Thursday, April 30, 2009

Buttery Sun-Dried Tomato Rolls

This is another recipe for quick, flavorful dinner rolls. The secret ingredients are sun-dried tomatoes and butter - lots of butter. I originally thought these rolls would taste like pizza or a strongly flavored focaccia bread. I was pleasantly surprised to find only a hint of tomato flavor in the finished rolls despite using tomatoes that had been packed in herb-flavored olive oil. This is a great roll for novice bread bakers. These would be a nice accompaniment to a hearty soup or plain grilled meat.

Sun-Dried Tomato Rolls

2 cups bread or all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/3 cup melted butter
1/4 cup warm milk + milk for glazing
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup drained sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped

1) Combine flour, yeast, salt in a 2-quart mixing bowl. Whisk to combine. Add butter, milk and eggs and mix with a spoon until a dough forms.
2) Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead for about 5 minutes. Alternately, use an electric mixer with a dough hook and mix until dough climbs hook.
3) Place in a greased bowl. Let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
4) Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
5) Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead in sun-dried tomatoes. Divide dough into 8 pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and place on cookie sheet. Cover lightly and let rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
6) Brush rolls with milk. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Cool on a rack. Yield: 8 rolls.

I'm sending this recipe to Susan at Wild Yeast for her weekly Yeast Spotting event.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Thai Cucumber Relish - Ah Jaht

This is a fresh, crisp relish whose icy greens are just beautiful to look at. I serve this as a salad with creamy Thai coconut curries and any other time I want a salad that will clear the palate. It is simple to assemble and keeps well. Submerged in its brine, the cucumbers will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator. The relish requires no special ingredients and can be assembled in less than 15 minutes. It is best served cold after marinating for a few hours. Like heat? Add more chilies. I have been known to add small amounts of chopped peanuts and freshly chopped cilantro.

Thai Cucumber Relish - Ah Jaht


1/2 cup white or rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 large hothouse cucumbers or 1 pound garden cucumbers
3 tablespoons thinly sliced shallots or coarsely chopped red onion
2 teaspoons thinly sliced small red or green chilies

1) Combine vinegar, water,sugar and salt in a medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar and salt dissolve. Set aside. Cool.
2) Peel cucumbers if you wish. Cut them lengthwise into 4 long strips. Cut each strip crosswise into bite size triangles. Combine with shallots and chilies in a small bowl. Add cooled dressing. Can be served at room or chilled. Yield: 3 cups.

Signs of Spring, Skunk Cabbage and Outdoor Wednesday

Hellibores and skunk cabbage are usually harbingers of spring. An unusually cold winter delayed spring bloom in Oregon. While the hellibores display was disappointing, skunk cabbage is putting on a real, if late, show. They are beautiful, but one whiff of a plant whose leaves have been bruised will tell you how it got its name. The Canadians, who have a lovely and direct way with words, call this beauty chou puant (stinking cabbage). Botanically, it's a lily and a member of the arum family. We are hikers who enjoy the backroads and byways of our beautiful state. Fortunately, the gorgeous skunk cabbage loves the bogs and meadows we traipse and copious amounts of fresh air overcome its scent.

I'll be sending this post to Outdoor Wednesday, a blogging event sponsored by Susan at A Southern Daydreamer.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Asian-Style Beef Short Ribs - Crock-Pot

Short of pretending I don't live here, I can't deny it's time to roll up the old sleeves and restore some order to the casa. The health department would quarantine us if I'd let them in for an inspection. Rather than grouse and prolong the task, I've declared this to be the week we scour, squeak and shine. My daily routine is no more fascinating than your own, so I promise there'll be no blow by blow descriptions of what needs to be done. It does mean dinners and, therefore, recipes will be quick and simple. Today I'm going to braise beef short ribs in my crock-pot. This is an Asian-style recipe, so a handful of ingredients will produce an extremely flavorful meal. I plan to serve it with steamed rice and snap peas. It really doesn't get any easier than this. Let's get to it.

Asian-Style Beef Short Ribs

4 to 5 pounds beef short ribs
1/4 cup chopped scallions, white and tender green
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce or sriracha
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons fresh minced ginger
2 teaspoons frsh minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons sesame seeds

1) Spray interior of a 5 to 6 quart crock-pot liner with nonstick spray. Place ribs in crock-pot.
2) Combine scallions, soy sauce, wine, chili garlic sauce, brown sugar, ginger, garlic and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk to combine. Pour over ribs. Cook on LOW until ribs are fork tender, about 6 to 7 hours.
3) Remove ribs to a platter. Tent with foil. Pour cooking liquid into a 1 quart saucepan. Skim off fat. Stir in sesame oil. Mix 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 1/4 cup water. Add to liquid and bring to a boil, cooking until sauce thickens. Spoon glaze over ribs. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Yield: 6 servings

Monday, April 27, 2009

Raspberry Yogurt Parfait

If you're watching calories this dessert is a lovely way to end a meal. It's easy to do and can make an ordinary meal special. It has five ingredients and requires no special equipment to prepare. While it must be chilled for 2 hours before serving, it can be assembled in less than 30 minutes. What's the trick? It is difficult to find fromage frais in most supermarkets. If you live in a large metropolitan area, it can be purchased from a cheese store, but the rest of us will have to scramble to find adequate substitutes. The best would be quark or Greek yogurt. The easiest would be a reduced fat cream cheese that's thinned with a little milk. You can also make your own cheese if you feel inspired. I use a minimal amount of sugar in this recipe, so be sure to taste for sweetness as you go along. Frozen berries are fine but make sure they are thawed before you add them to the cheese mixture. A last reminder - the egg whites in this recipe are not cooked, so be sure to use pasteurized eggs or reconstituted powdered egg whites to avoid any chance of salmonella.

Raspberry Yogurt Parfait

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 (8-oz.) cup low-fat vanilla yogurt - room temperature
12-oz. fromage frais, quark or Greek yogurt - room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar (optional)
4 large pasteurized egg whites or an equivalent amount of reconstituted powdered egg whites
6-oz. fresh raspberries, mashed or an equivalent amount of frozen, thawed berries
Optional garnish: berries and mint leaves

1) Place 1/4 cup water in a small heatproof bowl. Sprinkle with gelatin. Let sit until gelatin softens. Add water to a small skillet and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Place bowl containing gelatin in pan and stir until gelatin dissolves. Remove from pan and cool slightly.
2) Combine yogurt, fromage frais and sugar in a medium bowl. Mix well. Add yogurt and stir with a spoon until combined.
3) Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Fold into yogurt mixture until just combined.
4) Transfer half the mixture to another large bowl. Fold in mashed berries.
5) Spoon a portion of raspberry mixture into four (8-oz.) dessert glasses. Top each with a portion of the yogurt mixture. Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours. Garnish with raspberries and mint if desired. Yield: 4 servings.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Coffee Walnut Snack Cake

I put this cake together while watching the news last evening. I must admit I have a fractured relationship with television. It began when the BBC killed Inspector Morse, it worsened when I realized that dialogue on prime time series had fallen to 500 words or less and it ended when the networks began to sell opinion as news. The final nail in the coffin came when producers made entertainment and charm a component of cooking shows. I'm ashamed to admit I began talking, often rudely, to the TV and, while an intervention got me back on track, I'm constantly aware of how easily one can fall back into bad habits. Hence, I distract myself by multitasking - baking - when the set is on. This cake is simple to do. It can be made in two bowls with a wooden spoon and it follows in the European tradition of barely sweet pastry. I like to serve this with coffee for dessert or breakfast and, said she smiling sweetly, whenever the TV is on.

Coffee Walnut Snack Cake

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup milk
2 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons instant coffee crystals
1 tablespoon boiling water
1/3 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
Confectioners' sugar
Streusel Topping:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
1/3 cup crystallized sugar
2 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 teaspoon apple pie spice
1 tablespoon water

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with baking spray. Set aside.
2) Place flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine. Add sugar and whisk again.
3) Combine milk, eggs. butter and coffee mixture in a second medium bowl. Whisk to combine.
4) Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Add chopped walnuts and mix together with a wooden spoon. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Set aside.
5) To make topping, mix flour, baking powder, salt, walnuts and crystallized in a small bowl. Add butter and use fingers to rub in until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle in apple pie spice and water and lightly work mixture to form loose crumbs. Sprinkle topping over cake.
6) Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes. Cool cake in pan. Release sides and transfer to serving plate when completely cool. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar just before serving. Yield: 8 servings.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Sala Bai Cambodian Cooking Cookbook Winner

Congratulations, Karen of Karen Cooks. You are the winner of the Sala Bai Cambodian Cooking cookbook. The book will be on its way as soon as I have your address.

Soy Glazed Hasselback Potatoes - Cooking for Two

Hasselback potatoes were part of my childhood. They were served from the German and Swedish kitchens of our neighbors to tart up simple roasts of meat and chicken. They impressed the uninformed and lent a festive air to an otherwise ordinary meal. For years I used a recipe from "The Cooking of Scandinavia" in which peeled and carefully sliced potatoes were doused with butter, then roasted and finished with a sprinkling of crumbs and cheese. Lovely stuff, that! Now that many have become few, I use a version of the potatoes that is perfect for just the two of us. In keeping with our love of all things Asian, we've added soy sauce and a tad of sesame oil to the basting sauce and come up what Bob calls Confused Potatoes. Any tricks? Slicing the potatoes confounds some. You'll need a spoon with a deep, curved bowl that will stop you from completely slicing through the potatoes. A skewer can also be used, but be careful not to stab yourself. Place a peeled potato in the spoon; starting and ending 1/2-inch from the ends, slice down the potato at 1/8-inch intervals being careful not to slice it completely through. If you do slice through, continue smiling - God created toothpicks for a reason. If you're preparing the potatoes well before roasting, place them in a bowl of water to prevent discoloration. They should, of course, be drained and patted dry before roasting. By the way, the potatoes take their name from the Hasselbacken, the restaurant in which they were first served.

Soy Glazed Hasselback Potatoes


2 (8-oz.) baking potatoes
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
Sea salt

1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spray a pan large enough to hold potatoes without crowding with oil or nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
2) One at a time, peel and slice potatoes. To slice, cradle potato in a spoon. Beginning and ending 1/2-inch from ends, slice potato at 1/8-inch intervals. Do not slice completely through the potato.
3) Combine butter, oil and tamari in a small bowl. Brush potatoes with half of mixture. Bake in center of oven for 30 minutes. Brush remaining mixture over potatoes and continue to bake until potatoes are golden and can be pierced with a knife, about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with sea salt. Transfer to plates.
Yield: 2 potatoes.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Garlic Herb Rolls

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Oregon is a gorgeous state with pockets of beauty that will take your breathe away. Bob and I actively seek them out. It starts when one of us sees an obscure marker that veers off the beaten path. A glance, a nodding assent and then a sharp turn takes us onto the road less travelled. The hope is we'll find a place so beautiful that it will reveal the world as it should be. Naive? Perhaps, but we've found some transcendentally beautiful places. If you blink you'll miss the marker that points the way to Loon Lake. Fortunately, we didn't blink and found this rainbow at its end. It's an isolated, fir-fragrant, untouched piece of yesterday. Folks who know this spot are its caretakers. The grounds are beautifully kept and it's a family kind of place. We love to show it to the unsuspecting and it's become our favorite picnic spot. It's the place where we had our first picnic of the year. Rather than pack a finished hamper, we grilled ribs in the campground and served them with Asian noodles and these wonderful Italian herb rolls. We'll talk about the ribs in a few weeks. My recipe today is for the rolls. They are extremely easy to do and packed with flavor. They have the texture of a bread and won't crush or flatten, so they're perfect picnic fare. They also freeze well. This is a good recipe for beginners. Oh, about Loon Lake - I'd tell you but...

Garlic Herb Rolls...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite

12 large garlic cloves, peeled
1-1/2 cups milk + milk for glazing
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1-1/2 teaspoons dried, crushed Italian herb seasoning
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Coarse sea salt

1) Place garlic cloves and milk in a 2-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Place in a blender jar and pulse to puree garlic. Set aside.
2) Place flour, salt, yeast and herbs in a large bowl. Whisk to combine.
3) Add milk, oil and egg to dry ingredients. Mix with hands or a wooden spoon to form a dough.
4) Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until soft and smooth, about 3 minutes.
5) Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover, let rise in a warm place until double in volume, about 1 hour.
6) Coat a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
7) Turn dough onto a work surface. Knead gently for a minute or two. Form into 8 rolls. Place on prepared baking. Lightly score top of rolls with a knife. Cover and let rise for 15 to 30 minutes. Brush rolls with reserved milk. Sprinkle with sea salt.
8) Bake until rolls are golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack. Cool. Yield: 8 rolls.

I'm sending this recipe to Cindy Star who is hosting Bread Baking Day #19. BBD is a popular food-blog event that was started by Zorra of Kochtopf.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thai Fresh Pea Soup with Green Curry

I'm convinced there are as many French-trained chefs in Southeast Asia as there are in all of France. The food of the region is a wonderful fusion of French and Asian cuisines. Pho, a Vietnamese specialty, is served for breakfast, but unmistakably French baguettes and croissants are also available for those whose stomachs can't start the day with such gusto. Lunch and dinner can be Asian, French or a fusion of the two. Today's soup is a case in point. We were fortunate to have two versions of fresh pea soup while we were in Southeast Asia. The Thai version has heat from the addition of green curry paste. It is served hot. The French version is flavored with mint and served cold. Both are delicious. The curry paste used in the Thai version can be a tricky thing. Commercially available curry pastes are hot. The chilies can overpower other flavors in the mixture, so unless you are sure about your heat tolerance proceed with caution, adding only a teaspoon at a time. I'm also including a recipe that will allow you to make your own green curry paste. It's simple to prepare and once you've made your own the commercial paste will become an emergency only condiment. Let's do the soup first.

Thai Fresh Pea Soup

3/4 cup water
1 cup chopped onions
4 teaspoons minced garlic
1 to 3 teaspoons green curry paste
3 (14.5-oz.) cans vegetable broth
8 cups shelled peas, thawed if frozen
1 teaspoon lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon toasted mustard seed or several grinds of black pepper
1/4 cup chopped mint


1) Combine water, onions, garlic and curry paste in a soup pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat; simmer until onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add broth; return to a boil. Add peas; simmer, covered over low heat for 10 minutes.
2) Remove pot from heat and let sit for about 10 minutes. Transfer in small batches to a blender jar and puree. Transfer pureed soup to a clean pot. Stir in lime juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Return soup to a simmer over low heat. Garnish with mustard seeds and chopped mint. Yield: 8 servings.

Cook's Note: Soup may be refrigerated for 2 days and frozen for 1 month.

Green Curry Paste

1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup chopped hot green chili peppers (serrano, jalapeno or Thai)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped shallots or scallions
9 large cloves coarsely chopped garlic
3 tablespoons minced lemon grass
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger or galanga
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest

1) Place coriander and cumin in a small frying pan. Cook over medium heat until slightly darkened and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Stir in salt and pepper. Set aside.
2) Combine chilies, cilantro, shallots, garlic, lemongrass, ginger, lime zest, 2 tablespoons water and toasted spice mixture. Blend until fairly smooth. Add small amounts of water if needed to keep blades moving. Transfer to a lidded jar. Refrigerate for up to i month. Yield: 3/4 cup.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Braised Rabbit in Tomato-Wine Sauce

The dilemma was what to call it. "It" was a rabbit I'd braised in a wine and tomato broth to which mushrooms and pearl onions had also been added. I'd heard that rabbit tastes like chicken, so I decided to prepare it as I would a braised chicken. I had the ingredients I needed to make a sauce that resembled the one I use to make Chicken Marengo. I decided to go with that and, fortunately, it worked. Rabbit, by the way, doesn't taste like supermarket chicken. It's more like the dark meat of a free range chicken. It's not at all gamey and, while this will never be a favorite of mine, we'll have it again because Bob loves it. I'll be experimenting with sauces and techniques, so prepare yourselves for plethora of rabbit recipes. Bob was able to buy the rabbit at a local bodega that sells frozen game. Our rabbit was farm raised so I can't speak to the texture or flavor of a jackrabbit. This was really easy to prepare and comes recommended if you really want to cook a rabbit. I served it with rice pilaf. Polenta would also be a great accompaniment.

Braised Rabbit in Tomato-Wine Sauce with Mushrooms and Pearl Onions

1 2-1/2 to 3 pound rabbit, cut into pieces
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons butter, divided use
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup dry white vermouth
1 (10.5-oz.) can condensed chicken broth, undiluted
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup frozen pearl onions, thawed and patted dry
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 pound sliced mushrooms
Parsley sprigs for garnish

1) Mist rabbit pieces with nonstick cooking spray. Season rabbit pieces with salt and pepper. Dredge if flour, shaking off excess.
2) Heat oil and two tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add rabbit pieces and saute until golden, about 4 minutes per side.
3) Add tomato paste, garlic, vermouth, chicken broth, bay leaf and thyme. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 45 minutes, turning pieces once or twice.
4) Meanwhile, melt reserved 1 tablespoon butter in a large saute pan. Add onions, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar and cook until lightly brown. Add mushrooms and brown.
5) Add onions and mushrooms to rabbit; cook, covered, for 15 minutes longer. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
4) Transfer contents of skillet to a serving platter. Tent with foil to keep warm. Rapidly boil stock until thickened. Spoon over rabbit. Garnish with parsley sprigs. Yield: 4 servings.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Help Me Celebrate - A Giveaway

My 200th post snuck up on me! Custom dictates a giveaway, so I'd like to do a small amount of good with mine. You all know how impressed I was with the work being done at the Sala Bai Hotel School in Cambodia. I have five copies of the cookbook that was written to raise funds for the school. I will give away 1 book for every 100 people who leave a comment here - up to 500 comments. It's for a good cause. I hope you'll participate. I will do a random drawing on Saturday, April 25th and post the winners immediately after the drawing around 9:00AM PST.

White Chocolate Truffles

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...These truffles have been on my "must try" list for ages. I've had no time to test them, so the recipe sat in a folder where it was beginning to yellow with age. I finally got to them last night and I'm delighted to tell you they are fabulous. I'm not an experienced candy maker. Fudge made with marshmallow cream has been my only other excursion into the realm of candy making. I can now add truffles to my list. These are really easy to make and I hope, with a bit more practice, I'll be able to make them as pretty as they are delicious. They should be served cold. If you're fond of white chocolate, you'll love these.

White Chocolate Truffles
...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
7 tablespoons heavy cream, divided use
12-ounces good quality white chocolate chips, divided use
1 tablespoon orange liqueur

1) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
2) Place butter and 5 tablespoons cream in a 1-quart saucepan; slowly bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute. Remove pan from heat. Add 8-ounces of chocolate chips to cream. Stir until melted. Stir in orange liqueur.
3) Pour mixture onto prepared pan and refrigerate for 2 hours, or until firm.
4) Use a knife to score chocolate into 20 approximately equal pieces. Roll each piece into a small ball. If mixture becomes too sticky to roll, chill for a few minutes before proceeding. Transfer balls to freezer for 1 hour.
5) Melt reserved 4-ounces of white chocolate with 2 tablespoons cream. Dip balls in melted chocolate. Place on nonstick paper and quickly swirl top with a fork. Let harden. Serve cold. Yield: 20 truffles.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cold Lime Souffle

".... I've got a beautiful feeling everything's going my way." Today is our 46th wedding anniversary and our youngest daughter's birthday. My baby girl has just told us that we're to be grandparents again and thrilled doesn't begin to describe our elation. News doesn't get much better than that. We'll be out for the day but I did want to have something special for tonight's dinner. Bob loves rabbit - as a matter of fact he brought this one home. Could this have been a subtle hint? I've never made rabbit, so tonight's dinner will be an adventure. If it works, I'll talk about it later in the week. In case things go pear-shaped I've made another of his favorites - a cold lime souffle. The souffle is very easy to do; it does, however, require time to stiffen and must be made early in the day. Also, make sure the paper collars used to extend the souffle dishes are well-buttered so you'll have a smooth release. I had to fight to release mine - yet another proof that "we grow too soon old and too late smart." I have to learn to listen to myself. The real caution here regards the eggs you use to make this dish. For safety's sake, use only pasteurized eggs. Dishes like cold souffles and chiffons all but disappeared from the American table in the 1980's due to an outbreak of salmonella associated with raw eggs. Fortunately, the use of pasteurized eggs have given these desserts a new lease on life. Pasteurized eggs have been treated to prevent contamination from salmonella and other avian viruses. If you like tart citrus desserts, you'll love this one. Just be careful to capture only the green zest. This dessert will be unpleasantly bitter if the pith is included. If I haven't scared you away, it's time for us to get started.

Cold Lime Souffle

5 large eggs, separated
1 cup granulated sugar + sugar for coating extensions
2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest + additional zest for garnish
3/4 cup lime juice, strained
1 tablespoon (1 envelope) powdered gelatin
1-1/4 cups heavy cream, lightly whipped
3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1 cup heavy cream

1) Cut four strips of parchment paper or aluminum foil to fit around four 8-ounce baking cups. Fold each strip in half lengthwise. Tie strips around souffle cups to extend the height of each by 1-1/2 inch. Brush extensions generously with melted butter. Sprinkle with sugar to coat, tapping out excess. Set aside
2) Combine egg yolks, 1 cup sugar and lime zest in a medium bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until the mixture is thick and pale, about 3 minutes.
3) Heat lime juice in a small pan until warm. Slowly beat into yolk mixture.
4) Pour 1/4 cup water into a small cup. Sprinkle with gelatin and let sit until gelatin softens. Fill a small skillet with water; bring to a boil. Lower gelatin bowl into water; stir unti gelatin is dissolved and clear. Cool slightly. Add to lime mixture, beating on low speed until combined. Transfer to a large bowl, cover and refrigerate until thickened but not set. The mixture should have the consistency of a light cream sauce. Fold whipped cream into lime mixture with a spoon.
5) In a separate bowl beat egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Fold whites into lime mixture until just combined. Spoon into prepare souffle dishes. Refrigerate and chill until set.
6) When ready to serve, combine 1 cup whipping cream and confectioners' sugar in a 1-quart bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Remove collars and top with whipped cream. Sprinkle with lime zest. Yield: 4 servings.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Lemon-Rice Cake with Warm Blueberry Sauce

If you've spent time in Italy, chances are you've sampled this lemon flavored rice cake. It's one of my favorite desserts and I think you might enjoy it, too. It's simple to prepare and chances are you already have the ingredients needed to prepare it. I like to serve the cake warm, but it can be wrapped and refrigerated for a day. I think the cake becomes heavy if it is allowed to sit. Mine is a minority opinion. The recipe is adapted from one developed by Patricia Wells. I serve it with a simple, warm blueberry sauce that is very easy to prepare. If blueberries aren't your favorite fruit, substitute something that is more to your liking. The cake has been dressed up for its photograph. I normally serve it in a shallow bowl surrounded by fruit. This dessert does not stand on ceremony; it's true peasant fare.

Lemon-Rice Cake

1 cup Arborio rice
1 quart whole milk (no substitutes)
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided use
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1 large lemon
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Confectioners' sugar, for garnish

1) Combine rice, milk, salt and 1/2 cup sugar in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently to keep rice from sticking and milk from boiling over. Reduce heat to low; simmer, stirring occasionally, until rice is tender and milk is nearly all absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. Watch carefully as rice can stick and burn. Remove from heat and cool for at least 1 hour.
2) Adjust a rack to center of oven. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform pan with nonstick baking spray. Set aside.
3) Combine eggs and reserved 1/4 cup sugar in bowl of an electric mixer. Beat until thick and lemon colored. Add vanilla, zest and lemon juice; mix thoroughly. Stir in rice mixture. Scrape into prepared pan, smoothing top.
4) Bake until rice cake is a deep golden color and center is firm to touch, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on baking rack. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to serve.
5) Remove sides of springform pan, leaving cake on base of pan. Sprinkle top with confectioners' sugar. Cut and serve with fruit sauce if desired. Yield 8 to 12 servings.

Warm Blueberry Sauce

1 pound blueberries, washed and stemmed if necessary
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons water

1) Combine blueberries, sugar and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl. Let sit for 30 minutes.
2) Transfer berry mixture to a 2-quart saucepan. Add water; bring to a simmer over low heat until sugar dissolves. Simmer for 5 minutes. Serve warm. Yield: 2 cups.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Braised Pork Chops with Homemade Curry and Chutney Sauce

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I grew up as "Big" Mary in a two Mary household. "Little" Mary - all five feet of her - was my mother. If you phoned the house you'd have to specify which of us you wanted to talk with. I hated it. When our daughters arrived I was determined to spare them such ignominy. Oh, they have pet names but those are sealed within the bosom of the family. That's fine, except when you need to know which child I'm speaking of. So, for today, I'll be referring to my first born as "Number One Daughter." When we get together and family updates are complete it's time to talk food. You need to know that Number One Daughter is fearless in the kitchen and she does know what she's doing. If that meat on your plate looks like boar chances are it is. Get the drift? This year she set me onto Nancie McDermott's The Curry Book - Memorable Flavors and Irresistibly Simple Recipes from Around the World. As a rule of thumb, I won't buy a cookbook until I've found and tested at least two recipes, but Number One Daughter's recommendation was all I needed to place an order for the book. I was surprised by the simplicity of the recipes and the depth of flavor that could be produced with so few ingredients. I know it's not necessary to make your own chutney - Major Gray's would do nicely - but it's fun to know how its done. You can use any curry powder you like, but I've included a recipe that will allow you to make your own for the same reason. So, today we'll have a three-fer.

Braised Pork Chops with Curried Chutney Sauce...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 (1-1/4-inch thick) center cut pork chops (brined if possible)
1 tablespoon butter
1tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoon finely chopped shallots or scallions
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/4 cup Madeira, Marsala or cram sherry wine
3/4 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup light cream or half-and-half
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 cup mango chutney
1/4 cup chopped chives or scallions

1) Combine flour, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl. Pat pork chps dry; dredge in flour mixture. Set aside.
2) Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork chops and cook until lightly browned, about 1 minute per side. Remove chops to a platter.
3) Add shallots and curry powder to skillet; cook until shallots are softened and coated with curry powder, about 3 minutes. Add wine and broth, scraping fond from bottom of pan. Bring to a boil.
4) Combine half-and-half and cornstarch in a small bowl. Gradually add to skillet. Dice any large fruit pieces in your chutney. Stir chutney into skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until sauce is golden and slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.
5) Return pork chops to pan; turn to coat both sides with sauce. Cover and simmer, turning once, for a total of 20 minutes, or until done. Transfer to a serving platter, cover with sauce and sprinkle with chives. Yield: 4 servings.

Cook's Note: I always brine pork chops. Ingredients and directions for brine are here. This extra step is well worthwhile. You'll have wonderfully moist pork chops.

Fresh Mango Chutney...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite

2 large, ripe mangoes
1 large apple
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup dark raisins
1/4 cup diced crystallized ginger
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt

1) Peel mangoes and cut into bite-size chunks. Place into a large (3-quart) saucepan. Peel, core and coarsely chop it; add to saucepan along with onion, bell pepper, raisins, ginger, sugar, vinegar, mustard seeds, pepper flakes and salt.
2) Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender and liquid thickens into a light syrup, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate. Chutney will keep for 3 to 4 weeks in refrigerator. Yield: About 3 cups.

Curry Powder...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite

3 tablespoons ground coriander
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground cayenne
2 tablespoons ground turmeric

Place all ingredients, except turmeric, in a frying pan. Toast spices over medium heat until they darken, release their fragrance and wisps of smoke rise from pan, about 3 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Stir in turmeric. Store tightly covered and away from heat and light. Shelf life is about 3 months. Yield: 1/2 cup.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Brussels and Liege Waffles

Did you know that Thomas Jefferson was so enamoured with waffles that he had an iron shipped from France to Monticello so his guests could sample the Brussels and Liege versions he so enjoyed. While Belgium has been famous for waffles since the Middle Ages it's interesting to note there are no Belgian waffles made in this small country. The Belgian waffle is an American creation that was introduced at the 1964 World's Fair where it was called a "Bel Gem Waffle". The American version is actually patterned after the Brussels waffle but it's leavened with baking powder rather than yeast and beaten egg whites. Following the World's Fair waffles became a craze and the waffle iron proudly claimed a spot in most American kitchens. Do you remember the light, dense and delicious waffles of Sunday night? Chances are they were made with a baking mix and made it to the table with little effort and less forethought. Their Brussels and Liege counterparts aren't quite that easy. They both require yeast or a sponge and won't get to the table on a whim.

A true Liege waffle is made with chunks of sugar, which caramelize and form a crispy, crunchy coating. In Belgium, waffles are sold in waxed wrappers and eaten like a street food. They are usually not eaten for breakfast and are considered to be a snack or dessert food. Are they better than their American counterpart? That's for you to decide. I'm including recipes for Brussels and Liege waffles; I hope you'll try them when you have some time. Somethings beg to be tried before we die, put Liege waffles on your list.

Brussels Waffles - Gaufre de Bruxelles

2-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 cups warm milk, divided use
3 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled to lukewarm
1/3 cup white sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour

1) In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup warm milk. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
2) In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, 1/4 cup of reserved warm milk and melted butter.
3) Stir in yeast mixture, sugar, salt and vanilla. Stir in remaining 2 1/2 cups milk alternately with flour, ending with the flour.
4) Beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks; fold into batter. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
5) Preheat waffle iron. Brush with oil and spoon about 1/3 to 1/2 cup (or as recommended by manufacturer) inside edges of iron. Close lid and bake until steam no longer escapes from iron and waffle is golden brown. Serve immediately or keep warm in 200 degree oven. Yield: 8 waffles.

Liege Waffles - Gaufre de Liège

4-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1-1/3 cups warm milk
1-3/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 egg lightly beaten
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup pearl sugar (see Cook's Note)
Extra flour (for sprinkling)

1) In a small bowl, sprinkle yeast over the milk. Add 1 tablespoon of flour and sugar; set aside for 5 minutes or until foamy.
2) Sift remaining flour into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in center and add yeast mixture and egg. Stir well to make a smooth batter.
3) Cover with plastic wrap; set aside in a warm place and let rise until doubled or tripled in bulk, about 2 hours.
1) Place butter, flour, vanilla, baking powder, salt, granulated sugar, and pearl sugar into a bowl and work with back of a wooden spoon to form a paste.
2) Work butter mixture into sponge mixture until well combined. Cover, and set aside for 10 minutes.
3) With floured hands, shape dough into 10 balls. Flatten one slightly and dust it with flour. (If dough seems too wet to handle, just pour batter directly onto the waffle iron.)
4) Heat a waffle iron until medium hot. Place a flattened ball in the middle of the iron; close top. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes. If waffle iron is too hot, sugar will burn. Continue baking until all the waffles are done. Waffles may be kept warm in a 200 degree F. oven until ready to serve. Yield: 10 waffles.

Cook's Note: Pearl sugar, also called hail sugar because it is similar in size to hail stones, can be purchased in a well stocked super market. If unavailable you can make your own by crushing sugar cubes till they resemble hail stones or coarse salt.

I'm sending this recipe to Susan at Wild Yeast for her weekly Yeast Spotting event.
This week's event is being hosted by Zorra.

Brussels, Belgium Information

Find out about the homeland of the Brussels Waffles. Travel guide to Brussels. Features information on hotels, apartments, sights and entertainment in Brussels.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Susan Boyle - the Triumph of An Unclaimed Treasure

Sometimes the human spirit triumphs and we're privileged to see the duckling becomes a swan. Watch it happen! It's worth your time.

You might also want to read this Story about Susan from The Herald. Many thanks to Susan C at Open Mouth, Insert Fork for passing the article on to us.

New England Clam Chowder for Harried, Landlocked Cooks

When my parents moved from the east coast to the south side of Chicago, a recipe for clam chowder came with them. There was, however, a problem; fresh clams were not available in our landlocked neighborhood. My mother - God bless her - considered the midwest to be an outpost in the Sahara. Like it or not, she had to rely on canned clams and broth and she was able, after fits and starts, to make a PDG chowder. Over the years my recipe for clam chowder has changed from the one made by my mother. I've had help from the New York Times, Cook's Illustrated, Fine Cooking and an old Julia Child recipe for fish chowder. There's a bit of them all in today's recipe which uses canned clams. Why canned clams? They are readily available, inexpensive and easy to work with. They make it possible for a busy cook to produce a chowder in about 30 minutes and sometimes that's important. I can't tell you how important that's been at certain junctures in my life. This recipe also allows the use of canned clam broth. I must be honest here. We have shrimp several times a month. Rather than discard the shells I freeze them until I have enough of them to make a lovely fish broth that I can store in 1 cup containers. I use homemade broth whenever I can and while it produces an extraordinary depth of flavor, bottled clam broth will also produce a lovely chowder. I'm including a recipe for quick shrimp broth as well as my recipe for chowder. Both are easy to do. I hope you'll give them a try.

New England Clam Chowder

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 ounces (about 4 slices) thick cut bacon, cut in 1/4-inch dice
2 cups diced yellow onion
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups shrimp stock
2 (8-oz.) bottles clam broth + 1 cup water
4 (6.5-oz.) cans drained chopped clams, juices reserved
3 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut in 3/4-inch dice
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

1) Heat vegetable oil in a soup kettle over medium heat. Add bacon and saute until crisp and brown, about 5 minutes. Add onions and saute until softened, about 5 minutes longer. Sprinkle with flour and stir until lightly colored. Slowly stir in broth, reserved clam broth and water if using. Add potatoes, bay leaf and thyme; simmer until potatoes are fork tender, about 10 minutes.
2) Add clams, cream, and parsley. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and serve. Yield: 4-6 servings.

Shrimp Broth


Shells from 3 pounds shrimp
5 cups water
6 black peppercorns
1/4 cup coarsely chopped onions
2 ribs celery coarsely chopped
1 bay leaf

1) Place all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes and strain.
2) Freeze in labeled 1 cup containers. Yield: 4 cups.

I'm submitting this recipe to Regional Recipes, a food blogging event created by Darlene of Blazing Hot Wok, in which a different culture and cuisine is explored each month. JS and TS of Eating Club Vancouver are hosting this month's event which spotlights America.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Golden Corn and Potato Mash

I want folks who are fans of mashed potatoes to sit down before reading today's recipe. It's imperative that you stay calm as we walk through the instructions. I'm going to start with a question. What do you call golden potatoes that simmer in milk and heavy cream before they are enriched with mascarpone, olive oil and butter? PDG, right? It doesn't stop there. The potatoes are patterned after a Swedish recipe developed by Marcus Samuelsson, one of my favorite chefs. He goes a step further and folds shoepeg corn into the culinary equivalent of molten gold. If you are looking for a potato recipe meant for special occasions - like dinner tonight - try these. An hour on the treadmill will offset the caloric damage. I have these with my birthday dinner. They're that good.

Golden Corn and Potato Mash

1-1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut in 1-inch cubes
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons softened butter
1 cup shoepeg corn kernels, thawed and drained

1) Place potatoes, milk and cream in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender. Drain potatoes, reserving liquid.
2) While potatoes simmer, combine egg yolks, mascarpone cheese, olive oil and thyme in a small bowl. Mix well. Set aside.
2) Rice the potatoes using a food mill or potato ricer. Beat in egg mixture and butter with a wooden spoon. Add about 3/4 cup of reserved cooking liquid. Add more liquid if you like potatoes with a looser consistency. Fold in corn and season with salt (about 1 teaspoon) and fresh ground pepper (about 1/4 teaspoon). Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

This recipe is my entry for the April Potato Ho Down an event created by Cathy from Noble Pig. It is being hosted this month by Donalyn from Dlynz.

Monday, April 13, 2009

"Real" Coffee Cake

Highway 36 is an old artery that connects the Oregon coast to the fertile farm lands of the Willamette Valley. The winding two lane highway lies in a gorge that's cut through the Coast Mountain Range by the Siuslaw, a now gentle river that's been known to rage and flood on whim. The length of the highway is peppered with dying mill towns. The general stores and post offices in these communities are now boarded and the cottages of the remaining residents are gradually succumbing to neglect and creeping Oregon damp. There's a part of the highway - the stretch that runs from Swiss Home to Deadwood - that sits on some of the most beautiful land in the state. The steep canyon walls are verdant and their green hues highlight the rushing white water of the shallows below. Here and there you'll find a town that has survived. Deadwood, population 502, is one of them. There are some prosperous ranches in the valley that runs alongside Deadwood Creek and at mile marker 7 - the means by which distance is measured in these parts - you'll find the 285 acres that support the well-known Alpha Commune, an intentional community that has survived the vagaries of fad and fashion and remains intact, true to its original charter. There'll be more about the Alpha community and their kitchen in weeks to come. For now I want to take you back to the Deadwood general store where coffee is free and the conversation warm and inviting. Free coffee. Imagine that. Because we are often in the area to harvest ramps and fiddleheads, I wanted to find a way to thank these folks for their hospitality. Today's "real" coffee cake is my way of doing that. The next time we head down Highway 36 the cake will come with us. The recipe was developed by Maida Heatter. It's a lovely cake, strongly flavored with coffee, and it's very easy to make. I normally glaze it with melted chocolate, but I thought the mocha icing would make a better photograph. I prefer the chocolate glaze. I hope you'll try this European-style loaf cake.

"Real" Coffee Cake

1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup instant coffee granules
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound (1 cup) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
1 egg yolk
1-1/2 to 2 tablespoons boiling water

1) Adjust a rack to lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Generously coat a 14 x 4 x 3-inch loaf pan with butter. Dust with flour. A nonstick baking spray may also be used.
2) Combine milk and coffee crystals in a small saucepan. Heat, stirring to dissolve crystals. Set aside to cool.
3) Sift flour with baking powder and salt. Set aside.
4) Cream butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add vanilla and sugar and beat for 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat for 1 to 2 minutes at high speed after adding last egg. Mixture will look curdled. It's not a problem.
5) With mixer on low speed, add flour in three additions and milk mixture in two. Beat only until smooth. Turn into pan. Spread until level, then use a spatula to move batter slightly up the sides of pan, leaving center slightly lower than sides.
6) Bake for 55 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes. Invert on rack and remove pan. Ice cooled cake upside down.
1) Combine butter, sugar, coffee crystals, egg yolk an 1-1/2 tablespoons boiling water in a small bowl. Beat until smooth and spreadable.
2) Spread over top of cake. Some icing with run down the sides. Let it be. Yield: 8 to 10 large slices.

For those who would prefer chocolate with their "coffee" cake, here's a recipe for a chocolate glaze.

Chocolate Glaze


1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons milk

1) Melt chocolate and butter in a small bowl set over simmering water. Add corn syrup and milk and beat until smooth.
2) Remove from heat. Cool slightly. Pour warm glaze over top of cake, smoothing top but allow drips to remain on side of cake. Let set for a few hours before serving.

Cook's Note: Two 8 x 4 x 2-1/2-inch amay be substituted for the larger loaf pan. This cake does not store well. It dries out quickly.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Gluten-Free Pancakes

These pancakes are not bad. My testers paid them the supreme compliment and said they tasted like "regular" food. I found the recipe in the Taste of Home Healthy Cooking 2009 Annual Recipes collection. I made the recipe just as it was written, although I toasted the almonds before grinding and omitted the chocolate chips. I'd make these again.

Gluten-Free Pancakes

1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 cup ground almonds
3 teaspoons granulated sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup fat-free milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips, optional

1) In a large bowl, combine the rice flour, potato starch, almonds, sugar, baking powder and salt.
2) In another bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, butter and vanilla.
3) Add liquid into dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened. Fold in optional chocolate chips if desired.
4) Pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto a hot griddle coated with cooking spray; turn when bubbles form on top. Cook until the second side is golden brown. Yield: 12 pancakes.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Savory Roasted Potatoes for a Crowd

The highlight of our Easter feast is a butterflied leg of lamb that will be grilled outdoors - rain or shine. That leaves the oven free to roast potatoes for a crowd. This recipe originally appeared in Fine Cooking magazine. I have doubled all the ingredients so the recipe will feed 8 to 12 hungry adults. A caution - the potatoes look singularly unappealing when they're first coated. A not to worry - they'll emerge from the oven with a crisp and tangy crust. Be sure to use baking sheets that are well coated with oil or cooking spray and keep the potatoes in a single layer as they roast. While they are too tangy for fish, these potatoes are a wonderful accompaniment for any plain meat or poultry. I hope you'll give them a try.

Savory Roasted Potatoes

3/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons Chicken broth
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
4 pounds red-skinned or Yukon gold potatoes, cut in 1-inch dice

1) Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, whisk mustard, olive oil, chicken broth, garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper until combined. Add the potatoes and toss to coat.
2) Dump potatoes onto two greased large rimmed baking sheet and spread them in a single layer. Roast, tossing with a spatula a few times, until potatoes are crusty on the outside and tender throughout, 50 to 55 min. Serve hot. Yield: 8 to 12 servings.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Swiss Onion Tart

I've made this tart for close to for 50 years and while I've tried others - including my beloved Julia's quiche Lorraine - this one always calls me home. It's simple to make and as close to fool-proof as a custard can be. The original recipe, which first appeared in Better Homes and Gardens magazine, appealed to me because it used a crumb crust. At some point I substituted a buttery pie crust for the crumbs and that added another dimension to an already delicious entree. We like this so well that I've developed another version of the pie that uses smoked salmon instead of bacon and over the years I've experimented with various types of cheese, including some combinations that make a lovely Southwestern-style tart. This makes a great entree for lunch or a light supper. It can also be cut into squares and served with cocktails. I hope you'll try this.

Swiss Onion Tart

1 pie crust
1 cup finely crushed cracker crumbs
1/4 cup melted butter
6 slices smoked bacon
4 ounces smoked salmon
3 tablespoons canola oil (optional)
1-1/2 cups chopped onion
2 cups (8-oz.) Gruyere cheese, shredded
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
3/4 dairy sour cream
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 cup (4-oz.) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. If using crumbs combine with butter and pat into a 9-inch pie plate. If using a pie crust fit into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Set aside.
2) If using bacon, fry in a medium saute pan until crisp. Transfer to paper toweling and crumble. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons bacon drippings. If using salmon, shred and set aside.
3) Saute onions in reserved bacon drippings or 3 tablespoons canola oil until limp and caramelized. Cool slightly.
4) Place Gruyere cheese, sour cream, eggs, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add bacon or salmon and onions. Mix well. Pour into shell. Sprinkle top with cheddar cheese.
5) Bake in lower third of oven for 30 minutes, or until knife inserted into center of custard comes out clean. Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes. If using a tart pan carefully remove sides prior to serving. Yield: 6 servings.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Rhubarb and Raspberry Gelato

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Have you ever had a tried and true recipe fail? It happened to me this week when an orange chiffon cake I absolutely adore, and have made dozens of times, collapsed as it cooled. That left me with a pound of redundant rhubarb that was meant for a sauce to accompany the cake. To avoid wasting it, I decided to use it in a simple recipe for gelato, or Italian ice cream. Now, just saying the "g" word is going to open a can of worms. There are many opinions as to what constitutes a true gelato. Some of you will see milk and gelatin in the ingredient list and say "no way." I hope you'll bear with me. It's important to realize that gelato appears in many guises and that the ingredients used to make it depend on local custom. Milk based gelato originated in northern Italy while its milk free counterpart, sorbetto, is a product of the warmer regions of southern Italy. Most gelato does not use gelatin. As it happens, the recipe I'm using today actually has it in the ingredient list. This recipe does not require the use of an ice cream freezer. If you wish to use one follow the manufacturer directions for freezing gelato or sorbet. This gelato is simple to make. My rhubarb was very pale so I added a container of raspberries to enhance the color of the puree. I'm not a fan of red food coloring but it could also be used to enhance color. I make the gelato the night before I plan to serve it. Gelato melts very quickly so plan accordingly.

Rhubarb and Raspberry Gelato...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite

1 pound rhubarb, cut in 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup water
1/2 pint (1 heaping cup) raspberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2-1/4 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 package unflavored gelatin softened in 1/4 cup cold water
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup dry milk solids

1) Place rhubarb and water in a 2-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover; simmer until rhubarb is tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and cool. Place in a blender jar with raspberries, lemon zest and juice and puree until smooth. Strain. Set aside.
2) Place milk and corn syrup in a 2-quart saucepan. Warm over medium heat; do not allow to boil. Add softened gelatin and sugar and stir until sugar and gelatin is dissolved. Stir in the dry milk.
3) Pour mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add the fruite puree and stir until combined. Transfer to an appropriate container and freeze. Partially thaw before serving. Yield: 5 to 6 cups.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Hot Cross Buns - Up Close and Personal

Most folks associate hot cross buns with Good Friday and the Easter season. Actually, these small rolls predate Christianity and were associated with pagan ceremonies that celebrated the vernal equinox and the feast of Eostre, the goddess of spring. As Christianity gained a foothold in Britain, church leaders tried to ban symbols associated with the pagan festival. The ban proved to be untenable, so some of the symbols were adopted and woven into the fabric of Christian ritual and celebration. The cross on the buns, once a symbol of the equinox and phases of the moon, came to represent the crucifixion. The buns, as part of Christian tradition, can be dated to the 12th century when monks made them to distribute to the poor who visited their monasteries on Good Friday - also known as the Day of the Cross. The distribution of the buns became a tradition and the ingredients required to make them were standardized. Traditional hot cross buns contain flour, milk, sugar, butter, eggs, currants and spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg. The cross on the top may be cut into the bun, fashioned out of icing or made out of pastry strips. According to tradition, hot cross buns were made from the same dough used to make consecrated bread and they were the only food that could be eaten by the faithful on Good Friday. Fast forward to the court of the Tudor monarchs where the buns were seen as a dangerous reminder of Catholic Easter tradition. They attempted to ban their sale but that resulted in riots that caused Queen Elizabeth I to pass a law permitting bakeries to sell them, but only during the Easter and Christmas season. That's probably why we only see them at this time of year.
Moving forward yet again, the buns were carried by monks across the Irish Sea and then taken from Ireland by the converted heathens - my relatives - to America where they ended up on my family's table. My Mother was not a baker, but we were fortunate in having neighbors who were extraordinary cooks. Unfortunately, the kitchens - German and Swedish - were engaged in an on-going rivalry. Every Easter we would receive Hot Cross Buns from each, but the rivalry demanded diplomatic skills of the highest order. Neither kitchen produced the recipe I use today. This one comes from the Gourmet Cookbook and it produces absolutely delicious rolls. There is, however, a problem with the recipe. I think the baking time is understated by several minutes; I can't get the darn things to brown in the time specified by the recipe. The rolls you see in these photos were placed under a broiler to brown and they were glazed with a syrup that's not part of the recipe. The buns are great but the browning issue drives me crazy. Any ideas? They'd be appreciated. Also, this recipe calls for an uncooked pie crust that's included at the very end of the ingredients list. It's used to make the pastry crosses. It's no big deal, but I wanted to give you a heads up, so there'll be no scrambling when the rolls complete their second rise. These really are delicious and the aroma when they bake will drive you mad.

Hot Cross Buns

1 cup warm milk (105°–115°F.)
2 (1/4-ounce) packages (5 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick + 2 tablespoons (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup dried currants
1/3 cup golden raisins
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh orange zest
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
3 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar
1 uncooked pastry crust

1) In a small bowl stir together milk, yeast, and 1 teaspoon granulated sugar. Let mixture stand 5 minutes, or until foamy.
2) Into a large bowl sift together flour, allspice, cinnamon, cardamom, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Cut butter into bits and with your fingertips or a pastry blender blend into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse meal. Lightly beat 1 whole egg with egg yolk. Make a well in center of flour mixture and pour in yeast and egg mixtures, currants, raisins, and zests. Stir mixture until a dough is formed. Transfer dough to a floured surface and with floured hands knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Transfer dough to an oiled large bowl and turn to coat. Let dough rise, covered with plastic wrap, in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
3) Butter 2 large baking sheets.
4) On a floured surface with floured hands knead dough briefly and form into two 12-inch-long logs. Cut each log crosswise into 12 equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball and arrange about 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheets. Let buns rise, covered, in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
5) Preheat oven to 400°F.
6) While buns are rising, lightly beat remaining egg with superfine sugar to make an egg glaze.
7) On a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin roll out pastry dough into a 20- by 6-inch rectangle (about 1/8 inch thick). With a sharp knife cut rectangle crosswise into 1/8-inch- wide strips.
8) Brush buns with egg glaze and arrange 2 pastry strips over center of each bun to form a cross. Trim ends of pastry strips flush with bottoms of buns. Bake buns in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until golden, about 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer buns to a rack to cool slightly. Buns may be made 1 week ahead and frozen, wrapped in foil and put in a sealable plastic bag. Thaw buns and reheat before serving. Serve buns warm or at room temperature. Yield: 24 rolls.

Recipe courtesy of The Gourmet Cookbook

I'm sending this recipe to Susan at Wild Yeast for her weekly Yeast Spotting event.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Maple-Nut Chiffon Cake

There's a place on memory lane where retro recipes are safely stored. They're carefully filed away, waiting for another generation to "discover" them. Today's recipe, an outstanding chiffon cake, is one of them. The chiffon cake has quite a history. It became an overnight phenomena in the late 1940's. It had been created prior to the great depression by Harry Baker, an insurance agent who became a caterer. He kept the secret of his remarkably airy cake for two decades before selling the formula to General Mills. His secret recipe used vegetable oil instead of conventional shortening. General Mills released the recipe for chiffon cake to Better Homes and Gardens magazine where it was advertised as the first really new cake in a hundred years. The magazine sponsored on-going contests that caused the mania for chiffon cake to last for at least two decades. Chiffon cakes were a wonder to home bakers. They combined the richness of butter cakes with the light spring of an angel food or sponge cakes. The cakes were unusually moist, but they were not that all easy to make. Not everyone mastered the beating of egg whites that was required to produce the towering cake. As the bundt cake became popular, fascination with the chiffon cake waned and busy women turned to desserts that were easier to prepare. I came across a blogging event called Everything Old is New Again sponsored by the Domestic Muse. I decided to pull this glorious maple-nut chiffon cake from storage for the challenge. I had forgotten just how good this actually is. I hope you'll be able to make it for your friends and family.

Maple-Nut Chiffon Cake

2-1/4 cups sifted cake flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
5 egg yolks
3/4 cup cold water
2 teaspoons maple flavoring
1 cup (8) egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup finely chopped, toasted walnuts
Golden Butter Frosting:
1/2 cup butter
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup light cream
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons maple flavoring
1 cup toasted walnuts, finely chopped

1) Set oven at 325 degrees F.
2) Sift flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt into mixing bowl; stir in brown sugar. Make a well in dry ingredients. Add vegetable oil, egg yolks, water and flavoring. Beat until satin smooth.
3) Combine egg whites and cream of tartar in large mixing bowl. Beat until they form very stiff peaks (stiffer than for meringue or angel cake). Pour egg-yolk batter in thin stream over entire surface of egg whites, gently cutting and folding down, across bottom, up the side and over, just until blended. Fold in nuts.
4) Bake in ungreased 10-inch tube pan in slow oven at 325 degrees F for 55 minutes; increase heat to 350 degrees F and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more. Invert pan; let cool thoroughly.
Gold Butter Frosting:
5) Melt butter in saucepan; keep over low heat until golden brown, watching carefully so it does not scorch. Remove from heat, stir in confectioners' sugar. Blend in light cream and maple flavoring. Place pan in ice water and beat until of spreading consistency (add more cream if needed).
6) Frost top and sides of cake. Decorate with chopped walnuts. Yield: 1 10-inch cake.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Irish Caraway Crisps

Years ago Bob and I trekked to northern Canada in search of the Aurora Borealis. The solar flares that initiated our journey stopped as soon as we reached the border. Undeterred, we continued on, sure in our belief that they'd resume in a day or two. Needless to say our quest was unsuccessful. I can, however, report we had an awfully good time getting there - there being an Alaskan border town that wasn't even on the map. It was a wonderful adventure. Later, I recounted the trip with an Irish colleague who thought I was completely daft. As a child she was able to see the Northern Lights from her front stoop. That anyone would spend three weeks in the wilderness in search of something so ordinary truly baffled her. Bridie was a homemaker and far more domestic than I was at the time. She was very feminine - you'd never catch her in boots, a tent or an outhouse, but you could count on her to bring cakes and cookies for the staff to enjoy with coffee or tea. The caraway crisps were one of her favorites. I recently inherited a dog-eared copy of Maida Heatter's first cookbook and it contains a cookie very similar to Bridie's crisps. These cookies are not too sweet, wonderful with tea and very easy to make. If you're looking for something a bit different to satisfy your sweet tooth without causing sugar shock you might want to give these a try.

Irish Caraway Crisps


2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup ( 1 4-oz. stick) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon caraway seeds

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2) Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a small bowl. Set aside.
3) Place butter in bowl of an electric stand mixture and beat until soft enough to mix with sugar. Add sugar and beat well. Add egg and beat until incorporated. Gradually add dry ingredients; mix well.
4) Turn mixture onto a lightly floured work surface. Add caraway seeds and knead just until incorporated.
5) Wrap dough in plastic wrap. Place in freezer for 15 minutes. Transfer to refrigerator and let chill for 1 hour, or until mixture is firm enough to roll.
6) Lightly flour a work surface. Working with 1/3 of dough at a time, roll dough to 1/16 or 1/8-inch thickness. Cut with a 3-inch round cookie cutter; use a thin spatula to transfer cookies to an ungreased cookie sheet spacing them 1/2-inch apart. Scraps can be rerolled and cut.
7) Bake 13 to 15 minutes, or until cookies are lightly brown all over. Rotate pans in oven. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack. Store airtight. Yield: 30 to 36 cookies.

Recipe courtesy of Maida Heatter.
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