Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Best Meal of My Life: Quince

*Click on picture to enlarge menu*

I stayed with my sister for a couple days in San Francisco and she made reservations for us at Quince in Pacific Heights. This restaurant is known as being Bay Area's finest behind Keller's French Laundry. Needless to say, I was very excited.

We got dressed up and started with drinks at a great bistro called Florio on Fillmore Street. My sister and her fiance went on their first date at Florio so it was a special night from the get-go. After a glass of wine, we headed to Quince and found a parking spot right in front. How exciting! Parking in San Francisco is a full contact sport...

From the second we stepped foot inside the restaurant to when we left, there was not one detail that was over looked. The service was a full blown experience. We decided to "go for it" and ordered the tasting menu and wine pairing. When I opened the menu it said "Welcome to San Francisco, Elizabeth". I am moving to San Francisco in September and my sister called the restaurant ahead of time to include that on the cover and it brought tears to my eyes. It was such a nice personal touch.

The only critique I had of this dinner was that there could have been a little more time between courses. It felt a bit rushed but other than that it was the best meal of my life. My sister and I agreed the the best course was the soup. You just didn't want it to end. In addition, we both don't like scallops and the scallops were delicious and I'd eat them a hundred times over. So i suggest that if you are in San Francisco and feel like splurging to make sure to go to Quince. Thanks to my sister for making it such a special night and I look forward to many more dinners together in the fall.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Me too!

i got a dutch oven too! we are two lucky ladies. i've made a braised pork roast and just bought TWELVE POUNDS of short ribs for our new year's dinner party. be still, my arteries.

my favorite food moment of the holidays? my friend amanda called me to tell me she got a kick ass new cast iron grill pan. naturally, i said "oh, yum! that's awesome.' and amanda said, "it's funny, you're the only person i told that to who had that reaction!" apparently, not everyone shares our love of cookware. :)

happy holidays!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Braised Short Ribs

Santa gave me a dutch oven for xmas so I was excited to start braising anything I could get my hands on right away. We decided to make short ribs. I've never met a man that didn't love short ribs. The best part is that they are so easy to make and always impress. We used duck broth from the smoked ducks we used in my mom's gumbo instead of chicken stock and a bottle of my stepdad's homegrown wine from his ranch. I love cooking at home...

Braised short ribs with red wine and pureed vegetables
Bon Appétit September 2006
Antonio Pisaniello

Servings: Makes 6 servings.

5 whole black peppercorns
1 small bay leaf ( I used 2 bay leaves)
2 tablespoons coarse sea salt
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
2 tablespoons (packed) fresh sage leaves
4 1/2 pounds beef short ribs, well trimmed
1/2 cup corn oil
4 cups low-salt chicken broth, divided
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for potatoes
2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 cups finely chopped carrots
1 1/2 cups finely chopped celery
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 750-ml bottle red wine from Campania (Aglianico or Taurasi)*
6 large white-skinned potatoes

*Syrah or Cabernet Franc can be substituted.

Grind first 5 ingredients in spice mill. Sprinkle beef with additional pepper and 3 1/2 teaspoons herb-salt mixture. Heat 1/2 cup corn oil in heavy large pot over high heat. Working in batches, add beef and brown well, turning occasionally, about 8 minutes per batch. Using tongs, transfer beef to large bowl. Pour off oil from pot. Add 1 cup broth to drippings in pot and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Pour deglazed pan juices into small bowl.Heat 4 tablespoons olive oil in same pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots, and celery; sauté until beginning to brown, about 12 minutes. Add tomato paste and sauté 2 minutes. Add deglazed pan juices and bring to simmer. Return beef and any accumulated juices to pot. Add wine and remaining 3 cups broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low. Season with pepper. Cover and cook until beef is very tender, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours.Using tongs, transfer beef to large bowl. Tilt pot and spoon off fat from surface of sauce. Working in batches, puree sauce with vegetables in blender until smooth; return to pot. Boil until reduced to 4 cups, about 15 minutes. Add beef and stir to heat through. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and refrigerate. Bring to simmer before continuing.Cook potatoes in pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain. Place 1 potato on each plate; press to mash slightly. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Top with beef. Spoon sauce around beef and potatoes and serve.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Mom's Smoked Duck Gumbo

My step brother is a major hunter. I mean major. He goes to Africa with bows and arrows. No joke. So when he dropped off a duck he shot and smoked my mom made a delicious gumbo with oysters. She didn't use a recipe, just made it as she went along, but she wrote down what she thought it would look like if she had...

Mom's Smoked Duck Gumbo
6 tablespoons of flour
9 tablespoons of butter
2 smoked wild duck, meat removed and diced
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 bay leaves
24 oysters with oyster liquor
1 teaspoon of fill powder
1 1/2 teaspoon of thyme
1 3/4 quarts water
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
6 sprigs of chopped parsley

Melt butter and mix in flour to make a roux. Heat until roux is very, very dark brown. Add onions, green pepper and parsley to roux and stir until onions are translucent. Add the water, pouring in gradually while stirring. Add remaining ingredients. Simmer for 6 or 7 hours. Serve over white rice. Better served next day.

*We saved the duck carcasses and made smoked duck stock. We used the stock to make short ribs. Look for that recipe next!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Roman Dinner, Part 2

My sister gave me The Produce Bible for my birthday earlier this month and if you don't have this wonderful cookbook/ reference I suggest you go out and get it! We decided that there is nothing more Italian than gnocchi (even though it may not be Roman, not sure...) For those of you that have never made gnocchi (I'm not going to lie) it's kind of a pain in the you-know-what BUT it is worth it. Trust me!

The key is to follow directions very, very closely. Now, this is not my strength. I am not a good baker because I can never stay the course and measure things perfectly, follow directions, etc. It's just not my personality. I've never been one to follow the rules, let alone recipes, hence why there is little baking on this blog. Long story short, my sister is GREAT at it so we really made a good team and hit this one out of the park. One thing to note: if you try the pasta after you have cooked it plain it tastes very doughy. DON'T lose faith. We almost threw ours out and what a tragedy that would have been. With the cream sauce it will taste awesome. Italy's got nothin' on my me and my sister's gnocchi right now.

Potato Gnocchi with Pancetta and Sage
2 pounds floury potatoes
2 egg yolks, lightly beatened
2 tbsp of Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tbsp of butter
1/2 pancetta, cubed
8 small sage leaves, chopped
2/3 heavy cream
1/2 Parmesan
(We added shallots, more cream, asiago and more Parmesan because we love cheese, butter and cream...)

Prick the potatoes all over, than bake for an hour or until tender. Leave to cool for 15 minutes, then peel and mash.
Mix in the egg yolks and cheese (we added Asiago) then gradually stir in flour. When mixture gets too firm, mix with hands. Once loose dough forms, work with hands. Once loose dough forms, transfer to a lightly floured surface (see pic) and kneed gently. Work in extra flour to give a soft dough that is damp to the tough but not sticky (this is key, we added about a cup extra for larger potatoes).

Divide the dough into 6 large potions. Knead dough adding as much flour as needed to rid stickiness. Roll out on floured surface to make a 3/4 rope of dough. Cut rope into 5/8 pieces and press your finger into it to form a conclave shape, then roll the outer surface over the tines of the fork to make deep ridges. Fold the outer lips in toward each other to make a hollow middle. Set aside and continue with remaining dough.
Bring a large pot to boil with salt. Boil gnocchi until they come to top, about 2 minutes. Transfer to baking dish.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter and fry pancetta. Once browned and perfect, add cream and sage. Reduce for about 5 minutes. Pour on top of gnocchi. Top with bread crumbs and cheese. Bake for 10- 15 minutes or until browned. YUMMY!!!!


Roman Dinner, Part 1

Ahh, home again.

I'm back in Napa Valley for Christmas and it's the first year I can remember that it hasn't rained every day. Coming from Chicago where the current weather is about 17 degrees with 30 mph winds, I'm a pretty happy girl. I've been wearing tee shirts, playing tennis every day, catching up with friends and, the best part, cooking with my mom and sister.

So, to celebrate my recent travels to Rome, we decided to cook a traditional Roman feast for Christmas Eve... we started with an antipasto plate, prosciutto salad and fried artichokes (look for the fried artichoke recipe posted earlier this month.

Arugula, prosciutto, blood orange salad with pistachio nuts
I recreated this dish from Avec (see post from Avec last week) to kick us off and it got rave reviews.

For 4-5 people
12 thin, thin slices of prosciutto
1 lemon
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 bunches of arugula
Deshelled pistachio nuts
3 blood oranges
Salt and pepper

Take the prosciutto and layer them loosely on top of each other on the bottom of the plate. Rise the arugula and pat dry. In a cup, mix olive oil and lemon juice with salt and pepper. Toss arugula lightly in dressing and then place on top of prosciutto. Peel blood oranges and slice in half. Shave thin pieces and arrange on top of arugula. Garnish with pistachio nuts and serve.

The Shaw/ Beatty Family Antipasto Platter
We decided not to follow the traditional route for our antipasto platter for various reasons so this is what we came up with...

5 slices of 3 varieties of Italian salami (We bought ours at Guignis!!!)
3 wedges of cheeses (I had the cheese monger at our specialty grocery store pick these out, one was a specialty goat, specialty gouda and specialty brie)
1 baguette
4 roasted garlic cloves (We spread the roasted garic on our baguette like butter, yum!)
My mom's pear chutney (suckers, you can't get your hands on this but Stonewall's Apple Cranberry works just fine)

Arrange all separate components on plate and enjoy!!!

See part 2 for some delicious homemade gnocchi...

Merry Christmas!

Everyone have a safe and joyous Christmas with your friends and family.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Bearnaise Sauce

The holidays are about tradition and there is no stronger way to celebrate tradition then with recipes. My mother was classically trained in Paris at the one-and-only Le Cordon Bleu which probably explains the bulk of my recipes and my obsession with everything egg, cheese and cream. Obsessions aside, the meal she makes every Christmas is my favorite and there is a good reason why...Bearnaise.

Every Christmas, my family is treated to peppercorn crusted beef tenderloin with bearnaise. Lucky, I know. She tapes the oven and puts a "DO NOT OPEN" sign on the door to ensure that each year it is cooked for perfection. And it's never overdone. Ever.

So, since it's the holidays and we have all taken a hiatus from any sort of diet, I suggest you try to serve your next piece of fine meat, fish or chicken with this delight. Go ahead, make Julia Child proud.

Bearnaise Sauce

1/4 cup vinegar, wine vinegar is best
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 shallots, minced
1 tb tarragon, fresh and minced
3 egg yolks
2/3 cup butter
2 tb parsley, fresh (or tarragon)
Salt and pepper

Step 1: Boil the vinegar, white wine, shallots and herbs, add salt and pepper, over moderate heat until there are 3 tablespoons of sauce remaining, for 10 to 15 minutes.

Step 2: Beat the egg yolks. Mix with wine and vinegar mixture, beat. Add 1 tablespoon of butter. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes max. Do not let the sauce boil.

Step 3: Melt 1/2 cup of butter. Then add the melted butter to the mixture and beat. Add parsley or tarragon and beat while cooking over low heat for 5 minutes max in step 3.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Steak au Poivre

This is an Albert Stockli recipe from my former Harvard colleague, Beardsley Ruml. "The gravy is a flavorful surprise."

One inch thick sirloin or tenderloin steaks

Whole peppercorns, chopped
2 Tbsp Butter
2 Tbsp Flour
2/3 Cup Beef boullion cube dissolved in water
5 oz Brandy
1 tsp Kitchen Bouquet
1/2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1. With a large knife, chop the whole peppercorns into small chunks, 3 or 4 per corn. Spread the chopped peppercorns over both sides of the steaks and press them into the meat. The amount of pepper is variable but my habit is to use about 2 tablespoons for both sides (about 25 peppercorns).

2. Fry the steaks in a very hot pan in a little oil until they are cooked on the outside but still raw in the middle. Place them in a 350 degree oven while making the gravy and they will cook to medium rare.

3. Pour any remaining oil from the pan without losing any dislodged peppercorns. Add the butter and, when melted, the flour and cook the roux for at least a minute. Add the beef stock and brandy and cook for another minute, stirring to smoothen. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Serve over the hot steaks on hot plates.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007


After a little holiday shopping on Michigan Ave last night, my boyfriend and I decided to hop a cab to the West Loop to (finally) hit up Avec. This turned out to be a genius idea...

Avec opened in 2003 next door to Blackbird on the Randolph restaurant strip and has been busy ever since. They don't take reservations, serve a menu of small plates and seat strangers elbow-to-elbow on picnic table like furniture. They have an obscure wine list of over 120 wines; all of them very moderately priced and tasty. The music here rocks. If you like rock & roll and soul this is your kind of spot. This place is low key, no fuss with a splash of hipster. Anthony Bourdain, as well as many other highly acclaimed chefs, rave about Avec. We now know why.

Drew and I ordered a cheese plate and an order of prosciutto served with blood orange, pistachios and arugula. This was a wonderful way to stat the meal even though some may argue starting with the cheese plate is working backwards. Next, we ordered the chicken thigh with poached quince, apple and frisee with a mustard cream dressing. The chicken was cooked to perfection. The meat was tender and juicy and the skin was very crispy. We also ordered their signature plate; dates stuffed with chorizo wrapped in bacon. I ask you: how could you possible go wrong with that combination??? Needless to say, we inhaled that too.

There is no doubt that we will be returning to Avec and very soon at that. If you live in Chicago or are planning a visit, make sure to make a pit stop at this gem.


Monday, December 17, 2007

What's in Season- Winter

Winter is here and that means there's new in-season ingredients you should be taking advantage of. Check out Food Network's Website to see descriptions and recipes for each ingredient.

Ingredients include:
  • Chestnuts
  • Kale
  • Lemons
  • Grapefruit
  • Leeks
  • Oranges and Tangerines
  • Radicchio
  • Radishes
  • Rutabaga
  • Turnips


Chicken and Dumplings

It's crappy out. Amanda and I wanted comfort food. Smitten Kitchen just featured this Chicken and Dumplings, so I searched out the recipe and it was perfect. Thick and stewy, with the most delicious dumplings, not crumbly or rock hard. I think I would have liked it with some carrots and celery, too.

Don't use low-fat or fat-free milk in this recipe. Start the dumpling dough only when you're ready to top the stew with the dumplings.

Chicken and Dumplings with Leeks and Tarragon
Cook’s Illustrated, February 2005

Serves 6 to 8
5 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs ( i used bone-in breasts)
Table salt and ground black pepper
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
2 medium leeks , white and light green parts only, cut in half lengthwise and then into 1-inch pieces
1 large onion , minced
6 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dry sherry
4 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
1 cup frozen green peas
3 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon leaves

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons reserved chicken fat (or unsalted butter)

1. For the Stew: Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add half of the chicken and cook until golden on both sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and remove the browned skin. Pour off the chicken fat and reserve. Return the pot to medium-high heat and repeat with the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and the remaining chicken. Pour off and reserve any chicken fat.

2. Add the butter to the Dutch oven and melt over medium-high heat. Add the leeks, onion, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in the flour. Whisk in the sherry, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in the broth, milk, thyme, and bay leaves. Nestle the chicken, with any accumulated juices, into the pot. Cover and simmer until the chicken is fully cooked and tender, about 1 hour.

3. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Discard the bay leaves. Allow the sauce to settle for a few minutes, then skim the fat from the surface using a wide spoon. Shred the chicken, discarding the bones, then return it to the stew.

4. For the Dumplings: Stir the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Microwave the milk and fat in a microwave-safe bowl on high until just warm (do not over-heat), about 1 minute. Stir the warmed milk mixture into the flour mixture with a wooden spoon until incorporated and smooth.

5. Return the stew to a simmer, stir in the peas and tarragon, and season with salt and pepper. Following the steps below, drop golf-ball-sized dumplings over the top of the stew, about 1/4 inch apart (you should have about 18 dumplings). Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the dumplings have doubled in size, 15 to 18 minutes. Serve.

To make the dumplings: 1. Gather a golf-ball-sized portion of the dumpling batter onto a soup spoon, then push the dumpling onto the stew using a second spoon.2. Cover the stew with the dumplings, leaving about 1/4 inch between each.3. When fully cooked, the dumplings will have doubled in size.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Recipe of the Week: Pork Tenderloin with Apple Cranberry Chutney

I made this recipe last night and served it with a side of butternut squash risotto. Using store bought chutney (I used Stonewall Kitchen's Apple Cranberry) made this dish very easy to execute. I added a little extra wine and cider and a 1/4 cup of dried cranberries for extra sauce. The leftovers make great sandwiches.

Pork Tenderloin with Apple Cranberry Chutney
2 1- to 1 1/4-pound trimmed pork tenderloins
1/2 cup apple cider
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 cup purchased apple chutney
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves plus sprigs for garnish
2 tablespoons olive oil

Rinse pork and pat dry. Place in shallow bowl. Mix cider, wine, chutney, garlic, and thyme leaves in small bowl. Pour mixture over pork; cover and marinate at room temperature 1 hour or chill up to 3 hours.Preheat oven to 375°F. Heat oil in large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Remove pork from marinade, reserving marinade. Add pork to skillet, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook until light brown on all sides, about 6 minutes total.Pour reserved marinade over pork. Transfer skillet to oven; roast pork, basting occasionally, until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part registers 145°F, about 20 minutes for medium (temperature will rise about 10 degrees). Transfer pork to cutting board. Tent with foil; let rest 5 minutes.Slice pork; transfer to platter. Pour pan sauce and juices over. Garnish pork with thyme sprigs.


A Taste of a Rainbow

This appeared in the New York Times about fifteen years ago, and I have had good luck with it. This dish is like a trip to the Rocky Mountains.

"In downtown Boise, Idaho, at the restaurant inside the 97-year-old rock fortress of the Idanha Hotel, the local trout are served simply grilled with a light sauce."

Lemon Butter Sauce:

Time: 15 minutes

4 tablespoons minced shallots
1 1/2 cups good-quality white wine like Riesling or chardonnay
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
12 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, sliced very thin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 clove garlic minced
2 teaspoons chopped parsley

1. In a small mixing bowl, combine the shallots, wine and lemon juice. Set aside within reach of the stove.

2. In a medium saute pan over low heat, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Add flour, and stir vigorously with a whisk until well combined. Raise heat to medium-high, and continue to stir until flour is nut-brown but not burned, about 5 minutes. Add wine mixture, and whisk until smooth and thickened, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until reduced to about 1/4 cup, about 2 minutes.

3. Remove pan from heat, and gradually whisk in chilled sliced butter, stirring constantly to keep fat from separating. Add salt and pepper. Keep warm, but do not boil. Add garlic and parsley just before serving. Serve hot over grilled or broiled trout.

2 cups, 6 to 8 servings.

Apple Tarragon Sauce

Time: 15 minutes

1/4 cup apple cider or juice
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup clam juice
1 tablespoon minced shallots
6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, sliced very thin
4 tablespoons julienned Granny Smith apple
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
Salt and freshly

1. In a 1-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the apple cider, wine, clam juice and shallots. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer until reduced by two-thirds, 5 to 7 minutes.

2. Whisk in chilled butter slices. Add apple and tarragon, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot over grilled or broiled trout.

Yield: 13/4 cups, 4 to 6 servings.

Grilled or Broiled Idaho Trout

Time: 10 minutes

1 fresh Idaho trout, boned and butterflied.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted, or vegetable oil spray.
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat grill or broiler until very hot. Brush both sides of trout with butter, or spray with oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

2. Grill or broil fish with the flesh close to the source of heat until it is opaque, flaky and beginning to brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Do not overcook. Top fish with sauce of choice, and serve immediately.

Yield: 1 serving.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Mike's FAMOUS Holiday Eggnog


This is THE recipe to get your holiday party going. I've been begging my stepfather to send me the recipe and he did along with some history of how it came to be Mike's FAMOUS Eggnog...
P.S. There have been women over the age of 60 doing cartwheels in the Shaw/Beatty living room after a couple rounds of this...

Christmas Eggnog

I never cook anything. Most of my friends and family are wonderful cooks so I try to be what every chef needs--an enthusiastic eater and kitchen helper. One thing I do prepare each Holiday Season is the eggnog. I first made this eggnog when I was in college and worked occasionally as a bartender for private parties. When a call came in to the student employment office for a bartender to mix large batches of eggnog for a Christmas party in Woodside I was the only one who claimed to have eggnog experience. I had, of course, lied about my experience and had never drunk a cup of eggnog. This extreme confidence in the face of total ignorance got me the job.

The first research I did was to buy a carton of dairy eggnog, pour it into a cup, and add a good dose of whiskey. It was terrible. It ruined the whiskey. I then indulged in some real research in the card catalog of the main library. After noting the Dewey Decimal numbers for the cookbook section (641.5) I plunged into the stacks and fumbled through all the dusty books until I recognized one from my mother's kitchen--the Joy of Cooking. It had a drink recipe for "Eggnog in Quantity" and I was saved. I couldn't check the book out because I had some unpaid delinquent fines so I wrote it all down (I still have that piece of tablet paper).

Two days before the party I called my employer and with all the authority I could muster gave her a specific list of all the required ingredients, stated that there could be no exceptions, and said that I would need to be at work in her kitchen three hours before the party to prepare properly. The eggnog was so well received that I was given a big tip and hired to do it again the following year. I have been making it for friends and family ever since.

Merry Christmas,


Eggnog in Quantity

• Be sure to use good fresh eggs. The best eggs have a firm orange yolk and are from hens that have access to free range.
• Use heavy whipping cream. This is not a drink that is successful in a low fat version.
• Use good quality liquor. I use a combination of liquors to spread out the flavors. The saying that "nothing succeeds like excess" is especially true when it comes to adding booze to the eggnog. The Brits say that "Christmas brandy will make you randy", so add an extra splash.
• Use fresh nutmeg kernels and grate onto each serving as desired.

Beat separately until light in color
12 egg yolks
Beat in gradually
1 lb. confectioner's sugar
Add very slowly, beating constantly
2 c. dark rum, brandy, or bourbon
These liquors form the basis of the "nog", and you may choose one
variety or mix to taste.

Let mixture stand covered for 1 hour to dispel the "eggy" taste.

Add, beating constantly,
3 cups of liquor (I use a combination and include some Kahlua)
2 quarts whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla (or to taste)
Refrigerate covered for 3 hours.

Beat until stiff but not dry
12 egg whites

Fold egg whites lightly into the other ingredients. Serve sprinkled
with fresh nutmeg and cinnamon to taste.

Yield is about 1 gallon. I always make a double batch. With all that liquor it keeps very well refrigerated. The egg whites will separate after standing so fold them back in. A jar of this eggnog makes a great holiday present. Have a cup while opening your presents. You'll love them all!

This is a very rich, high-cholesterol, high-octane eggnog. Do not operate heavy equipment after drinking.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I can't bake, and I have no food processor, so I thought these were going to turn out terribly. Turns out, they were delicious!


Jacques Pépin, Food & Wine, June 2002
(thanks to artisanalcheeses dot com for the photo!)

1 cup milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash cayenne pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups grated Swiss cheese (Emmenthaler or Gruyère)
Coarse salt (fleur de sel or kosher salt) to sprinkle on top

Bring the milk, butter, salt, and cayenne to a boil in a saucepan.Remove from the heat, add the flour all at once, and mix vigorously with a wooden spatula until the mixture forms a ball. Return the pan to the heat and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 1minute to dry the mixture a bit. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor, let cool for 5 minutes, then process for about 5 seconds.

Add the eggs and paprika to the processor bowl, and process for 10 to 15 seconds, until well mixed. Transfer the choux paste to a mixing bowl, and let cool for 10 minutes. (Alternately, chop/mix the dough with a pastry cutter until it's smooth and your arms are about to fall off)

Preheat the oven to 375. Line a cookie sheet with a reusable nonstick baking mat or parchment paper. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the grated Parmesan cheese, then add the remainder and all the Swiss cheese to the choux paste. Stir just enough to incorporate. Using a tablespoon, scoop out a level tablespoon of the gougère dough, and push it off the spoon onto the cooking mat. Continue making individual gougères, spacing them about 2-inches apart on the sheet. Sprinkle a few grains of coarse salt and a little of the reserved Parmesan cheese on each gougère. Bake for about 30 minutes, until nicely browned and crisp. Serve lukewarm or at room temperature with drinks.


Monday, December 10, 2007

Recipe of the Week: Fried Artichokes

The is NO question what my favorite thing I ate in Rome was and my cousin and culinary partner in crime will also agree...these fried artichokes shown above. Now, I'm not kidding, these melted in your mouth and were seasoned so perfectly. The restaurant that served this delight just happened to be located right outside the Pantheon (which is Greek for "The temple of all Gods") on the lovely Piazza della Minerva. This classic Roman Dish (also called Rome's Jewish Fried Artichokes) dates back to Imperial times.

Now, I know that frying foods in your house can make it reek. We all know the smell permeates. That's why you should always have the fan, a couple windows and even a door (if possible) open to help with the smoke. Trust me, these are worth it. I already miss these and will dream of them. No kidding. They rocked.

Fried Artichokes (Carciofi Friiti)
To serve 6 you'll need:

6 artichokes (they should be firm and feel solid -- soft or light artichokes will probably have fuzzy hearts)
The juice of 1/2 a lemon
An egg, lightly beaten
Oil for frying
Sea Salt

Squeeze the lemon into a bowl of water, drop the rind into the bowl, and add a pinch of salt and a little bit of flour (not enough to make a paste). Peel away the tough outer leaves of the artichokes, trim the tops perpendicular to the length of the artichokes, and cut the artichokes into eighths.

Soak them in the acidulated water for an hour. Then rinse them, pat them dry, flour them, dredge them in the egg, and fry them until crisp and golden in hot, but not really hot oil (you don't want the outside to burn before the inside is cooked).

Season with sea salt. Enjoy!


Back from Roma!!!

Hello Everyone! I am back from a fantastic culinary adventure in Rome, Itlay and i can't wait to share all the foodie tid bits and learnings I got from my trip. Today's my birthday so I thought I'd post a picture of this Gelati that was ssooo delicious. This combo was the house special and included caramel, vanilla and a very rich dark chocolate. And I certainly didn't forget to wash it down with some Prosecco.

Wikipedia describes Gelato as "Gelato, or the plural Gelati, is Italian ice cream made from milk and sugar, combined with other flavorings. The gelato ingredients (after an optional pasteurization) are frozen while stirring to break up ice crystals as they form. Like high-end ice cream, gelato generally has less than 35% air - resulting in a dense and extremely flavourful product."


Monday, December 3, 2007

Blue Cheese Crusted Filet Mignon with Port Wine Sauce

My friend Carrie made these for us last night and they were amazing. Every bite was a burst of flavor and they're very easy to make. Delicious with a glass of red wine...

Blue Cheese Crusted Filet Mignon with Port Wine Sauce

1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup minced white onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh
3/4 cup low-sodium beef broth
1/2 cup port wine
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 filet mignon steaks (1 1/2
inch thick)
3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and thyme. Cook, stirring constantly, until onion is tender. Stir in the beef broth, scraping any onion bits from the bottom of the pan, then stir in the port wine. Bring to a boil, and cook until the mixture has reduced to about 1/2 cup. Set aside. This may also be made ahead of time, and reheated.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Heat oil in a cast-iron or other oven-safe skillet over high heat. Sear steaks quickly on both sides until brown, then place the whole pan into the oven.
Roast steaks in the oven for about 15 minutes for medium rare - with an internal temperature of 145 degrees F (63 degrees C). You may adjust this time to allow the steaks to finish just below your desired degree of doneness if medium is not what you prefer. Remove from the oven, and place on a baking sheet. Stir together the panko crumbs and blue cheese. Top each steak with a layer of this mixture.
Preheat the oven's broiler. Place steaks under the preheated broiler until the cheese topping is browned and bubbly. 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the oven, and let stand for at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve with warm port wine sauce.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Note to Self

Finger not an onion. Avoid with large, very sharp knife.

Recipe of the Week: Deviled Eggs

It's holiday season and chances are you'll be hosting and attending a lot of holiday parties this month. A great starter and crowd pleaser is the classic deviled egg. To glam my deviled eggs up, I garnish them with a tiny dollop of creme fraiche and whitefish caviar (about $6 at the grocery store).

Deviled Eggs
6 large eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne

Special equipment: a pastry bag fitted with 1/2-inch star tip (optional)

Cover eggs with cold water by 1 1/2 inches in a 3-quart heavy saucepan and bring to a rolling boil, partially covered. Reduce heat to low and cook eggs, covered completely, 30 seconds. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 15 minutes. Transfer eggs with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice and cold water to stop cooking and let stand 5 minutes.

Peel eggs and halve lengthwise. Carefully remove yolks and mash in a bowl with a fork. Add mayonnaise, mustard, and cayenne and stir with fork until smooth, then season with salt and pepper. Fill pastry bag with yolk mixture and pipe into egg whites.

Rosemary-Pesto Rack of Lamb

This lamb is winner. I made this on Saturday night for the 6th time and it was a huge hit. Several of my friends asked for the recipe, so here it is! When buying lamb, I always go to Costco or Sam's Club. Their meat selection is top notch and you save $$$ on meats that can be really expensive at the regular grocey store. I double the pesto recipe and encrust the whole rack for more flavor and it always tastes great.

Rosemary-Pesto Rack of Lamb

1/2 cup (packed) parsley leaves and stems
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary plus rosemary sprigs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1 1/2-pound rack of lamb


Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 450°F. Place parsley, chopped rosemary, grated Parmesan cheese and garlic in processor. Process to coarse paste. With machine running, gradually add olive oil. Season pesto to taste with salt and pepper.

Place lamb on small rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread all pesto over rounded side of lamb. Roast 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 400°F and roast to desired doneness, about 15 minutes longer for medium-rare.

Cut lamb between bones into chops. Divide chops between 2 plates; garnish with rosemary sprigs.