Archive for April, 2011

From Dish Amelia:

Spring is happening in New York. The markets have pretty, bright items and the city is breathing a sigh of relief (and sneezing). It’s a moment to look for the thrilling tender things we’ve been missing for too long. I’m hungry to translate the freshness around me into familiar comforts and new adventuresome fuel. So far I’ve bought some firm stalks of rhubarb, made some vibrant pestos, and kept an eye out in case I see something spring-y that needs my attention. So I was surprised to find inspiration much closer than I thought to look. One day it just happened. I made kasha. I live in Greenpoint Brooklyn, where the hipsters and the Poles reside but don’t collide all that often. There is a little Polish grocery around the corner from my house that I had missed, stocked with things I hadn’t seen before. Grocery stores are some of my favorite places for many reasons, and one is that you might see something different every time, not because they have new things, but because you are looking with different eyes. I had eaten kasha before, in bland, hearty, porridge-like formats alongside beef and horseradish, or with soup, but I had never made it. So, as I said hello to new light green leaves and random days of allergic misery, I messed around with kasha. The egg-toasting is a neat trick, which eliminates any mushy gruel-like tendency and keeps the grains differentiated. The saucy part might not look luscious, or like fresh crisp spring, but I was driven by the earthy part, the part giving forth all that growth. In fact, it’s the earthiest season, ingredient-wise. Lets start from the ground up, y’all. Mushrooms, poblanos (hey I’m a New Mexican), nuts, and kasha seem as earthy (flavorwise) as you can get – and it was, but it also turned out tasting gentle, healthy, grounded, spicy, interesting, bright, sweet, different. Something I was looking for.

For Kasha:

1 cup kasha (This kind of kasha was apparently coarse barley, and looked kind of like steelcut oats, whereas I think buckwheat groats are the hulled version of the little dark pyramidal grains. I am little confused, but I can’t read polish, so moving on…)
2 cups water (or stock)
pinch salt
larger pinch pepper
1 egg lightly beaten

Boil 2 cups of water (or stock). Stir the egg into the kasha until well coated.

In a dry pot, heat the kasha and stir around until fragrant and the granules are crumbly looking. Add the boiling water to the crumbly kasha, salt and pepper, cover and heat on low until tender. When water has been absorbed, let stand for a few minutes.

For Saucy Part:

1 shallot finely diced
1/2 white onion finely diced
1 roasted, peeled, seeded poblano chile (or NM green chile), finely diced
a bit of butter or a T or 2 of olive oil
2 T half and half
2 T dry sherry
1/2 lemon
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Heat the fat on medium, and saute the onions, shallots, and poblanos together. As the onions and mushrooms wilt and lose their moisture, add S and P and the sherry and half and half. Let the sauciness come together and cook, and add a bit of water if it starts looking dry – about 10 minutes.

Dress most of the cooked kasha with the sauce (I used some of the kasha in other ways, for experimenting purposes).

Squeeze the half lemon over it. I ate it with cucumbers.

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From Dish Danielle:

Pineapple upside down cake happens to be one of Dish Amelia’s favorites from back in the day. I think it has more nostalgic value than anything, but when the Aries time of year heads down the pike and I’ve got the time, I try my hand at this traditional dessert for her birthday. Another important reason for me – a Pisces – to honor Aries this year is because Jupiter happens to be hanging out in Aries right about now. Jupiter is the planet of good fortune: it expands opportunity and benefits while providing wisdom to the beholder (or so says Susan Miller). I‘m all for offering a little something sweet up to the universe in thanks for the supposed ‘financial gains’ I am due to experience this month expressly because of Jupiter’s position. Here’s hoping Jupiter sticks to the grand cosmic plan, and of course, a happy belated birthday to all the Arieses out there.

This recipe was adapted from The Cake Book, by Tish Boyle and John Uher.

Ingredients for the Brown sugar/Ginger topping:
1 large can of pineapple rings, drained
1c boiling water
4 jasmine tea bags
2 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp butter
½ c brown sugar (this recipe called for light)
4 tbsp crystallized ginger

Boil water, mix in sugar, and allow tea bags to steep for 5 min. Pour tea over pineapples and let sit for 20 min.

Preheat oven to 350. Place butter into cast iron over low heat to melt. Stir in brown sugar, remove pan from heat. Arrange pineapple rings in a nice circular pattern, overlapping them if need be. Sprinkle ginger over fruit. Now make your cake batter:

Cake Batter Ingredients:
1½ c flour
1½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp salt
9 tbsp butter, softened
1 c sugar
2 large eggs
1½ tsp vanilla extract
1 c whole milk

Sift flour, baking powder, ginger & salt into medium bowl. Whisk to combine and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, using paddle attachment, beat butter at med-high speed until creamy. Gradually add sugar– mix at high speed until light in color. Reduce speed to med and add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides. Add the vanilla extract. At low speed, add the dry mixture.

Now spoon batter in large dollops over the pineapple arrangement and smooth it into an even layer. Bake for 45-50 min until cake is golden brown and springs back when gently touched. Allow cake to cool for a bit before inverting.

Once ready to invert, run a thin bladed knife around the edge to loosen the cast irons grip on the cake. I lay a large cutting board flat over the pan’s opening, and pick up the pan, placing one hand directly underneath the pan with the other firmly atop the cutting board. Now flip!

Bang on the bottom of your cast iron for good measure and hope once you pick it up, it’s left you a gorgeously golden Pineapple Upside Down Cake!

Arrange a candle or two atop and warm up your birthday vocals….

This cake was also served with leftover beet gelato… heh. An SLD bday dessert indeed!

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From Dish Gwen:

A few years ago I was working as a pizzaiola in an Italian restaurant in Brooklyn and one of my jobs was making about a hundred pounds of dough every day. Most of it was used for making pizzas, but a small portion was set aside for focaccia. Focaccia is basically salty, oily bread, and it’s delicious. It’s also pretty easy to make. Unlike most bread, its dough is fairly dry and easy to work with (like pizza dough), and it doesn’t require much kneading. Just a lot of oil, and a lot of salt. And a little love, of course.

I’ve adapted this recipe from the one I used to make at the restaurant, and I think it’s pretty spot-on although I’m giving measurements by volume (we use weight in the professional baking world), and I’m settling for all-purpose flour (in the restaurant we’d mix a special blend of two different flours). This is the home cook’s version, and it’s damn good if I do say so myself.

5 ¾ cups all purpose flour
2 ½ cups water (luke warm)
1 tablespoon salt
¼ oz yeast (preferably fresh yeast)
Lots of olive oil, and more salt

Pull out the old KitchenAid mixer and set it up with a dough hook and a big metal bowl. Pour in the water first, saving about a half cup for later. Add the salt, then the flour, then crumble the yeast on top, and start mixing on the slowest setting. Let it mix for about five minutes, and ad the dough starts to ball up drizzle the extra water around the edges to help mix all the flour in. Once everything is well combined, turn off the mixer, let the dough rest for about 30 seconds, then turn the mixer back on for a couple more minutes. Scrape the dough off the hook (preferably with a dough scraper – great tool to have in the kitchen!), cover the bowl with a cloth, and let it all rest for an hour.

Prepare two smaller bowls by greasing them with a generous amount of olive oil (say two tablespoons). Scrape half of the dough out of the bowl and form it into a ball in your hands by stretching the outer layer of dough over itself and tucking it underneath, like you’re making a little sack of dough. Place the ball in one of the bowls and roll it around in the oil until it’s completely covered with oil. Then scrape out the second half of the dough and do the same. Let the two oily dough balls rest for another hour.

Heat your oven to 450 degrees, and take out two bread pans. Place each dough ball in a separate bread pan and stretch them at the corners so they conform to the rectangular shape of the pans. Then poke your fingers into the tops of the doughs so that they are dimpled all over (don’t hold back – you can push your fingers nearly all the way to the bottom of the pan). Once the doughs are covered with dimples, squirt a generous amount of olive oil over the tops (one to two tablespoons each) and then sprinkle with sea salt so that the surface of the dough is nice and gritty (at least a teaspoon of salt on each).

Pop the breads in the oven and bake for about a half hour until the bread is golden-brown on top. Flip the breads over in their pans to let them air out (otherwise the bottoms will get soggy). Once it’s cool, slice the bread up and serve with a big sauce and maybe some spicy meatballs. Enjoy!

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