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.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Venison Chili - Named Best Chili 2017

Every year our neighborhood has a chili cook-off. This was my entry in 2017. Was selected as the top chili!

6 dried ancho chiles
2 dried pasilla chiles
2 or 3 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
4 slices bacon
4 pounds smoked venison sausage chopped into ¼ inch cubes
1 yellow onion diced
4 cloves garlic minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
Pinch of crushed cloves
1 cup strong brewed coffee
1 (12 ounce) can of dark Texan beer (porter or stout)
3 cups water plus water for rehydrating chiles
Salt and Pepper
1 Tablespoon corn meal

  1. Remove stems and seeds from the dried anhco and pasilla chiles. In a dry cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, cook chiles for 5 to 10 seconds on each side or until they begin to puff up a bit. Add enough water to cover the chiles, bring to simmer and then turn off the heat. Let the chiles soak for at least 30 minutes to get them soft and plumped. Drain and rinse the chiles.
  2. Place rehydrated chiles, the chipotle chiles and one cup of water in a blender. Blend until a smooth puree forms. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. In a large pot, cook bacon over medium-low heat until crisp. Should take about 10 minutes. Transfer cooked bacon to paper towel to drain. Leave bacon grease in pot.
  4. Add chopped venison sausage to pot and cook, occasionally stirring, unit meat is lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove meat from pot.
  5. Add onion to pot and cook until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. Return meat to pot, crumble in bacon, add the cumin, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, coffee, beer and 2 cups water. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil.
  6. Pour chile puree into pot. Bring to boil again and then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for at least 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally.
  7. If chili dries out, add water. If chili is not thick enough, scoop out ¼ cup of the liquid, combine with corn meal, stir it up and add the mixture back to the pot.
  8. Allow to cool and then place in storage jars. Place storage jars in refrigerator for 5 days or so to allow flavors to blend.
  9. Reheat chili after the 5 days. 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Graham Crackers


8 3/8 ounces graham flour
1 7/8 ounces all-purpose flour
3 ounces dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 ounces unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes and chilled
2 1/4 ounces molasses
1 1/2 ounces whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place both flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into the bowl of a food processor with a metal blade and pulse several times to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles cornmeal. 
Add the molasses, milk and vanilla extract and process until the dough forms a ball, approximately 1 minute. 
Divide into two balls. 

Press each ball into a 1/2-inch thick disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Unwrap one of the chilled dough and place it onto a large piece of parchment paper and top with a second sheet of parchment paper. 

Roll the dough out until it is 1/8-inch thick. Slide the rolled dough and parchment paper onto a sheet pan. 
Remove the top sheet of parchment paper and cut the dough, using a rolling pizza cutter into 2-inch square pieces, by making vertical and then horizontal cuts all the way across the dough. 

Using a fork, poke holes all over the top of the dough.
Leave the crackers on the pan and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 13 minutes or until the edges just start to darken. 
Remove from the oven, set the sheet pan with the crackers on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. 

Repeat process for second disk of dough.

Once completely cool, break into individual crackers and store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Slow Roasted Boneless Leg of Lamb Dinner

Shown with honey glazed carrot roses and sauerkraut

Boneless Leg of lamb
1 butterflied boneless leg of lamb: 5 to 7 pounds
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1.      Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 200 F.
2.      Open out lamb leg on cutting board and season generously with salt and pepper inside and out.
3.      Roll lamb up and secure with twine.
4.      Place lamb on wire rack set in a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.
5.      Place in oven and cook until center of roast registers 132 F, about 3 hours.
6.      Remove roast from oven and tent tightly with aluminum foil.
7.      Place in warming oven and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes and up to 1-1/2 hours.
8.      Heat oven to 500 F.
9.      Ten minutes prior to serving, remove foil and place roast in hot oven and cook until well-browned and crisp on exterior, about 6 to 8 minutes.
10.   Remove from oven and cut off and remove twine.
11.   Slice into ½-inch slices and serve immediately.

White Bean Puree
1 cup dried Navy white beans
½ cup minced onion
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
¼ cup diced red pepper
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 small smoked ham hock
4 cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper

1.      Soak beans overnight. Then rinse well.
2.      Combine beans, onions, garlic, bell pepper, red pepper flakes, ham hock and chicken stock in pot, with lid, over high heat and bring to boil.
3.      Reduce heat to low and simmer, adding more stock if needed, until beans are very tender.
4.      Remove ham hock, remove skin and discard. Then remove meat and chop roughly.
5.      Place meat in blender with cooked beans and liquid and puree until smooth. Add a wee bit more stock, if needed to achieve desired consistency. Season lightly to taste with salt and pepper.

Wilted Rosemary Spinach
2 Tablespoons clarified butter
6 cups packed fresh spinach
1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons rice wine

1.      In a large pan over medium heat, briefly warm the clarified butter.
2.      Add spinach and rosemary and let sit for 1 to 1-1/2 minutes.
3.      Sprinkle with salt and pepper and, as the spinach begins to wilt, turn gently with tongs so that uncooked spinach rotates to the bottom of the pan.
4.      Add vinegar and wine and continue to turn spinach until it has just wilted but is still bright green.

To Assemble
1.      Spoon pool of bean puree onto each serving dish.
2.      Place mound of wilted spinach in the center of the beans.
3.      Arrange sliced lamb over top.
4.      Sprinkle with salt.

5.      Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Sourdough Bread

Sourdough Bread
Yield: 1 loaf or two small

INGREDIENTS – for waking up the starter
4 oz water – filtered (no chlorine in it) or bottled water, room temperature
2 oz whole wheat flour
2 oz white unbleached flour

INGREDIENTS – for the bread
1 cup warm water
3 – 4 cups flour (½ wheat, ½ white unbleached)
̴1/2 cup sourdough starter
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar

first night (thursday or friday)
1.           Wake up the starter.
    1. Scrape starter into a ceramic or glass bowl.
    2. Add 4 oz water and stir until mixed.
    3. Add the 2 oz of whole wheat and 2 oz of white and stir until flour is wet.
    4. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and sit out on counter overnight.
    5. In the morning, bubbles should be present.

second night (FRIDAY OR SATURDAY)
2.           In a large bowl, combine the water, about ½ cup of the sourdough starter and 2 cups of flour. Return the rest of the starter to storage in the refrigerator.
3.           Mix well and cover with plastic wrap in a warm place 8-12 hours (overnight).

third day (SATURDAY or sunday) – plan on six hours (30 min. prep, 1 hr. baking)
4.           Next day stir in the salt and sugar and add flour 1/2 to 1 cup (½ wheat and ½ white) at a time to make a very stiff dough.
5.           Knead till smooth.
6.           Clean out bowl. Return dough to bowl. Cover and let rise 2 to 2-1/2 hours.

7.           Punch down.
8.           Knead till smooth and form into round. Place on baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Cover lightly (use a linen cloth) and let rise till double and puffy (1 to 2 hrs).

9.           Place a small pan of water on bottom rack of oven and preheat oven to 400°F.
10.        Cut two slashes across each other on top of loaf.
11.        Bake for 5 minutes. Spray with water.

12.        Bake for 5 more minutes. Spray with water.
13.        Bake for another 30 – 50 minutes until internal temperature reaches 205 F.

14.        Allow bread to cool for at least two hours to develop the sourdough flavor fully.

  • Could use all wheat flour.
  • To make a rye, use ½ rye and ½ wheat. Also add about 2 – 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder and a handful of caraway seeds.