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Friday, December 28, 2007

Holiday Cookies for Sale Experience

I undertook this project in an attempt to begin defining how my skills and blog could translate into a small income-generating business. Since I had never done anything like this before and the window of time to receive orders was so small, I kept it low-key. I'd like to say that posting this on my blog resulted in thousands of orders, but it did not. The reason I posted it was so my customers through word-of-mouth advertising could quickly view what I was selling. And it did serve that purpose well.

Though my sales were on the tepid side, I was concerned that a major marketing push just in my local community would have resulted in me failing to deliver the goods, if you will. This did not happen, of course, but I learned how quickly I could have found myself in that situation. I consider this a pilot and now I know exactly how many orders I can handle if I undertake a project like this next Christmas. In the meantime, I'm working on similar, but smaller offerings for Valentine's Day and Easter. I haven't worked out the details yet, but keep checking the site. Thanks especially to my friend Minh. She wins the salesperson of the year award for my nascent company!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Holiday Cookies for Sale!


I'm making 1, 2 and 4 pound trays of cookies this year for my local audience. Sorry to all my Australian fans. Mail order will have to wait until next year! The two larger trays are depicted below along with a pic of each individual cookie. All trays will have an assortment of these 6 cookies and will be wrapped in clear cellophane and tied up with a bow. Contact me for any special orders you may be interested in, for instance, a tray of only rugelach.

All cookies except spritzers (press cookies) contain pecans or almond flour. Spritzers contain almond extract.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

"Spaghetti and Meatball" Sauce a la Clemenza

For the sauce

4 cans Tuttorosso Whole Peeled Tomatoes (35 oz cans)
(Feel free to substitute your favorite tomatoes, but remember most cans are 28 oz. Therefore you will have to use 5 cans of those.)
2 onions, halved
2 - 4 cloves of garlic
1/2 bunch parsley
1 4 oz can tomato paste
4 anchovy fillets
3/4 - 1 cup olive oil

Place all ingredients in a large (12 qt) pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer.

Sautee 2 # of sweet sausage until well browned on all sides. Remove sausage and juices from pan to deep dish. Deglaze pan with 1 cup of red wine. Scrape bottom of pan well to remove all burnies and bits. Dump deglazing liquid into sauce pan. Wipe out pan with paper towels. Pour 2 cups oil (preferably olive oil or olive oil/grapeseed oil mix) into pan and return to heat.

For the meatballs

1 # meatloaf mix
2 pieces of white bread, crust removed and broken into small pieces
1/4 cup whole milk
2 T chopped parsley
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 egg
freshly ground black pepper
bread crumbs

Soak bread in milk for 10 minutes
Add all other ingredients and mix thoroughly with your hands
Spread crumbs in plate
Roll meat into golfball size or smaller balls and coat in crumbs
Fry in 325 degree oil until golden brown all over
Remove to paper towels to drain

By this time, the onions and garlic should be completely softened and thus purged of all of their flavors. Remove onions, garlic and parsley (and any other flavoring ingredients you may have thrown in on your own) at this point.

With a wand mixer or food processor, process sauce until smooth. I recommend the wand because of the quantity of sauce. If you are making a quarter batch, the food processor may be more practical.

Once processed, add all the sausage and meatballs to sauce and simmer for many hours.

Freeze all you won't use in pint or quart containers.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Simple Thanksgiving Day Dinner

Simple Thanksgiving Day Dinner

Follow my simple rules and Thanksgiving won’t be the stressful mess it always seems to be. First of all, the actual dishes prepared for Turkey Day are about the simplest we make throughout the year. The key is to focus on a few that you as the host want to make and have others bring the remaining dishes. This has to be done with a little forethought, though. When guests ask what they can bring, tell them what to bring. “Could you bring a pumpkin pie?” Or, “Since you make that yummy cole slaw, could you bring that for the dinner?” And don’t accept no for an answer. I recommend you have guests bring cold dishes or those that don’t need to be refridgerated. Avoid having guests bring dishes that have to be re-heated. The oven is already occupied! By the turkey, no less. You as the host should prepare the following dishes:

Roasted Garlic Turkey, Gravy and Cornbread Stuffing adapted from Jacques Pepin

Cranberry relish/chutney adapted from the recipe of the back of the Ocean Spray brand cranberry package

Mashed regular or sweet potatoes

These recipes are simple and allow you to impress your guests and have fun at your own party, too!

Roasted Garlic Turkey


1 12 pound turkey (brined if possible. See my video on brining chicken)
2 cups chicken stock
1 head of garlic, cut in half horizontally
1 teaspoon salt (if you don’t brine turkey)
1 teaspoon black pepper
4 onions peeled and very coarsely chopped
4 carrots peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
1 teaspoon starch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon soy sauce

If you don’t brine turkey, rinse bird thoroughly under cool water and pat it dry with towels. Place turkey breast side up in roasting pan (on a v-rack if you have one) and roast at 425 degrees for 20 minutes or until nicely browned.

Remove pan from oven and flip turkey onto breast using silicon oven mitts or folded up kitchen towels, Strew vegetables around turkey and place both halves of garlic head inside turkey cavity. Reduce oven temp to 325 degrees and roast for 1 hour.

Add chicken stock to roasting pan and bake turkey for another 30 minutes. Turn off oven and let turkey rest for 30 minutes to an hour. This is when you would put in your cornbread stuffing.

Shortly before serving dinner, remove turkey from oven, place on serving platter and return to oven. Remove veggies with slotted spoon and place in bowl of food processor. Strain pan juices through a paper towel – lined funnel into a wide-mouthed mason jar or pyrex measuring cup. Let rest for 5 – 10 minutes and than ladle off as much fat that has floated to the top as possible.

Pour skimmed juices into processor and process with veggies until smooth. Transfer to small sauce pan and simmer for 10 minutes. Add starch/water mixture, stirring until thoroughly incorporated. Simmer for 1 more minute, cover and remove from heat.

You are now ready to serve your turkey!

Cornbread Stuffing

I prefer to make my own cornbread, but whichever bakery-bought cornbread you like will do. Try to avoid cornbreads that are too sweet or too greasy.

I like this recipe because it incorporates one of my ‘leftover makeover’ techniques. You can use fancy ham for this stuffing, but I prefer just to open up a pack of lunchmeat ham I have for my young daughter and slice that into ribbons for this dish.

4 T unsalted butter
1 onions, peeled and coarsely chopped. Use two if you don’t have scallions on hand.
2 ribs of celery, diced
5 scallions, washed and minced
12 oz of cornbread
1 cup frozen, canned or fresh corn kernels
2 t herbes de Provence
½ t freshly ground black pepper
3 oz ham, cut into ½ inch pieces
¼ cup chicken stock

Melt butter in skillet

When hot, add onions, celery and scallions and sauté over medium high heat for about 3 minutes.

Transfer veggies to bowl and add crumbled cornbread, corn kernels, herbes de Provence, pepper, ham and the chicken stock. Toss lightly to avoid further crumbling of cornbread and place in 6 – cup loaf pan.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 20 minutes or longer until browned on top and hot inside. Remove from oven and set aside until ready to re-heat in oven with turkey.

If making a day or more in advance, refrigerate until Thanksgiving Day and remove from fridge in the morning. Place in oven with turkey after oven has been turned off. (See turkey recipe above.)

Cranberry Relish

1 large orange, washed
1 bag of fresh cranberries, washed in cold water
¾ cup to 1 cup sugar

Quarter orange, skin and all, and then chop quarters into 4 or 5 pieces each.

Add to bowl of food processor with bag of cranberries and sugar. Process until desired consistency is reached. Can be made 5 days in advance.

Mashed Potatoes or Sweet Potatoes

1 5 lb bag of yellow potatoes or sweet potatoes
1 T salt
½ cup heavy cream (add more if you really like it decadent)
½ stick unsalted butter (ditto)
1 t black pepper

Peel potatoes and cut into 1 inch chunks, approximately.

Add to large pot with salt and cover with cold water.

Bring to boil and then reduce to a simmer.

Temper cream with a couple tablespoons of the boiling water to avoid curdling cream. To do this, simply stir the hot water into the cream. A little hot water hitting a lot of cold cream is a lot better than a little cream hitting a lot of boiling hot potatoes!

When potatoes are fork tender, remove from water with slotted spoon and place in metal bowl or double boiler. Add butter, cream and black pepper. With a heavy duty whisk or potato masher or, if necessary, a sturdy fork mix ingredients until smooth.

Place metal bowl or dbl boiler over another pot with simmering water 1 hour prior to serving potatoes. If you need to transfer the potatoes to another bowl for serving, make sure you heat up serving bowl by filling with boiling water and letting sit for 3 minutes.

If you are using sweet potatoes, sprinkle mashed sweet potatoes with brown sugar and a few pat of butter just before serving.

Friday, November 2, 2007


Recipe for Ceviche

Ingredient List

Peruvian popping corn
2T lard or olive oil
1 sweet potato
3 Firm Tilapia Fillets
Juice of 2 limes
Zest of 1 lime
1 tomato diced
1/2 onion finely diced
1 clove garlic minced
1 jalapeno finely chopped
Several sprigs of cilantro
1 Avocado
Black Pepper
Olive Oil

Boil sweet potato until fork tender. Set aside until cool. When cool, peel and cut into 1/2 slices. Slice slices into 3 - 4 '1/2 inch wide sticks' depending on size of sweet potato.

Heat 2 T lard in pan. When hot, add 1/2 cup of Peruvian popping corn and cover with lid. Once popping picks of steam, shake pan a few times over heat and then remove from heat and leave covered. Set aside.

Cut Tilapia fillets into 1/2 inch dice, taking care to adjust for thickness differences between the two halves of each fillet. Place in cold bowl and return bowl to refridgerator.

Prep the Vegetables
Dice 2 tomato
Finely dice 1/2 onion
Mince 1 clove of garlic
Finely chop one jalapeno
Separate cilantro leaves from stems. Discard stems.

Take bowl of Ceviche from fridge and pour lime juice over tilapia and two generous pinches of salt. Toss gently until well mixed.

Add vegetables and whole cilantro leaves to tilapia and toss gently a few times. Take care not to crush the tomato dice in the process.

Set aside for 15 minutes to 2 hours. It can cure overnight, but the beauty of Ceviche is the quickness of the meal and the joy one gets from eating such fresh and lightly cured fish.

While tilapia is curing, cut avocado in half with sharp chef's knife. Remove pit by holding half with pit in one hand and hammering gently into pit with knife. Rock knife back and forth while gently squeezing avocado half. Discard pit.

Scoop avocado out of skin with large soup or serving spoon. Dice avocado.

Place ceviche on plate and surround with diced avocado and sweet potatoes. After sprinkling kosher or sea salt on corn, sprinkle corn all over ceviche and other items on plate. Drizzle fine olive oil over fish and avocado. To finish dish, sprinkle everything with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Baking Cherry Pie With My Two Daughters


Monday, October 29, 2007

Classic Lasagna


1 pound uncooked lasagna noodles (I used Ronzoni)
2 pounds ricotta
8 - 16 oz shredded mozzarella (not fresh)
1/2 cup pecorino romano grated cheese
1 qt homemade tomato sauce (see recipe under "Sauces, Stocks, Stews and Soup")
1 pound meatloaf mix - equal parts beef, veal and pork
1 onion
3 cloves of garlic
Olive Oil
Black Pepper

1. Chop onions
2. Mince garlic

Sautee both in hot pan with 2 T of Olive Oil

3. after 1 minute, add ground meat, breaking it into smaller and smaller pieces with a wooden spoon as it fries.
4. While meat is cooking, combine ricotta and grated mozzarella in bowl. Stir together adding salt and black pepper to taste. (Some people add an egg at this step, but I don't like the consistency it creates.)
5. Boil lasagna noodles
6. Defrost tomato sauce if previously frozen
7. When lasagna pasta is finished, fish out of water carefully and lay flat over paper towels spread out over a counter. The paper towels will absorb excess moisture.
8. In a 9 in by 12 inch pyrex dish or the equivalent, place about 1/2 cup sauce in bottom.
9. Layer 3 noodles slightly overlapping, then 1/3 ricotta mixture, then 1/2 cup of sauce. Cover with another layer of 3 noodles. Add 1/2 the ground meat and another 1/2 cup of the sauce. Alternate these layers ending with a layer of noodles on the top. Spread remaining sauce on top of noodles and sprinkle 1/4 cup of grated cheese on top.
10. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.
11. Check progress at 30 minutes and if liquid at bottom and edges of the dish is not boiling, bake for another 10 minutes covered.
12. Uncover dish and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes making sure pasta on top doesn't get crunchy.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Pears Poached in White Wine

Earlier I posted a video of poaching pears in red wine. I love how the pears look with the deep red stain from the wine, but it's hard to get the pear uniformly colored. I decided to poach in white wine this time using 2 cups of sugar with 1 bottle of dry white wine. The flavor of the pears was somewhat thin due to the poaching process taking from the pear all those great flavors that make the poaching syrup so delicious. But if you serve the pears coated in a thickened syrup with vanilla ice cream, you get all the right flavors and textures in every bite. No video today, but I do have some photos.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Spicy Olive Oil

Forgive me for neglecting this recipe back when I made the Spanish Tapenade. This should always be in you pantry. You'll get addicted to it fast! This recipe comes from Peter Reinhart's cookbook, "American Pie." It's a fantastic book about making all kinds of pizza and some recipes for flavorings and toppings of those pizzas. Peter traveled around the world eating pizza for this research, but most of the time he teaches baking at Johnson & Wales University. I make it sound like I know the guy, but I've never met him. I hope to some day. Click here to visit his site

Spicy Olive Oil

1 cup Olive Oil
4 t red chili pepper flakes
4 t sweet or smoked paprika (See inset photo for brand I use)
1 large clove garlic, peeled
1/4 t salt (optional)

Place oil, chili flakes, paprika and garlic in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. It won't bubble like boiled water, but the pepper and garlic will appear to be deep frying. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and let cool for 30 minutes. Strain oil through a paper towel lined funnel into a jar and let oil cool completely. Cover and store in refrigerator for up to two weeks. Bingo, you're good to go. And look at that beautiful color.

The oil is almost as red as the can of smoked paprika!

Notes: I store this in my pantry for weeks if not months without any flavor issues.

Spicy Steamed Clams with a Touch of Pesto

First, buy a bag of 50 clams and keep them on ice until ready to cook. I use whatever is available. Today it was Maine Ocean Clams. They are about the size of little necks. That's the size you want to shoot for.

Rinse each clam under cold water and place back on ice. Discard any clams with broken shells or open shells that won't close after tapping them against side of sink.

For this recipe, you will need:
50 clams
2 T pesto
4 T garlic
1/3 cup spicy olive oil (or more) (See spicy olive oil recipe)

Make a batch of pesto and set aside or defrost a couple of "ice" cubes of frozen pesto. View Caprese Napoleon post (August 8, 2007) for details.

In a large pot, preferably 12 qt, but 8 qt will do, pour in 1/3 c spicy olive oil and place over medium heat.

While oil is heating, finely chop 4 cloves of garlic.

Put 1/2 of the chopped garlic in pot with oil and saute until glassy, about 2 minutes.

Increase heat to high.

Add all 50 clams along with 1/4 cup of water or white wine and 1 T of pesto, give a little shake of the pot and then place lid on top of pot.

While clams are steaming, line a large funnel with paper towels and place over bowl or wide-mouth jar. A china hat works, too, but probably still needs to be lined with paper towels. The simplest way to do this would be to fold the paper towel corner to corner to create a triangle. Then fold the two corners on the longest side together to form a triangle with three equal sides. Separate one fold of paper from others to form a paper funnel and place inside funnel or china hat.

After about 5 minutes start looking at the clams. Once a large majority of clams are open, remove pot from heat.

Remove clams with a slotted spoon and place on previously heated platter.

Pour all broth in pan through lined funnel.

Pour strained broth back into pan and place pan back on burner at high heat and return to a boil.

Add 2T chopped garlic and 1 T of pesto to strained broth along with the 50 clams.

Give the pot a few good shakes and remove from heat.

Ladle clams and broth into individual bowls and serve with crusty Italian or French bread for mopping! Alternatively, you can put hot pasta in the bowls and ladle broth and clams on top of that.


The funnel business is all about removing the sand. And to remove that, you also remove all the garlic and evidence of pesto. That's why the same amounts are added back to the strained broth. If it's too garlicky for you, start with 1 T in the steaming and 1 T of garlic in the strained broth. Don't skimp on the pesto because it gives the broth a nice color.

This works well over pasta, but the broth is naturally real watery and best suited for mopping with good crusty bread. I also like to keep the bottle of spicy O.O. by my side. I usually add more to my broth after the fact and, of course, adding the oil to the pasta works, too. I'm not a big fan of serving bread with my pasta, but of course, do what you want. Try it both ways and see how you like it. I would love to hear about your results. Until next time.....Blaise

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Five Spice Chicken Recipe

Here I go again with another text entry. I'm just trying to keep my blog more current. I would post a video daily if I could, but that isn't physically, logistically or artistically possible! Anyway, I wanted to share the following recipe with you that I put to the test this evening.

First buy Five Spice or, better yet, grind your own. There are several different versions of five spice, Chinese, French, Tunisian, but you can experiment with either. Two recipes follow:

1T black peppercorns
1T cloves
1.5 t cardamom
1.5 t ground nutmeg (be careful, this is one of the reasons you want to use five spice sparingly. This can be cut back to .5 t without losing too much nutmeg flavor.)
1 t ground cinnamon

Place all in a spice (or coffee) grinder and process until powdery. The best coffee grinder I've found for both grinding coffee and spices is the basic Krups model.
Click here to view grinder -

2 t szechuan peppercorns, roasted in dry skillet over low heat until aroma released
8 star anise
6 cloves
1.5 T fennel seeds
1 T ground cinnamon

Place all in a spice (or coffee) grinder and process until powdery. Be careful when removing lid. The szechuan peppercorns could burn like hell if inhaled.

Slice 1# boneless chicken breast in half horizontally. Lay breast flat on cutting board and slice in half with blade of knife parallel to counter. Alternatively, place breast between two sheets of wax paper or disposable cutting sheets and pound gently with rolling pin.

Once you get the chicken to an even thickness of about 1/2 inch, coat on each side with five spice rub. Sautee over med-high heat in 1 T grapeseed oil. Place in pan right as oil begins smoking. Turn after 3 minutes on one side. Sautee another 2- 3 minutes, remove from heat, place on a warm plate and cover with foil for 5 minutes.

Serve with rice or cous-cous and a salad.

Cuisine et Dependance , Montreal CA - Restaurant Review

This is about 3 weeks late, but I hemmed and hawed about the value of a traditional blog entry. I know how much people dislike reading text on a computer screen, so I'll keep this short. Cuisine et Dependance in Montreal is an upscale restaurant that makes all of their patrons feel relaxed and downright homey, like in a diner. I read about this restaurant in Bon Appetit and thought I'd visit it with my wife on our family vacation. B.A. praised the food and the chef, but it was a summary, grouping C et D with other great spots in the "hot new neighborhood" - The Plateau - in Montreal. Yes the food was good and at times great (the least I'd expect considering dinner for two with wine runs around $160 including tip), but what most impressed us was the friendliness of the service, the generosity of the owner and sommelier and the general sense that they wanted us to have the best experience possible. The restaurant is modern and somewhat minimalist, but doesn't sacrifice atmosphere for this decor. The wine was tremendous, a Chateau de Chaminey Mercurey 2002 (White), that was priced at $70 on the menu. At Total Wine in Delaware, the price was $27.00 and considering the weak dollar and Canadian "sales" taxes (15%) I'd say $70 is a reasonable price for a restaurant in Canada to charge. Now, to the food. Both my wife and I found the food in Montreal a little lacking. It didn't matter if it was a Mexican joint or an upscale restaurant. The sheer quantity of restaurants in downtown Montreal is very impressive and the selection of different types of ethnic foods matches that of New York. I can't quite put my finger on what exactly is missing in the food up north, but, to borrow from the preferred language of the Quebecqois, it's a certain je ne sais quoi! With that said, I'd recommend Cuisine et Dependance without reservation. But don't forget to make reservations in advance! Visit them at

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Pasta Primavera a la Blaise

Another flexible recipe for my loyal viewers. I grilled carrots, fennel and green beans and then tossed them with penne pasta, cubed sharp provolone, 3/4 cup olive oil, salt, pepper and whole basil leaves. As you will see in the video, I was a little disappointed. I make suggestions for improvements in video, but I will add some more here.

First, use plenty of vegetables, almost rendering the pasta to a supporting role in the dish. Make sure you get the veggies nice and grilled. I grilled mine just fine, I just wanted to reinforce that. Make sure you use plenty of salt in pasta water and also sprinkled over veggies prior to grilling. Adding garlic raw or sauteed, as I say in the video, will help it. Just avoid overdoing it. The last time I made this dish I think I used 2# of green beans and 3 # of carrots. This time I used less and for that I am going to send myself to my room with no supper! That's a nod to a great UK movie review whose podcast is available at the following address:

Anyway, I digress. As you all know, I love making meals with whatever I can find in my fridge and this pasta primavera is perfect for that approach. You just need quantity and selection. I think I had enough variation in ingredients, just not enough of them. Just be careful, though. Don't use mushy veggies like eggplant or tomatoes. Though they add lots of flavor, once grilled they will fall apart when tossed with the pasta. This will create a sort of sauce that will change the whole idea of this dish from light and refreshing to heavy and de-freshing???

Monday, September 3, 2007

Poached Pears

A classic dessert that can be served in a variety of ways. Easy, but impressive.

1 bottle of red (or white) wine
12 peppercorns
1 t vanilla extract
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup sugar (optional, not in video, but recommended)
Juice of 1 lemon (not in video, use remaining juice from lemon used to rub pears)
9 - 12 small pears, forelle for instance
whipped cream, ice cream, melted chocolate or any accompaniment of your choice

Add first 4 ingredients to pot large enough to hold 9 - 12 pears
Bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer.
While poaching liquid is being brought to a boil, peel, cut bottom of pear so it sits flat and core each pear. Rub each pear with cut half of lemon. Take care not to break stem of pear. This helps with moving pears in and out of poaching liquid and has aesthetic appeal. Place pears in simmering liquid and poach covered until fork tender.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Microplane Testimonial

Grapefruit Custard Tart from the Inn at Little Washington

Making the crust is not featured in the video. It's a simple press-in crust made from 2/5 cups finely ground pecans, 1/2 stick (4T) of butter, melted, and 3/4 cup sugar. Mix it all together, press into pie plate and bake for 10 min at 400 degrees. I think a better crust would be 50/50 ground pecans and crushed graham crackers. It would give the crust a little more cohesiveness which I like in a crust. It's up to you.


Ingredients are shown in chronological order so some may be repeated later in a recipe. This is the case with the grapefruit juice in this recipe.

2t gelatin
3T grapefruit juice
4T butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
4 eggs lightly beaten
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup grapefruit juice
zest of one grapefruit
2 - 4 oz chocolate, preferably dark chocolate
1 pecan crust (see recipe above)

Sprinkle gelatin over 3T of grapefruit juice and set aside
Melt butter in 2 qt saucepan over medium heat
Mix in sugar until dissolved
Add orange juice, 1/2 cup of grapefruit juice, cream, eggs and zest.
Stir to combine and reduce heat to medium low
Continue stirring until custard has thickened and lightly coats the back of a wooden spoon
Once custard has thickened, scrape gelatin mixture into custard, stir to dissolve and then set aside off heat.
Allow to cool to room temperature

While custard is cooling, melt chocolate in dbl boiler or microwave until it is runny like chocolate sauce
With a china bristle brush available by the 10pk at Home Depot for about 3 bucks, brush chocolate onto cooled pecan crust. Cover all surfaces except top edge.

BEFORE ALLOWING CHOCOLATE TO COOL (Video indicates otherwise), pour cooled custard into pie crust.
Place pie in refrigerator until set, approximately 2 - 4 hrs later.
Garnish with whipped cream and mint sprig or leaf.

Note: I used canned whipped cream in the video and I'm sure you all looked on in horror. Normally I whip my own for the obvious reasons, but the cream available that day was just not fresh enough so I didn't want to take any chances. Though the food I prepare for video technically doesn't even have to be eaten, I treat my on-camera time as if I were preparing for actual guests.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Penne Pasta tossed with Beets, Beet Greens and Mint topped with Prosciutto


1/4# sliced prosciutto
1/2 cup olive oil (extra virgin preferred. More if you prefer, up to 1 cup.
1 bunch beets with greens still attached
1 bunch mint
1/2 cup Parmesan or Parmesan/Romano mix
1# penne pasta (whole wheat adds nice flavor to this dish)
3T salt

1. Cut beets from beet greens.
2. Place beets in Pyrex dish and bake at 400 degrees until soft.
3. Allow beets to cool then peel skin from beets.
4. Cut beets into sticks the size of your pinky finger. Set aside.
5. Wash beet greens and chop coarsely.
6. Cut away all the fat (white) from the sliced prosciutto
7. Chop prosciutto meat (red) into thin ribbons. Set aside.
8. Chop and discard stems from mint then coarsely chop mint leaves.

9. Bring 4 qts of water to a boil. Add 3 T of salt with 1 pound of penne pasta. Stir until pot returns to a boil and then replace lid offset by a couple of inches to avoid overflow of starchy, boiling water. Should cook in approx. 10 - 12 minutes. Before draining pasta, reserve 2 cup of cooking liquid. Pour 1.5 cups of the boiling water into your serving dish. The remainder can be used if the final tossed pasta needs a little more creaminess.

10. While pasta is cooking, heat 1/4 c of oil over medium heat.
11. Add prosciutto fat until translucent then remove from the pan with slotted spoon. Set aside.
12. Add remaining oil and bring heat to medium high.
13. Add beet greens and stir in pan for a couple of minutes. Reduce heat to low and cover for 5 - 10 minutes.
14. Once greens are completely wilted and soft, add beets and stir in pan to mix and heat through.
15. Off heat, add chopped mint leaves and stir until wilted.
16. Dump hot water from serving dish.
17. Toss sauce with penne and grated cheese in warmed serving dish.
18. If pasta looks dry, toss pasta with some of the reserved cooking liquid.
19. Add 1/2 of prosciutto and toss gently with pasta. (I did not do this step in video)
20. Sprinkle remaining prosciutto across top of dish and serve.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Rib Roast Showdown

Rib Roast ready to be aged in refridgerator

Aged Rib Roast Roasted in Oven at 425 degrees to an internal temp of 130 degrees. Note the difference in size between the fresh, raw roast and the roast after aging and baking. All that concentrated beef flavor.

Remember, the beef in the video below was grilled over propane gas burners. I only had photos of roasts done earlier in the year. Sorry.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Strawberry Rustic Tart


2.5 cups all purpose flour
3T sugar
1 t salt
2 sticks/.5 pounds/16T cold butter cut into little pieces
1/3 cup + 1T ice cold water and more if needed.
Your favorite strawberry jam (make sure the fruit is the first ingredient on the label's list of ingredients)

1. Put all dry ingredients in food processor bowl and pulse to combine
2. Spread half of the butter over top of flour mixture. Pulse 3 - 4 times
3. Spread remaining half of butter over top of flour/butter mixture. Pulse until mix has the coarseness of bread crumbs.


4. Drizzle water over top of mixture. Pulse just until mixture begins to gather together.
If dough (now it's dough) is dry or dusty looking, add more water 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing each time.

You should be able to pick up pieces of the dough now and mold it like playdough with your fingers. It's important to note that the dough at this point will still be just hundreds of little chunks of butter mixed with flour, sugar and salt.

5. Dump the dough onto counter top and beginning with the edge furthest from you, smear sections of dough across the counter top with the heal of your hand. This creates ribbons of butter that separate thin layers of flour resulting in an incomparably flaky crust.

The amount of smearing you do is a bit arbitrary, but limit it to 2 go-arounds. After first smear, scrape dough together into a loose pile and follow step 5 one more time.

6. Gather dough into a ball and divide in half.

7. Flatten each half into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes. At this point dough can be frozen for up to 3 - 6 months.

The purpose of this step is to make sure the butter in the dough remains nice and hard. The softer/warmer it is, the more likely dough will stick to the rolling pin and counter top.

8. Remove dough from refrigerator, unwrap and place on floured counter top. Sprinkle flour on top of dough and begin to roll the dough from the center to the edge going around the dough like the changing positions of a clock.

9. Once dough is acceptably round and approximately 1/8 inch thick transfer to cookie sheet.

If you prefer thicker crust, feel free to leave it a little thicker. Just remember that the recipe makes enough dough for 2 pie crusts, 1/8 thick and big enough to fill a 9inch pie plate with a little extra to spare.

10. Spread the jam over the top of the dough leaving a 1 inch border of dough uncovered.

11. Fold border of dough over jam-covered dough. The more folds you make around the tart, the more circular the tart will be. This will require more trimming of excess dough where each fold ends and the next begins.

I don't concern myself with the actual geometric shape. The more "unique" the shape, the more clear to the eater that this baby is homemade. After the first bite, even the most particular guests will forget about the shape of the pie.

12. Brush top of crust with milk and sprinkle with sugar. This will help brown the top of the tart nicely.

13. Bake at 375 degrees for approx. 30 minutes.

Bon Appetit!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Revisiting Hummus

A couple of weeks ago I showed you how to make hummus thanks to a food processor. In that video, I used cans of chick peas from Trader Joes. I've always found that the quality of canned chick peas really vary from one brand to another. I also know, but didn't mention that the best chick peas are dried chick peas. A day after my hummus video I made another batch of hummus using dried chick peas. It's not like I never have made hummus from dried (and rehydrated) chick peas. It's just that I couldn't remember if dried make a noticeably better hummus than canned. They do and the memory of this second go around with hummus makes my mouth water as I write this. I'm not sure why it's so much better, but let me tell you a couple of my tricks.

First of all, use plenty of salt in the water for boiling the chick peas. For a 1 pound bag of chick peas I use at least 1/4 cup salt. I know this sounds like a lot, but the chick peas soften quickly and are perfectly flavored right off the bat. In fact, when I processed the rehydrated chick peas and other ingredients I didn't need to add any more salt.

Second, after the peas are softened and cooled, but still in the water, I work them through my hands squeezing them gently to remove their skins. My goal is to remove all the skins, but that is tedious and unnecessary. As the skins are sloughed of the chick pea, they rise to the surface of the water. Periodically, I scoop off the skins and then return to squeezing the chick peas. I don't even know if this makes a difference because I've never done a side by side test. If I do, I'll report my results right on the blog.

Third, this is optional (as is the skin removal BUT NOT THE SALTING OF THE WATER), but processing the peas while still warm with the other ingredients allows you the option of eating "naturally" warm hummus. It's absolutely delicious and I would venture to say it's almost a unique experience. Of course, if you're entertaining, you would have to time your preparation just right. Try it some time, though, and I think you will like it.

My recommendations for the best hummus you can possibly make then are:
Dried peas instead of canned
Use plenty of salt when rehydrating the beans
Slough off as much of the skins of the softened chick peas as possible
Process hummus while peas are still warm and have a go at warmed hummus. Delicious!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Brining and "Eighthing" of Chicken

Brine and Quarter Chicken

Coconut Cookies


Coconut Cookie Recipe

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

Toast for 8 - 10 minutes in the pre-heated oven:

1 cup sweetened, flaked coconut (Baker is a typical brand)
(Check progress frequently and stir flakes or shake pan each time)

While coconut is toasting, add to mixer bowl:

2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
1 scant cup sugar (basically 1 cup less 1-2 Tbsp)
1/2 teaspoon salt

beat on medium speed until light and fluffy

1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

beat on medium speed until combined

1 egg

beat on medium speed until combined

2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cups coconut powder, available in Indian and natural foods stores

beat on low until just combined

toasted coconut

mix on low speed until just combined

Form dough into balls about the size of ping-pong balls and place on a cookie sheet.
Because dough will be partially frozen before baking, dough won't spread much. Therefore, you can easily bake 15 cookies per sheet. When sheet is full, put in freezer for 30 minutes. Bake in oven for 12 - 15 minutes, checking for browning after minute 12. Cool tray on rack for 1 minute and then transfer cookies to rack and allow to cool completely. Store in airtight containers. Enjoy!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Spicy Spanish Olive Tapenade


Add to food processor bowl:
6.5 oz green spanish olives with pimento
2T to 1/4 cup olive oil or spicy olive oil (see spicy olive oil recipe)

Pulse for 1 second 4 or 5 times
Add to food processor bowl:
1/4 cup purple raisins
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds or pine nuts

Pulse for 1 second 2 or 3 times
Add to food processor bowl:
1 garlic clove minced
1/4 cup chopped yellow onion

Pulse for 1 second two times
Transfer mixture to serving bowl.
Stir in:
Black Pepper
2T to 1/4 cup Locatelli Romano or Parmesan Cheese

Serve with pita chips, crusty Italian bread or flatbread. You can also toast thinly sliced Italian or French loaves of bread and then spread with tapenade for a stunning bruschetta.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Duck Ragu, Endive Salad and Chocolate Blini

Kalamata Olive Tapenade

Kalamata Olive Tapenade Recipe

Add 6.5 oz kalamata olives (or one drained 13 oz jar)to food processor
Pulse 3 - 4 times
1/4 cup dark raisins and
1/4 cup pine nuts
Process for 3 seconds
2T to 1/4 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove minced
2T chopped yellow onion or shallots
Process for 3 seconds
Transfer tapenade to bowl and stir in,
Black Pepper
1/4 cup Locatelli Romano Cheese

Remember, the ingredients and quantities are very flexible. Add pepper flakes to make this spicy or leave out the raisins if you don't want any sweetness. Also, the longer the tapenade sits, the more the flavors fuse. If you plan to serve immediately, make sure garlic is really minced before going in the processor and feel free to add more onion.

I would love to hear some of your own variations to this recipe. Leave a comment! Thanks.