Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cassoulet part II


If I am going to all this work I am not going to whimp out now. We decided to confit the duck legs ourselves. We went with Paula Wolferts sous vide method.

So, we seasoned the legs and sealed them with our Food Saver sealer.


Submerged them in water that was kept at 180 degrees for 5 hours.


Put in an ice bath to cool. Really was very easy if you don't mind becoming best friends with a polder themometer.


Duck Confit Cooked in a Pouch
Recipe by Paula Wolfert

3 tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons black peppercorns, lightly crushed
1 bay leaf, crumbled
1 teaspoon chopped thyme
6 large Pekin duck legs, untrimmed

In a bowl, mix the salt with the crushed peppercorns and the thyme. Put the duck legs in a large, shallow container and sprinkle them all over with the seasoning mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Rinse the legs and dry them thoroughly with paper towels. Using a vacuum sealer, package and seal the legs in pairs.
Set a large, enameled cast-iron casserole over a heat diffuser on the stove. Add the pouches and enough hot water to cover generously. Top the pouches with a heatproof plate to keep them submerged. Cover the casserole and bring the water to 180° over moderately low heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook at 180° for 5 hours. The duck legs are ready when they feel very tender and the meat begins to separate from the bone. The joints between the legs and thighs should crack easily when pressed firmly.

Prepare an ice water bath. With tongs, transfer the pouches to the water bath and let soak until the duck legs are cold and the fat has solidified. Dry off the pouches and refrigerate for up to 1 week. If a refrigerated pouch begins to puff up, discard it.
To serve, open the pouches and scrape the fat off the legs. Roast or pan-fry the confit until warmed through and crisp.

Monday, December 28, 2009

What to do if you can't find an ingredient


Dr Food and I went on a mad hunt for an ingredient for the impending cassoulet that we are making for New Years Eve. We had checked out almost every place that we could think of for saucisses de Toulouse which is a French sausage. After a day of hunting we did the sensible thing. We made them ourselves.

It took about an hour and voila! Using the Kitchen Aide made it a snap.



Stay tuned for the duck leg confit episode!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Finding traditions


I celebrated my first real Xmas after I married Dr. Food. We were living in the Bay area near my brother and his family. We would go over there Xmas eve and Xmas day. On Xmas day I would bring breakfast to eat before the gift frenzy started. This strata is what I would bring most of the time.


It is put together the night before and then baked the next morning. It is fantastic. So, this year we are in New England and we had no family around on Xmas morning. I went ahead and put one of these together the night before so that we could have something familiar. It is easy and a fantastic dish for a brunch.

Prosciutto and Goat Cheese Strata
Bon Appétit | December 2003

18 slices firm white bread (such as English muffin bread), crusts removed
6 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced
8 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
4 ounces provolone, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup chopped green onions
6 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil

5 large eggs
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Line bottom of 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish completely with 1 layer of bread, cutting some slices to fit. Arrange half of prosciutto evenly over bread. Sprinkle half of goat cheese and half of provolone over. Sprinkle with half of green onions and half of basil. Top with second layer of bread. Layer remaining prosciutto, goat cheese, provolone, green onions, and basil atop bread. Cut remaining bread into 1/4-inch cubes. Sprinkle over top.

Whisk eggs, milk, mustard, and salt in bowl. Season with pepper. Pour egg mixture over strata; press down on bread with spatula. Drizzle melted butter over strata. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Uncover strata and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Bake until center is set, about 1 hour. Remove from oven. Preheat broiler. Place strata under broiler until top is golden, about 30 seconds. Cut into large squares and serve.

A tradition is born.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Grown Up Kool Aid

It was snowing and snowing and snowing so there wasn't much to do but stay at home and hang out. What better way to spend the afternoon but drinking Swedish Glogg the grown up Kool aide. Sitting by a fire and drinking this makes it much warmer.


2 cups water or orange juice
1 (3-inch) piece orange rind
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
2 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
5 whole allspice
2 cardamom pods, bruised
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 (750-ml) bottle red wine, such as Burgundy
1/2 cup sugar
Garnishes: blanched almonds, golden raisins

Combine first 9 ingredients in a pot over medium heat. Bring mixture to a simmer, being careful not to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves. Strain mixture, and serve immediately, or gently reheat before serving. (If you prefer a stronger flavor, steep spices longer before straining.) Garnish, if desired.

Note: For a nonalcoholic version, use water or orange juice, and substitute 3 cups Concord grape juice for the wine. Omit sugar, and follow glögg procedure.

Then I parked myself in my den and drank. I suggest you do the same. Better than shopping.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Why do I feel compelled to bake?


First off, the bread was one huge success. Not only was it beautiful but it tasted just as good as it looked. My new favorite recipe.

So, when Dr. Food asked if I was going to make peppermint bark I knew he meant "Please please make xmas crack".


Now mind you, this is one simple recipe. However, be warned that taking the cellophane off of all those damn candy canes is not so simple. As I sat there undoing each one (24 of them) I was wondering what I was thinking when I gave in to make the stuff.


When it came time to smash the suckers in a plastic bag I had no problem getting out my frustration on them.


So then you spread the molten white chocolate with the candy mixed in on a cookie sheet and shove it into the freezer.



It doesn't take a ton of cooking magic to make this stuff. So in case you want to know

Smash up 24 candy canes
Melt 2 bags of white or any kind of chocolate chips
Mix candy canes into the chocolate. Spread out on cookie sheet and put in freezer for about an hour. Break into pieces and there ya have it.


I then moved onto ginger cookie sandwiches which I found on FoodBuzz from Multiply Delicious


Mine didn't look as pretty as hers but I am seeing this as a theme in my baking adventures. I should probably stick to meat dishes and such.


They tasted great and I guess that is what counts.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I found the perfect bread recipe for my lifestyle

I can't tell you how excited I am to be smelling fresh bread. Not only did it come out but it looks perfect. Ok, I haven't tasted it yet but I will keep you posted.

First off the recipe is from the article in the New York Times and is No Knead Bread I saw a post about it on Rocket Bread and also on Steamy Kitchen. I have been looking for a bread to make that would be something like I made in San Francisco. I haven't been able to do that since I moved here but this looks like a winner. I will let you know in fact if it is after tasting it but it looks so darn pretty.

I started off by hunting for a warm place to keep it while it sat for 18 to 20 hours. This was no easy feat because between 2 cats and a Saint Bernard it wasn't too safe anywhere. I took my chances and left it in the den where I keep the heat on to 70 degrees (right now it is 34 degrees outside and suppose to get down to 14 degrees). So I put it in the warmest room so I could keep an eye on it from my perch. My perch:


The waiting dough


After Dr Food suggested keeping it in the oven with the oven light on (he is a scientist and knows these things) I moved it to there.

So the rest was so easy that I can not even believe that the bread came out looking like this


Lets just hope that it taste as good as it looks. Believe me, if it doesn't you will hear me whining about it no matter where you are.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hanukkah and Xmas and stuff


It is holiday time and I just haven't really gotten into it. Sure we are going through the motions but I haven't been feeling my old spunky self. So, this is what I have done so far:

1. Dressed the dog in reindeer ears and put up a tree (as I mentioned before that didn't go as planned)

Our neighbors invited us for a Hanukkah party. They made the party for me me me. Kim had every imaginable Jewish food including gefilte fish and horseradish, borscht, matzoh, smoked salmon, and a brisket and potato pancakes. It was the best Hanukkah party I have ever been to. My "pretend that they are mine" babies were all dressed up and beautiful. There was even a Hanukkah cake with a big ole menorah on it in blue icing. Very cool.

I made the chicken soup and matzoh balls.



So, last night I felt that I needed to make a Hanukkah dinner and we invited other neighbors. I made brisket and potato pancakes. Me being me I forgot to take pictures so I recreated the dinner out of leftovers for a reenactment.


And just because I love you all... You know love you in that "mwah mwah" way here is the recipe for the best brisket ever. It comes from a friend from years passed. It was her aunt Irenes recipe:

Aunt Irene's Brisket

1 4-pound beef brisket
Kosher salt
1 onion, thinly sliced into half moons
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup prepared chile sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 12-ounce bottle beer

Salt and pepper both sides of the meat. Place beef in a roasting pan.
Cover with onion. Combine ketchup, chile sauce, brown sugar, garlic,
and beer. Pour mixture over meat. Cover securely with foil. Bake at
300 degrees F for 3 to 4 hours. When the meat is tender, remove foil
and bake uncovered for an additional 35 to 40 minutes. Chill the
brisket separately from the gravy. Puree the gravy while hot.

Happy Hanukkah. I will keep you posted about Xmas.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Turkey Tetrazzini


I got this recipe forwarded to me years ago from a friend of mine who was a killer cook. I think I have made it every year since then. It is fantastic and well worth the effort. I hate turkey and I love this dish. So, when it started to snow I defrosted the rest of the leftover turkey from Thanksgiving and made this,

Cook's Illustrated.
November & December 1998

Turkey Tetrazzini
Serves 8


1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
Pinch salt
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/4 cup)


6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, plus extra for baking dish
8 ounces white mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thin (3 cups) [I used
crimini mushrooms]
2 medium onions, chopped fine (1 1/2 cups)
Salt and ground black pepper
3/4 pound spaghetti or other long-strand pasta, strands snapped in
1/4 cup flour
2 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons dry sherry
3 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 3/4 cup)
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons juice from 1 small lemon
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
2 cups frozen peas
4 cups leftover cooked boneless turkey or chicken meat, cut into
1/4-inch pieces

1. For the topping: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven
to 350 degrees F. Mix breadcrubms, salt, and butter in small baking
dish; bake until golden brown and crisp, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool to room
temperature and mix with 1/4 cup grated Parmesan in small bowl. Set

2. For the filling: Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees F. Heat
2 tablespoons butter in large skillet over medium heat until foaming
subsides; add mushrooms and onions and saute, stirring frequently, until
onions soften and mushroom liquid evaporates, 12 to 15 minutes. Season
with salt and ground black pepper to taste; transfer to medium bowl and
set aside. Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling, salted water
until al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water, drain spaghetti, and
return to pot with reserved liquid.

3. For the sauce: Melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter in cleaned
skillet over medium heat. When foam subsides, whisk in flour and cook,
whisking constantly, until flour turns golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisking
constantly, gradually add chicken stock. Adjust heat to medium-high and
simmer until mixture thickens, 3 to 4 minutes. Off heat, whisk in
sherry, Parmesan, nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon salt, lemon juice, and thyme.
Add sauce, sauteed vegetables, peas, and meat to spaghetti and mix well;
adjust seasonings to taste. Turn mixture into a buttered 13- x 9-inch
baking dish (or other shallow, ovenproof dish of similar size), sprinkle
evenly with reserved breadcrumbs, and bake until breadcrumbs brown and
mixture is bubbly, 13 to 15 mintes. Serve immediately.

Monday, December 7, 2009

More cooking


We invited friends over for dinner. Jim was here from Norway and was craving some Indian food. I made my usual suspects but I added these Pakoras. Next time I would chop the vegetables smaller.

Pakoras (Fritters
Vij's Indian Cuisine

1lb cauliflower, in 1" florets
10 oz russett potato (1 lrg)
3 1/2 C chickpea flower
2 1/2 C buttermilk
3 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
3 Tbsp ground coriander
3 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp mango powder
1 tsp turmeric
2 Tbsp salt
1 red onion sliced lengthwise
6 C oil for deep frying (I didn't use this much)

** This recipe doesn't call for it but I should have chopped the potato and onion smaller than it calls for. If you make this do that.

Wash cauliflower in a colander and set aside. Allow water to drain from cauliflower for 15 to 20 minutes.

Peel and wash potatoes. Cut each potato in half, and cut each half in thin slices, about 1/8" thick.

In a large bowl, combine chickpea flour, buttermilk, jalapeno peppers, coriander, cumin, mango powder, turmeric and salt, using your hands. Make sure all the small chunks of chickpea flour have dissolved and the spices are well mixed. Add cauliflower, potatoes and onions, and stir well. The vegetables and chickpea batter should stick together.

To make sure you have the right consistency, form a 2" ball of the mixture and gently drop it from an 8" height back into the mixing bowl. The ball should retain its shape for a few seconds. If the batte is too runny, add chickpea flour, 2 Tbsp at a time, until the mixture thickens up. Do not add more than 4 Tbsp in total.

Preheat a large heavy bottomed pot and heat it on high heat for 5 minutes. Drop a very small piece of batter into the oil. If it floats to the top within a few seconds and is readily sizzling, the oil is hot enough. If it sinks to the bottom, the oil isn't yet properly heated.

When the oil is readly, using a slotted spoon, drop 2" balls of the batter (they won't be exactly round) into the hot oil. Drop as many as you can handle at one time, ut make sure they don't touch. Cook for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes, or until golden brown. Take pakoras out and drain on paper towels.

Serves 6

Other than that we were trying to get our Xmas tree up and decorated.


Looks good eh? Well the way things have been going for me lately I don't know why I expected that the 11 ft tree that weighed a ton would stay up. 3 times this damn thing ended up like this:


Finally tied it to the wall with a hook. Please don't breathe for another few weeks. I don't want to have to clean it up again.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

It is time to come clean...

I get comments on this blog all the time how decadent my cooking is. I know it is meant as a compliment and I take it as such. However, I need to confess that I do not eat like this every night. As a matter of fact most nights are less than exciting. The good Dr. Food and I allow ourselves to cook something outrageous on the weekend. Most the time for friends. So, lets take a glimpse into a typical weekday meal.


That is turkey sausage that you are seeing there.


Throw it into a pan with some vegetables and add garbanzo beans and black beans.


Throw into a flour tortilla and put some low fat tasteless cheese on top.


Don't hate me. It is never too late to come clean.

Easy Enchiladas
from Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook

2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 pound hot Italian turkey sausage, casings removed (I used sweet Italian pork sausage)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup canned stewed tomatoes
3/4 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup canned pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 (6-inch) flour tortillas (I used whole wheat)
1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a 2-quart baking dish with non-stick spray.

In a large skillet, heat the oil. Cook the sausage, bell pepper and onion, stirring frequently to break up the sausage. Cook until browned, about 6-8 minutes. Add the chili powder and cumin; cook, stirring for 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes, both beans, and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Place the tortillas on a work surface. Spoon the mixture down the center of the tortilla, then roll the tortilla up. Place it, seamside down, in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Sprinkle the rolled enchiladas with the cheese. Bake until heated through and the cheese is melted - 30 to 35 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 4 servings