Aubergines, etc. 609 497 0121          European Cooking School  Cooking Classes for Children and Adults                                             Princeton, New Jersey
Personal Chef Services   - Food & Wine Writing                              auberginesetc@gmail.com
British, French, Italian and European specialties

Fall 2011 Recipes

Week 1

Doppelbock Bread

Yields 1 loaf – 8-12 servings

This recipe is by Mark Bittman, food columnist for the New York Times.  Very helpfully, in the introduction to his feature on cooking with beer, he mentions that you can actually use any beer you want with this recipe.  I have used a wheat beer from Trader Joe’s which worked very well.  Do not worry – the bread isn’t alcoholic!

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil or melted butter, plus more for greasing the pan

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1/2 cup cornmeal

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 12-ounce bottle Spaten Optimator, or another beer in the doppelbock style (or use Samuel Smith or another English brown ale).

 

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 350°F

1.      Grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with a little oil or butter.

2.      Whisk together the flours, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar and salt.

3.      Add the oil or butter and beer, and stir just until everything is combined.

4.      Pour into the loaf pan and bake until the loaf is nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, 45 to 60 minutes. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes before removing from the pan and serving.

N.B. Don’t be surprised if your loaf develops a sort of dome on top.  It’s quite normal!  This is delicious served warm with salted butter or some sharp cheddar cheese.

Corn Chowder

Serves 8

This recipe by Tyler Florence got top ratings from the Food Network site.  Consider jazzing it up a little by adding other ingredients.  For example, you can sizzle little bacon bits or pork back fat with the onion, garlic and thyme, or add chili or curry powder at this point.  If you have leftover cooked chicken or crab meat, you can heat it through with the corn at the end. 

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter

Extra-virgin olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

6 cups vegetable stock

2 cups heavy cream

2 Idaho potatoes, peeled and diced (or use red-skinned potatoes)

6 ears corn

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

 

Method:

1.      Heat the butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat.

2.      Add the onion, garlic, and thyme and cook until the vegetables are good and soft, 8 to 10 minutes.

3.      Dust the vegetables with flour and stir to coat everything well.

4.      Pour in the vegetable stock and bring to a boil.

5.      Add the cream and the potatoes, bring to a boil and boil hard for about 7 minutes, until the potatoes break down (this will help to thicken the soup and give it a good texture).

6.      Cut the corn kernels off the cob and add to the soup.

7.      Season with salt and pepper and simmer until the corn is soft, about 10 to 12 minutes.

8.      Stir in the parsley and give it another little drink of olive oil.

9.      Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.

 

Victoria Sponge Cake

(Serves 6)

Ingredients:

3 eggs

2 sticks butter, room temperature (we will not use all of it)

Sugar

½ tsp. vanilla essence

Self-rising flour

1 tsp. baking powder

 

Fresh berries, or thawed frozen ones

½  cup whipping cream

 

Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

 Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F, and butter and line 2 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper.

1.      Weigh the eggs on the scales.  1 egg is approximate 2 oz., but some can be larger or smaller. 

2.      Make a note of the weight of the eggs, as your butter, sugar and flour should be the same weight.

3.      Take the eggs off the scales, and put them on a dish so that they don’t roll off the work surface.

4.      Weigh the butter. 

5.      Place the butter in a mixing bowl, weigh out the same amount of sugar, and add it to the bowl.

6.      Mix the butter and sugar together with the electric whisk (microwave the butter for about 30 seconds to soften it if you forgot to take it out of the fridge).

7.      Break the 3 eggs into the mixing bowl, and keep mixing.  Add the vanilla essence, and whisk in.

8.      Weigh out the flour, and sift that into the mixing bowl with the 1 tsp of baking powder.

9.      Divide the cake batter EVENLY between 2 buttered and lined 8-inch cake pans.  Do it one spoon at a time in each pan.  Use a spatula to remove all the batter from the bowl.

10.  Put the pans in the oven (USE OVEN MITTS) and leave to cook for approximately 25-30 minutes.  Check after 20 minutes. 

11.  To check if the cake is baked, insert a metal skewer into the center of the cake.  If it comes out clean, it’s done!

12.  Remove from the oven, using mitts.  Set baking pans on top of the rack.

13. Leave to cool slightly, and then turn them out carefully onto the rack so that they can cool quicker.  WAIT TILL CAKE IS COOL ENOUGH TO HANDLE EASILY BEFORE PREPARING FILLING AND ICING.

14.  Remove the bowl from the heat and set it to one side to cool.

To assemble the cake:

15.  Whisk the cream until it makes stiff peaks.

16.  Peel the paper off one half of the sponges, and place it on a plate.  Use the palette knife to spread the whipped cream over the surface, and then cover with raspberries.  Wash the knife.

17.  Place the second sponge over the top.

18.  Dust the top with confectioner’s sugar (use a dessert spoon and sprinkle over the top of the cake, through a small strainer.)

Week 2

All-purpose Short-crust Pastry

Enough for a 9 or 10-inch pie pan

When I lived in Lyon, one of my co-workers, Pascale Merle, gave me this foolproof recipe of her father’s for short-crust pastry (called “pâte brisée” in French), which I always use when making a quiche or need to make little canapés for a party.  Monsieur Merle was a pastry chef.  His recipe was in grams (200 g of flour and 100g of butter) which I have converted to ounces for the American kitchen.  Measuring with cups is a little less accurate: 8 oz all-purpose flour is about 1 ¾ cups.

Ingredients:

8 oz all-purpose flour

4 oz (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into very small dice

Pinch salt

1 egg

A few drops of water to bind, if necessary

 

FOR THE PROVENCAL TARTLET RECIPE, increase flour to 12 oz and butter to 6 oz

Method:

1.      Mix the flour, butter and a pinch of salt together in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

2.      Add the egg, and mix again until a dough forms (you may have to add a drop of water.)

3.      The pastry is now ready to roll out and line a pie dish, be pressed into a disk and chilled, or wrapped and frozen for 1 month.

N.B. You can also make pastry by hand in a large bowl, using your fingers to rub the butter into the flour, or two dinner knives or a pastry blender.  It just takes more time and it’s probably a good idea to beat the egg before adding it to the flour and butter mixture, which is not necessary when using a food processor.

 

 

 


Provençal Tartlets

Makes 6 dozen one-bite size tartlets; adjust cutter size for bigger tartlets

I recently needed to make a large quantity of canapés for a party, and remembered something I loved that my mom used to rustle up at aperitif time.  She claims she cannot remember the recipe, so I’ve had to make it up, and I’m very pleased with the results!  You may have topping left over, but you can use it in an omelet or frittata, or add ground meat and some tomato juice if the sauce is dry (you can make tomato “juice” by stirring some hot water into tomato paste ) to make a pasta sauce, or freeze it for another time.

Ingredients:

Shortcrust pastry made with 12 oz flour and 6 oz butter

For the topping:

3 tablespoons oil

½ packet frozen chopped onions, thawed

2 medium or 1 large zucchini, peeled and diced very small

1 red or orange pepper, deseeded and diced very small

1 large can diced or chopped tomatoes (28 oz)

Herbes de Provence

Salt and Pepper

 

Fresh herbs and olives to decorate; optional

 

 

Method:

1.      Grease three 24-hole tart pans (or whatever size you are using)

For the topping:

2.      On medium heat, heat the oil and the onions together in a large sauté pan.

3.      Sauté the onions in the oil for about 5 minutes, until they are soft.

4.      Next, add the zucchini and peppers, 1 teaspoon of salt, a good grind of pepper and about 2 teaspoons of Herbes de Provence, and continue to sauté until all of the vegetables begin to soften (make sure that the heat is not too high, you don’t want to brown the vegetables.)

5.      Finally, add the contents of the can of tomatoes, and stir together.

6.      Simmer for a final 5 minutes before turning off the heat.

7.      Check for seasoning (taste with a small spoon) and add more if necessary.

Meanwhile  … Pre-heat oven to 375°F

8.      Roll the pastry out on a floured board until it is quite thin (about 1/8 inch.)

9.      Using a 2 inch cookie cutter, stamp out rounds and carefully press them into the greased holes of the pans.

10.  When all the holes have been filled (gather up leftover pastry and roll again), prick the base with the tines of a fork, and bake in the hot oven for about 10 minutes.

11.  Remove from the oven, cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then cool on a wire rack.

12.  Fill the pastry cases with the topping, and decorate with olives or fresh herbs, if desired.

 


Zucchini Fritters

Makes 12 fritters, serving 4 to 6

It is very important to squeeze all of the moisture out of your zucchini before mixing them with the rest of the batter.

Ingredients:

1pound zucchini (about 2 medium), trimmed

1teaspoon table salt

6-8 oz feta cheese , crumbled (about 2 cups)

2 scallion , minced

2 tablespoons minced fresh dill (if you cannot find fresh dill, use 1 tablespoon dried dill, or even dried tarragon)

2 large eggs , lightly beaten

1 medium garlic clove , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 lemon , cut into wedges (for serving)

 

Method:

1.      Shred the zucchini on the large holes of a box grater or in a food processor fitted with the shredding disk.

2.      Toss the shredded zucchini with the salt and let it drain in a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl for 10 minutes.

3.      Wrap the zucchini in a clean dishcloth and squeeze out the excess liquid.

4.      Combine the dried zucchini, feta, scallions, dill, eggs, garlic, and pepper together in a medium bowl.

5.      Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir until uniformly incorporated.

6.      Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering.

7.      Drop 2-tablespoon-sized portions of the batter into the pan, and then use the back of a spoon to press the batter into 2-inch-wide fritters (you should fit about 6 fritters in the pan at a time).

8.      Fry until golden brown on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

9.      Transfer the fritters to a paper towel-lined plate.

10.  Wipe the skillet clean with paper towels.

11.  Return the skillet to medium-high heat, add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil, and repeat with the remaining batter.

12.  Serve warm or at room temperature with the lemon wedges.

N.B. To keep the fritters warm, pre-heat the oven to 200°F and keep the first batch of fritters warm while you cook the second batch.

 


Tzatziki Sauce

Makes about 2 cups

Using Greek yogurt here is key; don’t substitute regular plain yogurt or the sauce will be very watery. FAGE Total Classic Greek yogurt is the most widely available brand in this country. You can also make your own Greek-style thickened yogurt (see procedure below) to use in place of the Greek yogurt.  

Ingredients:

1 medium cucumber , peeled, halved lengthwise, and seeded

1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt , Greek or Greek-style (see note)

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves

1 small garlic clove , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1/2 teaspoon)

Method:

1.      Shred the cucumber on the large holes of a box grater onto a clean cloth.

2.      Gather the four corners of the cloth together and squeeze out the excess moisture.

3.      Whisk the yogurt, oil, mint, and garlic together in a medium bowl.

4.      Stir in the cucumber and season with salt and pepper to taste.

5.      Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour. (The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

 


Nectarine Tarte Tatin

Serves 8

This is a variation on the classic French upside-down apple tart

Ingredients:

For the pastry:

1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Stick of unsalted butter, chilled

3 tblsp. crème fraîche or fromage frais (sour cream is an excellent substitute, low-fat works)

4 tblsp. sugar

½ tsp. vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

A few drops of water

For the filling:

½  stick unsalted butter

1/3 cup light brown sugar

5 just-ripe nectarines (substitute peaches or about 8 plums)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons brandy

Method:

For the pastry:

1.      Prepare the pastry in the food processor or in a large bowl with a pastry blender, by combining the flour with the butter, cut into small pieces.

2.      When fully blended together, add the sugar, vanilla essence, a pinch of salt, and three tablespoons of cream.

3.      Sparingly, add enough drops of water, with the motor running, for the mixture to form a dough.

4.      For best results, roll out the pastry immediately to the diameter of your skillet (about 10 inches).

5.      Chill for at least half an hour in refrigerator between two sheets of baking parchment.

For the filling:

Pre-heat oven to 425°F

6.      Melt the butter carefully on medium heat inside a 10-inch ovenproof cast-iron skillet. 

7.      When melted, add sugar and spread to coat evenly.

8.      Turn off the heat.

9.      Cut each nectarine into 8 equal parts, carefully removing each section from the stone.

10.  Mix the lemon juice and brandy together in a bowl, then gently stir in the nectarine pieces so that they are well coated.

11.  Pack the nectarine slices in a tight circle in the frying pan, radiating out from the middle.

12.  Press the fruit lightly down into the butter and place the skillet over medium high heat.

13.  Keep a close eye on the skillet and move it around if some areas seem to be browning faster than others.

14.  Once the sugar has caramelized, remove from the heat.

15.  Quickly cover with the pre-cut pastry circle, tucking the pastry down the sides of the pan (but be careful - the caramel will be excruciatingly hot!).

16.  Make a couple of steam vents in the pastry with a knife, then place in the pre-heated oven for 25 minutes, or until the pastry is golden.

17.  Leave for a couple of minutes and invert onto a plate.

This tart is best when served warm, but can be re-heated in the oven.

 

 


Week 3

Wheat Berry Waldorf Salad

Serves 8

Wheat berries are the mother grain from which pasta, bread and flour are derived. Little wheat berries pack a nutlike flavor and are pleasantly chewy. Use a crunchy, firm, sweet-tart apple (such as Granny Smith or Gala) for this salad. From The Whole Foods Market Cookbook.

Ingredients:

2 cups uncooked wheat berries
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 medium apples, cored and chopped
1 cup seedless raisins
1 cup finely chopped parsley
¼  cup apple cider vinegar
 ½ cup apple juice
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Method:

1.      Put wheat berries into a large bowl, cover with at least 2 inches of water and set aside to let soak for 6 to 8 hours or overnight. Drain well.

2.      Put 7 cups water into a medium pot and bring to a boil. Add wheat berries, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 50 minutes, or until cooked through.

3.      (Wheat berries retain a firm, chewy texture when cooked.) Drain and set aside to let cool.

4.      Transfer wheat berries to a large bowl. Add walnuts, apples, raisins, parsley, vinegar, apple juice, salt, pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, olive oil and lemon juice and mix everything together thoroughly.

 


Carrot Soup with Orange and Ginger

Serves 6-8

Pale brown, knobby fresh ginger adds a note of exotic, sweet spiciness to soups and other dishes. Look for smooth, shiny ginger with no cracks in the skin. Before slicing, chopping, mincing or grating, remove the thin skin using a sharp knife or a vegetable peeler. To grate fresh ginger, use the finest rasps on a standard handheld grater or use a specially designed ginger grater; this small, flat ceramic or light metal tool has tiny, very sharp teeth.

Ingredients:

3 Tablespoons olive oil

2 leeks, including tender green portions,
 thinly sliced

6 carrots, about 1 lb. total,
 peeled and thinly sliced

1 red potato, about 1/2 lb., peeled and
 coarsely diced

1 ½ teaspoons peeled and minced or grated fresh ginger

5 cups chicken or vegetable stock

½ cup fresh orange juice

2 tsp. grated orange zest

Salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste

Thin orange slices for garnish (optional)

Fresh mint sprigs for garnish (optional)

 

Method:

1.      In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the olive oil.

2.      Add the leeks and sauté until just slightly softened, about 3 minutes.

3.      Add the carrots, potato and ginger and sauté until the vegetables are just softened, about 5 minutes more.

4.      Add the stock, cover partially and simmer until the vegetables are completely softened, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat.

5.      In a blender or food processor, puree the soup in batches, leaving some texture, and return the soup to the pan.

6.      Alternatively, process with a stick blender in the pan until the desired consistency is reached.

7.      Set the pan over medium heat and stir in the orange juice and zest.

8.      Season with salt and white pepper.

9.      Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and garnish each serving with an orange slice and a sprig of mint.

 


Garlic bread

Ingredients:

1 long French or Italian loaf
1 stick butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons freshly chopped mixed herbs
4 to 5 large cloves garlic, peeled
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 400°F.

1.      Slice loaf into 1 1/4 inch thick slices by slicing 3/4 way down through the loaf but leaving the bottom quarter unsliced to keep the loaf intact. Place loaf on a sheet of aluminum foil (shiny side in). Set aside.

2.      In a food processor, process butter, garlic and herbs until light (or mince garlic and herbs finely and mix with the butter). Add salt and pepper, to taste.

3.      Spread butter onto both sides of the bread slices; press the slices back together, cover the top and sides of the loaf with butter, and wrap tightly in the foil.

4.      Place loaf on rimmed pan, and bake for 10 minutes; peel back foil and bake for another 5 minutes or until bread begins to brown and crisp along edges.

5.      Place bread on a warm serving dish; sprinkle top lightly with coarse sea salt.

 


Birthday Cakes in Ice-Cream Cones

Yields 20 ice-cream cone servings

This recipe comes from an Israeli book called Sweet Secrets by Carine Goren (it was translated recently into English which is why the oven temperature is a little unusual.)  The chocolate cake batter can also be used to make a chocolate cake in a lined 8-inch cake pan.  Cook for 40-50 minutes at least in the same temperature oven and pour the hot sauce over the top as it cools.

Ingredients:

20 flat-bottomed ice cream cones (not pointed as they will fall over in the tray!)

 

For the chocolate cake batter:

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup sugar

4 eggs

1 cup Nesquik

¾ cup sour cream

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

 

For the topping:

½ cup heavy cream

4 oz bittersweet chocolate, in pieces

 

Sprinkles to decorate

 

 

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 340°F

1.      Arrange the ice cream cones in a rimmed baking pan or large roasting pan.

To make the cup cakes:

2.      In a bowl, mix together the oil, sugar, eggs, Nesquik and sour cream.

3.      Add the flour and baking powder and beat with a whisk until just combined.

4.      Spoon the batter into the cones ¾ of the way up, to avoid spilling over while baking.

5.      Bake for at least 25-30 minutes until the cake springs back to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out almost clean.

To make the chocolate topping:

6.      Heat the cream almost to a boil (you can do this carefully in the microwave.)

7.      Stir the chocolate pieces into the cream until they have melted and the topping is mixed together completely.

To frost and decorate:

8.      Dip the cones upside down in the frosting and decorate with sprinkles.

 

 


Week 4

Coffee & Walnut Cake

Makes 1 8-inch cake

This reminds me of my childhood!  There are tea shops all over England, offering tea, coffee and a variety of drinks and an irresistible selection of cakes, meringues, scones and biscuits (cookies to you!)  There will always be a Coffee & Walnut cake on offer and sometimes I just have to give in to temptation and have a slice (my son is allergic to walnuts so I don’t bake it for the family.)  This recipe replaces the traditional butter icing with whipped mascarpone and confectioner’s sugar.  A sure winner.

For that perfect sponge, use the same technique as for the Victoria Sponge cake: weigh the eggs first (about 6 oz) then weigh exactly the same amount of sugar, butter and flour.

Ingredients:

3 eggs

Butter, room temperature (same weight as eggs)

Sugar (same weight as eggs)

Self-rising flour (same weight as eggs)

2 teaspoons instant espresso coffee granules, dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water

2 oz walnut pieces (coarsely chopped)
For the frosting
8 ozr mascarpone cheese
3 oz confectioner’s sugar
1½ teaspoons instant espresso coffee granules, dissolved in 1½ teaspoons hot water

Walnut halves, to decorate

 

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 350°F

1.      Grease two 8-inch cake pans and line base with parchment paper.
Put the butter and sugar in a large bowl and cream together until pale and fluffy.

2.      Beat in the eggs one at a time.

3.      Pour the flour into the butter mixture and stir to combine.

4.      Fold in the walnuts and coffee.

5.      Divide the cake mixture between the two prepared tins and level out the surface of each.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and the sponge springs back when gently pressed or a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

6.      Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes before removing cakes from the tin.

7.      Once cooled carefully peel off the paper.
To make the frosting, beat together the mascarpone, icing sugar and coffee until smooth and creamy.

8.      Spread slightly less than half of the frosting over one of the cooled cakes, and then place the second cake on top.

9.      Spread the remaining frosting over the top and decorate with walnut halves to finish.

 

 

 


Gratin Dauphinois

 (Serves 6 as a side dish)

French-style scalloped potatoes

There are so many versions of this dish: no egg, more egg, all cream instead of cream and milk, more garlic, and the addition of grated Gruyère cheese (although this technically transforms it into a Gratin Savoyard).  If you wish to include garlic, add it, finely chopped, between the layers of the potato.

Ingredients:

2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled

Butter for greasing dish

1 large clove garlic, peeled

1 egg

4 tblsp. sour cream

2 cups milk, or milk and cream, heated

Salt, pepper, nutmeg

2 tblsp. butter for dotting on the top

Optional: 1 large garlic clove, finely minced

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 425ºF.

1.      Assemble all the ingredients, cut the garlic clove in two, and press it liberally around a baking dish.  Then butter the dish thoroughly.

2.      Rinse the peeled potatoes, and then slice them thinly (about 1/8 inch).  Do not rinse the potatoes again.  Wipe off the excess moisture with kitchen towel.

3.      Warm the milk in the microwave or in a pan.  You can use heavy or light cream instead: this adds to the calories, but it also adds to the richness of the dish, and in some recipes, only cream is used!  It is a good way of using up any left-over cream!  But just milk is fine.

4.      Beat the egg in the bowl with small whisk or fork.  Add the sour cream (it would be crème fraîche in France!), and combine until smooth.  

5.      Then pour over the heated milk and stir together until well-mixed.  Season liberally with salt, pepper and grated nutmeg.

6.      Arrange the potatoes in a layer in the dish.  Season liberally with salt, pepper and nutmeg.  If desired, add one finely-chopped garlic clove at this point.  Cover with a further layer of potatoes.  Season liberally again.

7.      Pour the milk, cream and egg mixture over the potatoes.  Dot the surface with flecks of butter, and cook for about 50 minutes in the pre-heated oven.  After about 40 minutes, check that the top is not browning too much: if this is the case, protect it with a sheet of aluminum.

 


35-Minute Roast Chicken with Gravy

Serves 6

Ingredients:

6 chicken pieces on the bone (e.g. thighs, drumsticks, breast)

4 tblsp. butter

1 tblsp. olive oil

1 scant tblsp. Herbes de Provence

2 tablespoons lemon juice (or juice of half a lemon)

1 tablespoon flour

Wineglass of dry white wine

1 cup chicken broth

Salt and pepper

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 425°F

1.      Heat the butter and oil in a roasting pan or cast iron skillet on the stove.  Do not let it go brown.

2.      Sauté the chicken pieces till the skin is golden: about 3 minutes each side.

3.      Scatter over the Herbes de Provence and pour/squeeze over the lemon.

4.      You can add garlic at this point, if you wish.

5.      Grind over some salt and pepper.

6.      Put the pan or skillet in the oven and roast the chicken for 30 minutes, basting once with the pan juices (basting means scooping up all the fat from the pan and pouring it back over the meat to keep it moist.  Use a big spoon for this).

7.      After 30 minutes, remove the pan from the oven, and transfer the chicken to a serving dish.  Cover and return to the oven to keep warm.

8.      Carefully pour off about half of the fat into a bowl, then return the pan to the stove and stir in the flour.

9.      Cook the flour and fat mixture for a minute or two until it starts to brown and smell good, then stir in the wine.

10.  Simmer until the wine has reduced by about half, and then add the broth.

11.  Bring to the boil, and simmer for about 2 minutes.

12.  Check for seasoning, then strain into a gravy jug, or serve directly over the chicken.

Garlic Mashed Red Potatoes

Serves 6 as a side dish

You can add ¼ cup grated Parmesan to the potatoes in step 4 if you desire, but I think it’s better without (and has fewer calories!)

Ingredients:

8 medium red potatoes, scrubbed and quartered

3 cloves garlic, peeled

2 tablespoons butter or stick margarine

1/2 cup milk, warmed

1/2 teaspoon salt

Method:

1.      Place potatoes and garlic in a large saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil.

2.      Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are very tender.

3.      Drain well.

4.      Add the butter, milk and salt; mash.

 


Fall Salad

Serves 4; can be multiplied

The ingredients and quantities in this recipe are mere suggestions. If you want to make a “rounded” salad, think about combining slightly bitter (radicchio) with crunchy (Belgian endives, toasted walnuts), sweet (pears), colorful (pomegranate seeds) and creamy (cheese), then finishing off with some acid (vinegar) an interesting oil (walnut) and some salt and pepper.  Other ideas: slightly bitter (arugula, watercress, frisée salad), crunchy (apples, radishes), colorful (dried cranberries or cherries) and roasted or natural seeds such as sesame or pumpkin instead of nuts. You can also add some finely minced shallot or red onion to the salad.

Ingredients:

For the salad:

½ head lettuce

1 Belgian endive

½ radicchio

1 just ripe pear

Seeds from 1 pomegranate

Handful walnuts, toasted

Goat’s cheese or crumbled blue cheese.

For the vinaigrette:

1 tablespoon pomegranate juice

Red wine vinegar

Grapeseed oil

Walnut oil

Salt & pepper

 

 

Method:

To prepare the salad:

1.      Wash and dry the lettuce, endive and radicchio leaves.

2.      Shred them and add them to a large salad bowl.

3.      Wash and quarter the pear.  Remove the core, cut each quarter in half and add to the bowl.

4.      Cut the pomegranate in half.  Carefully squeeze all the seeds and juice into a bowl.  Remove the white pith from the seeds, and transfer them to the salad bowl.

Make the vinaigrette:

5.      Mix 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar with 1 tablespoon of pomegranate juice in a jam jar.

6.      Add about 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil, and 3 tablespoons of walnut oil.

7.      Add a good grind of pepper and about 1 teaspoon salt.

8.      Shake together.

9.      Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

To assemble just before serving:

10.  Spoon some of the vinaigrette dressing onto the salad in the bowl and toss.  Test that the leaves are properly coated with the dressing.

11.  Sprinkle over the cheese and nuts.

12.  Serve immediately.

 

 


Week 5

Quick Marinara Sauce

Makes about 6 cups

This recipe is by the doyenne of Italian TV cooks – Giada de Laurentiis.  She really understands that sometimes we cannot be in the house for hours while our sauces cook down to tasty perfection.  By the way, when I was taking cooking classes in Italy I noted that my chef teacher always used canned whole tomatoes, and puréed them himself, before adding them to a sauce.  You could substitute canned crushed tomatoes, but not passata, which is made from skinned and de-seeded tomatoes that are then sieved.

Ingredients:

2 28-oz cans whole tomatoes in juice

1 bunch fresh basil, stemmed

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 small onions, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon sugar

Salt and pepper

Method:

1.      In a blender, purée the tomatoes with their juice and the basil until almost smooth.  Set the tomato purée aside.

2.      Heat the oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. 

3.      Add the onions and garlic and sauté until very tender, about 12 minutes.

4.      Stir in the tomato purée, oregano, and sugar.

5.      Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.

6.      Decrease the heat to medium, and continue simmering until the sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

7.      Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

N.B. The sauce can be made 1 day ahead.  If storing for future use, cool, then cover and refrigerate.  Re-warm over medium heat before using.)

Meatless Meatballs

Serves 6

And for those who don’t want to eat meat, here are some top-rated meatless meatballs, concocted by Mario Batali.

Ingredients:

1 pound stale country-style bread, crusts removed and cut into thick slices

1 1/2 cups milk

3 large eggs

1/2 cup grated pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano

1/2 bunch Italian parsley, leaves chopped to yield 2 tablespoons

1 bunch basil, leaves chopped

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced

Salt and pepper

1/2  cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups Tomato Sauce

Method:

1.      In a large bowl add the bread slices and milk. Let sit until the bread is soaked through, then squeeze dry. Crumble and tear the soaked bread into smaller pieces and process in the food processor, using quick pulses, to yield 4 cups soaked crumbs.

2.      Mix the crumbs in a bowl with the eggs, cheese, herbs, and garlic, adding salt and pepper, to taste.

3.      Form into round balls about 2 inches in diameter. Set aside on a rack or plate to dry for about 15 to 20 minutes.

4.      In a saucepan or deep skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil to frying temperature, about 360 degrees F, and fry the bread balls until brown on all sides.

5.      Remove the balls as they brown and drain on a rack covered with paper towels.

6.      Have the tomato sauce ready. Arrange the balls on a platter and lightly cover with sauce. Serve immediately.

Rao’s Famous Meatballs (adapted recipe)

Makes 16 large meatballs or 32 medium meatballs

The original recipe was presented on the Today Show apparently, so it won’t be much of a secret for the nation.  A client of mine told me that he has changed the recipe by using milk instead of water, and adding some nutmeg.  The original recipe has you fry the meatballs.  I prefer to bake them in the oven; they are much less fatty this way.  Also, I prefer to make smaller meatballs, but that is up to you.  If you make smaller meatballs, decrease the cooking time.

Ingredients:

1 ½ lbs ground beef

½ lb ground veal

½ lb ground pork

3 large garlic cloves, minced

Salt and Pepper

2 tablespoons parsley

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups milk

2 cups pecorino romano cheese, grated

1 cup plain breadcrumbs

1/3 cup oil

Tomato sauce, of your choosing. (But really good in a tomato-basil sauce.)

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 375°F

1.      In a large bowl, place the meat and rub the minced garlic into it.

2.      Press the meat in the bowl.

3.      Add in this order: Salt, pepper,  parsley, 2 eggs and milk. Then sprinkle the cheese over the top as if you are going to cover the milk.

4.      Finally, sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the cheese.

5.      Mix from the outside of the bowl to the middle, folding it in inches. Do not over-mix!

6.      After the ingredients are mixed, start to roll the meatballs in your hands, about 3 ounces per meatball for medium meatballs.

7.      After your meatballs are rolled, transfer them to a rimmed baking pan.

8.      Measure the oil into a small bowl and then brush each meatball with the oil.

9.      Cook for about 30 minutes in the pre-heated oven.

10.  Remove the meatballs after frying and put on a paper towel lined plate to absorb excess oil.

11.  Add the meatballs to your tomato sauce to finish cooking.

12.  Let simmer for at least 30 minutes.

13.  Serve with the sauce.

 


Scones

 (Makes 10-12)

You can serve scones with butter and jelly, clotted cream and jelly, cream and fruit, or even cream and Lyle’s Golden Syrup.  Scones feature in “Cream Teas” which are traditionally served in tea rooms around England, and are a regional specialty in the south western counties of Devon and Cornwall.  In fact, it is there that you can taste the best clotted cream. 

 Ingredients:

3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

½ tsp. salt

2 tsp. baking soda

4 ½ tsp. cream of tartar

4 tblsp. cold unsalted butter, diced

2 tblsp. shortening, diced

1 ¼ cups milk

1 egg, beaten, for egg wash

(Optional: ½ cup golden raisins)

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 425°F

1.      Sift the first four dry ingredients into a large bowl.

2.      Rub in the butter and shortening so that it resembles crumbs or damp sand.

3.      Add the milk all at once, and then add the raisins if you want them, flour your hands, and mix everything together quickly.

4.      Turn the mixture out onto a floured surface and knead lightly to form a dough.

5.      Roll out the dough to a thickness of about an inch.

6.      Dip the cutter into some flour, and stamp out 10 – 12 scones.  You may have to re-roll the dough for the last scones.

7.      Place the scones very close together on a baking tray, and brush the tops with the egg-wash.

8.      Put in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden and risen.

Scones are best eaten the moment they come out of the oven.  If they don’t get finished the same day, freeze them for another day, rather than eating them the next day.

Lemon Curd

Makes enough to fill one 8-inch sponge cake

Lemon curd is easy to make and so delicious as a filling to a cake, or swirled into whipped cream to make a quick lemon mousse, or spread on scones or toast.

Ingredients:

Zest & juice 1 lemon

2 oz sugar

2 eggs

2 oz butter, cut into very small pieces

 

Method:

1.      Start heating water in the bottom of a double boiler.

2.      Meanwhile, weigh 2 oz of sugar into a small bowl and mix in the zest of the lemon.

3.      Juice the lemon, then mix the juice thoroughly with the eggs in the top of the double boiler.

4.      Stir the sugar and zest in with the juice and eggs.

5.      Set the bowl on top of the water, and let the water barely simmer as you stir the mixture, gradually adding the butter.

6.      It will take about 15 minutes for the curd to thicken.  Do not stop stirring!

7.      As soon as your curd has thickened, remove it from the heat.

 

Week 6

Croissants & Pains au Chocolat

Makes 24 croissants

I lived in France for 12 years, so obviously it was really easy to find great croissants and pains au chocolat when I wanted them.  You can even get some “similar” ones here.  But one day, I tried out the recipe from my bread maker cook book, and I was thrilled, because, at home, I was able to make something that resembled the real thing.  Don’t be put off by all the butter – what’s the point in eating this if you want to count calories!!  (And by the way, some French women are fat!)

Ingredients:

2/3 cup water

1 ½ tsp. active dry yeast

2 large eggs

3 tbsp. sugar

2 tbsp. butter (melted)

2 ¼ cups bread flour

¾ cup all-purpose flour

2 tbsp. dried milk

1 tsp. salt

 

1 cup softened butter

 

Chopped bittersweet chocolate or pain au chocolat batonnets.

 

For the egg glaze:

1 large egg, beaten

4 tsp. water

Method:

1.      In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water.

2.      When fully dissolved, beat in the two large eggs, then, using a wooden spoon, add the sugar, and the melted butter.

3.      Next, add the dry ingredients, going slowly and mixing in thoroughly as you go.

4.      Transfer to a pastry mat or board, and knead until you have a lovely satiny, elastic dough (don’t skimp on the kneading time!)

5.      Meanwhile, thoroughly grease (using a bit of oil and some kitchen paper to spread it around) the bowl you mixed the dough in.

6.      Put the kneaded dough back into the oiled bowl, and let rest for at least 30 minutes.

For the croissants:

7.      Next, roll the dough into a 20 x 14 inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface (the pastry mat that you used previously.)

8.    Using about 6 tbsp of softened butter, butter 2/3 of the dough while leaving 1/3 of the dough unbuttered.  (YOU ARE GOING TO USE THE REST OF THE BUTTER DURING THE FOLLOWING STEPS.)

9.      Fold the dough into thirds, and repeat step 7 twice more, using 5 tablespoons of butter for the next two times – add flour to the rolling surface as needed to prevent sticking.  There will be a lot of butter so make sure it stays inside the dough.

10.  Cover completely with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours, or overnight.

11.  Cut dough into three pieces and roll each piece to 1/4 inch thick.  Cut dough into triangles (wide end should be about 3 ½ inches).

12.  Roll each triangle loosely, starting from the wide end. 

13. Lay with seam-side down. 

14.  Curve ends.

15.  Place on greased or lined baking pan.

16.  Allow to rise for about 40 to 50 minutes, or until size doubles.

For the pains au chocolat:

17.  With a sharp knife, cut the dough into 3 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch rectangles.

18.  Lay each rectangle on a lightly floured work surface, with a long side facing you, and place about ½ tablespoon of the chopped chocolate (or pain au chocolat batonnet) in the upper third of each one.

19.  Fold that third of the dough over the chocolate.

20.  Place about another ½ tablespoon of the chocolate (or batonnet) along one seam of the folded dough.

21.  Fold the bottom third of the dough over the chocolate. (At this stage, they can be frozen for up to 1 week if well wrapped in plastic wrap. Thaw on a parchment covered baking sheet overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding.)

22.  Turn over the pain au chocolat so the seams face down. This will keep them from opening as they bake.

23.  Place them on a parchment covered baking sheet; spaced about 2 inches apart.

24.  Loosely cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and allow the pain au chocolat to proof at room temperature until they have doubled in size and appear light and full of air, about 1 hour or so.

Pre-heat oven to 375°F

25.  Brush lightly with egg glaze.

26.  Bake in pre-heated oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown and flaky.

 

 

 


Soupe à l’Oignon

Serves 4

This is a very simple recipe for French onion soup.  Its appeal is that it packs a lot of flavor without requiring a lengthy caramelization process.  However, if you have time, caramelizing the onions for nearly an hour, and adding a splash of wine, gives great depth to this versatile recipe.  Try it out!

Ingredients:

4 large onions

2 tablespoons butter

4 cups chicken or beef broth

Salt and freshly-ground pepper

Sprig fresh thyme

8 slices baguette

2 oz shredded Gruyère

Method:

1.      Finely slice the onions (for speed and lack of tears, use the slicer blade on your food processor.)

2.      Soften the onions in the butter over a very low heat for about 10 minutes.

3.      Add the broth, salt, and thyme and simmer for 45 minutes.

4.      Add a good grinding of pepper, and check seasoning.

5.      Toast the baguette under the broiler for a few minutes, or in a hot oven.

6.      Place two slices of toasted bread at the bottom of your soup dish, pour over the soup, then garnish with the grated cheese.

 

 

Croque Monsieur

Serves 1

This is pretty much the Big Mac of France!  You can pick up a croque monsieur wherever there’s a boulangerie or a fast-food outlet in France.  My version does not involve making a béchamel sauce, which makes it a lot simpler to make (and then you are more likely to make it!)  There are a few tricks involved in making this tastier – using crème fraîche and Dijon mustard introduces a delicious piquancy to the flavor.

Ingredients:

2 slices bread (brown or white, whatever you prefer)

1-2 oz cheddar cheese, thinly sliced

1 slice ham

2 tablespoons crème fraîche

½ - 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

½  oz Gruyère cheese, shredded

Salt & pepper

 

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 400°F

1.      Mix together the crème fraîche and Dijon mustard, and then spread the two slices of bread with the mixture.  Leave some mixture for the top.

2.      Cover one of the bread slices with half the cheddar slices and half a slice of ham. 

3.      Place the second slice of bread, cream side up, on top of the first, and layer with the rest of the cheddar slices and the other half of the ham.

4.      Spread the rest of the cream mixture over the top and scatter over the Gruyère cheese.

5.      Cook the croque monsieur in the pre-heated oven for about 6 minutes, then under the broiler for a couple more minutes, until it is golden and bubbly.

 


Celery Root & Apples in Creamy Mustard dressing (Salade Bonne Femme)

4-6 Servings

Some years ago, my husband Jon was fortunate enough to take culinary classes in Vaison-la-Romaine, France, with the venerable French cookery writer, Patricia Wells.  I found this recipe in one of the books he brought home. 

Celery root (also known as celeriac) is similar to carrot in that it can be eaten raw or cooked.  That is where the similarity ends, though!  The French usually make purees with cooked celery root, and then a type of slaw with the raw vegetable, called céleri remoulade.  Ms. Wells’ recipe comes from the great chef Joel Rebuchon; he adds apple to bring some welcome acidity to the dish.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Sea salt to taste

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 cup crème fraîche (1 small container) or heavy cream (sour cream works, too)

1 small to medium celery root (about 1 pound)

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and cored

Method:

Prepare the dressing:

1.      In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and salt.

2.      Add the mustard and crème fraîche or heavy cream, and stir to blend.

3.      Taste for seasoning and set aside.

4.      Cut the celery root into quarters, and peel it.

5.      With a hand grater or food processor, coarsely grate the celery root.

6.      Add to the dressing and toss to coat evenly.

7.      With a hand grater or food processor, coarsely grate the apple.

8.      Add to the celery root and toss to coat evenly.

9.      Taste for seasoning.

10.  Serve chilled or at room temperature.

N.B. The salad may be prepared several hours in advance.  Cover securely and refrigerate.)

 


Week 7

Spiced Toffee Apple Cake

Makes 12 large squares

This is a winner recipe from England, combining the warm wonderful flavors of fall: pumpkin spice, caramel apple and that “toffee pudding” taste from the dates.  You will not be able to say no to a second piece of this!

Ingredients:

7 oz pitted dates, roughly chopped

200 ml milk (about 4/5 cup: use a measuring cup with ml on the side) + 1 tbsp. milk for step 12

1 stick + 1 tbsp. butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

10 oz self-rising flour

7 oz light brown sugar

½ tsp. baking powder

4 large eggs

1 tbsp. pumpkin spice mix

2 tsp. vanilla extract

3 small red apples

Small amount lemon juice

 

For the caramel:

“Handful” toffees – I used 12 Werther’s Original Chewy Caramels

1 tablespoon milk

 

Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

 

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 350°F

1.      Grease and line an 8 x 12 inch baking tray or pan with parchment paper.

2.      Put the chopped dates and milk in a small pan and bring to a simmer.

3.      Remove from the heat and set aside for 15 minutes to cool.

4.      Whizz the date mixture to a smooth puree in a food processor or blender, then scrape into a large mixing bowl.

Keep the small saucepan for melting the caramels in step 12.

5.      To this bowl, add the butter, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, eggs, pumpkin spice and vanilla extract, and set aside while you prepare the apples.

6.      Quarter and core the apples, then slice each quarter into four, tossing the apples in a bowl in a little lemon juice as you go.

7.      Quickly beat together the cake ingredients in the large bowl with an electric whisk until smooth, and then scrape into the baking tray.

8.      Arrange the apple slices, overlapping in rows, on top of the cake – you should be able to get 4 rows lengthwise down the tray and three across.

9.      Bake for 45-50 minutes until a skewer poked into the center of the cake comes out clean.

10.  Cool in the tray.

For the caramel:

11.  Put the caramels in a small pan with about 1 tablespoon of milk and gently melt, stirring, until runny.  Make sure you do not have the heat up too high as the caramel will burn!

12.  To finish, dust the cake with a little confectioner’s sugar, then drizzle sauce all over the cake.

13.  Cut into squares or slices to serve.

 

 


Mini Spiced Pumpkins

Makes 12 – 24 mini cakes, depending on pan size

Ingredients:

For the mini pumpkins:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup unsalted butter

½ cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ cup sour cream

For the glaze:

1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar

2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

2 tbsp. water

Orange food coloring

3-inch pieces of brown or black licorice twists, twisted

 

 

 

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 350°F

For the mini pumpkins:

1.      Grease the pans that you are using (you can use a 12-cup mini Bundt pan or even smaller silicon molds.)

2.      In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

3.      In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the butter with the granulated sugar at medium speed until fluffy.

4.      Beat in the egg and vanilla.

5.      Add the dry ingredients and the sour cream in 2 alternating batches.

6.      Spoon the batter into the prepared Bundt cups or mini molds.

7.      Bake in the center of the oven for 25 minutes, until the cakes are risen.

8.      Let cool slightly, then invert onto a rack to cool completely.

For the glaze:

9.      In a bowl, whisk the sugar, butter and water.

10.  Stir in the food coloring until it’s a pumpkin shade.

11.  Pour the glaze over the pumpkins, spreading it gently to cover them completely.

12.  Let dry.

13.  Stick a licorice piece on top of each cake to make a stem.

 

 

 


Spicy Cheddar Witch Fingers

Makes 3 dozen

For Halloween, shape these crackers into creepy witch fingers, pressing a sliced almond onto the end of each one to make the nail.  For regular cheesy crackers, roll the dough into logs and cut into coins before baking.  Recipe by Grace Parisi of Food & Wine Magazine.

Ingredients:

½ lb extra-sharp white cheese (e.g. Cabot)

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

½ teaspoon Cayenne pepper (this is plenty – you may want to put even less)

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 large egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon water

36 sliced almonds (about 1/3 cup)

Method:

1.      In a food processor, grate the cheddar cheese.

2.      Add the butter, salt and cayenne, and process until smooth.

3.      Add the flour, and pulse until incorporated.

4.      Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead until smooth.

5.      Divide the dough into 36 pieces and roll each piece into a 4-inch finger.

6.      Arrange the fingers on 2 lined baking sheets and brush with the egg wash.

7.      Press an almond slice onto the end of each finger to resemble a fingernail.

8.      Refrigerate the cheese fingers until firm, about 15 minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 350°F

9.      Bake the cheese fingers in the lower and upper thirds of the oven for about 25 minutes, until puffed and golden, shifting the pans halfway through baking.

10.  Let the cheese fingers cool completely, then arrange on a platter and serve.

N.B. The fingers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.  Recrisp if necessary.

 


Butternut Squash Falafel

Serves 4-6

This is a delicious and highly nutritious take on the Falafel: you can also use pumpkin, deseeded, cut into wedges, and then peeled at step 5.

Ingredients:

1 packet ready-cubed butternut squash

2 slices white bread

1 regular sized can chickpeas (garbanzos), drained, rinsed and dried

1 garlic clove, chopped

¼ teaspoon chili flakes (red pepper flakes)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Small bunch parsley, roughly chopped

For the salad:

2 carrots, peeled if necessary and coarsely grated

¼ red onion or 2 scallions, finely sliced

4 oz feta cheese, crumbled

 

Optional: Drizzle olive oil and squeeze of lemon

 

4 whole wheat pita breads to serve

Method:

1.      Put the squash in a microwave-safe bowl and cover with wrap.

2.      Cook on high or until soft.

3.      Place the two slices of bread in the processor and whizz them to crumbles.

4.      Add the chickpeas, garlic, chili flakes, cumin and half of the parsley, and process until the chickpeas are finely chopped but not smooth.

5.      Allow the squash to cool slightly, and then add to the chickpea mix with some seasoning.

6.      Stir everything well, then shape into 12 little patties with your hands.

7.      Put the falafels on a baking sheet and chill for 10 minutes.

8.      Meanwhile, mix the remaining parsley with the grated carrot, onion and feta cheese, then set aside.

9.      Heat the broiler to about 450 F and then cook for the falafels on the baking sheet for 3-5 minutes on each side, until golden.

10.  Split the pita breads lengthwise and fill with the warm falafels and some of the feta salad.

 


Week 8

Pasta dough

Ingredients:

½  tsp. Kosher salt

2 large eggs

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

(1 tbsp. oil, if using food processor or Kitchenaid).

 

Method:

By hand:

1.      Beat together the eggs and the salt (the salt denaturizes the protein in the egg, which prevents the dough from being gluey) in a bowl with a fork.

2.      On a pastry board, make a mound of the flour, and make a well inside that mound, with the sides up very high, so that the egg doesn’t escape.

3.      Pour the eggs inside the mound, and start to incorporate the flour, using a fork.

4.      Continue to mix in the flour, this time using your fingers, until it is all incorporated and the dough is smooth.

5.      If the dough feels too dry or crumbly, add water as needed.

6.      Now, start kneading the dough by pulling out, folding, and turning it in quarters, so each part of the dough receives equal treatment.  Add more flour if it is still sticky.  This is quite hard work, and you will be kneading for at least 10 minutes.  The dough should be satiny and elastic.

7.      The dough is ready when you can make an indentation in it with your thumb, and it doesn’t feel sticky.

8.      Wrap and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

In the mixer:

9.      Attach the paddle.

10.  Place the flour in the bowl, and pour the beaten egg and salt mixture into the middle of the flour.  Add the oil.

11.  Replace the paddle with the dough hook, and knead on a low speed, occasionally stopping the motor to scrape the flour off from the edges.

12.  You may need to add some extra water.

13.  When the egg and the flour are thoroughly mixed together, gather the dough together (it may not be in one ball at this point), transfer it to a floured board, and knead it to form a ball, adding more flour if sticky.

14.  Test for done-ness, as in step 6.

15.  Wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll out and cut shapes according to the directions of your pasta making machine.

 


Thai Fried Tortellini of Chicken, Ginger, Water Chestnut & Lemongrass with Dipping Sauce

Servings

This is a recipe by Jamie Oliver, who loves fragrant and spicy food!  It’s great to combine a classic Italian culinary technique with Asian flavorings.

Ingredients:

1 inch ginger, peeled
2 cloves garlic
3 sticks lemongrass, tough outside edge removed
4 skinless and boneless chicken thighs, cut into chunks (substitute mushrooms for vegetarians)
2 good handfuls of fresh cilantro leaves, including stalks
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 egg
2 tablespoons cornstarch
8 oz can water chestnuts, drained
salt & pepper

1 X fresh pasta recipe
olive oil

 

For the dipping sauce:

12 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons rice wine or white wine vinegar
2 tsp sugar
Sprinkle red pepper (chili) flakes, finely chopped, or ½ fresh red chili pepper finely chopped
a little fresh cilantro, chopped

Method:

1.      Use a spoon to peel the ginger, and roughly chop the ginger, lemongrass and garlic.

2.      In a food processor finely blend your ginger, garlic & lemongrass.

3.      Add chicken meat and blend for 1 more minute.

4.      Add everything else except the pasta , and pulse until you achieve an interesting smooth-ish texture.

How to make tortellini:

5.      Lay a sheet of pasta out on a flour-dusted surface.  Cut into 4 x 4 inch squares. 

6.      On each square, place a spoonful of filling just off-center.  With a clean pastry brush, evenly brush a little water around each mound of filling.  Do this thoroughly to guarantee a good seal.

7.      Fold each square in half from corner to corner, enclosing the filling.  Tightly seal the tortellini together by cupping your hand around each mound of filling and pressing down.  Make sure all the air is extracted.

8.      With the flat edge of each tortellini facing you, roll them once towards the tip.

9.      Bring the two side flaps into the center and squeeze them together tightly where they meet.

10.  Once they are all filled cook them for 3-4 minutes in salted boiling water.

11.  Remove and drain, and place tortellini in a hot non stick pan drizzled with a tablespoonful of olive oil.

12.  Fry until one side is crisp and golden, then remove from the pan, and serve with dipping sauce.

To make the dipping sauce:

13.  Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.

 


Pasta Ribbons in Lemon Sauce

Serves 4

This is a wonderful recipe taken from the Café Paradiso cookbook by Denis Cotter.  Café Paradiso is Ireland’s foremost vegetarian restaurant.  The original recipe is for 2 people – this one can be halved or doubled, etc. depending on how many guests you have.

Ingredients:

4 handfuls fresh spinach

1 lemon, zest and juice

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

½ cup white wine

1 medium leek, thinly sliced in rounds

4 sundried tomatoes (or 8 halves), thinly sliced

1 lb fresh pasta ribbons (e.g. tagliatelle, fettuccine, papperdelle, etc.)

1 ½ cups light cream

Salt and pepper

Method:

1.      Drop the spinach into boiling water, leave it for a minute then plunge it into cold water.

2.      Squeeze it to remove most of the water, chop it and set it aside while you get on with the sauce.

3.      Put the lemon, garlic, wine, a half cup of water and the leeks into a small pan, bring to the boil and simmer gently for six to eight minutes, until the leek has softened a little, then add the tomatoes and remove the pan from the heat.

4.      Meanwhile, boil enough water to accommodate the pasta comfortably, add a little oil, then slide in the pasta.

5.      Cook the pasta at a rolling boil, stir it occasionally and test it often.

6.      Just before you drain the pasta, pour the cream into the sauce, bring it back to the boil, and simmer for a minute.

7.      It should thicken a little but still be a very thin cream.

8.      Add this sauce and the spinach to the pasta pan, season generously, stir to combine everything quickly, then divide the dish between two warmed plates. 

9.      Serve with some grated parmesan, or crumbled goat’s cheese.

 

 

 


Vanilla Roasted Pears

Serves 4

After a hearty meal of pasta, if you have room for dessert, you probably don’t want to be digesting any more gluten-centric fare such as cakes or tarts.  So how about some roasted pears (which you can spruce up with whipped or ice cream.)
Adapted from Sally Schneider at The Atlantic by someone on the internet, then me.

Ingredients:

¼  cup sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 1/2 pounds slightly-under-ripe, fragrant, medium pears, peeled if desired, halved though the stem and cored (Bosc or Bartletts work well)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

 

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 375°F

1.      Thoroughly butter a medium-sized baking dish before you start.

2.      Place the sugar in a small bowl. With a thin, sharp knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise in half and scrape out the seeds. Stir the seeds into the sugar.

3.      Arrange the pears in the baking dish, cut-side up.

4.      Drizzle the lemon juice evenly over the fruit, then sprinkle with the sugar.

5.      Nestle the vanilla bean among the fruit (Slit the bean lengthwise first, then into quarters). Pour the water into the dish. Dot each pear with some butter.

6.      Roast the pears 30 minutes brushing them occasionally with the pan juices. Turn the pears over and continue roasting, basting once or twice, until tender and caramelized, 25 to 30 minutes longer (if the pears are small, test for doneness after 35 or 40 minutes of cooking; a paring knife poked into the thickest part of one should meet with no resistance).

7.      Serve warm, spooned with the caramelized pear drippings from the pan.

 


Week 9

Individual Lemon Meringue Pies

Makes four 4-inch pies: two people can share one

This is a pie to make when it’s a rainy afternoon and you have plenty of time to spend in the kitchen.  However, the results are spectacular: crisp almond pastry with a tangy filling made with fresh lemons, topped with soft, crispy peaks of meringue with a marshmallow-y interior.  Very impressive!  This recipe is my own version after much experimenting and consulting of about 5 different recipes!

Ingredients:

For the pastry base:

¾ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup almond flour (almond meal)

¼ cup confectioner’s sugar

Pinch salt

5 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into cubes

1 egg, beaten

For the lemon filling:

¾ cup water

3 tablespoons cornstarch

¼ cup granulated sugar

Zest and juice of two large lemons

3 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes

2 egg yolks (reserve whites for the meringue)

Pinch salt

For the meringue:

2 egg whites

¾ cup granulated sugar

 

 

 

 

 

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 375°F

To make the pastry:

1.      Place the two flours, sugar and salt in a food processer fitted with the steel blade, then add the cubed butter and blend until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.

2.      Add the beaten egg and mix again until a dough is formed.

3.      Transfer the dough to a floured board.

4.      Line four 4-inch pie pans with parchment.  Set on a baking tray.

5.      Divide the dough into 4 rounds.

6.      Roll each dough round to a 5-inch circle and line each pan with the dough, making sure the dough comes up above the rim of the pan.

7.      Prick all over with a fork, and freeze for 30 minutes.

To make the filling:

8.      Carefully separate the eggs, and put the whites in a large heatproof bowl or top of a double boiler to make the meringues.

9.      Put the yolks in a small bowl.

10.  Zest and juice your lemon.

11.  Simmer about 2/3 of the measured water in a small pan with the lemon zest.

12.  Meanwhile, in a 2-cup measuring jug, mix together the cornstarch and sugar, and stir in the remaining measured water.

13.  Mix the simmering water and lemon zest mixture to the cornstarch, and stir together thoroughly before returning to the pan.

14.  Continue to cook on a very low heat, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon or whisk.

15.  Take the pan off the heat (if using electric) or turn off the gas, and add the lemon juice, beating all the time, the butter cubes, and finally the egg yolks and the pinch of salt.  Mix together thoroughly.

16.  Transfer this mixture to the 2-cup measuring jug, and leave to cool.

To make the meringue:

17.  Quickly rinse the pan you used to make the filling, then fill it with about 3 inches of water , set it on the stovetop, and bring the water to a simmer (re-using the pan avoids extra dishes!)

18.  Measure ¾ cup of granulated sugar into the bowl with the egg whites, and then set this bowl over the simmering water.

19.  Whisk constantly until the sugar dissolves and the egg whites thicken.

20.  Remove from the heat.

21.  With an electric whisk, beat the egg white mixture until it forms stiff peaks.  Make sure that the mixture is very stiff.

To make the pie:

22.   Remove the tray of pastry cases from the freezer, and bake in the pre-heated oven for 15 minutes.

Adjust  oven temperature to 325°F

23.  Remove the tray of pastry cases from the oven, and distribute the lemon filling evenly among the four pans.

24.  Top with the meringue, making sure that the meringue touches the rims of the pastry so that they don’t shrink during cooking.

25.  Return to the oven and bake for a further 30 minutes, or until the meringue is lightly browned.

26.  Leave to cool to room temperature before serving.

 

Sun-choke, Potato & Mascarpone Soup

Serves 6

Sun-chokes, also known as Jerusalem Artichokes, are knobbly root vegetables (the tubers of a variety of sunflower) that are a little fiddly to peel, but well worth preparing for their wonderful nutty flavor.  They can be peeled and sliced thinly in a salad, or be part of a soup, as in this recipe.  They are plentiful at this time of year, and very easy to grow at home if you want to give it a go!  This recipe is inspired by a recipe by Jamie Oliver, my hero, although he adds toasted hazelnuts to his soup at the end, which I have omitted.  Instead of mascarpone, you can use a cup of heavy cream, at a push.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter

2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1 onion, finely chopped

1 lb sun-chokes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

½ lb (8 oz) potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

½  bunch fresh thyme, leaves picked off

4 cups vegetable or chicken stock

5 oz mascarpone cheese

 

Method:

1.      In a large pan, melt the butter and gently fry the garlic, onion, sun-chokes, potatoes, and thyme.

2.      Add the stock, then bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes until the potatoes and chokes are tender.

3.      Blend until chunky or to a puree.

4.      Reheat, adding the mascarpone until it blends in, and check the seasoning (taste to see if there is enough salt and pepper.)

 

 


Zwiebelkuchen

Serves 4 (very large portions!)

This is a German early fall specialty, traditionally served with “new wine”.  It is a type of flat bread spread with caramelized onions and bacon, topped with a cream and egg mixture before baking.  So it’s neither French (quiche) nor Italian (pizza) but combines the best of both, I think.  My kids like it wrapped in foil in their lunchboxes - they eat it with raw veggies.

Ingredients:

For the base:

14 oz bread flour

1 tablespoon dried active yeast

1 teaspoon dried herb such as oregano, thyme or marjoram

4 oz butter or lard

2 teaspoons salt

150 ml milk (the measurement is on the side of a glass measuring jug)

150 ml water

For the topping:

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 ½ packets frozen chopped onions (or 6-8 red onions, finely sliced into rings)

6 oz bacon, finely chopped

Oil to grease the pan

2 eggs

1/3 cup sour cream

Grated nutmeg

Salt and freshly ground pepper

 

 

Method:

To make the base by hand:

5.      Put the flour, yeast, dried herb and salt into a bowl, and using the tips of your fingers, work the butter or lard into the flour until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

6.      Make a well in the center and pour in the milk and water.

7.      Cut the liquid into the flour with a knife and, when beginning to form a dough, use your hand to bring the dough together.

8.      Dust a work surface with flour, and tip out the dough.

9.      Knead for one minute, until a smooth dough is formed. 

10.  Oil the bowl you used to mix the dough in and transfer the dough to the oiled bowl.

11.  Leave to rise at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 425°F

12.  For the topping, heat the butter and oil, and fry the finely sliced onions and bacon gently for about 30 minutes, until soft and caramelized.

13.  Brush a baking sheet with oil, and tip the dough onto it.

14.  Sprinkle with a little four and press out to the thickness of your hand.

15.  Top with the onions and bacon, leaving 1 inch uncovered around the edge.

16.  Mix the eggs, sour cream and nutmeg, taste for seasoning, then trickle this mixture over the onions, starting in the middle so it doesn’t flow over the edge.

17.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the dough is well risen and browned.

18.  Delicious hot, warm, or at room temperature.

 

 


Week 10

Mini pumpkin cheesecakes

Makes 18

Cute and easy to make – these are fun to decorate with fruit, mint leaves, candy or nuts and serve with afternoon tea or dinner at Thanksgiving.

Ingredients:

18 gingersnap cookies

12 ounces cream cheese, softened (remove from fridge 1 hour before starting recipe)

3/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice

2 eggs

1 cup canned pumpkin(1/2 can)

1/3 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup

 

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 325°F

1.      Line 18 muffin wells with paper cupcake liners.

2.      Place 1 gingersnap in each.

3.      Beat cream cheese, sugar, corn starch and pumpkin pie spice with an electric mixer.

4.      Add eggs and mix well.

5.      Add pumpkin and golden syrup; beat 1 minute.

6.      Pour filling into liners, dividing evenly.

7.      Bake in a preheated 325°F oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until just set.

8.      Chill for 1 hour. Garnish as desired.

 

Dorothy George’s Albanian Stuffing

Makes a large potful!

My great friend Keith Costa has generously shared this beloved family recipe of his grandmother’s with us – Grandma Dorothy George was born in 1910 and is still going strong!  My kids LOVE Keith’s stuffing and say it’s the best part of the many Thanksgiving dinners we have eaten with the Costa family.  I’m very excited to share this with you!

Ingredients:

2 sticks butter

1 ¼ cups raisins, or 1 cup raisins and ¼ cup cranberries

½ loaf Country White bread, broken into bite-size pieces

½ loaf Arnold “Health Nut” bread, broken into bite-size pieces

1 ¼ cups chopped walnuts

Half jar dry whole Chestnuts (e.g. Haddon House), chopped

¾ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup brown sugar

 

Method:

1.      Melt the butter in a large pot on the stovetop.

2.      Add the raisins/raisins and cranberries, then crushed walnuts and optional chopped chestnuts.

3.      Add bread pieces all at once into the pot and stir thoroughly from the bottom up with a big spoon.

4.      Sprinkle over the sugars, mix well.

5.      Cover with lid, remove from heat (or turn off heat if using gas) and let rest for 10 minutes.

Keith says – “Enjoy”!

 


Chunky Apple & Cranberry Sauce

Makes about 5 cups

A traditional holiday condiment to serve with roast meat, this sauce can also be warmed up to spoon on pancakes or waffles.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter

2 lbs. Golden Delicious apples (about 4 large), peeled, cored, and cut into ½ inch dice

¼ teaspoon ground cardamom or all spice

One 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 ¼ cups water

 

 

 

Method:

1.      In a 12-inch skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.

2.      Add the apples and cardamom or all spice, and cook for 10 minutes or until apples are tender-crisp, stirring occasionally.

3.      Increase the heat to medium-high.

4.      Stir in the cranberries, sugar, and 1 ¼ cups water; heat to boiling.

5.      Reduce the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, about 6-8 minutes or until most cranberries pop and the mixture thickens slightly, stirring occasionally.

6.      Spoon sauce into serving bowl; cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours.

Maple-glazed Autumn Vegetables

Serves 10-12

This is a tried-and-trusted recipe from Williams Sonoma.  The introduction to the recipe writes: “Most often associated with breakfast and sweet dishes, maple syrup has a long and diverse culinary history. Native Americans taught colonists how to highlight savory foods with the sweetness of maple sugar. This technique works equally well with maple syrup, as you'll discover with these glazed autumn vegetables.”

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons butter + 2 tablespoons butter

1 lb. parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch
  chunks

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut
  into 1-inch chunks

1 acorn squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 Tbs. chopped fresh sage

1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

1/4 cup maple syrup

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 to 2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 375°F

1.      Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat (using a non-stick pan makes clean-up easier, but you get a better caramelization from a regular frying pan.)

2.      Add the parsnips, butternut squash and acorn squash and stir to coat with the butter.

3.      Cover and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.

4.      Stir the vegetables and reduce the heat on the stovetop to medium-low.

5.      Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 10 to 15 minutes more.

6.      Add the sage, thyme, maple syrup and the remaining 2 Tbs. butter.

7.      Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine.

8.      Transfer to a warmed serving bowl, garnish with the parsley and serve immediately.

 

Week 11

Religieuses

Makes about 10-12

Similar recipe to that for profiteroles, éclairs or cream puffs.  Using a classic “choux” pastry, bake equal amounts of large and small buns, fill with vanilla cream and decorate with chocolate to look like nuns.  You have to use your imagination for this!  In France this summer, I saw a new version in a patisserie called a “divorcée,” which had a line of cream down the middle separating the coffee glaze from the chocolate glaze!

Ingredients:

For the choux pastry:

¾ cup water

¼ cup milk

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces

4 large eggs

1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, sifted into a bowl

1 pinch salt

2 teaspoons sugar

For the pastry cream:

1 cup milk

1 egg

¼ cup vanilla sugar (or ¼ cup sugar + 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 pinch salt

For the chocolate glaze:

4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, broken into small pieces (or use chocolate chips)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 400°F

For the choux pastry:

1.      Bring the water, milk and butter to a boil in a medium-sized pan.

2.      Add the flour, salt and sugar all at once and beat energetically for a couple of minutes.

3.      Remove from the heat, and let cool for a minute or two.

4.      Next, stir in the eggs, one at a time, with a wooden spoon.  Make sure that the mixture is smooth before you add each egg.

5.      Fill a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle with the batter.

6.      On a lined baking sheet, pipe 10-12 large and 10-12 small mounds (pipe in pairs of small and large to make sure you have enough.)

7.      Bake for about 22 minutes.

8.      Remove from the oven, pierce each bun with a sharp knife (just to let the steam escape) and transfer the buns to a wire rack to cool and dry.

For the pastry cream:

9.      Heat the milk in a small pan.

10.  Meanwhile, in a heat-proof bowl, mix together the egg and sugar, and then whisk in the flour and salt until everything is smooth.

11.  Pour the hot milk into the bowl and whisk everything together until smooth.

12.  Return this mixture to the pan, and keep stirring on a low-medium heat until the mixture thickens.  Use a whisk to keep stirring to avoid any lumps.

13.  Remove from the heat and transfer to the bowl to let cool.

For the chocolate glaze:

14.  Gently melt the chocolate with the butter in the microwave on 50% power for 2-3 minutes.

To assemble the “religieuses”:

15.  Dip the small buns in the chocolate glaze.

16.  Slice the top off the large buns, and fill each bun with the pastry cream, using a piping bag.

17.  Replace the top of the large bun, spread chocolate glaze over the top, pipe the pastry cream around the edge and then top with the smaller bun.

 

Vegetarian Mincemeat

Enough for 3 lbs.

Most families have their traditions during the holidays, and in England, at Christmas time, you will be offered a mince pie wherever you go – with tea, coffee, sherry, mulled wine, whatever!  In order to make a mince pie, you need some mincemeat.  In England, we tend to make it with suet, which is an animal derivative not easy to find here.  This recipe gives you a vegetarian alternative which is just as tasty so that everyone can enjoy it.  Make a batch ahead of time – this will store for up to a year. 

Ingredients:

3/4 lb fairly sharp eating apples (I use McIntosh)
1 tbsp. candied fruit
2 tbsp. slivered almonds
2/3 cup green (seedless) grapes
1 ½  cups raisins
1 ½  cups currants
¼ lb. golden raisins
grated rind and juice 1 lemon
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground allspice
little freshly grated nutmeg
½ cup brown sugar
2 tbsp. melted butter
½ cup brandy

 

Method:

Into a big bowl go:

1.      Peeled, cored and finely chopped apples.

2.      Finely chopped candied fruit.

3.      Halved and seeded grapes.

4.      Mix in the rest of the ingredients.

5.      Pack the mixture into sterilized jam jars.

 


Spinach soup with crisp pancetta

Serves 6

You can get packets of ready-cubed pancetta in most supermarkets. Use sour cream if you cannot find crème fraîche.

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil

10 oz frozen chopped onions, thawed

½ head celery, thinly sliced

1 garlic clove

1 large Russet potato, peeled and roughly diced

4 cups hot vegetable stock

1 ¼ lbs whole leaf spinach, rinsed and woody stalks discarded

Grating of fresh nutmeg

For the topping:

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 oz pancetta, diced

2-3 tablespoons crème fraîche

Method:

1.      Heat the olive oil in  medium pan, add the onions, celery and garlic, cover and cook over a very low heat for about 20-25 minutes or until very soft.

2.      Add the potato, give it a quick stir, then pour in enough hot vegetable stock to cover the vegetables by an extra depth of about 2 inches.

3.      Simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until the potato is starting to break up.

4.      Stir in the spinach and nutmeg, and cook for another 2 minutes, until the leaves wilt.

5.      Blend the soup to a puree in a liquidizer or using a handheld stick blender.

6.      Taste and season.

7.      Reheat if necessary.

8.      For the topping, heat the olive oil in a small frying pan and sauté the pancetta pieces until browned and crisp.

9.      Drain on paper towel.

10.  Ladle the soup into bowls, top with a spoonful of crème fraîche and scatter with crisp pancetta pieces.

 

Cheese Scones

Makes 8

This is the quickest scone recipe ever!  Try adding parmesan, cayenne, or dried herbs to give it extra taste.

Ingredients:

2 cups self-rising flour

2 teaspoons English mustard powder

Large pinch salt

4 tablespoons softened butter, diced

2 oz extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated

½ cup milk (or more)

 

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 425°F

1.      Mix the flour with the mustard powder and salt in a large bowl.

2.      Rub in the softened butter until it looks like breadcrumbs.

3.      Add most of the grated cheese, then pour in the milk to make a soft dough (add more milk if necessary.)

4.      Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface.

5.    Roll out to a thickness of just over an inch.

6.      Use a 3 inch cutter to stamp out 8 scones, put onto a lined baking sheet, brush the tops with milk, then sprinkle over the remaining cheese.

7.      Bake for 10-12 minutes until risen and golden.

8.      Enjoy warm, or cool completely and spread with butter, if you like.

 


Week 12

Chinese Scallion Pancakes

Makes about 15

Ingredients:

1  ½  cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon yeast dissolved in 1/3 cup warm water + 1 teaspoon sugar to activate yeast

1/3  cup boiling water
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup finely chopped scallions
1 teaspoon salt

 

Method:

1.      Sift flour into 2 equal portions (3/4 cup) into separate bowls.

2.      In the first bowl, slowly add the yeast-water mixture, mixing with a spatula, until a dough forms.

3.      In the second bowl, sprinkle the salt into the flour. Slowly pour in 1/3 cup of boiling hot water while vigorously stirring. Add more water and keep stirring until a rough dough forms. (If you accidentally add too much water and the dough is too soft, add a little more flour.)

4.      Mix in 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Roll the doughs out on a lightly floured surface and knead them together.

5.      Cover with a damp towel and let rise for 30 to 40 minutes.

6.      On the same floured surface, roll out the risen dough. Form into a 1-inch thick log, and slice into Ping Pong-ball sized segments. With a rolling pin, roll each segment out to 4" or 5" circles.

7.      Lightly brush the top of each circle with vegetable oil. Sprinkle over with chopped scallions.

8.      Roll up the circle, semi-tightly, making sure the scallions stay in place. 

9.      Now, roll it again lengthwise until it forms a coiled ball. 

10.  Turn the spiral side face-up, then flatten again into a circle with the rolling pin. Place on a plate and repeat with the remaining dough until you have a stack of scallion-studded spiral patties. (Whatever you don’t cook immediately can be frozen for future use.)

11.  Heat a flat-bottom skillet on medium high heat and add remaining 1 tablespoon cooking oil. Working in batches, pan-fry the pancakes until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Serve warm.

Dipping Sauce for Scallion Pancakes

Ingredients:

2 cups light soy sauce

1 cup rice wine vinegar

1/2 cup mirin or simple syrup

1 tablespoon sesame oil

5 inches peeled and finely minced fresh ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons sweet chili sauce

1 bunch scallions, white and green sliced thin on the bias

2 tbsp sesame seeds, garnish

Method:

1.      Combine all of the ingredients except for the sesame seeds; hold in the refrigerator. Garnish with sesame seeds when serving.

Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

5 oz confectioners' sugar

9 oz salted butter, room temperature

1 large egg yolk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

11 ½  ounces King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

For the icing:

10 oz confectioners' sugar or glazing sugar

1 1/4 ounces light corn syrup

2 tablespoons, or up to 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon milk; enough to make a pourable/spreadable icing

food coloring, optional

1 cup coarse sugar or colored sugar for decorating, optional

Method:

1.      Combine the sugar, butter, egg yolk, salt, and vanilla, beating till smooth.

2.      Add the flour, mixing till smooth. The mixture will seem dry at first, but will suddenly become cohesive. If it doesn't, dribble in a tablespoon of water.

3.      Divide the dough in half, shape each half into a flattened disk, and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least ½ hour, or overnight.

4.      Remove the dough from the refrigerator (let it soften if it has been in the fridge for a long time.)

5.      Sprinkle your rolling surface with flour, and flour your rolling pin.

6.      Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll it 1/8" to 3/16" thick.

Pre-heat oven to 350°F

7.      Use a cookie cutter to cut shapes. Re-roll and cut the dough scraps.

8.      Place the cookies on ungreased or parchment-lined baking sheets. They can be close together; they'll barely spread.

9.      Bake for about 10 minutes, or until they become golden around the edges.

10.  Remove from the oven, and cool right on the pan. If you've used parchment, you can lift cookies and parchment off the pan, so you can continue to use the pan as the cookies cool.

11.  Repeat with the remaining piece of dough, rolling, cutting, and baking cookies.

12.  When cookies are completely cool, ice and decorate.

For the Icing:

13.  Combine the sugar, milk, and corn syrup to make a soft, spreadable icing, adding more milk if necessary.

14.  Tint the icing with food color as desired.

15.  Spread icing on cookies, using a knife, a spoon, or your finger to spread it all the way to the edges. Sprinkle with colored sugar or other sugar decorations, as desired. Allow the icing to harden before storing the cookies.

 

 


Roasted Garlic

Prep time for this is only 5 minutes!

Ingredients:

2 whole garlic bulbs

Olive oil

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 400°F

1.      Peel away the outer layers of the garlic bulb skin, leaving the skins of the individual cloves intact.

2.      Using a knife, cut off 1/4 to a 1/2 inch of the top of cloves, exposing the individual cloves of garlic.

3.      Place the garlic heads in a baking pan; muffin pans work well for this purpose.

4.      Drizzle a couple of teaspoons of olive oil over each head, using your fingers to make sure the garlic head is well coated.

5.      Cover with aluminum foil.

6.      Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cloves feel soft when pressed.

7.      Allow the garlic to cool enough so you can touch it without burning yourself. Use a small knife to cut the skin slightly around each clove. Use a cocktail fork or your fingers to pull or squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of their skins.

 

Roasted Garlic & Onion Jam

Ingredients:

3 large sweet onions
2 heads garlic, roasted*
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

 

Method:

1.      Squeeze roasted garlic cloves onto a small plate. Set aside. Cut onions in half lengthwise; peel. Cut off ends; cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick pieces.

2.      Wipe a 13” skillet with oil, and set over medium heat.

3.      Add onions, and cover.

4.      Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent, about 15 minutes.

5.      Add sugars; re-cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden, 20 – 30 minutes.

6.      Add 1/4 cup water and stir.

7.      Cover and cook until dark brown, 20 -30 minutes.

8.      Add balsamic vinegar, roasted garlic cloves, and another ¼ cup water.

9.      Continue cooking until liquid has been absorbed, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

 

 


White Bean-Chive Hummus

Ingredients:

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

2 tablespoons tahini

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 garlic clove, peeled

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon salt

Dash cayenne pepper

Method:

1.      Add all of the ingredients to a food processor or blender and purée until the mixture is smooth.

2.      Serve immediately with pita chips or on Crostini.

 

Toasted Baguette for Crostini

For 50-60 crostini

Ingredients:

1 baguette, sliced ¼ inch thick

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 350°F

1.      Place the bread on a baking sheet and toast for about 12-15 minutes, until lightly golden.

N.B. You can also brush each slice of bread with some olive oil, and scatter with salt and pepper before baking.

 


Week 13

Goat Cheese and Sun Dried Tomato Profiteroles with Herb Oil

Makes 18 savory profiteroles

This is a fantastically tasty appetizer from Food Network’s Giada di Laurentiis

Ingredients:

Profiteroles:

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Pinch salt

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3 large eggs

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan

Pinch freshly ground black pepper

 

Filling:

8 ounces goat cheese, room temperature

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup diced sun dried tomatoes

Pinch salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Herb Oil:

3/4 cup fresh mint leaves

3/4 cup fresh basil leaves

1 cup olive oil

Pinch salt

Freshly ground black pepper

 

Optional: 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts, for garnish

 

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 350°F

1.      Line a heavy large baking sheet with a silicon pad or parchment paper.

2.      Combine the water, butter, and salt in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat.

3.      Bring to a boil, stirring until the butter melts. Add the flour and stir over medium heat for 1 minute.

4.      Cool for 5 minutes.

5.      Crack the eggs into a small bowl.

6.      Use a wooden spoon to beat the eggs into the dough, 1 at a time.

7.      Stir in the Parmesan and pepper.

8.      Spoon 18 mounds of dough onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing 2 inches apart.

9.      Bake until the profiteroles are puffed and golden, about 45 minutes.

10.  Allow the profiteroles to cool completely.

For the filling:

11.  Combine the goat cheese and cream in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, whip together the cheese and the cream. Stir in the tomatoes, salt and pepper. Set aside.

For the herb oil:

12.  Combine the herbs in a food processor and pulse to chop the herbs. With the machine running add the oil, salt, and pepper. Transfer to a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

To assemble:

13.  Using a serrated knife, cut off the top of the profiteroles.

14.  Fill each profiterole with a spoonful of the goat cheese mixture and return the top of the pastry.

15.  Place a few profiteroles on a serving plate, drizzle with herb oil, and sprinkle with walnuts.

16.  Serve.

 

 


Whole Earth style Kale salad

We don’t have the exact recipe or quantities for this salad, but all the ingredients are listed and you can come up with your own version!  The lemon juice is used to “cook” the kale initially, just as for ceviche.  There seems to be at least 4 times as much kale as carrot and red cabbage in every serving of this salad from the store.  The brown rice, sesame seeds, tofu and almonds are “notes” that aren’t necessarily in every mouthful.

Ingredients:

Juice of 1 fresh lemon

1 bunch fresh kale, washed and cut into bite-size pieces

2 carrots, cleaned and grated

½ small red cabbage, finely shredded

1 cup cooked brown rice

¼  cup toasted sesame seeds

½ 14 oz pack (drained weight) extra-firm tofu cubes

Olive oil

½ cup roasted whole almonds

 

Dressing:

1 teaspoon honey

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

4 tablespoons Canola oil

Salt and pepper

Method:

1.      Put the lemon juice in the bottom of a large bowl, add the prepared kale and toss to cover.

2.      Add the carrots, red cabbage and cooked brown rice.

3.      Toast the sesame seeds in a hot non-stick pan.

4.      Lay the cubes on an oiled and lined sheet and brush with oil.  Broil under a hot broiler.

5.      Assemble salad by adding the sesame seeds, tofu and whole almonds, and tossing thoroughly.

6.      Make dressing by whisking together all the ingredients.  Taste and adjust according to taste.

7.      Add the dressing to the salad, combine thoroughly, and serve.

N.B. The salad can be made ahead of time and even improves when left overnight in its dressing.

 

 


Birgit’s Lebkuchen (gingerbread)

Makes enough dough for several Gingerbread families!

My pretty German friend Birgit translated her recipe for me into English, although she has only ever made it in Germany with German ingredients.  I’ve made a few adjustments to suit an American cook’s taste, and am thrilled to bring you a great recipe for making gingerbread people or cookies.

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

¾ cup granulated sugar

Pinch salt

1 egg

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, cardamom, allspice

and nutmeg

3 tablespoons milk

 

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into very small dice

 

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 325°F

1.      In a mixer, combine all the ingredients up to and including the milk.

2.      Add the butter cubes and mix until you form a dough.

3.      Line two baking sheets with parchment.

4.      On a well-floured board, roll the dough out to a thickness of about 1/8 inch, and then cut out shapes with cookie cutters and transfer to prepared baking sheet.

5.      Bake in pre-heated oven for about 12 minutes, until edges begin to brown.

Mince Pies

 (Makes up to 24, depending on size)

Traditionally enjoyed in the days leading up to Christmas with a cup of tea or a glass of sherry or mulled wine!

Ingredients:

For mincemeat:

Store-bought mincemeat (e.g. Nonesuch) or home-made

For pastry:

8 oz all-purpose flour (about 1 ½ cups)

6 tbsp. butter

2 tbsp. shortening

Grated rind of ½  orange

1 egg

Drop of water or orange juice, to bind

 Method:

1.      Combine pastry ingredients with pastry blender or in food processor, then wrap and chill for at least ½ hour.

2.      Grease 2 muffin trays, or mince pie pans if you happen to have them!

3.      Roll out pastry and cut out rounds using a cooker cutter of a diameter to “top and tail” a mince pie. 

Pre-heat the oven to 375°F .

4.      Place one round of pastry in cup. 

5.      Fill with a couple of teaspoonfuls of mincemeat. 

6.      Top with another round of pastry, press sides gently together.

7.      Make a couple of small slashes in the top of the pie to let the steam out.

8.      You may brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar, although this is not necessary.

9.      Bake for 20 minutes or until slightly golden.

Website Builder