Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Sunday, March 28, 2010

David Lebovitz's Chocolate Spice Bread

Looks like a cake, tastes like a bread, well sort of, not really. If you like a not too sweet, looks dry but is not, well maybe, moist cake, then you are going to enjoy a flavor journey this cake bread has to offer you.

 I came across this recipe on Samantha's Hungry Dog food blog I was more intrigued by her post than the recipe. However, it was her post that motivated me to prepare this very unusual cake bread. Now, I completely understand her ambivalence with this recipe.  You can never quite put your finger on how to describe it.  Although, I do think Samantha in true form gets as close as possible by describing it as "more dense than cakey, calling to mind a brownie that got kidnapped and sold into the spice trade."

The most intriguing part about this recipe is that you will like it but, you won't know why. Fascinating.

The ingredients create a unique flavor combination of cinnamon, ginger, cloves and whole anise seeds in a cocoa rich batter. It creates a very dark, dense bread cake.  This dessert cake bread would pair up nicely with a good quality ice cream or fresh whip cream.

The recipe is easy to prepare but, it can make for a messy kitchen. Still, it's worth the minimal effort with a few extra dishes to wash.

David Lebovitz's Chocolate Spice Bread
Makes one 9-inch round cake

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for the pan
7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1-1/4 cup flour
3 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking powder (preferable aluminum-free)
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon whole anise seed
2 large eggs at room temperature
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup honey
2/3 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter a 9-inch round cake pan, line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper, and butter that as well.  Dust the insides of the pan with a bit of flour or cocoa powder and tap out any excess.

In a double boiler or a large, heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and the butter together, stirring until smooth.  Let cool to room temperature.  Transfer to a large bowl.

In another bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt.  Add the anise seed.

In the bowl of a standing electric mixer or with a handheld mixer, whip the eggs, yolks, honey, and sugar until thick and mousselike, about 5 minutes, on high speed.

Fold half of the whipped eggs into the chocolate and butter.  Then fold in the remaining egg mixture.

Add the dry ingredients one-third at a time, using a spoon to sprinkle them over the batter and folding until the dry ingredients are just combined.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the cake feels barely set in the center, but still moist.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes.  Tap the cake out of the pan and cool completely on a rack.  Wrap the cake in plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours to let the flavors meld.  Well wrapped, this cake will keep for about one week at room temperature, or one month in the freezer.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Roasted Pork Shoulder

This slow roast pork shoulder recipe leaves the meat so flavorful and tender you can almost cut it with a fork. By leaving the skin on, then scoring the fat, the flavors of garlic, oregano, pepper and a coarse salt, penetrate deep into the meat as it marinates and then slow roasts to perfection.

Roasted Pork Shoulder
Serves 10-12
Recipe courtesy of Tyler Florence

1 boneless pork shoulder (about 4 pounds), skin on
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 handful fresh oregano
4 tablespoons Kosher salt (1 tablespoon for every pound of meat)
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Place the pork, fat-side up, in a roasting pan fitted with a rack insert, and using a sharp knife, score the surface of the meat with small slits.  Mash the garlic, oregano, salt and pepper into a paste on a cutting board with the flat side of the knife: place the garlic paste in a bowl and stir in the oil and vinegar.  Rub the paste all over the pork, being sure to get into the incisions so the salt can penetrate the meat and pull out the moisture-this will help form a crust on the outside when cooked.  Cover the pork with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or up to overnight.

Allow the meat to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Roast the pork for 3 hours, uncovered, until the skin is crispy-brown.  Let the meat rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes before slicing.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Cookbook Giveaway Winner!!

Congratulations to Mary Lee from Merrimarylee's Weblog She is the winner of the New Orleans Classic Gumbos and Soups Cookbook. 

I encourage you to visit her blog and say hello.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday Sauce

On Sunday's at the Knapp house we typically reserve this day for potluck whenever possible.  This allows our family to join with our friends for a good family style meal that is hard to come by during the week.  During the Winter and late Autumn months we look for hearty dishes, that warm our bodies and feed our souls.  One of the meals that meet this criteria is our Sunday Sauce-it's a hearty meat sauce guranteed to take the chill away and warm the spirit.

If you don't have a good sauce recipe in your recipe file. You don't have to look any further.  Take this recipe and call it your very own.

Sunday Sauce
Serves a crowd
Recipe adapted from Colavito

Note: The sauce can be prepared completely in advance.  Just reheat gently over low heat.


For the Sauce:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
8 links mild Italian sausage
1 rack of spare ribs (about 3-1/2 lbs), cut between the bones into individual ribs
1 pound pork butt, cut into 4 pieces
1 large onion, diced
4 whole peeled shallots
4 whole peeled garlic cloves
3-28 ounces cans whole peeled tomatoes
20 fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crusdhed red pepper
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound of rigatoni pasta

For the meatballs:
3-4 slices firm textured white bread
8 ounces ground beef
8 ounces ground pork
1/2 medium onion, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
2 eggs
2 ounces (about 2/3 cup) grated Pecorino Romano cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1.  Place 3 slices of bread in a bowl and pour enough warm water over them to moisten completely.  Let stand until softened.  Crumble beef and pork into a large mixing bowl, add onion and garlic.  Beat eggs, cheese, parsley, salt and pepper in a small bowl and add to the meats.  Break up bread and add to the meats.  Working with your hands, knead the mixture lightly until evenly blended.  The mixture should be creamy and soft.  If not, soak and add remaining slice of bread.  Chill mixture until firm, about 1/2 hour.

2.  While meatballs are chilling, start tomato sauce: In a havy, large (about 8-quarts) pot; heat olive oil over medium heat.  Working in batches without overcrowding the pot, brown spare ribs, sausages and pork butt well on all sides, removing as they brown. (Add small amounts of oil if necessary during browning.)  When all the meat is browned, add the onion, shallots and garlic to the pot.  Cook, stirring, until the shallots and onion are lightly browned, about 4 minutes.  Place tomatoes in a bowl and break up into small pieces with a whisk or your hands.  Add tomatoes, half the fresh basil, salt, dried basil, dried oregano, red pepper and black pepper to taste. Return meat to pot.  Bring to boil, lower the heat and simmer until sauce is thickened and ribs are tender, about 2 hours.

3.  While the sauce is simmering, preheat the broiler.  Using about 1/3 cup of the meat mixture for each, roll 8 meatballs with your hands, placing them on a broiler pan as you go.  Broil until well browned on top, about 4 minutes.  Turn them and brown the second side.  Add the meatballs to the sauce gently so you  don't break up the meatballs.

4.  To serve: cook rigatoni in a large pot of boiling salted water according to the package directions.  Meanwhile, stir remaining basil into the sauce.  Drain pasta and return it to the pot.  Add enough of the sauce to lightly coat the pasta and transfer it to a large platter.  To serve family style, arrange the meats around the edge of the platter and top the pasta with more sauce.  Serve remaning sauce and grated cheese separately.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

New Orleans Classic Gumbo YA-YA and Giveaway

In our family, we love to share meals with friends. On a nice day, we pull-out the 8-foot table out of the garage, and drag it to the back porch.  We take all the available chairs from inside the house, turn up the music, load the tub with beer and soda, and with both arms carry bottles of wine to the table.  For this meal we also pulled out the biggest pot in our kitchen and prepared gumbo for a crowd.

Over the years, I have experimented with several gumbo recipes.  This year, I made a signature gumbo recipe from a  New Orleans landmark restaurant called Mister B's Bistro, located in the French Quarter. My understanding is that this Gumbo Ya-Ya recipe is the best selling dish on the menu.  If time is an issue, this recipe is not for you.  This recipe takes patience to prepare, but it is worth the effort and will  feed a crowd.  The dark golden roux easily took me an hour hanging over a 12 quart stockpot, stirring constantly.

Note: My photo does not give justice to the golden brown roux as I photographed the gumbo served over rice...Just let your imagination take hold at this moment.

The recipe was taken from a cookbook called New Orleans Classic Gumbos and Soups by Kit Wohl.  This cookbook was featured in Gourmet's Cook Book Club.  I purchased an extra copy of this cookbook to give away.  If you are interested in a chance to win this book, just leave me a comment that indicates that you are interested.  I will select a winner no later than March 23, 2010.

Without further delay, the recipe for crowd pleasing Gumbo Ya-Ya.

Gumbo Ya-Ya
Serves a crowd
Recipe from Mister B's Bistro, New Orleans

1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 red bell peppers, diced
2 green bell peppers, diced
2 medium onions, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1-1/4 gallons (20 cups) chicken stock
1 pound andouille* sausage, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
2 tablespoons Creole seasoning- store bought or homemade
2 tablespoons kosher salt or sea salt plus additional to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper chili flakes
1 teaspoon chile powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 bay leaves
1- 3-1/2 pound chicken, roasted and boned
hot sauce to tatse
boiled or steamed rice
*Any good quality pork sausage, such as kielbasa, may be substituted.

Begin by making a dark roux.  In a 12-quart stockpot melt the butter over low heat.  Gradually add 1 cup of the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, and continue cooking, stirring for 30 seconds.  Add 1 more cup of flour and stir an additional 30 seconds.  Add remaining cup flour and stir for another 30 seconds.  Continue to cook the roux, stirring constantly, until it is the color of dark mahogany, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Add the red and green bell peppers to the roux and stir for 30 seconds.  Add the onions and celery stirring for 30 seconds.  Gradually add stock to the roux, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to prevent lumps.  Add the andouille sausage, Creole seasoning, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, chile powder, thyme, garlic and bay leaves, and bring to a boil.  Simmer gumbo, uncovered for 45 minutes, skimming off any fat.  Stir occasionally.

Add chicken meat.  Simmer 15 minutes.  Adjust seasoning with salt and hot sauce.

Serve over rice.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sticky Grilled Drumsticks with Plum Sauce

This recipe is wonderfully sticky and sweet. The glaze includes fresh plums and red pepper jelly that is cooked down to a syrupy sauce, that is then brushed over the drumsticks while grilling.  The recipe calls for drumsticks but, I substituted drumettes as they are easier to handle and make a great finger food. I also roasted the drumsticks in the oven instead of grilling. In my opinion, you can achieve good results from oven roasting too.

Sticky Grilled Drumsticks with Plum Sauce
Serves 4
Recipe from Food and Wine

12 chicken drumsticks
2 tablespoons canola oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 red or purple plums (4 ounces each), pitted and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup hot or sweet red pepper jelly
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup hot water

1. Light a grill.  Rub the chicken with the canola oil and season with salt and pepper.  Grill over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through, about 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter.  Add the onion and cook over moderately low heat, stirring until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the plums and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until softened and nearly broken down, about 5 minutes.  Add the red pepper jelly and mustard and bring to a boil, stirring until the jelly is melted.  Carefully transfer the mixture to a food processor.  Add the water and puree until smooth.  Season the plum sauce with salt and pepper.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Maiden's Prayer

We enjoy a good cocktail to wind down at the end of a work week, when entertaining or sitting out on our patio. My husband over the years has earned a reputation among our friends for his cocktail shaking prowess.

This cocktail is tasty, a bit sour but makes a refreshing palate-opening before a meal.

Maiden's Prayer
Makes two 4-1/4 ounce drinks
Recipe from: Raising the Bar

3 ounces good quality gin
3 ounces fresh orange juice (from approximately 1 orange)
1-1/2 ounces fresh lemon juice (from approximately 1 lemon)
1 ounce triple sec
2 orange twists for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add all the ingredients except the orange twists.  Shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker is frosted and beaded with sweat.

Strain in cocktail glasses, garnish with the orange twists, and serve.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Spicy Beef Empanadas

This is an easy empanadas dish.  Although traditional empanada dough is similiar to a pie crust. This dough uses a refrigerator biscuit dough, which makes it uncomplicated and easy to handle. The dough is  filled with a spicy beef filling, and then folded and baked.

This is great to make in batches and freeze. You can easily use as needed. I enjoy using them for packed lunches or snacks. These spicy filled pies are elegant enough to be served as appetizers. We made a batch to enjoy for this month's Wine Club gathering. Our focus was Argentinian and Chilean wines.

Spicy Beef Empanadas
Makes about 20

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound lean ground beef
1/2 green or red bell pepper
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1/3 cup chopped raisins
1/4 cup chopped pimiento stuffed green olives
1-1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1-3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup packed grated Monterey Jack Cheese (about 4-ounces)
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3-12 ounce packages refrigerated buttermilk refrigerator biscuits
2 egg yolks, beaten to blend for glaze

Heat oil in a heavy medium skillet over medium heat.  Add beef, bell pepper and garlic.  Cook until beef loses its pink color and vegetables begin to soften, breaking up beef with a fork, about 6 minutes.  Add rasins and next 6 ingredients and cook until the mixture is thick, about 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Mix cheese and cilantro into filling.

Preheat oven to 375 Degrees F.  Roll out one biscuit at a time on a lightly floured surface to 4-inch circle.  Brush half of dough edge with glaze.  Place one rounded tablespoon of filling in dough.  Fold dough over to create half circle; press edges to seal.  Using fork tines, crimp edges decoratively.  Place empanada on a heavy large baking sheet.  Brush with glaze.  Repeat with remaining biscuits, filling and glaze.

Bake empanadas until golden brown, about 12 minutes.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with a Soy-Sesame Marinade

One of our favorite Korean barbecues is Bulgogi.  Typically this dish is made with flank steak that is thinly sliced then threaded on to skewers for grilling.  This dish uses the Bulgogi marninade but substitutes pork tenderloin.  The sesame oil in the marinade acts as a meat tenderizer while creating a mild sesame flavor.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with a Soy-Sesame Marinade
Serves 6

2 Pork tenderloin (1lb. each) trimmed 

3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
5 tablespoons Japanese soy sauce mixed with 1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
3-4 scallions, chopped
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon crushed roasted sesame seeds

Combine the marinade ingredients in a small bowl, stirring to blend them well.  Pour over the meat, and coat well.  Cover the dish with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1-1/2 hours or overnight.  To prevent toughness, remove the meat from the refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling.

Grill pork over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until done.  Transfer pork to a cutting board, let rest for 10 minutes.  Cut into 1-inch slices and serve.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Grilled Red Curry Chicken

"Roasting a whole chicken takes about an hour, but if you cut out the backbone and flatten the bird, it will grill perfectly in about 30 minutes"- Food and Wine

The chicken is rubbed with a simple Thai-inspired mix of red curry paste, coconut milk and brown sugar. Although, the recipe does not require a marinating time, I would encourage you marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes and don't forget to rub the curry mixture under the skin for extra flavor.

Grilled Red Curry Chicken
serves 4
Recipe from Food and Wine

One 3-pound chicken- remove wing tips
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2 tablespoons red curry paste
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Light a grill. Using kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the chicken backbone; discard the backbone. Turn the chicken breast side up and press down firmly on the breast bone to crack and flatten it. Using a sharp knife, cut deep slits to the bone 1/2 inch apart along the chicken legs and thighs. Transfer the flatten chicken to a medium baking dish.

2. In a small bowl, whisk the coconut milk with the curry paste and brown suagr until smooth. Rub the curry mixture all over the chicken, into the slits and under the skin; season with salt and pepper.

3. Grill the chicken skin side down over moderate heat until the skin is browned and crisp, about 10 minutes.  Turn the chicken skin side up, cover and grill over moderate heat until cooked through, about 20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Carve the chicken and serve.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Shrimp Couscous with Grilled Eggplant and Peppers

New York City is one of my favorite places to visit and while I am there, I want to experience everything that this amazing city has to offer. I have often described the feeling of being there like standing in the middle of the world. 

I have taken up a special fondness for food blogs that focus on the food and culture of New York City. One such blog is Nora's Amateur Foodie Adventures who writes about her food adventures in New York City. I asked Nora if she would be interested in doing a guest post about a food experience or a favorite recipe. She graciously agreed. Without further delay, say hello to Nora the host of Amateur Foodie Adventures. As always, stop by her blog and say hello. You don't have to live in New York City to enjoy her blog posts. 

Velva is a faithful reader and commenter on my blog. I was thrilled when she asked me to be a guest blogger despite the fact my website isn't a recipe-based food blog like hers. On my site, I cover food events in New York City, throwing in a few restaurant postings and an occasional recipe for some variety.

Here, I'm going to write about a recipe from a personal favorite website of mine called  ( This site is cool enough for a separate blog posting, but Ill simply say check it out when you have a moment.

The recipe is Shrimp Couscous with Grilled Eggplant and Peppers. I dig this recipe because A) it combines 3 of my favorite ingredients; shrimp, couscous, and sweet red peppers and B) it helped me overcome a recent and unexpected bout of subpar cooking ability that seemed to steal away my kitchen mojo.

Example 1: Potato souffle. I tried a gorgeous recipe from a food travel book I'm reading. Alas, my dreams of an airy, creamy souffle were foiled by me overcooking it. Yes, I lost track of time. Making matters worse, I substituted cinnamon for the nutmeg which I didn't have and added twice the amount by mistake. I know, I know. Potato and cinnamon--it doesn't conjure up the same delicious grandeur as chocolate and peanut butter.

Example 2: Spaghetti Carbonara. An easy recipe for sure, but I managed to mess it up because I never made it before and I was trying to entertain my dinner guest and cook at the same time. That's a bad combination for me!

Example 3: Pakistani Goat Stew. Inspired by the cut up organic goat meat I snagged at the Union Square  Greenmarket, I found a recipe onlie and had every spice in my cupboard. Except garam masala, which you can't find anywhere in my Polish neigborhood. After nuturing the curry, the flavor turned out just-meh. My culinary self-esteem hit an all time low as I ate the goat stew which tasted like regular old beef stew with a mild curry sauce. Where was the adventurous, exotic, complex flavored stew I planned for?

Much like Austin Powers, I finally was able to get my mojo back. Yeah Baby! How you might ask? I simply returned to the basics. Simple food and good ingredients I've worked with countless times. Of course, I probably could have avoided this whole saga by using more of Velva's recipes ;)

Shrimp Couscous with Grilled Eggplant and Peppers
Serves 1- can easily be doubled.

2 thick slices of eggplant
1/2 red bell pepper
4 large shrimp-peeled, cleaned
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup whole wheat couscous
3/4 cups seafood stock
1 lemon
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons toasted slivered almonds
Fresh black pepper
2 green onions-chopped

1. Heat the grill to med-high. Brush the eggplant and pepper with tablespoon of olive oil, squeeze juice from half the lemon over them, and sprinkle with salt. Grill the eggplant until they have a nice char but are not completely cooked. Remove from the grill and cut into bite sized pieces.

2. Heat the remaining olive oil to medium, add the garlic and shrimp. Cook until the shrimp are just pink but not completely cooked.

3. Add the stock and thyme, a couple of grinds of black pepper, bring to a simmer, and add the couscous. Stir, turn off the heat and leave covered for 2-3 minutes.

4. Stir in the eggplant, peppers and juice from the other half of the lemon, as well as the green onion, and cover for an additional 2-3 minutes.

5. Spoon into a bowl, top with toasted slivered almonds, serve and enjoy!