Saturday, April 4, 2015

Eggs en Cocotte

A quick, simple dish for a weekend morning. I won a set of Staub's mini cocottes and knew that the first thing I had to make was this dish... a baked version of Shakshuka.

Per cocotte:
1 egg
1/4 cup tomato sauce (from a jar or your own version)
salt and pepper

fresh baguette
olive oil
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Spoon tomato sauce into cocottes, ramekins or glass jars. Crack the eggs into each container.

(Since I wanted the yolk on top for a nicer photo, I separated each yolk from the white and dropped it in on top)

Bake for around 12 minutes, depending on your desired yolk temperature.

Meanwhile, slice and grill bread in a little olive oil.

Top each cocotte with large flake salt like David's Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

No ramekins or cocottes? Just make a larger batch on the stovetop: pour tomato sauce into a pan, make a well in the middle, crack some eggs in and cover, cook for 12 to 15 mins on medium heat.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Strawberry Pavlovas

Pavlova has always been my favorite dessert. With meringue, whipped cream and fresh fruit, who can complain?

Recipe adapted from here

1/2 cup egg whites, at room temperature (from about 4 eggs) 
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar 
1/8 teaspoon salt 
1 cup granulated sugar 
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch 
1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar or red wine vinegar 
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
1 1/4 cups heavy cream 
2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed 
about 1 lb strawberries or your favorite seasonal fruit
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or using a hand mixer), whip the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt in a clean, dry bowl until foamy.
Add the granulated sugar, cornstarch, vinegar, and vanilla and continue whipping until stiff, smooth and glossy, about 8 minutes more.

Line a sheet pan with parchment. Spoon the egg whites into mounds (you can do one large one, or several minis), using the back of the spoon to smooth the top and sides of the disks.
Bake in the center of the oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 300 degrees and bake until the meringue has puffed up and cracked on the top and the surface is lightly browned to the color of cafe au lait, about 45 minutes more.

Turn off the oven, prop the oven door open, and let the pavlova cool in the oven at least 30 minutes, to room temperature. This ensures a gradual cooling, which protects the delicate meringue.

Whip the cream and brown sugar together until stiff.
You can either top the pavlovas with whipped cream, or if you're like me and you like them messy - break off the top, spoon in some cream and fruit, then put the top back on and add an extra layer of cream and fruit.

Arrange the slices of strawberries around the edge. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

A Recent Photoshoot Felice 83 with their new dinnerware. 
All photos were taken with my iPhone 6.

Follow along for more on Felice Wine Bar & Ristorante's Instagram.

Classic French Madeleines

When I lived in Antibes, France for a semester, we used to eat these cheap individually packaged Madeleines bought from the local Carrefour. On the other hand, the real Madeleine is a sensational melt-in-your-mouth treat. Plus, you can make the batter ahead of time and bake a la minute to impress your guests.

Inspired by Mimi Thorisson's cookbook, A Kitchen in France, I decided to tackle the French Madeleine and to try different recipes until I found the perfect one.

I tried the one in her cookbook and found them dense, tricky to handle, and a little too sweet.  The following weekend, I tried pastry expert David Leibovitz's recipe next. The edges were crispy and the flavor was nice but they lacked the signature hump on the back.

A few days later, Bon Appetit - one of my favorite magazines - fortuitously posted Chef Daniel Boulud's classic Madeleine recipe on their Facebook. His version of these butter cakes came out light as air and perfectly browned. For me, this recipe is a winner.

Recipe after the jump.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Tagliatelle with Duck Ragù

Mason and I often treat ourselves to Lunch Date Saturday. On one such occasion, we went to Perla - a quiet, dimly lit Italian restaurant located on Minetta Lane in the West Village - and we quickly became infatuated with the ambiance and cuisine. The first time we dined there, they served us a hand-rolled spaghetti with a bold duck ragù - and if that wasn't enough - our server showered the pasta with shavings from a block of frozen foie gras. Over the next few months we returned to order this dish on several occasions.

After a few months - and to our dismay - Perla had removed their Pici con Ragù dell'Anatra. A few days later, I decided to recreate this dish.

A quick Google lead me to a few traditional Tuscan recipes, and I mixed and matched a few for the recipe below.

Tagliatelle with Duck Ragù
3 tbsp olive oil Duck, one breast and one leg (Long Island is preferable)
2 medium onions, diced
3 carrots, finely diced
2 1/2 oz guanciale cut into small cubes
1/2 cup dry white wine
28oz san marzano chopped tomatoes (1 can)
1 cup stock
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp thyme, chopped
1 tbsp rosemary, chopped
kosher salt and black pepper to taste

 To serve:
1/4 lb pecorino cheese (or Parmesan)
1 lb dry tagliatelle pasta (egg preferred)
Heat olive oil to medium high in a large saucepan or dutch oven / cocotte

Render the guanciale by cooking it until crispy. Remove the guanciale and keep the fat in the pan. Dry off and season duck pieces with salt and pepper, then brown them well on all sides in pot

Duck will render some of its fat here, but do not drain it. Instead, remove duck pieces to a plate and toss in guanciale (pancetta),
 onion, celery and carrot. Lower heat to medium and allow this lot to soften for about 10-15 minutes before hitting it with the garlic. Give this about five minutes of sauteeing before cranking up the heat to medium-high again.

When you can hear the pan is hot, pour in the wine and scrape up the brown bits at the bottom. Allow wine to evaporate before reducing heat to medium and adding tomatoes, stock and drained, reconstituted porcini. Toss the duck back in, and add the sage and bay before bringing it all to a boil and stirring well. Reduce the heat so sauce is just simmering, and cook partially covered for at least two hours.

Check occasionally for liquid levels, adding a splash of water if it looks like it’s drying out. After two hours, meat should be fall off the bone tender, but if not, continue until it is. Remove duck pieces from sauce and allow to cool, before taking two forks and pull meat off the bones, discarding skin and bones.

Skim the fat off. Reduce the sauce on medium high until thick.

Skim fat off the surface of the sauce, removing bay and sage sprig, then add duck back in and stir well. Taste and correct seasoning, if necessary. At this point it can be cooled and stored for a few days.

To serve:
Follow package directions to cook the tagliatelle. Toss with duck ragù. Top with Pecorino cheese and a glass or more of good Tuscan red wine.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Australian Pavlova

When I lived in Australia, the impressive pavlova would always make an appearance at family gatherings. 

The meringue part is most easily done with a stand mixer, and can also be whipped up by hand mixers. The key to maximum volume in meringues is to make sure all your bowls and utensils are free of grease.As an additional indulgence, I like to add an extra layer of fruit and cream to the middle of the pavlova. 

4 Egg Whites
1 pinch Salt 
1 1/3 cups Super Fine Sugar (Baker's Sugar) 
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract (or  powdered vanilla) 
1 teaspoon White Vinegar 
1 cup Whipping Cream 
Seasonal Fruit
Preheat oven to 300F and lightly grease a baking tray covered in parchment paper. 

Start with a very clean metal bowl in your stand mixer, or large metal or glass bowl with a hand mixer. Whisk the egg whites and the pinch of salt to soft peaks (where they stand up but collapse). Add in a tablespoon at a time the super fine sugar, and keep whipping until stiff peaks. Add in the vanilla and vinegar, and let the machine mix it in thoroughly. 

Spoon into one large disk onto the parchment paper-lined baking tray.

Bake for a about an hour. When done, the meringue will be hard to the touch and sound hollow when you tap on it. Don't let it get too brown. 

While the meringue is baking, whip cold cream to stiff peaks. Crack the top from the meringue, layer in whipped cream and a layer of fruit (I used strawberries). 

Replace the top, and add another layer of whipped cream and garnish with fruit.