Monday, July 26, 2010


I made these this morning for Patrick, and I realized that I've never posted the recipe. I'm afraid that I have no precise measurements, but pancakes are very forgiving, so don't be worried.  Also, I'm not a big advocate of electric appliances, but I love to use an electric griddle for pancakes.  It provides a large surface and regulates the heat perfectly.  If you don't have one, just use your largest skillet (preferably nonstick).

For 3-4 people

1 cup flour (I like White Lily)
1/4 tsp salt
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder (I use a real teaspoon for this, not a measuring spoon)
1 tbl (more or less) butter, melted
1 egg, beaten slightly
3/4-1 cup milk (If you want to use buttermilk, you can add 1/4 tsp baking soda)

Crisco or vegetable oil for frying

Put your plates in a warm oven.

With a fork, mix the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda, if you're using it, in a mixing bowl.  Melt the butter in the microwave.  Warm the milk to room temperature in the microwave.  Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the egg, butter, and 3/4 cup of milk. Mix with a fork.  If it seems too dry, add
the remaining 1/4 cup of milk. DO NOT overbeat. It should look lumpy!

Arm yourself with a spatula, ladle or large spoon, a wad of paper towels, and a plate to put all this mess on.
Put the can of Crisco by the side and heat your skillet or griddle. I usually start by setting my griddle to 350 and then adjust up or down from there. Get some Crisco on that wad of paper towels and run it all over your griddle. Now, to test if your griddle is hot enough, throw a few drops of water on it.  They should dance over the griddle.  If they just sit there, it's not hot enough. If they vaporize, it's too hot. When your griddle is ready, ladle out  dollops of batter onto the griddle, making sure to keep them pretty far apart--you want room to turn them.  When the edges begin to set, and the bubbles start to break, it's time to turn.  The whole process will only take a couple of minutes. Place on a heated plate.  Repeat. You can keep unused batter in the fridge for a couple of days.

The boys like these with maple syrup, but I love them with strawberry preserves.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sticky 5 Spice Short Ribs from "Ask Aida"

I saw this yesterday on TV, and it sounds really delicious and easy. This calls for beef short ribs, but I bet it would also be good with baby back ribs for a party. I definitely will try this when I get my kitchen back. This would be good served with fried or plain rice and an Asian flavored coleslaw.
  • 1 1/2 cups dry sherry or Shaoxing wine
  • 1/2 cup oyster sauce
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 pounds short ribs, English cut
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons five-spice powder
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1-inch piece ginger, sliced
  • 1 small serrano or Thai bird chile, or jalapeno pepper, halved

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F and arrange a rack in the middle.
Mix together sherry, oyster sauce, and brown sugar until evenly combined; set aside. Pat ribs dry with a paper towel and season well with salt and five-spice powder.
Place a 3-quart Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed, shallow pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat and add oil. When oil starts to smoke, add ribs and sear until well browned, about 2 minutes per side.
Remove ribs to a plate and set aside. Discard all but 1 tablespoon drippings, return pan to stove, and add garlic, ginger, and chile and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in reserved sherry mixture and bring to a simmer.
Return ribs to pan and bring to a simmer. Cover and transfer to oven to cook, turning occasionally, until meat is knife tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Increase oven to 400 degrees F and cook, covered, until ribs are sticky, about 30 more minutes.

Blueberry Crunch (Based on Joy of Cooking's Cherry Crunch)

You've probably noticed the dearth of postings lately, and that's because my kitchen is completely torn up. I have no counter tops, no kitchen sink, no cook top, and no built-in microwave. Thank goodness, I still have one oven, the dishwasher, and a small microwave. We are remodeling, and my current kitchen is the laundry room. I'm not cooking very much, but the other day, I realized that I had two containers of blueberries that were going to go bad if I didn't do something with them. Turning to Joy of Cooking for an easy recipe, I found one for Cherry Crunch that uses canned cherries. It sounded easy, so I adapted it to the fresh blueberries. It's fantastic! Serve it warm with vanilla ice cream, and you have a company-worthy dessert.

One 9-inch square
Spray a 9-inch square pan with Pam. Preheat oven to 350°F.
Using your microwave, melt in a large bowl:
  1⁄2 cup unsalted butter
Mix with:
  1 to 1 1⁄2 cups packed brown sugar
  1 cup all-purpose flour
  1 cup quick-cooking or Old Fashioned Quaker Oats oatmeal
  1⁄4 teaspoon baking powder
  1⁄4 teaspoon salt
  1⁄4 teaspoon baking soda

Put half of this mixture into the baking pan. Scatter over it:
  2 cups fresh blueberries
Sprinkle them with
  juice of 1/2 a lemon.
Cover the fruit with the other half of the pastry mixture. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until brown.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Grilled Pork Chops with Asian Pomegranate Sauce-inspired by Wolfgang Puck

This recipe was inspired by Wolfgang Puck's recipe for double cut pork chops marinated in pomegranate. I'm sure that it's delicious, but I simplified the recipe for an everyday meal, and Jim and Patrick loved it. I served the chops with fried rice and some fresh green beans.
Tip: I freeze washed and dried whole chile peppers so that I have them whenever I need them. I just pull them out of the freezer bag and proceed as if they were fresh. You can also freeze a whole "hand" of ginger and then simply chop off what you need for a recipe.
Serves 4
  • 8 1 boneless pork chops, 1 1/2 inches thick
  • Pomegranate Marinade, recipe follows
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
Pomegranate Marinade
  • 1 tbl OUNCE_USVolumecanola or other vegetable oil
  • 2 fresh red chilies (I used cayenne)
  • 2 ounces OUNCE_USVolumegarlic chopped
  • 2 ounces OUNCE_USVolumeginger sliced
  • 1/2 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1 cups CUP_USVolumepomegranate juice
  • 1/4 0.5  cup CUP_USVolumerice wine vinegar
  • 11/2 tsp TABLESPOON_USVolumefresh ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup OUNCE_USVolumebrown sugar
  • 1 tbl dry TABLESPOON_USVolumecoriander, toasted
  • 1/8 cup OUNCE_USVolumesoy sauce   
  • Big handful fresh coriander, chopped stems (Reserve the chopped leaves for garnish)
Chop garlic, ginger, chiles, green onions, and add all other ingredients. Place chops in a plastic bag and add marinade. Allow to marinate at least 2 hours and up to overnight.  Allow chops to come to room temperature before grilling. Preheat your grill and spray with Pam for Grilling.  Remove the pork chops from the marinade and grill over high heat for about 4 minutes per side. Meanwhile, place the marinade in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Mix 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch with 2 tbl soy sauce.  Lower the heat and add the cornstarch slurry.  Bring back to the boil, stirring.  Allow to simmer while pork chops are grilling. Arrange chops on a platter, pour sauce over and garnish with a generous amount of chopped coriander.

    Friday, July 16, 2010

    Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe

    Patrick made this last night for an easy, family dinner. I thought that it was excellent. Since it is so simple, you must be sure to have great ingredients--really good, imported pecorino and good pasta--try DeCecco brand.
    The authentic cacio e pepe does not call for milk or cream, just olive oil, grated pecorino, and pepper.  Patrick made this with whole milk and without olive oil. This gives a very creamy result. I love it either way!

    You can serve this, naturally, as the pasta course in an Italian meal followed by a meat or fish course, or this could be the main course accompanied by a salad or vegetable for a simpler meal.

    Serves 3-4

    1 lb spaghetti
    1/2 lb grated pecorino
    1 cup whole milk or 1/2&1/2
    lots of freshly ground black pepper

    While the pasta is cooking in copious amounts of salted water, heat the milk in a saucepan. Turn off the heat and add the grated pecorino to melt. Toss with the drained, cooked pasta.  Add plenty of freshly ground black pepper, salt to taste.

    To make this without milk. Drain the pasta, but reserve some of the cooking water.  Toss the pasta with 1/4  cup of extra virgin olive oil and the cheese.  Add some of the cooking water a little bit at a time, stirring the pasta until you achieve a creamy amalgam of deliciousness.  Add salt and lots of black pepper.

    Sunday, July 11, 2010

    Meyer Lemon and Spanish Almond Semifreddo from Michael Chiarello

    I saw this today on Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello and thought it sounded wonderful for summer. I'm definitely going to try it soon.

    Serves: 12-15
    8 egg yolks
    1 1/4 cups sugar
    1 1/4 lb toasted Spanish almonds
    4 1/2 cups heavy cream
    Zest of 2 Meyer lemons (or 3 lemons)


    In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment cream together the egg yolks and sugar until smooth.  Pour the Meyer lemon zest into mixer and mix lightly.  Meanwhile, grind the almonds in the food processor or multi food chopper. Pour the almonds into the egg and sugar mixture and mix lightly.
    In a separate bowl, either using the mixer or by hand, whip the cream to stiff peaks. When the cream is fully whipped, pour 1/3 of the cream into the egg yolk/sugar mixture and stir in vigorously. Then take the remaining 2/3 of the cream and gently fold into the yolk/sugar/nut mixture.

    Spoon the mixture into individual forms or ramekins and allow to freeze for at least 6-8 hours.

    Saturday, July 10, 2010

    Caramelized Fig Tart

    This recipe is from Bobby Flays book From my Kitchen to Your Table. I have modified it to make it really simple for summer. Rather than making the pastry from scratch, I use the Pillsbury roll out pastry. While homemade is better, you put butter and sugar on the figs and you can't tell the difference. (Well sort of). Ken loves this recipe and he is not a big dessert fan. I bet Papa Joe will adore it. I plan to make it for him soon, while the figs are still in.

    1 Pillsbury Roll out pastry
    2 pints of fresh figs - (I use Turkey Figs)
    1/2 cup confectioners sugar
    1/4 cup granulated sugar
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    6 tablespoons butter- melted

    Slice the figs 1/4 inch thick. Mix the sugars and cinnamon together.
    Set rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with Release Aluminum Foil and place the unrolled pastry on the foil.
    Using the largest figs, form a ring 1/4 inch from the inner edge of the pastry. Form another ring inside the first. Using the smallest silices, make a final ring in the center of the tart. Bottom line, make circles with the figs, overlapping until filled to the center.

    Paint the figs with butter, sprinkle 1/3 cup of the sugar over the figs. (you can sprinkle with a strainer if you wish, but too much trouble, the sugar will melt into the figs in the oven.)
    Wrap the outer edge of the pastry up around the outside figs and then put into the oven for 10 min. After 10 min, brush with more butter and sprinkle remaining sugar. Place back in the over for another 10 minutes or until the bottom is lightly browned. Don't overbake or the fig topping will run.

    Every time I have made the the topping runs and it makes no difference. That is why you want the release foil. That way, you don't end up with a sticky mess.

    Macedonia di Frutta - Macerated Fruits

    Everything sounds sooo much better in Italian, doesn't it? Macedonia di Frutta makes me think of Italy in the late spring, drinking prosecco, eating fantastic food in a lovely piazza.  Macerated fruits does not sound nearly as interesting, but  "a rose by any other still as delicious. You can make this with any combination of fruits that are in season.  Last night, I made it with cantelope, peaches, bananas, and a small cheat--canned pineapple. It was wonderful and refreshing. You can serve it plain or, gilding the lily, over ice cream or sorbet. It's a wonderful way to use up small amounts of fruit.  The important fruits to have are oranges and lemons. After that, it's up to you.

    The basis for this recipe came from Marcella Hazan's The Classic Italian Cookbook.

    For 8 or more
    1  Cup freshly squeezed orange juice

    Grated peel of 1 lemon
    2-3 tbl freshly squeezed lemon juice
    1/2 cup white wine (If you don't have it, increase the OJ to 1 1/2 cups)
    2 apples
    2 pears
    2 bananas
    1 1/2 lbs of assorted other fruits
    6 tbl - 1/2 cup sugar, to taste
    1/2 cup maraschino liqueur (or use the juice from maraschino cherries or Grenadine liqueur)

    Peel, seed, slice/chop all the fruits into bite-size pieces.  As you prepare the fruit, add it to the orange and lemon juices so that it won't turn brown. Mix all together. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or even overnight.  Mix well before serving.