Sunday, February 11, 2018

Gustum de cucurbitas - Squash Appetizer

Acorn Squash
3/4 cup defrutum
3/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar of Modena
2 teaspoons of fresh rosemary – finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1 clove garlic – pressed
1 Tablespoon fish sauce

Olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 F.


Peel, seed and cube (1/2 inch or so) the squash. Coat lightly with oil, sprinkle with salt.


Roast for about 40 minutes, stirring once or twice to brown evenly.


 While squash is roasting, mix remainder of the ingredients together for the sauce.

After squash has roasted, let cool slightly, then place in sauce and refrigerate for an hour or so to enable squash to absorb some flavors.

Drain sauce into sauté pan and reduce down. When reduced by about half, add squash to heat squash.

When squash has been heated, remove to serving bowl. Reduce down the remaining sauce to thicken it, then scrap over squash and serve.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Rye Biscuits (small batch)

1 cup rye flour
2 Tablespoons caraway seeds
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
3/8 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk, chilled
1 tablespoon of melted butter to brush on top.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
In medium size mixing bowl, combine flour, caraway seeds, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk to blend.
Add butter and into dry ingredients and cut with fork until mixture looks like crumbs.
Make a well in the center and pour in the chilled milk. Mix just until the dough comes together. The dough will be very sticky.
Turn dough onto floured surface, dust top with flour and gently fold dough over on itself 5 or 6 times. Press into a 1-inch thick round.
Cut out biscuits with a cutter, being sure to push straight down through the dough.
Place biscuits on baking sheet so that they just touch.
Reform scrap dough, working it as little as possible and continue cutting.
Brush melted butter on top.

Bake until biscuits are tall and light gold on top, about 20 minutes.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Chocolate Ravioli with Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
3 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
3 large eggs
Water as needed

1-1/2 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla paste
1/4 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
7-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 pound hazelnut butter, thoroughly stirred

1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup milk
1-1/2 teaspoon sugar
2.5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1-1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter

10 cups water
2-1/2 cups sugar

1.      For the pasta dough, sift the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt into a large mixing bowl and whisk to blend. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and place the eggs in the well. Using a fork, slowly incorporate the eggs into the flour, until all the eggs have been absorbed. Add water if needed to make a firm dough. Transfer the dough to a work surface and, using the palm of your hand, lightly knead the dough for 3 to 4 minutes. If the dough is sticky, sprinkle a little flour on the kneading surface. The dough is ready if, when you make an impression in it with the tip of your finger, the dough bounces back. Shape into a disk and tightly wrap in plastic film. Let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

2.      Meanwhile, make the pastry cream: In a medium saucepan, combine the milk and vanilla. Place over high heat and bring to a low-boil (be careful not to scorch the milk). Meanwhile, using a whisk, in a medium bowl, whip the sugar and egg yolks until pale yellow and frothy, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the cornstarch while whisking and whisk to dissolve any lumps.

3.      Temper the egg yolk mixture by pouring a little of the steaming milk into the yolks, whisking to incorporate. Whisk the egg yolks into the remaining milk in the pan, set the pan over medium heat, and whisk quickly and constantly until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil, then whisk for another minute. Remove from heat, add the butter and stir until incorporated. Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and place plastic wrap directly against the cream to prevent a skin from forming on top. Refrigerate until fully chilled, about 2 hours.

4.      Once the pastry cream has chilled, Add the hazelnut butter to the pastry cream and stir to incorporate. Return to the refrigerator and chill for at least 30 minutes.

5.      Divide the pasta dough into 4 pieces. Using a pasta machine, one at a time, roll out each piece from the widest to the thinnest setting. Keep the remaining dough covered to prevent it from drying out.

6.      To make the ravioli, dust a work surface with flour. Place one pasta sheet on the work surface. Starting about 2 inches from one end, place a teaspoon of filling every 4 inches down the pasta strip, ending about 2 inches from the other end of the strip. Brush the pasta dough with water, fold the dough over, and press to seal, being careful not to trap air inside the ravioli (or they will burst during cooking). Cut the ravioli. Press the edges together and squeeze to make the edges of the dough as thin as possible. Set the finished ravioli on a baking sheet lined with parchment and sprinkled with flour, to prevent sticking. Repeat with the remaining dough. You should get at least 30 or more ravioli. Refrigerate until ready to cook.

7.      For the sauce, bring the heavy cream, milk, and sugar to a simmer in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate, and stir until melted. Then add the butter and stir to incorporate.

8.      To cook the ravioli, bring the water and sugar to a boil in a large pot and boil until the sugar has dissolved. Add the ravioli to the pot and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes.

9.      Meanwhile, gently reheat the chocolate sauce.

10.   To serve, remove the ravioli with a slotted spoon, letting the excess liquid drain, and arrange 4 ravioli on each plate. Drizzle the sauce over each plate. Serve immediately.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons lard
1 cup buttermilk, chilled

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
In food processor, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Pulse to blend.
Add butter and lard into dry ingredients and pulse until mixture looks like crumbs.
Turn on processor and pour in the chilled buttermilk. Mix just until the dough comes together. The dough will be very sticky.
Turn dough onto floured surface, dust top with flour and gently fold dough over on itself 5 or 6 times. Press into a 1-inch thick round.
Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cutter, being sure to push straight down through the dough.
Place biscuits on baking sheet so that they just touch.
Reform scrap dough, working it as little as possible and continue cutting.
Bake until biscuits are tall and light gold on top, 15 to 20 minutes.

Apple Tarte Tatin

For an 8-inch tart, serving 6

5 to 6 apples, Golden Delicious, Pink Lady, Honey Crisp or other firm apple
The grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups sugar
Vanilla extract
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter – cut into 1/2-inch pieces
8 ounces pastry dough, either homemade or frozen from store

Optional: whipped cream or vanilla ice cream

Special Equipment: A heavy ovenproof frying pan, such as cast-iron, 9 by 2 inches with fairly straight sides, or heavy no-stick pan; a bulb baster, a cover for the pan; a large enough flat-bottomed serving dish

Preparing the apples. Quarter, core, and peel the apples; cut the quarters in half lengthwise. Toss in a bowl with the lemon and 1/2 cup of sugar, and let steep 20 minutes so they will exude their juices. Drain them.

The caramel. Set the frying pan over moderately high heat with the butter, and when melted blend in the remaining [1 cup] sugar and vanilla. Stir about with a wooden spoon for several minutes, until the syrup turns a bubbly caramel brown – it will smooth out later, when the apples juices dissolve the sugar.

Arranging the apples in the pan. Remove from heat and arrange a layer of apple slices nicely in the bottom of the pan to make an attractive design [illustration in cookbook, essentially circling the apples slices around the circumference of the pan and then filling in the middle]. Arrange the rest of the apples on top, close packed and only reasonably neat. Add enough so that they heap up 1 inch higher than the rim of the pan – they sink down as they cook.

Preliminary stove-top cooking – 20 to 25 minutes. (Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F for the next step, placing the rack in the lower middle level.) Set the pan again over moderately high heat, pressing the apples down as they soften, and drawing the accumulated juices up over them with the bulb baster – basting gives the whole apple mass a deliciously buttery caramel flavor. In several minutes, when the apples begin to soften, cover the pan and continue cooking 10 to 15 minutes, checking and basting frequently until the juices are thick and syrupy. Remove from heat, and let cool slightly while you roll out the dough.

The dough cover. Roll the chilled dough into a circle 3/16 inch thick and 1 inch larger than the top of your pan. Cut 4 steam holes, 1/4-inch size, 1 1/2 inches from around the center of the dough. Working rapidly, fold the dough in half, then in quarters; center the point over the apples. Unfold the dough over the apples. Press the edges of the dough down between the apples and the inside of the pan [illustrated in cookbook].

Baking – about 20 minutes at 425 degrees F.  Bake until the pastry has browned and crisped. Being careful of the red-hot pan handle, remove from the oven.

Verification. Tilt the pan, and if the juices are runny rather than a thick syrup, boil down rapidly on top on the stove, but be sure not to evaporate them completely or the apples will stick to the pan.

Serving. Still remembering that the pan is red-hot, turn the serving dish upside down over the apples and reverse the two to unmold the tart. If not quite neat in design – which does happen – rearrange slices as necessary. Serve hot, warm, or cold, with the optional cream or ice cream.

Variations: Substitute firm ripe unblemished pears for the apples – Bartletts, Comice, or Bosc.

Thursday, November 30, 2017


5 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup minus 1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 large eggs

Make buttermilk – combine the milk and vinegar, let set for at least 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and position a rack in the middle.

Butter an 8- inch-square baking pan.

Melt the butter in the microwave in a microwave-safe dish in three 15-second intervals on high or in a small pan on the stove. Set it aside to cool.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and the eggs. Add the melted butter.

Add the flour-cornmeal mixture and stir just until combined.

Pour the batter into the pan.

Bake until the cornbread just begins to brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 18 to 23 minutes.

Cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Braised Lamb Shanks

2 lamb shanks

Dry Rub:
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground dried hibiscus (jamaica)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Vegetable oil
1/8 teaspoon crumbled saffron
Juice of 1 lime, about 2 tablespoons
1 shallot, chopped
Zest of 1/2 fresh lime
Zest of 1/2 orange
A few thyme sprigs
1 fresh bay leaf
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup beef broth

1 tablespoon roughly chopped parsley, for garnish
1 tablespoon roughly chopped mint or dill, for garnish

1.      Trim any excess fat from lamb shanks, remove membrane and season generously with salt.
2.      Mix together the cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, hibiscus, black pepper and turmeric. Sprinkle evenly over shanks and rub into meat. Let sit at room temperature at least an hour, or wrap in place (each shank separately) and refrigerate overnight, then bring to room temperature.
3.      Place saffron in a small bowl with lime juice and 1/4 cup warm water. Let steep for at least 10 minutes. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
4.      Place a Dutch oven or deep, heavy pot over medium-high heat and add oil to a depth of 1/2 inch. When oil is hot, add lamb shanks and fry until nicely browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.
5.      Carefully remove all but 2 tablespoons oil from Dutch oven. Add chopped shallot and cook over medium heat until softened and lightly colored, 8 to 10 minutes. Season with salt, then add lime zest, orange zest, thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Stir in saffron mixture. Lay in the lamb shanks and add the broth. Broth should come up about half way up the shanks. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat and cover pot.
6.      Transfer pot to oven and bake for 90 minutes, covered, until meat is tender when probed and beginning to fall from the bone. Remove lamb shanks to serving dish and keep warm.
7.      Strain braising juices through a fine-mesh sieve into fat separator, pressing with a spoon to obtain all the liquid (discard thyme, bay leaves and shallots). Skim fat by pouring into sauté pan, then taste and add salt if necessary. Reheat strained juices to reduce and spoon over lamb shanks.

8.      Combine parsley and mint and sprinkle over top.