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Saturday, June 16, 2018

Ultimate French Lemon Tart

It is summer in New York! And when the weather turns hot I start dreaming of fruity desserts: strawberry shortcakes, banana pudding, lemon curd. This tart hit the spot. It is a stunning and luxurious dessert that requires a little more attention than a super simple dessert, but surprisingly doesn't require a ton of skill... the perfect combination. When you pour the curd into the prepared tart, a satisfied smile will wash over your face and you'll sigh with relief, realizing "it worked!" If you prefer a traditional tart shell, by all means, go for it! I was in the mood for graham cracker shell, so I went in that direction. I combined a few recipes to make this, but used this as my home base.

INGREDIENTS

Crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted
9 or 10-inch tart pan

Filling:
2 large eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare a 9 or 10-inch tart pan by lightly buttering it. 

In a medium bowl mix together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter and pour into the bottom of the prepared tart pan. Press evenly (and well) all around the pan and the sides so that you have an even and firm crust. Place in oven and bake until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

In a medium heat proof bowl, place the eggs, sugar, lemon zest & juice, and heavy cream and whisk to combine. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (double boiler) and cook on moderate heat, whisking constantly, until mixture becomes thick and registers about 170 degrees F (or coats the back of a wooden spoon and leaves a clear pass when you run your finger through it). 

Remove the curd from the heat and immediate strain mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Add the butter, a few cubes at a time and whisk until completed melted and mixture is smooth. Take your time with this part of the process- the whisking helps the curd become airy and light. Allow to cool until room temperature and pour into prepared shell. Refrigerate at least 4 hours until chilled. Serve with berries and freshly whipped cream. 

Monday, May 28, 2018

Arugula & Farro Salad

I had this salad a few weeks ago at a friend's house for lunch and couldn't stop thinking about it. After a few days I made it myself and have since made it 2 more times. It is that delicious. It is the perfect early summer salad and can easily be served as a side dish or main course. You're going to want to make this. Recipe is adapted slightly and is served nightly at Charlie Bird, which I now want to visit ASAP.

INGREDIENTS
1 cup farro
1 cup apple cider
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 bay leaves
6 tablespoons good olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
70 grams Parmesan cheese, shaved
1/2 cup pistachio nuts, chopped
3 cups arugula leaves
1 cup basil and/or parsley leaves, torn
1 cup mint leaves
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1/3 cup thinly sliced radish
Flaky sea salt for finishing

In a medium saucepain, bring farro, apple cider, vinegar, salt, bay leaves, plus 2 cups of water to a simmer. Simmer until farro is tender and liquid evaporates, about 30 minutes. Let farro cool, then discard the bay leaves.

In a large salad bowl whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Add the cooled farro, parmesan and pistachio nuts and mix well. This salad base will keep for up to 4 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator (bring to room temperature before serving). Just before serving gently fold in the arugula, fresh herbs, tomatos, radish, and flaky sea salt to taste. Serve and enjoy!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Classic Scones with Clotted Cream

In honor of The Royal Wedding I woke up early this morning to tune into the broadcast and made traditional English scones while I watched the Prince and now Duchess tie the knot. English scones differ from American scones- they are less dense and some describe them as "dreamy" and "pillowy." Also, they are traditionally served with clotted cream and jam. I made my own clotted cream this time and it was outstanding. Although these would be great slathered with any of your favorite toppings (jams, butter, honey, etc.), the traditional toppings are the best. This recipe uses cake flour, which certainly adds to the pillowy texture. I've heard that they come out well with all purpose flour, but if you have cake flour, I recommend you use it. BONUS: they come together incredibly quickly, are so buttery, and melt in your mouth. I highly recommend them. Recipe by Mark Bittman.

SCONE INGREDIENTS
2 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar, separated
5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
1 egg
1/2 cup (plus more) heavy cream

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Pour the flour, salt, baking powder, and 2 tablespoons of the sugar into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Add the egg and the heavy cream and mix just until sticky dough is formed. If the dough is too dry add a splash of cream and if the dough is too wet add a bit more flour. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a circle 3/4 inch thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut into circles or hand cut into whatever shapes you want (wedges, squares work well). Brush a bit more cream on top of each scone and sprinkle with remaining 1 tbs of sugar. Place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, until lightly golden. Serve with your favorite jams and clotted cream.

CLOTTED CREAM
There are different ways to make clotted cream if you cannot find it in a specialty grocery store nearby. The traditional way is by heating heavy cream for a long time (12 hours) at a very low temperature in your oven (180 degrees F) and then refrigerating for a while and then separating the clotted cream from the whey. You can find that method by clicking here. Alternatively, if you don't have 24 hours to properly make clotted cream, you can make a non-traditional, but very delicious version, nonetheless, by mixing a few easy-to-find dairy products. Find that recipe here.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Eleven Madison Park Granola

The best restaurant has the best parting gift at the end of the night: granola for the road. And it is super easy to make at home... and infinitely adaptable. I adapted the recipe slightly when I made it last night because I didn't have pumpkin seeds at home but did have pecans that I wanted to add (I would add both next time). It is so delicious and very hard to stop eating. My version is below.

INGREDIENTS
2 3/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup shelled pistachios
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup coconut chips/flakes, unsweetened
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt*
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 cup sour dried cherries

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, nuts, coconut, pumpkin seeds and salt.

In a small saucepan, over low heat, warm the sugar, maple syrup, and olive oil until the sugar has just dissolved, then remove from heat. Pour liquid sugar mixture over the oat/nut mixture and slowly fold to combine, making sure to coat the dry ingredients well.

Spread the granola on the prepared baking sheet and bake until lightly golden, 35-40 minutes, stirring the granola 2-3 times along the way.

Remove granola from oven and mix into it the dried cherries. Let cool completely before serving and/or storing in an airtight container.

Munch on it plain, or put it over your morning yogurt, or eat it my favorite way, by mixing together 1 cup of cornflakes with 1/3 cup of granola and top with your favorite milk for a semi-homemade Honey Bunches of Oats cereal breakfast.


*EMP's recipe suggests 3 teaspoons of kosher salt. Some reviews online said whoa, this is too salty, and my guess is they weren't using kosher salt. Just in case, I put a tiny bit less in and it was delicious. If you use table salt, make sure you use less than the above recipe suggests, since the grain is finer and thus the same measurement of table salt to kosher salt is saltier.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Chocolate Toffee Matzah Crack

Every year I buy 1 box of matzah to last me the week of Passover. I always have leftovers. I don't like matzah (not that I am supposed to), but if I think of it as a vessel for other delicious things, I am able to enjoy it. I eat it one of two ways: 1) a tiny square of it during seder that I cover with a massive amount of horseradish to clear out my sinuses, and 2) smothered with salty butter, sugar, and chocolate (see above). The first way is really just about the horseradish. The second way is really just about, well, the salty butter, sugar, and chocolate.

Also, my last note: IF YOU DON'T LIKE MATZAH AND/OR AREN'T JEWISH AND/OR ITS NOT PASSOVER MAKE THIS WITH SALTINES OR *CLUB CRACKERS* and eat it year-round. You won't be sorry.

INGREDIENTS
4-5 pieces of matzah
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
Flakey sea salt for sprinkling
Various toppings (chopped roasted nuts, cocoa nibs & toasted coconut work well)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with tin foil and cover the bottom with matzah pieces, trying to cover the whole sheet.

In a medium saucepan, heat together the butter and brown sugar. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 2-3 minutes until thick. Take off the heat and add the salt and vanilla an stir to combine. Pour over the matzah and spread with a spatula- careful, its hot!

Place in the oven and cook for about 10 minutes until nice and bubbly. Remove from oven, place on a cooling rack and sprinkle the chocolate pieces on top. Let sit for 3-5 minutes letting the chocolate melts.

Using a knife or offset spatula spread the chocolate to the edges and then sprinkle with your favorite toppings. Place in refrigerator for about 45 minutes, remove the pieces from the tin foil and cut into squares. Serve and enjoy!

Roasted Chicken & Grapes

Oh mannnn is this chicken good. I've been wanting to make it for a long time and finally did this weekend. I only regret waiting so long. This chicken is perfect: salty crispy skin, juicy flavorful meat, tart and sweet grapes, delicious pan sauce. It would serve beautifully with a side of creamy polenta, although I served it with an amazing Raw and Roasted Carrot and Fennel Salad by Alison Roman because, well, its Passover, and polenta-n-me will have to wait another few days to meet again.
*Recipe from Melissa Clark's most recent cookbook Dinner: Changing the Game, which I highly recommend.

INGREDIENTS
1 spatchcocked chicken, 4-5lb (*see below for how-to-spatchcock-a-chicken)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds, lightly crushed in spice grinder or mortar and pestle
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
16 oz seedless grapes on the stem
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter

In a small bowl mix together the salt, fennel seeds, pepper, lemon zest, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Rub all over the chicken, then place the whole bird, skin side up, on a rimmed baking sheet/roasting pan and let sit on the counter for 1-2 hours.

When you're close to cooking the bird, preheat your oven to 475 degrees F. Transfer the chicken to the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl toss together the grapes with 2 teaspoons of olive oil, the sugar, and some salt and pepper. After the chicken cooks for 20 minutes, remove from oven and place the grapes around the chicken. Put the chicken back in the oven for another 20-25 minutes, until chicken is cooked through, skin is golden brown, and grapes are lightly caramelized. Transfer chicken to cutting board and let sit for a few minutes and remove the grapes from the pan and set aside in a bowl. Keep the pan juices!!

Pour the vinegar into the roasting pan to help scrape up all of the yummy brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour all juices into a small sauce pan and cook over medium heat until lightly boiling. Whisk in the butter and taste for seasonings.

Carve the chicken into pieces and serve with grapes and pan juice on top. Enjoy.

**NOTES**
The recipe calls for a spatchcocked chicken and if you're not sure how to do this don't be intimidated-- its easy. Take a whole chicken (clean and dry) and place it on a cutting board with the neck/backbone facing up. Taking very sharp kitchen shears, cut along either side of the backbone from one end to the other, removing it completely (discard/save for chicken soup). Then flip the bird over onto the cutting board and press down on the breasts, until it slightly flattens and you hear a pop. Ya done spatchcocked a chicken, ya'll!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake


I've been thinking about this cake for 5 days straight ever since the NY Times posted a photo of this bad boy on their Instagram feed. It is another 5-star Melissa Clark recipe and is pretty special and unique. Very chocolatey, very moist. Goes great with a big dollop of whipped cream on top. Warning: it tastes pretty boozy, so if you're not that into boozy flavor, I recommend replacing half of the whiskey with 1/4 cup of coffee. Also, I halved the recipe when I made it because I wanted to break-in my half-sized bundt pan, so your cake will be much larger than the one pictured above. And please forgive my home-made upside-down-salad-bowl + right-side-up-salad-plate improvised cake stand. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

INGREDIENTS
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened (plus more for greasing the pan)
2 cups granulated sugar (plus more for dusting the pan)
5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup bourbon or whiskey
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
1 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour

Grease a 10-cup bundt pan with butter and then dust with granulated sugar. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Melt the chocolate and let cool.

Put the espresso and cocoa powders in a 2-cup measuring cup. Add enough boiling water to come up to the 1-cup measuring line. Whisk together until powders dissolve. Add the whiskey and salt. Let cool a bit. 

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition, scraping the bowl with a spatula, as needed. Beat in the vanilla extract, baking soda, and melted chocolate, again scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. On low speed beat in 1/3 a cup of the whiskey mixture then half of the flour, then half of what is left of the whiskey mixture, the rest of the flour, and then ending with the last bit of whiskey mixture, making sure you allow each addition to totally mix in, but without overbeating the cake. Pour the cake into prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for about 1 hour (might need a few minutes more or less), until toothpick comes out mostly clean.