Monday, June 21, 2010

CAN SHE BAKE A CHERRY PIE, BILLY BOY, BILLY BOY?



Dessert is often the forgotten course. It is the final frontier for many busy cooks who want to put out a nice meal but simply do not have the time. Skip the purchased cookies, chiffon cake and pre-cut fruit from the salad bar (I know you cheat and buy the fruit pre-cut!). Never Fear-this simple, gorgeous summer tart will make you look like a kitchen deity. It is cherry season and the market is bursting with these dazzling garnet colored gems. Scoop them up while you can, pit them and freeze them. They will last for months in the freezer. Delish!



Cherry Tart Crust

(No rolling pins, flour everywhere and cracked crusts. Just pat the dough into the pan and chill-you and the dough!)

¼ cup butter, softened
½ cup sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Pinch of salt

1. Process the butter and sugar in a food processor until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
2. Add the flour, vanilla, lemon juice and salt. Pulse until the mixture pulls together and forms a ball.
3. Remove from the processor and gently knead the dough together.
4. Press the dough evenly into a 9” false bottom tart pan that has been lightly greased.
5. Chill the tart dough for one hour or overnight until it has firmed up.

For the filling

Cherry Tart

1 cup Bing cherries, pitted
1 cup sour cherries, pitted
¼ cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
Zest of one lemon

1. Toss all of ingredients together for the filling.
2. Place the tart filling into the chilled crust.

Streusel Topping

4 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup flour
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup chopped almonds
Pinch of salt

1. In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients together with your hands until the mixture forms pea sized clumps.
2. Evenly sprinkle the streusel over the cherries.
3. Bake the tart in the pre-heated oven for 40 minutes until the crust has lightly browned and the cherries are juicy.
4. Chill before serving.

Monday, June 14, 2010

SIM PLE PLEASURES



Summertime is all about nostalgia. I love summer nights and crave the childhood treats that made summer so memorable. One of my favorite memories is of making S’Mores. We used to gather round the dying charcoal from a grill or campfire and toast (and burn) marshmallows and assemble the classic and messy delicious sandwiches.

My great grandmother’s graham cracker cake (featured in my cookbook JEWISH COOKING FOR ALL SEASONS-John Wiley and Sons) sates my craving for S’mores with a fun and modern twist. I make the cake into cupcakes and decorate them with rich and velvety dark chocolate ganache. Then for a fun twist-I garnish with mini marshmallows which I toast with a mini butane torch. The torch part is optional-but torches can be easily purchased from a hardware store.

S’MORES CUPCAKES

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup milk

Preheat oven to 350
Line a muffin tin with cupcake cups

1. using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar, occasionally scraping down the bowl, until they are light and fluffy (about 5 minutes).
2. With the mixer running, add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and scrape down the bowl, one more time.
3. Stir together the crumbs, baking powder and salt.
4. turn the mixer to low and alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk in batches, beginning and ending with the dry mixture.
5. In a clean dry bowl with clean beaters, whip the egg whites until they are medium peaks. Fold the whites into the cake batter and divide the batter between the cupcake cups filling each one about ¾ up to the top.
6. Bake the cupcakes until the tops spring back when lightly pressed (about 12 minutes). Cool on a cooling rack.

For the Ganache
2 cups heavy cream
½ cup confectioner’s sugar
1 vanilla bean, scraped, reserve the pod
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1. In a large saucepan, bring 2 cups heavy cream, 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, scraped vanilla bean and the pod and salt to a simmer. Remove from heat; add the chopped bittersweet chocolate and let stand, without stirring, for 1 minute. Whisk just until combined. Refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until spreadable, about 1 hour.


Spread or pipe the cooled ganache over the cupcakes. Garnish with mini marshmallows. Brulee the marshmallows with butane torch for toasted marshmallow effect (optional).

Monday, June 7, 2010

FALLING IN LOVE ALL OVER AGAIN




As a chef I am always looking for new flavors and ingredients. Sometimes I fall in love with a familiar ingredient all over again and will spend weeks experimenting with it in new combinations. My new/old favorite ingredient is Pimenton Ahumado. This stuff is quite simply the bomb!

Pimenton Ahumado is smoked Spanish paprika. Made from the highest quality of peppers and smoked over oak, the flavor and aroma of pimenton ahumado is earthy, smoky-sweet and mouth wateringly delicious. I started using smoked paprika many years ago in my first restaurant and may have taken it for granted. It is only after playing with it recently, that I discovered how thrilling this simple ingredient can be to any dish. I cannot find anything that is not improved by this stuff.

Pimenton Ahumado is not your mother’s paprika. The stuff from Hungary will add color to a dish-but really has no flavor and tastes like dust. The good smoky paprika rocks and turns every dish into a flavor packed, mouth exploding experience.

A key ingredient in many Spanish dishes such as paella, chorizo and sofrito, the versatility of the product is amazing. For all of you kosher eaters-the paprika adds a smoky flavor that tastes and smells of burning wood (this is a good thing) and if added to a dish can kind of be mistaken for bacon (ok-it has been a long time since I have eaten bacon, but if you close your eyes-it seems like it might be in there!)

Outside of Spain pimentón ahumado is often referred to as simply "smoked paprika" and can be found in varying intensities from sweet and mild (dulce), medium hot (agridulce), or very hot and spicy (picante). I purchase my pimenton ahumado at the Spice House or online at http://www.thespicehouse.com/

I use the pimenton ahumado in my paella, braised short ribs, roasted chicken, homemade potato chips, BBQ sauce, baked beans …..and more

Add this seasoning to your arsenal and see if you don’t fall in love with this product just as I did.


Spanish Style Lamb Sausage
with Smoky Pepper and Onion Potato Salad


for the lamb

serves 4 as an entrée or 8 as a tapas portion

3 pounds ground lamb
2 egg yolks
¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup finely chopped fresh summer savory
1 tablespoon pimenton ahumado (smoked paprika)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

1. Mix all of the above ingredients together in a large bowl. Do not over mix or the lamb will be tough.
2. Portion the lamb mixture into 2 ounce portions. Roll the meat into cylinders. Insert a skewer into the lamb and refrigerate to firm up.
3. Heat a grill or grill pan to medium high. Grease the grill with olive oil and brown the skewers on all sides (about 7 minutes).

Smoky Potato Salad

2 red peppers
1 large Spanish onion
3 cloves of garlic
Olive oil
2 tablespoons pimenton ahumado
Pinch of saffron threads
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 pounds new potatoes
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper


1. Process the peppers, onion and garlic in a food processor until finely ground.
2. Heat a large sauté pan lightly coated with olive oil over medium heat and cook the pepper mixture until it is dry. (You want the excess water to cook out of the vegetables and concentrate the flavors. Add the pimenton, saffron and vinegar. Stir to combine and remove from the heat to cool.
3. Boil the potatoes, unpeeled, until a paring knife can piece the potatoes easily. Cut the potatoes into wedges while they are still warm and toss with the vegetable mixture. Add the parsley and salt and pepper to taste.
4. Garnish with your best Extra virgin olive oil (my favorite is from Spain)
Serve warm or cold.