it is well blended.

6. In an electric mixer or with a rotary beater, beat the whites until they hold stiff peaks. Stir a large spoonful of whites into the chocolate batter. Fold in the remaining whites as lightly as possible until no white patches show.

7. Pour the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Bake the cake for 45 minutes or until the top is firm and the cake pulls away slightly from the sides of the pan. Cool the cake in the pan for 30 minutes.

8. Turn the cake out onto a rack set on a rimmed baking sheet. Leave to cool completely.

GLAZE

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon instant espresso powder

2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

1. In a saucepan, heat the cream and espresso. Add the chocolate and cook, stirring, until smooth; do not boil.

2. Cool the glaze for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Spoon the glaze over the cake. Set aside for 30 minutes to set. Use two wide metal spatulas to transfer the cake to a serving platter. Adapted from Helen Daly. Reprinted from "The New Boston Globe Cookbook"

Delicious end-of-summer soup

Posted by Sheryl Julian September 7, 2010 04:27 PM

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In tomorrow's Food section, you'll find a story on a dinner at Brookwood Community Farm in Canton, held in a field last month. Local cooks Suzanne Lombardi, founder of Tiny Trapeze Confections, and Joan MacIsaac, co-founder of Effie's Homemade in Hyde Park, offered this soup in shot glasses. They also made grilled eggplant caponata, wild striped bass, green bean and fingerling potato salad, and hot-milk sponge cake. Diners ate beside a field of vegetables and flowers.

Chilled heirloom tomato soup
Serves 4

6 medium heirloom tomatoes, cored, peeled, and roughly chopped
2 stalks celery, strings removed, stalks roughly chopped
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, roughly chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
Dash of hot sauce
Pinch of cayenne
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1. In a food processor, combine the tomatoes, celery, and cucumber. Pulse the mixture until it forms a puree.
2. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in the olive oil, honey, hot sauce, cayenne, salt, and pepper.
3. Cover and chill for 1 hour. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or hot sauce, if you like.
4. Ladle into bowls and garnish with basil. Adapted from Suzanne Lombardi

Vacation means enough time to bake

Posted by Sheryl Julian September 6, 2010 05:15 PM

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Ah, a week in rural Vermont with no technology, no TV, just corn, tomatoes, green beans, glorious weather, reports from vigilant neighbors that our basement had not flooded again, and loads of butter and flour.

This is a giant cookie that is rolled out, cross-hatched on top with the tines of a fork (fun!), then baked whole. To serve, you simply break it apart at the table. The recipe comes from Dorie Greenspan's new "Around My French Table," which comes out in October. I'm baking from an advance copy. (The President isn't the only one who gets early copies of books.) I've made her clafoutis a couple of times this summer and her delicious Breton galette, a buttery, salty shortbread you can top with lemon curd or serve with fruit.

Dorie calls this cookie "salted butter break-ups." It's a specialty of the Poitou region in western France, known for its butter. You use unsalted butter and sea salt (Poitou locals use a large, coarse gray salt, she writes).

It couldn't be simpler. I made it twice. Devoured the first batch with guests and made another to tuck into the freezer and take home.

Salted butter break-ups

Serves 6

1 3/4 cups flour

2/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt

9 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 18 pieces

3 to 5 tablespoons cold water

1 egg yolk (for the glaze)

1. In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Pulse to mix them. Drop in the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal with pea-sized and small flakes. With the machine running, add the cold water gradually, just until the dough almost forms a balls. It should be malleable.

2. Scrape the dough onto a large sheet of foil set on the counter. Shape it into a square and pat it down to flatten it. Fold over the remaining foil and refrigerate for 1 hour.

3. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Cut a piece of parchment paper that fits a baking sheet.

4. Place the dough on the parchment. Cover with plastic wrap and roll the dough into a rectangle (or whatever shape you get) that is 1/4-inch thick all over. Peel off the plastic wrap.

5. Brush the dough with egg yolk. With the back of a fork, mark lines going in one direction, then in the other to form a crosshatch pattern.

6. Bake the cookie for 30 minutes or until it is golden brown with a little spring when pressed in the center. Slide the parchment onto a wire rack to cool to room temperature. Let guests break up the cookie or serve it in pieces. Adapted from "Around My French Table"

What to do with all that corn

Posted by Sheryl Julian August 19, 2010 05:29 PM

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This has been the summer of sublime corn and dreadful corn. Honestly, some of it is so mealy it tastes like feed for livestock. Kernels on other cobs are firm, tight, sweet little nuggets of corn juice. We moan while we eat it. Often there's too much and if I realize this  before it's cooked, I take the kernels off the cobs to make my favorite salad. If the corn is already cooked, you can remove the kernels for chowder.

Corn salad

Serves 4

Salt and pepper, to taste

6 ears fresh corn, kernels removed from cobs

1 jalapeno pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped

1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped

1/2 small red onion, coarsely chopped

2 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or parsley

1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the corn. Cook 3 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water until the kernels are no longer hot.

2. Shake out the excess moisture and transfer the corn to a bowl. Add the jalapeno and red pepper, onion, scallions, oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Toss well. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Sprinkle with basil or parsley and toss again. Sheryl Julian

Royal rice

Posted by Sheryl Julian August 17, 2010 03:21 PM
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For the celebration that followed Queen Elizabeth's coronation, the students at the London Cordon Bleu Cookery School were asked to prepare the meal. They invented a dish called Chicken Elizabeth, in which chilled poached boneless breasts, masked with a rose-colored, curry-scented mayonnaise, sat on a bed of jeweled rice.

I've made the dish many times and though the mayonnaise is sublime, the rice is just wonderful. Last weekend, I made a huge batch for a crowd. This time I added fresh corn and folded in basil leaves at the end. You can use all kinds of vegetables; the idea is plenty of color. Toss the grains and vegetables half a day in advance; add basil and dressing right before serving. The recipe doubles easily. You'll need a big bowl for the larger amount.

Royal rice

Serves 6

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 slice lemon

2 cups long-grain white rice

2 carrots, halved lengthwise and cut on a diagonal

3 ears fresh corn, kernels removed from the cobs

1 package (10 ounces) fresh peas, rinsed with cold water

1 stalk celery, halved lengthwise and cut on a diagonal

2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and cut into strips

Large handful fresh basil leaves

1. Bring a stockpot of salted water to a boil. Add the lemon. When the water is bubbling rapidly, sprinkle the rice into the pot. Cook, stirring, until the water returns to a boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 11 minutes exactly. Taste a grain to see if it's tender. If not, let the rice cook another half minute. Drain into a colander, do not rinse. Use the end of a wooden spoon to poke a dozen holes in the rice to let the water drain. Set aside until cool.

2. Half fill the pot with more salted water and bring to a boil. Add the carrots and cook 2 minutes. Add the corn and continue cooking for 2 minutes.

3. Put the peas into a colander. Drain the carrot mixture onto the peas. Rinse them with cold water until all the vegetables are cold.

4. In a large bowl, combine the cooled rice (discard the lemon slice when you find it), carrot mixture, celery, tomatoes, and basil. Set aside.

DRESSING

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 cup mixed canola and olive oil

1. In a bowl, whisk the vinegar, salt, pepper, and mustard. Gradually whisk in the oil until the mixture emulsifies.

2. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like.

3. Pour the dressing over the salad. Stir gently. Sheryl Julian


Zucchini gazpacho

Posted by Sheryl Julian August 10, 2010 12:46 PM

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Well, it's not exactly gazpacho, not the big bowls of spicy tomato soup we've come to associate with gazpacho. But we know that real Spanish gazpacho began as a bread and water soup in the fields, then morphed into a white almond soup. Tomatoes came much much later, as reported here last week.

I thought that I could embellish a favorite zucchini soup and turn it into a gazpacho. It's amazing what one little jalapeno can do in a pot. The garnish is chopped tomato, avocado, and scallions. Beautiful, refreshing bowls.

Zucchini gazpacho

Serves 6

8 medium zucchini, thickly sliced

1 jalapeno, cored, seeded, and quartered

5 cups chicken stock

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 cup fresh basil leaves

1 ripe avocado, pitted and chopped

Juice of 1 lime

2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped

4 scallions, chopped

1. In a large saucepan, combine the zucchini, jalapeno, chicken stock, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover the pan, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the basil and simmer for 2 minutes more.

2. In a blender, puree the soup in batches. Tip it into a large plastic container. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Set aside to cool. (You can serve chilled, but not stone cold.)

3. In a small bowl, sprinkle the avocado with lime juice.

4. Ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish each with tomato, avocado, and scallion. Sprinkle with salt. Sheryl Julian 

 

tags Gazpacho

A new favorite blueberry dessert

Posted by Sheryl Julian August 2, 2010 06:47 PM

blueberryslump.JPGBread and berries are a winning combination. You'll find something called "not quite French toast" in this week's Food section, which is served with berries.

This is a slump, an old dessert that uses ordinary toasting bread cut into triangles and layered in a dish with blueberries and lemon cooked with sugar. The bread soaks up the berry mixture and gives the pudding a little heft. It's a wonderful, easy summer dessert, reminiscent of a pie, without the fuss.

Blueberry slump

Serves 6

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

3 pints fresh blueberries, picked over

1/2 cup sugar

Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon

3 tablespoons water

12 slices toasting bread

Extra sugar (for sprinkling)

1. Set the oven at 375 degrees. With the butter, butter a deep 2 1/2 quart baking dish.

2. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the berries, sugar, lemon rind and juice, and water. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until some of the berries collapse.

3. Butter the bread. Cut the slices on the diagonal into quarters.

4. Add a spoonful of the berry juices to the dish. Add a layer of bread, buttered sides up, then berries and sauce. With the back of a spoon, press down on the mixture so the bread absorbs the juices. Continue layering, ending with bread arranged to form a pattern. Sprinkle the bread with sugar.

5. Bake the slump for 20 to 25 minutes or until the top is golden. Watch it carefully so it does not burn.

6. Cool for 5 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream or heavy cream. Sheryl Julian  

Handling the heat from "Hell's Kitchen"

Posted by Devra First July 21, 2010 09:39 AM

Chefs Benjamin Knack of Sel de la Terre and Jason Santos of Gargoyles on the Square, both featured on "Hell's Kitchen," host a live chat on Boston.com today, July 21, at 2 p.m. "Hell's Kitchen" airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on Fox. Join them to ask about cooking, television stardom, and just how mean Gordon Ramsay really is. (Find a transcript of this chat here.)

In advance of their appearance, Boston.com asked the chefs to share cool recipes for hot weather. Here are their offerings:

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Photos/Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

The following recipes are adapted from Sel de la Terre chef Ben Knack (above). He says: "A salad of lobster, corn, and tomatoes is the perfect New England summer meal. The great thing about this salad is that it can be made completely in the backyard on the grill, out of the heat of the kitchen. The lobster can be cooked when you pick it up, or you can split the lobster and throw it on the grill for about 3 minutes on each side. When grilling the lobster, season and lightly coat with a little oil. For a great refreshment, make a watermelon spritzer to accompany your lobster salad."

Lobster and sweet corn salad
Serves 2

2 ears of corn in their husks, soaked in water for 5 minutes

Olive oil, for sprinkling

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cayenne pepper, to taste

1 medium tomato, cored and cut into eighths

2 tablespoons diced red onion

Handful of baby arugula

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more for sprinkling

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for sprinkling

1 pound cooked lobster meat, cut into chunks

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Chopped chives and tarragon, to taste

1. Preheat grill to 350 degrees.

2. Open husks of corn carefully and remove silk, leaving the corn attached to the husks. Discard the silk. Rub corn with oil, then season with salt and cayenne pepper to taste. Rewrap the husks around the corn and grill over a medium flame for 10-15 minutes, rotating corn every 4-5 minutes. Allow corn to cool. Remove husks and cut kernels off corn.

3. In a medium bowl, place tomatoes, corn, red onions, and arugula. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss gently. Taste and add more lemon juice, olive oil, salt, or pepper if needed.

4. In a separate bowl, sprinkle lobster with lemon juice and olive oil to taste, zest, chives, and tarragon. Toss. Divide tomato and corn salad between two plates and top with lobster.

Watermelon spritzer
Serves 1

4 leaves of mint

Ice cubes

1 cup watermelon juice

1 cup soda water

Juice of 1/2 lime

1. Crush mint and place in glass filled with ice.

2. Top with watermelon juice, soda water, and lime juice.

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Gargoyles chef Jason Santos (above) recommends serving soft-shell crabs with Greek flavors. This is adapted from his recipe:

Crispy soft-shell crab with tomatoes, feta, olives, and Greek vinaigrette
Serves 4

SALAD

8 cherry tomatoes

4 heirloom tomatoes

8 olives, pitted and minced

2 tablespoons minced pepperoncini

1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley

1/4 red onion, julienned

1/4 cup sliced English cucumbers

1/2 cup diced goat's milk feta

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons water

2 teaspoons dried basil

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons garlic powder

2 teaspoons onion powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup canola oil

1. In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, olives, pepperoncini, parsley, onion, cucumbers, and feta. Add salt and pepper to taste and toss gently.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together mustard, vinegar, water, basil, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper.

3. Whisk in the olive and canola oils a little at a time until the dressing emulsifies.

SOFT-SHELL CRABS

4 soft-shell crabs, cleaned

1/4 cup buttermilk

1 cup flour

2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning

1 cup canola oil

1. Put the soft-shell crabs in a large bowl, then pour buttermilk over them. Set aside.

2. In a shallow bowl, mix together the flour and Old Bay.

3. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until it is sizzling. One at a time, using tongs, lift the crabs from the buttermilk, letting the excess drip back into the bowl. Dredge the crabs in the flour mixture on both sides. Lift from the flour and ease into the hot fat. Fry the crabs for about 3 to 4 minutes on a side or until they are crisp and golden. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.

4. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad and toss gently to combine. Divide salad and crabs between four plates and serve immediately.

Bread and butter pickles

Posted by Sheryl Julian July 19, 2010 05:56 PM

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Twice every summer, my mother bought a bushel of cukes and made bread and butter pickles. They're very crisp, not too sweet, full of onions, and lightly flavored with turmeric and mustard. She got the recipe from my aunt, who also made them in quantity. (Read more about pickles here.)

Neither of the women used the water bath method to seal the jars because they thought the pickles weren't as crisp. So the jars went into an old fridge in the basement and had to be eaten by late fall. That meant we had them with broiled chicken and chicken salad, meat loaf, beef stew, weekend sandwiches. We brought them to picnics with cousins. If we were lucky, we spooned the last of the pickles -- not that crisp by November -- beside the Thanksgiving bird. Then they were gone. Don't make as many and eat them faster.

Bread and butter pickles

Makes 4 quarts

You need a stockpot to simmer the vegetables, 4 quart-sized jars and lids, and a funnel to fill them. Sterilize the jars, lids, funnel, and ladle with boiling water. Any hand-held slicing machine works well. If you slice by hand, you'll be there all day.

3 cups distilled white vinegar

2 1/2 cups sugar

4 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric

18 pickling cukes or Armenian cukes or 9 unwaxed slicing cucumbers, unpeeled, scrubbed, and thinly sliced

3 red bell peppers or 1 each red, orange, and yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced

4 medium onions, thinly sliced

1. In a stockpot, combine the vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard, and turmeric. Cook over low heat, stirring often, until the sugar dissolves.

2. Turn up the heat and cook, stirring, until the mixture just begins to bubble at the edges. Do not let it boil.

3. Add the cucumbers, peppers, and onions. Turn them in the vinegar mixture. Cook, stirring often, for 5 to 8 minutes or until the mixture is very hot but does not boil. You should see a bubble or two at the edges. They will lose their crispness if they overcook.

4. Ladle the mixture into jars. With a clean paper towel, wipe the rims of each jar. Add the lids and set the jars on a heatproof surface. Leave to cool. Refrigerate for up to 2 months. Sheryl Julian

Irresistible small summer squashes

Posted by Sheryl Julian July 12, 2010 05:09 PM

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The small round zucchini on the right are about the size of tennis balls and taste nothing like large bats of zucchini. They're much less watery and quite flavorful, as are the little patty pan yellow squash beside them. Add ripe tomatoes and a handful of fresh basil and you have a fine summer dish.

Sauteed zucchini and squash

Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 small round zucchini

4 patty pan squash

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 medium tomatoes, cored and cut into thin wedges

Small handful fresh basil leaves, stemmed and chopped

1. Heat a large skillet and add the oil. When it is hot, add the zucchini and squash. Cook, without moving the vegetables, for 3 minutes or until they brown on the bottom.

2. Add salt, pepper, and tomatoes. Lower the heat, and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Sprinkle with basil. Sheryl Julian

Best summer dessert

Posted by Sheryl Julian July 5, 2010 06:02 PM

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This is clafoutis, which is French, made originally in Limousin with cherries. This one has blueberries and raspberries, both in season now. The egg and milk batter that turns into clafoutis is something like a pancake batter. If you make it in advance and let it sit, the batter is better later. The result is a mildly sweet, eggy pudding that's light and studded with juicy fruits.

It's from a new book I'm obsessed with. I'm cooking my way through Dorie Greenspan's new book, "Around My French Table," due out in October.

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Dorie divides her time between New York and Paris and she's made it her business to translate the French table in a way that makes every dish appealing. Granted, French cooking is wonderful to begin with, but Dorie tells you stories that delight you, gives you information you should know, keeps you transfixed.

In her clafoutis recipe, she explains something I've always wondered about. I had heard that in Limousin, you are served clafoutis with cherries that have not been pitted. Writes Doris: "The theory is that the cherries retain more of their flavor (and, of course, their juice) if you keep the pits, but I'd never had the chance to ask a native from the land of clafoutis the polite and proper way to dispose of those pits."

She has just met a woman from Limousin, so she finally has the opportunity. "You put them in the pit bowl," declared the woman, who went on to tell Dorie that the bowl, which came from her grandfather, goes into the enter of the table. But because Dorie didn't know the woman, she writes, "I didn't think it was right to quiz her on how the pits got from the clafoutis eater's mouth to the bowl. I'm sure they were conveyed on a dessert spoon, but isn't it easy to imagine kids having a little fun shortcutting the spoon?"

Dorie Greenspan's clafoutis

Serves 6

Butter (for the dish)

1 pound sweet cherries, stemmed but not pitted, or 1/2 pint fresh raspberries mixed with 1 pint fresh blueberries

3 eggs

1/2 cup granulated sugar

Pinch of salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup flour

3/4 cup whole milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

Confectioners' sugar (for sprinkling)

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter a deep 9-inch pie pan or another dish with a 2-quart capacity.

2. Arrange the fruits in the pan in an even layer.

3. In a bowl (or blender), whisk the eggs and sugar for 1 minute. Whisk in the salt and vanilla. Add the flour and whisk vigorously until the batter is smooth. Continue whisking, adding the milk and cream until blended.

4. Pour the batter over the fruit. Bake the clafoutis for 35 to 40 minutes or until it is puffed and lightly browned and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

5. Transfer the dish to a rack. Serve barely warm or at room temperature. Before serving, dust with confectioners' sugar. Adapted from "Around My French Table"

British Health Secretary slams Jamie Oliver

Posted by Sheryl Julian July 2, 2010 12:56 PM

jamieoliver3.jpgAt a conference this week, British Health Secretary Andrew Lansley told the British Medical Association that Jamie Oliver's efforts in the schools there had the opposite effect of what Oliver wanted. "The number of children eating school meals in many of these places didn't go up, it went down," the minister told the group.

Oliver fired back. "To say School Dinners hasn't worked," Oliver told the Telegraph newspaper, "is not just inaccurate but is also an insult to the hard work of hundreds of thousands of dinner ladies, teachers, head teachers, and parent helpers who strive to feed school kids a nutritious, hot meal for 190 days a year."

He told the Telegraph that problems with school meals have to do with lack of funding to train staff. The group that tracks school children and lunches said that Oliver had reversed a 30-year decline in the number of lunches sold.

The British chef spent several months in this country in Huntington, W. Va., trying to redo their school lunch program and turn around problems of poor eating and obesity. A crew from ABC followed him around for a series that aired last spring and it seemed like almost everyone disliked Oliver, who wanted to ban french fries and other high-fat items from school cafeterias.

Oliver is passionate about kids and good eating habits, as he explains here at a TED conference. You'd think his own health minister would be for, rather than against, him.

You know those lobster rolls you pay $15 for?

Posted by Sheryl Julian June 29, 2010 02:42 PM

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I was testing lobster chowder for tomorrow's Sunday Supper & More column and had some leftover lobster so I made a couple of lobster rolls. As you know, once the lobster is cooked, the roll takes about two minutes to assemble. But the main ingredient is expensive. I used 4 ounces of lobster meat per roll (an 8-ounce container is $29 at my local Whole Foods; the company stopped selling live lobsters but does offer cooked meat).

The bread rolls are cheap, and I've always loved the idea that New Englanders still stick to the top-loading soft hot-dog bun griddled with a little butter as the ideal lobster salad holder. I added just a little mayo and some chopped celery. Only missing ingredient: a view of the sea.

Lobster rolls

Makes 2

8 ounces cooked lobster meat, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup mayonnaise

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 small stalk celery, finely chopped

2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

2 top-loading hot-dog rolls

1. In a bowl, combine the lobster, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and celery.

2. Spread the butter on both flat sides of the rolls. Heat a heavy skillet. Set in the rolls, flat sides down. Cook 2 minutes or until golden. Turn and cook the other side in the same way.

3. Let the rolls cool for a few minutes. Divide the lobster salad between the rolls, tucking it into them so they're very full. Sheryl Julian 

Save for corn season

Posted by Sheryl Julian June 21, 2010 05:41 PM

cornrelish.JPGI was watching a produce worker at Whole Foods carefully remove the outside husks from fresh ears of corn and stack them in a display. I know perfectly well that the corn isn't local -- ours is weeks away. In fact, I'm not sure I remember ever buying fresh corn out of season. I wanted to see what it's like.

I took the kernels off the cobs, blanched them with green beans in boiling water, and when they were cool, tossed them with jalapeno, red onion, olive oil, vinegar, and whole basil leaves. Looks pretty, I thought.

Tasteless. The corn is tough and has no flavor. I set it under oven-poached halibut, so the fish released its juices onto the corn, which helped a lot.

Wait for the real thing, bought directly from the farmer, who picked it that morning. You'll be rewarded in the bowl. 

Corn and basil relish

Serves 4

Salt, to taste

1/4 pound green beans, trimmed

6 ears fresh corn, kernels removed from cobs

1/4 red onion, very thinly sliced

1 jalapeno or other small chili pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Large handful fresh basil leaves, stems trimmed

1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the green beans and cook 2 minutes. Without draining them, add the corn to the pot. Continue cooking for 2 minutes more. Drain into a colander and rinse with very cold water until beans and corn are both cold. Set the colander aside until the vegetables are cool, shaking it once or twice to remove excess water.

2. Tip the corn and beans into a large bowl. Add onion, jalapeno, olive oil, vinegar, and parsley. Stir thoroughly and taste for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper, if you like. Stir in basil leaves. Sheryl Julian

She cooks for Gordon Ramsey all the time and is still smiling

Posted by Sheryl Julian June 18, 2010 01:27 PM

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Tana Ramsey lives with husband and screamer chef Gordon and their four children in London and spends a lot of time in Los Angeles. She looks like a very cheerful sort and their household of kids are adorable. They're English, so her new book, "Tana's Kitchen Secrets" has lot of savory pies, Indian dishes, cauliflower cheese, lamb kidneys (!).

Sometimes I wonder if an American editor even glances at a manuscript like this before shipping it over. Still, much of the food feels welcoming for a family table and I really do think she cooks. Gotta love British favorites to take it into the kitchen.

Cauliflower cheese

Serves 4

1 head cauliflower

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons creme fraiche

2 egg yolks

1/2 tablespoon grated Parmesan

3 1/2 ounces gorgonzola

4 tablespoons bread crumbs

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1. Set the oven at 400 degrees.

2. Separate the cauliflower into large florets. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the cauliflower and cook 5 minutes or until tender when pierced with the tip of a knife.

3. In an baking dish that will fit all the cauliflower snugly, transfer the florets to the dish and bake them for 5 minutes to dry them a little. Remove and drain well. Return florets to the dish.

4. In a bowl, whisk the creme fraiche, yolks, Parmesan, salt, and pepper. Pour the mixture over the florets. Crumble the gorgonzola into large pieces and scatter them on the sauce. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and cayenne pepper.

5. Bake the cauliflower for 15 minutes or until it is golden and bubbling. Adapted from "Tana's Kitchen Secrets"

A favorite picnic treat

Posted by Sheryl Julian June 14, 2010 04:13 PM

When I first started cooking, I decided I wanted to perfect biscuits. Not sure why: I wasn't raised on them. But I spent a lot of time in the South and there were good biscuits everywhere. And great ham biscuits, little sandwiches in which a sliver of ham is slipped in after baking.

The trick to flaky biscuits is the flour (our Northern flour is particularly unsuited to biscuits). To compensate, you can use ordinary all-purpose flour and hardly touch the dough. Start with a pastry blender or blunt knives to work in the butter, switch to a rubber spatula (the firm one that comes with a food processor is great for this) to work in milk you sour yourself, so they have a tangy buttermilk taste. Then use a metal or plastic scraper to work moist clumps of dough into a smooth mixture.

I make a rectangle and cut biscuits rather than stamping and rerolling, all in the interests of touching the dough as little as I can.

Here are steps to biscuits flecked with fresh thyme, for serving plain or filling with ham or smoked turkey. You'll also find instructions for turning these into sweet biscuits for strawberry shortcakes.

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biscuitswham.JPGBiscuits
Makes 24 biscuits

Instead of buttermilk, sour regular milk yourself by adding vinegar to the milk and letting it sit for a few minutes. The dough contains fresh herbs (use rosemary or thyme). To fill 24 biscuits, you need 6 large slices of good-quality ham. Spread the cut surfaces with a little mustard stirred with a teaspoon of honey. Serve these as a nibble at a picnic or with a salad as a first course. To make a plain dough for strawberry shortcakes, sprinkle the tops with granulated sugar before baking and confectioners' after filling.

1 cup whole milk, or more if necessary
2 tablespoons cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary or thyme
Extra flour (for sprinkling)

1. Set the oven at 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a small bowl, combine 1 cup milk and vinegar; set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to blend them.
4. Add the butter. With a pastry blender or two blunt knives, work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.
5. Add the sugar and rosemary or thyme. Stir with a fork just to blend them.
6. Stir the milk. Sprinkle it over the flour mixture. Use a rubber spatula to gently cut the liquid into the flour mixture until the dough forms large moist clumps. If necessary, add more milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, to make clumps. Don't work the dough until it forms a ball.
7. Turn the clumps out onto a lightly floured counter. Cut through them half a dozen times with a pastry scraper or blunt knife until they form a dough. Shape into a disk. With a rolling pin, roll the dough to 3/4-inch thick rectangle (about 7 1/2-by-8 1/2-inches).
8. Using a long, sharp knife, make 3 lengthwise cuts and 5 horizontal cuts to form 24 small biscuits.
9. Transfer the biscuits to the baking sheet. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until the tops are golden and the sides are pale brown. Sheryl Julian

When you need a sweet nibble with few calories

Posted by Sheryl Julian June 1, 2010 10:56 AM

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I'm working my way through David Lebovitz's new book, "Ready for Dessert" and made these nonfat gingersnaps, which contain dark brown sugar, applesauce, molasses, and egg whites.

I was skeptical that the batter would hold together. He instructs you to roll them in your hands, which is virtually impossible since the batter is so soft (even after chilling overnight). So I used a small ice cream scoop, then dredged them in cinnamon-sugar, as directed. They are big, dense, chewy rounds with lots of spicy flavor, candied ginger, and a little bite from freshly ground black pepper. Perfect as an accompaniment to fresh berries.

Nonfat gingersnaps

Makes about 20

2 1/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/3 cup mild molasses

2 large egg whites, at room temperature

1/2 cup finely chopped candied ginger

1/2 cup granulated sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (for sprinkling)

1. In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and pepper to mix them.

2. In an electric mixer, beat the brown sugar, applesauce, and molasses for 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Add the whites and beat 1 minute.

3. With the mixer set on its lowest speed, beat in the flour mixture until incorporated. Turn the speed to medium and beat for 1 minute.

4. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand. Stir in the candied ginger. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Cover and refrigerate for dough for several hours or overnight.

5. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

6. Using a small spring-loaded ice cream scoop or two spoons, drop walnut-sized balls of dough onto the baking sheets, spacing them at least 2-inches apart. Sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

7. Bake the cookies for 13 to 14 minutes, pressing the tops of the cookies with a flat spatula halfway through cooking, or until the cookies are firm. Let the cookies cool on the sheets. Adapted from "Ready for Dessert"

Take 1 eggplant, add a little smoke

Posted by Sheryl Julian May 24, 2010 04:10 PM

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Wednesday's food section is an ode to the grill, the theme running through Sunday Supper & More, and lots of things to grill for the main course, plus accompaniments. Just before the cooking is done, I like to put a lightly oiled eggplant on the rack. Then when all the other food is ready, you can leave the eggplant to smoke slowly. Refrigerate it sit overnight, and tomorrow you have something deliciously smoky.

Smoky eggplant relish

Serves 4

1 medium eggplant

Olive oil (for sprinkling)

1/4 onion, coarsely chopped

1/2 large tomato, coarsely chopped

Large handful fresh parsley or basil leaves

Salt and pepper, to taste

Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 tablespoons olive oil

1. Prick the eggplant well all over. Rub it with oil and set it on the grill rack. Grill over cooling coals for 40 minutes or until the eggplant is tender.

2. Transfer the eggplant to a bowl and set aside to cool.

3. Remove the eggplant flesh from the skin.

4. In a food processor, combine the eggplant, onion, tomato, parsley or basil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil. Work the mixture in on-off motions until it is lightly chunky. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or pepper, if you like. Serve with crusty bread. Sheryl Julian

This poor thing is endangered

Posted by Sheryl Julian May 24, 2010 03:36 PM

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Many people make it a point to buy honey from local farms. Perhaps they have no idea that the honey that often comes in this old-fashioned bottle isn't pure honey. As the Honey Board will happily tell you, the label should read: "The only ingredient is honey."

I'll bet you're wondering what the Honey Board is. Sounds like something out of an English sitcom. Every ingredient and food source on earth has a group to promote it. This industry group offer loads of ways to use real honey, including these good-for-you granola bars.

Honey granola bars

Makes 9

3 cups low-fat granola

3/4 cup chopped dried mixed fruit (apricots, apples, cranberries, raisins)

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup vegetable oil

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 egg whites, lightly beaten

1. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Have on hand a nonstick 8-inch square baking pan.

2. In a large bowl, mix the granola and dried fruit.

3. In a saucepan, heat the honey and oil until dissolved. Stir in the vanilla. Pour the mixture over the granola and stir to coat thoroughly. Stir in the egg whites.

4. Pack the mixture into the pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden. Cool and cut into squares. Adapted from National Honey Board

Ming's delicious avocado puree and chips

Posted by Sheryl Julian May 17, 2010 12:34 PM

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At a book party last week at Blue Ginger for Lilian Cheung's Savor, owner-chef Ming Tsai and his staff put out lots of beautiful hors d'oeuvres, including this avocado puree, served with Blue Ginger multi-grain brown rice chips, made by Kellogg's and available at Costco and BJ's.

The avocado looks like guacamole, except that it's hardly hot, and it's so bright green that you think it must have a trick ingredient. In fact, it's simply ripe avocado, lime juice, shallot, and fresh cilantro worked into a puree, then a small amount of olive oil is beaten in to lighten the mixture. I asked the restaurant for the recipe, made it, my guests and I polished it off. Then I made it again, and yes, more guests polished off the second batch.

Ming's avocado puree

Makes 1 1/2 cups

1 shallot, cut into quarters

Handful fresh cilantro leaves

Salt and black pepper, to taste

1/4 jalapeno or other hot chili pepper

2 ripe avocados

Juice of 2 limes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1. In a food processor, combine the shallot, cilantro, salt, black pepper, and chili pepper. Work the mixture in on-off motions until it is coarsely chopped.

2. Halve the avocados, scoop the flesh into the food processor and add the lime juice. Work the mixture until it forms a puree. Remove the insert in the processor lid. With the motor running, add the olive oil in a slow steady stream until it is all added.

3. Taste the puree for seasoning and add more salt, lime juice, or jalapeno, if you like. Serve with crackers. Adapted from Blue Ginger

Cooking for my neighbor

Posted by Sheryl Julian May 10, 2010 04:16 PM

 

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My sweet neighbor, Patty, had a baby three weeks ago -- she's a little button! -- and I've been taking food over on the weekends. This week, I made a dish of pasta shells in a 10-minute tomato sauce with broiled eggplant, ricotta, and basil leaves.

When I was dividing the pasta between two baking dishes (so Patty can freeze one for another time), my husband appeared in the kitchen. "What about us?" he asked, looking forlorn.

I layered a little dish to accompany our supper. We fought over it.

 

Pasta with eggplant, ricotta, and basil

Serves 6

Oil (for sprinkling and the dish)

1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

Salt and black pepper, to taste

1 pound pasta shells

1 pound fresh ricotta cheese

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 can (28 ounces) imported plum tomatoes, with their liquid

2 cups fresh basil leaves

Pinch crushed red pepper

2 cups shredded mozzarella

1. Turn on the broiler. Oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

2. Spread the eggplant on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with oil, salt, and pepper. Toss well. Broil about 8 inches from the element, turning several times, for 8 minutes or until the eggplant starts to char. Turn the oven down to 375 degrees and continue cooking for 5 minutes or until the eggplant is tender. Leave the oven on. 

3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring often, until it returns to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 6 minutes or until the pasta is not quite tender (it will cook more later, so it should not be fully cooked now). Before draining, dip a heatproof measuring cup into the cooking water and remove 1 cup pasta water.

4. Drain the pasta into a colander and without shaking the colander, tip it into a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup of the pasta water and the ricotta. Stir gently. Add 1/2 cup more pasta water or enough to make a loose pasta mixture.

5. In the pasta cooking pot, heat the olive oil until hot. Add the tomatoes and cook, crushing them with the edge of a long metal spoon, for 4 minutes. Add salt, black pepper, and red pepper. Add the eggplant and simmer for 6 minutes.

6. Ladle half the sauce into the baking dish. Tear the basil with your fingers. Sprinkle half the basil on the tomato sauce. Add the pasta, half the mozzarella, the remaining basil, the remaining sauce, and the remaining mozzarella.

7. Bake the pasta for 30 to 40 minutes or until it is bubbling at the edges and the top is golden brown. Let the dish settle for 5 minutes before serving. Sheryl Julian 

A thin pizza is easy to make

Posted by Sheryl Julian May 3, 2010 03:34 PM
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We were in charge of the appetizer at a friend's dinner last weekend and arrived with this beauty: a half-sheet pan covered with pizza dough, thinly sliced tomatoes, and grated mozzarella, cheddar, and Parmesan cheeses, all in small quantities. The end result was a crisp, thin-crust pie that reheated nicely in our host's oven. 

Buy the dough, folks. Bertucci's has fine dough. Your local pizza joint will sell you dough at the end of the night because most like to begin with a fresh batch every day. The rest is a brief assembly line of layering. We sprinkled the hot pie with chopped fresh basil.

Thin-crust pizza with three cheeses
Serves 8 as an appetizer

Olive oil (for sprinkling)
1 pound prepared pizza dough
Flour (for sprinkling)
12 small tomatoes or 2 pints cherry tomatoes, either thinly sliced
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
4 ounces sharp cheddar, very thinly sliced
Salt and pepper, to taste
Handful fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped

1. Oil an 11-by-17-inch half-sheet pan (or sturdy jelly roll pan).
2. On the counter, press the dough with your fingers, adding just enough flour to keep it from sticking, until it forms a 10-inch square. Keep pressing to make a rectangle. Cover with a cloth and set aside for 10 minutes.
3. Lift the dough and transfer it to the sheet pan. Keep pressing with your fingers until the dough fills the pan. It will be quite thin (that's OK). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or for up to 3 hours.
4. Set the oven at 450 degrees. If you have a pizza stone, put it on the bottom rack of the oven. 
5. Sprinkle the dough with olive oil. Scatter the tomatoes all over the dough. Sprinkle with three cheeses. Add salt and pepper and another sprinkle of olive oil.
6. Bake the pizza on the bottom of the oven for 20 minutes or until the crust is golden at the edges and the cheeses have melted. Sprinkle with basil. Sheryl Julian

Cooking for spring celebrations

Posted by Sheryl Julian April 27, 2010 02:34 PM

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For years, when it was time to bring something to a spring celebration -- end of school gatherings, graduation parties, wedding showers -- I would get totally stuck. 

Then I figured out a big vegetarian stew made with zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, onion wedges, and made it more substantial with lots of cannellini beans. The recipe changes from year to year. Now I like to roast all the vegetables separately (you can combine the squashes), so they keep their shape and flavors. Then put them together to assemble the dish. It's a beautiful, satisfying meal.

Vegetarian stew for a crowd
Serves 12

6 medium onions, each cut into 6 wedges
Olive oil (for sprinkling)
Salt and black pepper, to taste
6 zucchini, cut into 2-inch wedges
3 yellow squash, cut into 2-inch wedges
8 plum tomatoes, cored and quartered
3 cans (15 ounces each) cannellini or other white beans (with their liquid)
2 jalapeno or other small hot peppers, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Have on hand 2 large rimmed baking sheets and 1 large (15 inch) ovenproof baking dish.
2. On 1 baking sheet, spread the onions, and sprinkle with olive oil, salt, and black pepper. On the other baking sheet, spread the tomatoes, and sprinkle with olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Roast the sheets for 35 to 40 minutes or until both are tender. (The tomatoes will be done sooner than the onions.)
3. In the baking dish, spread the zucchini and squash, and sprinkle with olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Cover with foil and cook for 40 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
4. In a large skillet, combine the onions, tomatoes, cannellini or other white beans and their liquid, and jalapeno. Let the mixture cook, stirring occasionally, until it bubbles at the edges. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and black pepper, if  you like. Simmer for 5 minutes.
5. Add the tomato mixture to the zucchini mixture. Sprinkle with thyme. Stir gently to mix the vegetables and beans. 
Note: Make in advance up to this point, but do not add the thyme. Leave to cool. Cover and refrigerate. Let the dish sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. If you cannot see any liquid in the dish, add 1/2 cup water and stir gently. eheat in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbling at the edges. If the dish seems dry, add more water during reheating. Add the thyme. Sheryl Julian

Baking from David Lebovitz's new book

Posted by Sheryl Julian April 26, 2010 02:47 PM
I interviewed former Chez Panisse pastry chef David Lebovitz last week for a story coming out in Wednesday's food section. I'm a big fan of his blog. He just wrote "Ready for Dessert," which is filled with appealing recipes. Before I called him in his apartment in Paris, I started baking from his book.

First crisp chocolate-chip cookies, for which I chopped 14 ounces bittersweet chocolate ("chips are designed to resist melting," he writes; you have to chop your own):

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Then a creamy rice pudding, made something like a risotto. It has no cream, just whole milk, and you can't stop eating it spoon by spoon. And a date-nut torte, a recipe from his half-Syrian mother. The little squares are delicious and moist and contain no fat besides the fat in eggs.

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When we were talking, Lebovitz told me that the brownie recipe in his book is one of his all-time favorites. It comes from the late Robert Steinberg, a Boston native who founded Sharffen Berger chocolates. It's a one-pot batter that's simple to make. Lebovitz calls for you to line the pan with foil, which is a trick I really like. You can slide the entire cake out of the pan and cut even bars.

Make sure you beat vigorously for a full minute, as instructed, until the batter it glossy. It produces very good brownies, but too thin for my taste. Next time I would bake them in an 8-inch square (rather than 9-inch), which I think would indeed make them perfect.

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Robert's Absolute Best Brownies
Makes 9 to 12

Butter (for the pan)
6 tablespoons butter, cut up
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/4 cup flour
1 cup walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, or pecans, toasted and chopped

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Line an 8-or 9-inch pan with foil, letting the excess hang over. Butter the foil.
2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the chocolate and stir over low heat until it melts.
3. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then beat in the flour. Stir energetically for 1 full minute until the batter loses its graininess and becomes smooth and glossy. Stir in the nuts.
4. Scrape the batter into the pan. Bake the brownies for 30 minutes or until almost set. Don't overbake.
5. Cool completely in the pan. Lift out the brownies with the foil, peel off the foil, and cut the cake into bars. Adapted from "Ready for Dessert"

Every cook has a version of this dish

Posted by Sheryl Julian April 19, 2010 04:53 PM
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Tabouli is made all over the Middle East and in other countries surrounding it. It's hard to imagine that a dish that combines about six ingredients could have so many variations. The most well known version is a bulgur salad tossed with lemon juice, olive oil, fresh tomatoes, and lots of parsley. But that's not the only recipe. Other cooks think of tabouli as a parsley salad with only enough bulgur to hold it together. 

Over the weekend, I stopped by Sevan Bakery in Watertown, one of my favorite Middle Eastern markets, to buy bulgur. First I asked what bag to buy for tabouli and the answer was: "Number 1." The grain looked very fine indeed. Then I asked about the correct proportions of water to grain. 

"Water?" asked the clerk.

"Yes, how much water do you use to soak the bulgur?"

"None," came the reply. "Use the juice from the tomatoes." 

A revelation! At home, I peeled and chopped a large hothouse tomato and tossed it and all of the juices with the bulgur, scallions, lemon juice, olive oil, and lots of parsley. My version came out with equal parts bulgur and parsley, though initially I thought it would have more parsley. Obviously I'm a novice at this. I let it sit in the refrigerator for half a day. It's delicious. The fresh tomato juice permeates the grain. There's enough lemon to give it a little bite. Next time I'll add even more parsley because I love the bright taste of the fresh herb. Even with so few ingredients, I think it takes practice. 

Tabouli
Serves 4

1 large tomato, peeled and finely chopped
1/3 cup fine bulgur
Juice of 1/2 lemon 
2 tablespoons olive oil 
Salt and pepper, to taste 
2 cups fresh parsley leaves, coarsely chopped 

1. In a bowl, combine the tomato, bulgur, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and parsley. Stir well. 
2. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or for up to 2 days. Sheryl Julian

It's not pretty

Posted by Sheryl Julian April 12, 2010 02:24 PM
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Celeriac, also known as celery root, looks other-worldly, as if not intended for human consumption. Beneath that knobby exterior is a sweet, firm root, with the taste of a turnip but no bite, a carrot with more depth, faint branch celery overtones.

The French are famous for their celeri remoulade, in which the knob is shredded, blanched, and tossed with homemade mayonnaise. I patiently shredded the root by hand (couldn't after a considerable search, find the attachment to the food processor, but found lots of other misplaced items), dropped it into boiling water, refreshed it, shook it to dry the strands a little, then mixed it with commercial mayo -- this isn't France, no need to get out the whisk and make your own -- and lots of vinegar, capers, Dijon mustard, and parsley.

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Celeri remoulade
(Celery root in mustard mayonnaise)
Serves 4

Celery root discolors quickly. After grating, quickly transfer it to a bowl of water and vinegar. Then blanch it in vinegar water, so the shreds stay bright white.

1 large celeriac
2 tablespoons cider or distilled vinegar
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon capers
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1. Fill a large bowl with cold water. Add 1 tablespoon of the cider or distilled vinegar.
2. Peel the celery root, cut it into quarters. With the tip of a paring knife, remove and discard any of the spongy flesh in the center of the root.
3. Grate the pieces and quickly transfer them to the vinegar water.
4. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of cider or distilled vinegar. Drain the celery root. Add it to the boiling water. When the water returns to a boil, cook 1 minute. Drain into a colander and rinse with cold water until the shreds are no longer hot. Shake the colander to remove excess water.
5. Let the celery root sit until cool, shaking the colander occasionally to remove any water.
6. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, white wine vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Stir in the capers.
7. Tip the celery root into the mayonnaise mixture. Use tongs to mix the salad. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Sprinkle with parsley and toss again. Sheryl Julian


Nice enough out to grill Easter dinner

Posted by Sheryl Julian April 5, 2010 04:39 PM
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As it happened, we planned to grill lamb, so if it had been another rainy day, we would ducked inside the garage and probably gotten soaked. We made dinner at my husband's sister's house about an hour away, transported the works. We were around 20.

We cut up a boneless leg and threaded it onto lots of skewers. I made a big salad with romaine lettuce, shredded cabbage, cucumbers, with a lemon vinaigrette. It was the salad we had every day in Cyprus last month.

I hard-cooked a dozen eggs, made a bowl of hummus, put out freshly baked pita with grilled vegetables, and everyone made pockets. 

For dessert, I made a creamy rice pudding from David Lebovitz's new "Ready for Dessert: My Best Recipes." Lebovitz simmers risotto rice in a saucepan of whole milk and you keep stirring for quite a long time until the rice is cooked and it has absorbed a lot of the milk. He also adds a whole vanilla bean. I happened to have one that a friend brought back from Madagascar, where some of the best beans in the world are grown. It was a fine afternoon!

Grilled vegetables
Serves 8

12 small bell peppers or 8 regular bell peppers, cored and cut into 4 pieces each
3 onions, cut into wedges
12 small tomatoes
Olive oil (for sprinkling)
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Heat a charcoal fire. Have on hand a vegetable grill rack.
2. In a bowl, toss the small or cut-up peppers, onions, and tomatoes with enough olive oil to barely coat them. Add salt and pepper.
3. When the coals turn gray, tip the vegetables onto the rack and set it on a medium-hot fire. Cover the grill. Cook the vegetables for 5 minutes. Use tongs to turn them, recover the grill, and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Move the vegetables from the hot side of the grill to a cooler section. Continue cooking, uncovered, until all the vegetables are tender. Sheryl Julian

What to do with all those eggs

Posted by Sheryl Julian April 1, 2010 03:48 PM
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Hard cook them, of course (not hard boil; you want tender whites and bright yellow yolks). I took these on a little bed of curly arugula, sprinkled with smoky Spanish paprika, to the Callie Crossley Show this afternoon at WGBH. We talked about what to make for Easter and Passover, how to cook lamb, ham, and leg of fresh pork. When we were off the air, we dug into the eggs and ate them with Manischewitz whole-wheat matzo, which I'd also brought.

Hard-cooked eggs
Serves 6

6 eggs
Regular or Spanish paprika (for sprinkling)
Coarse salt (for sprinkling)

1. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. With a slotted spoon, lower in the eggs. Immediately set the timer for 10 minutes. Let the eggs bubble gently until the timer rings.
2. Use the spoon to transfer the eggs to a bowl of very cold water. As soon as you can handle them, tap the shells with the back of the spoon. Peel off a strip of shell and return the egg to the cold water. When the eggs are cold, remove the remaining shell.
3. Dry the eggs and cut a tiny slice from the pointed and round ends. Halve the eggs horizontally and set them on a plate. Sprinkle with regular paprika or Spanish paprika. Refrigerate until serving. Sheryl Julian

Bringing the sunshine home

Posted by Sheryl Julian March 23, 2010 12:45 PM
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I just returned from a trip to Jordan and among the wonderful, very fresh, beautiful food -- many grilled meats and veg -- were delightful and refreshing salads. In the cool months, lettuces are mixed with thinly sliced cabbage, which gives the salad some heft, small cucumbers, tomatoes, celery, and onions. The mixture is tossed with olive oil and lemon juice, then sprinkled with sumac.

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The dark red, ground berries from the sumac bush are tart, slightly hot, and a wonderful note on crisp vegetables. Sumac also appears on grilled meats, hummus, and a faintly smoky eggplant puree something like baba ghanouj.

Winter salad with cabbage
Serves 4

1 romaine lettuce heart, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/4 firm green cabbage, cored and very thinly sliced
2 small cucumbers, very thinly sliced
5 small tomatoes, sliced
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1/4 red or Spanish onion, very thinly sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon, or to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon sumac, or to taste

1. In a bowl, combine the lettuce, cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes, celery, and onion.
2. Sprinkle with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Toss gently.
3. Sprinkle with sumac. Sheryl Julian

Add something crisp and bright to the menu

Posted by Sheryl Julian March 2, 2010 10:23 AM
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I saw a heap of Cara Cara oranges in the market, then passed by beautiful fennel with bushy fronds, so I grabbed both to make a fennel-orange salad. 

If you're going to serve fennel raw, it needs to be sliced paper thin. Marinated the slices in olive oil and salt. I started with a can of white beans to give the salad some substance, doused them with oil and vinegar, then added layers of fennel and oranges, ending with fennel fronds. The fresh greens have a subtle licorice flavor, which is wonderful with the intense red citrus. Spoon the salad over greens.

Fennel orange salad
Serves 4

1 can (15 ounces) white beans, drained and rinsed
Olive oil (for sprinkling)
Red wine vinegar (for sprinkling)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 small bulb fresh fennel, trimmed and very thinly sliced
2 Cara Cara or other oranges, peeled and sliced
Handful fresh fennel fronds (for garnish)

1. In a bowl, combine the beans with enough olive oil and vinegar to moisten them lightly. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; set aside for 10 minutes.
2. In another bowl, combine the fennel with enough olive oil to moisten it lightly. Add salt and pepper; set aside for 10 minutes.
3. Add the fennel to the beans. Add the oranges, garnish with fronds. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour for the flavors to mellow. Serve over salad greens. Sheryl Julian

Nice fire, good wine, great food

Posted by Sheryl Julian February 15, 2010 05:36 PM
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I cooked over the weekend with Suzanne Lombardi, who used to work with me when I wrote and styled the Boston Globe Sunday magazine food column. She brought this outstanding onion pizza, which she cut into long strips and served with parsnip soup.

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She also made fish cakes and beautiful arugula salad. I was the dessert girl. I made these two chocolate numbers from Alice Medrich's "Pure Dessert" book. In the little square is a dreamy chocolate pudding that doesn't quite set, so it's saucy. The cake is something Medrich got from Claudia Roden, a flourless chocolate torte made with ground almonds and chopped chocolate folded into a meringue. 

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Alice Medrich's chocolate pudding
Serves 8

2 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 pinches salt
2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

1. In a heavy bowl with a fork, beat the eggs. Set the bowl near the stove.
2. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt. Pour about 1/3 cup of milk into the pan and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the remaining milk.
3. Over medium heat, cook the milk mixture, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula, until it begins to bubble around the edges. Let it simmer gently for 2 minutes, sweeping the bottom and sides of the pan to avoid scorching. Remove from the heat.
4. Ladle about 1 cup of the hot mixture gradually over the eggs, beating the eggs constantly to prevent scrambling. Scrape the egg mixture into the pan and whisk well.
5. Set the pan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds. Do not let the mixture boil. 
6. Remove the pan from the heat and add the vanilla and chocolate. Stir until the chocolate melts. Divide the pudding among six 4-ounce custard cups or ramekins. Set on a tray and chill for several hours before serving. Adapted from "Pure Dessert"



Plenty of flavor, but no added fat

Posted by Sheryl Julian February 9, 2010 02:42 PM
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Too much good food around! Time to trim calories.

In this pot of low-fat chicken stew, I started with chicken thighs and breast halves, pulling the skin off both and trimming any pockets of fat. I made a layer of carrots and onions in the pot, added the poultry pieces, crushed tomatoes, a few lemon slices, and lots of herbs, still on their stems. 

It simmered very gently for less than an hour; kidney beans went in near the end. The broth is very flavorful and a big pot of the stew will last for many meals.

Low-fat chicken stew
Serves 8

1 pound (about 8) carrots, halved crosswise
2 large onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
10 chicken thighs on the bone, skin and fat removed
2 chicken breast halves, skin and fat removed, pieces cut in half
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups white wine
2 cups water
1 can (14 ounces) whole tomatoes, crushed in a bowl
1 tomato can filled with water
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
Few sprigs fresh thyme and rosemary
2 cans (15 ounces each) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1. In a large soup pot, lay the carrots and onions on the bottom. Tuck the thighs into neat packages and set them, skinned sides up, on the vegetables. Add the breasts to the pot, skinned sides up. The chicken pieces should make one layer. 
2. Add the wine, water, tomatoes, and 1 can of water. Bring to a boil and skim the surface thoroughly. Add another can of water.
3. Add the lemon slices, and thyme and rosemary sprigs. Cover with the lid and simmer, skimming occasionally, for 45 minutes.
4. Add the beans, recover the pot, and simmer for 15 minutes or until the chicken and vegetables are very tender.
5. Remove the herb sprigs from the pot. Taste for seasoning, add more salt and pepper, if you like. On deep plates, ladle chicken, vegetables, and beans. Sprinkle with parsley. Sheryl Julian

For your sweetheart (chocolate, of course)

Posted by Sheryl Julian February 3, 2010 02:30 PM
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Boston Globe contributing writer Lisa Yockelson describes these brownies as "dark as night." I made them last weekend -- using the cakier alternative she offers in the recipe -- and they are still mighty fudgy. There are enough tucked away in my freezer to enjoy after the Valentine's Day supper I plan to make (fish, steamed veg, plenty of calories left for an indulgence).

But I was thinking today about what I would do if I didn't have time to make anything. I decided I'd dip dried apricots into chocolate, and then the Culinary Institute of America -- quite by coincidence -- sent these instructions. They call it "Chocolate-Dipped Anything." They suggest dipping strawberries (they're out of season), dried fruits, and pretzels.

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Whatever you choose, you have to temper the chocolate. That means heating, cooling, and heating again, so the chocolate coating is shiny and has no streaks. It takes more patience then skill and requires a thermometer. Here are instructions.

Tempering chocolate

1. Weigh or measure your chocolate (you need to do this; you may want to buy two identical bars of the same weight to make it easier). You'll need a second amount of chocolate equal to 25 percent of the first amount.
2. In a bowl over hot but not simmering water, melt the larger amount of chocolate. Remove the bowl from the hot water. The chocolate should be 120 degrees (dark chocolate) or 110 degrees (milk or white chocolate).
3. Add the smaller amount of unmelted chocolate to the melted chocolate. This is called "the seed." It will cool the melted chocolate. Stir gently and constantly off the heat until the chocolate temperature falls to 85 degrees (dark) or 83 degrees (milk, white). It may take 15 to 20 minutes for most or all of the seed to melt.
4. Test the chocolate (an important step): Make sure the chocolate is below 90 degrees. Dip a spoon into the mixture, set it on a work surface, and let it sit undisturbed for 7 to 8 minutes -- do not refrigerate -- or until the chocolate no longer looks wet and the surface is uniform and without streaks. (If the chocolate has not set or is streaky, you need to seed again. Add a small block of unmelted chocolate to the bowl, stir another 3 to 4 minutes and test again.)
5. When the chocolate sets properly, return the bowl to the water bath, which should not exceed 89 degrees (dark) or 86 degrees (milk, white), for a few minutes.
6. To dip fruit, make sure it is room temperature. If fruit is cut, dry the cut pieces with paper towel to remove excess moisture. Use a dipping fork or two forks or hold the fruit at one end, and dip it into the chocolate mixture. If dipping cookies or other dry items, start dipping right away. 
7. Set the dipped pieces on parchment paper to set. Leave them at room temperature to dry. Adapted from The Culinary Institute of America's "Chocolates and Confections at Home"

Warming bowl of lentil soup

Posted by Sheryl Julian January 26, 2010 04:26 PM
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Months ago I made a pork roast and after carving the meat off the bone, I tucked the bones in the freezer to add to a pot of soup. Last week we made that soup with lentils, added the meaty bone, and it was fantastic.

Now the bone's gone. So I bought a thick center-cut pork chop and browned it with vegetables before adding lentils. It was a pretty good trick. That little chop went a long way to giving the soup flavor. You do need chicken stock, however, since one chop can't flavor the entire pot. Once the soup is done, take the chop out, cut up the meat, and return it to the lentil mixture.

Lentil soup
Serves 8

1 thick center-cut pork chop
Salt and black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
Pinch crushed red pepper
3 cups le Puy lentils
2 cups water, or more to taste
6 cups chicken stock
2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Extra crushed red pepper (for sprinkling)

1. Sprinkle the pork chop all over with salt and black pepper.
2. In a soup pot, heat the oil and when it is hot, add the pork chop. Leave it without moving for 3 to 4 minutes or until it is golden on the bottom. Turn and brown the other side.
3. While the chop is browning, add the carrots, onion, and celery to the pan at the edges. Cook, stirring the vegetables, for 5 minutes more or until the pork is browned on the bottom and the vegetables begin to soften.
4. Sprinkle the vegetables with salt, black pepper, and red pepper. Stir the lentils into the pan. Add the 4 cups water and stock. 
5. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover the pot, and simmer the soup for 50 minutes. Add more water during cooking if the soup seems too thick.
6. Taste the soup for seasoning and add more salt and red pepper, if you like. Remove the chop. Leave it to cool slightly. Cut the meat off the bone; discard the bone and fat. Chop the meat coarsely. Return it to the pot.
7. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with scallions, parsley, and red pepper. Sheryl Julian

Pressure-cooker chicken soup

Posted by Sheryl Julian January 19, 2010 11:46 AM
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There are several recipes for chicken soup coming out in tomorrow's Food section. One is a soup I make often with chicken wings, which gives you nuggets of meat and a jellied stock that's loaded with flavor. You need to simmer the soup for 1 1/2 hours (but pay very little attention to it during cooking), then pick the meat off the bones. 

You can also use chicken legs, as directed here. A pressure cooker reduces the simmering time to 20 minutes, so I use that pot most of the time. But you can't leave the kitchen. Nothing at all dangerous about modern pressure cookers -- they cannot explode -- but you should still stick around.

This time of year, I put the hot food on the back porch to cool quickly (it's screened, so no danger of neighborhood pets eating it) then settle in to the task of discarding the skin and bones from the meat. Allow several hours for the soup to chill so you can skim the fat from the top.

Pressure-cooker chicken soup
Serves 6

4 whole chicken legs
2 onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 large carrots, cut in half horizontally
1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
1 bay leaf
6 peppercorns
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup small pasta or rice, cooked until tender (for serving)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1. In a large heatproof bowl, set the chicken legs. Pour enough boiling water over them to cover them completely. Set aside for 15 minutes.
2. With tongs, transfer the legs to the pressure cooker. Add the onions, carrots, and celery. Add enough cold water to cover the legs by 1 inch. Add the bay leaf, peppercorns, and salt. 
3. Cover with the lid and lock it in place. Bring to medium pressure. Cook for 20 minutes.
4. Carefully transfer the pressure cooker to the sink and run very cold water directly onto the lid for 5 minutes or until you can open the lock without forcing it.
5. Lift off the lid and let the soup sit for 15 minutes to cool slightly.
6. With a large slotted spoon, lift out the chicken legs and vegetables and transfer to a large bowl. Tip the soup into a large container. Leave both to cool.
7. When the soup is cool, cover and refrigerate. When the chicken is cool, remove the meat from the bones. Discard skin, bones, bay leaf, and peppercorns. Cut the meat into 1/4-inch pieces. Return the meat to the vegetables. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or until cold.
8. With a slotted spoon, skim off and discard the fat from the soup. Tip the soup into a large pot. Add the chicken and vegetables. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes or until hot.
9. Add several spoonfuls of pasta or rice to 4 deep bowls. Ladle the soup, chicken, and vegetables on top. Sprinkle with parsley. Sheryl Julian

Yes, you can fall in love with kale

Posted by Sheryl Julian January 5, 2010 02:56 PM

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It's so good for you! It's green and hearty as all get out. And nutritious. I've had kale a bunch of times recently in restaurants but it seems too bulky to deal with at home. Deal. You'll be happy you did. Your waistline will thank you too.

 

Braised kale

Serves 4

1 head kale

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Salt and black pepper, to taste

Pinch crushed red peppers

 

1. Remove the stems from the kale. Roll up the leaves and cut across them to make ribbons. Rinse them thoroughly. 

2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and cook the onion, garlic, salt, and black pepper, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until slightly softened.

3. Add the kale with the water that clings to it from rinsing. Cook, tossing constantly, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the kale collapses and is tender. Sprinkle with salt and red pepper. Sheryl Julian

Time to pay the piper

Posted by Sheryl Julian January 4, 2010 06:37 PM
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It was the second day of sitting by the fireplace and watching the snow storm in its various stages, nibbling roasted chestnuts lightly charred on the fire grates. My husband and I were talking about chestnuts saving Europeans from starvation during the wars. They're meaty like fresh fava beans and when they're smoky from the fire, you can't stop shelling and eating them.

Then we decided to see what our healthy little snack was costing us, calorie-wise. We had already sworn off cookies and chocolates, the steady diet for the last few weeks. 

Yikes! One cup of roasted chestnuts is 350 calories. I assure you at the 1-cup point, we were just getting started.

Now an updated "The 'I' Diet" is sitting on my desk. Tufts nutritionist Susan B. Roberts is the author. I stands for instinct. Roberts says that there are five instincts that can be the downfall to good eating, unless you understand them: hunger, availability, calorie density, familiarity, variety. "We cannot change the fact that we have them," she writes, "but we can learn to manage them."

I'm taking it home and studying as if for an important exam. Will let you know what I find.


Real Italian biscotti

Posted by Sheryl Julian December 21, 2009 12:25 PM
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Americans have turned biscotti into a softer, richer, cakier cookie than it's supposed to be. Real biscotti (and all of the twice-baked cookies) contain no fat besides eggs. They're meant to be hard so you can dip them into sweet wine.

I made lots yesterday for Christmas gifts from a recipe in "Park Avenue Potluck Celebrations," a book from The Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center that I've been cooking from for a few weeks. Biscotti are wonderful cookies and they look magnificent, especially cut on an extreme angle, but they're not easy. If you don't have a really good serrated knife, the edges of the logs shatter when you cut them. Save those for the baker to eat in private. 

Almond biscotti
Makes about 4 dozen

2 cups raw almonds
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Spread the nuts in a baking dish and toast them for 8 to 10 minutes or until they are fragrant; set aside to cool.
3. In a bowl, sift the flour, salt, and baking powder.
4. In an electric mixer, beat the eggs until foamy. Gradually beat in the sugar until the mixture is thick and pale. With the mixer set on its lowest speed, beat in the flour mixture. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand. With a large metal spoon, stir in the almonds.
5. Spoon the batter into 4 logs, each about 12-inches long, making 2 logs on each sheet. With a long metal palette knife dipped into cold water, smooth the tops and sides of the logs and make them even.
6. Bake the logs for 25 to 30 minutes or until they are firm but not golden. Remove from the oven (leave the oven on) and set aside for 20 minutes or until cool.
7. Transfer a log to a cutting board. Cut into 1/2-inch slices on an extreme angle. Set the biscotti cut sides up on the baking sheet. Cut the remaining logs in the same way and set them on the sheets.
8. Bake the biscotti for 15 to 20 minutes or until they are golden. Transfer to wire racks to cool. Adapted from "Park Avenue Potluck Celebrations"

The devil is in the details

Posted by Sheryl Julian December 16, 2009 04:10 PM
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It's fun -- at least I think it is -- to get up early on a day when you're expected to bring something to a pot luck party and see what's in the fridge and start cooking. Mine was a little on the bare side (we were away last weekend), but there are always eggs and tuna, of course, and seasonings. So deviled eggs it was.

I started cooking from an Oleana restaurant recipe in "The New Boston Globe Cookbook" and alas, no softened butter (lots of butter, but it was mostly in the freezer awaiting this weekend's big baking bash). So I substituted mayonnaise, ran the filling in the food processor to make it smooth, and used a pastry bag and plain round tip to mound the filling in the eggs. Then sprinkled them with smoked Spanish paprika and scallions (no parsley around).

The eggs, by the way, are sliced horizontally, which makes them stand higher. They won't fit into a classic deviled egg dish, made popular in 50s, but they look nice packed tightly into other dishes.

And if you make these and discover you're out of an ingredient, please do substitute anything. As long as the eggs are cooked properly and the filling is loaded with flavor, you'll succeed.

Eggs stuffed with tuna
Serves 6

6 eggs
1 can (6 1/2 to 7 ounces) tuna in olive oil, drained
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
Pinch of salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika (for sprinkling)
1 scallion, trimmed and finely chopped (for garnish)

1. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add the eggs and set the timer for 10 minutes. During the first minute of cooking, stir the water in one direction so the yolks set in the center.
2. With a slotted spoon, transfer the eggs to a bowl of very cold water, peel a strip of shell off each one, and return eggs to the water. When cool, peel the eggs.
3. Drain the eggs and pat them dry. Halve them horizontally and scoop the yolks into a food processor.
4. Add the tuna, mayonnaise, salt, and cayenne pepper. Pulse the mixture until it is smooth. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or cayenne, if you like.
5. Use a pastry bag and plain round tip or a small spoon to stuff the filling into the eggs. Set them tightly on a plate.
6. Sprinkle with smoked paprika and scallion. Adapted from "The New Boston Globe Cookbook"

Maine shrimp Creole

Posted by Devra First December 16, 2009 01:29 PM
We're currently in the midst of Maine shrimp season. I think of these small, coral-colored creatures as the crawfish of New England: our own regional bugs, tasty and the right size to keep popping into your mouth over a beer or two. So it seems appropriate to insert them into etouffees, gumbos, and other Louisiana specialties. Here, I've used them in a shrimp Creole.

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This recipe is loosely adapted from chef John Besh's cookbook "My New Orleans." It is a wonderful book -- not just full of great recipes but of a real love for Louisiana's food. It conveys both the cultural importance and seasonality of the cuisine. And the photos are beautiful. Besh's recipe is influenced by New Orleans's Vietnamese community and includes lemongrass. I didn't use it only because I didn't want to buy a large amount for this one dish, but if you'd like to, mince a teaspoon or so and toss it with the shrimp when you season them with salt and pepper. The recipe also calls for overripe heirloom tomatoes, something we don't have a regional equivalent of at this time of year. I used canned San Marzanos instead.

Maine shrimp Creole
Serves 2-4

1 1/4-1 1/2 pounds Maine shrimp, peeled
Salt and pepper, to taste
Olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 stalk celery, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
1 bay leaf
Pinch ground allspice
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Leaves from 1 branch of basil, chopped
Leaves from 1 sprig of mint, chopped
Sugar, if needed


1. Put the shrimp in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. In a skillet over a medium flame, heat enough olive oil to thinly coat the bottom. Saute shrimp 1-1 1/2 minutes, until almost cooked through. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside.

2. In the same skillet with the shrimp juices, add a bit more oil if necessary and saute the onion, garlic, celery, and green pepper for about 2 minutes.

3. Add the tomatoes, reduce to medium-low, and bring to a simmer. Add the bay leaf, allspice, and red pepper flakes and simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Return the shrimp to the skillet and add basil and mint. Cook 1 or 2 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If the sauce is too tart, add a pinch of sugar. Remove the bay leaf and serve over rice.


Tailgate banh mi

Posted by Devra First December 14, 2009 12:02 PM
The Vietnamese sandwiches are the perfect pregame food. That hit of sriracha saw us nicely through the Patriots' rainy win yesterday. Wes Welker, I'll make one for you any time.

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Tailgate banh mi
Serves 4

PICKLED VEGETABLES
1 carrot
1 bunch radishes (or 1 daikon)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup rice vinegar

1. The night before the game, make pickled vegetables. Peel carrot and radishes into thin strips with peeler or mandoline, or else julienne. You'll want enough to top four sandwiches. Place in a medium-size bowl. 

2. Combine water, sugar, and vinegar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve sugar. Pour over vegetables and let sit for at least 30 minutes. Drain and refrigerate.

BANH MI
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon white pepper
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 1/2 pounds skirt steak
1 bunch cilantro
1 cucumber
1 baguette
Sriracha
Mayonnaise

1. The morning of the game, combine soy sauce, white pepper, and coriander in a glass dish. Stir to make a thin paste. Turn steak in mixture to coat. Put in freezer bag.

2. Wash enough stems of cilantro for four sandwiches and julienne cucumber. Transfer to a portable container. Pack up meat, vegetables, baguette, and condiments. Meat should go in a cooler with some ice. Or not. Tailgating renders bacteria impotent. (This recipe assumes you are bringing a grill to the game. If not, you could conceivably grill the meat beforehand, but I really think  you should bring a grill to the game.)

3. Go to game. Drink coffee with booze in it. Eat chips, wings, sausages, etc. Light grill.  

4. Put steak on grill and cook to medium rare. Remove from grill and let rest for a few minutes.

5. During that time, slice baguette in quarters widthwise, then in half lengthwise. Put bread on grill face down for a minute, till it's nice and toasty.

6. Slice steak thinly across the grain. Spread sriracha and mayo on four bottom pieces of bread to taste, then top with pickled vegetables, stems of cilantro, cucumber, steak, and remaining slices of baguette. Go team.


For your holiday buffet

Posted by Sheryl Julian December 8, 2009 12:58 PM
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I was flipping through "Park Avenue Potluck Celebrations" and besides photographs of luxe tables, there are quite wonderful recipes. (They're all contributions from The Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Center Center, whose project this is.)

This is an easy salad to add to a buffet. Couscous, which only needs to be soaked in boiling water for a few minutes, is delightful with crunchy vegetables and a lemony dressing.

Couscous salad
Serves 8

2 cups couscous
3 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 English (seedless) cucumbers, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
4 scallions, thinly sliced
Juice of 2 lemons
1 1/2 cups crumbled feta
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. In a large bowl that will hold all the salad ingredients, combine the couscous and boiling water. Set aside for 5 minutes.
2. Stir the couscous. Add the olive oil, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, mint, scallions, lemons, feta, salt, and pepper. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetables into the couscous. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, pepper, or lemon juice, if you like. Adapted from "Park Avenue Potluck Celebrations"

Love these little slippery things

Posted by Sheryl Julian November 30, 2009 04:03 PM
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When I see sardines in the fish case, I buy. This time, I told the man behind the counter at Whole Foods Market not to gut them. Last week someone butchered my branzino, hacking off the tail and snipping here and there so it looked awful when I opened the package at home.

Well, well, well. Gutting and cleaning sardines is no fun. But cooking them is! Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with plenty of lemon, and broil as close to the element as you can get. They're bony little things, so boil potatoes or toast crusty bread. Here, croutes are topped with a mustard-mayo. If the tiny bones are overwhelming you, grab some bread and you'll be fine.

Broiled sardines with mustard-mayo croutes
Serves 4

SARDINES
Olive oil (for the pan)
16 sardines
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Turn on the broiler and set a rack as close to it as possible.
2. Rub the bottom of a 12-to-14-inch baking dish with oil. Add the sardines. With your hand, rub them with oil, then sprinkle with lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
3. Broil the sardines for 5 to 8 minutes or until they are lightly charred. Check them once or twice while they cook.

CROUTES
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Squeeze of lemon juice, or more to taste
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Salt, to taste
12 slices French bread, toasted until golden
1 lemon, cut lengthwise into quarters (for serving)

1. While the sardines broil, in a bowl stir together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, and salt. Taste for seasoning and add more lemon juice, if you like.
2. Spread the bread with the mayonnaise mixture. Serve with the sardines and plenty of extra lemon wedges. Sheryl Julian

Quick nutritious nibble for guests

Posted by Sheryl Julian November 23, 2009 11:15 AM
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I spent Saturday afternoon at Tags Hardware in Porter Square, signing "The New Boston Globe Cookbook," alongside Nathan Hasson, an affable gentleman from Porter Square Books who worked the cash box.

One woman came up to us and bought five books. She was getting a spatula for each one to wrap in the bow and was practically done with her Christmas shopping. Lots of Food section readers stopped by to say hello, which was great fun. We sold lots of books.

Tags also hosted Santa and Mrs. Claus, was giving out freshly popped corn, and the place was packed.

I made hummus from the cookbook, which is a recipe given to me by Emeline Aroush, whose husband owns Aroush Tailors in Cambridge. Emeline's version of hummus is especially creamy and lemony. She uses the liquid from the can of chickpeas to thin the mixture. Add more olive oil, lemon juice, and salt, if you like. It's a wonderful spread.

Hummus
Makes 2 cups or enough to serve 8

1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained into a bowl
1/2 cup sesame tahini
Juice of 1 lemon, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
Olive oil (for sprinkling)
Paprika (for sprinkling)

1. In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, 1 tablespoon of the liquid from the can, tahini, lemon juice, salt, and oil. Pulse until smooth.
2. With the motor running, add enough of the remaining liquid through the feed tube, 1 tablespoon at a time, to make a mixture that just holds its shape.
3. Taste for seasoning and add more lemon juice, salt, and olive oil, if you like.
4. Spread the mixture in a shallow bowl. Sprinkle with olive oil and paprika. From "The New Boston Globe Cookbook"

Cooking with Frances Rivera

Posted by Sheryl Julian November 17, 2009 03:30 PM
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Lights! Camera! A few weeks ago, Channel 7 anchor Frances Rivera and her TV crew came to my kitchen to learn how to make turkey pie. The recipe is from "The New Boston Globe Cookbook," which came out last month.

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The pie is great for dinner the day after Thanksgiving. Combine leftover turkey with apples in a nice veloute sauce. Cover it with a biscuit crust, which is baked on its own at first, then again on top of the pie; it's beautifully flaky.

Watch for the segment on Frances's "The Dish" on Thursday Nov. 19 at 10 p.m. and Friday Nov. 20 at 5 p.m.

(Yes, she is as beautiful as her photo, and a real sweetie.)

Turkey pie with apples and biscuit crust
Serves 6

The crust for this pie, which is based on leftover roast turkey, is baked separately from the filling, so it doesn’t get soggy. It’s a biscuit dough with lots of fresh parsley. Roll it out so it’s the same shape as your dish (round, oval, rectangular), bake it on a sheet, then finish the baking on top of the creamy turkey pie. The recipe comes from the Dorset Inn in Dorset, Vt.

CRUST
Butter (for the dish)
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup whole milk, or more if necessary
Extra flour (for rolling)

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Have on hand a deep 10-inch baking dish. Butter it lightly. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and shortening. With your fingers or the tines of a fork, work the mixture together until it resembles sand. Add the parsley and 1/2 cup of the milk. Use a fork to work the liquid into the flour mixture to form a moist dough. Add more milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, if necessary to form moist clumps.
3. Transfer the clumps to a floured counter and knead lightly, adding a little more flour, if necessary, to shape the dough. Roll the dough into an oblong or rectangle (it should be the same shape as the baking dish). Carefully lift the dough onto the baking sheet.
4. Bake the dough for 10 minutes or until set. Set side to cool.

FILLING
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 leek (white part only), finely chopped
4 cups cooked turkey meat, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage or parsley
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup apple cider
2 cups turkey or chicken stock
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. In a small skillet, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Cook over medium heat, stirring, for 5 minutes or until it is golden brown. Set aside.
2. In a large saucepan, heat the oil. Add the onion, celery, and leek. Cook the vegetables over medium heat, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until they soften.
3. Stir in the turkey, sage or parsley, apples, and cider. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer the mixture for 5 minutes. Transfer to the baking dish.
4. In another saucepan, bring the stock to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer. Whisk in the butter-flour mixture, salt, and pepper into the boiling stock. When the sauce is smooth and thickened, pour it into the turkey and vegetables.
5. Set the biscuit crust on the filling.
6. Bake the pie for 35 to 45 minutes or until the mixture is bubbling at the edges and the crust is golden brown. Adapted from “The New Boston Globe Cookbook”

No Eggo Waffles? Help!

Posted by Doug Most November 16, 2009 07:41 PM

That crying you heard in the frozen food aisle wasn't from whiny kids. It was from parents reeling from Kellogg's announcement that a flood in its Atlanta bakery is causing a shortage of products, including Eggo waffles, that might not be restored until the middle of 2010. The link is here http://www2.kelloggs.com/general.aspx?id=3006&terms=eggo but in the meantime we thought we might help the mourning, er, morning routine with a helpful list.

7 other things children should drizzle syrup on while waiting for their waffles:

7 The most annoying noisemaking toy they have. Let them go crazy with the syrup, then sadly explain why it has to be tossed when it curiously goes silent.

6 That 3-year old laptop: Finally, an excuse to get that MacBook Air.

5 Mom's keys: The stickier they are, the harder to lose them.

4 The toothbrush: If that doesn't get them to brush their teeth, nothing will.

3 The alarm clock: Finally, a legitimate excuse for missing that morning meeting.

2 Kevin Faulk's fingers: Without that bobble, Bill Belichick is still a genius.

1 Belichick's playbook: If the pages stuck together, maybe he punts. (Nah)

Posted by Doug Most

Never too early for a Thanksgiving preview

Posted by Sheryl Julian November 10, 2009 03:14 PM
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I was fiddling with potatoes to decide what to make for Thanksgiving. These are crisps that are quite amazing. You don't have to do anything to them. They're russet potatoes, which are scrubbed, dried, sliced, and drizzled with oil, salt, and pepper.

They're homely before they go into the oven:

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Roast them in a hot oven (425 degrees) for 25 minutes, turn with a spatula and continue roasting for 25 minutes, and you get the crisps.

More homely food that turns golden and delicious:

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These are plump turkey thighs ($2.99 a pound, each of these weighs about 1 pound, which means 2 for less than $6; that's a good value). They roast nicely and because it's dark meat, they stay moist.

Sprinkle with olive oil, salt, pepper, and some herbes de Provence or a mixture of dried rosemary, thyme, and oregano. Broil them close to the element for 10 minutes to crisp the skin, then lower the oven temperature to 425 degrees and roast for 40 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh (not touching the bone) registers 180 degrees.

If I ruled the world, I'd make Thanksgiving a monthly holiday. Or at least order everyone in my kingdom to roast turkey every month. And invite a crowd. And have some fun.

The next-day dish

Posted by Sheryl Julian November 9, 2009 02:15 PM
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I got to the end of the large dish of roasted vegetables (above) and they were looking pretty dreary. They needed a new identity.

I chopped the vegetables coarsely, put them in a pot with lots of chicken stock and a can of white beans, and brought it to a boil. It didn't need a bit more cooking. In the bowls, I sprinkled the soup with crushed red pepper and parsley. The miracle of reinvention.

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Lamb shanks in a slow braise

Posted by Sheryl Julian November 3, 2009 02:13 PM
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Icelandic lamb arrived at Whole Foods -- it's in season for another month. I eyed it skeptically (I love American lamb and also like supporting American products). The shanks were half the size of the American shanks sitting beside them. Both cost $5.99 a pound.

But I was too curious about the taste to pass up the little Icelandic shanks. New Zealand lamb is also small and, I think, tasteless. American lamb can have a sheepy quality, which I happen to like.

I braised these shanks in tomatoes and white wine. When you use red wine with strong-tasting meats, I think the sauce becomes too intense. I cooked them for 1 1/2 hours, added a couple cans of white beans, and continued cooking for another 30 minutes. I'm pleasantly surprised by how much I like them.

Braised lamb shanks with white beans
Serves 4

4 lamb shanks
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, cut into slices
1 large Spanish onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 can (14 to 16 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes, crushed in a bowl
1 cup white wine
1 cup water
1 bay leaf
2 cans (15 ounces each) cannellini beans
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

1. Set the oven at 400 degrees.
2. Sprinkle the shanks all over with salt and pepper. In a large flameproof casserole over medium-high heat, heat the oil and when it is hot, set the shanks in the pan. Brown them without moving for 3 minutes. Turn and brown another side without moving them. Continue until the shanks are browned all over. Remove them from the pan.
3. Add the garlic, onion, salt, and pepper to the pan. Lower the heat to medium and cook the onion, stirring often, for 8 minutes. Add the cumin and allspice. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
4. Stir in the tomatoes, wine, and water. Turn the heat to high. Cook, scraping the bottom of the pan, until the mixture comes to a boil. Return the shanks to the pan. Add the bay leaf. Cover the pan and transfer to the oven.
5. Cook the shanks for 1 1/2 hours or until they are almost tender.
6. Add the beans and stir them into the liquid in the pan. Recover the pot and return it to the oven. Continue cooking for 30 minutes or until the shanks are very tender.
7. Discard the bay leaf. Sprinkle the shanks with parsley and rosemary. Sheryl Julian

Almost instant mini raisin scones

Posted by Sheryl Julian October 26, 2009 06:58 PM
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If I know that someone is coming over, I try to throw a batch of scones in the oven. Tea and warm scones: is there anything better?

The only way to be able to do this is to take a recipe -- any recipe -- and make it again and again until it becomes second nature. The dough should roll off your fingers. This is the simple recipe I'm working on now.

Mini raisin scones
Makes 36

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup whole milk, or more if necessary
3/4 cup dark raisins
Extra flour (for rolling)
Extra sugar (for sprinkling)

1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and shortening. With your fingers or a pastry blender, work the mixture until it resembles sand.
3. Add the sugar, 1/2 cup of the milk, and the raisins. With the fork, work the milk into the flour mixture to form a moist dough. Add more milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, if necessary, until the dough comes together.
4. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured counter and knead it lightly, adding a little more flour to make it manageable but not dry.
5. Press the dough into an oblong or rectangle that is 3/4-inch thick. The size or shape of the dough does not matter. But don't press it thinner than 3/4 inch. Cut the dough into 1 1/2 inch bands. Cut each band into triangles. Transfer them to the baking sheet. Sprinkle with sugar.
6. Bake the scones for 20 minutes or until they are golden brown. Sheryl Julian

Delicious meatballs

Posted by Sheryl Julian October 20, 2009 02:43 PM
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When Arthur Schwartz's "The Southern Italian Table" arrived on my desk last week, I had to make those gorgeous meatballs on the cover.

Schwartz is a talented writer and cook. His last book, "Arthur Schwartz's Jewish Home Cooking" won American cookbook of the year from the International Association of Culinary Professionals. He has been restaurant critic and food editor of The Daily News, and has run a cooking school in southern Italy since 2001.

I'll do the confession part first: I used dark-meat turkey mixed with ground beef. Not sure why. I love turkey meatballs. In any case, these are a cinch to put together (aren't meatballs wonderful that way?).

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After they were browned in a skillet

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then simmered in tomato sauce and ladled over spaghetti, we dined like kings.

Meatballs in tomato sauce
Serves 4

SAUCE
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large clove garlic, lightly crushed
1 can (28 ounces) imported whole tomatoes, with their juices
Salt, to taste
Crushed red pepper, to taste
3 fresh basil leaves, roughly torn

1. In a large flameproof casserole, combine the oil and garlic over medium heat. When the garlic begins to sizzle, lower the heat and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute or until the garlic starts to color. Remove the garlic from the pan.
2. Using a food mill, puree the tomatoes into the pan or use your hand to crush them as you drop them in. Turn up the heat until the mixture comes to a simmer. Add salt and red pepper.
3. Simmer the sauce, stirring often, for 12 minutes. Add the basil halfway through cooking.

MEATBALLS
2 cups dried crustless bread in 1-inch cubes
1 1/4 pounds ground beef (80% lean)
2 eggs, beaten to mix
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese
1/4 cup coarsely chopped parsley
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup raisins
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil, or more if necessary (for frying)

1. In a bowl, soak the bread in cold water for a few minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in another large bowl, combine the beef, eggs, garlic, pecorino, parsley, pine nuts, raisins, salt, and pepper. Do not mix.
3. Squeeze the bread by fistfuls to drain it. Break it up with your fingers and add to the beef mixture. With your hands, mix the beef mixture well, blending the bread and meat thoroughly.
4. Using wet hands, roll the beef mixture into balls, making about 12.
5. In a skillet, heat a thin film of oil over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add the meatballs. Let them cook for a few minutes or until golden on the bottom. Using two utensils, turn the meatballs and cook a few minutes more until golden.
6. Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce and let them simmer gently for 15 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through. Serve over spaghetti. Adapted from "The Southern Italian Table"

Doing it the old-fashioned way

Posted by Sheryl Julian October 12, 2009 04:32 PM
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In some Italian-American kitchens, the traditional pasta e fagioli is pronounced pasta fajool. One of the authentic versions of the dish begins with cranberry beans, also known as shell beans, and in Italy as borlotti beans. They have red and white marbled pots, really stunning, and they're labor intensive to peel. Each pod -- don't get the green ones because the beans aren't ripe -- yields 3 or 4 beans. Watch a movie or daydream (I prefer the latter).

Pasta fajool is made with beans, tiny pasta, tomatoes, garlic, and fresh herbs. It simmers into a beautiful dish, which you can garnish with Parmesan, parsley, and crushed red pepper. We plan to eat it all winter, using dried beans when the cranberry beans are no longer in season.

Pasta e fagioli
(Italian pasta and beans)
Serves 6

If you begin with 3 pounds of fresh cranberry beans, you’ll get about 3 cups of shelled beans. This dish tastes better if you let it sit for a couple of hours. Add more water when you reheat the pot.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 carrots, finely chopped
Salt and black pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped or 1 can (28 ounces) imported whole tomatoes, crushed
6 cups water, or more if necessary
3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 pounds fresh cranberry or shell beans, shelled or 2 cans (1 pound each) shell or white beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup tiny pasta, such as shells, tubettini, farfalline (mini bow ties)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Extra chopped fresh parsley (for serving)
Crushed red pepper (for serving)

1. In a large flameproof casserole over medium heat, heat the oil and cook the onion, carrots, salt, and pepper, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
2. Add the garlic and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, water, oregano, parsley, salt, and black pepper. Bring to a boil, cover with the lid and simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the pasta, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes. Add the beans and continue cooking for 3 minutes. The pasta and beans will not be tender; they’ll cook more later. Drain into a colander.
4. Add the beans and pasta to the tomato mixture. Continue cooking, stirring often, for 20 minutes or until the beans and shells are tender. Add more water during cooking if the pot seems dry.
5. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with Parmesan, parsley, and crushed red pepper. Sheryl Julian

Roast those roots

Posted by Sheryl Julian October 6, 2009 12:06 PM
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We bought beautiful native green beans and hearty greens at Wilson Farms in Lexington this weekend. There are also plenty of root vegetables just coming into season.

I packed a baking dish with butternut squash, turnips, red potatoes, carrots, red onion, radishes, and mushrooms and roasted them for 1 1/2 hours. This isn't a dish that caramelizes the veggies (you need to cover the pan so the roots cook through), but the results are homey and satisfying.

Roasted fall vegetables
Serves 6

1 bunch radishes, trimmed
5 carrots, thickly sliced on the diagonal
1/2 large butternut squash, peeled and thickly sliced
1 red onion, cut into 8 wedges
3 purple-topped turnips, each cut into 6 wedges
1/2 pound button or other small mushrooms, trimmed
4 small red potatoes, halved
Olive oil (for sprinkling)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Handful fresh thyme sprigs
1/2 cup chicken stock or water

1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Have on hand a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
2. In the baking dish, arrange the radishes, carrots, squash, red onion, turnips, mushrooms, and potatoes in clusters, packing them into the dish as tightly as possible. It's OK to make two layers of the smaller vegetables.
3. Sprinkle the vegetables with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Lay the thyme on the vegetables. Pour the stock or water in at the edges.
4. Cover the dish with heavy duty foil or 2 sheets of regular foil. Roast the vegetables for 1 1/2 hours or until they are tender. Halfway through roasting, baste the vegetables with the juices in the dish. Sheryl Julian

Almost like the Rendezvous version

Posted by Sheryl Julian September 21, 2009 07:02 PM
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Steve Johnson of Rendezvous in Central Square has a way with fish cakes. Years ago, I ate his ethereal bluefish cakes at Mercury Bar, where he was cooking, and wherever he went after that, he always put them on the menu.

I had his bluefish cakes again on Saturday night at Rendezvous -- they're delicious! -- and decided it was time to go into the kitchen. Steve makes fish cakes with all the ingredients already cooked (rather than raw fish cakes). After cooking the fish, he adds spicy mayonnaise, lots of sauteed vegetables, and shapes the cakes and browns them.

They couldn't be easier. You can use leftover grilled or broiled salmon, or plain white fish. Serve the cakes with cucumber salad or cucumber-mint relish. I suggest making extra spicy mayonnaise to use as a sauce, as instructed here.

Bluefish cakes with spicy mayo
Serves 4 as an appetizer

1 pound boneless bluefish
Olive oil (for sprinkling and frying)
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 jalapeno chili pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 bulb fresh fennel, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sriracha or other hot sauce
2 slices (1-inch thick) French bread or 1 small dinner roll, torn up

1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Set the fish in a baking dish (skin side up). Sprinkle with oil, salt, and pepper. Roast the fish for 12 to 15 minutes or until it is cooked through. Leave to cool. Flake the fish, discarding the skin and any bones.
2. In a large skillet, heat the oil. When it is hot, add the chili pepper, onion, fennel, celery, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are softened.
3. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with 1 tablespoon of the hot sauce. Taste for seasoning. Add the remaining hot sauce, 1 teaspoon at a time, until it is the right heat for your taste. Transfer 3/4 cup of the mayonnaise to a serving bowl.
4. In a food processor with the motor running, pulse the bread into crumbs. Add the fish and pulse until it is well mixed. Add the onion mixture and remaining 3/4 cup of the mayonnaise. Pulse until well mixed.
5. Remove the work bowl from the processor stand. With your hands, shape the fish mixture into 4 patties.
6. In a large nonstick skillet, heat enough olive oil to barely cover the pan. When it is hot, fry the fish cakes for 5 minutes on a side, turning once, until they are crisp and golden. Serve with the spicy mayonnaise. Adapted from Rendezvous

A homely fish

Posted by Sheryl Julian September 14, 2009 06:14 PM
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Haddock has no glam. I watched half a dozen people in front of me at the fish counter buying all kinds of beautiful species. No one was touching the haddock. I've wanted to make a haddock and corn chowder for weeks.

One small problem: I don't particularly like clam broth and I never have fish broth on hand. (Last winter I bought pounds and pounds of fish frames to make my own fumee, put much of it in the freezer, and then spent hours getting rid of fish smell in there. Even triple-wrapping does no good.)

At a friend's house earlier this summer, someone took all the lobster bodies off everyone's plate, simmered them in a big pot, and sent me home with the lobster broth -- and the pot! (I averted a potential disaster by wrapping the pot in several garbage bags.) So I had plenty of broth for the chowder. I defrosted it but it didn't have much flavor. I started reducing it while I browned the bacon for the chowder.

"The broth is too weak," my husband announced. "The chowder won't have any flavor."

Then: "Are you adding milk?" he asked. "That will dilute it even more."

But I kept at it. Took the kernels off the cobs. Cut the haddock into large hunks. Put him to work taking thyme leaves off the stems.

A big chopped onion went into the bacon fat, then the lobster broth and fish, then all the corn and thyme, and finally a cup of hot milk.

Wonderful meal! Nothing like great chowder, even made with a homely fish all the other customers pass up. Just so you know: I won over my critic. The bowls were full of flavor.

Fish and corn chowder
Serves 4

Use clam broth if you don't have homemade fish or lobster stock. To make lobster stock, simmer the bodies for 30 minutes in water to cover.

2 thick slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 1/2 cups clam broth
2 1/2 cups water
1 pound boneless haddock or other firm white fish, cut into 2-inch pieces
4 ears fresh corn, kernels removed from cobs
1 cup milk, heated to hot
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

1. In a large flameproof casserole, render the bacon, stirring often, until it is golden brown. With a spoon, lift out all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat.
2. Add the onion, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes.
3. Pour in the clam broth and water. Bring to a boil. Add the fish and cook for 3 minutes.
4. Add the corn and bring to a boil (corn picked that day needs no more cooking). Add the hot milk and thyme. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Sheryl Julian

We actually got sick of corn on the cob

Posted by Sheryl Julian September 8, 2009 03:02 PM
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Before I left for vacation, I read a recipe for corn fritters (it's in this week's Food section), in which contributing writer Jill Santopietro says that sometimes you just get tired of eating corn on the cob every night.

Not me, I thought.

Then last week in rural Vermont, where there's very little to do but walk and read -- and the nearest store is 20 minutes away (one of those quirky but typical country places that sell guns, bullets, artisan bread, and the finest ears of corn you've ever eaten), we did finally need to do something else with the corn besides zipper those rows off the cobs.

We simmered the kernels with the cobs, a chicken backbone from the main course that night, diced pancetta, a finely chopped golden patty pan squash, several local tomatoes, and some chopped potatoes. What a pot!

Corn chowder
Serves 8

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 thin slices pancetta, coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 quarts water
1 chicken bone or 1 chicken thigh
2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
3 medium Yukon Gold or Yellow Finn potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 golden patty pan squash, coarsely chopped (or use 1 yellow squash)
5 ears fresh corn, kernels removed from the cobs (save the cobs)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

1. In a soup pot, heat the oil. When it is hot, cook the pancetta, stirring often, until it renders its fat. Add the onion, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes.
2. Add the water, corn cobs, and chicken bone or thigh. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.
3. Add the tomatoes, potatoes, and patty pan. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.
4. Using tongs, remove the corn cobs from the pot, shaking them to release any vegetables that adhere to them. Remove the chicken bone or thigh (when it cools, use the thigh to make a salad).
5. Add the corn and thyme. Simmer for 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Sheryl Julian

Tuna salad for a crowd

Posted by Sheryl Julian August 17, 2009 05:23 PM
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My friend Janet had some minor foot surgery last week and I wanted to bring her something that would last for a few days and be easy to eat when she hobbled from the fridge to the table. I didn't have time to go shopping and do the meal delivery, so I used what I had. I found several cans of very good Italian tuna in olive oil. I had been to the farmers' market a few days before, so I had regular and cherry tomatoes in nice colors. Capers are always on hand, as are a few stalks of celery hearts, Armenian cukes, red onion, and canned white beans.

I lined a big plastic container with lettuce leaves, added the salad, and surrounded it with sliced tomatoes. Then snapped on the lid.

Just before heading out, I called Janet. She was just getting home from the pharmacy and was in terrible pain. "I have no appetite," she said, "but I appreciate the thought."

We dined on that tuna salad for days. I took it for lunch twice in a row. The tuna became steeped with the sherry vinegar and tasted good to the bottom of the bowl.

Tuna salad for a crowd
Serves 8

4 cans (7 1/2 ounces each) Italian tuna in olive oil
2 cans (15 ounces each) white beans, drained and rinsed
4 stalks celery heart, thinly sliced on the diagonal
4 Armenian or pickling cukes, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/4 red onion, very thinly sliced
4 tablespoons capers
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/4 cup sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 head Boston or romaine lettuce
3 small ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 pint golden cherry tomatoes, halved

1. Tip the tuna into a large bowl with several tablespoons of the olive oil from the cans (don't use it all).
2. Add the white beans, celery, cucumbers, red onion, and 3 tablespoons of the capers.
3. In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently but thoroughly. Taste for seasoning and add more vinegar or oil from the cans, if you like. You can add more mayonnaise, but the dressing should be mostly oil and vinegar.
4. Line a bowl with the lettuce leaves. Add the salad. Surround with tomatoes. Garnish with the remaining 1 tablespoon capers. Sheryl Julian

Nourishing summer breakfast

Posted by Sheryl Julian August 7, 2009 12:03 PM
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Any day that starts with an egg is a great day. Yesterday, a friend came for breakfast and I didn't have a chance to go out and get anything. I had a few ripe tomatoes from the farmers' market last weekend, half a red onion, an orange bell pepper that was going to go onto a crudite platter I brought to a reunion (there was already enough orange).

I made a piperade, which is a saucy saute of peppers and tomatoes, adding some spicy, smoky dried maras peppers and a generous pinch of cumin to the pan. I soft-cooked a couple of eggs for the top. It's a dish I was recalling from one I had in Spain a couple years ago and also drawn from something I ate at Sofra Bakery recently. The real piperade begins with the pepper mixture, then eggs are added, which scramble in the pan. I prefer the version that keeps them separate. In this, the soft-cooked egg runs into the spicy saute, adding a little richness to the sauce.

Piperade
Serves 2

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced
1 orange or yellow bell pepper, cored and cut into strips
3 ripe tomatoes, halved and thinly sliced
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1/8 teaspoon maras peppers or crushed red peppers
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1. In a large skillet, heat the oil and when it is hot, add the onion, pepper, tomatoes, salt, black pepper, maras or red peppers, and cumin. Cook, stirring often, for 12 minutes or until the mixture is saucy. Add the vinegar and cook 3 minutes more. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, maras or red papper, or vinegar, if you like.
2. Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add the eggs and cook exactly 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the eggs to a bowl of cold water. Let the cold tap run into the bowl for half a minute. Very gently, tap the shells with the back of a spoon. Peel carefully and transfer to a paper towel to dry.
3. Spoon the piperade onto plates, add an egg to each, and sprinkle with parsley. Sheryl Julian

You can never go wrong

Posted by Sheryl Julian August 4, 2009 12:00 PM
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When it's time to decide what to bring to a pot luck, I'm always on the fence. A pasta salad? Well, it will join all the other pasta salads. A big bowl of corn relish? The work involved in taking all that corn off the cobs!

I consider who is going to be at the event -- last Sunday it was a family reunion -- and lately my decision is to bring a platter of crudites. My husband and I always have a discussion about the fact that people don't want fresh vegetables. They want pasta, potatoes, pizza. We've been pleasantly surprised to learn that they're eating crudites. A nice dipping sauce helps. This mayo-based sauce is a little spicy.

To build a crudite platter
Imagine that you're planting a garden and want to spread out the flowers, so your black-eyed Susans are in different spots around your house. Start with carrots, say, and set them in clusters of threes or fours. I prefer to begin with real carrots and cut them into spears. Baby carrots are often carrots that have been stamped out of larger carrots. Do the same with celery hearts. Leave them long and leave some greens on some of them. On this platter, you'll see four clusters of carrots, two of celery, two of cucumbers (these are Armenian cukes; leave the skins on and slice them on a diagonal), with halved cherry tomatoes in four places, a little group of thinly sliced radishes (about 1/2-inch of green stems intact) in the center. From the side, the platter forms a dome; you want some height.

Mayo dipping sauce
Serves 8

1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
Salt and pepper, to taste
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons spicy cocktail sauce, or more to taste
Dash liquid hot sauce, or more to taste
1 teaspoon grated raw onion

1. In a bowl, whisk the mayonnaise and sour cream with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
2. Whisk in the cocktail sauce, hot sauce, and onion. Taste for seasoning and add more cocktail sauce or hot sauce, if you like.
3. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until serving. Sheryl Julian

When in France, eat the specialty of the region

Posted by Sheryl Julian July 28, 2009 04:43 PM
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Friends who rent a house in France had lunch on aioli day in a little village in the south of France near Arles. The garlicky mayonnaise was the center of attention, but so were snails (below), another regional specialty.

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Apparently you get lots of steamed vegetables (including a big potato; potato slathered with aioli!), the snails if you order them, so your plate starts to look like this:

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Then you add a big piece of cabillaud, a firm white fish in the cod family.

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If you can't get there, steam the fish yourself, grab a few snails from the garden, and pop a big potato in the oven. Here's an instant aioli.

Quick aioli
Makes about 1 cup

1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 cup bottled mayonnaise
Black pepper, to taste
Juice of 1 lemon

1. On a cutting board with the end of a blunt knife, mash the garlic and salt until they form a paste.
2. In a bowl, whisk the mayonnaise until smooth. Whisk in the garlic mixture, pepper, and lemon juice. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or pepper, if you like. Sheryl Julian

What $100 gets you

Posted by Sheryl Julian July 21, 2009 12:03 PM

It gets you dinner for 14, which I made last Saturday for a group of Francophiles I cook for annually (the day of the celebration is a weekend close to Bastille Day.

We are usually 12, but this year two people were in France, so we were 10. I made enough for dinner for two more nights (who wants to cook again after all that effort?).

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We began with my new favorite hors d'oeuvre: taramosalata, a Greek spread made from smoked cod's roe with lemon juice, olive oil, and some mashed potato to lighten the taste.

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Then something I call French farmhouse salad, which consists of frisee lettuce, or other local greens, chunks of bacon, a mustardy vinaigrette, and a soft-cooked egg, whose yolk spills onto the salad and acts as another dressing. My eggs were one minute over runny, but had a lovely free-range taste.

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For the main course, I made marmitako, a fish soup from the Basque region of France. Globe food writer and stylist Karoline Boehm Goodnick taught me the recipe, which is a real fisherman's stew -- meaning made from scraps. Her big tomato-based stew only has 3/4 pound of fish in it (I usually double that amount), plus colored bell peppers, leeks, and smoky pimenton and hot paprika, which really brighten the pot.

Dessert: two blueberry crostatas with vanilla creme Anglaise, an extraordinary combination.

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That's a lot of food for the money. But I'm not counting my labor. Two hours to shop, eight hours in the kitchen (and dusting off the back porch and other chores unrelated to the stove). I'm not usually this ambitious, but the Francophiles are a special group.

French farmhouse salad
Serves 6

3 thick slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 eggs
2 small heads lettuce (frisee, Boston, arugula), stemmed and torn up

1. In a skillet, render the bacon, turning often, until it is golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk the vinegar, salt, pepper, and mustard. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Taste for seasoning and add more vinegar or oil, if you like.
3. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Lower in the eggs. Set the timer for 5 minutes. Let the eggs bubble gently for 5 minutes exactly. With a slotted spoon, remove from the water and transfer to cold water. The egg whites are delicate at this point. With the back of the spoon, tap them lightly to crack the shells. Peel them and return to the water until all the eggs are cracked. Transfer to a paper towel to drain.
4. In a large bowl, toss the lettuces with the dressing. Arrange them on 6 plates. Set some of the bacon on each one. Add an egg. Sprinkle with more salt and pepper. Sheryl Julian

A dish I've been trying to get right for years

Posted by Sheryl Julian July 6, 2009 02:49 PM
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This is taramosalata, a Greek smoked fish roe spread that's either dreamy or awful. Awful versions are very strong, but this is a culture where the taramosalata might be sitting beside grilled octopus and snails in vinegar on a table.

You can buy taramosalata ready made (the color is a pretty pale coral) and the taste is mildly smoky, similar to a smoked salmon pate. Jars of roe (called tarama) are available at Middle Eastern markets, so you can make your own, but every time I've made it, the taste has been powerfully fishy.

I decided to try it again. I'd been thinking about it since "Vefa's Kitchen" came across my desk. When you buy the roe, it's so strong that you have to dilute it with bread soaked in water. This makes sense. Mediterranean cultures have many ways to use up stale bread.

Vefa mentioned using potatoes instead of bread to lighten the roe. In "Flavors of Greece," a book I like a lot, author Rosemary Barron also writes that some cooks prefer to use potatoes and bread together, or simply potatoes. So I decided to use all potatoes, and took Barron's proportions and turned them on their head. I used much less tarama than she suggested and much more potato. The results are wonderful!

Taramosalata
Serves 8

2 large Yukon Gold or Yellow Finn potatoes
1/2 jar (5 ounces) tarama
Juice of 1 1/2 lemons
1/4 cup olive oil
Olive oil (for sprinkling)
1/4 red onion, finely chopped

1. Quarter the potatoes. In a large saucepan, combine the potatoes and water to cover them by several inches. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. With a slotted spoon, lift them from the water and transfer to a plate. Leave to cool.
2. Pull off the potato skins. With a fork, mash 1 1/2 potatoes; set the rest aside.
3. In a food processor, work the tarama and lemon juice until the tarama is loose. With the motor running, add the olive oil through the feed tube until it is all combined. Add the mashed potatoes and work the tarama in on-off motions until the potato is well blended.
4. Taste the mixture for seasoning. Add more potato (mash it first) if the mixture seems too fishy.
5. Transfer the spread to a bowl, smooth the top, and sprinkle with olive oil and onion. Cover and refrigerate for several hours for the flavors to mellow. You can keep the spread for several days. In that case, add the olive oil and onion just before serving. Adapted from "Flavors of Greece"

Greece's "Joy of Cooking"

Posted by Sheryl Julian June 29, 2009 06:25 PM
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Greek food authority Vefa Alexiadou has written 13 cookbooks and they've been compiled in "Vefa's Kitchen," published by Phaidon Press. That's the house who brought us Spain's "1080 Recipes" and Italy's "The Silver Spoon," both classics in their regions. In her country, Alexiadou has sold more than five millions books and has her own TV show. She lives in Athens and the Halkidiki peninsula in Greece.

"Vefa's Kitchen" is a treasure box of octopus, beans, phyllo dough, stewy garbanzo dishes, game birds, fish stews, pilafs, and long-cooked vegetables. You look at photos of this food and you can imagine some grandmother toiling away in a small kitchen on a Greek island.

Nothing about this cooking is particularly beautiful, but the dishes seem sensible and classic. An omelet (a kind of frittata) filled with egg noodles, more than half a pound of feta, and half a dozen eggs made me want to run out for ingredients and head to the stove.

Small egglant stuffed with ground beef, tomatoes, and kefalotiri cheese, topped with white sauce, are homely but exceptionally appealing.

Taramosalata, the classic Greek spread, is one of my favorite dishes (it's the pink one in the middle, below). The main ingredient, cod's roe, can be quite strong. Alexiadou's tip is to mix pink and white fish roe (white is more expensive but milder, she writes), so you get the pink color without the fishy flavor. Or dilute the roe with boiled potatoes in place of soaked white bread.

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Taramosalata
Serves 8

6 thick slices of day-old bread, crusts removed or 7 ounces potatoes, cooked and peeled
7 ounces cured cod's roe
1/4 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup mixed olive and corn oil, or to taste
5 tablespoons lemon juice
3 scallions, finely chopped (for garnish)
Handful pitted kalamata olives, chopped (for garnish)

1. Tear up the bread. In a bowl, combine the bread and enough water to cover it. Set aside for 5 minutes. Lift out the bread, squeeze it out, and transfer to a bowl. Coarsely chop the potatoes.
2. In a food processor, combine the roe, onion, and 1/3 cup of the oil. Work the mixture until the roe is broken down and the mixture is blended.
3. Add the bread or potato a little at a time until the mixture is smooth.
4. With the motor running, add the remaining oil in a thin steady stream until the mixture is smooth. Add the lemon juice. Taste for seasoning. If you like, add up to 1/4 cup more oil. If the mixture is too thick, thin with club soda or sparkling water. Beat until light.
5. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and chill for several hours. Sprinkle with scallions and olives. Adapted from "Vefa's Kitchen"

New: a food bookazine

Posted by Sheryl Julian June 29, 2009 03:55 PM
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The new "Good Housekeeping Grilling for Every Day" is a bookazine, which I think means that it's more than a magazine but less than a book. The soft cover publication, launched this week, costs $9.99. There are other bookazines on the market, but this is the first food-related one I've seen.

Here's a sample of one of the 137 recipes, all designed for a Fourth of July barbecue.

Shrimp and pineapple with basil and greens
Serves 6

3 to 4 limes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 pineapple (3 pounds)
12 corn tortillas
Olive oil (for sprinkling)
6 ounces mesclun or other baby greens
2 heads Belgian endive, thickly sliced

1. Prepare outdoor charcoal or gas grill for medium heat.
2. Grate enough of the limes to make 1/2 teaspoon grated rind. Juice them to get 1/4 cup juice.
3. In blender, combine the lime rind and juice, olive oil, 1/2 cup basil leaves, and a generous punch each of salt and pepper. Blend until pureed.
4. Transfer 2 tablespoons of the basil mixture to a medium bowl. Add shrimp and toss well.
5. Cut off crown and stem ends from pineapple. Stand pineapple upright and slice off rind and eyes. Cut pineapple lengthwise into 8 wedges. Cut off core from each wedge. Place pineapple wedges on hot grill rack and cook about 10 minutes or until lightly charred and tender, turning once.
6. Place shrimp in a grill basket or on a small grill rack and transfer to grill. Cook 5 to 8 minutes or until opaque throughout, turning once. Transfer shrimp to large bowl. Transfer pineapple to cutting board and cut into 1/2-inch chunks.
7. Sprinkle tortillas with oil. Grill 4 to 5 minutes or until toasted, turning over once.
8. Add greens, endive, pineapple, remaining basil, and remaining dressing to the shrimp. Toss well.
9. Place 2 tortillas on each of 6 plates; top with shrimp and pinenapple salad. Adapted from "Good Housekeeping Grilling for Every Day"

If it stays cold, make this

Posted by Sheryl Julian June 23, 2009 03:29 PM
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I got the idea from Donna Hay, who is the brilliant Australian cook with an empire something like Martha Stewart's. Down Under, of course, the season is wintry. Considering what's going on outside, food for chilly weather seemed appealing.

The great thing about this dish is that you don't brown the chicken. Just put all the seasonings -- I used a sprinkle of sea salt, maras pepper, lemon slices, black olives, small tomatoes, and thyme -- right onto the pieces, cover with foil, and send the dish to the oven. Two hours later, you've got a fine meal.

Chicken with lemon, thyme, and tomatoes
Serves 4

1 chicken (3 1/2 pounds), cut into 8 pieces
1 1/2 cups white wine
Olive oil (for sprinkling)
Salt, to taste
Maras or black pepper, to taste
5 small tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
Handful fresh thyme

1. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Have on hand a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
2. Arrange the chicken in the dish. Sprinkle with wine, olive oil, salt, and maras or black pepper. Add tomatoes, olives, lemon, bay leaf, and thyme. Cover with foil.
3. Cook the chicken for 2 hours or until it is very tender and no longer pink at the bone. Discard the lemon and thyme. Spoon the cooking juices over the meat.
4. Turn on the broiler. Broil the chicken for 2 minutes or until the skin looks crisp and golden. Sheryl Julian

The slaw queen

Posted by Sheryl Julian June 22, 2009 03:16 PM

This blogger is known as the Queen of Slaws. She can shred anything!

I'm also happy with a cheap mandoline and some vegetables. I mixed red and green cabbages this weekend to make a colorful bowl:

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This is the recipe, more or less (you have to take some initiative and add what you like to a slaw; that's part of the fun). The dressing is vinegary with just a little mayo.

Then I decided to make a fennel slaw. You can't slice the fennel by hand because you can't get it thin enough. I used a Benriner (it's the green plastic implement beside the bowl, below). I dressed the slaw with sherry vinegar and added a bouquet of fresh herbs, including mint, which disappeared into the dish but softened the fennel.

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Fennel slaw
Serves 6

2 bulbs fresh fennel
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1/2 yellow bell pepper, seeded and very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (thyme, parsley, mint)
5 scallions, thinly sliced

1. Trim the fennel. Halve the bulbs and use a mandoline to slice them thinly. Transfer to a bowl, layering with salt. Set aside for 15 minutes. Tip out any juices that accumulate in the bowl.
2. Add the bell pepper, vinegar, oil, and black pepper. Toss well.
3. Add the herbs and scallions. Toss again. Sheryl Julian


Make your own!

Posted by Sheryl Julian June 22, 2009 02:40 PM
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Nestle announced a recall of its prepared refrigerated cookie doughs.

If you need a dough that keeps well in the refrigerator and turns out very crisp cookies, here's our nominee. The recipe comes from Alice Medrich, an extraordinary baker whose books I admire. She melts the butter for the cookies so they need to be refrigerated before baking (otherwise the dough is too soft). Keep it in a plastic container for a couple days, then press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the dough and freeze to keep it longer. Defrost in the refrigerator for a day before baking.

Refrigerator chocolate chippers
Makes 5 dozen

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cool but still liquid
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups chocolate chips

1. In an electric mixer, beat the butter with the granulated and brown sugars. Beat in the salt.
2. Add the eggs, one by one, followed by the vanilla.
3. Beat in the flour and baking soda. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand. With a large spoon, stir in the chips.
4. Transfer the batter to a plastic container, cover, and refrigerate for half a day or up to 3 days. Freeze if keeping longer.
5. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
6. Let the dough sit out for 30 minutes to soften. Set the oven at 375 degrees.
7. Scoop the dough onto the baking sheets. Bake the cookies for 9 to 11 minutes or until they are firm to the touch. Adapted from "Cookies and Brownies"

Judges say this is the best grilled cheese

Posted by Sheryl Julian June 11, 2009 10:53 AM
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The recent Brattleboro, Vermont Strolling of the Heifers, in which calves are led through the town, is held to help save family farms. This year, the event included a grilled-cheese sandwich cook-off. Each cook had to use Vermont cheese and Vermont bread.

Overall winner was Vermont Seasons Fine Catering, a Brattleboro company. Jamie Baribeau used Sicilian bread from La Panciata in Northfield Falls, Vt., aged Grafton Cheddar, Vermont Shepherd sheep’s milk cheese, pears in honey, smoked ham from Lawrence Smoke Shop, and grainy mustard. Can't wait to make my own!

Winning grilled cheese sandwich
Makes 1

1 tablespoon butter
2 slices thick crusty bread
2 thin slices ripe pear
1/2 teaspoon honey
2 ounces Vermont Shepherd cheese, thinly sliced
2 ounces Grafton 2-year-old Cheddar, thinly sliced
2 1/2 ounces shaved ham
1/2 teaspoon grainy mustard

1. Lightly butter 2 slices of bread (Save 1 teaspoon of the butter.)
2. In a skillet, melt the butter. Saute the pear for 1 minute. Add the honey and remove from the heat.
3. Set the cheddar on the nonbuttered side of the bread. Add the pear and ham. Spread the mustard on the ham. Top with Vermont Shepherd cheese and the bread, buttered side up.
4. On a griddle, cook the sandwich until it is crisp and golden. Adapted from Vermont Seasons Fine Catering

(Almost) instant dessert

Posted by Sheryl Julian June 2, 2009 03:28 PM
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Last Sunday, I needed to retest the pastry for the chocolate pine nut tart in tomorrow's paper, but I didn't want to make the entire tart (yet again). The pastry is made in a bowl with a wooden spoon and couldn't be easier. When it's time to make the tart, you press it into the pan.

So I decided to turn the pastry into shortbread. I pressed the pastry into the tart pan but did not go up the sides. Then I dredged it with sugar, scored it, and pricked the dough well. The little squares are just sweet enough to be a fine accompaniment to fresh berries.

Here are shortbread details:
Make the pastry as directed here. Press it into the bottom of a buttered 9-inch fluted French tart pan with removable base. Dredge it generously with granulated sugar.

Use a long chef's knife to make horizontal and vertical cuts in the pastry about 1 1/2-inches apart. (When you score the pastry, press down with the knife, but do not pull it along the pastry; the best way is to score half the round, then rotate it and finish scoring.)

Set the tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake the pastry in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes or until the edges just begin to brown. Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes. Set the pan on a small bowl so the rim falls away. Transfer the pastry (still on the bottom round) to a cutting board. Recut the pastry where you scored it initially. Set the pieces on a wire rack to cool.

Honestly, I could have baked a batch in the time it's taken me to explain this!

Everyone's becoming vegan

Posted by Sheryl Julian May 21, 2009 05:16 PM
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I had a long chat this morning with Lorna Sass, best-known for three books on how to use the pressure cooker (she convinced me; I own three). She also wrote the prize-winning "Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way" and came to my kitchen a couple of years ago to cook some of them.

Sass was vegan for almost a decade and wrote a bunch of vegetarian books, which she told me are really vegan books. She only broke her very strict vegan regime when she met a guy who liked to eat cheese and sip wine. "Short-Cut Vegan" is her latest book. (She's with another guy, who is distinctly not vegan, she says.)

She was traveling and offered some great tips for packing things to go and eating at restaurants. Watch for the story next Wednesday.

Quick bean guacamole
Serves 4

1 can (15 ounces) navy beans, drained and rinsed
1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted, and cut into chunks
3/4 cup chunky salsa, or to taste
1 tablespoon lime juice, or to taste
Generous dash liquid hot sauce, or to taste
Salt, to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro (for sprinkling)

1. In a food processor, combine the beans, avocado, salsa, and 1 tablespoon of the lime juice. Pulse until the mixture turns into a coarse puree.
2. Add the hot sauce and salt. Taste for seasoning and add more salsa and lime juice, if you like.
3. Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle with cilantro. Adapted from "Short-Cut Vegan"

A new terrific slaw

Posted by Sheryl Julian May 19, 2009 03:25 PM
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I haven't had a slaw as good as this in a long time. The recipe was sent to me by Peter Irving and Natasha Kanieff of St. Alphonzo's Kitchen in South Boston. I made it over the weekend so we could run it in tomorrow's paper. I had it for lunch on Sunday, then for dinner, then for lunch and dinner yesterday, and just now ate the last of it for lunch today.

It's mildly sweet from ketchup and a little sugar, nice color from paprika, pucker from lemon juice and rice vinegar.

Sweet red slaw
Serves 6

1 red cabbage, cored, quartered, and very thinly sliced
1 shallot, quartered
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons ketchup
3 tablespoons sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup oil
Black pepper, to taste

1. In a large bowl, place the cabbage; set aside.
2. In a food processor, combine the shallot, rice vinegar, ketchup, sugar, lemon juice, salt, and paprika. Pulse until the mixture is smooth.
3. With the motor running, slowly add the oil until is it well mixed. Add the dressing to the cabbage and toss well. Sprinkle with pepper. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, if you like. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Adapted from St. Alphonzo's Kitchen

Everything tastes better with tuna

Posted by Sheryl Julian May 11, 2009 05:26 PM
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Food page contributor Ike DeLorenzo made this penne for dinner last night. He emailed to say that it takes only 30 minutes in one pan, "and has a rich, satisfying, almost slow-cooked taste. The key is to use excellent quality pancetta, like the housemade one from Formaggio Kitchen." He began with penne made from farro, which, he says, "lends the dish an especially balanced and satisfying taste."

Wine recommendation: a lighter red (Chianti, pinot noir) or a crisp dry white (Picpoul-de-Pinet, sauvignon blanc).

Farro penne with tuna and pancetta
Serves 2

Salt, to taste
1/4-inch slice top quality pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
Olive oil (for sprinkling)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 can (14 ounces) crushed tomatoes
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3/4 pound farro penne rigate
1 can (6 ounces) tuna in olive oil
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup grated romano cheese

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil to cook the pasta.
2. Meanwhile, in a flameproof casserole large enough to hold the finished dish, turn the heat to medium-low. Add the pancetta with a splash of olive oil. Cook the pancetta for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it begins to turn slightly golden. About 1 minute before the pancetta is done, add the garlic. Don't burn the garlic.
3. Add the tomatoes. Turn the heat to medium-high. Add the red pepper, and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until the tomatoes have cooked down a bit. Add a few splashes of olive oil.
4. Drop the pasta into the water. Cook according to package directions (usually about 7 minutes). Be alert with farro pasta. The difference between perfectly cooked "al dente" farro and overcooked mush is less than a minute. Drain farro pasta 2 minutes early; it will continue to cook in the pan.
5. Use a fork to ease the tuna out of the can into the tomato mixture, so you flake rather than mash it as it falls out of the can. Continue cooking for 5 minutes.
6. Drain the pasta into a colander. Add the pasta and parsley to the tomato sauce. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring gently, for 5 minutes.
7. Turn off the heat and sprinkle with romano cheese. Stir slowly to prevent the cheese from clumping as it melts. Ike DeLorenzo

When you don't have the real thing

Posted by Sheryl Julian May 8, 2009 03:21 PM
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This is the famous apple pie made with Ritz crackers instead of fruit (it's an old dessert, once much loved as an easy, cheap alternative to real apple pie). Ritz is celebrating 75 years, no doubt due to the popularity of this pie and to the excellent combination of peanut butter spread on the crackers, one of the most satisfying PB partners.

Ritz mock apple pie
Makes one 9-inch pie

2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 3/4 cups water
Rind and juice of 1 lemon
Flour (for sprinkling)
Pastry for 2-crust 9-inch pie
36 Ritz crackers, coarsely broken (about 1 3/4 cups)
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, cut up
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


1. In a saucepan, combine the sugar and cream of tartar . Gradually stir in the water. Bring to boil over high heat; turn down the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  Stir in the lemon rind and juice. Set aside to cool for 30 minutes.
2. Set the oven at 425 degrees. Have on hand a 9-inch pie pan.
3. On a lightly floured counter, roll out half the pastry to an 11-inch round. Ease it into the pie pan. Place cracker crumbs in crust. Pour sugar syrup over crumbs; top with butter or margarine and cinnamon.
4. Roll out the remaining pastry to a 10-inch round. Ease it over the pie. Seal and flute the edges. Cut several slits in the top crust for steam vents.
5. Set the pie on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown.

My new favorite dish

Posted by Sheryl Julian April 21, 2009 03:49 PM
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I was in Budapest last month sampling specialties made with the famous Hungarian paprikas. A story I wrote about my search for paprikas was in Sunday's Travel section.

Here's the video that shows how to make the dish. And click here for the recipe.

A dessert for Spring (if it ever comes)

Posted by Sheryl Julian April 21, 2009 10:56 AM
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Last Spring, during June's local strawberry season, I decided I wanted to make shortcake, so I took a favorite scone recipe and added much more liquid, then baked it in an ordinary layer cake pan. The cake is so light and easy, very crusty on top from a generous sprinkle of granulated sugar. When it's done, I sprinkle it again, this time with confectioners' sugar. Save this for the day when you go into the markets and the berries look beautiful.

I made it last weekend and instead of garnishing the slices with whipped cream, I used plain yogurt, which I flavored with vanilla (or use vanilla yogurt). The berries have enough sweetness so you probably don't need to add sugar to the yogurt.

Strawberry shortcake
Serves 6

SHORTCAKE
Butter (for the pan)
Flour (for the pan)
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut up
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 egg, lightly beaten
Extra granulated sugar (for sprinkling)
Confectioners' sugar (for sprinkling)

1. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Butter an 8-inch layer cake pan. Line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper cut to fit it. Butter the paper and dust the pan with flour, tapping out the excess.
2. In a bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and baking powder.
3. Add the butter and use a pastry blender or two blunt knives to work the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles crumbs.
4. Stir the granulated sugar into the flour mixture.
5. In a bowl mix the cream and egg. With a rubber spatula, stir the cream mixture into the flour mixture just until it forms a moist batter. Do not over mix.
6. Spoon the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake the shortcake for 35 minutes or until the top is golden and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
7. Let the shortcake cool in the pan on a rack for 20 minutes. Turn it out onto a plate, then turn it right side up onto a flat cake platter. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.

STRAWBERRIES
1 pint strawberries, trimmed and halved or sliced
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream, softly whipped

1. In a bowl, layer the berries and sugar. Set them aside for 15 minutes. Stir gently.
2. Cut the cake into 6 triangles and set them on dessert plates. Spoon berries and cream on the wedges. Sheryl Julian

Beacon Hill Bistro's beet salad

Posted by Devra First April 20, 2009 01:09 PM

In last week's review of Beacon Hill Bistro, I mentioned the beet salad. It features nicely dressed greens beside a crimson wedge -- a sort of beet quiche. The roots are sliced thin and layered with creme fraiche and eggs.

Several people expressed interest in the dish, so here is the recipe for the beets, from chef Jason Bond. You might want to scale down! Ten pounds of beets could provide more than you care to eat. (Not to mention 10 eggs plus 16 yolks -- there's a reason sometimes not to learn what goes into restaurant recipes.) Or make all of it and FedEx the leftovers to Barack Obama. It's time he learned the joy of beets.

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Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff

Beacon Hill Bistro's beet salad

10 pounds beets
10 eggs
16 yolks
4 ounces creme fraiche
4 ounces flour
2 ounces fresh thyme, chopped
10 shallots, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook beets in simmering water until tender; peel and cool.
2. Slice beets thinly on a mandoline.
3. Whisk together eggs and yolks, then stir in remaining ingredients. Fold with beets to coat.
4. Transfer beets to a shallow pan big enough to hold them and cover in plastic wrap.
5. Top with another pan and weigh it down with cast iron skillets. (Note: Bond specifies six cast iron skillets if you've got 'em.) Refrigerate several hours or overnight.
6. Heat oven to 350. Remove plastic and bake 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Let cool, slice, and serve with greens dressed with vinaigrette.

Gluten-free chippers

Posted by Sheryl Julian April 17, 2009 11:57 AM
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Anyone who knows someone on a gluten-free diet is aware of how difficult it is to enjoy desserts, go to restaurants, participate in celebrations. Elizabeth Barbone, author of "Easy Gluten-Free Baking" (Lake Isle Press), is an alumna of the Culinary Institute of America (her degree is in pastry arts). Here's her version of the famous cookie-jar treat.

Gluten-free chocolate chip cookies
Makes about 3 dozen

1 1/4 cups white rice flour
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 bag (12 ounces) gluten-free chocolate chips

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a bowl combine the white rice and sweet rice flours, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Use a whisk to stir them.
3. In a mixer, cream together butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar for 1 minute. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition, then the vanilla. Add the flour mixture and beat just until a dough forms.
4. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand. With a wooden spoon, stir in the chips.
5. Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough onto the baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake the sheets one at a time.
6. Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes or until they are golden. Set the baking sheet on a wire rack to cool for 3 to 5 minutes or until cookies are firm. Transfer to the rack to cool completely. Bake the second sheet in the same way. Store cookies in an airtight container. Adapted from "Easy Gluten-Free Baking"

Eggs are perfect food

Posted by Sheryl Julian April 14, 2009 07:03 PM
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New York restaurant group Union Square Hospitality, which includes Union Square restaurant, Gramercy Tavern, Eleven Madison Park, Tabla, and The Modern, raised money for City Harvest by donating a portion of chicken entrees to the hunger organization. Now they're doing the same thing with eggs. If I owned a restaurant, there'd be an egg dish on the menu every day.

The one here is made by tossing salad greens with a lemony vinaigrette, hard-cooking eggs, and setting two halves around the edges of each plate. Season mayonnaise (commercial is fine) with Dijon mustard, a splash of white wine vinegar, and a few drops of hot water until it is the consistency of thick cream. Spoon the mayonnaise over the eggs.

Finally: Chocolate nirvana

Posted by Sheryl Julian April 9, 2009 03:13 PM
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This is the third flourless chocolate cake I baked for the Passover Seder I attended last night. The first, from one of America's best bakers, was just 1/2-inch high. "Cut it into tiny squares and call them brownies," said my husband. But they were too thin -- even for brownies.

The second was made with ground almonds and it wasn't much better, also from another famous cook. Finally, I turned to a "Better Homes and Gardens" clipping I pulled out last month and made Judy Bart Kancigor's "Too Good To Be Called Passover Cake." It's dense, baked in a water bath, and really luscious. The only change I made was to bake it longer than she suggests. Kancigor's recipe calls for 25 to 30 minutes in a water bath. It needs closer to 1 hour. After it cooled, I dusted the top with unsweetened cocoa powder and confectioners' sugar.

Third time's the charm.

Too Good To Be Called Passover Cake
Serves 16

Butter (for the pan)
8 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 eggs
Unsweetened cocoa powder (for sprinkling)
Confectioners' sugar (for sprinkling)

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch springform pan, line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper, and butter the paper. Wrap 2 layers of foil around the bottom of the pan. Bring a tea kettle of water to a boil.
2. In a food processor, combine the unsweetened and semisweet chocolates. Pulse until finely chopped.
3. In a saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Set over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil.
4. With the processor running, add the boiling sugar syrup through the feed tube. Add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, followed by the eggs, one by one.
5. Pour the batter into the pan. Set it in a roasting pan. Carefully pour enough water around the cake pan to come halfway up the sides of the pan. Bake the cake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out with just a few specks clinging to it. Remove the cake from the water and set it on a rack to cool.
6. Unlatch the sides of the springform. Use a wide metal spatula to slide the cake (without the paper) onto a cake plate.
7. Dust with unsweetened cocoa powder and confectioners' sugar. Adapted from "Cooking Jewish: 532 Great Recipes from the Rabinowitz Family"

Chocolate cake in a cup

Posted by Devra First April 7, 2009 03:08 PM

Until today, I was unaware of this apparent e-mail/Internet phenomenon. (If you Google "chocolate cake in a cup," you get 1,800,000 hits.)

It's a 5-minute chocolate cake that's made in a mug in the microwave. Someone e-mailed the recipe to my father, who passed it along to me.

cake1.jpg

It goes like this:

5 MINUTE CHOCOLATE MUG CAKE

4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
A small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug (MicroSafe)

Add dry ingredients to mug and mix well.

Add the egg and mix thoroughly.

Pour in the milk and oil and mix well.

Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again.

Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1,000 watts.

The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed!

Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.
Then EAT! (This can serve 2 if you want to feel slightly more virtuous.)

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It ends: "And why is this the most dangerous cake recipe in the world? Because now we are all only 5 minutes away from chocolate cake at any time of the day or night."

Unfortunately, I'm at the office and can't concoct this thing RIGHT NOW like I want to. Has anyone tried it? Could it actually be good?

According to the folks at King Arthur, not so much, but they offer a few improvements.

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Pressure cooker chicken soup

Posted by Sheryl Julian March 31, 2009 04:04 PM

chickensoup.jpg The secret to good chicken soup is chicken. That seems so obvious, but apparently many cooks ignore that. Some make chicken soup with beautiful ingredients and just before serving, in order to give the bowls a boost, they add powdered chicken broth at the end. The soup gets that unmistakable yellow color with tiny bits of dried herbs in it. Add more chicken and you'll get all the flavor you need. One parsnip adds a nice sweet taste, but sometimes smells strong while cooking. Add plenty of carrots and don't bother to cut them up. Just lay them whole in the bottom of the pot. Cut up the onions, however, since they will not fall in half when you lift them out. Once the soup is made, separate the liquid from the solids and refrigerate them separately. Skim the fat from the broth. Remove all the meat from the bones, and combine everything to reheat. The recipe came to me from Sally Shapiro of Providence. I make it once a week from October through May. If you have a small pressure cooker, you'll have to divide this recipe in half, which is easy enough to do.

Pressure-cooker chicken soup
Serves 6

6 carrots (leave whole)
3 medium onions, chopped
1 parsnip (leave whole)
6 stalks fresh parsley
1 bay leaf
4 peppercorns
1 chicken (3 1/2 pounds), cut into quarters
2 split chicken breasts
1 tablespoon kosher salt
12 cups water

1. In a pressure cooker, lay the carrots, onions, parsnip, parsley, bay leaf, and peppercorns in the bottom. Add the chicken pieces with the neck and gizzard, extra breasts, and salt. Pour in the water.
2. Lock the lid and set over high heat to bring the pressure up. Adjust the heat to maintain medium pressure and cook for 15 minutes exactly. (Important: do not leave the kitchen while the pressure cooker is on; modern cookers are perfectly safe, but you still need to babysit.)
3. Let the pressure cooker sit for 5 minutes. Carefully carry the cooker to the sink and run very cold water onto the top to bring the pressure down. You'll hear the valve make a big sigh. When it's safe to remove the lid, lift it off.
4. Let the soup cool for 20 minutes. With tongs, transfer the chicken to a large bowl. Put the vegetables into one container, tip the broth into another. Discard the parsley, bay leaf, and peppercorns. Let everything cool.
5. Refrigerate the broth. Remove the meat from the chicken bones and transfer the meat to the vegetables. Refrigerate.
6. Remove the fat from the broth. Tip the broth into a soup pot. Add the vegetables and chicken. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Adapted from "The Way We Cook"


Quick cucumber pickles

Posted by Sheryl Julian March 25, 2009 02:34 PM
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Make this with slender Armenian cucumbers, which have thin skins. They're slightly longer than pickling cukes and not as pudgy. I get them at my local farmstand. You also need some sort of hand-held slicing machine, like a fancy mandoline or one of the newer cheaper plastic versions.

4 Armenian cucumbers
About 1/4 cup white wine or cider vinegar
Salt, to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1. Without peeling them, slice the cucumbers thinly. Layer them in a bowl, sprinkling the layers with vinegar, salt, and parsley.
2. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least several hours. Sheryl Julian

Real peasant food

Posted by Sheryl Julian March 25, 2009 01:22 PM
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I just got around to making a very simple lentil and pasta dish my sister-in-law, Donna, gave me last fall. You can imagine people who had nothing putting this on the table with crusty bread. You begin by simmering lentils in water, then you add olive oil, garlic, and parsley, simmer a little more, then throw in tiny pasta shells and finish the cooking. I thought the dish wouldn't have any flavor, but I used good olive oil and it was terrific. At first, when it's done, the dish is soupy, but when the lentils sit for a few minutes, they absorb the liquid in the pan.

It's a very cheap, very nourishing meal. Talk about making something from nothing.

Pasta and lentils
Serves 4

8 cups water
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups green lentils
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup top-quality olive oil
1 cup small pasta shells or soup mac

1. In a large saucepan, combine the water and a large pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Add the lentils, partially cover the pan, and simmer for 15 minutes.
2. Add 2 tablespoons of the parsley, garlic, and olive oil. Recover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
3. Add the pasta and continue cooking for 10 minutes more or until the pasta and lentils are tender. (Total cooking time is 35 minutes.) Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes. Stir over medium heat until it is hot again. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons parsley. Donna Meuse

Root for celeriac

Posted by Sheryl Julian March 17, 2009 05:20 PM
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Celery root is an amazing vegetable. It tastes only vaguely like the green stalk celery, and has no strings. But it is crisp and makes a fine salad when prepared the classic French way as celeri remoulade: cut into julienne strips, blanched for a minute, and tossed with a mayonnaise and mustard dressing.

Celeri remoulade
Serves 4

Salt and pepper, to taste
Juice of 1 lemon
2 heads celery root
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon plain yogurt or sour cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, or more to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


1. Fill a large saucepan with water, salt, and the lemon juice. Bring to a boil.
2. With a rotary vegetable peeler, peel the skin from the celery roots. Halve them, remove any spongy cores with a spoon and cut the bulbs into julienne strips. Working quickly so the strips do not brown, add them to the water. Return the mixture to a boil and simmer for 1 minute. Drain into a colander and rinse with cold water. Shake the colander to remove excess moisture.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, yogurt or sour cream, mustard, salt, and pepper. Add the celery root and toss gently but thoroughly. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, pepper, and mustard, if you like. Sprinkle with parsley. Sheryl Julian

They stick to your ribs

Posted by Sheryl Julian March 3, 2009 03:17 PM
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Short ribs are an amazing cut. I often order them in a restaurant (the photo above was shot at 28 Degrees in the South End), but I've never made them at home. Last weekend I took the plunge. They're huge, fatty, bony things -- they come boned but my butcher only had ribs with bones intact. I seared them all over, added plenty of rendered bacon, sauteed red onion wedges, balsamic vinegar, tomatoes, and wine.

They spent a couple of hours in the oven and the house smelled heavenly. Once the ribs were done -- they were falling off the bone -- I had to chill it. The big flameproof casserole I used was too big to go into the fridge, so I put it outside in the snow! That's my new method of chilling food fast. And you do have to chill this dish. There's an inch of fat on top, which is easy to skim off.

We're feasting on the ribs this evening with friends who are coming in from Vermont. Here's the recipe, which is in tomorrow's paper.

Jazz curry and more

Posted by Devra First February 25, 2009 04:27 PM

Today's Globe featured an interview with doctor/jazz man/cook Stanley Sagov (below). He spoke about some of the dishes he likes to make, from his native South Africa. If they intrigued you, here are two of his recipes.

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Josh Reynolds for the Boston Globe

Stanley's South African Jazz Curry

Serves 4-6

Note: A heady mixture of various curries gives this dish an exotic flavor. Try to find some that are spicy and some that are sweet, from India and/or Java. Try Cartwrights Curry Powder from South Africa or Shan brand from an Indian grocery store.

VEGETABLES
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into thick slices
1/2 cup fresh green beans, chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup fresh lima beans
2 eggplants, peeled and cut into thin rounds
3 small green mangoes, peeled and halved
1/2 cup chopped carrots
2 green peppers, seeded and diced
3 large tomatoes, halved

SAUCE
1 small piece fresh ginger root, peeled and crushed
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1 stick cinnamon (or 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
1 teaspoon fennel seed (or 1 teaspoon grated fresh fennel)
1 teaspoon curry powder, or more to taste
4 cloves
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons fresh coconut, shredded
2 green chili peppers, chopped
1/2 cup apricot jam
1 cup plain unsweetened yogurt
1 teaspoon garlic, crushed and sliced thin
2 tablespoons olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Wash, peel, and cut all the vegetables and mangoes. Set peppers and tomatoes aside.

3. Simmer the remaining vegetables in a pot with as little water as possible. When the vegetables are half-cooked, add the peppers and tomatoes and simmer until everything is gently cooked but still "al dente."

4. Mix together the ginger, all of the spices, salt, coconut, and green chilies. Add jam and yogurt and stir to make a thick sauce.

5. Place the cooked vegetables in an oven-proof casserole and pour the yogurt mixture over them. Carefully toss and turn the vegetables so the sauce is distributed fairly evenly.

6. Sprinkle garlic and olive oil evenly over the vegetables. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes.

Sagov says: Curry is always better the next day! Serve with rotis (Indian flatbread) and yellow rice -- white rice that is cooked with raisins, turmeric, butter, cinnamon, and sometimes a little sugar. For table condiments, serve chutney, raita (a mixture of yogurt, fresh mint, and chopped cucumbers), and sliced bananas.

Stanley’s Bebop Tomato Bredie

Serves 4-6

1/4 cup olive oil
About 2 pounds stew beef, cubed
1 onion, coarsely chopped
3 marrow bones
About 1 pound tomatoes, peeled and ground to a pulp
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 chopped green chili
1/4 green bell pepper, sliced
About two pounds small potatoes, halved
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon garam masala

1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Toss in the beef cubes, onion, and marrow bones. Cook until well browned.

2. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, sugar, chili, bell peppers, and potatoes. Stir well and simmer for about 20 minutes.

3. Reduce heat and add turmeric and garam masala. Simmer uncovered until the meat is tender, about 2 hours.

4. Serve over white rice. You can add turmeric to the rice for color.

Every family has a favorite meatloaf

Posted by Sheryl Julian February 17, 2009 02:48 PM
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We needed a meatloaf recipe for a story in tomorrow's paper and I bought both lean ground beef and turkey sausages and went into the kitchen. I decided that you have to add vegetables to the meat mixture or you'll get something that isn't moist enough, so I added finely chopped carrot and onion, and lots of parsley. I had left some dinner rolls out for a day to get stale, which I threw in the food processor with the vegetables. Then I made a spicy tomato sauce to cover the top (good meatloaf needs to bake under a blanket). Great dish! Here's the recipe.

Easy homemade truffles for your sweetheart

Posted by Sheryl Julian February 13, 2009 11:12 AM
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Food contributing writer Debra Samuels belongs to the International Women's Club of Boston, for which she co-hosts, with French native Francoise Matte, informal cooking classes. This week they had a chocolate session and made a chocolate roll cake, orange and grapefruit rinds dipped in chocolate, florentine cookies, and truffles. Making the truffles is very easy. A great last-minute gift for your valentine.

Chocolate truffles
Makes 4 dozen

1 pint heavy cream
2 pounds chocolate (minimum 65% cacao), chopped into 2-inch pieces
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, or more if necessary (for coating)

1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the cream. Add the chocolate and stir over low heat until the chocolate melts.
2. Scrape down the sides of the pan. Let the chocolate mixture cool. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight until the chocolate is cold.
3. Spread enough cocoa on a plate to make a thick layer.
4. WIth a small spoon, scoop up balls of chocolate. Roll them in your hands into small balls. (Work quickly because your hands will warm and melt the chocolate.) Roll the balls in the cocoa to coat them all over; transfer the truffles to small paper cups. Continue until all the chocolate is rolled and covered with cocoa.
5. Store in a cool, dark place. Debra Samuels

Your favorite ingredients

Posted by Devra First January 28, 2009 05:03 PM

"I'll order any dish that has _______ in it."

There are some ingredients I can't resist. It's not even always that I like them on their own, but if a dish contains them, I will order it. For example:

Figs
Artichokes
Horseradish
Kumquats, Meyer lemons, or blood oranges

Kumquats are currently in the markets, which makes me happy.

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I candied some the other day. Here's how:

Slice thin 2 dozen or so kumquats, removing seeds.
In a saucepan over medium heat, stir about 3/4 cup sugar into about 3/4 cup water till sugar dissolves. Raise heat and bring to a boil.
Add the kumquats. When the mixture comes to a boil again, reduce heat and simmer for about 25 minutes or until kumquats are tender.
Let cool, then store in a clean jar. You can also make this with more sugar and water for a greater amount of syrup.

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They 're great on pound cakes, tapioca pudding, ice cream with hot fudge, and so on. The syrup is also good in cocktails.

I've been putting them in my yogurt.

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What ingredients almost always get you to order a dish?

First lunch as President

Posted by Sheryl Julian January 21, 2009 02:05 PM
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After the swearing-in ceremony, President Obama's lunch -- the one where Senator Kennedy collapsed -- included seafood stew. Here is Chef Shannon Shaffer making the dish. Lunch was served at the U.S. Capitol building and catered by Design Cuisine of Arlington, Va.

The menu went on to include pheasant with wild rice, duck breasts with cherry chutney, molasses-whipped sweet potatoes, winter vegetables, and cinnamon-apple sponge cake. The stew, according to Guardian newspaper reporter Daniel Nasaw, was baked in individual serving dishes with puff pastry caps.

Lobsters for the dish came from Maine; it would be nice with our sea scallops and cod (they used black cod). It seems really creamy. But then, I don't need as much fortification. I didn't get up at dawn and dance until the wee hours.

Seafood stew
Serves 10

1 gallon water
6 Maine lobsters (1 pound each)
20 medium sea scallops
2 pounds large shrimp, peeled
1 pound cod
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1/2 leek, finely chopped
1/2 russet potato, peeled and chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
Pinch ground nutmeg
4 cups heavy cream
1 cup dry vermouth
10 rounds puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten

1. Bring the water to a boil; poach lobsters, then the shrimp, then the cod, and finally the scallops. The seafood should not be cooked through; it will cook more later. Remove all the seafood from the water. Reserve the cooking liquid and bring to boil.
2. In the seafood water, cook the carrot, celery, leek, and potato for 10 minutes or tender.
3. Let the liquid boil until only 1 quart of liquid remains. This will be the base for the sauce.
4. Add the vermouth and heavy cream and let the mixture bubble steadily until reduced by half. Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg. You have reached your desired thickness when the sauce will cover the back of a wooden spoon. Set aside to cool.
5. Cut lobster, shrimp and scallops into bite-size pieces.
6. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Have on hand 10 ramekins (about 3 1/2-inches across) or other small heatproof dishes.
7. Fold seafood and vegetables into cool sauce, mixing carefully. Scoop into the dishes. Cover with puff pastry rounds, brush them with egg and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Adapted from Design Cuisine

Planning my Inauguration dinner

Posted by Sheryl Julian January 15, 2009 05:02 PM
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Because President-Elect Obama likes hot food so much, I thought I'd make bowls of chili with roasted peppers. Chilies are so warming and it seems like the ideal weather for something like this. When Jim Scherer took this shot a few years ago, Julie Riven and I were experimenting with how different chilies taste after roasting.

We slip them under the broiler so the flesh is about 6-inches from the element, then keep turning them for 5 minutes or until they charred all over. Put them in a bowl, cover it, and let it stand for 5 minutes to loosen the skins. The seeds can burn your fingers, so you may want to use plastic gloves to remove them and chop the flesh.

Chili
Serves 4

Serve these generous bowls of pork and roasted chilies with a side of black beans (there are no beans in the stew).

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large Spanish onions, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 serrano chilies, roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 cups water
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. In a large flameproof casserole, heat the oil. When it is hot, add the onions and cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until they soften. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more.
2. Add the pork to the pan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until the meat looks cooked at the edges.
3. In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, oregano, cinnamon, and salt. Add the mixture to the pork and stir the meat to coat it in the seasoning.
4. Add the water and chilies. Bring to a boil. Turn down the heat, partially cover the pan, and cook the pork for 2 hours or until the meat is very tender when pierced with a fork.
5. Stir in the cilantro and taste for seasoning. Add more salt or chili powder, if you like. Sheryl Julian & Julie Riven

Even restaurants are offering homey dishes

Posted by Sheryl Julian January 14, 2009 02:40 PM
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It's time you perfected your comfort food. I've been braising beef chuck, ribs, hunks of pork, all kinds of bean and potato dishes. The house smells good, you eat for days, the food improves on reheating.

Three-bean stew with ham
Serves 6

1 cup dried cannellini beans
1 cup dried pinto beans
1 cup dried kidney beans
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Spanish onion, chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 sprig fresh rosemary
3/4 cup crushed canned tomatoes
1 large piece (1 1/2 pounds) boneless ham
12 cups water
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1. In a large bowl, combine the cannellini, pinto, and kidney beans. Add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Let the beans soak at room temperature overnight. Drain the beans into a colander.
2. Set the oven at 275 degrees. In a large flameproof casserole, heat the oil. Add the onion and carrots and cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until the vegetables soften.
3. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the drained beans, rosemary, and tomatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute.
4. Add the ham and water. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover and transfer to the oven. Cook the beans for 4 hours or until they are very tender. Halfway through cooking, turn the ham over in the pot.
5. Remove the pot from the oven. Transfer the ham to a cutting board and cut it into 1/2-inch pieces. Return the ham pieces to the stew. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle with parsley, and serve at once. Sheryl Julian & Julie Riven

About Dishing

What's cooking in the world of food.

Contributors

Sheryl Julian, the Globe's Food Editor, writes regularly for the Food section.

Devra First is the Globe's food reporter and restaurant critic. Her reviews appear weekly in the Food section.

Ellen Bhang reviews Cheap Eats restaurants for the Globe and writes about wine.
 

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