Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Favorite Recipes

I've been asked to contribute to a cookbook for a friend's upcoming wedding. She shall not be named, but come August Miss Lil will have a few more tricks up her sleeve. I got to sit all morning, thinking about my favorite meals, and best ways to impress a crowd, or a loved one, or myself (the hardest one to impress, of course). I broke out my recipes from my last year as a pastry chef, my old standbys torn from newspapers aged to an amber color, and the best cookbooks I own. These recipes bring back memories- a trip to Big Sur where the onion soup was nearly as memorable as the view, my first attempt at confit-ing something, my trusted pie dough, ever present in the fridge. I don't love my kitchen right now, and have no extra cash for buying expensive things like duck, but live vicariously through the memories of these foods, and by the promise of their return to my daily life.

Wanted to share. Recipes below. Credit given where the ideas were not my own.

Lavender (or orange or lemon or chocolate or Rose water) Butter Cookies Chez Panisse Desserts by Lindsey Remolif Shere

for 4 1/2 dozen small cookies

1c room temperature unsalted butter
3/4 c sugar
1 egg yolk
1t vanilla extract, or 1/2 t grated orange peel plus 1/4 t orange flower water, or 1/2 t grated lemon peel (add 1/4 t rosewater if you like), or 1oz sweetened chocolate, or (my favorite!) 1T dried lavender (good with lemon zest too)
2 c flour
1/8 t kosher salt

(if you use salted butter, omit salt from recipe)

1. cream the butter until it is light and fluffy
2. add the sugar and cream to light and fluffiness again (to cream something means to whip the shit out of it with a whisk or Kitchen Aid)
3. Add the egg yolk and beat to light and fluffy yet again
4. If you are using chocolate, melt it over hot water (metal bowl with chocolate over boiling water) and then let it cool briefly.
5. Beat the chocolate, or whatever flavoring you are using, into the egg/butter mixture.
6. Work ing ht flour, and the salt if you need it, until just evenly mixed. The dough should be soft, but manageable if you handle it lightly.
7. Shape the cookie dough into a roll of whatever diameter you want- I normally end up with a long, squared, giant tootsie roll about 1.5-2" in diameter.
8. Wrap in plastic wrap. Chill in refrigerator for twenty to thirty minutes.
9. Unwrap and slice into preferred cookie width.
10. Lay out on parchment lined baking sheet, leave an inch around each cookie for spreading.
11. Bake at 350* for 10-12 minutes, until becoming golden around the edges. Store in an airtight container.

Fresh Peach Ice Cream Chez Panisse Desserts by Lindsey Remolif Shere

makes one generous quart

1.5 c whipping cream
3/4 c sugar
3 egg yolks
1 lb very ripe, good-flavored and nicely colored peaches
Vanilla extract to taste

Make the custard the day ahead so it can chill.

1. Warm the cream and 1/2 c of the sugar in a non-corroding saucepan until the sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally.
2. Whisk the egg yolks just enough to mix them and stir in some of the hot cream mixture to heat them.
3. Return to the pan and cook until the custard coats the spoon.
4. Strain into a container and chill.
5. When you are ready to freeze the ice cream, peel and pit the peaches and cut into thin slices into a bowl. Toss them with the remaining 1/4 c of sugar and let stand for about an hour, until the sugar is dissolved.
6. Crush the peaches with a potato masher (or your hands, as I would do) until they are small pieces. You don't want large chunks, which will freeze like rocks in your ice cream, but you do want tiny pieces, not a puree.
7. You should have about 1.5 c of peach and juice. Mix with the custard and add a few drops of vanilla to taste. Freeze according to directions on your machine.
8. Serve with lavender butter cookies!!

My pie dough adapted from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking

2.5 c AP flour
1 c super cold butter, cut into chunks (cut first, then chill)
1 t each of sugar and salt
ice cold water

You can make this recipe by hand, with a dough cutter, with a Kitchen Aid (paddle attachment) or with a Cuisinart food processor.

1. Blend the flour, salt, sugar, and butter until it resembles rough cornmeal. Breaking the butter down into gravel like pieces. Keep it super cold (I chill the flour, the bowl, the butter, and will stop the process halfway if it gets too warm while mixing).
2. Once at desired roughness, add the ice cold water a few teaspoons at a time, you want the dough to hold together but not get wet looking. You'll probably need 6-8T or thereabouts. I usually just get a small glass of water with ice cubes in it, pouring in a bit at a time. I don't really measure.
3. Form two discs with the dough (you've made enough for a two base only pies or one top and bottom pie). Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least half an hour. Well-wrapped pie dough can be unused in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, and can be frozen.
4. Take dough out twenty minutes before use (ten minutes at least), roll out into rounds large enough to fit over the plate and fill accordingly.
5. If using a top shell, I like to paint with milk or water and dust with sugar (sweet pies) or salt  for savory.

One of my favorite things to do with pie dough is to make savory galettes-

Vegetable and cheese galette my own creation

a galette is just a free form pie- no dish!
1. On a parchment lined cookie sheet, lay out dough and layer the center with sweet potato slices, red onions, purple grapes, blue cheese, sautéed kale or fresh spinach, and lots of thyme or herbs de provence. Switch up vegetables or ingredients as you like.
2. Fold edges of dough over contents, leaving the center open. Paint galette edge with water or olive oil and dust with kosher or sea salt.
3. Bake at 350* or until the dough edges are golden.

Duck Confit from NY Times' Melissa Clark

1.5 t kosher salt
1t freshly ground black pepper
.5 t thyme, fresh or dried
1 bay leaf
8 moulard duck legs (about four pounds total), rinsed and patted dry but not trimmed

1. In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper, thyme and broken bay leaf. Sprinkle over duck generously. Place legs in pan in one layer, cover tightly with plastic wrap, refrigerate for 24 hours.
2. The next day, heat oven to 325*. Place duck legs, fat side down, in a large, ovenproof skillet, with legs fitting snugly in a single layer (you may have to cook in batches or use two skillets). Heat over medium-high heat until fat starts to render. When there is about 1/4" of fat in the pan, about 20 minutes, flip the legs, cover with foil, and place in oven. If you have used two pans, transfer duck and fat to a roasting pan, cover with foil, and place in oven.
3. Roast legs for about an hour, then remove foil and continue roasting until duck is golden brown, about one hour more. Adjust time and temperature depending on your oven, this recipe is a little hot and a little long. Remove duck from fat, reserve fat and gelee for other uses (see next recipe!).
4. Serve duck warm with herb roasted potatoes or in a salad of bitter greens. Or eat with your fingers standing over the stove top like I do.

Onion Soup with Tomato and A Poached Egg from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rogers

for four servings:

1/4 c duck fat or olive oil
1 lb sliced yellow onions (about four cups)
Kosher salt to taste
2 garlic cloves, slivered
a sprig of fresh thyme
4 c chicken stock, warmed
1 T salty confit gelee, if you have it. otherwise, omit.
1 very ripe tomato, about 6 oz, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 oz slice of peasant style bread (levain (Acme/Iggy's) is my favorite)
4 oz soaked salt cod torn into thumbnail size bits (you can buy this at Whole Foods and at Formaggio Kitchen, among other specialty markets)- but this is optional.
4 eggs
freshly cracked pepper

1. Warm 3T of duck fat or olive oil in a 3 qt sauté pan over low to medium heat.
2. Add sliced onions, few pinches of salt, the garlic, and thyme.
3. Cook, stirring regularly, until the onions are translucent and have collapsed onto themselves, about 15 minutes. Don't let them color or get mushy- onions should be sweet and tender.
4. Add the warm stock and the gelee if using. Bring to a simmer and stir in the chopped tomato.
5. Return to a gentle simmer and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Taste for salt.
6. Fish out the thyme, let it cool slightly, and then pull off the thyme leaves and replace into soup. Throw out the stem.
7. Meanwhile, tear or cut the bread into 4 pieces and brush with remaining duck fat or olive oil. Spread onto baking sheet and toast until golden, about 6 minutes.
8. Crack each egg into a saucer or small, shallow bowl. Tipping each dish just above the surface of the simmering broth, slide in the eggs, aiming to keep them separate. The fresher the egg, the better the form. But older eggs just make the soup look more rustic, so no worries.
9. Cook the eggs to the desired doneness- usually 3 to 4 minutes.
10. Set a warm crouton in each of four warm bowls. Spoon an egg, along with a tangle of onions and a bit of tomato into each bowl and fill with the broth. Top with freshly ground pepper.

Dutch Baby/ German Pancake from NY Times' Amanda Hesser

This can be breakfast or dessert, and is best made in a cast iron skillet about 10-12" wide.

2 eggs
.5 c flour
.5 c milk
pinch of ground nutmeg
4 T butter
2 T confectioners' sugar
juice of half a lemon/jam/maple syrup/honey…etc. any topping you like

1. Preheat oven to 425*
2. In a mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the flour, milk and nutmeat and lightly beat until blended but still lumpy.
3. Melt the butter in a 12" skillet with heatproof handle over medium-high heat on the stove. When very hot but not brown, pour in the batter.
4. Move to the oven and bake until the edges billow and begin to turn a golden brown, about 15 minutes.
5. Working quickly, remove pan from oven, sprinkle the sugar through a sieve, and return to oven for 1-2 minutes more. Sprinkle with lemon juice and serve with whatever topping you prefer. Serves 2-4.

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