Monday, November 14, 2011

Fool Proof Stovetop Burgers

1 large slice white sandwich bread, crust removed, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup) OR scrape out the insides of the rolls you'll serve the burgers on

2 tablespoons milk

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 medium clove garlic, pressed through a garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)

2 teaspoons steak sauce (A-1, Worcestershire)

1 1/2 pounds 90% lean ground beef

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Mash bread and milk in large bowl with fork until homogeneous (you should have about 1/4 cup). Stir in salt, pepper, garlic and steak sauce; mix well.

Break up beef into small pieces over bread mixture. Using fork or hands, lightly mix together until mixture forms cohesive mass. Divide meat into 4 equal portions. Gently toss 1 portion of meat back and forth between hands to form a loose ball. Gently flatten into 3/4-inch-thick patty that measures about 4 1/2 inches in diameter. Press center of patty down with fingertips until it is about 1/2 inch thick, creating slight depression in patty. Repeat with remaining portions of meat.

Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until just beginning to smoke. Add meat patties, indentation side up, and cook until well-browned, about 5 minutes. Using a wide spatula, flip burgers and continue cooking, about 4 minutes for medium-well or 5 minutes for well-done. Do not move the burgers while they are cooking or a crust will not form.

Optional: Distribute shredded cheese on burgers about 2 minutes before they reach desired doneness, covering skillet with lid to melt cheese.

Serves 4.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Pecan Gremolata

3/4 cup pecans

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 oz.)

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel

1 small garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil


Toast nuts in skillet and roughly chop them. Finely chop the parsley. Mix the nuts, cheese, lemon peel, garlic (if using), salt and pepper. Just before serving, stir in lemon juice and olive oil and toss with freshly roasted asparagus, green beans, Brussels sprouts or other vegetable. Or sprinkle over fried or roasted chicken. The heat from the vegetable or meat will melt the cheese and bring out the garlic, nut and lemon flavors.

Thai variation: Thai basil, red pepper flakes, cilantro, lime zest and juice, peanuts, no cheese
Pesto variation: Basil, pine nuts, Parmesan, lemon peel and juice, garlic.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Decadent Flourless Chocolate Cake

8 large eggs, cold

1 pound bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

½ pound unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch chunks

¼ cup strong coffee (optional)

confectioner’s sugar or unsweetened cocoa powder for decoration

1. Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 325°. Line bottom of 8-inch spring-form pan with parchment and grease pan sides. Cover pan underneath and along sides with heavy-duty foil and set in large roasting pan. Bring kettle of water to boil.

2. Beat eggs in electric mixer fitted with wire whip attachment at medium speed (speed 6 on a KitchenAid) until volume doubles to approx. 1 quart, about 5 min. (Or use hand-held mixer at high speed, also 5 min.)

3. Melt chocolate and butter (adding coffee, if using) in large heat-proof bowl set over pan of almost simmering water, until smooth and very warm (about 115° on an instant-read thermometer), stirring once or twice. (Or melt chocolate and butter together in a microwave at 50% power until smooth and warm, 4-6 min, stirring once or twice.) With large rubber spatula, fold 1/3 of egg foam into chocolate mixture until only a few streaks of egg are visible; fold in half of remaining foam, then the rest until mixture is homogeneous.

4. Scrape batter into prepared spring-form pan and smooth surface with rubber spatula. Set the roasting pan on oven rack, put in the cake pan and pour enough boiling water to come about halfway up side of spring-form pan. Bake until cake has risen slightly, edges are just beginning to set, a thin glazed crust (like a brownie) has formed on surface, and an instant-read thermometer inserted halfway through center of cake registers 140°, about 22-25 min. The cake may not look done, but trust the thermometer; it will continue to firm up as it cools. (If you use a 9-inch spring-form pan instead of the preferred 8-inch, reduce baking time to 18-20 min.) Remove cake pan from water bath and set on wire rack; cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate overnight to mellow (can be covered and refrigerated for up to 4 days).

5. About 30 min. before serving, remove spring-form pan sides, invert cake on sheet of waxed paper, peel of parchment pan liner, and turn cake right side up on serving platter. Sieve light sprinkling of confectioner’s sugar or unsweetened cocoa powder over cake to decorate, if desired. Serve with Triple Cherry Compote and (very) lightly sweetened freshly whipped cream.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cincinnati Chili

4 cups beef broth

2 pounds ground beef

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 cups finely chopped onions

1 tablespoon finely minced garlic

4 tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 bay leaf

2 cups canned tomato sauce

2 tablespoons cider or white vinegar

1/2 ounce (one-half square) unsweetened baking chocolate

Put the broth in a kettle and add the beef a little at a time until it separates into small pieces. Bring to the boil. Cover and let simmer 30 minutes.

Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onions. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are wilted and start to brown. Add the garlic, cook 1 minute until fragrant. Add chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, hot red pepper, cook 1 minute. Add bay leaf and tomato sauce and bring to the boil.

Add the tomato mixture to the meat mixture. Add the vinegar and chocolate. Bring to the boil and cover. Simmer one hour. Remove bay leaf and refrigerate. When ready to serve, skim off the fat, reheat and serve over spaghetti with shredded cheddar.

Serves 4-6

From the NY Times by Craig Claiborne; Pierre Franey, November 1, 1981

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mocha Sour Cream Ice Cream

3 ounces good unsweetened chocolate (I used Scharffen Berger)

1 ½ cups whole milk

4 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso

1 ¾ cups sugar

2 ½ tablespoons flour

¼ teaspoon salt

4 large eggs, beaten

2 cups heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 ½ cups sour cream

Scald the milk. Dissolve coffee in hot milk. Melt chocolate slowly in a bowl over hot water or in the microwave; slowly add the hot milk/coffee mixture. In a 3-quart saucepan, combine sugar, salt, and flour and mix well. Add eggs and mix well. Pour hot milk very slowly over the egg mixture, stirring constantly. Cook the custard over low heat until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Strain through a sieve, cool and then chill the custard. Stir in chilled cream, vanilla and sour cream. Churn the ice cream according to the machine manufacturer’s instructions.

Makes ½ gallon

Monday, February 28, 2011

Tomato Sauce with Bacon and Parsley

1 (28 oz) can diced or whole tomatoes (not in puree or sauce)

4 oz bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2 medium garlic cloves, peeled

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons table salt

3/4 lb pasta

1. If using diced tomatoes, go to step 2. If using whole tomatoes, drain and reserve liquid. Dice tomatoes either by hand or in workbowl of food processor fitted with metal blade (three or four 1/2-second pulses). Tomatoes should be coarse, with 1/4-inch pieces visible. If necessary, add enough reserved liquid to tomatoes to total 2 cups.

2. In 10-inch skillet, fry bacon over medium-high heat until crisp and brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer with slotted spoon to paper towel–lined plate; pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from pan.

3. Process garlic through garlic press into small bowl; stir in 1 teaspoon water. Heat garlic and red pepper flakes in bacon fat over medium heat until fragrant but not brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes; simmer until thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. Stir in parsley, crumbled reserved bacon, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

4. Meanwhile, cook pasta until al dente in large pot of boiling, salted water. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water; drain pasta, and transfer it back to cooking pot. Mix in reserved cooking water, sauce, and salt; cook together over medium heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly, and serve immediately.

Serves 3, but this recipe is very easy to multiply to make larger amounts.