Friday, December 31, 2010

Split Pea Soup

Happy New Year!
This is a very simple, healthy soup.

1 lb. split peas
3 medium or 2 large carrots, diced
1 celery heart, leaves included, diced
2 medium or 1 large onion, diced
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 dried bay leaf
3 qt. water
1 t. fresh finely minced thyme leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

The idea is to have equal amounts of mire poix (carrot, onion, celery).

In a large pot, sweat the mire poix in the olive oil until soft. Add bay leaf.

Add garlic and continue to cook one minute.

Add split peas and water. Simmer for 1 hour. Puree (in a blender) 2 cups of the soup mixture with the thyme then return pureed mixture back to the pot. Continue to simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Don't be shy with the salt.

In this recipe, it may seem that the ratio of vegetables to split peas is rather high. This is because there is no animal fat and/or chicken stock used. I hope you enjoy this healthy alternative, skipping this time the ham hock and high sodium.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Brioche Love

Brioche with Tart Cherries and Candied Orange Peel

This recipe can also make a plain brioche. Just omit the cherries and orange and add one T. sugar.

Candied orange peel: see lavender sugar post (June) for candying technique. Peel of one large orange and the same amount of sugar and water as the lavender sugar recipe.

In a KitchenAid bowl:
2 t. dry yeast
1/2 c. warm (not hot) water
Let rest for 5 minutes.

3 1/2 c. AP flour
3 T. sugar
1 t. salt
1/8 t. nutmeg
5 eggs

Mix on low for ten minutes...

Until smooth.

8 oz. unsalted butter (cubed)
1 c. tart dried cherries
1/2 c. candied orange peel or 1 T. fresh orange zest

Mix smooth (about 2 minutes).

Put dough in a ziplock bag. Refrigerate dough for twelve hours (overnight).

Remove the dough from the bag. The dough will be very sticky. Flour your hands and form into a ball. Put the dough into a buttered and floured loaf pan, round or rectangle.

Let rise and come up to room temperature (about 30-40 minutes).
Egg wash and bake at 325 degrees for 50 minutes (or until 200 degrees internally).

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

French Green Lentil Salad

1 lb. du puy lentils
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 carrot, can be left whole and not included in the finished dish, or diced and remain in.
1 celery rib, can be left whole and not included in the finished dish, or diced and remain in.
1 small onion, can be left whole and not included in the finished dish, or diced and remain in.
1 bay leaf
sprig of thyme and/or parsley

In a large pot, simmer all of the above ingredients for about 25 minutes(or until the lentils are tender). Drain the lentils and cool slightly.

2 shallots, finely minced
2 T. fresh tarragon, finely chopped
3 T. chives, snipped
1/3 c. sherry vinegar
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 T. salt

Note: You may need to add more olive oil and/or vinegar to taste. Should be deliciously tangy.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

My All Time Favorite Appetizer

I serve some sort of this combination at almost every party I host. These are two of my best versions:

Valdeon, marcona almonds and farmer's market raw honey with fig crostini.

Fourme d’ambert, toasted hazelnuts and farmer's market raw honey with crusty bread.

Place the cheese (1/2 lb.) on a platter or wooden board. Pour 6 oz. honey over half the cheese. Then the nuts (1 c.). Serve with bread.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Simple Dungeness Crab Salad

1/2 lb. dungeness crab meat
6 endive, separated
about 8 radishes, thinly sliced
about 1 T. snipped chives
1/4 c. Meyer lemon juice
1/3 c. good olive oil
salt and pepper

Arrange endive on plate. Follow by crab, radish and chives. Drizzle lemon and oil over salad. Serve immediately.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sage Roasted Butternut Squash and Brussel Sprouts with Prosciutto Bread Crumbs

This dish can be served warm or at room temperature.

One large butternut squash, one large kabocha squash or two acorn squash, peeled. Cut into large dice. Toss with 1/3 c. olive oil, small bunch whole sage leaves, salt and pepper. Roast on a half sheet pan at 350 for 30 minutes. Finish for 10 more minutes at 375.

Toss 2 lbs brussel sprouts with 1/3 c. olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast on a half sheet pan at 350 for 35 minutes. Yes, the squash and brussels need to be on separate pans.

In a food processor, grind a 1/2 loaf of crusty bread or a small baguette.
Like this. Then toast at 250 for 20 minutes. Cool.
Then back in the processor with 1 smashed clove of garlic, 1/4 c. olive oil and 2 oz. prosciutto (you can substitute grated parmesean cheese). Toss with roasted vegetables. YUM!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Traditional Roast Turkey and Gravy

Dry brine is best for fresh turkeys:

Finely mince (or with a mortar and pestle) 1/2 c. good salt, 1 T. fresh tyme, 1 T. fresh rosemary and 1 t. black pepper. Create a space in your refrigerator to accommodate the turkey. Place the turkey in a roasting pan or 1/2 sheet pan. The turkey needs to be thoroughly defrosted and dry. Evenly rub the salt/herb mixture over the turkey. Place the turkey in your refrigerator, covered loosely with parchment or wax paper. The idea is for the turkey to air dry overnight, so don't wrap in pastic.

Remove turkey from roasting pan. Place cut mirepoix vegetable: 2 carrots, 4 celery ribs (include celery leaves) and 2 onions in roasting pan.

Set turkey on top of mirepoix. Stuff the cavity with fresh thyme, sage and rosemary.

Weight Total

Roasting Time

8-12 pounds

2 to 3.5 hours

12-16 pounds

3 to 4 hours

16-20 pounds

4 to 5 hours

20-25 pounds

5 to 6 hours

25-30 pounds

6+ hours

Turkey Roasting Chart

All turkey roasting charts are basic approximations. Actual cooking time varies depending on a number of factors, including oven accuracy, temperature of the bird when it is placed in the oven, oven temperature, the height and thickness of the roasting pan, and how frequently you open the oven door.

Preheat oven to 400. Roast turkey for 40 minutes, then drop temperature to 350. Baste turkey if you find necessary.

Fresh, lean turkeys that contain no additives may cook faster than a conventional turkey. Begin to check for doneness approximately 30 minutes before the end of suggested cooking time. Use a meat thermometer—there really is no substitute for determining when your turkey is done.

When done, all parts of the turkey should register 165°F. Allow Turkey to rest at least 20 minutes before slicing. In the meantime, make your gravy.

Ratio: 1/2 c. flour to 1 quart chicken or turkey stock.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Persimmon, Pecan & Pomegranate Seed Salad


2 shallots (about 2 T.) minced

¼ cup red wine or sherry vinegar

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

salt and black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients, no need to whisk. Let vinaigrette macerate (soak) for at least ten minutes, no more than 24 hours.


4 cups mixed greens

2 medium or 1 large Fuyu persimmon sliced

½ cup pomegranate seeds

½ cup toasted pecans

4 oz soft goat cheese, opt.

Toss with vinaigrette and serve

Bon appetit!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Brown Butter Vanilla Bean Pear Crisp

Crisp Topping:

1/2 c. toasted pecans
1 1/2 c. AP flour
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
8 oz. butter

In a food processor, chop nuts with the flour, cinnamon and sugars. Add butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly and resembling wet sand. Set aside. The crisp topping can be made and kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 days in advance.

Pear filling

4 lb. firm pears
2 T. flour
3/4 c. sugar
1 vanilla bean, scrapped or 2 T. vanilla extract
1 1/3 c. butter
1/2 t. salt

Heat butter and vanilla beans ( if using extract add to pear mixture) on medium heat until the milk solids become dark brown. Add to the pears followed by flour and salt; gently toss . Place fruit in a ovenproof dish. Place topping on fruit and bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 1/2 c. AP flour
1 c. sugar
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. ginger
1/4 t. cloves
1/4 t. nutmeg
(or replace spices with one heaping T pumpkin pie spice)
1/4 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1/3 c. buttermilk
1 T. vanilla
1/3 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c. oil
1 c. pumpkin puree

1 T. cocoa powder
1 c. chocolate chips (opt.)

Combine flour, granulated sugar, spices, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a separate bowl combine buttermilk, vanilla, brown sugar, eggs and pumpkin.

Fold the wet into the dry and gently fold until smooth. Stir the cocoa powder into 3/4 c batter.

Scoop batter into a lined twelve cupcake pan. Spoon the cocoa batter on top of the pumpkin batter. With a toothpick, pull the chocolate batter out to marble it. Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean in a 350 degree oven.

*This recipe makes an excellent pumpkin cupcake, just omit the cocoa and chocolate chips. Great frosted with cream cheese frosting.

Cream cheese frosting:

Whip together:
8 oz. room temperature cream cheese
4 oz. room temperature butter
2 t. vanilla
about 3/4 c. powder sugar

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Braised Chicken with Wild Mushrooms

4 lb. chicken, cut into eight pieces

Brown the chicken in 2 T. butter or oil.

In a large oven proof pan with a lid, arrange chicken and add 1 C. red wine, 1 C. chicken stock, 3 carrots, 1 celery heart(leaves included), 1 onion, 2 C. fresh wild mushrooms, small bunch thyme, salt and pepper.

Bake in an 325 degree oven for 2 hours. Serve with mashed potatoes, noodles or rice.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Apple Pie


1/2 c. lard/or shortening

4 oz cold unsalted butter

2 1/4c flour

1 T. sugar

½ t. Salt

¼c Ice water

For the dough technique see peach pie post.


6 large or 8 medium/small apples, peeled and *sliced. Please read the information on best apples for pie at the bottom of the post.

2 oz. unsalted butter

½ c brown sugar

¼ c sugar

1 t. cinnamon

¼ t. salt

1 T. vanilla

3 T. flour

Melt butter and allow it to slightly brown, not burn. Add the brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla. Pour over the apples and gently toss. Add the flour to the mixture.

The Best Apples for Pie

I always say the best apples for an apple pie are the best apples. With that said, apples certainly have different characteristics that you can choose from. If you choose tart firm apple e.g granny smith, pippin or similar variety (if you don’t know what you have ,than take a bite). Peel and slice into ¼ inch slices. If you choose “just picked” or sweeter softer varieties, eg fuji, macintosh, pink ladies, honey crisp, then peel and cut into one inch slices. Don’t ever put your pie apples into water to prevent browning. The sweet/tartness of the apples should be the deciding factor in the amount of sugar you use. So, if the apples you choose are really tart, use an additional 1/2 c. sugar. Feel free to add things like: 1t. lemon zest, 2 T. maple syrup, 1/8 t. all spice, nutmeg. Cardamom, ginger; use your imagination. But, lets keep the wasabi out of this one.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fennel Rosemary Rubbed Pork Chops with Apples

6 pork chops
4 apples, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices

Spice Rub:

3 T. fresh rosemary
2 T. fennel seeds
1 T. good salt

In a mortor and pestle or with a knife, grind/chop all ingredients to a rough sandy texture.

Press spice rub on 6 pork chops. In a large saute pan, brown the pork chops in about 1/4 cup olive oil or butter. Remove to baking sheet and finish in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. While the pork chops are roasting, saute the apples for 15 minutes. Serve on pork chops.

Monday, September 20, 2010

It's Time to Make Chicken Stock

Chicken Stock/Broth

6 quart stock pot
4 lb. chicken
2 celery ribs, large dice
1 carrot, large dice
1 onion, large dice
1 small bunch of thyme
2 bay leaves
1 T. black peppercorns
Place all ingredients into pot; cover with about four quarts of cold water. Simmer uncovered for 3 hours. Cool for one hour. Stain and reserve chicken for something else.

Store chicken stock in the refrigerator for up to three days freeze for up to two months.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Chai Pear Tart

When I made this tart yesterday, I was uncertain that the amount of effort put into the poaching of the pears would be worth it. Well it was, this tart was spectacular.

One 9 inch tart pan or six individual tart pans

Poached Pears:
2 Anjou or Bartlett pears, peeled and cut in half with the core spooned out.
2 chai tea bags
1 C. red wine
1/3 C. green cardamom pods
1 T. cloves
1 C. sugar
1 C. water

In a non-reactive pot, combine all ingredients. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add pears and simmer(poach) for 30 minutes. Cool. Strain the poaching liquid and reduce to a syrup to brush on the tart and/or to serve as a sauce.

Almond Cream:
4 oz toasted almond
4 oz. sugar
4 oz. butter
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 T. vanilla
1/2 t. salt

In a food processor, grind the nuts and sugar to a fine mixture. Add butter, egg, yolk, vanilla and salt. Continue to process until smooth. The almond cream can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

1 1/4 C. AP flour
1/4 C. sugar
1/2 t. salt
4 oz. butter
1 egg yolk
1 T. vanilla

Combine the flour, sugar and salt. Cut in the butter until the mixture feels like wet sand. Mix together the yolk and vanilla, then pour into the flour mixture and gently mix to a smooth dough. Refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to 4 days.

Roll to fill the tart pan. Blind bake at 350 degrees for ten minutes. Remove the weights and continue to bake for about ten more minutes or until the crust is a light golden brown. Fill with almond cream and spread to the edge of the pastry shell. Set pears cut side down (you can slice and fan the bottom of the pears if you like) into the almond cream and gently press in about 1/8 of an inch. Bake the tart an additional 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees. Glaze the pears with the reduced poaching liquid. Serve the tart at room temperature with or without the reduced syrup.

Note: For a fresh fruit tart, simple bake without the pears then cool and top with desired fruit. Glaze the fruit with warm apricot jam.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Happy Rosh Hashanah


Pro 1, Class 15

1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon dry yeast
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs
3 3/4 to 4 cups all purpose flour
poppy and sesame seeds
1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 teaspoon water

1. Dissolve sugar in 1/2 cup warm water in a large mixing bowl which has first been rinsed with hot water. Sprinkle yeast on top and let stand for 10 minutes. Stir to dissolve.

2. Combine with oil, remaining water, sugar, salt, eggs, and half the flour. Beat well. Stir in remaining flour. Dough should be sticky. Cover dough and let rest for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a floured board and knead for 10 minutes, adding flour as needed.

3. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to proof until doubled.

4. Punch down. Divide dough into 3 equal parts. Shape into strands. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and braid loosely. Fasten ends securely. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled.

5. Brush with beaten egg yolk and sprinkle with seeds. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes, until golden brown with an internal temperature of 200 degrees.