Archives

SINCE IT’S FRIDAY, HAVE THE BEST FISH & CHIPS

Calling something THE BEST is a bit cheeky. I mean it is all a matter of personal taste. But having tried this recipe, I say it without reserve. My family won’t eat any other now. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do – I just wish I could take credit for it! If you Google “In Search of Perfection, by Heston Blumenthal” you will come up with a lot of his recipes online. Blumenthal is the self trained chef who owns The Fat Duck restaurant in England. Now if you happen to want THE PERFECT Gin and Tonic, another British favorite, you need to hop over to the Food Network for Davis Rosengarten’s. Yup, perfection.

Fried Fish With Vodka and Beer Batter Published: March 7, 2007 in The New York Times

Time: About 45 minutes

Adapted from “In Search of Perfection,” by Heston Blumenthal (Bloomsbury, 2006)

  • 1 1/2 pounds (about 4 large fillets) turbot, sole or flounder **
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups white rice flour; more for dusting
  • 2 to 3 quarts vegetable oil for deep-frying
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups vodka
  • 1 1/4 cups lager beer

1. Rinse fish fillets, and dry with paper towels. Season well with salt and pepper, and dust with rice flour, shaking off any extra. Set aside.

2. Place a wide, deep pan over medium heat. Add oil to a depth of at least 1 1/2 inches, and bring to 375 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer. In a medium bowl, mix together the all-purpose flour, 1 1/4 cups rice flour, baking powder and salt. Slowly stir in the vodka and beer to make a batter. (Don’t make batter ahead of time, or the bubbles from the lager will be lost.)

3. Dip one fillet into batter to coat it completely, and lower into hot oil. Repeat with other fillets. When undersides of fillets are golden brown, after 1 or 2 minutes, turn, and brown other sides, a minute or two. Lift from oil, drain and serve.

Yield: 4 servings.

**Personally, I use Cod (and go to the fish store for this – it’s an expensive batter, don’t ruin it with inferior fish).

MY NOTES: This is best done in a professional style deep fryer and lower fish SLOWLY inch by inch so it doesn’t stick to the basket. For the chips, I use OreIda steak fries. Before you start on the fish, put the frozen chips in the fryer and take them out when they are a light golden color and leave draining (this is another reason the professional style deep friers are better – multiple baskets). Then do the fish. Then you put the fries in again until they have reached the color you want. A good friend of mine owned a chipper wagon and he taught me this made the best chips (starting from frozen and doing twice) and he was right.

BACON BACON

A bacon bouquet. Picture from The Wall Street Journal.

A bacon bouquet. Picture from The Wall Street Journal.

As far as I am concerned, you either like bacon or you are wrong. Period. End of discussion. I know vegetarians

Of course they have chocolate covered bacon for dessert.

Of course they have chocolate covered bacon for dessert.

and Jews and even Jewish vegetarians who eat bacon on the down low. So I was very surprised to read this article in The Wall Street Journal about a place called Bacon Bacon in Haight-Ashbury that was shut down because some neighbors complained about the smell of bacon. Seriously? And don’t give me the BS that it is different in high concentration and with left over byproduct. I used to live next door to a diner. The exhaust on the back of the building was aimed at my yard. The only thing wrong with the smell is your mouth is constantly watering. I guess they started as a food truck (and were featured on United States of Bacon) before they opened the café in the Haight. This is Haight-Ashbury for crying out loud. You don’t mind the smell of weed but you can’t handle the smell of bacon? Come to think of it, with all that weed, don’t you need bacon? A couple of obnoxious neighbors complain and the city shuts them down. Fortunately bacon lovers outnumber the haters. Probably by a ratio of a million to one. The closure even made SNL’s weekend update back in May. On Thursday, in a well attended meeting with the city, bacon won. Bacon Bacon will be reopening. It is good to know that in a country where we have had our cigarettes taken away in public, we are pariahs for drinking our large sugary colas, and all other manners of

Grilled Cheese. From Bacon Bacon's menu. Bread spread with bacon jam then add bacon, shredded cheese and grill.

Grilled Cheese. From Bacon Bacon’s menu. Bread spread with bacon jam then add bacon, shredded cheese and grill.

suppression, you can still have bacon jam on your bacon grilled cheese. Oh that sounds so good! Check out their Facebook page and go drool over their menu at the truck. I know what ingredient will be involved  in supper at our house tonight.

UBC-banner2

Kate’s Pistachio Cake

I’m not always reading or writing, sometimes I’m baking. Today it was my pistachio cake. Not my favorite cake but it is the favorite choice of my husband and several of my friends. Actually, it used to be my favorite but it is requested so often, I’ve gotten a bit sick of it. Pistachio extract is not easy to come by so if you can’t find it, the cake doesn’t really suffer so don’t pay some outrageous price for any of the mail order ones. As a matter of fact, until recently you couldn’t even get pistachio extract in the states. The one I have tried, since you can, isn’t that great in my opinion. I get my extract from Aruba and it is produced by Industrias Tip Top Leanez & Cia. S.A. in Curacao. So every time you have a friend going to Aruba, ask them to drop in to a grocery store (the really big one on the road to the hotels in Palm Beach is where I get it, forget the name) and get you a couple of bottles of Tip-Top Pistachio Extract.

Ingredients:

Cake

  • 1 package (2 layer size) super moist white cake mix
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup club soda
  • 1 tsp pistachio extract
  • 2 packages (4 serving size size) instant pistachio pudding mix
  • 1/2  cup chopped pistachios (shelled and salted)

Frosting

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 carton (8-ounce size) frozen whipped topping
  • 1 package (4 serving size) instant pistachio pudding mix
  • 1 tsp pistachio extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour (or put parchment paper on bottom) two 8” cake pans. Set aside.

Beat the eggs until they are very creamy almost looking stiff. Add all but the nuts and mix well. Then fold in the pistachios, pour into the prepared pans and bake for 30 minutes or until cake tests done when wooden pick inserted in center comes our clean. Place pan on rack and cool slightly; remove cake from pans and cool completely before frosting.

Pistachio Frosting

Whip the cream until you have stiff peaks then place remaining ingredients in bowl and whip until combined and fluffy.

I sprinkle some whole pistachios on top of the cake for decoration. If the cake is around for more than a day, they get soggy. So the last time, I didn’t put them on. I received complaints so I put them on today. Guess some people don’t mind a soggy pistachio. I use W♥nderful brand whole shelled and salted pistachios. When I really want to put on a show, I mix up a batch of cheesecake, add in an 11 oz. can of Love ‘N Bake Pistachio Nut Paste (available on Amazon and from King Arthur Flour) and bake in two 8 inch cake pans that have been lined with aluminum foil. When they are cooled, lift out and put in freezer. Then I split the cake mix into three 8 inch cake pans (cooking time will be a few minutes shorter – I never timed it, I can tell by the smell when it is done J ) To assemble take cheesecake out of freezer and remove foil. Cake layer, cheesecake layer, cake layer, cheesecake layer, topped with cake layer. You don’t need to make a bigger batch of frosting since you are only frosting the exterior in this case, not between the layers. If like me, your favorite cheesecake recipe is way too much cheesecake for two cake pans, use this, mixing as usual for cheesecake and bake at 325 for 25 minutes or until set:

  • 3 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • can pistachio paste
This entry was posted on April 28, 2013, in Recipes.

SCONES SCONES SCONES SCONES!!!!

Two facts up front. 1) I make the best scones in the world. There are many things I do badly, and many things I do well, but there is one thing I do better than anyone, ever, and that is make scones. 2) You could not pay me to eat blue cheese. Okay, I have my price. Sure, if a crazy billionaire came up to me and said, “I will pay you one million dollars to eat this hunk of blue cheese”, I would think for a minute that a million dollars really doesn’t go all that far these days. But, yeah. I would eat it.

My friend, the wonderful author of Chocolate for Breakfast and Chocolate Fondue – neither of which are cookbooks, Martha Reynolds, and I went to a lovely bakery for coffee and a chat recently. I won’t name the bakery, because they ARE wonderful, but I am about to say something bad about one of their products. We had gone there for macarons but neither of us had them or remembered to leave with them. On my way in, I noticed they had ‘blue cheese walnut scones’. I had to try them. Intellectual curiosity. Why do that to a scone? They had the most intriguing flavor but like so many scones in the US they were like eating sawdust. So I had to try to make these myself.

First I looked up recipes. Because I don’t make a ‘savory’ scone. I make the traditional with raisins/currants scone. I saw some of the worst scone recipes. One called for 4 TBS of baking powder. That made my teeth hurt, just thinking how it would taste. So I decided my recipe was just fine for savory scones as well. Just take out the sugar and raisins. They were heaven! So I decided it was time for people to stop eating dry horrible scones and share my recipe.

KATE’S EVERDAY SCONE RECIPE

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¾ cup butter
  • ¾ cup raisins
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • light cream

Preheat oven to 450 °F. Mix together all dry but raisins. Rub in butter. Stir in raisins. Add buttermilk. Mix. When well mixed, turn out onto floured surface and knead lightly. Roll out to about ½ to ¾ inch thickness. Use floured rim of glass to cut rounds. Reroll scraps ad cut until all used. Place on floured cookie sheet (or covered with parchment paper) and brush tops with light cream. Bake fifteen minutes or until golden. Serve with butter or clotted cream and favorite jam. I prefer orange marmalade, my husband prefers strawberry preserves.

BLUE CHEESE AND WALNUT VARIATION

Leave out the sugar. Substitute 4 ounces crumbled blue cheese and 4 ounces chopped walnuts for the raisins (by weight not volume). After turning out and kneading, form into large round. After putting on cookie sheet cut like a pie with a large knife but do not separate. After baking, they will break apart into nice triangles. Don’t know why, but in my mind, savory scones should not be round. Cook until golden. The round will take 5 to 10 minutes longer than the individual scones. These are wonderful with butter or clotted cream and fig preserves are what we had with them.

scone before and after

Now go out there and see what a good scone tastes like. And if your ingredients aren’t fresh, I don’t want to hear about your scones aren’t good. I get nuts when people say something didn’t come out well. But they use flour that has been sitting in the canister for months, and baking soda that has been sitting on a shelf since they last used it over a year ago. People are always accusing cooks of leaving out some secret ingredient when they give out a special recipe. That’s not the case at all. People who cook all the time, have fresh ingredients. It really is that simple.

This entry was posted on April 16, 2013, in Recipes.

DECADENT CHOCOLATE FUDGE CAKE

This is one of my most requested recipes. Every chocolate lover is mad for it and I’m sure you and all your guests will be too – perfect for a fancy dinner party. As impressive as a sacher torte and you never need to let on how very easy it is to make!

First you bake a two layer cake mix cake, then combine chunks of cake with a rich chocolate ganache to form a thick fudge-like mixture. This is chilled, unmolded, and coated with more ganache for a chocoholics dream.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pkg. two layer devil’s food cake mix
  • 1-1/3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup safflower or peanut oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 16 oz. good quality semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1-1/3 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter

PREPARATION:

Prepare cake mix as directed on package, using water, oil and egg measurements above. Bake in two greased and floured 8″ round pans at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes, remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

Melt chocolate in medium saucepan over low heat. Heat cream and butter together in a large saucepan until it boils. Pour cream over chocolate and beat with wire whisk until smooth. Cool 20 minutes.

Line 9″ springform pan with waxed paper. Cut cooled cake into cubes. Place cake cubes in large mixer bowl. Pour 1-1/3 cups ganache over the cake cubes and mix on low speed with an electric mixture until texture is like thick fudge. Spread evenly in prepared pan, smoothing top. Freeze for one hour.

Unmold cake, place on serving plate, remove waxed paper, and coat cake on the top and sides with remaining chocolate ganache. Store in refrigerator. 16-20 servings

This entry was posted on May 18, 2010, in Recipes.

CINCINNATI CHILI

Exciting dinner in our house tonight. My son’s favorite. And we all love it – never saw anyone try it and NOT like it. Of course I never make it this way, from scratch, I buy the seasoning mix from Cincy2U.com but if you just can’t wait for that to arrive, here it is. Oh, we only eat it over spaghetti, topped with shredded cheddar and diced onions. Serve with fresh Italian bread to soak up and nice cold beer to wash down.

SERVES 4

Redolent of warm spices, deeply flavored Cincinnati-style chili, whether prepared two-way (chili over spaghetti), three-way (with cheese), four-way (with onions), or five-way (with a finishing flourish of kidney beans), is an enduring American classic.

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
  • 2 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. celery seed
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 lb. dried spaghetti
  • 1 15-oz. can red kidney beans, rinsed (optional) under hot water and drained
  • 4 cups finely grated cheddar cheese

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and half of the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 5–6 minutes. Add beef, chili powder, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, cumin, oregano, nutmeg, celery seed, bay leaf, and salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned, 6–8 minutes. Tilt skillet and spoon out and discard any accumulated fat. Add tomato sauce, cocoa powder, and 1 cup water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, partially covered, until somewhat thick, about 25 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add spaghetti and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 8–10 minutes; drain. Put beans into a small pot and cook over medium heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until hot throughout. Divide spaghetti between 4 large bowls. Top with chili, cheese, remaining onions, and beans. Serve hot.

This entry was posted on May 18, 2010, in Recipes.

BELGIAN WAFFLES

Tomorrow is a special Sunday in our house. Why? Because I have decided to make Belgian Waffles! It never ceases to amaze me how many people do not know what real Belgian Waffles are. For years, I had no need to make my own. There was a brand you could buy in the frozen food case at the market. Now while they were the required thickness, and almost light enough, they came in handy 4X4 square size that fit into a sleeve that you popped in the microwave for a few seconds. So they satisfied me and they were easy to boot. But one day they disappeared from the shelves, never to return. So I was on a quest. My stepson invited us to come over one Sunday morning – he had just gotten a new “Belgian” waffle maker and we were going to do brunch. I was quite excited. I had not wanted to get one myself and go through all that hassle. But it is not like I ate them every Sunday. And I knew we could count on a brunch from him once a month or so. Alas, they were large and round, but not thick. Strawberries and whipped cream on top do not a Belgian Waffle make. So finally, I was forced to get my own Belgian Waffle maker (The Belgian Waffler from VillaWare is the cheapest I found). You will find they sell mixes and there are a hundred of recipes out there, but after much experimentation, I think you will find this recipe to be excellent: 

  • 1 pkg. active dry yeast
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 ¼ c. lukewarm milk (110 to 115 degrees)
  • 1 ¼ c. sparkling mineral water at room temperature
  • 3 c. all-purpose flour (SIFTED SIFTED SIFTED!)
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 7 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 egg whites
  • Confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 c. heavy cream, chilled and whipped
  • 1 pt. fresh strawberries, washed and hulled

In a small bowl sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of sugar over 1/2 cup of the lukewarm milk. Let the mixture stand for 2 or 3 minutes, then stir to blend the yeast and milk thoroughly. Set the bowl in a warm place for about 5 minutes, or until the yeast bubbles up and the mixture almost doubles in volume.

Sift the flour, the remaining sugar and the salt into a deep mixing bowl. Pour in the yeast mixture and the remaining lukewarm milk and the sparkling mineral water, and with a large spoon stir until the batter is smooth. Then thoroughly stir in the egg yolks, vanilla, and butter. Cover the bowl loosely with a kitchen towel and set aside to rest in the warm place for 30 minutes.

Following the manufacturers’ directions, preheat a waffle iron to moderate. With a wire whisk or a rotary or electric beater, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Stir the batter with a rubber spatula, add the egg whites and fold them into the batter gently but thoroughly. Pour some of the batter into the center of the hot waffle iron Don’t fill it – no more than say ¾ of the iron. Reduce the heat to moderately low, close the iron, and bake for 5 minutes, or until the steaming stops and the waffle is a golden brown on both sides. (You can peek at the waffle to check its color after 3 minutes or so, but do not open the cover earlier or the waffle may stick to the grid.)

Serve at once, sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar and accompanied by separate bowls of whipped cream and strawberries.

This entry was posted on April 10, 2010, in Recipes.

"IRISH BREAD"

My Mother’s “Irish Bread” Recipe

Well, of course, real Irish bread is either brown bread (plain) or soda bread (fancy).  But after coming to America, my mother wanted to be SO American. She was even known to make *shudder* corn beef and cabbage – not that I ever once ate it. 1) It stunk to high heaven in my opinion 2) my mother couldn’t cook to save her life. (Thank you Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, which I ate EVERY weekday of my childhood and without which I would have died.)

BUT BOY COULD SHE BAKE!!! Cakes, pies, scones, and this “Irish Bread” recipe. The caraway seeds are optional. I only started using them a couple of years ago and now, I quite like them.

Eileen (Shannon) Cunningham’s Irish Bread:

4 cups flour

½ cup sugar

4 ½ teaspoons baking powder

¾ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons caraway seeds (FRESH please! Not hanging around from last year!)

1 stick butter

1 ¼ cups raisins

2 eggs, well beaten

1 ½ cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Mix all dry ingredients except raisins.

Rub in butter.

Add raisins.

Stir in wet ingredients.

Turn out onto floured counter and knead lightly.

Form one large or two smaller round cakes, place on a floured cookies sheet (I use parchment paper as I don’t like the floured bottom).

Cut cross in top and bake for one hour.

When done, you can tell by the hollow sound you get by knocking on the bottom of the loaf.

For a nice crust either rub the warm loaf all over with buttermilk or soak a linen tea towel in buttermilk, squeeze out, then wrap the warm loaf.

NOW THAT IS “IRISH BREAD”!!!

This entry was posted on March 12, 2010, in Recipes.

CINNAMON CAKE WITH CHILE-CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM

I have been making this cake for a while now and it is a very big hit. Different. Chocolate that is not just rich and sweet but also hot and spicy is popular in many Spanish cultures. I think I originally found the recipe in Food and Wine magazine. Even my son who almost never eats cake and is not fond of sweets in general, loves this. ENJOY!

INGREDIENTS

CAKE

1. 1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for buttering the paper

2. 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

3. 1 cup cake flour

4. 1 teaspoon baking soda

5. 1 teaspoon baking powder

6. 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

7. 1/2 teaspoon salt

8. 1 1/2 cups sugar

9. 3 large eggs, at room temperature

10. 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

11. 1 cup sour cream

FROSTING

1. 5 sticks unsalted butter, softened

2. 1 pound confectioners’ sugar, sifted

3. 1/4 cup heavy cream

4. 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

5. 1 teaspoon cinnamon

6. 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder (Whole Foods usually has the ancho but if you can’t find any, regular chile powder is fine.)

7. 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

8. 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

9. 5 ounces white chocolate, melted and cooled

DIRECTIONS

1. Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper and butter the paper. Dust the pans with flour, tapping out the excess.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk the 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour with the cake flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter with the sugar at medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until incorporated. In 3 alternating additions, add the dry ingredients and sour cream, scraping down the side of the bowl between additions.

3. Scrape the batter evenly into the prepared pans. Bake the cakes on the lower and middle racks of the oven for about 30 minutes, until golden and springy and the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer the cakes to racks and let cool for 15 minutes, then turn the cakes out and let them cool completely. Remove the parchment paper.

4. meanwhile, make the frosting: In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter until creamy. At low speed, beat in the confectioners’ sugar. Increase the speed to high and beat until fluffy, scraping down the side of the bowl, about 2 minutes longer. At low speed, beat in the cream, vanilla, cinnamon, ancho chile powder and cayenne, then gradually beat in the bittersweet and white chocolate. Scrape down the side of the bowl and the paddle, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light, 3 minutes longer. Using a wooden spoon, vigorously beat the buttercream for 30 seconds to deflate any air bubbles.

5. Place one cake layer on a plate and spread with 1 cup of the frosting. Top with the second cake layer and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides. Refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes. Bring to room temperature before serving. Top with cinnamon red hots – my idea, they just look festive sprinkled on there!.

This entry was posted on January 18, 2010, in Recipes.