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Easy Cinnamon Buns

This recipe is so easy and produces tender cinnamon buns that are golden brown and so delicious! Although, in my show, Baking Made Easy, I say that this dough can be made the night before and chilled overnight, for best texture, I do suggest making the dough first thing in the morning. This is one of the few times I use a fast acting yeast –so the process of making and serving fresh-baked cinnamon buns first thing in the morning, really is doable. The night before, just have your fillings all measured out, your egg-wash made and chilled, as well as your powdered sugar sifted and ready for the glaze. Lining your baking sheets with parchment, the night before, also helps to make things go seamlessly in the morning.

Just to get you in the mood…

Ingredients for the Dough

  • Up to 3 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 envelope rapid rise yeast
  • 1 ½ teaspoon fine table salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 / 2 cup milk
  • 1 / 4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1 extra-large egg, at room temperature

For the Cinnamon-Raisin Filling

  • 1 / 4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup raisins (mix light and dark)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

For the Maple-Egg Glaze:

  • 1 extra large egg
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup

For the Powdered Sugar Glaze

  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons milk, or as needed

 

To assemble the dough: In a large bowl, combine 2-1 / 2 cups flour, sugar, un-dissolved yeast, and salt. Heat water, milk, and butter until very warm (120o to 130oF). Gradually add to flour mixture. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer (with the paddle attachment), scraping the bowl occasionally. Add the egg and 1 more cup of flour; beat 2 minutes at a moderately high speed. Using a wooden spoon, stir in just enough remaining flour to make the dough leave the sides of the bowl. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 2 minutes. Cover with a towel and; let rest 15 minutes.

Assemble the fillings:  In a small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon with a whisk. Put raisins in another bowl.

Assemble the cinnamon buns and let them rise: Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions; roll each portion to approximately 12 x 8-inch rectangle. Brush each liberally with melted butter; sprinkle with cinnamon sugar (use fingers to help coat dough evenly), then scatter the raisins on top (use half of each for each half of dough) Beginning at short end, roll up tightly as for jelly roll. Pinch seam to seal. With a sharp serrated knife, cut each roll into 7 pieces. Place, cut sides up, on prepared baking sheet(s). Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Or, for morning buns, cover the buns with a clean kitchen towel, and then again with plastic wrap. Refrigerate. In the morning, preheat the oven to between 350Fand 375F and allow the buns to sit out of refrigeration for 1 to 1 1/2 hours before glazing.

Glaze and bake: Mix the egg with the water and maple syrup. Strain into another bowl. Brush the buns with the glaze and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden and cooked through (rotate the sheet front to back once during baking and, if becoming overly brown, cover loosely with aluminum foil (shiny side up). Remove from the oven and let buns sit on the sheet for 5 minutes.

Prepare the powdered sugar glaze: While the buns bake, assemble the powdered sugar glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar and enough milk to make a glaze that’s thick but able to be drizzled luxuriously. Remove to a wire rack that sits over wax paper. Drizzle with powdered sugar glaze. (Alternatively, you can spoon and then spread the glaze over the warm buns.)

 

Comments (11)

Midnight Brownies with (or Without) a Peanut Butter Pocket

These brownies are named for their dark, fudge-like appearance and texture. Ironically, they look much sweeter than they taste. The addition of light corn syrup in the batter creates a wonderful shine on the top of the baked brownies and, although most brownies have a tendency to crack or sink in the center, these have never done either. As for the peanut butter filling–it elevates the entire brownie eating experience to new heights! But be forewarned; These brownies disappear immediately in my house. When younger, I practically had to frisk my son in the morning. Once I found wrapped brownies in each pocket of his pants–on the sides, in the back and down the legs! For best flavor, if your instant coffee is granular (not powdered), pulverize it to a fine powder using an electric spice grinder; or put the granules in a plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin or a wine bottle. Also, if you’re using the peanut butter filling, use the optional chocolate chips in the batter instead of walnuts or peanut butter chips.

Special Equipment

  • 9×13-inch baking pan (2 inches deep)
  • Sifter or a triple-mesh wire sieve

For the Peanut Butter Filling (Optional)

  • 1 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar, plus more for dusting

For the Brownies

  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, plus more for baking dish
  • 6 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules, pulverized, or espresso powder
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons unsifted cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
  • 3 generous tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • Optional Additions: 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or 1 cup chopped walnuts or 1/2 cup peanut butter chips mixed with 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1) To prepare peanut butter filling, if using: In a large bowl, thoroughly combine peanut butter with confectioner’s sugar. Knead briefly with your hands until smooth. Lightly dust a 14-inch sheet of waxed paper with confectioner’s sugar and place peanut butter mixture on the center of the paper. Lightly sprinkle the top of the filling with more confectioner’s sugar and place another sheet of waxed paper on top. Press filling to flatten gently and, using a rolling pin, roll out filling 1/4 inch thick into a 9×13-inch rectangle. Refrigerate until needed.

2) To set up: If using a glass baking dish, preheat the oven to 325o F; If using a metal pan, preheat to 350o F. Line baking dish with aluminum foil (dull side down for glass, dull side up for metal), allowing a 2-inch overhang at each end. Brush foil with melted butter and set aside.

3) To assemble brownie batter: In a 2-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the 2 sticks butter with chocolate over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in instant coffee and vanilla; let cool slightly. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together both flours, baking powder and salt. Sift this mixture into another bowl. Whisk sugar and corn syrup into the melted chocolate mixture until smooth. Add eggs (1 at a time) and egg yolk, whisking well after each addition. Add dry ingredients to pan with chocolate mixture and, using the whisk, gently but thoroughly combine until smooth. If desired, fold in walnuts or chips, using a rubber spatula.

4) To assemble brownies: If using peanut butter filling, pour 1/2 the brownie batter into the prepared baking dish and gently spread to each corner, using a rubber spatula. Peel off 1 sheet of waxed paper from filling and invert so filling sits directly on top of batter. Peel off the remaining piece of waxed paper and pour on remaining batter, spreading to enclose filling. If not using the filling, simply pour all of the batter into the prepared pan.

5) To bake and cool: Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick comes out almost clean when inserted in the center, 23 minutes (avoid overbaking). Place on a wire rack to cool thoroughly. Once cool, cover pan with aluminum foil and let sit at least 4 hours–preferably overnight. Then lift the brownie “cake” out of the pan (using the overhang of foil as a handle) and slice into 2-inch squares using a sharp knife. For easier slicing, wipe off any accumulated chocolate that clings to the knife after each cut.

6) To store: To best preserve moistness, store sliced brownies in an airtight tin separated by sheets of waxed paper or wrap each brownie in pliable plastic wrap. Either way, store at room temperature.

Timing is Everything:

• The peanut butter filling can be made 3 days ahead and kept in the refrigerator until needed. However, if the filling is very chilled, remove it from the refrigerator an hour before using so it won’t affect the overall baking time of the brownie mixture.

• As a time saver when assembling, sift the dry ingredients days ahead and leave in a covered bowl at room temperature. Give the mixture a good swish with the whisk before incorporating it into your batter.

 

Comments (3)

Pumpkin-Currant Loaves or Muffins

If you love pumpkin, you’ll adore these loaves–and muffins! If you have any questions about any tools mentioned, please visit the Kitchen Management, for clarification.

Tools needed:

  • Whisk (regular)
  • Whisk (batter whisk) or use a wide blending fork
  • 10 to 12-inch skillet
  • Two loaf pans (preferably nonstick), only if making loaves
  • One 12-muffin tin and one 6-muffin tin (preferably nonstick)
  • Muffin liners

Ingredients:

  • Nonstick vegetable spray
  • ½ cups dried currants, plumped in 1/2 cup very hot water or apple juice for 10 minutes and drained
  • 2/3 cup raw, hulled pumpkin seeds (if making muffins, increase the seeds to 1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, to sauté the pumpkin seeds (increase to 3 tablespoons if making muffins)
  • Kosher salt, to taste (optional)
  • 2 cups pure pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2/3 cup flavorless vegetable oil
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar, for the batter, plus 2 tablespoons for the topping (if making muffins, increase the sugar for the topping to ½ cup)
  • 2/3 cup (firmly packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon maple extract (optional)
  • 3 1/2 cups Assorted Muffin Mix or see the end of this recipe
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, plus some for the topping, if desired
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg (preferably freshly grated) for the batter, plus some for the topping, if desired
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • Pinch ground cloves

1) To set up the tins and preheat the oven: Spray the tops of a nonstick 12-muffin tin and a 6 cup tin with vegetable spray and line the cups with paper liners. If making loaves, brush two 8 x 4-inch nonstick loaf pans with vegetable spray. For muffins, preheat the oven to 400oF or for loaves, preheat to 375oF. Both are baked with the rack on the center shelf.

(If baking loaves, they can sit side by side in one oven but, if making muffins, and if not working with a double oven, each tin will need to bake successively. Regardless, the oven rack should be in the center position.) After plumping the currants, drain them and set them aside.

2) To sauté the pumpkin seeds and to make the topping: Sauté the correct amount of pumpkin seeds in the butter, stirring constantly, until very fragrant and deeply toasted, about 5 minutes. Drain the seeds on doubled paper towels and, if desired, sprinkle them lightly with kosher salt. Allow them to cool. Chop the toasted seeds into small but irregular pieces and, if making loaves, take two tablespoons of the seeds and place them into a plastic bag with 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar and, if desired, add a few shakes of cinnamon and a bit of ground nutmeg. Roll over the sugar-nut mixture to crush the nuts and to combine with the sugar and spices. (If making muffins mix ½ cup of the seeds with ½ cup of sugar, some cinnamon and nutmeg, then roll over them to crush.)

3) To assemble the batter and make loaves or muffins: Whisk together the dry mix and the listed spices in a 5-quart mixing bowl and set aside. Using a whisk, combine the pumpkin, buttermilk, oil, eggs, white and brown sugars, maple syrup and the vanilla and maple extract. When well mixed, add the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients and, using either a batter whisk or a wide blending fork, combine the mixture gently but thoroughly (check for dry pockets, using a rubber spatula). Using a large, sturdy rubber spatula, fold in the drained currants with the remaining ½ cup of toasted pumpkin seeds.

4) If making loaves, divide the batter between both pans and smooth the top with an off-set spatula. If making muffins, use a medium-size ice cream scoop or a large spoon to divide the batter between the cups, filling to the top, mounding slightly (use all of the batter). Sprinkle the tops of the loaves or muffins generously with the topping.

5) To bake loaves: Place the pans into the preheated oven, with 2 to 3 inches in between them, and immediately reduce the temperature to 350F. Bake the loaves for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the golden and a tester comes out clean.

6) To bake muffins: Working with one tin at a time, place the 12-muffin tin into the center of a preheated 400oF and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 375oF and bake for 5 minutes. Insert a tester deep into the top center of a random muffin and, if it comes out clean, remove the tin from the oven. If there are still moist crumbs clinging to the tester, reduce the temperature to 325oF and bake 5 to 7 minutes more (when done, in addition to a tester coming out clean, the tops should be golden and crisp). Remove the tin from the oven and place it on a rack. Before placing the second tin into the oven, increase the oven temperature to 400F and wait 10 minutes.

7) To cool and unmold: When done, remove the muffins or loaves from the oven and place their pans on a wire rack for a few minutes, then use a knife to run down the sides of the loaf pans to help free them. For muffins, either carefully lift each one out of the tin and place on the rack or, if any muffins tops have merged during baking, use a knife to cut in between them. To unmold the loaves, place a piece of wax paper on top of each loaf and invert it onto another wire rack. Invert once more, so the loaf is right side up. Discard the paper.

8) To store cooled muffins or loaves: Wrap each loaf or each muffin in plastic wrap and store at room temperature. Both will stay perfectly moist for several days and can be frozen, well wrapped, for 2 months.

If you don’t have the pre-assembled muffin mix:

Per each batch (of loaves or muffins) you’ll need: 3 1/2 cups bleached flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, ½ teaspoon all spice and a pinch of cloves. Combine these ingredients well, using a whisk, then follow the previous instructions.

Timing is Everything:

• If you’ve made your muffin mix ahead of time, you’re well ahead of the game!

Comments (1)

My Best Meatballs

These, are (as the title says) my “best” meatballs—they’re light, tender and bursting with flavor. When wanting tender, juicy meatball it’s important to remember two things: handle the meat mixture with kindness and simmer them very (very) gently, as aggressive handling and/or cooking will toughen them. The only exception to this is while browning the meatballs–which is done with the sole purpose of searing the surface. No need to get carried away with this part since browning them on “all” sides is nearly impossible and would risk overcooking them at this initial stage. This recipe is purposely large because meatballs freeze perfectly. You can, if you wish, halve the recipe. To read my blog, which has many step-by-step instructions (along with the story of how come making great meatballs is so important to me) click here.

Special Equipment:

  • Blender
  • 10-quart, heavy bottomed pot with lid
  • Large non-stick skillet
  • Tongs with a nonstick tip
  • Nonstick turning spatula

Ingredients

  • 4 slices “hearty” style white bread, crusts removed and the bread cut into small cubes
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 extra large eggs
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup prepared basil pesto (finely ground homemade or your favorite store-bought brand)
  • ½ cup freshly ground best-quality Parmesan cheese (plus more for rolling meatballs and serving)
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 pounds ground meat (Ask the butcher to grind equal amounts of beef and veal together. You can also include ground pork in the mix.)
  • Between 5 and 6 quarts Marinara Sauce (preferably with lots of garlic, fresh basil and sautéed mushrooms)
  • Olive oil, as needed, to brown the meatballs

To soak the bread: Put the cubed bread in a bowl and add the milk. Use your hands to help the bread absorb the milk. Set aside.

To assemble the meatball mixture: Put the eggs, onion, garlic, pesto, ½ cup Parmesan and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper into the blender. Puree until smooth. Put the ground meat into a large (preferably wide) bowl and pour the pureed mixture on top of the meat. Add the moistened bread cubes, as well, and using your hands, work everything  into the meat, using a tender hand—you’re not squeezing or kneading the meat aggressively—which can toughen the meat. Just use your hands to fold the two consistencies together, turning this into one mixture.

To set up to form meatballs: Line two large shallow baking sheets (or trays) with wax paper and then sprinkle the paper generously with more grated Parmesan.

To form meatballs and chill: Use your working hand to scoop up some of the meat mixture (mine are the size of a small soft-ball). Gently round the shape by rolling the meat mixture between two hands. Lay the round on the cheese-lined tray and continue until you’ve finished shaping all the meatballs, dividing them between both trays. Then, one by one, roll each meatball in the cheese, then round the shape again, helping the cheese to adhere. When all the meatballs are coated with the cheese, cover the sheets with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (and up to several hours).

To set up to cook meatballs: Bring the marinara sauce to a simmer in a 10-quart heavy bottomed saucepan, over low-heat, with the lid ajar. Remove the meatballs from the refrigerator.

To brown meatballs and simmer: Heat a large non-stick skillet, over medium-high heat, with a shallow layer of olive oil. When the oil is hot, brown the meatballs, in batches, turning the meatballs over carefully, to brown on at least two sides—(Before placing the meatball into the pan, use your hands to re-round the shape and avoid damaging the meatball when turning—using a non-stick turning spatula as well as tongs, will help give you the dexterity you need.) As you brown the meatballs, place on a clean tray. Once all the meatballs are browned, lower them into the simmering sauce. Once in the pot, don’t stir—using oven mitts, shimmy the pot –using the side handles—to help the meatballs settle in and become submerged in the sauce. The sauce should be on VERY low heat—Cover the pot and simmer the meatballs (again, very gently!), over very low heat, for 45 minutes to 1 hour. (Don’t wait for the sauce to return to a simmer before you begin timing–If the sauce was simmering at the start, you will only see the barest bubble at the center of the sauce, after adding the meatballs. If your meatballs are smaller, you’ll simmer then less.)

Turn off the heat and add more black pepper, some minced raw garlic and more fresh basil, to taste, then shimmy the pot to distribute things. Take the pot off the stove.

To divide and store: If not serving right away, allow the meatballs to cool in the sauce (uncovered). Divide the meatballs in plastic tubs. If you’d like to serve some and store the rest, transfer the meatballs and sauce you’d like to serve into another pot. Place the rest into a freezer container and attach a label with the contents and date. Freeze. To thaw, remove from the freezer and leave in the refrigerator overnight.

To reheat and serve: Reheat the meatballs, covered, over very low heat, shimmying the pot as needed, to help things heat evenly. Serve when piping hot throughout.

Comments (3)

Let’s Have a Pizza Party! (with Focaccia and Grissini Variations)

To watch the video of me making pizza, click here. You can see me making Focaccia and grissini from pizza dough in an episode of Baking Made Easy with Lauren.

Special Equipment:

  • 5-quart mixing bowl, for rising dough
  • Wooden surface, for kneading
  • Pastry scraper
  • Set of quarry tiles or a large pizza stone
  • Two perforated 15-inch pizza pans, for baking pizza
  • Docker or the tines of a large serving fork
  • Food processor (optional), for grating cheese
  • Baker’s peel, to remove baked pizzas from oven
  • Two non-perforated 15-inch pizza pans, for serving baked pizzas to prevent sauce and cheese from running through holes
  • Pizza wheel, the larger the better!

Ingredients

  • About 3 tablespoons Garlic Confit Oil, or use extra-virgin olive oil, used as needed
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water for yeast, plus 2 cups lukewarm water for dough
  • Pinch, plus 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 scant tablespoon salt
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper (optional)
  • Up to 6 1/2 cups flour (unbleached, all-purpose or use high-gluten bread flour, including flour for dusting (or use a combination of whole wheat flour and high gluten bread flour and use white flour for dusting
  • Cornmeal, for pizza pans (preferably medium-ground)
  • Glaze (optional): 1 egg white, at room temperature, mixed with 1 teaspoon water
  • Sesame seeds (optional), for topping rim of pizza

Basic Topping Suggestions:

Additional Topping Suggestions:

  • Cleaned, sliced and sautéed Mushrooms
  • Thinly sliced pepperoni
  • Fresh Chopped Garlic
  • Thinly Sliced Onions or Leeks, sautéed in extra-virgin olive oil (see videos)
  • Drained and coarsely chopped firm anchovy fillets
  • Small cubes of eggplant, lightly tossed in seasoned flour and pan-fried in olive oil
  • Diced potatoes, boiled 5 minutes, drained and pan-fried
  • Pitted and Sliced Kalamata olives
  • Roasted Red and Yellow Bell Peppers, seeded and sliced into thin strips
  • Fresh Italian sausage, removed from casings and sautéed in extra-virgin olive oil with minced onion and garlic
  • Crushed red pepper flakes (be careful)

1) To set up: Brush the interior of a 5-quart mixing bowl generously with olive oil and set aside for rising dough.

2) To assemble liquid mixture: Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup lukewarm water with a pinch of sugar. In a large mixing bowl, combine the 2 cups lukewarm water, 1 generous tablespoon of the olive oil, salt, the 2 teaspoons sugar, and pepper, if using. When yeast mixture is creamy and starting to bubble, add to mixing bowl and briskly stir in just enough flour, a little at a time, to create a mass that is not easily stirred in the bowl. Turn out dough onto a lightly flour wooden board. Using floured hands, knead dough in a brisk push-fold-and-turn motion, until perfectly smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Add only as much additional flour as necessary to keep dough from sticking to your hands and work surface. Use a pastry scraper while kneading to scrape dough off board cleanly as you continue to knead in a sufficient amount of flour.

3) To rise dough twice: Place dough in the prepared rising bowl and turn to coat it with olive oil. Cover the bowl with a piece of oiled plastic wrap and then with a clean kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled, about 2 hours. Punch down dough with several swift swats with the back of your hand until dough is totally deflated. Although dough can be used right away, it’s preferable to refrigerate it for at least 1 hour and as long as 2 days before shaping crusts. (This chilling relaxes this high-gluten dough so it won’t fight back as much when being stretched into shape. This extra time also allows the dough to develop a deeper, more satisfying flavor.)

4) To set up to pre-bake crusts: Position the oven rack in the lower third of the oven and, if using, place a sheet of quarry tiles or a large pizza stone onto rack. Preheat the oven to 450o F for at least 30 minutes before baking. Lightly brush both perforated pizza pans with olive oil and sprinkle with cornmeal; tilt to coat pans and tap out excess meal. If using, set egg-white glaze and sesame seeds next to your work surface.

5) To shape pizza dough: Turn out dough onto a lightly floured board and gently knead just to release air pockets. Using the blade of a pastry scraper, divide dough into 2 equal pieces. If dough is not chilled, cover and let rest for 10 minutes to relax dough. If not working with a double oven and thus can only bake 1 crust at a time, return half the dough to the bowl, cover and refrigerate until the first pizza crust goes into the oven. Pat the remaining half dough into a low round on the floured work surface.

6) To stretch dough: Spread the fingers of your hand and smack dough several times until visibly flattened but still round. Flour your fists, lift up dough and drape it (centered) over your floured fists. Stretch dough by pointing your fists upward and gently pulling them away from each other. Take care to stretch evenly; if dough starts to feel bottom heavy and is becoming too thin, lay it on your work surface, rearrange it, then lift and continue to stretch. Use as much flour as necessary to keep dough from sticking to your hands, which can cause it to tear. (Be aware that if you’ve used whole grain flour in your dough, this will reduce the overall elasticity, making the dough more likely to tear when stretching.)

7) To place dough in pan: Lay stretched dough in the prepared pan, arranging it so the edges of dough meet the rim. Press and pat out dough until it totally covers the pan, building up the rim of dough so it’s a little thicker and higher than the interior of the circle. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just not overly thick in one spot and paper thin in another. If dough resists at any point, just throw a towel over it for 5 minutes. If dough should tear, just pinch it together with floured fingertips. And if the rim seems too thin, simply fold 1 inch of the edge over onto itself and press to adhere.

8) To prepare crust for pre-baking: Brush the interior of the circle (excluding the 1-inch rim) with some olive oil and prick the oiled section of the dough deeply all over with a docker or the prongs of a large fork. Sprinkle oiled dough with freshly ground black pepper. If desired, brush the raised rim of dough with egg white glaze and sprinkle rim generously with sesame seeds.

9) To pre-bake crust: Prick the interior surface of crust once more and place pizza pan directly on hot tiles, stone or oven rack and shut the oven door. Bake until lightly golden, about 15 minutes. (Check once during baking. If the center starts to bubble up, prick the interior again and continue baking.) Remove pan from oven using a baker’s peel and place it on a wire rack to cool. Meanwhile, as crust is baking, remove the reserved half of dough from refrigerator and prepare the second crust completely through the preceding step. As soon as you remove the first crust from the oven, prick the second crust again, place in oven and bake, as directed above.

10) To set up for baking topped pizza: After pre-baking the crust is sealed so, if you like, you may remove quarry tiles or pizza stone from oven. If baking 2 pizzas in the same oven, position oven racks to the upper and lower thirds; if using a double oven, use the center rack for each pizza. Preheat oven to 450o F, for at least 1 hour.

11) To assemble the pizzas: Scatter some grated cheese over the interior of the pre-baked crust. Spoon or ladle about 1 cup sauce on top of cheese (not too much or your pizza will be soupy). Spread sauce over crust, stopping just before the rim. Scatter one or more of the suggested toppings over sauce, along with chopped basil leaves. Scatter half of the grated cheese over the top, allowing some of the toppings to be visible through cheese. Drizzle 1 teaspoon fruity olive oil over pizza and then finally top with some sliced pepperoni, if desired. Grind on some fresh black pepper. Repeat with the remaining pizza.

12) To bake and serve completed pizza: Bake pizzas in the hot oven until crust is deeply golden, toppings are piping hot and cheese is bubbling, about 20 minutes. If using the same oven for both pizzas, switch positions of pies after half the baking time for even heat exposure. To serve, insert a baker’s peel under the pizza pan and place the pie on a solid (non-perforated) pizza pan. Slice into wedges using a pizza wheel and serve immediately.

Free-Form Pizzas Baked Directly on Quarry Tiles or a Pizza Stone

Although not necessary, allowing the dough (as described above) to rise for an hour or two at room temperature (especially when baking a free-form raw pizza) contributes to an even lighter texture and also deepens the flavor of the baked crust. You do not need a perforated pizza pan for this method (but you will need a solid one, without holes, for serving) and you do not need to pre-bake the crust before assembling and baking. Position the rack and quarry tiles or pizza stone as directed for pre-baking crusts. When preheating, increase the oven temperature to 550 F (or the highest your oven will go, without activating the broiler). If the dough is chilled, allow it to sit out of the refrigerator (uncovered) for 1 to 1 1/2 hours (the top of the dough will develope a slight skin which is good–since this will be inverted as the bottom of the crust, and will help the assembled pizza to release from the peel. Sprinkle a baker’s peel generously with cornmeal and a bit of white flour and rub this into the peel, covering it completely. Place the dough onto the prepared peel (top side down) and stretch dough as directed. Rearrange the thin round, to correct the shape. Brush the interior of dough with olive oil and sprinkle with fresh pepper. Docking is not advised or necessary since the weight of the toppings will prevent dough from swelling underneath. (If applying seeds to the rim, be careful not to let the egg white drip onto the baker’s peel since this will cause dough to stick to the peel.)

Top dough as you would a pre-baked crust, without using too many toppings which will weigh the dough down. Lift the loaded baker’s peel and give it a gentle shake to make sure that the pizza is not stuck. Open oven door and insert peel all the way to the back of the oven. With one swift jerk, remove peel, leaving the pizza on the hot tiles. Bake until golden and bubbling, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove pizza by sliding the peel underneath it and place on a non-perforated pizza pan. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.

Game Plan for a Pizza Party

The day before serving, prepare a double batch of dough (2 separate dough) and either rise it once at room temperature for 2 hours, then release the gases, turn the dough over in the bowl, and place the bowl in the refrigerator overnight, well covered. You can also divide the dough immediately after assembling and, after shaping into two taut rounds and placing them on separate oiled baking sheets, cover the sheet with well oiled plastic wrap and then with a towel and refrigerate, well covered, several hours or overnight. Make your sauce and grate your cheese. Early the next day, pre-bake 4 crusts and, once cool, let them sit “stacked” at room temperature. A few hours before “show time,” remove the sauce from refrigerator and gather your assorted toppings. 3o minutes to 1 hour before “chow time,” preheat oven and ask your guests “who wants what” on their pizza. Then, assemble and bake away!

Timing is Everything:

  • After the dough completes the first rise at room temperature, it can remain in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before shaping.
  • The sauce can be made well in advance and frozen in small heavy-duty freezer containers.
  • The crusts can be partially pre-baked early in the day and left at room temperature.
  • The toppings can be gathered a couple of hours before assembling pizzas.
  • After pre-baking and cooling the crust, you can either freeze the empty crust or a fully assemble pizza. Wrap both well in aluminum foil. Let an empty crust thaw (wrapped) before topping it and baking. Bake a fully assembled frozen pizza directly from the freezer (unwrapped) on a perforated pizza pan in a preheated 400o F oven until crisp and hot throughout.

Tip: Grating Cheese in a Food Processor

Before adding cheese to the work bowl of a food processor, brush the steel blade lightly with vegetable oil. Cut cheese into small pieces and use the pulsing button to maintain best control. If grating in batches, remove the first batch of grated cheese before adding the next batch. Also, when emptying the work bowl (between batches), check the inside of the steel blade shaft for any stray pieces of cheese (especially the softer types of cheese) and remove them. Otherwise, when you reinsert the blade onto the shaft, the cheese acts like glue and it might be difficult to remove the blade.

Watch the Video. Below are instructions to use pizza dough to make focaccia and grissini!

 Delicious things to do with pizza dough!

Focaccia with Heirloom Tomatoes, Hot Cherry Peppers, Kalamata Olives, Fresh Mozzarella, Garlic and Herbs.

For focaccia, although using unbleached all purpose flour is perfectly fine, I prefer to use OO flour for the lightest texture in focaccia (available in Italian markets). There’s also a very similar product, sold by the name “Italian Style” flour, which is very good. I also like OO flour for grissini. I often use a combo. If making pizza and wanting to make focaccia or grissini the next day, I suggest either using all “all purpose” flour or a combination.

Ingredients:

  • 1 /2 pizza dough, assembled as directed above and fully risen.

 Reminder as to how to assemble the dough:

  • Brush the interior of a 5-quart mixing bowl generously with some of the oil and sprinkle the interior with freshly ground black pepper, if desired. Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water with a pinch of sugar and allow it to become visibly bubbly, about 3 minutes. In a mixing bowl, combine 2 cups warm water, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, 1 tablespoon salt, 2 teaspoons sugar, and a few more grinds of black pepper, if desired. Add the dissolved yeast. Gradually stir in only enough flour, 1 cup at a time, to create a shaggy mass, that’s no longer easily stirred.
  • Use a sturdy rubber spatula to scrape the mass out onto a floured surface and knead it until you’ve created a dough that’s smooth and elastic, adding only as much additional flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking. Place the dough into the greased bowl and turn it over to coat the exterior with the flavored oil. Cover the bowl with greased plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel and set it aside in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for 1 to 2 hours. (If time is an issue, you can immediately go to the following step without allowing the dough to rise.)
  • Rub a shallow tray liberally with olive oil. Uncover the dough and deflate it, using several swift swats with the back of your hand. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and, using your pastry scraper, divide the dough in half. Working with one half at a time, use your hands to cup, rotate and plump the dough, creating a taut round and place each one, side by side, on the prepared tray. Brush the top lightly with olive oil, as well. Cover the dough with a clean kitchen towel, then place two large, overlapping and loosely fitting sheets of plastic wrap on top. Refrigerate the dough for 4 to 48 hour

To shape and bake focaccia with pizza dough:

Here (above) one half of the chilled dough is placed onto a sheet of unbleached parchment paper (that’s sitting on a wooden pizza peel—or you can use a flat baking sheet). The paper should first be generously sprayed with olive oil and then sprinkled with a mixture of cornmeal, black pepper and even sesame seeds (optional). As soon as the dough goes onto the parchment, the oven gets preheated to 450F with a pizza stone on the center shelf and, on the rack beneath it, a heavy pan (cast iron or a heavy baking sheet). If you need to omit the pan beneath the stone, this is fine—but the stone is something I highly suggest for the best texture.

After correcting the round shape of the dough, you’ll brush the top and sides with a fresh-herb-garlic-oil (olive oil, minced garlic, black pepper, red pepper flakes and an assortment of herbs like thyme, rosemary, oregano, sage (not basil which turns black) and allow to rise for 1 1/2 hours, uncovered, for a well-chilled pizza dough. The oven should be well preheated. After rising for 30 minutes, instead of poking the dough (to give a focaccia a traditional dimpled look), you’ll plant halved heirloom cherry tomatoes (cut sides up) and I also added pitted olives, fresh mozzarella cheese and some sliced cherry peppers. This is all about having fun—working with what you have and “playing” with the design. Brush the embellishments with the garlic oil, then let the dough continue to rise, uncovered until very billowy (1 ½ hours should be enough). Brush once more with the oil, give the top a light application of Kosher salt and black pepper and then slide the dough onto a hot pizza stone (with steam) –meaning add a cup of ice cubes with a small amount of water into the pan that sits beneath the pizza stone)—then add the dough on the parchment—and bake for 18 to 20 minutes (18 is best if using a convection mode). Then, I opened the oven and carefully sprinkled the top with some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and baked for another 3 or 5 minutes (3 is best with convection).

Remove the focaccia to a wire rack and immediately brush the top and sides with more of the garlic-herb-oil. Allow the bread to cool to just warm before cutting into wedges and enjoying.

For grissini: Per each half of pizza dough: 14 to 16 grissini (12 to 14 inches long)

Use 1/2 pizza dough: Chill the dough after assembling (or after an initial rise) then (using one half of the dough) cut into small portions. Roll each into a thin rope (using finely ground semolina sprinkled on the work surface. Let rise on parchment or (preferably) on a silicon baking mat sprinkled with semolina (you’ll need two large baking sheets to accommodate all of the grissini-if only one is available, keep one half of the dough, uncut, in the refrigerator). If, after shaping the first sheet pan of grissini, you see some are a bit chubbier than others, one by one, lift them off of the sheet and gently reroll to elongate and correct shape (you can sprinkle the work surface a bit more semolina, to help the strands keep from sticking).  Brush with a garlic-herb-olive oil mixture (the same as used for the focaccia), sprinkle the top with pepper and shredded Parmesan and bake in a preheated 375F oven for about 18 to 20 (rotate the pan during baking) and then allow to sit in a turned off for 10 to 13 minutes or until light golden brown but not overly dark. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. Serve standing up in a tall glass or vase—or laying down in a basket (traditionally, in northern Italy, grissini is served simply placed directly on the table cloth). If any of the grissini feel at all squishy, put them back in the turned off oven to allow them to dry. (For sesame grissini, shape the same way, but after the strands are thin, sprinkle the work surface with some seeds and a bit more semolina and continue to roll so that some of the seeds sink into the surface of the dough (roll gently). Once shaped and on their sheets, brush the surface with some egg white glaze (1 egg white beaten with a fork and a small splash of water and then strained into another bowl). Sprinkle the tops of the strands with more seeds and some Kosher salt. Bake as directed above.

Optional glaze for seeded topping: brush the grissini with egg white mixed with a bit of water and then strained. Seed the top with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, etc. Bake as described. Those grissini that are simply seeded might need to be baked a bit less since the cheese on the first variation is insulating—go for color and texture.

Note: Drying time will largely depend on the girth of each grissini—so, once the correct color is achieved, let dry as long as needed, checking after 10 minutes.  Very thin grissini will not need to bake or dry as long—and will need to be removed early so that they don’t taste bitter or get overly hard.

 

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles

If you’re looking for a do-ahead, totally delicious nibble when you just gotta have a “little something” really sweet–oh, baby, this is for you! Smooth, rich, textural, luscious–everything you’d expect from a chocolate truffle PLUS it’s got the added taste of peanut butter! Although keeping them in the refrigerator will protect them, longevity-wise, you should take some out early in the day you plan to eat them (or when you want to give some as a gift, so they soften.  When shaping, although it’s tempting to make them perfectly round–it’s much more whimsical (and sexier looking) when they are allowed to be a bit irregularly shaped–so they resemble a real truffle that was just pulled from the earth!

Yield: 30 to 50

Special Equipment

  • Medium-mesh sieve
  • Triple mesh sieve or a sifter
  • Food processor to grind wafer cookies and nuts (If unavailable, place nuts in separate heavy plastic bags and run a rolling pin or wine bottle over them to crush evenly.)
  • Small triggered scoop, to create truffles (use a spoon as an alternative)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter (commercially prepared)
  • 24 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (chocolate chips are fine)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Goobers for truffle center, optional
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup finely ground chocolate wafer cookies (by Nabisco)
  • 1/2 cup finely ground cocktail peanuts

1) To prepare chocolate-peanut butter mixture and chill: Heat the cream with the peanut butter in a 1-quart heavy bottomed saucepan. Use a whisk to break up peanut butter so it melts evenly and becomes homogeneous with the cream. Meanwhile, melt chocolate in the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. When the chocolate is melted and the peanut butter mixture is smooth, combine both, first using a sturdy rubber spatula, then with a wooden spoon and, finally, with a whisk. Force through a medium-mesh sieve into another bowl, using the rubber spatula. Stir in vanilla. Let cool, then cover and chill  3 to 4 hours (or overnight).

2) To up to shape and coat truffles: Whisk powdered sugar and cocoa together, then sift into another bowl to combine thoroughly. Grind chocolate wafer cookies in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Place into a bowl. Add peanuts to the work bowl and pulse to grind the nuts small, allowing them retain a bit of their texture. Line a large baking sheet or tray with wax paper or 30 to 50 1-inch paper candy cups (yield will depend on the size of your scoop used to shape truffle).

3) To shape truffles: If very chilled, let mixture sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes to soften slightly (or stick in the microwave for 30 seconds). Scoop or spoon out small portions of the chilled truffle mixture and place a few into the bowls of toppings. (If desired, after scooping, push one or two “Goobers” through the side, into center of the mixture.)  Roll half the amount of the truffles in the cocoa mixture and the ground cookie/nut mixture, allowing them to retain a slightly irregular shape. Place in candy cups. Continue scooping and coating the remaining truffles.

4) To store: Place in a decorative tin or gift box, separated by sheets of wax paper or decorative foil. Keep chilled to maintain best flavor but allow truffles to come to room temperature, to enjoy best texture.

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Ginger-Scented Grilled (or Broiled) Salmon


When busy, tired and hungry, the first place to head is your fish market, since with little effort, you can reward your family and friends with maximum taste and freshness. Although this recipe features salmon, this marinade would be equally enhancing to swordfish, tuna or halibut steaks.

This recipe is written to serve six, but the marinade can easily be stretched to accommodate an additional pound of fish or enough for eight servings. Although leftovers are great, if you are serving fewer people, use half the marinade on the fish and pour the rest into some “almost done” cooked rice. Increase the cooking time by one minute, after adding the marinade to the saucepan). Don’t hesitate to serve this fish dish for company, as it’s a real winner.

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment:

  • Outdoor grilling device, or a broiler pan when cooking indoors

For the fish:

  • 1/2 cup cold-pressed aromatic peanut oil (found in well-stocked supermarkets)
  • 3 tablespoon soy sauce (I use Tamari)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil (keep chilled once opened)
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger root
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup minced scallions (green onions) trimmed white part, and 1 1/2 to 2 inches of the tender green
  • 3 to 4 pounds salmon fillet (preferably wild salmon), cut into 6 to 8 individual servings, or 6 to 8 salmon steaks (allow 8 ounces of fish per adult and 4 to 6 ounces per child)
  • Peanut oil or cooking spray, for grill (not needed when broiling)

1) To prepare the marinade: In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients except salmon and the oil for the grill, if using, and mix thoroughly.

2) To prepare the fish: Gently rinse the fish fillets under cold water and pat them dry. Choose a glass dish that is large enough to fit the fillets in a single layer. Brush the skin side of each fillet generously with some of the marinade and place in the dish (skin side down). Pour the remaining marinade over the fish, using a basting brush to cover each well. Let fish sit out, at room temperature, for 10 minutes or cover well with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 24 hours.

3) To grill: Before you heat the grill, brush the grate well with oil or spray with cooking spray. Heat gas grill on high, or if using charcoal grill get coals very hot, and place the salmon (with marinade left on) on the hot grill grate. Cook salmon a total of 7 to 10 minutes per inch of thickness, turning once. (When grilling, don’t try to turn the fish until it’s very crisp on the bottom or you’ll tear off the skin. Using tongs, nudge the fish, and if it seems firmly attached to the grill, let it keep cooking.) When done, the salmon will be beautifully seared on both sides. For medium-rare, let the flesh retain a deeper orange tinge at the very center. If desired, cook until pink throughout but avoid overcooking or the fish will be dry.

4) To broil: Preheat the broiler until very hot with the rack as close as possible to the heating element (taking into consideration the height of your broiler pan. I use the top level). Pat some of the excess marinade off the fish and lay each fillet on a cold broiler pan (skin side up). Broil close to heat source turning once, until crispy and the fish flakes easily but is not at all dry, 4 to 5 minutes per side. (Keep an eye on things when broiling, but be sure to let the skin get crisp and the flesh-side get nice and golden.)

Timing is Everything

  • The fish can be marinated a day ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator.

SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup cold-pressed aromatic peanut oil (in well-stocked supermarkets)
  • 3 tablespoon soy sauce (I use Tamari)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil (keep chilled once opened)
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger root
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup minced scallions (green onions) trimmed white part, and 1 1/2 to 2 inches of the tender green
  • 3 to 4 pounds salmon fillet (preferably wild salmon), cut into 6 to 8 individual servings, or 6 to 8 salmon steaks (allow 8 ounces of fish per adult and 4 to 6 ounces per child)
  • Peanut oil or cooking spray, for grill (not needed when broiling)

From the fish market:

  • 6 to 8 center-cut salmon fillets, preferably wild (6 to 8 ounces each), skin left on

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Soy sauce, preferably tamari: (See Ask Lauren for more information)
  • Cold-pressed, aromatic peanut oil (See Ask Lauren for more information)
  • Toasted sesame oil
  • Dijon mustard
  • Peanut oil (by “Planters”) or cooking spray (not needed when broiling)

From the produce section:

  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 bunch scallions (also called “green onions”)
  • 1 knob fresh ginge

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Smothered Brisket, Braised with New Potatoes and Carrots

A meal worth making a family tradition…

Special Equipment:

  • 14-inch skillet
  • 8-quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven with tight fitting lid
  • Two 9 x 13-inch oven-to-table baking dishes (I like Pyrex.)
  • Gravy boat and small ladle

Ingredients

  • 1 large “first cut” brisket, (between 7-8 pounds)
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Flavorless vegetable oil, as needed
  • 3 ¼ cups de-fatted Beef Stock (preferably homemade), or low-sodium canned beef broth
  • ¾ cup barbecue sauce (preferably The Best Barbecue Sauce)
  • 1 very large Spanish onion, cut into thin strips
  • 8 cups peeled and cut-up carrots (cut into 2-inch lengths)
  • 8 very large peeled new potatoes (or use 16 medium)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons unbleached, all purpose flour
  • Suggested accompaniment Applesauce

1) To season and sear the brisket: Preheat the oven to 325F. Heat a 14-inch skillet, over high heat, with just enough vegetable oil to barely coat the bottom of the pan. While the oil is heating, season the meat on both sides with salt and pepper and rub the seasonings into the meat. Sear the meat, fat side down, until golden, then turn the meat over and sear on the other side.

2) To assemble the meat and vegetables and braise: While the meat is searing, whisk together the stock and barbecue sauce. Ladle a shallow layer of sauce onto the bottom of a heavy-bottomed, 8-quart Dutch oven (that comes with a tight-fitting lid) and scatter some of the onions on top of the sauce. Place the seared meat on top of the onions, fat-side-up, and place the cut up carrots and potatoes around the meat. Place the remaining onions to top of the meat and then pour the beef-stock mixture over the top. Cover the pot and place in the oven for 4 hours, without disturbing.

3) To separate meat and vegetables: Remove the pot from the oven and take off the lid. Ladle a bit of the sauce onto the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch, oven-to-table baking dish and place the potatoes and carrots into an oven-to-table baking dish with some of the sauce ladled (it’s OK to let some of the onions cling to the vegetables). Let the meat settle in the hot sauce for an hour or so then transfer the meat to a cutting board and allow to cool a bit more, which will help facilitate slicing. Using a sharp carving knife, slice the meat across the grain into ½-inch thick slices. Let the meat sit on the carving board while you finish the sauce.

4) To finish the sauce: Heat the butter in a 2-quart saucepan, over medium heat and, when bubbling, stir in the flour. Whisk the flour/butter mixture as it bubbles, for a minute or two, just to get rid of any raw flour taste. Stir in the sauce (from the pot) with the onions and bring this to a boil. Turn down the heat and cook the sauce, uncovered, as it thickens. Simmer for 5 more minutes and season with salt and pepper to taste.

5) To arrange the meat and vegetables with sauce: Ladle some of the sauce onto another 9 x 13-oven to table baking dish and lay the slices neatly in the dish. Ladle more sauce and onions over and around the slices. Ladle some sauce and onions over and around the vegetables, saving enough sauce to reheat and serve separately at the table. Cover both dishes with aluminum foil (if you have nonstick foil, use this for the dish containing the vegetables or grease the foil with olive oil to keep the foil from sticking).

6) To reheat the meat and vegetables and serve: Preheat the oven to 350F. Reheat the meat and vegetables until piping hot, about 35, if at room temperature and longer, if chilled. While the meat and vegetables are reheating, bring the extra sauce and onions to a simmer. Serve everything very hot with freshly made applesauce.

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Perfect Roast Turkey

Below is a recipe for roasting a gorgeous whole turkey. You use the same seasoning mixture for Perfect Roast Chicken, capons, Cornish hens, or even a bone-in turkey breast (great for school lunches!). When roasting a whole turkey, I like to sear it first, breast up, at a very high temperature. Then, I turn the bird over and roast it breast-side down for most of the time. I turn it over, breast up, for the last 30 minutes of roasting. I recommend having a helper to hold down the roasting pan while you turn the bird. Make sure to baste the turkey throughout the roasting process, more frequently toward the end.

As far as the ingredient amounts go, the larger the bird, the more of the garlic butter and gravy ingredients you’ll need. I’m also giving you the instructions to make the gravy right after the turkey leaves the oven, while it rests. And, when not making gravy (if roasting a turkey breast to use exclusively for sandwiches and salads), there’s no need to place the cut up vegetables underneath the meat as it roasts.

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment

  • Large stainless steel roasting pan with sturdy V-shaped roasting rack
  • Trussing needle
  • Kitchen twine
  • Blender
  • Bulb-baster
  • Flat gravy whisk (optional)
  • Fine-mesh wire sieve

For the turkey:

  • 1 large carrot, scrubbed and thinly sliced
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 stalk celery, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • About 6 whole black peppercorns
  • Vegetable spray or oil, for roasting rack
  • 1 turkey (12 to 22 pounds)
  • Poultry Seasoning Mix, as needed (click to see recipe), or see directions below for seasoning without a pre-assembled mix
  • Flavorless vegetable oil, for rubbing turkey
  • 1 1/2 to 3 sticks butter
  • 5 to 8 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press

For the gravy:

  • 2 to 4 cups hot Chicken Stock
  • 1/2 to 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 to 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 to 2 shallots, minced
  • 2 to 4 medium-sized fresh button mushrooms (optional), wiped clean and finely minced or coarsely chopped
  • 3 to 6 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour (use 3 tablespoons flour with 2 tablespoons butter, 2 cups stock and ½ cup wine OR 6 tablespoons flour with 4 tablespoons butter, 4 cups stock and 1 cup wine)

1) To set up to roast a whole turkey: Preheat the oven to 450oF. Place the carrot, onion, celery and peppercorns into the bottom of a large non-reactive roasting pan. Spray a V-shaped roasting rack with vegetable spray or brush with oil and place it over the vegetables. (The rack will raise the turkey as it roasts, giving it full heat exposure, which is one of the secrets to successful roasting).

2) To clean and season the turkey: Remove neck, liver and gizzards from turkey, reserving all but the liver for the stock.Thoroughly rinse and dry turkey, trimming away any excess fat from the cavity opening. Sprinkle the inside of the cavity with onion powder and freshly ground black pepper. Then sprinkle the Poultry Seasoning Mix, very generously, on both sides of the turkey. Use your hands to scoop up a liberal amount of oil and rub it onto the bird evenly distributing the seasoning. When done, the turkey should look deeply colored and glistening.

To season without pre-assembled Poultry Seasoning Mix:

Take out a jar of onion powder, garlic powder, Lawry’s seasoning salt, and sweet paprika, along with a pepper mill and a bottle of vegetable oil. Place a sheet of plastic wrap around the center of each bottle, including the oil, which will help keep the jars clean as you season the turkey. Grind a generous amount of black pepper into a small bowl. Starting with the onion powder, sprinkle each listed seasoning liberally all over the turkey, being the least generous with the Lawry’s. Lubricate the turkey, as directed, reapplying more seasoning and oil, until satisfied with the turkey’s appearance, and follow the remaining instructions.

3) To stuff the turkey: If planning to stuff the turkey, prepare the stuffing as directed in your recipe and, just before roasting, spoon it loosely into the cavity. (Use a generous ½ cup of stuffing per pound of turkey. Don’t overfill since stuffing will expand as turkey roasts.) If not using stuffing, peel and quarter onion, clean and halve celery and place in cavity with parsley.

4) To truss turkey: Thread a 12- to 14-inch piece of kitchen-twine through a trussing needle and tie a knot at the bottom end of the string. Starting at the top of the cavity (in front of the breast bone), sew through both side flaps of fleshy skin until you reach the bottom of the cavity. Pull to secure closed and use the remaining string to wind around the knobby ends of the drumsticks (while pulling) to bring them together. Tie in a knot to secure the legs in place and clip off loose ends of strings. The bony tips of the wings should be bent downward to sit underneath the turkey. Place turkey (breast side up), on the prepared roasting rack.

5) To prepare garlic butter: Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. When bubbling, reduce heat to low, add garlic and sauté about 3 minutes, until garlic is soft and fragrant, and let cool until just warm. Pour garlic butter into a blender and whirl until smooth. Spoon half the melted garlic butter over seasoned turkey. (I blend the garlic into the butter to help prevent it from scorching, since a large bird like a turkey requires a longer time in the oven.)

6) To roast the turkey: Roast turkey in the preheated 450°F oven for 20 minutes. Then remove roasting pan from oven and carefully turn turkey breast side down (use the knobs of the drumsticks to move the bird.) Reduce oven temperature to 325°F and roast 1 1/2 to 3 ½ hours longer (depending on the size of the bird), basting occasionally, using a bulb-baster. Turn the bird over once more (breast side up) and pour on the remaining garlic butter. Roast another 30 minutes or so, basting frequently with pan juices using a bulb-baster. As the skin becomes crisp and golden, check turkey frequently for signs of doneness, remembering that an unstuffed turkey roasts quicker than a stuffed one. When fully cooked, remove turkey from oven and let it rest on the roasting rack (loosely tented with aluminum foil) over a platter or carving surface for 10 to 20 minutes so the juices settle.

7) To prepare neck and gizzard: While turkey is roasting, simmer neck and gizzard (never the liver which makes the stock bitter) in 2 cups of the chicken stock until tender, about 30 minutes for the neck and 1 hour for the tougher gizzard. Pull meat off neck and shred or chop it; chop the gizzard as well. Set aside stock, chopped neck and gizzard for the gravy.

8) To deglaze roasting pan: While roasted turkey rests, pour off all but 2 to 4 tablespoons of drippings (depending on the amount of butter, flour, stock and wine you’re using) from the roasting pan. (Keep all those browned bits clinging to the bottom of the pan along with the vegetables.) Set the roasting pan over medium-high heat. Pour in the wine and, using a gravy whisk or a wooden spatula, move the ingredients around the bottom of the pan to combine the caramelized browned bits of vegetables, drippings and wine. Simmer until liquid is reduced by 1/2, occasionally pressing on the vegetables to extract any remaining flavor. Pour the reserved hot chicken stock over the reduced wine and vegetables, still stirring and mashing down on the vegetables with a wooden spatula. Stir this mixture and simmer over low heat for 3 to 5 minutes.

9) To make the gravy: Melt butter in a 1-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. When bubbling, add minced shallot and chopped mushrooms, if using. Sauté until softened and fragrant, about 2 minutes, then sprinkle on the flour, stirring to combine. Cook mixture over medium heat another 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Place a fine-meshed sieve over the saucepan and carefully pour the simmering stock mixture from the roasting pan into the sieve. Press hard on the solids as you force the enriched stock through and into the pot; discard the solids. Stir to combine stock with contents of saucepan; then stir in reserved chopped neck meat and gizzards, and simmer over low heat until hot and well combined. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and keep the gravy warm over low heat until the turkey is carved and ready to serve.

10) Carving instructions: Almost the same as for chicken, there’s just more breast meat to slice and the limbs are larger than a single person can handle. Take off the crisp skin that covers the breast and place it to the side, while you carve the meat. Then, slice the skin into strips and lay them decoratively over the sliced meat. And instead of placing the legs and thighs from very large birds on a platter, dislodge the meat off the bones and place them on the platter as you would the sliced breast meat. Wings should be disjointed (split into two pieces) and placed on the platter.

Timing is Everything

  • If impeccably fresh, the turkey can be seasoned (not stuffed) two days ahead and kept refrigerated, well covered with oiled plastic wrap. Always stuff poultry minutes before you plan to cook. If not using stuffing, however, the scallions can be inserted ahead, when you apply your seasoning.
  • All of the vegetables to roast underneath the bird can be assembled the day before and kept together in the refrigerator, well covered.
  • The stock, for the gravy, can (and should) be made days, weeks or months ahead and kept in the freezer in sealed plastic containers.
  • If you don’t have a reserve of chicken stock ready-to-go or tucked away in the freezer, “doctor” canned chicken broth by simmering some sliced aromatic vegetables such as carrots, celery, onion and parsley in the broth for 1 to 2 hours. Strain, discard the solids and use as directed in the recipe. Doing this will substantially perk up both the flavor and color of canned broth.
  • The gravy base can be made a day ahead and kept in the refrigerator, well covered.
  • The garlic butter can be assembled a few hours ahead and kept at a comfortable room temperature. Reheat just before using.

SHOPPING LIST

I will assume that you have stock in your freezer or that you’ll be using a canned variety. If doing the latter, I suggest “doctoring” the stock by simmering some aromatics in it (chopped onion, sliced leeks, carrots, celery and parsley) in the broth, with the cover ajar, for 30 to 60 minutes (start out with more broth than you’ll need, to allow for the natural occurrence of evaporation while the liquid simmers. I will break down the shopping into “types” of ingredients, all of which are available in a well-stocked supermarket.

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

For the turkey:

  • 1 large carrot, scrubbed and thinly sliced
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 stalk celery, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • About 6 whole black peppercorns
  • Vegetable spray or oil, for roasting rack
  • 1 turkey (12 to 22 pounds)
  • Homemade poultry seasoning mixture (recipe follows)
  • Flavorless vegetable oil, for rubbing turkey
  • 1 1/2 to 3 sticks butter
  • 5 to 8 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press

For the gravy:

  • 2 to 4 cups hot chicken stock
  • 1/2 to 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 to 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 to 2 shallots, minced
  • 2 to 4 medium-sized fresh button mushrooms (optional), wiped clean and finely minced or coarsely chopped
  • 3 to 6 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour (use 3 tablespoons flour with 2 tablespoons butter, 2 cups stock and ½ cup wine OR 6 tablespoons flour with 4 tablespoons butter, 4 cups stock and 1 cup wine)

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Vegetable oil or pure olive oil
  • Flour (unbleached all-purpose)
  • 1 quart chicken broth (if not using homemade chicken stock)

From the spice section:

  • Onion powder or toasted dehydrated onions: If the toasted kind is not available, toss the regular ones in a dry pan, stirring constantly, over medium heat, until golden. Empty them into a bowl and let them cool before grinding in the spice grinder)
  • Garlic powder or minced dehydrated garlic chips (or use garlic powder)
  • Chili powder
  • Whole black peppercorns
  • Lawry’s seasoned salt
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Hungarian paprika (sweet)
  • Dried thyme (only fresh thyme is unavailable for your gravy)

From the meat department:

  • One 12 to 22 pound turkey (make sure to have the neck and gizzards)

From the produce section:

  • 1 or 2 shallots
  • 2 to 4 button mushrooms
  • 1 bunch or bag carrots
  • 1 bunch celery
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 2 heads garlic
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • (Extra onion, carrots, celery, parsley, leeks: onion if “doctoring” canned chicken broth)

From the dairy case:

  • 1 box (holding 4 sticks) butter (salted or unsalted)

From the spirits section:

  • 1 bottle dry white wine (although some cooks say to use Vermouth instead, I don’t like Vermouth and don’t use it. If you don’t want to use wine in your gravy, just use an equal amount of additional chicken stock.)

Comments (1)

Perfect Roast Chicken

Everyone should know how to make a great roast chicken. Of all the recipes in my personal repertoire, this one for roast chicken is the most special to me. This was the first “real” meal that I successfully cooked for my husband Jon when we first got married. And although it’s been over twenty-five years, my family and I still think that this recipe produces the best roast chicken we’ve ever had.

Feel free to apply the same seasoning and cooking technique to smaller Cornish hens, larger capons and big turkeys. Simply adjust the amount of seasoning, basting butter and, of course, the roasting time (more detailed information and a shopping list for roasting a turkey, see Perfect Roast Turkey). Lastly, although you might be tempted, after carving, don’t throw away the cooked carcasses or any unused skin. Instead, refrigerate them until morning and then make a wonderful pot of chicken stock.

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment

  • Large stainless steel baking sheet or roasting pan with a sturdy, large wire cooling rack
  • Trussing needle
  • Kitchen twine
  • Bulb-baster
  • Flat gravy whisk (optional)
  • Fine-mesh wire sieve

For the chicken:

  • 2 cups assorted aromatic vegetables (thinly sliced carrot, yellow onion and celery)
  • Vegetable spray or oil, for the roasting rack
  • 2 chickens (3 1/2 to 4 1/2 pounds each)
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Poultry Seasoning Mix, as needed (click to see recipe), or see directions below for seasoning without a pre-assembled mix
  • Flavorless vegetable oil (or pure olive oil), as needed, for the chickens
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 8 scallions trimmed and left whole (use the white and 2 inches of the tender green), if not planning to stuff the birds
  • 3 to 4 cups of your favorite stuffing, at room temperature (optional)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

For the gravy:

  • 2 1/2 cups Chicken Stock
  • Necks and gizzards from the chickens (no heart or liver)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (or use more chicken stock)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 medium-sized button mushrooms, wiped clean and coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried

1) To clean and season the chickens: First remove the giblets from each cavity, reserving only the necks and gizzards for the gravy. Save the liver and heart for another recipe or discard them.Thoroughly rinse and dry the chickens, trimming away any excess fat from the cavity openings. Place the chickens on two large overlapping sheets of aluminum foil, on your counter. Pour a cup or so of oil into a bowl and place it next to the chickens. Working with one bird at a time, sprinkle the insides of each cavity with some salt and black pepper. Sprinkle the Poultry Seasoning Mix, very generously, on both sides of each chicken. Use your hands to scoop up a liberal amount of oil and rub it onto the birds, evenly distributing the seasoning. When done, the birds should look deeply colored and glistening.

To season without pre-assembled Poultry Seasoning Mix:

Take out a jar of onion powder, garlic powder, Lawry’s seasoning salt and sweet paprika, along with a pepper mill and a bottle of vegetable oil. Place a sheet of plastic wrap around the center of each bottle, including the oil, which will help keep the jars clean as you season the birds. Grind a generous amount of black pepper into a small bowl. Starting with the onion powder, sprinkle each listed seasoning liberally all over the birds, on both sides, being the least generous with the Lawry’s. Lubricate the chickens, as directed, reapplying more seasoning and oil, until satisfied with the chicken’s appearance, and follow the remaining instructions.

Bend the bony tips of the wings down, securing them underneath the chickens. Transfer the birds, cradled in the foil, to a tray or a large bowl and cover them with greased plastic wrap, oiled side down. Refrigerate the birds until 30 minutes before you plan to roast.

2) To make the gravy base: Bring 2 1/2 cups of the stock to a brisk simmer, over medium-high heat, in a 1-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the necks and gizzards. When the liquid comes back to a full bubble, reduce the heat to low and simmer the chicken parts, covered, until the meat is tender, about 25 minutes for the necks and 45 minutes for the tougher gizzards. When each is done, remove them from the broth. Set the broth aside and let the necks and gizzards become cool enough to handle. When cool, use a fork and your fingers to pull any meat off the necks, then shred or chop it. Chop the gizzards as well, and combine both. Reserve 2 cups of the stock and wipe out the saucepan.

Melt 2 1/2 tablespoons of butter in the same saucepan, over medium heat. When bubbling, add the minced shallots and chopped mushrooms. Sauté the vegetables, stirring frequently, until softened, about 2 minutes, then stir in the flour. Cook the vegetable-roux over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 1 minute, then whisk in the reserved cup of stock. Bring the liquid to a full bubble, then reduce the heat to low and let the sauce cook until thickened and rich-looking, 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often. Lay a doubled paper towel over the top of the pan, then apply the lid. Set the gravy base aside for now.

3) To make the basting mixture: Melt 1 1/2 sticks of butter in a small saucepan, over medium heat. When the butter is hot and bubbling, add the minced garlic. Reduce the heat to low and let the garlic sizzle for a few minutes, until it’s very fragrant. Remove the pan from the stove.

4) To roast the chickens: Preheat the oven to 400°F. If not using stuffing, insert the trimmed scallions into the cavity of each chicken, green ends out. Secure the legs using kitchen twine by wrapping it around the knobby ends, criss-crossing the ends, and tying a knot. If planning to stuff the birds, just before roasting, spoon the stuffing loosely into the cavity. Use about 1/2 generous cup stuffing per each pound of meat. Place any additional stuffing in a buttered baking dish, to roast along with the chickens. To truss a stuffed bird, thread a 10-inch length of kitchen twine through a trussing needle and tie a knot at the bottom end of the string. Starting at the top of the cavity, sew through both side flaps of thin fleshy skin, until you reach the bottom of the opening. Pull the string, securing the cavity shut and use the remaining string to wind around the knobby ends of the drumsticks (while pulling) to bring them together. Tie a knot to secure the legs, and snip off any loose ends of string.

Strew the carrot, onion and celery on a large shallow baking sheet. Spray a large roasting rack (if not nonstick) with vegetable spray and place it over the vegetables. Place the seasoned birds (breast-side up) side by side, on the prepared roasting rack with a 2-inch space between the birds. Spoon the garlic butter over each bird.

Put the chickens into the preheated oven and reduce the temperature to 375°F. Roast the birds until golden and crisp, about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours for unstuffed birds (about 15 minutes longer if stuffed), basting occasionally with pan juices using a bulb baster. As the chicken skin becomes crisp and golden, check frequently for signs of doneness (wings and legs should wiggle freely at the joints and an instant thermometer will read 170°F when inserted into the thigh and 165°F (no higher) when inserted into the breast meat). Baste a stuffed bird often during the last 15 minutes of cooking and cook until an instant thermometer inserted deep into the cavity reads 165°F. When done, remove the chickens from the oven and lift out the roasting rack holding them. Let the birds rest (loosely tented with aluminum foil) over a platter or a carving surface, for 10 minutes, so the juices can be reabsorbed. (To bake additional stuffing, place the dish in a 375°F oven and cook, covered, for 30 minutes and uncovered for 15 minutes more, or until piping hot throughout and the top is golden and crusty.)

5) To finish the gravy: Reheat your gravy base over low heat, until simmering. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the drippings from the baking sheet. (Keep all those vegetables and browned bits clinging to the bottom of the pan.) Set the baking sheet on the stove, directly over medium-high heat and, when things start to sizzle, pour in the wine. Using a gravy whisk or the flat edge of a wooden spatula, combine the vegetables, drippings and wine. Simmer the liquid, until reduced by half, occasionally pressing on the vegetables to extract any remaining flavor. Position a fine-mesh sieve over the simmering sauce base and carefully pour the contents of the baking sheet into the sieve, mashing down on the vegetables to push all of their goodness through the sieve and into the sauce. Discard the contents of the sieve, and stir the thyme, along with the reserved minced neck and gizzard meat into the gravy. Season the gravy with some salt and pepper and let it simmer, over low heat, for 3 to 5 minutes. Keep the gravy warm, over low heat, while you carve the chickens.

6) To carve the birds: cut the twine that binds the leg tips and, if stuffed, cut and remove the string that secures the cavity shut. Use tongs to remove the scallions and place them on a platter or use a spoon to scoop out the stuffing and place it into a warmed serving bowl. Cover the stuffing loosely with foil, to keep it warm. Position one chicken, so the cavity is in front of you.

To remove the legs, first making an incision in the skin, where one of the thighs meets the breast. Use your nonworking hand to grasp the leg tip, while you use the knife to separate the leg from the body. When you reach the hip joint, use the tip of the knife to nudge a final separation. To detach the drumstick from the thigh, lay the leg on your cutting board (skin side up) and place your index finger on the top of the drumstick, just where it meets the thigh. Use your fingertip to locate the small empty space, indicating the joint. Place the knife blade in this spot and drive the blade through. Place the drumstick and thigh on a serving platter and do the same thing on the other side.

To slice the breast meat, first lift off the top skin (covering the breast) in one piece and place it to the side, keeping it dry. Use the knife to cut each breast-half off the carcass in one piece, driving the blade in from the top, to one side of the chest bone. Depending on how chubby the breast is, slice the slab of meat into two or three pieces and put them on the platter. Do this on the other side. Slice the skin into crisp strips and drape them over the breast meat.

To remove the wings, cut them off where they meet the carcass, then turn each carcass over and run your thumb under the two nuggets of dark meat that sit to either side of the backbone, releasing them. Put these on the platter. Repeat this with the remaining chicken.

Timing is Everything

  • If impeccably fresh, the chickens can be seasoned (not stuffed) two days ahead and kept refrigerated, well covered with oiled plastic wrap. Always stuff poultry minutes before you plan to cook. If not using stuffing, however, the scallions can be inserted ahead, when you apply your seasoning.
  • All of the vegetables to roast underneath the birds can be assembled the day before and kept together in the refrigerator, well covered.
  • The stock, for the gravy, can (and should) be made days, weeks or months ahead and kept in the freezer in sealed plastic containers.
  • If you don’t have a reserve of chicken stock ready-to-go or tucked away in the freezer, “doctor” canned chicken broth by simmering some sliced aromatic vegetables such as carrots, celery, onion and parsley in the broth for 1 to 2 hours. Strain, discard the solids and use as directed in the recipe. Doing this will substantially perk up both the flavor and color of canned broth.
  • The gravy base can be made a day ahead and kept in the refrigerator, well covered.
  • The garlic butter can be assembled a few hours ahead and kept at a comfortable room temperature. Reheat just before using

SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

  • 2 cups assorted aromatic vegetables (thinly sliced carrot, yellow onion and celery)
  • Vegetable spray or oil, for the roasting rack
  • 2 chickens (3 1/2 to 4 1/2 pounds each)
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Poultry Seasoning, as needed (see recipe), or see the end of this recipe
  • Flavorless vegetable oil (or pure olive oil), as needed, for the chickens
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 8 scallions trimmed and left whole (use the white and 2 inches of the tender green), if not planning to stuff the birds
  • 3 to 4 cups of your favorite stuffing, at room temperature (optional)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

For the gravy:

  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • Necks and gizzards from the chickens (no heart or liver)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (or use more chicken stock)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 medium-sized button mushrooms, wiped clean and coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Vegetable oil or pure olive oil
  • Flour (unbleached all-purpose)
  • 1 quart chicken broth (only if not using homemade chicken stock; see directions in the “Timing is Everything” section for “doctoring” canned chicken broth)

From the spice section:

  • Onion powder or toasted dehydrated onions (If the toasted kind is not available, toss the regular ones in a dry pan, stirring constantly, over medium heat, until golden. Empty them into a bowl and let them cool before grinding in the spice grinder)
  • Garlic powder or minced dehydrated garlic chips
  • Chili powder
  • Whole black peppercorns
  • Lawry’s seasoned salt
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Hungarian paprika (sweet)
  • Dried thyme (only if fresh thyme is unavailable for your gravy)

From the meat department:

  • 2 chickens (3 ½ to 4 ½ pounds each) or 1 large capon (make sure to have the neck and gizzards)

From the produce section:

  • 1 or 2 shallots
  • 2 to 4 button mushrooms
  • 1 bunch or bag carrots
  • 1 bunch celery
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 2 heads garlic
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • (Extra onion, carrots, celery, parsley, leeks: onion if “doctoring” canned chicken broth)

From the dairy case:

  • 1 box (holding 4 sticks) butter (salted or unsalted)

From the spirits section:

  • 1 bottle dry white wine (although some cooks say to use Vermouth instead, I don’t like Vermouth and don’t use it. If you don’t want to use wine in your gravy, just use an equal amount of additional chicken stock.)

Watch the Video.

Comments (4)

Honey-Roast Chicken

One of my favorite reasons for making this dish over and over again (other than its delicious taste) is to watch how it always converts confirmed “curry haters.” Unfortunately, curry seems to be one of the most misunderstood spice blends around. But this recipe performs miracles as the cooking aromas from the curried honey sauce drive people crazy with anticipation! Without exception, I’ve never met anyone who didn’t love this chicken recipe.

The key to success is using a shallow baking sheet with one-inch sides, so the chicken pieces can become crisp as they self-baste. Since the pieces are liberally coated with sauce, if you use a pan that’s deeper than suggested, the chicken will bake instead of roast. The low-sided pan enables the exterior of the chicken to gain better exposure to heat, allowing the top to become gloriously brown (almost mahogany). The result is one of the best and most versatile chicken dishes that I prepare. The recipe also doubles easily.

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment

  • 1 large shallow baking sheet with a 1-inch rim

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
  • 1/2 cup minced yellow onion
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup mild honey
  • 1 teaspoon fine table salt
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons curry powder (or more, to taste)
  • 2 generous tablespoons peach or mango chutney
  • Small handful dried currants or chopped dark raisins
  • 2 roasting chickens (3 1/4 to 3 1/2 pounds each), each cut into 8 serving pieces

1. To make the sauce : Melt butter in a heavy 1 1/2- to 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. When bubbling, sauté the onion and garlic until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, excluding the chicken, and stir until combined. Heat until warm throughout and set aside until cool enough to handle.

2. To prepare chicken: Rinse and pat the chicken pieces dry. Dip each piece in the honey mixture, coating chicken completely. Lay chicken pieces (skin side up) on a large shallow baking sheet. Spoon any remaining sauce over chicken.

3. To roast: Either place the chicken in a cold oven, turn the heat to 400o F and roast for 1 hour or place in a preheated 375F oven and roast for 45 minutes. If splitting the chicken between two smaller baking sheets, roast in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and switch the shelf positions of the pans after half the baking time.

4. To serve: Transfer chicken to a warmed serving platter and serve hot, at room temperature or slightly chilled.

Curried Chicken Salad

A good reason to double this recipe is the leftovers. They not only reheat well, but they also make fabulous chicken salad! Just remove any thick pieces of skin and tear flesh into bite-sized pieces, add some coarsely chopped, unpeeled Golden Delicious apples, coarsely chopped toasted almonds, dried currants and minced scallions. Make a dressing with mayonnaise, some Dijon mustard and a touch of honey. Toss chicken salad with just enough dressing to bind, adding salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serve with a salad greens and some crusty rolls and you’ve got yourself a great lunch or a light supper!

SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter (8 tablespoons)
  • 1/2 cup minced yellow onion
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup mild honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 to 2 rounded teaspoons curry powder (or more, to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons peach or mango chutney
  • Small handful dried currants or chopped dark raisins
  • 2 roasting chickens (3 1/2 to 4 pounds each), each cut into 8 serving pieces

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Mild honey (clover honey)
  • Dijon mustard
  • Peach or mango chutney
  • Dried currants

From the spice section:

  • Curry powder (I prefer Madras brand)

From the produce aisle:

  • Yellow onion
  • Garlic

From the butcher:

  • 2 roasting chickens (3 ½ to 4 pounds each) whole (to be cut by you) or as the butcher to cut each bird into 8 serving pieces

From the dairy case:

  • Butter

Watch the Video.

Comments (3)

Chicken Fingers with Three Different (Great Tasting) Dips

Ok, if you’re having trouble weaning your kids away from the neighborhood fast-food joint, or if you’d simply like to offer a delish-dish to the kids that will help them to sit happily at the table, then this recipe for long, crisp, savory chicken fingers is definitely for you! And, just to make things extra exciting (for all of you), I’ve provided three different dipping sauces. Also, don’t hesitate to serve these, with cocktails, before a casual dinner, when entertaining. The following recipes illustrate perfectly how easy it is to make a homemade dinner that’s truly memorable, and so simple!

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment

For the chicken fingers:

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, halved (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 1/3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour (only if using the pan-frying method)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 1/2 cups dried breadcrumbs (preferably The Best Dried Breadcrumbs)
  • 1 cup freshly grated best-quality Parmesan cheese (optional but highly
  • suggested: alternatively, use 1 more cup dried breadcrumbs)
  • 4 extra-large eggs, beaten with a fork
  • Olive oil, as needed, for pan-frying
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and flattened
  • 2 tablespoons butter, or more as needed (you’ll need between 1/2 and 1 stick of melted butter if making the oven-roasted version)

1) To slice the chicken breasts: Rinse and dry each chicken breast half and pull the tenderloin off, keeping it intact. Slice each breast half, lengthwise into 1-inch thick strips (you’ll get between two and three slices per each breast half, not including the tenderloin).

2) To set up to bread the chicken: Place flour on a plate and season lightly with salt and pepper. Combine bread crumbs with Parmesan cheese, if using, on a shallow baking sheet. In a bowl, beat the eggs with a fork and place the bowl in between the flour and crumbs. Line a large shallow baking sheet with wax paper and place this next to the crumbs. (If making the oven-roasted version, omit the flour and just set up the beaten eggs and crumbs.)

3) To bread the chicken strips and chill: Sprinkle prepared chicken strips lightly with salt and pepper. Dredge about 6 chicken strips in the seasoned flour, coating them well, and then shake off the excess. Dip floured chicken into beaten eggs to coat thoroughly. (If using the oven-roasted method, dip the seasoned strips of chicken directly into the egg (no flour) and then proceed.) Working with 1 egg-coated chicken strip at a time, lay it on top of the crumb mixture and turn to coat each side, pressing gently to help the crumbs adhere. Lay the heavily breaded chicken strip on the wax paper lined baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the floured chicken strips, then rinse and dry your hands and flour, dip and coat the remaining strips, as directed. Whether pan-frying or oven-roasting, cover the sheet with plastic wrap and chill for 2 to 24 hours.

4) To pan-fry the chicken fingers: Arrange a long double thickness of paper toweling on your kitchen counter, as close to the stove as safely possible. Heat a 12 to 14-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and, when hot, add enough olive oil to generously coat the bottom of the pan.
When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the flattened garlic cloves and let them become light golden brown, frequently pressing on them to flavor the oil. Remove the garlic with a slotted utensil and add 2 tablespoons butter to the pan, stirring, to disperse it evenly throughout the oil. When the butter is bubbling, but not at all brown, fry several breaded chicken strips at time, in a single layer, without overly crowding the pan. Fry the chicken until golden brown and crisp on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side. (Use a turning spatula occasionally to press gently on the top of each strip to encourage even browning.) When cooked through, drain each chicken finger on paper towels and place them on a hot serving tray. Continue frying the rest. If while frying, the butter ever becomes overly dark from an accumulation of crumbs on the bottom of the pan, dump out the oil and wipe out the skillet. Heat more oil and melt more butter before frying the next batch.

5) To oven-roast the chicken fingers: Set up the paper towels, as described for pan-frying. About 30 minutes before you plan to cook, preheat the oven to 425°F with the rack in the center. Place the breaded chicken fingers in a single layer on a large shallow baking sheet, that’s lined with aluminum foil. (You might need two pans. If so, and not using a double oven, position the racks on the upper and lower third shelves.) Melt 1 stick of butter in a small saucepan and, when hot, add the flattened garlic. Let the garlic cook gently in the hot butter, just until it gets light golden (pressing on it, as described previously). Remove the garlic. One at a time, lightly dip both sides of the strips in the flavored butter and place onto the prepared sheet. (You might not need all the butter.) Roast the chicken strips at 425°F for 15 minutes. Turn each strip over and roast for another 15 minutes or until crisp and no longer pink on the inside. Drain on the paper towels.

6) To serve: Serve the chicken fingers hot or warm, either on a warmed serving platter or stand them up in a short drinking glass, lined with some parchment paper. (The pan-fried version will be able to stand more erect than the oven-roasted ones.) Pass the dip(s), at the table.

Timing is Everything:

  • The chicken can be breaded a day ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator.
  • You can fry the chicken fingers an hour or two ahead and reheat them on a wire rack set within a shallow baking sheet, at 375°F for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • All three dipping sauces can be made up to two days ahead and kept refrigerated, well covered.

Kid-Friendly Honey-Mustard Dip: Mix 1 scant cup mayonnaise with 2 rounded tablespoons of honey “Dijon” mustard. Chill. (This can be made 2 days ahead.)

Lemon-Garlic Scampi Dip: Combine 1 cup mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons strained fresh lemon juice, 2 cloves minced garlic, 2 tablespoons minced scallions, 1 generous tablespoon of chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley, 1/4 rounded teaspoon cayenne pepper. (This can be made 2 days ahead.)

Homemade Duck Sauce: In a small nonreactive saucepan, whisk together 1 cup peach or apricot preserves (or mix both) with 4 tablespoons, plus 1 1/2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar, 2 tablespoons minced peeled ginger root, 2 tablespoons minced scallions, 1 tablespoon soy sauce (preferably Tamari), 1 teaspoon garlic powder and 2 tablespoons water. Heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes, then stir in 1 generous teaspoon toasted sesame oil. Pulse in the food processor until any big pieces of fruit are made smaller, allowing the sauce to retain texture. Pour into a bowl and let cool. Chill to allow the sauce to thicken. Bring close to room temperature before serving. This can be made 2 days ahead and leftovers are good for a few more days (5 days total).

SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

For the chicken fingers:

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, halved (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 1/3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour (only if using the pan-frying method)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 1/2 cups dried breadcrumbs (preferably The Best Dried Breadcrumbs)
  • 1 cup freshly grated best-quality Parmesan cheese (optional but highly suggested: alternatively, use 1 more cup dried breadcrumbs)
  • 4 extra-large eggs, beaten with a fork
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed, for pan-frying
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and flattened
  • 2 tablespoons butter, or more as needed (you’ll need between 1/2 and 1 stick of melted butter if making the oven-roasted version)

For the honey-mustard dip:

  • 1 cup prepared mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons honey Dijon mustard

For the lemon-garlic scampi dip:

  • 1 cup prepared mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons strained fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced scallions
  • 1 generous tablespoon minced flat-leaf, Italian parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

For homemade duck sauce:

  • 1 cup peach or apricot preserves (or combine both)
  • 4 tablespoons, plus 1 ½ teaspoons distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons peeled, minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoons minced scallions
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (preferably Tamari)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 generous teaspoon toasted sesame oil

From the butcher:

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, halved (8 pieces; about 2 pounds)

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • Dried breadcrumbs (only if not making your own)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Peach or apricot preserves (or both)
  • Soy sauce (preferably Tamari)
  • Mayonnaise (only if making the honey-mustard dip and the scampi dip)
  • Distilled white vinegar (only if making the duck sauce)
  • Toasted sesame oil (only if making duck sauce)

From the produce aisle:

  • Garlic
  • Scallions (only if making the scampi dip and the duck sauce)
  • Parsley (only if making the lemon-garlic scampi dip)
  • Lemon (only if making lemon-garlic scampi dip)
  • Fresh ginger root (only if making duck sauce)

From the spice section:

  • Garlic powder
  • Cayenne pepper (only if making the lemon-garlic scampi dip)

From the refrigerated section:

  • Extra-large eggs

From the dairy case:

  • Wedge of best-quality Parmesan cheese
  • Unsalted butter

Comments (2)

Perfect Vanilla-Scented Cupcakes, Or Layer Cakes… with an Italian Meringue Icing

If you’re trying to decide on a great dessert for a mixed group of both, kids and adults, you’re in luck! This recipe makes the most wonderful cupcakes and layer cakes. These cupcakes (or cake layers), topped with big swoops of fluffy Italian meringue, tastes and feels like you’re sinking your teeth into a mound of melted marshmallows. I usually either torch the tips of the meringue, or I’ll douse an entire iced cake or the tops of cupcakes in a mixture of plain and toasted shredded coconut. Please read the instructions for making the meringue, from beginning to end, before getting started.

Alternatively, for a vanilla birthday cake or for a batch of cupcakes to tote to school for a child’s birthday, try the buttery, sweet, and smooth as silk Silky White Butter Frosting. My children really love that, too.

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

For the cake batter:

  • Flavorless vegetable spray, for cupcake tins or melted unsalted butter, as needed, for brushing cake pans
  • About 2 tablespoons plain cake flour, for dusting
  • 3 1/4 cups Buttermillk Pancake Mix, or see the end of this recipe
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (only if using buttermilk)
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 extra-large eggs, made tepid by submerging in a bowl of very hot tap water for 10 minutes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract  
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk or regular milk, at room temperature or slightly warmed (preferably buttermilk)

For the meringue icing:

  • 3 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 cup superfine sugar, for the syrup, plus 1/3 cup for the egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 cups mixed plain and toasted shredded sweetened coconut (optional)
  • Alternate frostings or icings: Silky White Butter Frosting (or chocolate variation)

1) To set up to make cupcakes or cake layers: Spray the tops of two nonstick 12-muffin tins and one 6-muffin tin with vegetable spray and line them with paper liners. If making cake layers brush the interiors of two 9-inch cake pans (2 inches deep) with melted butter and line both bottoms with a round of parchment paper. Grease the paper and dust the bottom and sides with cake flour, tilting to coat the pan evenly, and then shake out any excess flour, by rapping the pan against the sink, hard, several times. Preheat the oven to 350oF. If using a double oven, keep the oven racks on the center shelf. If using one oven, arrange the oven racks on the upper and lower third shelf positions, to accommodate all three cupcake tins. Both cake pans should be able to fit on the center rack. (Best results are achieved when cupcakes and cake layers are baked, undisturbed, in the center of the oven.)

2) To assemble the batter: Whisk together the pancake mix, if using, with the baking powder (and soda, if using buttermilk). Use the paddle attachment on your electric mixer to cream the butter and shortening with the sugar, until light. Add the tepid eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. When very light, beat in the vanilla. Stop the machine and, using a large rubber spatula, scrape down the sides and across the bottom of the bowl, then beat the mixture once more, briefly. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour. Mix on low, until combined very well, about 30 to 40 seconds. For cupcakes, use a medium-sized ice cream scoop or a large spoon to place the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them no more than 2/3 full (if you have a few unused cups, fill those half-full with simmering water). If making cake layers, divide the batter between the prepared cake pans and, using a small icing spatula, smooth the tops.

3) To bake: Bake the cupcakes for 20 minutes (if not baked on the center shelf, switch their positions half-way through baking). Bake the cake layers until the top is golden and a tester comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Layer cakes will begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and will feel springy at the center when done. (Don’t worry if the tops of layers look a bit irregular, since they will be inverted and used flat- bottoms up.) Remove the pans from the oven and, for cupcakes, let them sit in the tins, for 5 minutes, then carefully lift each one out and let them cool on wire racks, before applying any topping. For cake layers, remove them from the oven and let them sit on a wire rack, for five minutes, then invert them onto wire racks. Let the cake layers cool completely, keeping them bottoms-up, before dividing them and applying your filling and any frosting.

4) To dress the cupcakes: Use a small metal icing spatula or a table knife to apply some of the meringue to the tops of the cooled cupcakes, covering them completely. Apply another dollop of meringue on top and use the tip of the spatula to make swirls, or swooping peaks. Either run the flame of a small, hand-held blow torch over the protruding tips of the meringue until caramelized, or lavish the meringue with a generous amount of mixed plain and toasted shredded sweetened coconut. Alternatively, if using either variation of the butter frosting or the glazes, decorate the tops with any of the suggested toppings in The I Love to Cook Book. Let these cupcakes remain at room temperature, covered either with a cake cover or, once the icing is set, with plastic wrap.

5) To cut, fill and stack the cake layers: First place each layer (on a cake disc), bottoms-up, on a rotating cake stand and slice each layer in half, horizontally, using a long sharp serrated knife. After dividing the first, keep the halves together and just move the whole layer to the side. After dividing the second layer, insert a cake disc in-between both halves and lift off the top piece. Working with the bottom of one cake layer, cut-side up, on the cake stand, spread an even layer of the icing on top, using a long icing spatula or a table knife. Don’t go overboard, or the layers will slip and slide off each other, once stacked. Place the top of that cake layer on top of the icing and press down, gently. Spread the top of that layer with more frosting. Place the bottom of the second cake layer on top of the stacked cake layers. Apply more icing, then place the last top layer, which should be the flat, golden bottom of that layer, on top. Use your hand or a cake disc to lightly press down on the top, to help the layers adhere and to level the stack. To coat the outside of an assembled cake evenly, and to pipe on a top and bottom border, see the Silky White Butter Frosting.

6) To store: Store the assembled cake or cupcakes on a platter, at a comfortable room temperature, covered with a wide, high cake cover before serving. If using a butter-cream frosting, refrigerate leftovers and bring to room temperature, before serving. (Rewhip, if needed, to bring to spreadable consistency).

If you don’t have the pre-assembled cake mix:

Whisk together 3 1/4 cups of cake flour, 3/4 teaspoon fine salt, and 1 tablespoon baking powder (and 1/2 teaspoon soda, if using buttermilk) and sift this into another bowl. Increase the sugar to 2 cups. Bake the cake as previously described.

Timing is Everything:

The cake layers can be made a day ahead and kept at room temperature, well wrapped in plastic wrap.

The cake can be fully assembled early on the day of entertaining and kept out, at a comfortable room temperature, until ready to serve.

Although the Italian meringue icing should be used the day it’s made, the vanilla frosting can be fully assembled and refrigerated, for up to three days, before using it. Bring it to room temperature, then whip it until it’s fluffy and of a good spreading consistency.

Click here for

Devil’s Food Cupcakes or Cake Layers

Silky White Butter Frosting… Perfect for a Birthday Cake

Comments (3)

Chunky Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Sandies

These cookies will absolutely melt in your mouth! Typically, a cookie labeled a “sandie” is one with a seductive texture that’s firm at first bite and then melts away on the tongue. Because this cookie has the added texture of chopped peanuts and chocolate chips, the dough tends to be on the crumbly side, but it’s still easy to work with. For best texture, use a regular peanut butter instead of one from the health food store, labeled “natural.”

This recipe is always a hit with my students, frequently requested by my friends and always gobbled up by my family. Once cool, these cookies store well and make a nutritious addition to a lunch box or an after-school snack. At holiday time, bake them in bulk, package them in decorative tins and send them off to friends and business associates.

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment

  • Cookie sheets, preferably cushioned
  • Food processor or sharp chef’s knife to chop peanuts
  • Electric mixer (optional)
  • Cookie scoop with capacity of 2 liquid tablespoons (optional)

For the cookie batter:

  • Melted butter, for cookie sheets
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 1 rounded cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 cup salted cocktail peanuts, finely chopped
  • 12 to 16 ounces semisweet or milk chocolate chips (I use 16 ounces)

1. To set up: Position both oven racks to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly butter cookie sheets and set aside.

2. To prepare the cookie batter: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. In another large bowl, using a wooden spoon or electric mixer, cream the softened butter with the sugar until light. Add the egg and mix until smooth. Add the peanut butter and combine well. Stir in the nuts and chocolate chips. Finally, stir in the flour mixture and continue to stir until the batter is smooth throughout. If the dough is a bit crumbly on the bottom, squeeze dry areas gently with your hand to help mixture bind together.

3. To shape and bake cookies: Place rounded tablespoonfuls or level cookie scoops of dough 1 1/2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets. You should be able to bake 4 rows of 4 cookies per sheet. (If using a tablespoon, shape each portion of dough into a round.) Using a fork, press each round down gently in a crosshatch pattern. Bake cookies on both levels of the preheated oven until light golden, about 10 minutes, switching shelf positions of the sheets after half the baking.

4. To cool and store cookies: Place the cookie sheets on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes. Then remove cookies using a thin metal spatula and allow them to cool thoroughly on wire racks before storing in an airtight tin.

SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

  • Melted butter, for cookie sheets
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 1 rounded cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 cup salted cocktail peanuts, finely chopped
  • 12 to 16 ounces semisweet or milk chocolate chips (I use 16 ounces)

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Unbleached all-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Granulated sugar
  • Smooth peanut butter (not one labeled “natural”)
  • Salted cocktail peanuts
  • Semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips

From the dairy case:

  • 1 box (with 4 sticks) unsalted butter (you’ll need 2 sticks)
  • ½ dozen extra-large eggs

Comments (0)

Chewy Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Cookies

Totally yummy, chewy, chocolaty and extra textural because of the additional chocolate chip, these cookies will be gobbled up! Although the texture of these cookies are wonderful, even after a couple of days, my preference is to serve them about 20 minutes after they’ve left the oven. This shouldn’t pose a timing problem if you’ve made the dough in advance and chilled it shaped in logs. That way, when ever the time is “right,” just unwrap a log, slice it and bake away!

So, if you’re looking for a great way to greet the kids when they come home from school, just bake a few cookies before you head out the door to pick them up and let them sit cooling on a wire rack. Or, if entertaining on a weekend night, when you sit down for your main course, slip some cookies into the oven and set the timer…Trust me, you won’t be sorry.

Special Equipment

  • Electric mixer (optional); preferably one with one central paddle attachment
  • Large sturdy rubber spatula
  • Jumbo, heavy-duty freezer bags
  • Cushioned cookie sheets
  • Parchment paper

Ingredients

  • 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour (or mix whole wheat pastry flour with all-purpose flour)
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (firmly packed) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 generous tablespoon “Lyles” Golden syrup (in the supermarket with the corn syrup, honey and molasses)
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ to 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (or use half chopped walnuts and half chips)Powdered sugar (optional, for dusting)

1) To set up: If planning on making the batter and chilling or freezing, lay a 14-inch sheet of plastic wrap on your counter and overlap another sheet on top, just to one side, to widen the plastic surface. Do this once more on other areas of your counter (if you don’t have enough counter space, just work with one plastic set-up at a time.) If planning to bake, straight away, preheat the oven to 350F and line a few cushioned cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2) To prepare cookie batter: In a medium bowl, use a whisk to combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa, and cinnamon, if using. Using an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, (alternatively, use a wooden spoon), cream the butter with the sugars (including the syrup) until light. Add the egg, espresso powder and the vanilla, and beat until well incorporated. On low speed, mix in dry ingredients until well combined. Stir in the chocolate chips (or nuts and chips) and mix until well-distributed (expect the batter to be stiff). If using all whole wheat pastry flour, mix 2 tablespoons boiling water with the espresso powder and allow it to cool to just warm. Add this to the machine when you would add the vanilla.)

3) To roll dough into logs and chill: Using a large, sturdy rubber spatula, divide the mixture into two or more sections, placing one on each plastic wrap setup. Lift up one long edge of one piece of plastic and lay it over the cookie mixture. Roll mixture in the plastic until you reach the opposite edge. Using your hands, gently hold and press the plastic, over the cookie mixture while moving your hands, going in the opposite direction, to create a long log of cookie dough, about 2-inches in diameter. Smooth and correct the shape, then twist ends of plastic and secure them with twist ties. Repeat with the remaining portion(s) of dough. Store the logs in a doubled, jumbo heavy-duty freezer bag (if logs are longer than your bags can accommodate, wrap the logs in heavy-duty foil. Refrigerate the logs for up to 3 days or freeze them for up to 2 months.

4) To set up to bake: If dough is frozen, place as many logs as desired in the refrigerator overnight to thaw, but keep chilled until ready to bake. Position the oven racks to the upper and lower levels and preheat the oven to 350oF. Line one or two cookie sheets with parchment paper but do not grease paper. Unwrap a log of dough and, using a knife or the blade of a pastry scraper, cut off chunks of dough about 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick. Round off any squared edges, if needed, and place the cookie dough pieces 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet(s). Using the palm of your hand, flatten each cookie slightly and correct the shape a bit.

5) To bake: Bake in preheated oven for 9 to 12 minutes, switching the shelf position of the sheets after half the baking time. When done, cookies will be low yet puffed and will seem underdone in the center. If very chilled, the dough will take the full 12 minutes and, if baking right after assembling the batter, the cookies could be done after 9 (baking time will also depend on the size of your chunks of batter). Most important is to avoid over-baking. The texture will be best if it seems a bit more underdone than you think appropriate.

6) To cool, serve and store: Remove sheets from the oven and place it on a wire rack. Use a metal turning spatula to lightly tap the tops of each cookie, deflating their “poofiness” and then let them sit on the hot sheets, on the rack, for 10 to 20 minutes. Using the metal spatula, transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool further. Serve warm (they’re really good warm) or completely cooled. Store cookies in an airtight tin or tightly covered cookie jar. If desired, right before serving, dust with sifted powdered sugar.

SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients:

Ingredients

  • 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour (or mix whole wheat pastry flour with all-purpose flour)
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (firmly packed) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 generous tablespoon “Lyles” Golden syrup (in the supermarket with the corn syrup, honey and molasses)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
  • 1 ½ to 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (or use half chopped walnuts and half chips)
  • Powdered sugar (optional, for dusting)

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • Unsweetenend cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
  • Baking soda
  • Fine table-salt
  • Cinnamon
  • Light brown sugar
  • Granulated sugar
  • Lyles Golden syrup (with the honey)
  • Pure vanilla extract
  • Instant espresso powder (optional)
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Powdered sugar (optional)

From the the refrigerated section:

  • 1 extra-large egg

Comments (2)

Fresh Fruit Parfaits

These parfaits are as beautiful for breakfast as they are refreshing, for dessert. The addition of a few ripe rounds of banana is very strategic, since their creaminess adds a surprising (and very soothing) contrast to the cold, juicy melon.

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment

  • Food processor
  • Fine-mesh sieve (only if pureeing raspberries)
  • Melon-baller (only if making balls of fruit)

For the parfaits:

  • 1 rounded cup (1/2 dry pint) blackberries, raspberries, or hulled strawberries), plus 2 extra beautiful berries, per person, for garnish
  • 1 rounded tablespoon seedless raspberry jam
  • 1 rounded tablespoon seedless raspberry jam
  • 4 cups of cut up melon, from 2 or 3 different types of ripe melon, including watermelon, if available (or make melon balls using a melon-baller )
  • 2 large, ripe, but firm bananas
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons strained fresh lemon juice
  • 2 8-ounce containers vanilla yogurt
  • Fresh mint leaves, for garnish
  • Optional additions: Your favorite granola or some dry-toasted, sliced almonds

1. To make the berry puree: Place the berries into the bowl of your food processor fitted with the steel blade, or in a blender. Process the berries until thoroughly pureed. Place a generous tablespoon of seedless raspberry jam into a 1-quart saucepan. Position a fine-mesh sieve over the pot and pour the berry puree into the sieve. Using a sturdy rubber or a wooden spatula, rub the puree through the sieve, leaving the seeds behind (straining is not necessary if using strawberries). Bring the pureed mixture just to a simmer, over low heat, stirring to break up any coagulated jam. Remove this from the stove, pour it into a bowl and let it cool.

2. To prepare the bananas for the parfaits:When you’re almost ready to serve the parfaits, cut the banana into either rounds or dice or make balls of banana, using a melon-baller. (To do this, lay each peeled banana on a flat surface. Use a gentle but firm hand to scoop down into the banana flesh, making a full clockwise revolution with the scoop. Lift the scoop and, to help the banana ball pop out, knock the stem of the scooper over the rim of a bowl.) When you’ve measured at least 1 cup of cut banana pieces, toss them with the lemon juice, to prevent them from discoloring.

3. To assemble the parfaits:Gently fold together the banana and melon. Place 1 1/4 cups of the fruit into each parfait glass and ladle 1/3 to 1/2 cup of vanilla yogurt over the fruit. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the berry puree on top of the yogurt and allow the parfait to sit for a few minutes so the toppings can trickle down throughout the fruit. If desired, top each parfait with a tablespoon or so of your favorite granola or some sliced toasted almonds. Garnish each serving with two plump berries and a beautiful sprig of fresh mint.
Technique Reminder: To toast nuts

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place nuts on a shallow baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on the type of nut and whether they’re whole, sliced, skinned or not). Use your nose as your guide. As soon as you smell that first savory waft of toasting nuts, they’re almost done. Nuts with skins toast quicker than blanched (skinless) ones and it’s best to shimmy the pan to occasionally distribute while they’re in the oven. (Over-toasting nuts with skins can leave them bitter-tasting.) Also, because nuts, when whole, are all shaped differently, they require a different amount of time in the oven, so only place one type of nut on a baking sheet, when toasting.

Timing is Everything:

  • The fruit puree can be prepared up to two days ahead and stored in the refrigerator, well covered.
  • Although the bananas must be prepared close to assembling the parfaits, the melon can be cut one day ahead and stored in the refrigerator, well covered.
  • The parfaits can be assembled (without the granola or nuts) up to 2 hours ahead of serving. Cover them carefully (loosely) with plastic wrap and refrigerate. If using a topping, add it just before serving.

SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

For the parfaits:

  • 1 rounded cup (1/2 dry pint) blackberries, raspberries, or hulled strawberries), plus 2 extra beautiful berries, per person, for garnish
  • 1 rounded tablespoon seedless raspberry jam
  • 4 cups of cut up melon, from 2 or 3 different types of ripe melon, including watermelon, if available (or make melon balls using a melon-baller )
  • 2 large, ripe, but firm bananas
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons strained fresh lemon juice
  • 2 8-ounce containers vanilla yogurt
  • Fresh mint leaves, for garnish
  • Optional additions: Your favorite granola or some dry-toasted sliced almonds

From the produce aisle:

  • Assorted berries (include more of either raspberries or strawberries to make the berry puree)
  • An assortment of melons (choose ones with different colored flesh)
  • Ripe bananas
  • Fresh mint

From the dairy case

  • Vanilla yogurt

From the supermarket shelf

  • Nuts (optional)
  • Granola (optional)

Comments (1)

Buttermilk Pancakes with Berries

If you like pancakes, you’ll adore these. Tender and truly ethereal, I can’t count how many times I’ve made them and each time I hear the same words from those at the table: “These are the best pancakes I’ve ever had.” And feel free to use this same size batter to make three crisp standard-size waffles, using a half cup of batter for each. This could vary, though, depending on your particular appliance.

I’ve written this recipe requiring the use of buttermilk, since, hands-down, buttermilk makes the best-tasting pancakes with the lightest, most tender texture. If you don’t always have liquid buttermilk in the house, I suggest keeping a supply of dry buttermilk in your pantry, so you can just reconstitute it. This recipe doubles perfectly.

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment

  • Triple-mesh wire sieve
  • Batter whisk or a wide blending fork
  • Electric griddle (optional but helpful for maintaining correct temperature for cooking pancakes)

For the pancakes:

  • 1 1/2 cups Buttermilk Pancake Mix, or see the end of this recipe
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 2 tablespoons flavorless vegetable oil, plus more for brushing
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, cooled to just warm
  • 1/2 rounded cup plump ripe blueberries (optional)

1. To assemble the batter: Place 1 1/2 cups of the prepared pancake mix into a bowl. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, egg, vegetable oil, water and melted butter. Gently stir the wet ingredients into the pancake mix, using a batter whisk or a wide blending fork, until thoroughly mixed, being careful not to overwork the batter. 2. To cook your pancakes:heat a nonstick griddle or a large nonstick skillet and, when hot, brush the surface lightly with vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, pour or ladle several 1/4 cup portions of batter onto the hot surface, leaving 1-inch of space between them and, if desired, scatter several of fresh blueberries on top and cook over medium-high heat, until bubbles appear on the surface, 1 to 2 minutes. Using a thin wide spatula, flip each pancake over and cook on the other side, until golden, about 1 minute. Remove the pancakes to a warmed platter and repeat with the remaining batter. Serve pancakes immediately after the cooking, in individual stacks, with softened butter and warmed pure maple syrup.

If you don’t have the pre-assembled pancake mix:

Per each batch of pancakes, whisk together 1 1/2 cups plain cake flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/3 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar. Sift this into another bowl and continue with the recipe above.

Timing is Everything: For pancakes on busy weekday mornings, do this:

The night before: Combine all of the wet ingredients except the melted butter and refrigerate the mixture, well covered. Measure your dry mix and place it in a covered bowl on your counter. Put your griddle on a turned off burner and put a small covered bowl containing a little vegetable oil next to the stove, with a pastry brush.

In the morning: Remove the wet ingredients from the refrigerator. Melt the butter and, when just warm, add it to the buttermilk mixture. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, using a batter whisk (be gentle, but no dry pockets should remain). Leave the bowl of batter covered, at room temperature, until you’re ready to cook. When ready, ladle the batter onto a hot, greased griddle, as directed.

SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

For the mix :

  • 14 cups plain (not self-rising) cake flour
  • 6 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

For a single batch of pancakes (can be doubled):

  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 2 tablespoons flavorless vegetable oil, plus more for brushing
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, cooled to just warm
  • 1/2 rounded cup plump ripe blueberries (optional)
  • Maple syrup or powdered sugar, as an accompaniment
  • Assorted fresh berries (optional)

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Plain, unleavened cake flour (If making the mix, you’ll need two boxes.)
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Fine table salt
  • Granulated sugar
  • Powdered sugar (only if not using maple syrup)
  • Flavorless vegetable oil
  • Maple syrup (optional)

From the refrigerated section:

  • Extra-large eggs

From the dairy case :

  • Buttermilk
  • Unsalted butter

From the produce aisle :

  • Assorted ripe berries (optional)

Comments (3)

Six-Strand Challah

This recipe is very special to me; it was my “signature” bread at the very beginning of my culinary career. Traditionally, in the Jewish religion, braided challah is eaten with dinner every Friday to celebrate the Sabbath. Symbolically, the woven, knobby shape of the braid is meant to reflect the forever winding and sometimes bumpy road of life. I thought you’d enjoy knowing the easy step-by-step professional formula for making a six-strand braid at home.

Following are the directions to make two voluptuous six-strand braided loaves, or three 8 x 4-inch loaves with or without raisins. This challah dough is not parve. If Kosher and using for a meal that contains meat, make the changes suggested in the recipe.

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information. And, if making yeast bread is new for you, you can go to this page on “Food Matters A to Z,” to learn about how things work. You can also check out the previews of my Pizza video and/or my Country White Bread video to see if you’d like to watch them in their entirety

Special Equipment

  • 8-quart mixing bowl, for rising the dough
  • Wooden surface for kneading
  • Pastry scraper
  • A good pair of hands!

For the challah dough:

  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted, for the dough, plus 3 tablespoons melted butter, for brushing
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar, for the dough, plus a pinch of sugar, for the yeast
  • 1 tablespoon mild-flavored honey
  • 2 cups mixed light and dark moist raisins (optional)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • Up to 6 cups high-protein bread flour, including flour for dusting
  • Medium-ground cornmeal, as needed, for sprinkling
  • Sesame seeds, poppy seeds, caraway seeds and/or kosher or sea salt, for sprinkling (optional)
  • Egg Glaze: 1 egg beaten with 1 egg yolk and 1 tablespoon water

Ingredients note: If wanting to prepare a Kosher (parve) challah, one that can be eaten with both meat and dairy, substitute water (or try coconut milk) for the milk and use an equal amount of non-dairy (stick) margarine for the butter or use corn oil, reducing it to 1/3 cup).

1) To set up to make the dough: Use some of the melted butter to grease the interior of an 8-quart mixing bowl. Set that bowl aside. Spread two overlapping sheets of plastic wrap near the greased bowl and brush some of the butter onto the wrap.

2) To make the dough and rise it twice: Warm the milk in a 1-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium low heat. Pour the milk into a large mixing bowl and add 8 tablespoons of melted butter. Stir in 1/3 cup sugar along with the honey, salt and the raisins, if using. Let the milk cool to lukewarm. Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water with a pinch of sugar and allow it to become bubbly, about 3 minutes. Add the dissolved yeast to the warm milk mixture, along with the eggs. Stir with a wooden spoon, to break up the eggs, then stir in enough flour, cup by cup, to create a somewhat stiff, shaggy mass, that’s no longer easily stirred.

Using a sturdy rubber spatula, scrape the mass on to a floured surface and knead it until you’ve created a dough that’s smooth and elastic, adding only as much additional flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking. Place the dough into the greased bowl and brush the top with more melted butter. Cover the bowl with greased plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot, until doubled, 2 to 2 1/2 hours (dough with raisins will require the longer rise). Uncover the dough and punch it down, with several swift swats with the back of your hand. Turn the dough over in the bowl and knead, gently, to redistribute the yeast. Recover the bowl and let the dough rise again, until very light and billowy, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

3) To shape braided loaves: Preheat the oven(s) to 375°F. Line 2 large shallow baking sheets with parchment paper and sprinkle the paper with cornmeal. Gather your choice of seeds, if using, and place them next to the bowl of glaze. Turn the fully risen dough out onto your lightly floured work surface and divide the dough in half using your pastry scraper. Cover one half, while working with the other. (If not working with a double oven, refrigerate half of the dough, in its original bowl, covered.)

Divide one half of dough into 6 equal pieces and roll each piece into a strand, about 10 inches long, with tapered ends and slightly chubby centers. (Use extra flour, only as necessary, to keep dough from sticking.) Position the strands vertically in front of you and pinch the ends farthest from you at the top, together, attaching them. Number the strands from 1 to 6, starting at the strand to the far left. (See braiding technique below.)
Please print the following procedure and read it carefully before beginning. Keep these instructions within easy view, as you shape your braided loaves.

Braiding Steps: Spread the strands, so they all have some space between them, staying connected on top. Number the position of each strand from 1 to 6, starting at the far left. (No matter how the strands are arranged the numbers stay the same.)

1) Take strand #6 and bring it over to become #1.
2) Strand #2 goes over #6 and becomes #6.
3) Strand #1 goes across and over strand #3, and becomes #3.
4) Strand #5 goes over #1 and becomes #1.
5) Strand #6 crosses over #4 and becomes #4.
6) Repeat steps 2 through 6 (not # 1) until you reach the bottom of the strands.

When you reach the bottom of the braid, pinch the ends together to secure them. Tuck the ends on both sides, underneath the braid, plumping it nicely. Place the braid on one of the baking sheets and cover it with a clean kitchen towel. Let the dough rise for 20 minutes. (If working with a double oven, repeat this same procedure with the remaining half of dough. If not, wait until the first loaf enters the oven to remove the second half from the refrigerator and shape that braid.)

After a 20-minute rise, uncover the braid and brush the dough, all over, with the egg glaze. Leave the loaf uncovered, for the remaining 5 minutes. Just before baking, give the dough another coat of glaze and, if desired, sprinkle the top, decoratively, with one or more type of the seeds. Sprinkle the top lightly with salt, if desired, and bake the braid(s) at 375°F, until golden and the loaves feel light and sound hollow when lifted and tapped on the bottom, 35 to 40 minutes. As the dough bakes, it will expand, exposing new, unglazed dough. To prevent uneven browning, check the braids 20 minutes after they enter the oven and, working quickly, brush any whiter parts of dough with some reserved glaze. Quickly sprinkle those sections with some seeds, if using, and continue to bake, until done. (If braids ever seem to be over-browning, before being cooked through, cover them loosely with aluminum foil (shiny side up), uncovering for the last 2 minutes of baking.)

SANDWICH LOAF VARIATION: Make the dough, as directed and, after the second rise, you’re ready to shape your loaves.

1) To shape, rise and bake the loaves: Brush three 9 x 5-inch loaf pans with melted butter and set them aside. Turn the risen dough out on to a lightly floured surface and knead it gently and briefly. Use your pastry scraper to divide the dough into three equal portions and cover them while working with one at a time. Roll one piece into an 8 x 10-inch rectangle, with one short end close to you. Starting at the top short end, that’s furthest from you, roll the dough down snugly towards you. After each revolution, use the thumb on your working hand to press down and connect the interior wall of the roll to the bottom of the dough. When you reach the bottom, pinch the last inch of dough onto the roll, so it adheres. Working with one end at a time, press each coiled spiral of dough, in toward the center of the log. Pinch the top and bottom outer rims of dough together, elongating this part slightly, and attach it to the bottom seam, rounding off and sealing each end.

Lay the loaf, seam side down in a prepared loaf pan and use your hands to gently plump and correct the shape. Cover the loaf with a clean kitchen towel and repeat this same procedure with the remaining dough. Let the loaves rise for 45 minutes, in a draft-free spot.

To bake loaves: Preheat the oven to 400°F if using metal pans, and 375°F if using glass. Just before placing the loaves into the hot oven, brush the tops with melted butter. Bake the loaves in the middle of the oven, with 1 1/2-inches in between them, for 30 to 35 minutes, covering loosely with aluminum foil (dull side up) for the last 10 minutes, if becoming overly brown. Remove the loaves from the oven and turn them out of their pans, onto wire racks. Give the bottom of each loaf a good tap on its bottom, which should sound hollow. If not, put them back into the oven (on a shallow baking sheet) for a few more minutes. When done, remove the loaves from the oven and, for the softest crusts, brush the tops with more melted butter. Let the loaves cool completely, on wire racks, before slicing.

A word about oven space: If all three loaves won’t fit in your oven, bake two risen loaves at once, while the third rises in the refrigerator, covered. When the first two loaves enter the oven, remove the third from the refrigerator, letting it rise until the desired volume is achieved. Bake as directed.

Timing is Everything

The dough can be assembled through the first full rise and, after deflating it, placed back in the bowl and in the refrigerator for up to two days (keep well covered). When making loaves, be sure to allow the time required, to bring the dough to room temperature (this can take up to 4 hours).
SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted, for the dough, plus 3 tablespoons melted butter, for brushing
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar, for the dough, plus a pinch of sugar, for the yeast
  • 1 tablespoon mild-flavored honey
  • 2 cups mixed light and dark moist raisins (optional)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • Up to 6 cups high-protein bread flour, including flour for dusting
  • Medium-ground cornmeal, as needed, for sprinkling
  • Sesame seeds, poppy seeds, caraway seeds and/or kosher or sea salt, for sprinkling (optional)
  • Egg Glaze: 1 egg beaten with 1 egg yolk and 1 tablespoon water

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Bread flour
  • Granulated sugar
  • Active dry yeast (sometimes found in the refrigerated secti0n)
  • Medium-ground cornmeal
  • Honey (mild-flavored)
  • Raisins (optional): light and dark

From the spice section:

  • Assorted seeds: sesame, poppy, caraway (optional)
  • Kosher or sea salt and/or pretzel salt
  • Table salt

From the dairy case:

  • Milk (whole or lowfat)
  • Extra-large eggs

Comments (9)

Orange-Scented Currant Scones

As far as my family and friends are concerned, this recipe produces scones that are unsurpassed. The biscuit mix has been specifically designed to make scones that are lighter than most with a very tender, slightly cake-like crumb. If you use my timing strategy at the end of this recipe, you’ll see that making scones is truly a snap!

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

For the pre-baking glaze:

  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the scones:

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice (or thawed frozen orange juice concentrate)
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons minced orange zest (the colored part only)
  • 2 cups prepared Baking Powder Biscuit Mix (or see below for single recipe)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small dice
  • 1/2 rounded cup dried (but supple) currants
  • Unbleached all-purpose flour, as needed, for dusting
  • Powdered sugar for dusting or for making a post-baking glaze, optional

1. To set-up: Prepare the glaze: Using a fork, combine the egg, cream, sugar and vanilla. Pour this through a medium-mesh sieve into another bowl and set it aside. Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a flat (not cushioned) cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2. To assemble the scones: Combine the cream, orange juice, egg, vanilla and zest in a 1-cup liquid measuring cup. Whirl the biscuit mix and sugar in the work-bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, to combine well. Add the currants and pulse to distribute evenly. Drop the cold diced butter into the work-bowl and use the pulsing button to cut the butter into the flour mixture until it looks like coarse meal.

Uncover the bowl and pour in most of the liquid ingredients (reserving only about 2 tablespoons) and, after attaching the cover, pulse just until the batter seems cohesive (don’t overwork it). If the mixture seems at all dry, add the remaining liquid and pulse it in. (Scone dough should be moist, but not overly wet. If your dough is uncomfortably wet, just use a bit more flour on your hands and work surface.)

Turn the mass of dough out onto a lightly floured surface and, with lightly floured hands, knead the dough gently, about 8 or 9 times. Use a scraper, when necessary, to help lift the dough off the work surface, if wet in certain areas.

Pat the dough into a 1-inch thick round and transfer it to the prepared baking sheet.

Using a sharp chef’s knife, cut the dough into 6 or 8 wedges. Wipe off the knife, after each cut, and sprinkle the blade with some flour. Repeat this cutting procedure, going into the original lines and, when the blade reaches the bottom, rock the blade (by its handle) back and forth to widen the space in between each wedge. Do this several times, if necessary, until there’s between 1/8 and 1/4-inch between the wide part of each wedge. Of course, this space will be much narrower at the center.

Use a pastry brush to remove any excess flour on the dough, then brush the tops with the prepared glaze. Sprinkle the tops with sugar and bake for 20 minutes.

Then remove the sheet from the oven and, using a clean, sharp chef’s knife, cut in between each wedge, wiping off the blade after each cut. If necessary, go over your cuts until sure that all the wedges are completely separate. One by one, place a narrow metal spatula underneath each wedge and pull it away from the rest, giving them all total exposure to heat.

Place the sheet back into the oven and reduce the temperature to 375°F. Bake for 5 minutes more. Cool the wedges completely, on a rack.

3. To garnish and store scones: Before serving, if desired, give the tops of the scones a light dusting of powdered sugar. Or, to make a glaze, place 2 ½ cups sifted powdered sugar in a bowl and whisk in a couple of tablespoons of water—just enough to make a very thick mixture that falls back on itself in a ribbon, when the whisk is lifted from the bowl. If too thin, add more sugar and if too thick, add a few droplets more of water. Using the whisk, drizzle the glaze whimsically over the tops of the fully cooled scones. Allow the glaze to set for 1 to 3 hours, uncovered. After that, when no longer sticky, the scones can be individually wrapped. Store scones at room temperature, in an airtight container or individually wrapped with plastic wrap.

4. If you don’t have the pre-assembled Baking Powder Biscuit Mix:

For each batch of scones:

  • Mix 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour with
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Whisk well and follow the rest of the recipe

5. Timing is Everything

For fresh-baked scones first thing in the morning:

The night before: Line your baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the biscuit mix and sugar in the bowl of your food processor and leave it there, with the lid on. Place the currants in a bowl, on the counter. Cut the butter into dice and leave it in the refrigerator, covered. Mix the cream, orange juice, zest, egg and the vanilla together and leave it in the refrigerator, covered. Assemble your egg glaze and refrigerate it, covered. Place a few tablespoons of sugar in a little bowl, for sprinkling, and leave it on your counter.

In the morning: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the butter into the dry mixture, mix in the currants, add the wet ingredients, and follow the remaining instructions.

SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

For the mix:

  • 14 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
For the pre-baking glaze:
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the scones:
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice (or thawed frozen orange juice concentrate)
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons minced orange zest (the colored part only)
  • 2 cups prepared homemade Baking Powder Biscuit Mix (or see ingredients list above)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small dice
  • 1/2 rounded cup dried (but supple) currants
  • Unbleached all-purpose flour, as needed, for dusting
  • Powdered sugar for dusting or for making a post-baking glaze, optional

From the supermarket shelf:

  • 1 10-pound bag, plus 1 5-pound bag unbleached, all purpose flour
  • Granulated sugar
  • Fine table salt
  • Baking powder
  • Vanilla extract
  • Dried currants
  • Powdered sugar

From the refrigerated section:

  • Extra-large eggs
  • Orange juice (only if not using frozen orange juice concentrate)

From the frozen food section:

  • Frozen orange juice concentrate (I prefer this to using orange juice)

From the dairy case:

  • Heavy cream
  • Unsalted butter

From the produce section:

  • Navel orange

Comments (7)

Great Banana Bread

I hope you’ll become very familiar with this banana bread recipe; it’s probably the best there is and, when made in its simplest form, it’s one of the easiest recipes for banana bread. You’ll notice several ingredients listed as “optional.” This is to accommodate your mood, timing agenda or particular audience. I’m also hoping that this recipe will encourage you to use those “now or never” bananas. You know—the ones that are probably sitting in some cozy corner of your kitchen, right now, ready and waiting!

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information. Enjoy.

Special Equipment

  • Food processor to make the optional topping (or use a plastic bag and a rolling pin)
  • One 9 x 5-inch loaf pan, preferably nonstick
  • Nutmeg grater (only if including nutmeg)
  • Electric mixer with a paddle attachment
  • Blender to purée bananas (or use a wide blending fork or a potato masher)

For an optional topping:

  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup finely chopped toasted nuts (blanched almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts and/or pecans)

For the banana bread batter:

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter for the loaf, plus 1 generous tablespoon butter, melted, for brushing
  • 1/2 cup raisins (mix light and dark); optional
  • 1 cup hot tea (use a regular tea like Tetley); only if using raisins
  • 2 cups bleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon fine table salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (optional)
  • 1 cup sugar (all granulated or mix half packed light brown sugar and half granulated)
  • 2 extra-large eggs, made tepid by steeping them, whole, in hot tap water for 15 minutes
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large, very ripe bananas

1. To set up: If you want to apply a topping to the banana bread, place those ingredients in either the bowl of a food processor or in a plastic bag and pulse to combine or roll over the ingredients, using a rolling pin. Set the topping aside, for now. Unwrap the stick of butter, cut it into cubes and put it in the bowl of your electric mixer. Cover the bowl and let the butter sit at room temperature, so it can soften. (To hurry this along, you can put a hot, wet, folded kitchen towel underneath the bowl. Don’t melt the butter, however.) Brush a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with melted butter and set it aside. Place the raisins in a bowl, if using, and pour the hot tea over them. Let them steep until supple, about ten minutes, then lift the raisins out, lay them on paper towels to drain. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. To make the banana bread batter: Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and spices, if using them. Cream the butter with the sugar in the bowl of your electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment. When very light in both color and texture, add one of the tepid eggs and, while beating on a medium speed, let the egg become totally homogenous with the creamed mixture, before adding the next egg (give it at least 2 minutes of continuous beating after adding each egg). Beat in the vanilla. Leave the machine on while you purée or mash your bananas. Purée the bananas or mash them well with either a wide blending fork or an old-fashioned potato masher. When smooth, pour the purée into the batter while the machine is continually running. Stop the machine and, using a large rubber spatula, scrape the batter off the sides and up from the bottom of the bowl. Beat briefly again, then stop the machine. Add all of the flour mixture and, while mixing on a slow speed (pulse at first to avoid flour flying out from the bowl) combine the ingredients well without over-mixing. If using raisins, fold them in now, using the rubber spatula.

3. To bake the banana bread:Pour all of the batter into the bowl and smooth the top with a table knife or a small off-set icing spatula. If using the topping, sprinkle all of it over the top of the batter. Bake the banana bread in the preheated 350°F oven for 50 to 55 minutes. (See the note below this step.) Remove the pan from the oven and place on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Run the dull side of a table knife around the sides of the pan. If you’ve used a topping, place a piece of wax paper on top of the loaf and then place another wire rack on top and invert the banana bread. Lift the pan off the loaf, then invert the loaf again, right side up, discard the paper and let it cool. (If not using a topping, the wax paper is not necessary, just place the rack directly on top of the loaf and invert, as directed.)
Note: When the banana bread is done, a tester will come out clean when inserted deeply into the top-center of the loaf.

4. To serve and store: Banana bread is best if left to cool completely before slicing. To store, once cool, either place on a platter under a domed lid, or wrap the loaf well in pliable plastic wrap and slip the loaf into a large heavy-duty plastic bag. Either way, store the banana bread at room temperature.

SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

For an optional topping:

  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup finely chopped toasted nuts (blanched almonds, walnuts and/or pecans)

For the banana bread batter:

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, for the loaf, plus 1 generous tablespoon butter, melted, for brushing
  • 1/2 cup raisins (mix light and dark); optional
  • 1 cup hot tea (use a regular tea like Tetley); only if using raisins
  • 2 cups bleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon fine table salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (optional)
  • 1 cup sugar (all granulated or mix half packed light brown sugar and half granulated)
  • 2 extra-large eggs, made tepid by steeping them, whole, in hot tap water for 15 minutes
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large, very ripe bananas

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Granulated sugar
  • Small bag nuts (blanched almonds, pecans or walnuts: only if including the nut topping)
  • Tea (regular and only if including raisins)
  • Raisins: light and/or dark (only if including them)
  • Bleached all-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Table salt
  • Pure vanilla extract

From the spice section:

  • Cinnamon (optional)
  • Nutmeg (preferably whole, but this is an optional ingredient)

From the produce section:

  • Really ripe bananas (buy in advance and let sit at room temperature until they reach a very ripe stage.

From the refrigerated section:

  • Extra-large eggs

From the dairy case:

  • Unsalted butter

Comments (3)

Fried Indian Bread Puffs

Your kids won’t be the only ones who instantly gobble up these chubby, slightly sweet, airy puffs of golden dough. In most cases, the first bite will expose a deep pocket, which becomes the perfect scoop for the luscious sauce of curried dishes. Now, the tricky part: The oil must be hot enough or the dough won’t puff correctly, and if the oil is too hot, the dough can easily burn because the sugar makes it sensitive to heat. A few darker spots, though, add to the overall flavor. After you make these once or twice, you’ll get the hang of it. And, whether or not they puff, these taste great. Oh, and I don’t use a cast iron skillet to fry these, because I find the darker heat-retentive interior makes it more likely to cause the dough to scorch.

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment

  • Sifter or triple-mesh wire sieve
  • Wooden surface, for kneading
  • Pastry scraper
  • Tapered rolling pin
  • Frying thermometer (optional)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon double-acting baking powder
  • 2/3 to 3/4 cup very warm tap water (almost hot)
  • Flavorless vegetable oil or light peanut oil

1) To assemble the dough: In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except the water and oil. Whisk to lighten and thoroughly mix. Sift into another bowl. Slowly pour in the water, while using the fingertips of your other hand to blend the wet and dry ingredients.

2) To knead the dough: Begin to knead dough (inside the bowl) until it forms a mass. Turn out mass onto a lightly floured wooden board and continue to knead in a push, fold and turning motion until smooth, elastic, and not sticky. If necessary, as you work dough, lightly dust board with additional flour to prevent sticking. If dough sticks during kneading, use a pastry scraper to remove it cleanly from the board. Cover dough and allow it to rest and relax for 15 to 30. If desired, dust the dough with a bit of flour and wrap in un-greased plastic wrap. This way, the dough can rest for up to 1 hour, without forming a skin.

3) To cut and roll the dough: Using a pastry scraper, cut dough into 4 equal sections. Shape each section into a smooth ball and cover the remaining balls while you work with 1 at a time. Flatten 1 ball of dough and roll it out on a lightly floured board until 5 to 6 inches in diameter and about 1/4 inch thick (not too thin or thick). Using a pastry scraper, divide the circle of dough into 4 equal wedges and cover while you roll and cut the rest. When completed, you will have 16 pieces in all.

4) To set up for frying: Line a tray or shallow baking sheet with a double thickness of paper toweling. Line a serving basket with a pretty napkin. Heat 1/2 inch vegetable oil in a 12-inch skillet until 365o F. If not using a thermometer, the oil should shimmer but never smoke; add a small piece of bread and, if it quickly sizzles and turns golden, the oil is ready. Adjust oil while frying to avoid burning.

5) To fry: One at a time, ease some of the triangles (in batches) into the hot oil, allowing each to sit free without touching another. Within 30 seconds, the dough should begin to puff through the center (the size of each puff will vary). Cook on the first side until uniformly golden but not burnt, 1 or 2 minutes, then turn triangles over and fry on the other side, going for the same color.

6) To drain and serve: Remove each batch and drain on prepared paper towels. Continue to fry the remaining triangles of dough and serve hot.

Timing is Everything:

• Although, for best enjoyment, these puffs should be served soon after frying, you can combine and sift your dry mixture early in the day (or days before needed). Give the mixture a good swish with a whisk before adding water.

• The dough can be fully assembled an hour ahead of being cut, rolled and fried, and kept covered with un-greased plastic wrap, at room temperature.


SHOPPING LIST


At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

  • 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon double-acting baking powder
  • 2/3 to 3/4 cup very warm tap water (almost hot)
  • Flavorless vegetable oil or highly refined peanut oil

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • Granulated sugar
  • Fine table salt
  • Double-acting baking powder
  • Flavorless vegetable oil or highly refined peanut oil (like “Planters”)

Watch the Video.

Comments (4)

“Everything” Fried Chinese Noodles

Although this dough is very quick to put together, I’ve attached 2 ½ muscles for this recipe is because I want to stress to you that each quarter of dough needs to be rolled very thin before being cut and then fried. Don’t worry, though, since the added flavoring ingredients (the seeds, ground minced dehydrated onions, etc.) all help to sever the tough strands of gluten developed while kneading. If new to making and rolling dough, I suggest you watch the Video of me making these fried noodles which are, by far, the best I, or anyone who’s had them, have ever eaten

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment

  • Spice grinder
  • Wooden surface, for kneading
  • Pastry scraper
  • Large pot or electric deep-fat fryer
  • Deep-fry thermometer
  • Large perforated utensil (called a “spider”)

Ingredients For the Chinese noodles:

  • 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 rounded teaspoon salt
  • 2 rounded tablespoons each: beige and black sesame seeds
  • 1 rounded tablespoon pan-toasted dehydrated minced onions, cooled and finely ground (toss in a hot, dry skillet, over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until golden but not burnt)
  • 1 tablespoon dehydrated minced garlic, finely ground
  • A few grinds of black pepper
  • 2/3 to 3/4 cup cool tap water
  • 3 to 4 quarts flavorless vegetable oil or a highly refined peanut oil, for frying

1) To make the Chinese noodles: Whisk together the flour, salt, sesame seeds, ground dried onions, garlic, and pepper in a medium-sized mixing bowl. While combining the ingredients, with your working hand, add only enough water to create a moist (not wet) shaggy mass of dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured wooden board and knead it, using a firm, brisk and deliberate push-fold-and-turn motion, until the dough is firm, smooth and elastic. If the dough ever feels sticky, add a little additional flour. Cover the dough with a clean, dry kitchen towel and let it relax for 30 minutes, for easier rolling.

2) To set up to fry, if using a saucepan: Pour in enough oil to half fill a wide, heavy-bottomed 8-quart saucepan and attach a deep-frying thermometer securely to the side of the pan. Don’t allow the mercury tip to touch the bottom. Heat the oil over medium-high heat, to 375oF. If using a frying basket, let it heat in the oil.

3) If using an electric deep-fryer: Pour oil to the designated line and heat according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Line a large wire-mesh rack and a deep roasting pan with paper towels and place them near the stove, but at a safe distance.

4) To roll, cut and fry the noodles: Uncover the dough and, using the blade of a pastry scraper, cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. Keep the rest of the pieces covered, as you work with one piece at a time. On a lightly floured board, roll out one piece of the dough into a very thin (not more than 1/16-inch thick) rectangle. As you roll, occasionally turn the dough over and dust both the board and the dough with flour. When very thin, lay dough in front of you with one of the short ends closest to you.
Dust the top lightly with flour, spreading it out evenly with your hand and roll up the dough (going away from you) into a loose jelly-roll. Using a sharp serrated knife, slice the roll into 1/4-inch slices. Lift each slice and let it unravel, draping it over the inside of your nonworking hand. When finished, if the oil is not hot enough, lay those noodles to the side, in a loose pile, covered with a clean kitchen towel. Roll and cut the remaining dough this way.
When the oil reaches the desired temperature, carefully ease a single pile of raw noodles into the hot oil and immediately (and gently) stir and separate them, using a long two-pronged fork. The noodles will quickly “balloon up,” and little blisters will appear on their surfaces. Fry the noodles until they’re golden on the bottom, about 2 minutes (a little longer in an electric fryer), and then carefully turn them over with the long fork to fry on the other side, about 2 minutes more. When done, the noodles should be golden, light textured and perfectly crisp. Don’t let them get overly dark, or they can taste burnt. Using either the fry basket or a long-handled wire-mesh tool, such as a spider, transfer each batch of cooked noodles from the oil to the paper-lined rack. Shake to remove excess oil, and then pile them in the prepared roasting pan.

SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

For the Chinese noodles:

  • 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 rounded teaspoon salt
  • 2 rounded tablespoons each: beige and black sesame seeds
  • 1 rounded tablespoon pan-toasted dehydrated minced onions, cooled and finely ground (toss in a hot, dry skillet, over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until golden but not burnt)
  • 1 tablespoon dehydrated minced garlic, finely ground
  • A few grinds of black pepper
  • 2/3 to 3/4 cup cool tap water
  • 3 to 4 quarts flavorless vegetable oil or a highly refined peanut oil, for frying

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • Fine table salt
  • Beige and black sesame seeds (look in the Asian section for the black ones)
  • Dehydrated minced onions (preferably toasted)
  • Dehydrated minced garlic
  • Black pepper
  • Flavorless vegetable oil or a highly refined peanut oil (like “Planters”)

Watch the Video.

Comments (2)

Homemade Duck Sauce

This concoction is not only easy to make but it tastes way better than the stuff you find in the jar (no comparison…).

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Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment

  • Food processor or blender

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup peach or apricot preserves (or mix them both)
  • 4 ½ tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons minced scallions
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (preferably Tamari)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 generous teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1) To assemble the sauce and simmer: In a small non-reactive saucepan, whisk together all the listed ingredients, excluding the sesame oil. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Stir in the toasted sesame oil.

2) To finish the sauce and chill: transfer to the bowl of a food processor, fitted with the steel blade. Pulse the mixture, so any large pieces of fruit are made smaller, but allowing the sauce to retain texture. Pour the sauce into a bowl and let it cool. Chill the sauce so it can thicken.

3) To serve: Bring close to room temperature before serving with Everything” Fried Chinese Noodles (see video).

Timing is Everything:
The duck sauce can be made 2 days ahead and leftovers are good for a few more days in the fridge (5 days total).


SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

  • 1 cup peach or apricot preserves (or mix them both)
  • 4 ½ tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons minced scallions
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (preferably Tamari)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 generous teaspoon toasted sesame oil

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Peach and/or apricot preserves
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Soy sauce (preferably Tamari)
  • Toasted sesame oil

From the produce aisle:

  • Fresh ginger
  • Scallions

Watch the Video.

Comments (3)

Homemade “Instant” Hot Cocoa Mix

Have you ever met a kid who didn’t welcome a hefty mug of rich hot cocoa on a chilly morning or after a day in the snow? For those of you that wonder what “real” difference it makes to use a homemade mix instead of a store-bought one, I urge you to try this recipe.

When you choose to use a bit of down time to make this dry concoction, in bulk, the benefits are not just limited to enhanced taste. For me, the biggest benefit has always been the nurturing “take away” as a parent, which is far greater than when tearing open a packet of those commercially prepared mixes (complete with dehydrated marshmallows, resembling space-rocks). So, if you have children or neighbors who have children, now’s the time to whisk, sift and store this terrific cocoa mix and make sure to stop and take notice at how different it feels, when you hear those wonderful words “This is so delicious!” Also, if you have friends who go skiing often, this cocoa mix makes a fabulous gift.

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment:

  • Large triple-mesh wire sieve (not a fine-mesh sieve)
  • 5-quart canister, preferably airtight

For the Cocoa Mix:

  • 3 cups Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 1/2 cups superfine sugar
  • 6 1/2 cups dry nonfat milk
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (optional)

For One Mug of Hot Cocoa:

  • 1/3 cup Mom’s Hot Cocoa Mix (use a bit more or less, depending on your desire for richness)
  • 1 ½ cups boiling water or very hot milk, half and half or cream, or use a combination
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Suggested Garnishes :

  • Cinnamon sticks, for stirring
  • Whipped cream (or pulverize a few hard peppermint candies and fold them into whipped cream with a bit of pink food coloring and then sprinkle the top with some more peppermint candy that’s been cracked into coarser pieces.)
  • OR Big Marshmallows OR Shaved bittersweet or semisweet chocolate ((use a vegetable peeler) mini chocolate chips and a few mini marshmallows1) To assemble the mix: Whisk together all of the dry ingredients in a 6-quart bowl. Sift mixture through a large triple-mesh sieve into another bowl and then sift back into the original bowl. Store in an airtight 4- to 5-quart canister.2) To make a mug of hot cocoa: Place 1/3 cup of the dry mix into a mug. (Use less mix for a smaller cup.) Fill the mug with boiling water, milk, half and half or cream (or use a combination). Add vanilla and stir well, with a cinnamon stick, if using. Top with any of the suggested garnishes. If serving to young children, you might want to stir in a bit of cold milk just to take some of the heat off.Note: To shave chocolate, if using, run a regular vegetable peeler across a block of firm bittersweet or semisweet chocolate. Depending on the width of the chocolate you’re shaving, you will either get long curls or a fine dusting. Both are delicious. Store any extras in an airtight container.

SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

  • For the Cocoa Mix:
  • 3 cups Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 1/2 cups superfine sugar
  • 6 1/2 cups dry nonfat milk
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (optional)

For One Mug of Hot Cocoa:

  • 1/3 cup Mom’s Hot Cocoa Mix (use a bit more or less, depending on your desire for richness)
  • 1 ½ cups boiling water or very hot milk, half and half or cream, or use a combination
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Suggested Garnishes:

  • Cinnamon sticks, for stirring
  • Whipped cream (or pulverize a few hard peppermint candies and fold them into whipped cream with a bit of pink food coloring and then sprinkle the top with some more peppermint candy that’s been cracked into coarser pieces.)
  • OR Big Marshmallows OR Shaved bittersweet, semisweet or milk chocolate (use a vegetable peeler) mini chocolate chips and a few mini marshmallows

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Dutch-processed, unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Superfine sugar
  • Nonfat dry milk
  • Marshmallows (optional)
  • Peppermint candies (optional)
  • Chocolate for shaving (optional)

From the spice section:

  • Ground cinnamon (optional)
  • Cinnamon sticks (optional)
  • Vanilla

From the dairy case:

  • Milk, half and half or heavy cream (all optional)

Comments (0)

Crispy Skillet Cornbread

This recipe is pretty basic, except for the addition of sautéed chopped onions. But to this, you may add a myriad of other ingredients, depending on your mood and who you are feeding (see variations). For the most interesting texture, use medium-ground (not fine) cornmeal. And cultured buttermilk is the secret ingredient to making the best-tasting, crispest, (yet incredibly tender) cornbread. (Buttermilk is the secret to so many different recipes that I’ve lost count!) Using an old-fashioned, well-seasoned cast iron skillet ensures the crispest, most authentic results. Today, you can even buy pre-seasoned cast iron pans. In a pinch, a heavy round cake pan will do. Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment

  • Wide blending fork or batter whisk
  • Sifter or triple-mesh wire strainer
  • 10 1/2-inch (1 1/2-inches deep) well-seasoned or pre-seasoned cast iron skillet or heavy 10-inch round cake pan (2 inches deep)

For the cornbread batter:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup minced yellow onion
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups medium-ground yellow or white cornmeal
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups cultured buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons clarified butter or solid vegetable shortening
  • Softened butter, for accompaniment

1) To set up: Place a 10-inch cast iron skillet or heavy cake pan on the center shelf of the oven. (If using a cake pan, brush or spray the sides with flavorless vegetable oil.) Preheat the oven to 425o F.

2) To sauté the onions: Heat a small skillet over medium heat with 1 tablespoon butter. When melted and bubbling, add minced onion and sauté until softened and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add some freshly ground black pepper, remove from heat and set aside.

3) To assemble the batter: Place cornmeal, flour, baking soda, salt and sugar in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Using a whisk, combine well and then sift into another bowl. Pour buttermilk into a separate bowl; add lightly beaten eggs and cooled sautéed onions and mix well. Pour buttermilk mixture and sautéed onions into the bowl with the dry mixture and add melted butter with another grind or two of fresh black pepper. Using a wide blending fork or a batter whisk, gently combine mixture until there are no dry pockets.

4) To bake: Place clarified butter or solid shortening into the preheated pan while it remains in oven. Close oven door and allow the fat to liquefy and become hot (1 minute). Open the oven door and carefully (using oven mitts!) pull the rack holding the skillet toward you. Using a rubber spatula, somewhat quickly (so the oven doesn’t cool) pour cornmeal mixture into the hot skillet (the batter should sizzle furiously). Push the pan back into the oven and close the door. Bake until firm but not overly dry and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the bread, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile warm your serving plate.

5) To invert and serve: Carefully remove pan from oven and run a knife around its circumference. Place a flat cookie sheet or a wire rack over the top and invert bread onto rack. Immediately invert once more onto a warmed serving plate so bread is right side up. Cut into wedges and serve hot with softened butter.

Timing is Everything

  • The dry ingredients can be mixed, sifted and left in a covered bowl days before needed. Just give a good swish with a whisk to combine and lighten before assembling.
  • Although batters leavened only with baking soda should be baked soon after being assembled, this batter can be fully combined, covered and left at a comfortable room temperature for up to 1 hour before pouring into the preheated skillet. Or, for best results, simply combine the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another and refrigerate the latter–hours ahead. Add the sautéed onions to the wet ingredients and allow them to sit out at room temperature for 1 hour before combining wet and dry ingredients (along with melted butter) just before baking.

Cornbread Variations

The sautéed onions can be omitted. Or, while sautéing the onions, add 1 or more of the following: 1/3 cup minced red or green bell pepper; 1 chopped, stemmed and seeded jalapeño chili pepper and/or 1/3 cup chopped hard sausage (andouille, or pepperoni, or chorizo, with the casing removed); you can also sauté 3 pieces bacon, until crisp, drain and coarsely chop. Then sauté the onion in 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings instead of the butter and add chopped bacon when assembling butter. Another variation is to sauté 1/3 cup crumbled fresh sweet or hot Italian sausage in a bit of olive oil until golden; pour out any accumulated fat and add onions and 1 clove of minced garlic.

Clarified Butter
To clarify butter, slowly melt 2 or more sticks of unsalted butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan (preferably one with a spout) over low heat, without stirring, until totally liquefied and the milky residue that’s fallen to the bottom of the pan becomes light golden and gives off a nutty aroma. Remove the pan from heat and let the butter settle for 15 minutes. Using a fine-mesh skimmer or a small shallow spoon, remove any white foamy substance that sits on top of the butterfat. When no milky solids remain on top, carefully pour the pure, yellow butterfat through a fine-mesh skimmer or a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, leaving any toasted residue behind. Expect to lose up to a quarter of your original volume, after straining. Store clarified butter in the refrigerator in a securely shut container for up to 6 months.

SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

For the cornbread batter:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup minced yellow onion
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups medium-ground yellow or white cornmeal
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups cultured buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons clarified butter (see recipe) or solid vegetable shortening
  • Softened butter, for accompaniment

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • Medium-ground yellow cornmeal
  • Baking soda
  • Fine table salt
  • Granulated sugar
  • Black pepper

From the produce aisle:

  • Yellow onion

From the refrigerated section:

  • Extra-large eggs

From the dairy case:

  • Buttermilk
  • Unsalted butter (for the batter, to clarify and for serving)

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