Archive for October, 2011

From Dish Danielle:

As the resident Whisk & Ladle sweet tooth, it’s up to me to head up our “Dessert R&D” department. This past weekend, I got to work tweaking the best darn chewy oatmeal cookie recipe I’ve come across. Tough job, this self-appointed position…ahem.

I’ve long been a fan of oatmeal cookies in the fall. Something about the leaves changing colors makes me yearn for that caramel-y brown sugar flavor and the dried fruit and nut varieties. I’ve made this cookie recipe at least 6 times since the school year began (this is no exaggeration), and they’re simply the BEST. Since Mom’s in town for a visit we decided to get to work on some mother/daughter bonding/baking time, and she was on the same page with an oatmeal cookie craving (the apple doesn’t fall far…?). Since I had some leftover pumpkin ice cream from last weeks’ R&D fieldwork, I thought there was no better fall ice cream sandwich rendition. And no — it’s never, ever too cold for ice cream sandwiches.

For the cookies: (recipe adapted from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion)

½ c butter, softened to room temp
½ c shortening
½ c sugar
1 c brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 large egg
6 tbsp agave nectar
2 tbsp whole milk
3 c oats
1½ c flour
1 c assorted dried fruit (I used a mix of blueberries, cranberries & golden raisins)
1 c salted pecans

Preheat oven to 375. In large bowl, cream butter, shortening, sugars, vanilla, spices, salt, and baking soda together. Beat in egg, then beat in agave and milk, scraping bowl as needed. Stir in oats, flour, raisins, nuts.

Grease a few baking sheets. Drop dough by tablespoonful to yield about 50 killer cookies. Bake for about 11 minutes or until a light golden brown.

If so inclined, make pumpkin ice cream for ice cream sandwiches:

Bring 2c milk & 2c cream to low boil in med. saucepan (don’t allow it to get so hot that it’s rolling; just shy of that). In small bowl, whisk together 5 egg yolks, 1-1½c of sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1½-2c pureed pumpkin. Temper yolks by filling a liquid measuring cup with 1c of hot milk/cream and pour in slow/steady stream into yolk mixture WHILE whisking briskly. Once incorporated, pour tempered yolks into the saucepan while stirring with wooden spoon. Continue to stir until custard thickens. It will become noticeably thicker and will coat the back of wooden spoon. Remove from heat and chill in an ice bath (a large bowl of ice & water with a smaller bowl sitting inside) pour hot custard through a strainer into smaller bowl and stir to reduce temp. Chill in fridge for 3hrs or overnight, then run in ice cream maker for 20-25mins.

Once your ice cream is done you can easily throw together a platter of autumnal ice cream sandwiches! Make ahead of time and freeze in an airtight container before serving.

Trick out your treats, and have a happy Halloween!

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From Dish Gwen:

To be honest I’m not a big smoothie person. I’ve always kind of associated them with people who wear bike shorts and wake up early on the weekend to go for a 5 mile run. I’m not one of those people, so I thought smoothies weren’t for me. But then I spent the weekend at a friend’s house in DC about a year ago and everything changed.

My friend – let’s call her Kate (because that’s really her name) – blew my mind halfway through making our breakfast smoothie when she pulled out a jar of peanut butter and scooped a generous portion of the gooey stuff into a blender filled with yogurt and raspberries. I thought she was nuts and that this was going to be a rather nasty breakfast, but I was wrong. Dead wrong.

It was delicious! Adding peanut butter (or any nut butter) to your smoothie brings creaminess and rich texture, and even a little saltiness which I really enjoy. When I returned to NYC from my trip to Kate’s house I immediately purchased a blender and started adding almond butter and frozen berries to my regular shopping list. I’ll make myself a smoothie for breakfast at least a few times a week and it’s a great way to start the day. Plus it’s quick and easy to make (the key is to rinse out the blender immediately so you’re not scrubbing crusty dried yogurt out of it later on when you get home from work).

No bike shorts required.

1/2 cup fresh cranberries (can be substituted for any berries — fresh or frozen)
1 cup plain yogurt
½ cup milk
1-2 tablespoons maple syrup (the real stuff!)
2 tablespoons almond butter
1 ripe banana

This is the hard part: put them all in the blender, and push “go”. I have a “smoothie” button on my blender but I’m pretty sure any of the buttons on the machine would do the trick. Just make sure you blend it long enough to chop the cranberries finely.

Pour and drink! And check your teeth before you leave the house – you’ve likely got some berry bits stuck in there.

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From Dish Erin:

My husband makes fun of me all the time for my obsession with figs. Fresh, dried, reconstituted, I seriously heart figs.  Dates and prunes, too.  All three of which remind Dave of ‘old people’ food, prompting him to ask me, as I’m elbow deep in a bowl of dates and figs, “Who are you, my grandfather?!”

So imagine his trepidation when he came home after a long day of work to find me prepping a dinner made with figs. Never one to doubt his fearless chef who rarely disappoints in the kitchen, he gave it a shot. Afterward he told me it was one of the best dishes I’ve ever made. I think it was such a hit because it’s sweet and figgy enough to please a fig lover like me, but subtle enough not to be overpowering for a fig-novice like Dave. 

I served this with some rainbow chard.  To prepare, wash thoroughly and roughly chop, discarding of woody stems, then follow directions below.

Olive oil for sautéing 
Zest of 1 lemon, plus 2 tablespoons of juice 
1 medium shallot, slice
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
4 dried figs, cut into thin slices 
Two 1 1/4-inch-thick boneless pork loin chops 
1/3 chicken stock 
2 tablespoons one of the following: dry white wine, sherry or apple cider vinegar (I used sherry vinegar but white wine would be great, as would apple cider vinegar) 
1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon of fig jam (omit if you don’t have, it’s not a deal-breaker) 
2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Pat pork dry and season with salt and pepper. In a skillet heat oil over moderately high heat, until hot but not smoking, sauté pork until browned, about 1 minute on each side. Transfer pork to a plate and in fat remaining in skillet cook shallot, garlic and ginger, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Deglaze the pan with the wine or vinegar and stir.  Add the chicken stock, lemon zest, lemon juice, and figs and stir.

Nestle the pork back into the pan and simmer, covered, 10 minutes, or until pork is just cooked through.

While this is cooking, heat a bit of olive oil, minced garlic and red pepper flakes over medium heat. Add rainbow chard and cook for about 4-5 minutes, stirring every few minutes.  If the pan is dry you can add a tablespoon of water to help steam it. Season with salt & pepper to taste.  Cover to keep warm until pork is done.

Transfer pork to 2 plates. Allow sauce to thicken, uncovered, until reduced to a sauce-like consistency, about 1 minute. Whisk butter into fig mixture until incorporated.

Serve aside the rainbow chard with some crusty bread to mop up that buttery-sweet-zesty sauce.

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From Dish Nicole:

Last month I was lucky enough to go on vacation with my boyfriend to Colombia. There was so much to do and see and EAT. We sampled all kinds of culinary treats, some good — and some that did a number on our stomachs. Empanadas stand out as my favorite. Let’s face it, what’s not to love about delicious pastry stuffed with meat or cheese or both!? Since you can get empanadas just about anywhere in Colombia, I sampled several versions and each was tasty in its own way.  A yucca and chicken-filled empanada when we were sitting on the beach in Tayrona; a cheese filled flaky pastry version in Cartagena; a cornmeal crusted ham and cheese version in El Rodadero. I knew right away that when I got back to the States I wanted to try making my own version, and so I started my research.

First of all, the name comes from the verb empanar, meaning to wrap or coat in bread. Almost every Latin American country does a version of the empanada and even within Colombia each city has their own take; for example Chorizo filling is popular in Medellín. Colombians also serve their empanadas with Aji (also called Picante), which is a cilantro and onion sauce. I read that the easiest dough to make is the flour version and that the reddish yucca dough is a little more challenging. I decided to go with a flour based dough stuffed with sweet and savory beef filling (baked) and a simple aji sauce. I mixed and matched recipes and came up with the following combination:

Yields about 10 6” empanadas.

The aji sauce can be made ahead of time and chilled in the fridge until the empanadas are ready to serve. Here is what you need:
1/2 cup coarsely chopped seeded jalapeño chiles (about 4 large)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped sweet onion (vidalia)
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons (or more) red wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Once everything is prepped, toss the ingredients into the food processor or blender and puree, preserving some texture. You can add more salt and vinegar to taste once blended.

Next up you want to start the dough because it needs an hour to cool in the fridge once it is prepared:
Dough Recipe taken from the super simple About.com suggestion:
3 cups flour (plus a little more for kneading)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold water
1 egg
1 egg white
1 teaspoon vinegar
3 tablespoons shortening

You start the dough off by beating the water, egg, egg white and vinegar together. In a separate bowl mix the salt and flour together. Cut the shortening into the flour with a pastry blender (or use a butter knife like I did). Dig out a hole in the middle of the mixture, pour in the liquid ingredients and mix with a fork until the whole thing becomes stiff. Knead the dough on a floured surface until smooth. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour. The recipe specifies that it shouldn’t be refrigerated for more than 24 hours.

Next up, the beef filling:
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or pressed
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 pound ground beef chuck
2 tablespoons raisins
1/3 cup chopped pimiento-stuffed olives
1 (14-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice, drained, reserving 2 tablespoons juice, and chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Start the filling by sautéing the onion with olive oil in a skillet until the onion is soft. Add the garlic, cumin, oregano and the beef. Chop and stir until the meat is no longer pink. Add in the salt, pepper, raisins, olives and tomatoes and the juice and let the mixture simmer until some of the liquid boils off. You want to be left with a moist but not soupy mixture. Take the filling off the heat and transfer to a heat safe bowl and allow it to cool while you roll out your dough.

Take a small handful of dough and roll out with a rolling pin and make a 6” circle. Place 1-2 large tablespoons of filling in the center and fold the dough over. Crimp with a fork and cut with a pizza cutter or a knife for a smooth edge. Prick the center of the empanada with a fork for ventilation while baking. Place on baking sheet and brush with egg wash and bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Serve these pockets full of goodness to your friends and family right away with the aji dipping sauce and enjoy. Don’t expect to have a big conversation once these are served because all you will hear are yummy noises.

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From Dish Jodi:

Despite the 100 degree days last week, it’s the end of summer here in LA, and the farmer’s market stands are piled high with stone fruit. The bag of plums and peaches were burning a hole in my fruit bowl…I had to get rid of them somehow.

I decided on one of my favorite desserts, Plum Tarte Tatin…super easy, but super impressive when your guests see that shiny jeweled top. Here’s my favorite recipe, with a hat tip to The Greatest of All Time: Ina Garten.

6 T of butter, plus some to grease the pan
8-10 plums – depending on size, halved.
1 3/4 C sugar
2 Extra Large Eggs
1/3 C greek yogurt (or sour cream)
1/2 tsp Lemon zest
1/2 tsp Vanilla
1 C plus 2 T all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 and butter a 9-inch glass pie dish or equivalent. Arrange the plums cut side down in a pretty pattern.

In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup of sugar and 1/3 cup of water over high heat until it turns a warm amber color. Don’t stir the pan, only swirl if you can’t help yourself. This will probably take about 10 minutes but don’t leave it unwatched. Burnt sugar can creep up on you. Pour the caramel over the plums in the dish.

Meanwhile, cream the butter and remaining sugar in a mixer, until light and fluffy. Then add eggs, one at a time, then yogurt, zest and vanilla. Soft together flour, baking powder and salt and add to mixture, mix gently just until combined. Spread this batter over the plums and bake for about 40 minutes. You might want to put a sheet pan underneath in your oven to catch any gooey plummy drips.

Bake til a cake tester comes out clean, then let cool for 10 minute or so. Invert the cake onto a platter and plop in any plums that come dislodged.

Best served warm or at room temp, the day you make it.

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Comforting Beef Stew

From Dish Rachelle:

Once upon a time, the Boy – now my soon-to-be-husband – and I attended the same Hudson Valley college.  In a fairly unoriginal move, we got together when he was a Senior and I, a Sophomore (or, according to one friend of his who thought he was wasting his time dating a younger girl, a “Freshman”).  Just around the time we realized we kinda liked each other, he graduated.  The Boy moved back to the city, and we stayed together with the understanding that the odds were stacked against us; for the next two years while I finished school, we would be living two hours apart.

But the Boy had a car.  And through my Junior year, he visited.  He came around so often that by my Senior year, when I was living with four friends, he felt like our sixth housemate.  That winter, when I got the flu, he drove up just to keep me company.  I had spent the week on the couch wrapped in a blanket, coughing and sneezing while I watched MTV.

“You need to eat something,” he said.

“I’m not hungry,” I told him.

“Think about it,” he coaxed.  “If anything sounds good, I’ll make it for you.”

Now that he mentioned it, I couldn’t remember the last time I’d eaten anything other than Frosted Mini Wheats.  I considered.  I wanted something warm, and comforting.

“I want beef stew,” I said, thinking of my mother’s.

“Done,” the Boy said.

That was eight years ago.  Since then, beef stew has become a fall/winter staple in our home: a shared comfort food that always comes out a little differently.

You’ll need:

1 ½ lbs stew meat (either chuck, or brisket, or london broil, cut into cubes)
2 tblsp. flour

1 medium onion, diced
3-4 stalks celery
A few handfuls of baby (or cut) carrots
A few handfuls of potatoes
2 quarts stock (chicken or beef)
1 bay leaf


Brussels sprouts
Juniper berries

Toss meat in flour, salt and pepper.  In a large pot, warm cooking oil and brown the meat over medium heat (do it in batches if there’s not enough room in the pot for a single layer).  The meat should have a nice crust on it, but will be pink inside, like a perfect medium rare steak – but don’t try eating it, because this kind of beef needs to cook for hours in order to be tender.

When the meat is browned, reserve it to a plate and toss onions into the drippings, adding another dash of oil if necessary.  Saute onions until translucent, then add celery and carrots, tossing to coat.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook all together for 2-3 minutes.

Add the meat back in and the potatoes – if they’re small, toss them in whole, or if they’re large baking potatoes, cut them into chunks.  There’s no perfect meat to vegetable ratio, so feel free to tweak to your liking.  Pour enough stock over the whole thing to cover it, deglaze the pan, and bring to a boil.  Add your bay leaf and if you have them on hand, some juniper berries (this is my mom’s secret ingredient).

Simmer over low heat, mostly covered, for at least three hours.  The stock will thicken and reduce, and the meat will cook past well done until it falls apart on your fork.  The Boy and I add halved brussels when we’re hoping for a slightly more nutritious meal.  They’ll cook quicker than the other ingredients, so stir them in – with a bit more stock if necessary – an hour before serving.  Check and adjust seasoning when you’re ready to eat.

Ladle over egg noodles (or rice, but really, the egg noodles are so delicious). Keep leftovers handy and you’ll eat for days; freeze for easy meals all winter.

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From Dish Paige!:

For those of you out there who, like me, love to end up covered in flour and some sort of sticky dough while doing a small, repetitive task over and over and over again, this recipe is for you! However, if you are mess-averse or get bored doing something 120 times in a row, you might want to just order some at a restaurant. In any case, I think we can all get behind fried sage leaves. It will leave your entire house smelling overwhelmingly Autumnal.


For Gnocchi:
2 pounds sweet potatoes
1/3 cup Parmesan (plus some more for serving)
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 – 2 cups flour (plus more for dusting)

For Sauce
1 cup sage leaves
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups vegetable broth

Heat oven to 475. Cut the sweet potatoes in half, season with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for about 45 minutes, until fork tender. Let cool and then peel the sweet potatoes and mash up with a fork. In a separate bowl, combine the greek yogurt, parmesan, nutmeg and salt then add in to the potato and mix well. Slowly add in the flour and knead until you’ve formed a slightly sticky yet smooth dough.

Divide the dough into 6 equal parts. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one of the pieces of dough into a 1/2 inch thick rope and then cut it into little 1/2 inch pieces. Roll the pieces along the back of a fork to make ridges in one side and set on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Once you’ve made all the gnocchi, get a big pot of water boiling, and cook the gnocchi in batches – they’ll be done once they float to the surface, about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and either set aside (if you’re doing this ahead of time) or transfer to the sauce, which I’ll explain now….

In a small frying pan, heat the olive oil and then fry the sage leaves in batches until crispy (about 30 seconds) and transfer to a paper towel. Once you’re done frying the sage, transfer the olive oil into a sauce pan and combine with the vegetable broth and butter, and bring to a simmer.

Add in the gnocchi and toss with the broth.

To serve, place some gnocchi and broth in a bowl, top with some Parmesan and a fried sage leaf or two. Chop up some of the fried sage as well and sprinkle on the top…I forgot to do that!

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