Cherry Gazpacho a la Stoneridge Orchards

Gazpacho is the ideal late summer cuisine—a chilled soup that is spicy, hearty and just the shade of autumn leaves. This was my first gazpacho attempt, and I wanted to find a recipe for gazpacho that would allow me to use Stoneridge dried cherries because Stoneridge Orchards also makes a chocolate dipped cherry that I thought would tie in as a delicious dessert. That recipe did not exist, until now….

I highly recommend allowing the gazpacho to rest in the fridge for up to a day before eating—if you try sooner, the acerbic flavor of the red onion and garlic won’t have tempered into the other flavors and it will have too much bite. But, what you will.

Cherry Gazpacho

Adapted from Food and Wine

2 lb tomatoes, cored and chopped

½ lb dried Stoneridge cherries

1 small poblano pepper, chopped

1 cup panko bread crumbs

½ cup chopped red onion

¼ cup red wine vinegar (with a splash of real red wine)

4 garlic cloves, chopped

½ cup plus 1/3 cup olive oil

Kosher salt and pepper

1 cup basil leaves

2 sliver anchovy fillets, chopped pistachios and goat cheese for the topping

Toss the tomatoes with the cherries, pepper, bread crumbs, onion, vinegar, garlic and ½ cup of olive oil. Give a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature, covered, for 2 hours. Then add anchovies and puree the stuff in batches, transfer to the fridge, covered, and let rest overnight.

Now you make the tasty basil oil garnish. Blanch the basil in a simmering bath of hot water for 1 minute. Drain and squeeze out the extra water. Puree the basil with 1/3 cup olive oil, and strain into a separate container. Serve the soup cold with the garnishes, a bit of oil, and I think it is delicious with buckwheat toast.

 

 

 

 

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Rosmarino e Lamponi Torta — Rosemary Raspberry Cake

There is little else I would rather do on a luxurious day off than bake a cake to match the occasion. I find no better source for decadent but savory cakes than in my Italian Baker cookbook. They are challenging, but worth the effort. Not too sweet and full of good fats. This cake has no oil at all, all the fat is egg yolk in the sponge, and then of course in the heavy whipping cream frosting. I brought this to our Midcity dinner club last night to compliment a rosemary and peach roast pork dish.

 

Torta al Limone, Lamponi e Rosmarino

Adapted from the Italian Baker

Syrup

1 cup caster sugar

¾ cup water

125 g rosemary sprigs

Sponge cake

8 eggs

¾ cup (160 g exactly) caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 ¼ cup (160 g exactly) flour, sifted

1 tsp baking powder

Zest of one lemon (finely grated)—I used Penzey’s lemon powder with a touch of real zest

Filling

12 oz rasperries

1 tsp cornstarch

2 TB fresh lemon juice

60 g caster sugar (about 1/3 cup)

Frosting

1 cup heavy cream

9 oz mascarpone cheese

¾ cup confectioners sugar

 

Make the syrup first. Put sugar and water in a pan and heat to a simmer for 15-20 minutes until a little syrupy. Add the rosemary (and it’s going to seem like a ton. I actually only used one ounce because I didn’t have enough on my little rosemary bush and I didn’t want to leave it denuded. I think 40 grams was plenty to confer the proper flavor). Cover and remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, then move to chill in the fridge overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease two 8-inch pans (I did three because I like my cakes a little taller.) Put the eggs, sugar and vanilla together and whisk in a kitchenaid until at least doubled in volume, like 6 minutes. Then blend the dry ingredients and fold in by hand after sifting over the egg fluff. Divide the batter into two tins. (I just made one more ½ batch of the sponge and filled a third tin.) Bake for 25-30 minutes—cakes should be springy to touch. Pull them out too soon and they will collapse. Let cool completely on a rack. Go out and thank your chickens for their dozen eggs that made this sponge.

Combine all the filling ingredients in a small pan and bring to a boil. Stir constantly. After the fruit has softened, put the stuff through a strainer and press until all the juice is returned to a new saucepan (without those nasty seeds). Stir constantly over the medium heat while the juice thickens, then let cool completely.

I know, there are so many parts to this. You can lay down for a second. Izzy did.

Now whip the cream until medium-stiff. Set aside. Put the sugar and mascarpone in a stand mixer and whip together for 3 minutes with a paddle mixer. Then add the whipped cream and mix on high with a whisk for 3 minutes.

Finally, level the cakes. Brush rosemary syrup over each cake and let soak in. Pipe a ring of frosting around the middle layer to create a ridge and fill with spoonfuls of the raspberry fill. Repeat with a second layer if you are doing a triple layer cake. Then frost and top with little pretty raspberries and rosemary and sifted confectioner’s sugar. Do a couple of ballerina moves, plie, arabesque, pirouette, splits! Because that is what you have done dessert-wise.

Seriously one of the most beautiful cakes I’ve ever made. Just gorgeous.

Redfish on the Half Shell with Chermoula and Corn Puree– with Props to Compere Lapin

Not long ago I pulled one of these treasured fish from shallow Gulf waters and brought it home for dinner. I remember we made redfish court bouillon and I showed the picture of my fish catching to near-strangers, so proud was I.

There are so many delicious southern recipes featuring redfish—this one with chermoula and corn puree is a healthy and flavorful pairing.

I also just have to say, we went to Compere Lapin for KP’s birthday dinner on Monday night and it was hands down the best food I’ve ever had that I (or my mom) did not make at home. One of the best things about learning to cook is realizing that almost always you can make it better and cheaper yourself. This cannot be said to be true about Compere Lapin—absolute Caribbean French culinary perfection. An absolute treat. Pepper pot, Stracciatella with mango and hazelnuts, Jerk Black Drum and Scialatielli…vanilla chicory whisky cocktail—this restaurant makes me feel proud to be a New Orleanian. Thanks Nina Compton et al for the best dinner out we’ve ever had!

Probably will have to wait until next year to catch another big redfish, but when I do, this will be the first dinner I cook up! Leave that skin and scale on!

Redfish on the Half Shell with Chermoula and Corn Puree

Adapted from New Orleans Natural Awakenings Magazine

Chermoula

2 cups cilantro

1 cup parsley

8 garlic cloves

½ tsp lemon zest

2/3 cup lemon juice

1 ½ tsp ground coriander

2 tsp paprika

1 ½ tsp cumin

1 tsp cayenne

¼ tsp saffron

1 pinch salt

½ tsp red pepper flakes

1 cup olive oil

 

Corn Puree

1 pound corn kernels

1 cup cream

2 oz cane vinegar

1 pinch salt

 

Redfish

½ pound squash

2 tsp olive oil, divided

4 redfish fillets with skin and scales

1/8 tsp salt and pepper

1 tsp butter

2 oz andouille sausage

½ pound swiss chard

2 garlic cloves

1 shallot

1 tsp cane vinegar

 

Chermoula is easy. Just put all the ingredients except for the olive oil in a food processor and puree. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Voila.

For the corn puree, combine all the ingredients in a medium sauce pan and simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes until the corn is soft. Then also blend in a processor for 45 seconds, not until smooth, but until the texture of the stuff is kind of like corn grits.

Preheat oven to 400. Cut squash up into little inch cube sort of pieces. Drizzle squash with olive oil and place on a baking sheet covered in foil, bake for 10-15 minutes, until tender. Heat up a castiron skillet on high heat and rub with olive oil. Place the fish fillets with skin and scales side down and cook for 4 minutes. Season the top of the fillets with butter, salt, pepper and place in the oven for 5 minutes. Dice up the andouille and saute in olive oil on low heat until the sausage is crispy. Drain on a paper towel, reserving a little andouille oil in the skillet.

Remove the stems and julienne the Swiss chard. Add garlic cloves and minced shallot to hot pan of andouille oil, cook for about 3 minutes on medium heat. Then put in the chard with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add cane vinegar and cook until the greens are wilted. Remove from heat, and place chard on the plate. Heap the corn on top or artfully near by, a little squash, and then place the fish and andouille on top, dot the plate with your chermoula and drizzle a little on top of the fish.

Delicious. You also can use the corn puree like butter on a wheat toast the next day, topped with chermoula. My fave.

Genoise Cake for a Special Birthday

Late summer citrus cravings were answered by this lovely meringue from the Italian Baker. KP took another lap around the sun and we celebrate this with a cake that took 16 eggs to perfect. This cake suffered from structural integrity flaws due to my impatience with regard to levelling and also because the filling was a bit on the runny side (or the humidity was 2 million percent and the kitchen temp lingered in the 80s). In the end the meringue was a worthy spackle, and the taste was decadent. I believe strongly in homemade cake on a birthday. This one pairs well with mimosas and fabulous friends.

 

Genoise Meringata E Arancia

Adapted from the Italian Baker

Filling

250g caster sugar

1 ½ cornflour

¼ tsp salt

3 tsp finely grated orange zest

2/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, strained

2 TB lemon juice

1 whole egg

4 egg yolks

4 TB butter, cut into small pieces

Genoise (I doubled this and made 4 layers of 8-inch rounds)

100g (1/3 cup plus 2 TB) butter, melted and cooled, plus extra for greasing

1 ¼ cup plain flour, plus extra for dusting

4 eggs, at room temperature

½ cup caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla paste or extract

The Meringue

4 egg whites

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

½ cup caster sugar

For the filling, put the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a pan and whisk together. Stir in the orange zest and juice, and the lemon juice. Bring to a boil over a medium heat, stirring frequently, and boil for 1 minute. The mixture should thicken slightly and turn translucent. Remove from the heat. I don’t think I let mine get thick enough—it was pretty runny.

Whisk the whole egg and yolks in a bowl, until blended. Slowly pour 60ml of the hot orange juice mixture over the eggs and stir until well mixed. Stirring, slowly pour the egg mixture into the pan with the remaining orange mixture. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, whisking vigorously with a small balloon whisk, until thickened, about 4 minutes. Again—mine was runny and I did four minutes, so make sure yours is thick thick. Remove from the heat, add the butter and stir until combined. Pour into a bowl, lay saran directly on the surface, and chill for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter the bases and sides of two 8-inch cake tins and dust with flour. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a mixing bowl (set over a pan of hot water) and using hand-held electric beaters, beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla together for about 5 minutes, until tripled in volume. Sift the flour twice and fold it very gently into the egg mixture. Pour the cooled melted butter into the mixture and fold again. Immediately divide the batter between the prepared tins and bake for about 30 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before inverting on to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the meringue frosting, put the egg whites and sugar into a very clean heatproof bowl and set it over a pan of barely simmering water. Stirring constantly, heat until there are stiff peaks, about 3–5 minutes. Remove the bowl from the saucepan, add the cream of tartar and whisk the mixture in an electric stand mixer (or with an electric handheld whisk) until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 7–9 minutes. I made two batches of this because I wanted plenty of meringue to cover my four layers, and the filling was a little oozy and so I kind of used the meringue like spackle. Or sheetrock?

To assemble, spread half of the chilled orange filling over one cake, leaving a clean border, about 5mm. Place the second cake on top, followed by the remaining orange filling. Spread the meringue over the entire cake. Using a kitchen blowtorch, flame the meringue all over until lightly golden. Serve immediately or store, covered, in the fridge, and bring to room temperature before serving.

I’m super impressed with how fluffy this cake was without any baking powder or soda. All egg leavening. Very rich, moist crumb.

Mmmmm. the leaning tower of Arancia.

Again, this is likely my favorite cookbook of all time. Full of winners.

Coconut Curried Red Lentil Dip with a side of Meditation

We’ve been hunkered down here in back-to-school/back-to-medicine hustle and bustle. I’m experimenting with how to use meditation as a way to bottle and slow-release my own vacations and the accompanying good vibrations back into my life—a redistribution technique of joy. Here’s the current method: take a photo you took on your most recent vacation or day off and as you gaze at it, notice all the details you did not likely notice in the moment. Then try to re-imagine the scene from your minds eye and stay there awhile, see what else might be there. Ten minutes of memory-induced euphoria.

This is a winner. Tastes delicious on toasted bread with a slice of melting mozzarella. KP came up with this pairing, and made the dip one night when I was slammed with work. I brought it to work in glass jars and sustained all kinds of horrid reactions, “Is that baby food? Is that vomit? What is thaaaat?”

Delicious. That’s what this is. Sorry it looks like vomit in my picture.

Coconut-Curried Red Lentil Dip

Adapted from Food and Wine

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup finely chopped onion

1/2 cup finely chopped carrot

1/2 cup finely chopped celery

Kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

8 ounces red lentils, picked over

2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth

One 15-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk

Hot sauce, chips and crudités, for serving, or put on toast with mozzarella!

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, carrot, celery and a pinch of salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and just starting to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the curry powder, garam masala, cumin and cinnamon and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the lentils, chicken stock and coconut milk to the saucepan and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Cover and simmer over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, until the lentils have cooked down to a thickened puree, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely, then season with salt.

Happy meditating.

Galantine Chicken and Hasselbeck Potato Extravaganza with Mother Dearest

I had the extreme fortune of enjoying three consecutive days off with my mother on her latest visit, and of course we couldn’t help ourselves but cook and bake. Mom is fighting a current phobia that she is turning into a potato, so how better to address that fear than exposure therapy—  in this post, we hasselbeck potatoes and galantine chicken. New verbs for me. Who knew deboning a chicken could be so easy and elegant? But first, a sip of coffee on the porch.

I do believe this is the proudest I’ve ever felt over a dinner plate.

Galantine Chicken and Hasselbeck Potato Extravaganza with Mother Dearest

1 chicken, boned (see below)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Spinach, Cheese, and Bread Stuffing:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

5 ounces baby spinach leaves

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup grated Gruyere or mozzarella cheese (about 4 ounces)

1 1/2 cups cubed (1/2- inch) bread

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Overnight, brine the chicken in a large pot of salted water. Use about 1 cup of kosher salt in the water, completely cover the chicken. Tuck lemon slices just under the skin of the breast of the chicken and add 1 TB dry sage to the water.

For the Stuffing: heat the oil in a large saucepan or skillet.  Add the garlic, spinach, salt, and pepper, and cook for 1 minute to soften the garlic and wilt the spinach. Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature.  Reserve the cheese and bread and continue with the recipe.

How to Galantine a chicken—Really, Jacques Pepin has the definitive video that I reviewed with my mother to figure out how to do this.

First you cut the back.

Then you remove the wishbone and cut the shoulder (elbow? unsure of chicken anatomy) joint and remove the wings.

Gotta cut a little more and pull all the skin down over the body like you are removing the chicken’s pajamas, and pull out the carcass (with the tenderloins attached, which you can remove later).

You need to then deal with the thigh bones. Cut at the joint and invert the leg bone, cutting all the meat back to the top of the bone, then put it all back, break the bone at the neck and pull the majority of the long bone out.

It is really beyond any capacity of prose to capture how to do this visuo-spatial chicken geometry. So I will leave it up to the video and this series of pictures to illustrate the chronologically play by play.

When it’s all flat, cut those tenderloin filets off the carcass and use that meat to patch in any holes around the little meat blanket you have before you.

Then you stuff the thing.

Lay the chicken skin-side down on the work surface and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Spread the cool rice or spinach mixture evenly over the chicken. If using the spinach stuffing, sprinkle the cheese and bread cubes on top of the spinach. Roll the chicken up, tie with kitchen twine, and place in roasting pan, sear both sides before putting the roast in the oven. We found it helpful to clip the skin together with a butterfly office clip while tying with twine.

Roast the stuffed chicken package for 1 hour.  Lift it from the pan and place it on a platter. Meanwhile, you can cut these potatoes on the top like a sal bug, leaving a small little <1cm margin on the bottom not cut through. Rub with olive oil and sprinkle with your choice of seasonings and roast for 1 hour (you can fit in with the chicken if your oven is big enough).

Transfer the ballottine to a cutting board and remove the twine.  Cut half of it into 4 or 5 slices, each about 1 inch thick.

Don’t forget to freeze the bones and the neck, gizzard, and heart for later use in soup or stock.

Thank you so much, Mom, for coming to New Orleans and sharing your kitchen magic, and your beautiful smile and presence. You are not a potato.

 

 

Fried Eggplant with Okra and Oatmeal Cookies– Enjoy Life

It’s raining and my mom’s coming to town…hmm, wonder what we will do for fun? Make SNACKS! I have buukuu okra that needs to be stewed into goodness, so I’m including here my favorite recipe for fried eggplant and okra—so southern. Then I recently read this article in Cooks Illustrated about the world’s most perfect oatmeal cookie, and I whole heartedly agree after testing in my kitchen. Also, there will be Scrabble.

 

Smothered Okra and Tomatoes

Adapted from Tony Chachere’s Cajun Country Cookbook

2 lbs okra, sliced

3 TB olive oil

1 TB flour

1 medium red onion, diced

½ green or red bell pepper, chopped

2 medium stalks of celery, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 hot peppers, chopped

5 fresh tomatoes, chopped

Cajun seasoning, to taste (I like Uncle Larry’s with a little dash of Tony’s)

Stir fry the okra in 2 TB olive oil in a non-cast iron skillet, non-reactive skillet. Fry until lightly charred. In a different, cast-iron skillet, make a medium-dark roux with 1 TB olive oil, 1 TB flour. Add onion, bell pepper, and celery, garlic and hot peppers and simmer until wilted. Add tomatoes and simmer for five more minutes. Add okra, season to taste with Cajun stuff, and cook for about one hour on low heat until very sauce-y. Serve on top of these delicious fried eggplants.

Fried Eggplant

Adapted from Down-Home Cajun Cooking Favorites

4 medium eggs

3 small eggplants, sliced ¼ inch thick, salted and dried

½ cup whole wheat flour

1 TB garlic and/or onion powder

1 tsp cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup panko bread crumbs

3 TB olive oil

Mozzarella cheese

In a mixing bowl beat eggs. Slice eggplants, rub with salt, let dry out on a rack for 30 minutes, wipe the fluid off with a towel and rinse.

Mix together flour and seasonings. Dip eggplant slices into egg, then roll in flour mixture, then panko crumbs and fry on a hot skillet until each side is golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from pan and sprinkle with cheese.

And now for the cookies…

Also, I’ll include this photo of my latest favorite granola bar from Enjoy Life, which are nice for the allergic sort who can’t have soy or milk or gluten or any of the goodies. They are delicious, especially the carrot cake ones. And I don’t even like carrot cake.

The Best Oatmeal Cookie Ever

Adapted from Cooks Illustrated

1 cup all purpose flour

1 tsp salt

½ tsp baking soda

4 TB butter

1 tsp cinnamon

¾ cup brown sugar

½ cup sugar sugar

½ cup olive oil

1 egg plus one egg yolk

1 tsp vanilla

3 cups old fashioned rolled oats

½ cup currants

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment. Melt butter in skillet until it is brown butter. Stir in cinnamon. Add all the sugars and oil to the butter and whisk. Then add egg and yolk and vanilla and whisk again. Then add flour/salt/baking soda mixture (pre-sifted). Then oats and currants. Should be a really stiff dough. Bake 8-10 minutes. YUM.

These are enough to send Izzy right past bliss into euphoric ennui.