Who's the Baketard?

Why Baketard? Love to cook, hate to bake. Despite having gone to cooking school and working in some top kitchens, I never learned the baking side of things. I'm building my baking and photography skills, while sharing recipes that rock my world in the mean time.

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Easter, Irreverence and Cypress Grove Goaty Goodness 

Recipes Below for: Rain Shadow Meats Ham with Champagne-Apricot Glaze, Scalloped Potatoes with Stinging Nettles and Cypress Grove “Truffle Tremor” Goat Cheese

This past week we had our annual irreverent Easter brunch. For us, the the irreverence factor is the critical piece for our holiday décor, the themed food (Souffle, anyone? It is risen indeed!) and drink (Who wants another Rusty Nail?). We had an enormous hot-cross bun “tomb” with a chocolate egg “stone”, which rolled away to reveal a wind-up easter bunny inside, lollipop crucifixes, bible verse bedecked chocolate eggs, etc. What can I say? I grew up in one of those crazy fundamentalist environments. My way of dealing with all of that is to find the humor. Fortunately, our guests get it. 

Humor aside, we also served a LOT of food, some of which is repeat-worthy.  My pal Rachel Riggs of Fromagette in Bellingham sent me the mother-lode selection of amazing Cypress Grove goat cheeses and asked me to let her know if any recipe-worthy results emerged.  We had a few things which were just ok (completely user error---I tried to use the cheese in a couple of baked items. You know what happens when I try to bake. It isn’t pretty).  Forgetting about my unfortunate raspberry and goat cheese tart FAIL, some keepers emerged. The ubiquitous Easter ham and Scalloped Potatoes rocked a little bit (ok, a LOT) more with her Truffle Tremor Chevre as a key ingredient, and the inevitable annual Rabbit Spanakopita I posted in the blog a few weeks ago was made even better by replacing the feta and spinach in the recipe with Cypress Grove Chevre and wild rocket arugula. 

This year was also the first time I bought an organic, artisan ham from Rain Shadow Meats instead of the cheap grocery store or Costco variety. Granted, it cost more. I was surprised at how much more expensive it was, but when we tasted the result there was no doubt that this was a perfect example of You Get What You Pay For. Applewood smoked, tender and packed with flavor. I don’t think I’ve ever had a better ham.  I’m still not the guy to write a second mortgage for an organic chicken, because I don’t think it really tastes that much different – or at least not enough to justify the cost difference. With bigger meats (and you know I loves me some bigger meat), that difference comes screaming through! I will never buy a grocery store ham again. Seriously. 

Oh yeah—Getting off my soapbox now.  How about some recipes?

Ham with Champagne and Apricot Glaze

1 10-12 lb fully cooked, smoked ham
24 whole cloves
1 Tbsp oil
1 1/2 cups Champagne or sparkling wine, divided
1 (2-inch) piece vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 cup apple jelly

Preheat oven to 350°.

Trim fat and rind from ham. Score outside of ham in a diamond pattern, and stud with cloves. Place ham, bone end up (if you bought a bone-in ham), in a roasting pan lightly coated with oil. Pour 1 cup Champagne over ham. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes.

Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into a small saucepan. Add vanilla bean and 1/2 cup Champagne to pan. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes. Stir in apricot jelly; cook 3 minutes or until jelly dissolves, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Discard vanilla bean. Pour half of Champagne mixture over ham. Bake 30 minutes; pour remaining Champagne mixture over ham. Bake an additional 30 minutes or until ham is thoroughly heated. Place ham on a platter; cover loosely with foil. Let stand 15 minutes.

Place a zip-top plastic bag inside a 2-cup glass measure or bowl. Pour drippings into bag; let stand 10 minutes (fat will rise to the top). Seal bag; carefully snip off 1 bottom corner of bag. Drain the drippings into a bowl, stopping before the fat layer reaches opening; discard fat. Serve sauce with ham.

Scalloped Potatoes with Stinging Nettles and Cypress Grove “Truffle Tremor” Goat Cheese

Makes 4 Servings 


1 1/4 cup whole milk

¾  cup heavy cream

4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

6 oz Cypress Grove “Truffle Tremor” Goat Cheese

¼ tsp nutmeg

1 sweet onion, diced

1 bulb fresh fennel, coarsely chopped

2 Tbsp Olive Oil

3/4 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 1/2 lbs large russet (Idaho) potatoes     


  1. Prepare the nettles:  Wearing kitchen gloves (naturally you have evening length kitchen gloves to protect your delicate hands, darlings), remove the nettle leaves from the stems. Add to boiling water for about 30 seconds, then rinse, drain in a colander and squeeze dry. Set aside.
  2. Prepare the onion and fennel:  Heat olive oil in large skillet. Add onion and fennel and a pinch of salt and cook until beginning to soften and turn slightly golden. Add nettles, stir to incorporate and cook 2 more minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Place the milk and cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. When the milk and cream are boiling, add the garlic, salt, and pepper.
  4. Bring the mixture back to a boil, then immediately remove it from the heat, cover, and let steep for 30 minutes or longer while you prepare the potatoes.
  5. Prepare the gratin: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Butter a shallow 1 1/2 -quart baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter. Peel the potatoes, slice them 1/8 inch thick with a mandoline and arrange 2 layers in the bottom of the dish. Top with onion, fennel and nettle mixture and crumble goat cheese over the top. Top with remaining potatoes. (You should have enough potatoes to do at least 2 more layers on the top) Bring the cream back to a simmer. Pour the cream over the potatoes, coating all the slices. The liquid will not completely cover the potatoes at this point. Dot with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter.
  6. Bake until the top is nicely browned and the potatoes are tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Halfway through the cooking, use the back of a large spoon to lightly press down any potatoes that are not yet submerged into the cream.

 Makes 6-8 servings.


Scaccia (Tomato and Cheese Pie)

I found this recipe in Saveur last month. In spite of it falling into the baking category, and in spite of “Scaccia” sounding like a condition sure to send you running to the clinic for a shot of penicillin, I just had to give it a try. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be incredible and I managed not to let my baking “different-abledness” get in the way. I deviated from the recipe in that I mixed and kneaded the dough with a Kitchen Aid and the dough hook attachment (Total mixing time was 4-6 minutes until the dough reached the shiny elasticity described in the recipe.)

I had to roll this out on the dining room table with a lightly floured tablecloth, because this rolls out a lot larger than a standard cutting board or kitchen counter space permits. Total active work time (excepting the 30 minute rest time and cooling period for the tomato sauce) was only about 20 minutes.

As the original recipe states (click the Saveur link above), this comes out of the oven looking charred and ugly (it says the uglier, the better), but you forget about that once it’s in your mouth. (This is me refraining from making a reference to the similarities with your mom.)

Note: If you live in Seattle, you can find caciocavello cheese at PFI for about $12 bucks/pound.

Scaccia (Tomato and Cheese Pie)

SERVES 10-12

3 1/2 cups durum wheat flour

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing

1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes

1 bunch fresh basil

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

12 oz. caciocavallo or Pecorino Romano cheese, grated


1. Place flour in a large bowl and make a well in center; add 2 tbsp. oil, salt, and 1 1/4 cups water, and stir until a dough forms. Transfer dough to a floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 6–8 minutes. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and basil, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, to meld flavors, about 10 minutes. Discard basil, remove pan from heat, and set aside to let cool.

3. Heat oven to 500°. Transfer dough to a floured work surface, and using a rolling pin, roll dough into a 1/16″-thick rectangle. Arrange the dough so that the long sides are parallel to you. Spread 1 cup tomato sauce over dough in a thin layer and sprinkle with 1 1/2 cups cheese; season with salt and pepper.

Fold left third of dough toward center, spread top with 1/4 cup sauce, and sprinkle with 5 tbsp. cheese; season with salt and pepper. Fold right third over center to meet left edge, and repeat with sauce, cheese, and salt and pepper. Fold in top and bottom so they meet in center; spread top with remaining sauce and cheese; season with salt and pepper. Fold top half over bottom half, like closing a book, and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper; bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 400° and continue baking until dough is set and slightly charred, about 60–65 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing into squares and serving.


Jump In The Mouths

Jerry Traunfeld is my hero. I spent some time in his kitchens during and after culinary school, and both of his cookbooks are my go-to tomes for just about anything. One of my favorite simple appetizers are his "Jump In the Mouths" with a saltimboca flavor profile that will rock your world. Start a night with these paired with your favorite Champagne and you might just get lucky!

Jump in the Mouths

Yield:  about 20 pieces




4 oz Italian washed rind Fontina cheese (or sub Gruyere)

2 oz very thinly sliced Prosciutto (5 large slices)

40 ea medium sized sage leaves 


2 C all-purpose Flour

2 Tbsp Cornstarch

2 tsp baking powder

2-1/4 Cups ice water 

1 Qt vegetable oil for frying 


Cut the cheese into slices 3/8” thick and then into rectangles slightly smaller than the size of the sage leave (1/2”x1-1/2”)


Tear or cut off small pieces of prosciutto, approx 2”x3”, and wrap them around the pieces of cheese to completely cover them.  This keeps them from leaking out when fried.

Sandwich the packages between two sage leaves of similar size.  The leaves won’t adhere until the bundles are dipped in the batter.


Whisk the flour, cornstarch, and baking powder together in a mixing bowl.  Pour in the ice water and stir briefly, only to moisten the dry ingredients. The batter should be lumpy.  Pour the oil into a 3-qt saucepan and heat it until it read 360° on a deep fry thermometer. 

One by one, lift the bundles by holding onto both sage leaves at one end and dip them into the batter.  Let the excess batter drip from them for a moment, and then drop them into the hot oil.  Fry 6 or 8 at a time until very lightly browned and crisp, about 2 to 3 minutes, flipping them in the oil to brown both sides. Lift them out with a wire skimmer and drain on paper towels.  Fry another batch when the oil returns to 360°. 

When all the bundles are fried and drained, transfer them to a platter and serve right away. 


Teage Ezard's Osso Buco with Wasabi Potato Dumplings and Sichuan Pepper Sauce

As I mentioned earlier in the Fried Pork Hock recipe, Teage Ezard is one of my all-time favorite cookbook authors. His recipes continually rock my world, and this one (although involved and a little fussy) was a hit at a recent cookbook club we hosted, highlighting his book Lotus: Asian Flavours.

Because the meat is braised, it's very forgiving. There's some time involved in making the dumplings, but everything can be done ahead short of reheating the sauce, steaming the dumplings and a quick stir fry of the lettuce base. This frees you up to throw the meal together in about 10 minutes so you have time to sit down and get drunk with your guests, as you should.

Many thanks to Jackie Baisa for taking gorgeous shots of the food!

Teage Ezard's Osso Buco with Wasabi Potato Dumplings and Sichuan Pepper Sauce

Serves 6 

2 ½ tablespoons olive oil

6 thick slices veal osso buco

6 cups Veal Stock (Recipe Below)

1 tsp Sichuan Pepper Salt Powder (Recipe Below)

1 cup coriander (cilantro) leaves 

Sichuan Pepper Sauce 

1 fresh cob corn, kernels removed for another use, cob coarsely chopped

5 cloves garlic, bruised

2 cilantro roots (or double the amount and use stems if you cant get roots), coarsely chopped

1 ½ tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns, lightly toasted and ground

3 tablespoons black chinese vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 

Wasabi Potato Dumplings 

14 oz waxy potatoes such as Desiree or Nicola, peeled and diced (I used Yukon Gold)

4 tablespoons butter, diced

2 ½ tablespoons heavy cream

1 teaspoon wasabi paste (I quadrupled this, because wasabi mellows significantly when hit with heat)

12 wonton skins 

Stir Fried Lettuce 

1 1/s tablespoons peanut oil

4 cloves garlic, finely sliced

8 green onions (scallions), cut into lengths

½ head iceberg lettuce, shredded


  1. Make the Sichuan Pepper Salt Powder and Veal Stock by following the recipes below.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Farenheit (160 degrees Celsius). Heat the olive oil in a large pan or skillet and brown the osso buco slices. Transfer to a casserole dish. Bring the veal stock to a boil and pour it over the osso buco. Cover the dish with a tight fitting lid or foil and place it in the oven for 2-3 hours or until the meat is falling off the bone.
  3. Allow the meat to cool completely in the stock, then remove the meat and refrigerate until needed. Reserve the stock for the Sichuan Pepper Sauce. 

Sichuan Pepper Sauce:              

  1. Strain the osso buco stock into a large pot. Bring it to a boil, skimming the surface of any impurities, and reduce the stock by half. Add the corn cob and reduce the stock by another third, then remove the cob. (The corn helps the sauce to thicken naturally). Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for a further 5 minutes then remove from the heat. The sauce should lightly coat the back of a spoon.

Wasabi Potato Dumplings

  1. Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender. Drain and then mash them, preferably with a potato ricer. Add the butter, cream and wasabi paste and mix thoroughly. Season to taste.
  2. Lay six of the wonton skins out onto a clean work surface and place a heaped tablespoon of the potato mixture in the center of each one. Lightly brush around the edges with water. Top with the remaining six wonton skins and press the edges together to seal. Make sure you push out any air. Cut the dumplings into circles with a knife of cookie cutter and refrigerate them, covered in plastic wrap, until needed. 

To Serve

  1. Place the osso buco pieces in a large pan or skillet and strain the Sichuan Pepper sauce into the pan. Gently reheat the meat and sauce.
  2. Meanwhile, place the dumplings in a steamer and steam for 5 minutes.
  3. For the stir fried lettuce, heat the peanut oil in a wok and fry the garlic and green onions until fragrant and beginning to soften. Add the lettuce and stir fry over high heat until slightly charred and wilted. Remove from the heat before the lettuce begins to stew. For the best result, do this in two or three batches.
  4. To serve, divide the Stir-fried Lettuce between serving plates. Ad a piece of osso buco to each one and place a dumpling on top. Drizzle the sauce around the sides and sprinkle with the Sichuan Pepper-salt Powder. Garnish with coriander leaves. 

Sichuan Pepper-Salt Powder

2 Tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns

4 Tablespoons Sea salt 

  1. Dry roast the peppercorns and salt in a wok over medium heat until fragrant (1-2 minutes), stirring constantly to avoid burning. Remove from the heat and grind to a fine powder with a portar and pestle or spice grinder. Sift the powder and store in an airtight container. Use within a week as the pepper loses its fragrance quickly. 

Veal Stock 

6 lbs (3 kgs) veal bones

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 medium brown onions, diced

6 cloves garlic, bruised

2 large carrots, coarsely chopped

½ bunch celery, coarsely chopped

1 leek, coarsely chopped

1 sprig thyme

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 cup red wine

12 cups water 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit (180 degrees Celsius) degrees. Roast the veal bones for 1 ½ hours or until dark brown.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pot and brown the onion, celery, garlic, carrots and leek. Add the thyme, bat leaf, peppercorns and wine and simmer until reduced by half. Add the roasted veal bones and water and bring to a boil. Skim off any residue that rises to the surface and then gently simmer the stock for 4-6 hours. Top up with fresh water from time to time to keep the liquid at its original level.
  3. Strain the stock into another pot and set aside to cool. Once cool, skim any fat from the surface and return the stock to a boil. Reduce it by a third. Allow to cool, then pour into a container and refrigerate or freeze.

Makes 8 cups (2 liters)

If you're so inclined, here's a link to the book:


Giorgio Locatelli's Mondeghini (Stuffed Cabbage) with Nettle Risotto

We had friends from work over this week for dinner and I went with an Italian theme, relying heavily on recipes I love from Giorgio Locatelli. With a cookbook collection approaching 1,000 books, his book remains my #1 go-to inspiring book. We’ve used it for cookbook clubs, I’ve leveraged his recipes heavily for catering gigs, and every single recipe turns out to be pure gold.  One of our first courses was his Mondeghini (Stuffed Cabbage) served with stinging nettle risotto. Nettles are just starting to be available in Seattle this time of year, and this recipe is one of my favorites.  

Remember to use gloves, especially when touching the nettle stalks…that’s where you will get stung. Once the nettles hit heat, either blanching or frying, the sting disappears and leaves you with a really green, springtime flavor.  We’re thrilled when we see nettles at the Farmer’s market, because this risotto is what comes next. 

The Mondeghini are something I tried at Locanda Locatelli when I was in London a few weeks ago on business. They were our favorite course we tried from the menu so I was dying to make them at home. I’ve adapted the mondeghini recipe slightly because I like it less bready than the recipe calls for. The stuffed cabbage is a little time consuming to make, as you have to form little golfball-sized sausage balls and then individually wrap them in blanched savoy cabbage leaves. Once you get the technique down it gets faster. It’s all about how adept you are at cupping Giorgio’s balls. Cup-n-twist, ladies…cup-n-twist. But be gentle...

Mondeghini (Stuffed Cabbage)


1 large Savoy cabbage

350g sliced white bread, crusts cut off (Note: I only used 200g to make it less bready)

175 ml milk

400g good quality plain pork sausages, skin removed

1 small garlic clove, finely chopped (I used 6 because—hello, it’s garlic. More is better)

Sprig of sage, finely chopped

Sprig of rosemary, finely chopped (Ok, screw subtlety…..I used 4 sprigs of rosemary and 6 of sage. It could still have taken more. The herbs REALLY came through in the restaurant version)

1 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

½ glass of white wine

20g butter

Salt and pepper


  1. Discard the outer leaves of the cabbage and choose 8 fairly large inner ones. Blanch them in boiling salted water until just soft then drain, rinse under cold running water and pat dry.
  2. Soak the bread in the milk. Put the skinned sausages in a separate bowl and mix with the garlic, sage, rosemary and parmesan. Squeeze the bread and add to the sausage mixture. Season and roll into 8 balls, each about the size of a golf ball.
  3. Lay the cabbage leaves out flay and cut out the stalks with a sharp knife. Now you need to make little balls of cabbage-wrapped sausage meat. To do this, hold a cloth in one hand, put a cabbage leaf on top, and then a ball of the sausage mixture in the center. Close your hand so that the cabbage wraps itself around the sausage meat. Turn your hand over and, with the other hand, twist the bottom of the cloth so that it squeezes the cabbage into a tight ball. Unwrap the cloth and trim the cabbage of any excess, leaving enough to enclose the sausage  meat completely. Repeat with the rest of the sausage meat and cabbage leaves. If not using straight away, keep in the fridge.
  4. After you have started making the risotto (recipe below) and cooked for about 10 minutes, begin cooking the Mondeghini.
  5. Heat a pan large enough to hold all the cabbage balls. Put in the vegetable oil and add the cabbage balls, smooth side down. Cook over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes, turn them over, then add the white wine. Cover with a lid and cook for another 15 minutes, very slowly, adding a little water (or chicken stock if you have it) if the liquid evaporates. Remove the cabbage balls from the pan and keep warm. Let the liquid in the pan reduce a little, then add the butter to make a slightly creamy sauce. Take the pan from the heat.
  6. Spoon the finished risotto onto a serving plate and top with two cabbage balls. Garnish with fried nettle leaves. 

Nettle Risotto


2 handfuls of young nettle leaves
2.5 litres good vegetable stock
50g butter
1 onion, chopped very, very finely
400g vialone nano rice
125ml dry white wine
salt and pepper


For the mantecatura:

about 75g cold butter, cut into small dice
about 100g finely grated Parmesan


  1. Blanch the nettles in boiling salted water for 30 seconds, drain and put into a food processor. Pulse to a purée, adding a little water if the mixture isn't moist enough.
  2. Bring the pot of stock to the boil close to where you are going to make the risotto, then turn the heat down to a bare simmer. Cook the onion and rice in exactly the same way as in the previous recipe. Carry on cooking for about 15-17 minutes, adding the stock continuously. After about 10 minutes, add the nettle purée and bring the risotto back up to temperature. Carry on cooking for another 5-6 minutes until the rice grains are soft, but still al dente, adding more stock as necessary. The risotto shouldn't be too soupy when you add the butter and Parmesan at the end, or it will become sloppy. The risotto is ready when the grains are soft, but still al dente.
  3. Turn down the heat, to allow the risotto to rest for a minute, then, for the mantecatura, using a wooden spoon, vigorously beat in the cold diced butter and finally the Parmesan, making sure you shake the pan at the same time as you beat. Season to taste and serve.

If you dont have this book yet, GET IT. You won't be sorry.