Friday, May 30, 2008

Creamy

I’m a sucker for anything creamy. Trouble is, most creamy things have cream. And possibly eggs. And lots of sugar. But not Homemade Yogurt. Homemade Yogurt is health food, not dessert, so I can eat it all I want.

Homemade Yogurt
Printable Recipe

1 ½ quarts whole or 2% milk
¼ cup plain yogurt with live active cultures

Gently heat the milk to 180ºF. Let cool to 115ºF. Whisk in the yogurt. Divide the mixture among the yogurt machine jars, cover, and culture in the yogurt machine for 5 to 6 hours, or until thickened.


Refrigerate.

Makes 8 servings. Scalding the milk will eliminate any existing bacteria that might compete with the yogurt culture and ruin the yogurt. To cool the milk quickly, use an ice bath. Yogurt keeps refrigerated for a week or two. Reserve a portion of this batch of yogurt to use as starter for the next batch. Serve with a spoonful of honey or jam. Also fantastic with Granola with Almonds & Cherries.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Bibimbap


I am in a state of deep depression. My favorite Korean restaurant has closed for good. It’s been a couple of months since I learned the terrible news, and I still can’t quite come to terms with it. It was a humble, tiny place hidden away in the back of a Korean market.

They served home-style food loaded with spicy chiles. We liked everything on the menu, especially the bibimbap. Bibimbap, as fun to say as it is to eat, is a dish of sticky rice topped with a variety of colorful vegetables, egg, and seasoned meat. My absolute favorite was the dolsot bibimbap, which arrived to the table in a super-hot stone bowl and would continue to sizzle for many minutes. The heat of the bowl was so intense that it would crisp the bottom layer of rice and cook the runny yolk of the sunny-side-up egg. Many layers of clothing would be stripped off during the course of a meal. They served the bibimbap with an endless variety of side dishes, including kimchee, of course, and a bowl of mild broth.

Bibimbap withdrawal is a terrible thing, but it led to the creation of the following recipe.

Dolsot Bibimbap
Printable Recipe

¼ cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon grated ginger
¼ cup sliced green onions
1 ¼ pounds thinly sliced boneless beef short ribs, julienned
Freshly ground black pepper
3 cups sticky rice
Kosher salt
4 dried shiitake mushrooms
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
4 eggs
3 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise, thinly sliced on a bias, and blanched
1 carrot, julienned and blanched
8 ounces mung bean sprouts, blanched
8 ounces spinach, bok choy, choy sum, or other similar leafy greens, coarsely chopped and blanched
½ cup shredded nori
Gochujang, for serving

Heat 4 Korean stone bowls in a 425ºF oven.

Combine the soy sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger, and green onions in a medium bowl. Add the beef and stir to coat. Season to taste with pepper and marinate for about half an hour.

Combine the rice, 1 quart water, and a generous pinch of salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook without disturbing for 19 to 21 minutes, or until the rice is tender and all of the liquid has been absorbed.

Combine the shiitakes and ½ cup hot water in a small bowl and let soak for 10 to 12 minutes, or until rehydrated and pliable. Remove the shiitakes to a cutting board, trim off and discard the stems, and thinly slice the caps.

Heat a wok over high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the wok. Add half of the beef mixture and stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes, or until just cooked through. Transfer to a plate. Cook the remaining beef in the same manner. Stir in the sesame seeds.

Cook the eggs sunny side up with the remaining tablespoon of vegetable oil in a nonstick pan.

Carefully transfer the stone bowls from the oven to trivets. Using a heatproof brush, coat each bowl with 2 teaspoons of the sesame oil. Immediately divide the rice among the bowls. Arrange the zucchini, carrot, bean sprouts, greens, shiitakes, beef mixture, and eggs decoratively atop the rice. Drizzle with the remaining teaspoon of sesame oil, top with the nori, and serve immediately. Pass a small bowl of gochujang on the side.

Serves 4. Of course bibimbap can be served in regular rice bowls—although the rice won’t have the golden crunchy crust, it will still be tasty and delicious. (Do not coat regular rice bowls with sesame oil.) Any thinly sliced beef steak can be substituted for the short ribs. Gochujang is fermented sweet chile paste. Stone bowls with matching trivets, thinly sliced boneless beef short ribs, and gochujang are all available in Korean markets.


Add as much chile paste as you like, stir it all together, and dig in.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Worthy

Last summer, we went to France. We ate our way through Paris, Lyon, the Camargue, and then western Provence. The final stop of our whirlwind tour was Chateauneuf du Pape. Our luggage was already too heavy with “souvenirs”, but we found room for a bottle of Domaine des Pères de L’Église Le Calice de Saint Pierre Heritage 2004. Bold and luscious, it tasted of blueberries and black currants.

When we got home, we put the bottle in the wine rack, and there it waited patiently for a special occasion. Until one day my husband said, “All I want for my birthday is a meal worthy of that wine.” A challenge.

The wine would be perfect with duck breasts. He didn’t want duck breasts. What about duck confit? He didn’t want duck confit. The negotiations continued for several weeks until two things were settled. The main course would be lamb, and we would have a salad with chicken gizzard confit, like the one we had in Arles. And there was a demand for a real dessert, birthday cake alone would not do.

How, how to fill out the menu? I agonized over this many days. I wanted it to be special, and I wanted it to be a surprise.

Finally it was time to open the wine.

For the first course, I put together a cheese plate. I selected Tomme de Savoie, Fleur d’Aunis, Lagioule, and Le Chevrot. After an exhaustive search, I managed to find an authentic saucisson sec, the dry cured pork sausage that’s ubiquitous in France, but frustratingly rare here, and his absolute favorite when we were traveling. Some niçoise and picholine olives, red grapes, and a baguette rounded it out.

Then came the aforementioned salad, rich and delicious.


For the main course, I marinated lamb ribs chops in olive oil, garlic, and herbes de Provence and grilled them medium-rare. For a side dish, I threw some hot Camargue red rice together with a bit of garlic, a couple of herbs from the garden, a drizzle of olive oil from Provence, and, because it was there, a spoonful of melted duck fat from the gizzard confit.


I made chocolate pot de crème for dessert.

The weather was beautiful, so we ate in the herb garden. The meal lasted for hours. In between courses we massaged our bellies. For that one evening, we were back in the French countryside, and everything was divine, worthy. Especially the rice, it was nutty and flavorful and crunchy. Of the entire meal, the rice was the best part.

The rice was the best part!

The rice was almost an afterthought! We went all the way to the Camargue and didn’t even bring any rice back with us. The windswept Camargue, with its marshes and flamingoes and swans and white horses and wild black bulls is famous for its rice and its sea salt. (In fact, Fleur de Sel de Camargue is one of my favorites, and we went all the way there just so I could see where it comes from.) But by the time we got there, I had already picked up two crêpe pans, two blini pans, a copper sugar pot, and forty tartlet molds, and guess who was carrying it all? I certainly couldn’t ask him to add a bag of rice to that load. It was only by chance that, several months after our trip, I stumbled upon a small bag of Camargue red rice at a discount store. I picked it up, figuring I better not miss my chance a second time.

Since that worthy birthday dinner, I’ve spread the word about the Camargue red rice. A few have managed to acquire some, and now they want my recipe.


Camargue Red Rice with Garlic & Herbs
Printable Recipe

1 cup Camargue red rice
2 quarts water
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, preferably from Provence
2 tablespoons rendered duck fat, melted
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon minced fresh thyme
2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley
Fleur de Sel de Camargue
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine the rice, water, and a generous pinch of kosher salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Drain. Stir in the oil, duck fat, garlic, thyme, and parsley. Season to taste with fleur de sel and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and serve immediately.

Serves 4 as a side dish. Look for Camargue red rice online. If you cannot find Camargue red rice, use any other variety of red rice that’s available. If you don’t have any duck fat, find some. If you can’t find some, look harder, you’ll be glad you did. If you still can’t find some, I suppose you can use unsalted butter.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Pastry Board


I love my pastry board, it’s beautiful. Michelangelo’s David and my pastry board are both made of Carrera marble. But my pastry board is functional, too.

I got my pastry board custom made. The ones they sell at cookware shops are just too small to work on comfortably. A marble fabricator made mine for me from a remnant, for cheap.

My pastry board is about two by three feet, plenty big for rolling out dough. And it stays cool on hot days, keeping even the most delicate pastry doughs chilled and workable.

I use my pastry board for making pasta, breads, tarts, and these apple galettes.

Apple Galettes with Hazelnut Crust
Printable Recipe

1/3 cup hazelnuts
2 tablespoons sugar
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
½ teaspoon kosher salt
13 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks plus 1 tablespoon) cold unsalted butter, diced
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons, or more, cold water
2 tablespoons Turbinado sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
4 Golden Delicious apples
1 tablespoon heavy cream

Combine the hazelnuts and sugar in a food processor and pulse until finely ground.


Add the flour and salt and pulse a few more times to combine. Add 12 tablespoons of the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.


Add the water and pulse until the dough just comes together.


Test the dough by squeezing a small amount together with your fingertips. If the dough holds together, it’s ready. If it’s crumbly, add up to 1 more tablespoon of water and pulse 2 more times. Transfer the dough to a work surface, bring together into a ball, and cut into eighths. Form each portion into a ball and then flatten into a disc. Wrap each disc separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 425ºF. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each disc of dough to a 7-inch wide, 1/8-inch thick circle.


As you work, transfer the circles to parchment-lined baking trays. Refrigerate for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the Turbinado sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Peel, halve, and core the apples and slice them 3/16-inch thick.


Using half an apple for each galette, arrange the apple slices in a decorative pattern in the center of each dough circle, leaving a 1-inch border at the edge.


Fold the edge of the dough over the apples, pleating it as you go.


Refrigerate for another 10 minutes.

Lightly brush the galette crusts with the cream. Sprinkle the galettes with the Turbinado sugar mixture and dot with the remaining tablespoon of butter. Bake for 17 to 19 minutes, or until golden brown.

Makes 8 individual galettes. Work quickly and with a light touch to prevent the butter in the pastry from melting. Feel free to substitute almonds or pecans for the hazelnuts or ripe but still firm peaches for the apples. So many possibilities! Serve warm, perhaps with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Simplicious

I made it up. I use it to describe a dish that’s both simple and delicious, like this one.

Orecchiette with Sausage & Broccoli
Printable Recipe

1 recipe Fresh Orecchiette
Kosher salt
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ pound bulk Italian sausage, crumbled
4 to 6 cloves garlic, minced
Several pinches red chile flakes
¾ pound broccoli florets
¼ cup water
Freshly ground black pepper
Grated Parmegiano-Reggiano, for serving

Cook the orecchiette in a large pot of boiling, salted water for 10 to 12 minutes, or until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat a large, heavy sauté pan over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the sausage and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, tossing about 2 times, until nearly cooked through and crusty and brown in spots.*


Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the garlic and chile flakes, and stir for a minute or so until fragrant. Add the broccoli and water, cover, and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes, or until the broccoli is just tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Drain the orecchiette when it is al dente. Add the orecchiette and the remaining ¼ cup oil to the sauté pan and toss to coat. Arrange on individual plates, top with plenty of Parmegiano, and serve immediately.

Makes enough for 4 very hungry people. You can substitute 1 pound store-bought pasta for the Fresh Orecchiette, if you must.

*Searing the sausage in this manner adds tons of flavor to the finished dish. For everything you ever wanted to know about searing, plus dozens of fabulous searing recipes, look for my book Seared to Perfection in stores in the fall of 2010.

Orecchiette

I prefer cookware to diamonds, my husband knows. Now I want a pasta extruder, but not any pasta extruder. I want the one that has the bronze dies, like Italian cooks swear by. You see, bronze dies yield pasta with a rough texture, and the sauce sticks better. But the pasta extruder I want is only available in Europe. Figures. And it costs about as much as a diamond, too.

So, I have to make do without this shiny new piece of kitchen machinery for now. I have no choice but to make orecchiette. It’s formed by hand, and the only special equipment you need is a table knife.

Fresh Orecchiette
Printable Recipe

2 cups semolina
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 ¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons warm water

Combine the semolina, flour, and salt in a large bowl. Add the water and mix until a rough dough forms.


The dough will seem very dry at this point, but resist the temptation to add more water. Transfer to a work surface and knead for about 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.


Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for about half an hour.

Cut the dough into eighths. Keeping the remaining dough covered as you work, roll 1 portion of dough into a ½-inch thick rope.


If the dough springs back as you roll it, cover it with plastic wrap and let it relax for a few minutes before continuing. Using a table knife, cut a ¾-inch piece of the rope. With the side of the knife, press down on the cut side of the piece of dough, dragging it toward you at the same time. Turn the resulting little cup of dough rough side out.

video


Make more orecchiette with the remaining dough in the same manner. As you work, arrange the orecchiette in a single layer on lightly floured parchment-lined baking trays. Let dry for a few hours.

Makes about 1 ¾ pounds, enough for 4 or 6 main-course servings. Cook as you would any other pasta, in a large pot of boiling, salted water for 10 to 12 minutes, or until al dente. Orecchiette are essentially inside-out cavatelli.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Breakfast


I don’t like breakfast. It’s not that I don’t like breakfast food, I just don’t like breakfast. It’s first thing in the morning. And I don’t like anything first thing in the morning. All I want is my cup of coffee.

I’ve tried eating breakfast, it’s good for you. I’ve tried eggs. I’ve tried cereal. I’ve tried bagels, fruit, yogurt, and pancakes. I stocked the freezer with dozens of fresh-made crumpets, obtained from The Crumpet Shop (1503 1st Avenue, 206-682-1598) during a road trip to Seattle. They were fantastic toasted, slathered with salted cultured butter, and with cheddar cheese melted on top. But I ate them for brunch.

I made a batch of granola. Not the kitchen sink variety with every nut and seed and dried fruit, but a simple, honest granola. I still couldn’t eat breakfast, though, my husband likes breakfast and the granola disappeared.


I think I'll make another batch.

Granola with Almonds & Cherries
Printable Recipe

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 18-ounce container old fashioned rolled oats
1 ½ cups sliced almonds
½ cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup honey
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup dried sour cherries

Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Grease 2 baking trays with the butter. Combine the oats, almonds, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Combine the oil, honey, and vanilla in a small bowl. Add the honey mixture to the oat mixture and stir until the oats are evenly coated. Spread on the trays and bake, stirring once or twice, for about half an hour, or until toasted and golden brown. Switch the position of the trays half way through baking. Let cool and add the cherries.

Makes enough for several breakfasts, if you eat breakfast. Or try it any time of the day, as is or with milk or yogurt. Keeps for a week or two in a tightly sealed container in the pantry.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Teacups


I make a small pot of tea almost every evening, sometimes bergamot, sometimes jasmine. I sip it slowly as I leaf through cookbooks. It’s my favorite wind-down ritual.

I grew up in a tea drinking family. We would always drink hot green tea after a rich meal, sometimes accompanied by a small bowl of sour cherry preserves. My mother (or was it my grandmother?) liked to tell me that it aided digestion. She served tea in these.


All my life, I’ve been drinking tea out of Japanese rice bowls. A very serious faux pas. But mother laughs, she was sure they were teacups. My family’s from Uzbekistan, and they’re the closest vessel to the traditional Uzbek pijala she could find here.


The pijala is broad, allowing the tea to quickly cool just enough to drink, and it’s small enough to enjoy several warming refills. It’s the perfect teacup. The orange and white pattern depicts the famous silk textiles of Uzbekistan. A blue and white pattern shows the cotton flower, one of the country’s major crops.

I still haven’t been able to find a set of authentic Uzbek pijalas in the U.S. I must go shopping in Tashkent.

A Pot of Tea
Printable Recipe

4 cups water
2 tablespoons loose leaf bergamot tea, my favorite is Sadaf Special Blend Tea with Earl Grey (available in Middle Eastern markets), in a large tea ball


Use lots of tea leaves steeped for a short time for the sweetest brew. Heat the water to a bare simmer. Add the tea and swirl for about half a minute. Do not oversteep or the tea will become bitter.

Pour yourself a cup, observe the golden color, inhale the fragrant steam, and sip, sip, and repeat.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Lettuce


It’s great to have a gardener. My gardener is very serious and he doesn’t say much. He doesn’t like being interrupted when he’s working, either. Sometimes I watch him work from the kitchen window when I’m washing the breakfast dishes. I recommend everyone have a gardener, fresh lettuce is so good. My gardener is my husband.

Many months ago, he sewed Tom Thumb butterhead, Sucrine romaine, and Valmaine romaine/cos lettuce seeds, he said to “overwinter”. I had my doubts. Even if the lettuces made it through the rains, they would not survive the dog. The seeds sprouted, but week after week, month after month, the sprouts did not grow any bigger.

The gardener announced spring had arrived. The skies were still grey but he was sure. He said the lettuces were almost ready. I looked out the window but the sprouts were still the same size. Then the sun came out and it was time to eat salad.

It’s more fun to go to the garden for lettuce than to the grocery store. I harvest the heads of lettuce with a bird’s beak paring knife, and I try to be gentle since the lettuce is so tender. The lettuce tastes. It is crunchy and juicy and sweet, it hardly needs a dressing. The slugs are making a concerted effort to eat our lettuce before we do.


I separate the green leaves and slowly, carefully wash each one. Then the leaves go for a dizzying ride in the salad spinner. Not a drop of water to dilute their flavor or to keep the dressing from sticking. Sometimes I eat the innermost hearts as I go, but I always save at least one for the gardener.

I dress the whole leaves lightly, sometimes with olive oil from Provence and fleur de sel, sometimes with a mixture of olives and capers. Delicious.


Olive-Caper Dressing
Printable Recipe

¾ cup pitted Kalamata olives
¼ cup drained capers
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine the olives and capers in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Add the olive oil and pulse a few more times.

Makes plenty. Keeps for several days in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before use.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Why


I grew up in a family in love with food. We planned dinner over breakfast and then spent the rest of the day shopping for groceries, cooking, running back to the store for forgotten ingredients, cooking some more, and then eating. Otherwise we spent the day carefully deliberating over which restaurant to go to and then on what to order when we got there.

But I really became obsessed with food when I moved away to college. I couldn’t afford to eat out on my student budget. If I was to satisfy my cravings, I had to learn to make all of my favorite foods myself. It seemed easy enough.

I loved Chinese food, the kind I had eaten in restaurants, so I figured I’d start there and buy one good Chinese cookbook. At the bookstore, I discovered that one book had the Mongolian beef recipe, another had sesame chicken, and yet a different one had the potstickers. Each book had completely different instructions for sizzling rice soup—I had no way to tell which was right, and I couldn’t find the recipe for my favorite garlicky chicken drumettes anywhere. The single good cookbook I had imagined did not exist. And, besides, where were the pictures? How was I supposed to know what this stuff was supposed to look like without pictures?

I finally picked out two of the cookbooks. Between the two books, I had what looked to be simple and straightforward recipes for most of my favorite dishes. Then there was the matter of Mexican food, and Italian, and also Indian, and then dessert…

And so my cookbook collection began. But I wasn’t satisfied with sticking to recipes for long. The results didn’t always taste as I imagined they should, and my cravings weren’t always satisfied. I dreamed of being able to march into the kitchen and cook up exactly what I wanted when I wanted without being bound to recipes.

I decided to go to culinary school. It wasn’t any kind of career planning or the aspiration to become a chef. I was just very hungry.

And so, Hungry Cravings—and, in fact, all of my life’s work—grew from the desire for a single comprehensive collection of recipes to satisfy all of my cravings.

Hungry Cravings is a collection of my very best recipes, with step by step photos and/or videos, to satisfy any craving, along with information on ingredients, cooking equipment, knife skills, cooking methods and techniques, and all things food.

May all of your hungry cravings be satisfied here.
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