Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Smoked Trout Pâté


A simple pulse in the food processor turns four simple ingredients into a delicious pâté. Perfect for serving with crusty bread as an appetizer or as part of my favorite Sunday supper - a platter layered with cheese, bread and European butter. The zing of the horseradish butter helps balance out the richness of the pâté.

Smoked Trout Pâté with Horseradish Butter
Adapted from Good Food

1 oz unsalted butter
Zest 1/2 lemon
160g pack smoked trout
1 spring onion, roughly chopped

Horseradish Butter
1/2 oz unsalted butter
1 t horseradish
1 t chopped parsley + a few whole leaves

Combine melted butter, zest, trout and spring onion in a food processor and blend until smooth. Place the pate in a ramekin and smooth the top.

For the horseradish butter, melt the butter with the horseradish and stir in the chopped parsley. Pour over the pâté and lay the parsley leaves on top with a few grinds of cracked pepper. Chill thoroughly to set the butter. Serve with a baguette and extra butter.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Lemon Curd

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I have a new, favorite lemon curd recipe.

This may not be groundbreaking news, but it is exciting when I find something that improves upon a steadfast recipe in my repertoire.

Lemon curd is extraordinary. Though nothing more than a combination of eggs, butter, lemon juice and sugar, patient stirring and gentle heat transforms the combination into something ethereal and quintessentially spring.

The recipe included below comes to you by way of NotWithout Salt, a wonderful blog with beautiful photography. I think it improves greatly upon my old recipe which was always a touch too tart for my taste. If you would like to see that recipe, along with instructions for a great pavlova, just click on the image of the bowl of lemon curd below.

When served with berries (or berries and whipped cream as Not Without Salt suggests) lemon curd sings. However, I find a spoon, for dipping into the jar of curd, to be a perfectly sufficient eating companion.

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Lemon Curd
Adapted from Not Without Salt
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
¼ t kosher salt
1 t vanilla extract
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

Whisk the sugar, lemon juice, eggs and egg yolks in a medium metal bowl. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, but do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the simmering water – in other words use a bain-marie.

Stir constantly until thickened, about 10 minutes, removing the bowl from the pan as needed to bring down the temperature and prevent the eggs from overcooking.

Remove the bowl from the heat and add the butter, salt and vanilla. Stir until combined. If desired, strain the curd to remove any bits of cooked eggs. Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the curd and chill.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Weights and Measures Banana Bread

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A few years back, there was suddenly a lot of talk about weighing out ingredients when baking. A cup of flour can vary considerably in weight depending on how densely the flour is packed in the cup. Too much extra flour and the recipe can be altered significantly from what the recipe developer originally intended.
So, a culinary school-trained chef and staunch rule-follower such as myself must have immediately switched to weighing all of her ingredients when baking, no? No. Days I turn to baking usually fall on a weekend when I am relaxed and much more interested in enjoying my time in the kitchen than in flawless measuring in pursuit of perfect results.

With that in mind, it should be no surprise that the event that got me to finally put my kitchen scale to use was spurred by laziness a relaxed day in the kitchen when I found myself with a mountain of past-their-prime bananas and no desire to scoop everything into measuring cup after measuring cup to determine how much overripe banana pulp was in my possession. Plop it all on the kitchen scale and call it a day.
Since I now had my banana pulp available in pounds and ounces, I went on the hunt for a banana bread recipe that provided ingredient quantities in weights for ease of scaling.
The Culinary Institute of America’s banana bread recipe is one I have used before and one that handily, comes with ingredients listed in weights. Am I a convert to the kitchen scale after this recipe? Probably not, as I love the ease of scooping flour into a measuring cup without pulling out the scale, but for recipes that call for large quantities, it certainly makes sense. And nothing really beats the confidence that comes with placing a baked good in the oven, knowing it will come out as close as possible to what the recipe developer intended.

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Banana Nut Bread
Adapted (recipe cut in half) from the Culinary Institute of America

2 lb 2 oz overripe bananas
1/4 oz lemon juice
1 lb 6.5 oz ap flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 oz baking soda
1 t salt
1 lb 6.5 oz sugar
3 eggs
7 fl oz oil
4 oz chopped pecans
Butter or cooking spray to coat the loaf pans

Preheat oven to 350
Coat three loaf pans with butter or cooking spray. Mash the bananas with the lemon juice. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Place the banana puree in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and add the sugar, eggs and oil. Mix on medium until well-combined.

Add the flour mixture to the banana puree in three additions, mixing just until combined after each addition. Stir in the pecans.

Divide the batter evenly between the loaf pans. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes until the bread springs back when touched. Cool in pans on wire racks for five minutes, remove the bread from the pans and cool completely on wire racks. Serve with your best preserves.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Eat Your Greens Salad

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The inspiration for this latest salad obsession arrived courtesy of a catering delivery to our office that included this dish in all of its green goodness. Crisp tender vegetables (sugar snap peas, broccoli and edmame), vibrant color and lots of flavor - my only complaint was the heavy dose of vinaigrette. The oily slick on the restaurant version makes you feel like you are undoing all the good done by eating your greens. I absolutely think this salad needs some sort of dressing and a bit of fat, but for me, a drizzle of toasted sesame oil and a sprinkling of salt is sufficient to bring out an earthy, delicious flavor.

Whatever you do, do not skip the blanching step. It makes all the difference to get the vegetables just the slightest bit tender and it certainly doesn’t hurt in preserving the vibrant green color. Blanching traditionally includes a quick dunk in a bowl of ice water to arrest the cooking, but here I opt for stirring in the frozen edamame after the vegetables are drained. They help to quickly cool down the other vegetables, while the residual heat from cooking thaws the edamame. If you prefer an ice bath, by all means use the traditional method, but if you, like me, find yourself without an ice maker and vast quantities of ice on hand, stirring in the edamame works well here.

Eat Your Greens
Makes 2 Quarts

1 pound sugar snap peas
12 oz package broccoli florets
6 oz frozen, shelled edamame
2 – 3 T toasted sesame oil
Salt for cooking and to taste (Kosher – I use Diamond Crystal)

Put a large pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil. While the water is heating, prepare the vegetables.

Remove the stem-end of the sugar snap peas and if desired, the string that runs the length of the pea. Cut the peas on the diagonal into 1/4“ to 1/2“ segments. Roughly chop the broccoli florets.

Once the water comes to a boil, add a generous amount of salt (at least 1 tablespoon). Add the sugar snap peas and broccoli to the water and cook for two minutes. Drain the vegetables in a colander and stir for one to two minutes to speed cooling. Add the frozen edamame and stir until the edamame is thawed – an additional one to two minutes.

Transfer the vegetables to a bowl and stir in two tablespoons of the sesame oil and salt generously. Taste the mixture and if the sesame flavor is mild, add more to taste.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes

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I stumbled upon these delicious cupcakes while looking for something to bring into the office for my co-workers. No special occasion, just a desire to bake and not increase my waist size at the same time. My secret weapon of weight loss centers around pawning off leftovers on unsuspecting colleagues. They have yet to complain about my mode of moderation.
Make these for your co-workers or your family or yourself. Just make them. But beware their addictive nature if you don't have anyone on which to lovingly bestow (aka pawn off) the leftovers.

Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes 20 Cupcakes
Adapted from the Fine Cooking Blog Roll

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs at room temperature
2 cups + 1 T flour
1/2 t salt
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 cup buttermilk at room temperature
1 1/2 t vanilla
Zest of 3 lemons
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1 T flour

Preheat oven to 350
Place 20 cupcake liners in two 12-cup muffin pans. Beat the butter, lemon zest and sugar until light and fluffy – about five minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined. Toss the blueberries with 1 T flour.

Sift the remaining flour with the baking powder, salt and baking soda. Add a quarter of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and combine. Then add vanilla and a third of the buttermilk and combine. Repeat until the flour mixture and buttermilk are incorporated. Fold in the blueberries.

Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pans. Bake 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool pans on a rack for 5 minutes. Turn cakes out and cool completely.

Frost the cupcakes (recipe follows) and top each cupcake with a blueberry and a mint leaf (if desired).


8 oz. softened cream cheese
1 stick softened butter
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup honey
Zest of 1 lemon
1 t vanilla
2 t fresh lemon juice
Large pinch of salt

Beat the ingredients in a stand mixer until completely smooth. If the mixture is too runny, add more confectioner’s sugar until desired consistency is reached.

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