Archive for November, 2010

From Dish Gwen:

Lately I’ve been experimenting with baking bread. It’s hard! Or rather, I’m making it hard. Instead of using recipes and taking a hint from thousands of generations of experienced bread makers, I’m trying to reinvent the wheel and figure it out on my own. I do not recommend this to anyone.

The fruits of my bread lab have not been very pretty, but I have gotten some good croutons and French toast out of the ordeal. The French call French toast “Pain Perdu” – or “lost bread”. My bread is the truest expression of lostness, and it makes for some pretty fantastic French toast.

If you’ve got old, stale, or “lost” bread laying around the house and don’t know what to make for breakfast, make this. You can substitute the almonds for another nut – walnuts or hazelnuts would be delicious. I crushed my almonds using this amazing little vintage grinder that my sister gave me, but if you don’t have a grinder you can use a food processor, chop them with a knife, or just put the nuts in a plastic bag and bang them with a heavy object (like a big coffee mug).

– 6 to 8 slices of bread
– 4 eggs
– ½ cup milk
– 2 teaspoons cinnamon
– 1 tablespoon sugar
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 cup chopped nuts
– 3 tablespoons butter

In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, cinnamon, sugar and salt. Lay out the nuts flat on a plate and heat up a skillet on medium and put in a tablespoon of butter. While the butter melts, turn your oven on to 250, then lay three slices of bread in the egg mixture and turn them so that they each are completely covered with liquid. Pull out the bread slices one by one, shaking off any excess egg mixture back into the bowl, and press one side of the wet bread into the plate of chopped nuts so that the nuts stick to the bread. Brush off excess nuts (you just want a thin and consistent layer of nuts on each piece of bread), and lay the bread slices in the buttered skillet, nut-side down. As the slices cook, you can begin to coat the remaining bread with egg and nuts. Check the cooking slices to see if the egg on the bottom side is fully cooked, and when it is completely dry and golden-brown, flip the slices and cook off the other side. When both sides are cooked, pull the slices out and put them in an oven-safe dish, and keep them warm in the oven until all of the slices are done and you’re ready to eat. Serve the toast with butter and maple syrup, and if you feel like feasting throw in a side of fruit salad and some breakfast sausage. Bon appetit!

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From Dish Erin:

When I first laid eyes on the 31 pound cauliflower at the greenmarket, I knew I had to have it. I had no idea what I’d do with it, but I was hell-bent on figuring that out. After I scoped out a cute little cheese monger’s stinky gruyere, I knew what I wanted: cauliflower gratin. It’s a little lighter than traditional potatoes au gratin, and I actually think it would do the trick if you’re craving mac and cheese, too. Traditional gratin recipes usually have you steam the vegetables first, then make a béchamel, and then combine together before baking. I’m lazy so I combined this all into one step as a major time saver: cook the raw cauliflower IN the béchamel and thicken it all up in one step. It worked perfectly and I actually think some of the starches from the cauliflower helped to thicken it up even more effectively. Yay for short cuts!

It’s perfect for this time of year, comfort food for a chilly night, but not so overwhelmingly heavy that you need a nap afterward. And it goes great as a side dish for a whole roasted chicken–or a turkey! Happy Thanksgiving kids!

3 slices sourdough bread, torn into large pieces
¼ cup tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 head cauliflower (or half a monster head), cored and cut into small florets
Coarse salt and ground pepper
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
Truffle oil for drizzling (optional)*

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, combine bread and Parmesan. Pulse until coarse crumbs form, set aside in small bowl.

In a large saucepan with a lid, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour; cook, whisking constantly for 1 minute. Whisk in milk.

Add cauliflower, and season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Cover, and cook until starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; gradually stir in Gruyere.

Pour mixture into a 2-quart baking dish, and sprinkle with breadcrumb mixture. Cover with aluminum foil; bake until cauliflower is easily pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes. Remove foil, and bake until breadcrumbs are golden brown, about 20 minutes more.

Remove from oven, ad serve with a little bit of truffle oil (optional) drizzled on top.

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We liked Guest Dish Nicole so much that we asked her to join the team for good! Enjoy her first post as a full-time Dish:

My Mom has always claimed not to be interested in cooking and left the creative cooking up to my Dad.  But I have to give credit where credit is due; she can make a mean roast chicken, killer turkey rice soup and my favorite pasta salad of all time.   Like many mothers, mine was a working mom.  Many of the meals we had during the week while I was growing up were healthy and quick, but also used some pre-made ingredients.  With this in mind, I always assumed that the manicotti that my family devoured trays of was of the frozen variety.  Recently I found out that I was wrong: that it has never been store bought frozen manicotti, and it was “most certainly home-made”.  It started to make sense why all of my attempts with frozen manicotti never lived up to my expectations.  Immediately I asked for the recipe (which she photocopied & faxed to me from the pages of McCall’s Cooking School cookbook).  I whipped up a batch for my boyfriend and I to test out on a Sunday night and the results: saucy, cheesy perfection.

For this batch of manicotti I used sauce that I had made a few days prior.  The recipe is very simple and always turns out great.  You can add garlic, onion or basil; I change it up every time.  What you need for the base of the sauce:

*2 28oz cans of whole peeled tomatoes
*About 5 medium sized carrots diced
*4-5 stalks of celery diced
*1/2 cup olive oil (give or take)
*1/2 cup red wine
*sea salt and pepper to taste

Place the carrots and celery in a large sauce pan covered in olive oil and cook over medium heat.  Let these soften for about 10 minutes.  Next add the tomatoes (juice and all) along with the wine.  Turn the heat to low and simmer uncovered for about 4 hours stirring every so often with a wooden spoon, mashing the tomatoes as they cook down.  Add a little sea salt and pepper to taste.  If you prefer a smoother sauce you can pulse a few times with an immersion blender once the sauce is to your liking.

For the manicotti:

*6 eggs at room temperature
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*1 ½ cups flour
*1 ½ cups water

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and beat until smooth. 

Heat an eight inch pan over medium heat and grease with a little butter or cooking spray.  Pour 3 tablespoons of the batter into the warmed pan and smooth.  Heat the batter until the top is dry, being careful not to brown the bottom. 

Remove from heat immediately and let cool on parchment or wax paper.  Continue this process using all the batter.

For the Filling:

*large (2Lb) part skim ricotta cheese
*8oz mozzarella cheese (shredded)
*1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
*2 Eggs
*2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
* salt & pepper

While you are preparing your filling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Next combined all filling ingredients (saving a little mozz & parm) and mix well with a wooden spoon. 

Spoon some of the tomato sauce onto the bottom of your baking dish.  Next place about ¼ cup of the filling into each manicotti, roll and place them seam side down on the baking dish. 

Once you have finished placing all the manicotti, Cover with 1-2 cups sauce, sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese and bake for 30 minutes.

Now I realize there are many steps to the process but it really is simple.  My best buddy and fellow Dish, Ms. Florio, plans on taking an afternoon and making a few batches to freeze.  Finally the search for the perfect frozen manicotti is over.

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From Dish Jodi:

Tis quickly becoming the holiday season and while my taste-buds are shifting towards the warm, spicy comforting foods of winter…my free time on weekends are beginning to be taken over with parties and the need for hostess gifts. These nuts are the perfect holiday season treat…easy to bag up and package for little gifts, and addictive to snack on by yourself. I took these to our friend Sara’s house for a gathering, and for three days afterwards, got multiple texts…”CAN’T STOP EATING THESE”. “NEED MORE NUTS.” So beware.

1/3 C Dark Brown Sugar
2/3 C Granulated Sugar
1 1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
1 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Smoked Paprika
1 Egg White
1 Tbsp. Water
1 Lb. Raw mixed nuts – I used pecans, walnuts and almonds
2 Tbsp. Fresh Rosemary – Finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Combine sugars and spices in a bowl and mix evenly. In a bigger bowl, whisk the egg white and water until it’s white and frothy. Toss in the nuts and coat with egg white goo. Then sprinkle the sugar/spice mixture over and toss it all together til evenly coated.

Spread nuts on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper in a single layer. Bake in oven for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

After 20 minutes, sprinkle the rosemary over the nuts and stir again to evenly distribute. Give the nuts another 10 minutes and then cool on pan, breaking up the chunks as the nuts cool down.

Let cool completely before packing them up in any baggies and store sealed at room temperature.

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Brooklyn Gumbo

From Dish Rachelle:

Yeah, I’ve spent some time living in New Orleans, and so I know enough to know that this isn’t real gumbo, because real gumbo starts with a roux. Or does it? Down by the bayou, chefs and enthusiasts agree that there’s no one way to make this soup, and while the city will open its heart and mind to all different varieties – green gumbo, seafood gumbo, gumbo with vertebrae (not a metaphor) and gumbo with kick – it’s also quick to distinguish between authentic NOLA cooking and, well – the rest. This soup, my friends, falls into the latter category. Which is not to say it isn’t delicious – it is! – but that it tastes like a lighter version of something that’s usually thick and stewy and dirty, like Grandma sweated into the pot and kept right on cooking. I’ve done gumbo the right way, stirring the oil and flour until it scalds almost black and then letting the whole thing sit for hours on the stove. It’s absolutely worth the effort, but if you’re in the mood for something just a little bit less rich, try out this Brooklyn Gumbo – which recalls the flavors of New Orleans from a distance of 1300 miles.

Note: Gumbo is nothing if not improvisational, so feel free to take these ingredients and measurements as suggestions. If you can’t find andouille, use chicken and bacon! Hate okra? Get crazy with other veggies. Serve this soup with a pile of plain white rice in the center, just like they do down south.

8 oz. Andouille Sausage, sliced into rounds
½ medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
Two stalks celery, sliced
A few sprinkles of the following:
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Louisiana (or any kind of) hot sauce
1½ quarts chicken stock
1 cup canned tomatoes
Kidney beans, to taste
Bay leaf
Frozen corn, to taste
Frozen okra, to taste
Optional: Gumbo filet

In soup pot, heat a dash of olive oil over medium high heat and sauté sausage until browned. Remove to bowl.

Sauté onions, garlic and celery, until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add spices and stir until they combine, about one minute. Add stock and tomatoes and bring soup to a simmer. Cover and cook over medium-low to low heat for about 20 minutes. Add sausage, beans, corn and okra, and cook until everything is heated through. Sprinkle a few dashes of gumbo filet for good measure. Season with S&P. Serve with a big pile of white rice, an Abita beer if you can find one, and a smile on your face.

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From Dish Paige!:

This weekend, I made a steak salad for dinner with a buttermilk and rosemary dressing (1/2 cup butter milk, 1/2 cup sour cream, a few or a lot of dashes of vinegar, S&P and lots of fresh rosemary) and it was delicious! Left with the rest of the carton of buttermilk, I decided to play with a recipe I saw while watching Ina Garten’s Back to Basics on Hulu. It does not disappoint. Oh and it’ll make your house smell like a diner, which basically rules.

2 large Spanish onions
2 cups buttermilk (I just poured whatever was left over in carton – I think I had particularly large onions because they definitely needed the extra buttermilk)
A few (or a lot depending on what you like) dashes of Texas Pete’s Hot Sauce or Frank’s Red Hot
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cups yellow cornmeal
1 quart vegetable oil


Peel the onions and then slice them to 1/2 – 3/4 inch thick, carefully separate them into rings and place them in a large bowl. Add the buttermilk, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper and hot sauce into the bowl and toss well. Marinate the onions for at least 15 minutes, tossing occasionally. In a separate bowl, combing the flour, cornmeal and a little bit of salt and pepper.
Heat the oil in a large pot to 350 degrees or, you know, until it’s hot enough to fry the onion rings but not too hot that they burn when you turn your back on them for a second. Technical, I know. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and line a baking sheet with paper towels. Working in batches, take some of the onion rings out of the buttermilk and dredge them in the flour mixture. Drop them into the hot oil without crowding them and fry for about 2 minutes, turning once, until golden brown. Place the onion rings on the baking sheet and keep them in the oven while you fry the next batch. Continue until you’ve fried all the onion rings or you’re too hungry to continue. Sprinkle the onion rings with some coarse ground sea salt and serve.

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From Dish Amelia:

This recipe is adapted from the restaurant The Pink Adobe, in Santa Fe, NM, my hometown. This recipe yields around 4 quarts, but is easily adjusted to alternate amounts by how much of all the ingredients you use, if you can believe it. I found a cookbook from the longtime restaurant at a used cookbook store in New York city of course. Its a bright, simple, spicy stew that the Pink Adobe calls Gypsy Stew. Cheap to make and suitable for a shivering army, this is hearty, brothy and meltingly cozy. And yes of course there’s green chile in it.


3 chicken legs with skin
1 large or 2 small chicken breasts (or even just one normal equivalent sized whole chicken with two legs)
2 large spanish onions (hubba hubba) quartered or just cut a few times in bite size pieces.
7-8 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced in half lengthwise
2 14oz. cans of whole peeled tomatoes and juice/liquid
1 lb or 2 cups of roasted, peeled, seeded NM green chiles (mine were pretty hot) you could alternately use poblanos, or reconstituted dried green chiles, or frozen, or Anaheims, but the canned will not work here.
1 pint of dry sherry 1box of low sodium chicken broth, and a bit of water
1 block of jack cheese.

In a heavy pot with a lid, put the onions, garlic, chicken, broth and half the sherry. Cut the breasts into smaller evenly sized hunks, and pull off the skin from the majority of leg, but leave some. Cover and simmer slowly for an hour, or until the chicken is just cooked. In a bowl, put the chiles and tomatoes, and tear them apart with two forks. There’s no reason to be neat here, this is rustic you know. When the chicken is cooked, remove to a bowl and when cool enough, tear from the bone and into pieces. Add the chiles, tomatoes, chicken and rest of sherry to the pot. Season with s&p. Continue to simmer a while longer, as things come together.

To serve, cut jack cheese into half inch cubes and put in the bottoms of the bowls. Ladle the stew over the cheese and by the time you open a beer, maybe squeeze a lime in your bowl, and breath on your spoon, the cheese will have melted from the bottom and slithered its way into every bite of this lovely meal.

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