Wednesday, April 1, 2015

spheres.

I don't think I have ever lusted over a kitchen the way I am lusting over this one.  

Those lights and those floors (chevron?!).  I am having serious heart palpitations.  

Oh and that double stove is basically everything I've ever wanted.  

Darren and Deanne | Room 6 | Kitchen | The Block Shop - Channel 9


Image via Pinterest.  

Monday, March 30, 2015

buckwheat buttermilk pancakes with blueberry compote.


Sunday called for pancakes.  

And not just any pancakes but buckwheat pancakes (insanely nutty and utterly addicting) covered in homemade blueberry compote (from the last of this past summer's freezer berries) and maple syrup.   We ate them in sweatpants while watching the Sunday Morning food shows.  It was a perfect morning.  

I know at some point here Spring will come and with it our weekends of hibernation will end.  But, there was something incredibly cozy about this winter and how it seemingly never wanted to end.  It was a nice way to start a marriage - holed up indoors with stacks of books and magazines, a plethora of good TV, and lots of comfort food.  I know things wont always be so easy and effortless (I don't know how I've been so lucky so far) but I'm thankful for the fact that most of the time it is.       

Easy like Sunday morning.   

Buckwheat Buttermilk Pancakes
Recipe from Anson Mills 

Serves 2 as written below.  The original serves 4 and can be found on the Anson Mills site.  

3 tablespoons unsalted European-style butter
½ cup + 2 tablespoons buttermilk
2 ounces (1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons) buckwheat flour (preferably Anson Mills Rustic Aromatic Buckwheat Flour)
1.75 ounces (1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons) all-purpose or pastry flour (or if you have it Anson Mills Colonial Style Fine Cloth-Bolted Pastry Flour)
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 large egg
  
Make the pancakes: Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat or in the microwave. Pour the buttermilk into the pan with the butter to warm it slightly. Set a well-seasoned 10- or 12-inch cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium heat to warm for about 10 minutes while you finish making the batter. The skillet is hot enough when droplets of water flicked onto its surface sizzle on contact.
  
Turn the flours, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt into a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Whisk the egg in a medium mixing bowl. Add the warm buttermilk mixture to the egg and whisk well to combine. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry all at once and whisk lightly to combine.

Butter or oil the hot skillet. Drop pancakes one at a time into the pan with a small ladle or ¼-cup measure—there will be room for 4 pancakes. When the pancakes are nicely browned on the bottom and have begun to bubble on the top, 2 to 3 minutes, flip the cakes and brown the other sides, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Take the pancakes from the skillet, regrease the skillet, and cook the next batch. (If the batter becomes too thick over the course of making the pancakes, thin it with a little milk.) Serve the pancakes hot off the griddle with blueberry compote and a drizzle (OK a generous pour) of maple syrup.   

Blueberry Compote
Recipe from Anson Mills

1 ½ cups fresh blueberries
1.6 ounces (scant ¼ cup) sugar
Pinch of fine sea salt
Juice of ½ a lemon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger

Place blueberries into a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan with the sugar, salt, lemon juice, and ginger and set over medium-low heat. Stir frequently as the blueberries begin to sizzle softly and melt. They will quickly begin to release their juices and cease sticking. Bring them to a simmer and cook until soft and saucy, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use. Warm slightly just before serving. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

ricotta gnocchi.

For most of my life, the art of making homemade potato gnocchi has alluded me. Being half-Italian I thought gnocchi, pasta, and pizza making was in my blood. Instead I've discovered that the only thing in my blood is my ability to make a floury mess.   

And yet I still continue to try at least once every couple of months.  I check the weather to ensure it isn't humid. I buy perfect russet potatoes from the farmers markets.  I do everything by the book and still I fail. My gnocchi ends up tough or it disintegrates in the water and with each try I find myself getting more and more frustrated. Italian grandmothers have been making homemade gnocchi for years WHY CAN'T I?!

When I stumbled across this recipe for ricotta gnocchi on the Serious Eats website that promised to come together in 30 MINUTES and not give you the kind of trouble you typically encounter with potato gnocchi, I figured this was fate telling me to try something new.  

The resulting gnocchi are perfect. I practically wept into my bowl of pasta because I felt as if I finally cracked some kind of long-term goal of mine.  They are easy.  Absurdly easy.  They are fluffy and flavorful and pillows of dreaminess.  Sure you can dress them up with pesto and other fancy sauces but I think they are best in tomato sauce and a grating of parmesan.   

Ricotta Gnocchi

As Kenji notes in his post you want to use good quality ricotta that doesn't have stabilizers.  At the Whole Food's near me there are a couple of choices like that.  Your neighborhood cheese shop should also have high quality ricotta.   

Serves 3-4

12 ounces best quality ricotta cheese (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 ounce finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup), plus more for serving
4 to 6 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
1 whole egg plus 1 egg yolk
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Semolina flour, for dusting
2 cups your favorite marinara sauce
Extra-virgin olive oil
Minced fresh herbs such as basil, parsley, or chives

Line a large plate with three layers of paper towels or a clean dish towel. Transfer ricotta directly to paper towels and spread with a rubber spatula. Place another triple layer of paper towels or a clean dish towel on top and press down firmly with the palms of your hands to blot excess moisture. Peel off upper paper towels.

Place a large bowl on a scale and zero the scale. Scrape ricotta into bowl to weigh. Remove excess ricotta to leave exactly 8 ounces. Reserve excess ricotta for another use. Add Parmesan, 3 1/2 ounces of flour, whole egg, and egg yolk to bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Combine mixture with a rubber spatula. It should be sticky but not loose. Add flour a tablespoon at a time if it is still very moist after kneading with the spatula for 1 minute.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and dust the top with flour. Flatten into a 4- to 6-inch disk and cut into quarters using a bench scraper. Working one piece at a time, roll dough into a log about 6 inches long, dusting with flour as necessary. Split log in half and roll each half into a log about 12 inches long and 3/4-inch wide. You should end up with 8 logs.

Using your bench scraper, cut each log into 8 to 10 gnocchi. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet dusted in semolina flour. Shake to lightly coat gnocchi and prevent sticking. At this point, gnocchi can be frozen. Transfer baking sheet to freezer until gnocchi are completely frozen, about 30 minutes. Transfer gnocchi to a zipper-lock freezer bag and freeze for up to 2 months. Cook directly from frozen, adding a few minutes to cooking time.

To cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat sauce in a separate saucepan until hot but not simmering. Add gnocchi to pot, stir gently, and cook until gnocchi float for 30 seconds, about 3 minutes total. Drain gnocchi, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water. Add gnocchi and 1/4 cup of cooking water to pot with sauce and bring to a hard boil, stirring gently. Add more pasta water to thin sauce to desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Stir in a big drizzle of olive oil and a handful of chopped fresh herbs. Transfer to a large serving plate. Sprinkle with more herbs and Parmesan cheese. Drizzle with more olive oil. Serve immediately.




Tuesday, March 24, 2015

broccoli crostini with pecorino.

It was while Tyler and I were shoving toasts topped with roasted broccoli and pecorino into out mouths that I had a lightbulb moment.  Thinking about crostini as a vehicle for getting vegetables from plate to mouth opens up a whole new world of possibilities.  People usually regale vegetables to salads and side-dishes but if you think about them as an integral component to just about anything you eat, you will probably find yourself eating a hell of a lot more vegetables.   

I almost exclusively think about broccoli as a side-dish.  On occasion a component of a creamed soup but never the topping for a crostini.  Nashville changed that for me.  At Rolf and Daughters we ate one hell of a dish that even kids could love (they may not even notice that broccoli is under that layer of cheese) and so I set out to recreate it.  Because there is nothing I love more then vegetables covered in cheese.

This is my ode to that dish.   

Fontina laced bechamel serves as the base for crispy roasted broccoli that is showered in pecorino. It's salty, creamy, deliciousness that would be right at home at your next party (and also serves as an excellent weeknight dinner which is how we ate it).  

Broccoli Crostini with Pecorino

It took me several days to figure out what the base of the crostini would be.  I'm not sure if Rolf and Daughters used a bechamel in their version but it's the only thing that made sense to me and mimicked the creamy base their version had.  I imagine melted fontina would also work but it wouldn't be nearly as creamy.   

Makes 16 crostini  

For the Bechamel 

1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup milk (not skim!)
1/2 cup grated fontina
Salt and black pepper (lots of black pepper) to taste
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes.  

For the Crostini

8 medium slices of hearty bread (sourdough is best) sliced fairly thick
Olive oil for drizzling
2 heads of broccoli, florets cut into bite size pieces (save the stems for soup)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Pecorino for serving
Mike's Hot Honey (optional)

Cook the broocoli. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Put your broccoli florets into a bowl and toss with olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.  Go easy on the salt as the pecorino is salty.  Dump the broccoli onto a baking sheet and roast until crispy about 20-25 minutes.  Remove from the oven and set aside.  Keep oven on.  

Make the b├ęchamel: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat. Stir in the flour until a paste forms. Gradually pour in the milk, whisking until smooth. Bring the b├ęchamel sauce to a simmer over moderately high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook, whisking often, until no floury taste remains, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the fontina until melted. Season the sauce with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Set aside.  

Assemble the crostini.  Drizzle the toasts on both sides with olive oil.  Place the toasts on a baking sheet and put them in the oven until brown and crispy.  About 4 minutes.  Remove from oven and top with a generous layer of bechamel, 1/8th of the broccoli, a couple of shavings of pecorino, and a drizzle of Mike's Hot Honey if using.   Cut toasts in half and serve immediately.   




























Monday, March 23, 2015

back-splash.

Spring has me thinking about patterns.  

This back-splash somehow manages to be both funky and subtle and I love it.  

(This is why you can never go wrong with black and white. )


Modern Kitchen


Image via Pinterest

Saturday, March 21, 2015

butterscotch banana tarte tatin.

March is one of those funny months where I get particularly confused when it comes to eating.  Winter citrus is kind of done and the farmers markets are practically empty except for potatoes and some sad looking carrots. At this point one just feels sick of everything (most notably their winter boots and parkas).  

But usually in March I begin to develop a fondness for bananas. Slathered in peanut butter they make for a most excellent breakfast and nestled in pockets of butterscotch they become a most epic dessert. The kind of dessert that transports you to a place that isn't New York on the first day of spring when it's supposed to snow 3-6 inches (I think we all need to be transported to our happy place right about now.)

Tarte tatin is one fancy looking dessert.  People squeal for it.  But in all honesty it's one of the simplest things you can make.  It's essentially ripe fruit, sugar, and puff-pastry.  It's a one pan dish!  Let's think about that for a second.  This butterscotch banana one is EVERYTHING I want to be eating right now seeing as bananas and caramel just go together.  I recommend serving generous wedges to the ones you love and topping each slice with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a  sprinkle of cooca nibs (for crunch).  It serves as a nice distraction from everything else.   


Butterscotch Banana Tarte Tatin
Recipe from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

All-purpose flour, for work surface
1 sheet frozen puff-pastry dough, thawed in the refrigerator for 1 day (I beg of you to get the all-butter one by Dufour)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt flakes
5 large ripe (but not speckled) bananas, peeled, halved lengthwise
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tbsp bourbon or Scotch (optional)
Vanilla ice cream and cocoa nibs (optional), for serving

For this recipe, you’ll need a 9 or 10-inch heavy-duty skillet (cast-iron works great). Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C). Roll out your puff pastry on a floured surface to a 9- [or 10] inch circle, and trim if necessary. Place the pastry between two pieces of wax paper and transfer to the fridge until needed. 

Melt the butter in the skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the sugar and salt. Cook, stirring frequently to make sure the sugar doesn't burn, until the mixture turns medium amber, about 3 minutes. Arrange the bananas in the skillet, overlapping them slightly. Cook, without stirring, for 3 minutes. Drizzle the vanilla and the alcohol of your choice (if using) over the bananas, and cook until most of the liquor has evaporated and the liquid has thickened, about 1-2 minutes. Remove the bananas from heat. Place the pastry round on top of the bananas, and transfer it to the oven.


Bake until the pastry is golden brown and puffed, about 25 minutes. Remove the tarte from the oven, and carefully invert the tart onto a serving plate. Serve with vanilla ice cream.