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Friday, September 30, 2011

50 Women Game-Changers (in Food): #17 Dorothy Hamilton - Caramelized Fruit w/ Rosemary

In May '11, Gourmet posted a list of 50 Women Game-Changers (in Food) that runs the gamut from food writers to cookbook authors to television personalities to restauranteurs to chefs to food bloggers.  Some are a given.  Some are controversial.  Speaking the names of some brings fond childhood memories.  Speaking the names of others will make some readers cringe.  And of course, some of our favorites were not even included.  We food-lovers are a passionate bunch of people and whether we agree or disagree, every woman on this list has earned her place for a reason.  Being a woman who is passionate about food (cooking, eating, talking about, writing about, photographing), when I caught wind of Mary from One Perfect Bite's idea of cooking/blogging her way through each of these 50 per week...I knew I wanted to join her.  Many of these women paved the way for us in culinary school, in the kitchen, in cookbooks, in food writing, and on television and I think it is a fabulous way to pay tribute to their efforts.  Some of the women on the list have been tops with me for years.  Some I have heard of (perhaps even seen, read, or cooked from) before.  And there are even a handful that I am not familiar with at all.  I excited to educate myself on each of these women game-changers and hope you look forward to reading along.  We are going in order from 1 to 50.
the "Gourmet" prompt...
17. Dorothy Hamilton- Educator extraordinaire, Hamilton founded Manhattan’s International Culinary Center, formerly known as the French Culinary Institute: It counts among its many alumni a triumvirate of iconoclasts dominant in 21st–century food world U.S.A.: David Chang, Dan Barber, and Wylie Dufresne.

Hmmmm....Dorothy Hamilton.  Where to begin?  How's about with the fact that I hadn't heard of her before "the list" came out.  Ugh.  She's pretty world-famous.  I'm in the culinary field.  Why on earth did I not know of her?  I mean, she's the founder of The French Culinary Institute which was opened in 1984 as a small, but well-respected French cooking school.  Only  now it is the International Culinary Center, a world-class educational facility and destination... which has launched over 15,000 culinary careers.  Pretty Impressive.   Aside from winning numerous awards, including ones from the James Beard Foundation, she is also the creator and host of a 26-part television series that aired on PBS called Chef's well as the author of the companion book.   (She conceived textbooks for the culinary school, as well.)  So, isn't it ironic how I couldn't find a single recipe by her to make today?  Instead, I used a recipe devised for her by a grad of the ICC.
Caramelized Fruit with Rosemary
adapated from André Soltner for A Bon Vivant's Diet (Dorothy Hamilton article) in Food & Wine

        1 c. sugar
        1 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
        1 rosemary sprig
        ½ c. water
        2 large, firm but ripe Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and cut into ¾" cubes
        2 mangoes, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
        3 bananas, cut into 1" pieces

    Preheat the broiler. In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of the sugar with the lemon juice, rosemary and 1/4 cup of the water and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Let cool.

    In another small saucepan, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar with 2 tablespoons of the water. Cook over high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Cook without stirring until a deep amber caramel forms, about 5 minutes longer. Remove from heat and carefully add the remaining 2 tablespoons of water. Very carefully- it will spit and sputter a bit.  When the steam subsides, stir the caramel over moderate heat just until the sugar that has seized up a bit from adding the water dissolves again and the caramel is smooth again.

    Thread the fruit on 16 skewers. Set the skewers on a baking sheet and brush with the rosemary syrup; let stand for 10 minutes. Broil the skewers on 1 side only for about 3 minutes, until caramelized. Transfer the skewers to a large plate, drizzle with the caramel sauce and serve.  I looooved the flavor of the rosemary/lemon sugar syrup, so I stirred what was left of it after brushing onto the fruit, into the caramel.

The rosemary syrup and caramel sauce can be kept at room temperature for up to 1 day.  I recommend broiling these very close to the fire.  Mine didn't get as caramelized as I would have liked in the little time it takes them to be "warm enough".  Good...loved the caramel...but overall- meh.
Who is cooking along with these 50 Women Game-Changers?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies + The Cookiepedia by Stacy Adimando (cookbook review)

Molasses Spice Cookies
The Cookiepedia

author: Stacy Adimando
publisher: Quirk Books
hard cover (spiral bound) : 152 Pages
photos: yes

Chapters/Sections:  Introduction, The ABC's of Cookie Baking, Chocolaty Cookies, Fancy Cookies, Fruity Cookies, Spicy Cookies, Nutty and Seedy Cookies, Index

Fun Features: The ABC's of Cookie Baking section in the front of the book is packed with fun stuff, like "Kitchen Tools: meet your new best friends", "Cookie Speak: what we mean when we say...", and "Fun with Decorating: Show off your skills with these cool tricks".  Plus, every cookie is pictures on the "intro" page to each chapter...this way, you get an idea in advance what they're "supposed to" look like.

(a few of the many) Recipes Destined for my Kitchen:  Butter Balls, Mint Thins, Fig Bars w/ Orange Zest, Cardamom Cookies w/ Slivered Almonds, Green Tea Cookies, Almond Crescents dusted w/ sugar, Pecan Sandies w/ Toasted Pecans, Pistachio Butter Cookies, Alfajores w/ Dulce de Leche

My Thoughts/Review:  Delicious, tempting, nostalgia-inducing with a fun format.  This is a great resource to have around the kitchen.  I love having a huge arsenal full of different types of cookies to line on trays for either holidays or school events or bake sales.  Heck, just to have around the house sometimes is great, too.  

The different sections in the book are fantastic. If I want chocolate cookies...I flip open the chapter.  If I want something spicy and comforting (this is my favorite section), I have a whole chapter full of choices to contemplate.  And like any good baking book should, it has cheat sheets and conversion charts.  The fun part?  They're printed right onto the inside of the front and back covers.  

Fantastic photos, fun layout, recipes that are simple enough for the beginning baker.  Recipes that satisfy urges we carry over from childhood.  Recipes to satisfy the more adult-type cravings we get.  This book is has them all!  I tested out four different cookies and donated the majority of them to a fundraiser that was going on at hubby's workplace.  They were all fantastic- I heard compliments on every type.  But my personal favorite (and my daughter's, as well) were the Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies!

Recipe(s) I have already tried:
Sablès w/ Lemon Zest
Sables with Lemon Zest

Chocolate Espresso Crinkles
Chocolate Espresso Crinkles

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies
Molasses Spice Cookies
Molasses Spice Cookies
w/ freshly ground spices
adapted from The Cookiepedia
makes: ~2 dozen big cookies

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground allspice
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temp.
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar, plus extra for rolling
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark molasses

Sift flour, baking soda, salt, and spices into a bowl and set aside.

Cream butter and sugars on medium speed for several minutes, until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla and mix until combined.  Add molasses and mix until combined.  Add flour mixture in thirds and mix on low until just incorporated.  Cover dough and refrigerate for ~20 minutes or up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 325° F. Line cookie sheet w/ parchment or a silpat. Roll 1 1/2-inch (~1 Tbs.) dough balls in the extra sugar and place on prepared sheets, ~2" apart. Bake for ~15-18 minutes, rotating halfway through if baking more than one pan at a time. Cool on sheets for ~5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Molasses Spice Cookies

Stacy Adimando
about the author:  Stacy Adimando is the author of The Cookiepedia and the current Food Editor at Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine. On her quest to keep making and sharing good food, she's been a restaurant cook, a magazine writer and editor, a recipe developer, a blogger for, and a cookbook creator.

Stacy joined Every Day with Rachael Ray in 2008 and has covered topics on everything from the best techniques for shucking, cracking and slurping summer shellfish, to how to plan a multi-restaurant food crawl on your next vacation.

Her first cookbook, The Cookiepedia, is a lovable collection of 50 classic cookie recipes reinvented for the modern baker. The colorful, quirky book features delicious recipes and genius variations for the cookies everyone loves—from Sugar Cookies, Spritz Cookies and Gingersnaps to Snickerdoodles, Thin Mints and Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chips.

She is a graduate of The Institute of Culinary Education, and lives in Brooklyn, where she often starts the morning on her front stoop—with a cookie, and plenty of espresso.

I received a free copy of this book to review from the publisher.  All thoughts and opinions stated in this post are 100% mine.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pastitsio + Stitches = PASTITCHIO!?

Funny how a day can turn on its head in a matter of seconds, isn't it?  It was a sunny Saturday with the perfect weather for some college football.  A mere hour away from the kick-off of the BIGGEST game day in our house (Michigan State vs. Notre Dame); a pan heavy with the comforting smell of the Mediterranean weaving the scent of comfort and mischief through our weekend rituals.  The kids are outside enjoying the perfect afternoon...darting past the kitchen door with squeals of playful laughter.  Until.  Until!  Sweet Thang bursts through the door holding a hand with ruby red blood that is starting to pool in his palm.  No tears, just a white-knuckle grip from his opposite hand.  We head into the bathroom to wash it off and run a swab of hydrogen peroxide across it, anticipating the stinging fizz...yet what we see goes much deeper.  Literally.  I can see the meat in the fleshy pad that lies just below the thumb.  Time for the emergency room.

Three stitches, the majority of the first half of the game (with a horrible outcome, I might add), a stop at the drug store, and a couple of hours later we walked in the front door to a welcoming pan of still-warm Pastitsio (or Pastitchio as it's come to be affectionately known around here).  Hubs kept a watchful eye and pulled it out of the oven for me while we were gone.  After the hub-bub of a long afternoon, a fat slice of this dish is just the thing to calm your spirit.  Meat tinged with a hint of cinnamon packed firmly between toothsome pasta and nestled under a rich bed of creamy bechamel sauce.  Oh yeah, it's like that.
slightly adapted from Falling Cloudberries
by Tessa Kiros
serves 10

4 Tbs. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 Tbs. chopped parsley
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground pork
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ c. white wine
1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes w/ their juices
1 lb. Rigatoni (or any short pasta)
~2 Tbs. butter
½ tsp. dried mint
1 Tbs. bread crumbs
4 oz. butter
1 c. all-purpose flour
4 c. warm milk
freshly grated nutmeg

Tessa uses an oval-shaped baking dish that is 14" long, 10" wide, and 2½" deep.  It fits exactly in this pan,  I used my lasagna pan which measures 12" x 8½" x 2½" and it fit exactly.  Try to use a pan that is approximately one of these sizes.
Heat oil in a large, nonstick pan and fry onion until soft and just beginning to color.  Add parsley and garlic and cook for a few more seconds, then add both of the ground meats.  Continue to cook until all moisture is evaporated and the meat is beginning to brown.  Season with salt and pepper, then add the bay leaf and cinnamon.  When it begins to fry in the oil and brown, add wine and cook until evaporated.  Add tomatoes and ~1 cup of water and continue to cook over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, or until most of the moisture has evaporated, but the meat should not be too dry.  Remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Cook pasta in boiling, salted water for 2 minutes less than it says on the package.  Drain and put in a bowl.  Mix in the butter, crumble the mint between your fingers and add it, and toss in the bread crumbs.  Mix well and spoon half over the bottom of your greased baking dish.  Pour the meat mixture over the top so it evenly covers the pasta.  Add the remaining pasta over the top in an even layer.  Press down with a wooden spoon so that it is fairly compact.  Set aside and make the bechamel sauce.

Melt butter in a saucepan.  Whisk in flour and cook for a few minutes, stirring.  Drizzle in warm milk slowly, whisking constantly.  Season with salt and pepper, and grate in some fresh nutmeg.  Continue cooking for ~5 minutes or so after it comes to a boil, until very thick and smooth.  Pour bechamel over the whole dish evenly.  This should fit exactly in the dish.  Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the top is nicely golden in parts.  Cool a bit before cutting into squares to serve, giving it time to set up.
Welcome Tessa Kiros this week at IHCC...we'll be cooking with her for the next six months.  Come on over and join us!
IHCC Tessa Kiros Button

I am also sharing this post with:
*Gay of Scientist in the Kitchen who is hosting PPN this week
prestopastanights wanderfood-badge thesechickscookfeaturingmyrecipes Cast Party Wednesday
Monday, September 26, 2011

Chocolate Sesame Cookies ...inspired by Just Desserts for Food 'n Flix

Our chosen flick for the month over at Food 'n Flix for September was the Hallmark film Just Desserts.  An unlikely partnership is formed between Grace, an uptight, classically trained restaurant pastry chef and Marco, a seemingly rough-around-the-edges (but also classically trained) baker.   In an effort to save his family's bakery, Marco woos Grace with the promise of a partnership that consists of "just desserts" in order to win the Golden Whisk Competition, which is considered the "Olympics of Desserts" and the $250,000 prize that goes with it.

Practice sessions, butting of heads, and ultimately attraction ensue on their quest to victory.  While they are confident in their ability and their passion to win, they do contemplate using their "secret ingredient" given to them by Marco's uncle.  But, as life in the kitchen usually goes, the secret ingredient turns out to be love...because "true love has true flavor".  I'll be honest, this movie was pretty bad.  Bad acting, cheesy predictable plot (and I'm a lover of chick flicks).  But I'm not one to let a less than stellar flick dissuade me from baking up something tasty.  While cookies probably wouldn't win any pastry competitions...okay, they wouldn't (no probably about it)...I think the amazing chocolate and sesame combination in these cookies are worth raving about.  Different, yet familiar.  Nutty and seedy and super rich and fudgy.  I bet they'd even make watching this movie a little more enjoyable.
Chocolate Sesame Cookies
yield: ~2 dozen cookies

8 oz. 60% Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped
1 oz. (2 Tbs.) unsalted butter
1.5 oz. (3 Tbs./42 g.) tahini (sesame seed paste)
2/3 c. (3 oz./85 g.) all-purpose flour
½ tsp. (3 g.) baking powder
½ tsp. (3 g.) fine sea salt
2 large eggs
¾ c. (6.3 oz./179 g.) packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp. (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
½ c. (2.8 oz./80 g.) sesame seeds, toasted
Bring a small saucepan of water to boil.  Set a small bowl over (to make a double-boiler), then add chocolate and butter, stirring often, until melted and smooth.  Remove from heat and stir in tahini.  Set aside.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and set aside.  Beat eggs in a large bowl until light and frothy.  Add dark brown sugar and vanilla and beat until mixture is again light and frothy.  Pour in slightly cooled chocolate mixture and mix.  Add reserved dry ingredients and beat until just combined.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate 30 minutes, or up to overnight.
Preheat oven to 350° F.  Place toasted sesame seeds in a bowl.

Scoop dough out in ~1 Tbs. portions.  Roll between your hands quickly to form a ball.  Roll in sesame seeds and place 1½-2" apart on a lined cookie sheet.  

Slide into oven and bake for ~12 minutes, or until the cookies have puffed and begun to "crack" in spots, and the bottoms are set.  Let sit for a couple minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.  Cookies will be moist, chewy, and deliciously fudgy.
 "Do you really think dessert can bring two people together?"

I'm sending this over to Tina at Life in the Slow Lane at Squirrel Head Manor who is hosting Food 'n Flix this month with her chosen film, Just Desserts.  Next month's pick is Ratatouille, so start thinking of what you want to make now!

I am also sharing this post with:
Tasty Tuesdays 33 shades of green TastyTuesdayBB a little birdie told me rook no. 17 hearthnsoul150 SweetToothFriday
Sunday, September 25, 2011

Cheerio, Mate! ...wrapping up 6 months with Jamie Oliver.

Six months!  I swear, time flies.  We've spent the last six months cooking the recipes of the Naked Chef over at IHCC, and while I've always adored Jamie Oliver, I think it's probably fair to say that I adore him just a little bit more now.  From his crazy antics and down-to-earth attitude to his tasty food and awesome sense of style (I looooove the dishes and plates and even the kitchens he uses)...he's got it goin' on.  Needless to say, just because this six months is over, I won't stop cooking with Jamie.  I own most of his cookbooks (just missing two, I think)...and I don't see them losing their place on my bookshelves any time soon.  So, in honor of our final week with Jamie, I decided to share ten (no, I couldn't narrow it down any further than that) of my favorite Jamie or Jamie-inspired posts from the past six months.  
But first, I'll start out with a couple of recipes that never made it to post, but are still worth mentioning...

Just yesterday I made this Roasted Garam Masala Cauliflower w/ Almonds, which I adapted from this Jamie recipe.  He used cumin and coriander, but I subbed in 4 tsp. of garam masala, because I was in the mood.  Everything else pretty much stayed the same...I used 2 chiles de arbol.  

Another dish, simple but worth mentioning (because I love trout), was this Baked Trout w/ Lemon & Thyme.  I think it came from Happy Days w/ the Naked Chef, but I'm too "in the zone" to go look now, so if you really want to know, just leave me a comment and I'll go look.

Okay, now we go on to my ten favorite Jamie or Jamie-inspired posts of the past six months, starting with the Amazing Date Shake.  Who'd have guessed that something so simple would be so flippin' delicious!?  Sweet, thick, cold, and creamy.  Have can you resist?  I know I can't.

Next up is the fish dish that could charm anyone...even those leary of seafood, Bacon-Wrapped Cod w/ Rosemary and Roasted Fingerling Potatoes.  I mean.  Look at it.  Gorgeous!  This is probably one of my favorite meals of the whole past six months.

As a girl who loves breakfast anytime of the day or night, this Midnight Skillet Breakfast is pretty much my idea of perfection.  Whether soaking up the alcohol from a long night of fun, or fueling the day you have in front of you, it's a winner.

This was the dish that kicked off my six months...the dish that inspired me to "get naked and eat breakfast"... Oatmeal w/ Bananas, Poppyseeds, Cinnamon, & Toasted Almonds.  Who says oatmeal has to be boring?

As a self-proclaimed breadie, I fell head over heels for Jamie's basic bread recipe that can be transformed into so many different types of amazing these irresistible Onion Baguettes, for example.

I fell in love with pineapple all over again when I had it dusted with some surprisingly fabulous, flavorful crystals in Jamie's Pukka Pineapple w/ Mint Sugar.  It's sunshine on a plate.  No, it's sunshine in your mouth!  Oh, and I found out that pukka is an actual word.

Dark, sticky, fantastic for making a grilled cheese sandwich, this Raisin Rosemary Bread was a surprise front-runner that tickles all of your senses and keeps you wanting more long after you've finished your first slice.

Seductive, tantalizing, and possibly the best jam in the whole universe.  That is exactly what I was left with after I transformed Jamie's quick jam into one that took a couple hours longer (but mostly unattended), Roasted Strawberry Vanilla Bean Jam.

I was inspired to make Sesame Seed Toffee Snaps by the fact that I love any sort of brittle, especially ones packed-silly with sesame seeds.  Keep me far away from it, though.  I will eat the whole batch if left alone with it.

And lest you think I'm all about hearty meals and bread and sweets {ahem}, let me assure you that I also love a good salad.  One that is more than just lettuce and dressing on a plate.  Take for example this Warm Bread, Pancetta, & Poached Egg Salad w/ Parmesan.  That's the stuff, baby.  That's the stuff.
I am really going to miss having so much Jamie in my life, but at the same time, I am totally stoked to cook with our new chef, Tessa Kiros for the next six months!  I hope you join us over at I Heart Cooking Clubs to cook more often with a chef you already love, or to get a fabulous introduction to somebody completely new to you!  Tessa Kiros is introduced tomorrow...