09 octobre 2012

foodlust has moved!

hello all,

apologies for the long absence - i have finally picked this project up again and have moved the blog over to my own site here.  the recipe index over there works, too.

thanks for reading!

21 février 2011

FINALLY - dinner in less than an hour!

those of you who have cooked with me, or had dinner with me on a friday night, know that i am generally incapable of making dinner in less than an hour. in fact, usually i choose whatever preparation is most involved. well, not "most involved" in a fussy way - i just like to make sure that there is sufficient layers of flavor built up so that something simple can perform to its highest potential in your mouth. (take bolognese, for example: it's basically carrots, celery, onions, beef, pork, and tomatoes, but if you caramelize the vegetables properly before adding the tomatoes and then the meat, your sauce will taste that much better.)

so it is with great joy and satisfaction that i present to you a recipe that is delicious and doesn't take forever. this is based on the mustard-baked chicken thigh recipe from serious eats' eat for eight bucks column, and is essentially chicken thighs marinated, then seared, and finished in the oven. the time that the chicken takes in the oven also allows you to roast some sort of not-too-dense vegetable - i used asparagus in an attempt to use what i had on hand, and be a little healthy, but you can use whatever you like (ie, a thinnish layer of potato wedges). just make sure that the layer of vegetables will cook in about 15 minutes at high heat.

you can really adapt the marinade, the vegetables, and the sauce however you like, in terms of ingredients, but the preparation remains the same - much easier to put together than most things that i make! the only thing is that you must marinate the chicken ahead of time - the night before, really, but it takes about five minutes, so you can do it before you go to bed. the next day, your cooking time will be about 30-35 minutes, start to finish. really! i am being completely serious.

chicken in less than an hour

2T cider vinegar
3T maple syrup
1 1/2T olive oil
1 1/2T whole grain mustard
salt + pepper
4-5 chicken thighs, bone-in and skin on (1.5 lb)
1/2T vegetable oil

1/2T olive oil
1 bunch asparagus

1-2 large shallots or 1 small onion
1c chicken stock or 1/2c white wine
1 bay leaf or sprig of other fresh herb you have on hand

1. marinate the chicken the night before (or for at least an hour): in a cereal bowl-sized bowl, mix together the cider vinegar, maple syrup, 1 1/2T olive oil, and mustard. pat the chicken thighs dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. dip each chicken thigh in the marinade and place in a gallon ziplock bag. pour excess marinade in the bag and seal it shut, making sure to squeeze the air out. refrigerate the chicken overnight, or at least an hour.

2. preheat the oven to 400F. heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. open the bag of chicken and transfer the thighs to the pan, skin side down, shaking off excess marinade. reserve the extra marinade. if you have a splatter screen, put it over the skillet - the chicken thighs will sizzle. cook 6-10 minutes, until the skin is golden brown. flip over with a pair of tongs and let cook for 3-4 minutes, until browned.

3. meanwhile, prep whatever vegetable you have on hand, and toss it with the olive oil in a 9x9 glass baking dish. when the chicken is finished searing, turn the stove off and transfer the chicken to the baking dish, skin side up. bake the chicken for about 15 minutes, until it reaches 150-160F on a digital thermometer (smaller chicken thighs will take closer to 10 minutes).

4. while the chicken is finishing in the oven, pour off all the fat in the skillet except 1/2T; turn heat to medium. dice the shallots and saute with the bay leaf until translucent, 3-4 minutes. add the chicken stock and turn heat to medium-high to bring the liquid to a boil, scraping the pan to release browned bits. add the excess marinade and let the sauce reduce until it's syrupy.

5. when the chicken is done, remove it from the oven and let it rest while the sauce reduces. when the sauce is done, plate the chicken and vegetables and spoon the sauce over it.

[serves 4]

14 février 2011

a couple of recipes for you

ok, nothing fancy here - just wanted to share a few recipes with you. the first is a chocolate cake, like the one i use for everything (the stout cake), but for when you don't have beer on hand. it's much the same in consistency, and a little bit healthier! (note: a little bit. still...) it's a wonderful chocolate cake, keeps well, not too sweet. and, of course, moist despite not having any oil in it.

the second is one for snickerdoodle blondies. they turn out wonderfully chewy and are rife with cinnamon, like a dense, concentrated snickerdoodle - but i couldn't help thinking about all the butter in them as i ate one. so, i provide the recipe i used originally, but i bet you could use 1 1/2 sticks of butter and nobody would be the wiser (except your heart). the key here is to use good quality cinnamon - i tried vietnamese cinnamon for the first time and boy, was it good. more depth of flavor than the usual cinnamon, and intangibly sweeter without actually being sweeter. make these - i took a bowl of these babies to a friend's house as a pre-dinner snack (yes, of cookies) and the bowl was empty in no time.

lastly, i have a new chocolate chip cookie recipe for you. these turn out wonderfully - just thick enough, without thinned edges, with a mix of chocolate and wheat-y flavor. they stay nicely soft in the middles without the use of shortening (blegh. double blegh.). i have to say, though, that i am surprised. i have found a chocolate chip cookie that is actually better when baked up crisp - stick-it-in-your-coffee crisp, an amber golden brown. just before burnt. they are a beautiful marriage of chocolate and wheat and butter, and you will be a convert if you bake up just one pan of these in all of their crispy glory. i think the whole wheat flour really needs some time to develop and cook in the oven, so this time, forgo the soft chewy cookie for the one with superior flavor.

chocolate cake (for when no beer is on hand)

1c Dutch-process cocoa
2 1/3c flour
1 2/3c brown sugar
1 1/2t baking powder
1t espresso powder, optional
1 1/2t baking soda
1t salt
1 1/2c chocolate chips (8 oz....but honestly you can just use the whole bag), optional
3 eggs
1 1/2c whole milk
1T rum
1T cider vinegar (or white if that's what you have)
1 stick butter, melted

1. preheat oven to 350F. grease two 9" cake pans and line withparchment paper, or line a muffin tin with cupcake wrappers (you'll have two batches).

2. in a large bowl, whisk together the cocoa, flour, sugar, baking powder, espresso powder (if using), baking soda, salt, and chocolate chips.

3. in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and rum. stir egg mixture into the dry ingrdients, mixing until just combined (some dry streaks are fine).

4. stir in vinegar and melted butter until combined. spoon the batter into the prepared pans, filling the cups 3/4 full if making cupcakes. bake 23-25 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. if you made cakes, then wait 10 minutes, and invert onto plate, then flip back over onto a rack to cool.

[makes 24 cupcakes or two 9" cakes]

snickerdoodle blondies

2 2/3c flour
2t baking powder
1 1/2t vietnamese cinnamon
1/4t nutmeg
1c butter, softened
2c brown sugar
2 eggs
1T rum

2T sugar
2t vietnamese cinnamon

1. preheat oven to 350F. butter a 9x13 pan and line with foil, then butter the foil lightly.

2. in a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

3. in a large bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer, then add the brown sugar and beat until fluffy and completely combined. beat in the eggs one at a time, until completely combined, scraping the bowl after each addition. beat in the rum until completely combined, then mix in the dry ingredients on low until completely combined - your batter will be quite stiff.

4. scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly with a spatula. in a small bowl, mix together the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the batter. bake 25-35 minutes, until a tester comes out clean (the batter will rise, then fall). let cool to room temperature and cut into squares. small squares. the blondies will set up and become chewier as they cool.

[makes 24 2" square blondies]

whole wheat chocolate chip cookies

3c whole wheat flour
1 1/2t baking powder
1t baking soda
1 1/2t salt
2 sticks butter, softened
1c dark brown sugar, packed
1c sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2t rum
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped coarsely (i chopped up chocolate chips)

1. in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

2. in a large bowl, cream the butter, then add both sugars and beat until fluffy and completely combined. beat in the eggs one at a time, until completely combined, scraping down the bowl in between each egg. beat in the rum. add the dry ingrdients and mix in on low, until completely combined.

3. scoop the dough out of the bowl with your hands and check to see that all of the flour has been incorporated. smooth and shape into a large roundish ball and wrap securely in plastic wrap. refrigerate dough for at least 12 hours (to allow the flour to absorb enough moisture) and up to 2 days.

4. preheat the oven to 350F. form tablespoons of the dough into round balls and place on baking sheets lined with foil or parchment paper. bake cookies 16-25 minutes, until the edges are golden and the tops are cracked. for best flavor, bake cookies until they are on the crisp side, completely amber-golden-brown.

[makes 36-40 cookies]

04 février 2011

i like these so much i can't countenance giving them away

it's the dead of the winter, and the gray skies have the happy consequence of making lemon taste like sunshine. there's nothing like eating something that you know is definitely out of season, you know? and i don't know about you, but i don't feel guilty at all.

what i do feel guilty about is that while i usually am happy to give away scads of baked goods, these hit the spot so well that i am thinking about keeping them all for myself. how big a pan of them did i make, you ask? oh, a paltry jelly roll pan's worth. and while i am actually using some of them in an experiment to see how they would fare frozen and thawed again (thus making it possible to eat them over a period of time...), there is no way that i really need to eat this many lemon bars. i just really, really want to.

the thing that is lovely about these lemon bars is that they have a thick enough shortbread crust that the bottom of it stays nicely crisp, while the middle gets imbued with moisture from the lemon custard. you get a nice gradient of soft to slightly soft to crisp, and it all tastes sharp, but not too sharp, because the mixture has a healthy dose of milk in it. the milk does double duty - it makes the custard creamier, and cuts the acidity of the lemons a bit, but not too much. also, these bars don't have too much crust or too much filling, and the result is a very lemon-y, custardy, crispy confection that tastes divine out of the fridge.

this is adapted from cook's illustrated - i accidentally put in twice as much milk, so then i compensated by adding a couple of eggs. i also subbed in flour for cornstarch - the recipe says it makes the crust more tender, but i'm not convinced by the idea of a tender shortbread. shortbread is crispy and tastes like caramelized butter, people! anyway, i have scaled it back down to a 9x13" pan, but this doubles well (though it takes about twice as long to bake - don't worry, the custard won't curdle or get hard). you could also make it as a tart, if you like, and serve it with...i dunno, meringue, whipped cream, things like that. btw, i don't dust lemon bars with powdered sugar because i hate inhaling sugar before eating something, but go ahead if you like.

lemon bars

2c flour
2/3c sugar
1t salt
1 1/2 sticks butter

5 eggs
1 1/3c sugar
3T flour
zest of 2 lemons
2/3c lemon juice from 3-4 lemons
2/3c whole milk
1/4t salt

1. to make the crust: lightly butter a 13x9" baking pan and line with parchment paper or foil (i used foil, it sticks better). lightly grease that layer, then apply one more layer crosswise over it. preheat the oven to 350F.

2. pulse flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. add the butter in chunks and process to blend, 8 to 10 seconds, then pulse a few times until mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse meal. you can also do this by hand - mix in the butter with your fingers or a pastry blender. sprinkle the mixture into the prepared pan and press into the pan, 1/2" up the sides with a thickness of about 1/4". chill for 30 minutes in the fridge, then bake until golden brown, 20-30 minutes (by "golden brown," i mean the butter should have started browning the crust a little, but don't toast it to death since it will go back in the oven to acquire more color and caramel flavor).

3. while the crust is baking, make the filling: in a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar and flour to blend. add the eggs and beat until mixed well. add the milk, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt, and whisk until completely incorporated.

4. take the crust out when it's done, and leave the oven door open; reduce heat to 325F. immediately, while the crust is still hot, pour the filling into it. return the pan to the oven and bake until the filling is just completely set, 20-25 minutes (closer to 40 if you have doubled the recipe). let cool to room temp (at least 30 minutes, more if you've doubled the recipe), then cut into 2" squares with a knife, pizza cutter, or dough scraper.

[makes 20-25 bars]

note: i'm seeing how well these freeze and will edit this recipe when i have results!

edited 02-13: so, they freeze flawlessly. the single caveat is that these are really best for the first four days after you've baked them, as the crust retains some modicum of crispness. when they've sat for a week or been in the freezer, the crust absorbs moisture and the bars have a slightly "fudgier" mouthfeel, which i feel is not as desirable in lemon bars. but if you get cravings for lemon, freeze away! i know i will.

12 janvier 2011

kill your heart with chocolate + toasted nuts

those of you who know me well, know that i am not the biggest fan of nuts. i hate the way they get stuck in your teeth: not only little bits of the meat of the nut, but also flakes of skin that stick to your teeth. then you're struggling not to look weird while trying to get stuff off your teeth, because you're ocd and you can't stand when there's stuff on your teeth. suffice it to say that i do not have the best relationship with nuts.

suffice it to say that these cookies are one of the few items for which i will bear nut skins stuck to my teeth. these are deeply chocolaty from the unsweetened chocolate, with a slightly "wet" crunch from the toasted nuts (do not skip the toasting step!!!). they stay soft but are best the first two days after you make them - although magically, the nuts retain their crunch. make these: you won't regret it! then give most of them away so you don't eat them for breakfast and inadvertently kill your heart.

chocolate chubbies
(adapted from the sarabeth bakery cookbook)

8T butter
9 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped*
3 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2c flour
1/2t baking powder
1/2t salt
3 eggs, room temp
1 1/4c sugar
2t dark rum
1 3/4c bittersweet chocolate chips (11 oz)
1 1/2c (5.5 oz) pecan halves
1 1/4c (4.5 oz) walnut halves

1. preheat oven to 350F. spread pecans and walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast 15 minutes. remove from oven, let cool 15 minutes, and break into pieces (size irregular, but don't break them into pieces that are too small). leave the oven preheated. while the nuts are toasting, you can chop the chocolate.

2. melt the butter and chopped chocolates together in a bowl over a double boiler (or on low heat in the microwave, in a heatproof or pyrex bowl; remove from microwave every two minutes to give it a stir), stirring to incorporate. remove bowl from heat and let stand, until cooled slightly.

3. in the meantime, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. in a large bowl, whip the eggs on medium-high speed with an electric mixer until eggs are foamy and lightly thickened, ~30 seconds. add sugar and rum and whip on high speed until the mixture is very thick and pale yellow, about 4 minutes. reduce mixer speed to medium and beat in cooled chocolate, until completely incorporated.

4. add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just incorporated (or fold in with a spatula). stir in the chocolate chips, pecans, and walnuts with a spatula, making sure that they are evenly distributed throughout the cookie batter. the dough will be soft, and stiffen up slightly as it sits.

5. using a 2-inch ice cream scoop (or a large spoon), scoop 2T balls of dough onto a baking sheet lined with a silpat or foil, 1 1/2" apart. bake 15-20 minutes, until cookies are set around the edges but still seem slightly underdone in the middle - be careful not to overbake. cool completely on the baking pans before removing (you may transfer the foil or silpat off the pan with the cookies on it, to do another batch.

*you may cheat with good-quality bittersweet chocolate chips if you are feeling lazy, or unfortunately didn't realize you didn't have any actual bittersweet chocolate in the house, like i did.

[makes 24-36 cookies; these keep for a week in an airtight container]

08 novembre 2010

fall = apples + spices (and everything nice)

ok, ok, i know it's been a long time. i've been taking care of things that needed to be taken care of, and i'm finally getting some good cooking and baking time in, these days. i'm in the process of looking for a really good apple cake - because really, what's better in the fall than a nice, spicy apple cake? well, besides chicken pot pie. anyway, i've tried three or four so far, and have discovered the following preferences:

- no oil-based cakes. because honestly, they never taste quite that good, and though moist, the crumb is never quite tight enough. i cannot condone an oil-based cake. butter is a flavor, people, and don't you forget it!

- i am looking for a spiced apple cake, in particular - it's fall! i quite enjoy the flavor of apple on its own, but that's another kind of cake (one which would pair apples with slivers of candied lemon...mmm...). it should be spicy, but not so much that it overpowers the apple.

- no exotic ingredients, and nothing that is too expensive (ie, apple butter)

- i like the idea of this as a cake that has a bit of chew to it - so nothing too moist. my connotations to overly moist cake is cold and slimy, so i just don't like to go there.

- i'm not a huge fan of nuts in cakes. i think i would actually enjoy walnuts in an apple cake, but generally i leave them out for the other no-nuts people.

- not too sweet: i am not a huge fan of cakes that are too sweet. i don't like undersweetened cakes either, though.

- i am so over these apple cake recipes that specify "medium apples" or "large apples". what, pray tell me, is a "medium apple"? a "large apple"? can't we go with a cup measure of grated apples instead? honestly. precision is a cornerstone of baking!

of the cakes that i've tried, one fails the exotic ingredients test, one fails the sweetness test, and one fails the oil-based cake texture test. we are just going to forget oil-based cakes altogether...we are going to forget that they exist. because we like flavor, yes? i am including the cake that fails the exotic ingredients test - it's just that it has a lot of apple butter in it, which is lovely, but a little expensive for a cake. the third...well, let's just say that the third is in development!

double-apple spiced bundt cake
(adapted from dorie greenspan)

2c flour
2t baking powder
1/2 baking soda
1t cinnamon
1/4t nutmeg
1/4t ground ginger
1/4t salt
1 1/4 sticks butter, room temp
1 1/2c brown sugar
2 eggs
1c apple butter
2 medium apples, peeled, cored, and grated
1c pecans or walnuts, toasted and chopped (optional)
1/2c raisins (or 1c raisins if you omit the nuts)

1. preheat oven to 350F. butter and flour a 10- or 12-cup bundt pan.

2. in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices. in a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar for about five minutes (this develops the structure of the cake).

3. add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating each one completely before adding the next. add the apple butter on low speed. the mixture may appear to be curdled, but don't worry, that's fine.

4. using a spatula, fold in the grated apple until completely blended in. stir in the dry ingredients and mix until the flour is just completely incorporated. fold in the raisins and nuts (if using).

5. scrape the batter into the bundt pan and smooth the top. bake for about 50-55 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. cool the cake for five minutes, then invert onto a plate.

[serves 10-12; keeps in the fridge, wrapped, for a week.]

11 juin 2010

when everything changes; plus friday lunch

so i've been at home in carlisle for about two weeks now; my new lease doesn't start until mid-july, and this was just the easiest thing to do logistically. it's weird having everything packed away in boxes, though - and it proves that you really can live without all your stuff. i think i just like having all the stuff around - a little clutter is somewhat comforting.

anyway, the upshot of this is that i have really been far too busy to cook anything. (as it happens, i do have a restaurant review in the works, but i'm going to wait until i'm not typing entries on my ipod for that.). you know how it goes: you don't want to clutter your fridge with more stuff when you're about to move, and then you pack up your stuff, then work gets busy, and you're not unpacked...this is partly why i haven't moved in five years. this is also how i managed to amass an entire kitchen's worth of kitchen tools, dishes, and utensils - independent of my roommates' stuff. yeah. it's a little obscene.

i did finally feel settled today, especially after my trip to whole foods yesterday (bedford WF < prospect st WF < river st WF < tribeca WF), so today i returned to my friday ritual of cooking and made lunch for my mom and me. cod was on sale at WF, so I'd gotten some with the idea of building a nice lunch from that. i was originally going to sear the cod, but in truth, i was lazy and did it en papillote instead, with some fresh tarragon and lemon zest. i plated the fish on a bed of slightly caramelized leeks, and added roasted potatoes and a quick watercress and mozzarella salad as accompaniments. i think that in the hustle and bustle if the past several weeks, i had really forgotten just how much i like the process of cooking: choosing proteins and vegetables, complementing them with other sides, planning out the sequence of steps to get everything on the plate while it's still hot. if i get it right, it's pretty satisfying. this lunch went pretty smoothly - i started prepping at about 11:15 and we sat down to eat at 12:30. i'm not really going to write up a recipe - this is pretty much the most basic and self-explanatory meal you could make. oh, but i did use foil instead if parchment, and the fish bakes for 15 minutes at 400. other than that, i did do a very basic vinaigrette for the salad, lemon juice and olive oil, plus a bit of honey to balance the bitterness of the watercress. so go to it!

Location:Sidney St,Cambridge,United States