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.

Saturday
Apr092011

Rabbit Spanakopita

This is without a doubt one of the most delicious and flavorful dishes I’ve ever made. It’s amazing. There’s some time and effort involved in cooking and cooling the components, but if you want to blow some dinner guests away, add this dish to the menu. If you're having lesbians for dinner, call it "Hare Pie." They'll eat it up.
 
One note: The cooking time was significantly longer than listed below. It took about 45 minutes for this to properly crisp the top layer of phyllo. No other changes to the recipe. Great stuff.

Serves 6
Cooking Time Prep time 45 mins, cook 7 hrs 45 mins (plus cooling, soaking)


200 ml olive oil
1 rabbit, legs and fillets removed, carcass coarsely chopped and reserved (see note)
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
1 onion, coarsely chopped
200 ml each Madeira and white wine
3 litres (12 cups) chicken stock
¼ bunch thyme
2 fresh bay leaves
13 sheets filo pastry
150 gm butter, melted, for brushing
Spinach, ricotta and feta filling
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
500 gm baby English spinach leaves, washed
350 gm ricotta
250 gm feta, coarsely crumbled

Saffron mayonnaise

2  egg yolks
¼ tsp white wine vinegar
¼ tsp Dijon mustard
160 ml (2/3 cup) olive oil
1 gm saffron threads, soaked in 40ml milk for 30 minutes
 

1. Preheat oven to 120C. Heat half the olive oil in a large frying pan, add rabbit legs and fillets and turn occasionally until golden (7-10 minutes), then transfer to a deep roasting pan. Return frying pan to heat, add vegetables and stir occasionally over medium heat until golden (7-10 minutes), then spread evenly over rabbit. Deglaze pan with Madeira and wine, bring to the boil and cook until reduced by two-thirds (10-12 minutes), then pour over rabbit with stock and herbs, season to taste, cover with aluminium foil and roast until tender (4-5 hours). Cool rabbit in pan juices. When cool enough to handle, remove meat from bones in small pieces and set aside in a bowl to cool completely (reserve bones). Strain pan juices (discard solids) and set aside.


2. Heat a large saucepan over high heat, add remaining olive oil and reserved rabbit carcass and bones and turn occasionally, scraping base of pan, until deep golden (10-15 minutes). Add reserved pan juices and bring to the boil, reduce heat to low and cook until reduced to 200ml (1-1½ hours). Strain sauce through a fine sieve, discarding solids, add to rabbit meat and cool to room temperature.

3. Meanwhile for spinach, ricotta and feta filling, heat oil in a frying pan, add onion and garlic and stir occasionally over medium heat until tender and translucent (5-7 minutes). Add spinach and stir until spinach just wilts (1-2 minutes). Transfer spinach mixture to a colander, strain excess liquid. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until cold. Add cheeses, season to taste, stir to combine well, then add rabbit mixture. Season to taste and mix well.

4. Preheat oven to 170C. Place a sheet of filo pastry on a work surface, brush with butter, top with another sheet and repeat until you have five layers. Cut to fit into a 20cm x 30cm buttered and baking paper-lined deep roasting pan. Spread half spinach and rabbit mixture over filo. Then brush three sheets of filo with butter, stack neatly, cut to fit pan and place on top of spinach mixture. Spread remaining spinach mixture over, repeat with remaining filo, brush top with butter and bake until golden (20-25 minutes). Cool slightly and cut into six portions.

5. Meanwhile, for saffron mayonnaise, whisk egg yolks, vinegar and mustard in a bowl until thick, then add olive oil in a thin steady stream, whisking vigorously until combined. Add saffron and milk mixture, stir to combine and season to taste. Serve with rabbit ‘spanakopita.’
 
Note Rabbit is available from select butchers. You may need to order it in advance.

Saturday
Apr092011

Crispy Fried Pork Hock with Chilli Caramel

This recipe comes from one of my favorite Australian cookbook authors, Teage Ezard. Both of his cookbooks take traditional Southesast Asian fare and modernize them, with tremendous results. We used his book for a cookbook club at my home last month, and we all agreed it was the best book to date from a taste perspective, and consistency of the dishes (they were all VERY good).

Disclaimer: My food photography skills are a work in progress, so ignore the fact that this photo looks very sphincter-esque. It was absolutely delicious and you will want to bathe in the (Australian Spelling for chile...don't judge) chilli caramel.

Crispy Fried Pork Hock with Chilli Caramel, Steamed Rice and Spicy Thai salad

Cuisine: Modern Asian
Serves 6

Ingredients
Pork hock (needs 12 hours)
3 x 500 g (1 lb) boneless pork hocks
3 litres (6 pints) master stock
3 litres (6 pints) vegetable oil for frying

Chilli caramel sauce
500 g (1 lb) light palm sugar, roughly chopped
450 ml (141⁄2 fl oz) water
2 red bird’s eye chillies, finely sliced
2 long red chillies, finely sliced
1 long green chilli, finely sliced
40 ml (11⁄4 fl oz) fish sauce
60 ml (2 fl oz) lime juice

Spicy Thai salad
3 fresh kaffir lime leaves
1 long cucumber, peeled and finely sliced on an angle
40 g (11⁄2 oz) fresh ginger, peeled and finely sliced
1 long red chilli, seeded and finely sliced
1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, finely chopped
1 small red onion, cut in half and finely sliced
5 medium spring onions (scallions), white ends only, finely sliced on an angle
1⁄2 cup coriander (cilantro) leaves
1⁄2 cup Thai basil leaves
1⁄2 cup mint leaves
1 cup pickled bean shoots
1⁄4 cup crispy shallot garnish

Dressing
4 teaspoons lime juice
2 teaspoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons gula melaka syrup

Garnish
200 g (7 oz) jasmine rice
200 ml (7 fl oz) water


Preparation
This is one of Teague Ezard's signature dishes – the chilli-caramel flavours are really delicious with the crispy pork. At ezard restaurant they try to be as authentic as possible when using Asian master stocks. These add a truly extraordinary depth of flavour and colour to a dish, which only intensifies with time. 

Pork hock
Preheat the oven to 150ºC (300ºF). Bring the master stock to the boil. Lay out three pieces of muslin on your work surface. Place a pork hock, skin side down, on each piece of muslin and roll up to form a neat sausage. Tuck in the ends of the muslin and tie securely with butcher’s string. Place the hocks into a large deep braising dish and pour over the boiling stock. Cover with a lid, place in the oven and braise very slowly for 2–3 hours, or until the meat is tender. Remove from the oven and allow the pork hocks to cool in the braising liquid. When the hocks are cold, remove them from the liquid and let them drain in a colander. Pat them dry and refrigerate for at least 12 hours (or hang them in a cool dry place). Peel away the muslin and slice each hock into 4 even pieces, each around 200 g (7 oz).

Chilli caramel sauce
Place the palm sugar in a wide heavy-based saucepan. Add 400 ml (13 fl oz) water, bring to the boil and simmer for around 10 minutes to form a light caramel. Brush down the sides of the pan with water from time to time to stop it from crystallising. As the caramel starts to darken, remove the pan from the heat and add the remaining 50 ml (11⁄2 fl oz) cold water, which will slow the cooking process. The caramel should be dark, but not burnt. Add the chillies and allow the caramel to cool. Season with the fish sauce and lime juice, tasting to check the balance of flavours, which should be hot, sweet and salty.

Spicy Thai salad
Blanch the lime leaves in boiling water for 5 seconds, refresh in cold water and slice finely. Assemble and prepare the remaining salad ingredients. Prepare the pickled bean shoots and crispy shallots according to Basic recipes.

Garnish
Wash the jasmine rice in a colander until the water runs clear. Place in a rice cooker, add the cold water and steam until tender.

To serve
In a medium saucepan or deep-fryer heat the vegetable oil to 180ºC (350ºF). Fry the pork, 2–3 pieces at a time, for 7–8 minutes, or until the skin turns a glossy dark brown. Remove from the oil and drain on absorbent paper. Keep warm while you fry the remaining pieces of pork.

Combine the salad ingredients in a large mixing bowl. To make the dressing, whisk together the lime juice, fish sauce and gula melaka. Taste and adjust the balance if necessary, pour onto the salad and mix everything together well.

Place a small mound of salad in the bottom of each bowl and top with a piece of pork. Drizzle with the chilli caramel and serve with steamed jasmine rice.

Note: The pork hocks may not initially appear to be crispy when they are removed from the oil. They will start to crisp up as they cool down out of the oil.


Recipe from Contemporary Australian Food by Teage Ezard. Published by Hardie Grant Books.

Thursday
Apr072011

Tomato Upside-Down Cake

Yes, I know this sounds bizarre. Tomatoes? In a dessert? When tomatoes were in season, we decided to give it a go. This recipe comes from Paul Bertolli’s “Cooking By Hand” cookbook (if you don’t have this cookbook, GET IT—it’s amazing!).

As usual, my baking skills were lacking and although the cake passed the toothpick test, it was underdone.  The flavors of the tomatoes on the cake were flawless, though, and fortunately the cherry tomato preserves make enough in a single batch for two cakes. Even David, who looked at me as though I was serving roadkill when I told him we were having a tomato cake, was pleasantly surprised at how much this cake rocked. Other than it being the consistency of a big sneeze because Marc can’t bake.

Making the recipe a second (and third) time, I increased the baking time by 5-10 minutes and it came out perfect. If a baketard can make this recipe rock, you DEFINITELY can...

Give it a try. No, really….
 
Tomato Upside Down Cake

Caramel for lining the bottom of the cake pan:
1/2 c dark brown sugar
5 oz unsalted butter

Cake batter:
4 oz unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 c dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 c flour
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 large, firm-ripe tomato such as Brandywine or Marvel Stripe or any large juicy tomato
1 1/2 c cherry tomato preserves (recipe follows)

Preparation:
For caramel, melt together the 5 oz butter and the 1/2 c dark brown sugar. Pour into a round 9-inch cake pan. Slice the tomato very thinly, about 1/8 inches thick. Place the slices in the cake pan, allowing them to touch but not overlap. Spread the Yellow Tomato Preserves on top of the tomato slices, taking care not to disturb the slices.

To prepare the batter, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In separate bowl, cream together 4 oz butter and 1/2 cup sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and beat briefly (the mixture will not be completely smooth at this time). Add the sifted dry ingredients and beat only until smooth. Scrape the bowl thoroughly with a rubber spatula and beat briefly until the batter is completely smooth. Spread the batter in the pan evenly.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, until a skewer stuck in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Flip the cake over onto a large plate to remove it from the pan. Be sure to remove the cake while still quite warm, otherwise the cake may stick in the pan. Serve warm with a dollop of whipped cream or mascarpone.


Cherry Tomato Preserves
1 quart yellow pear tomatoes or any cherry tomato
1 lemon, halved lengthwise and sliced thin
3/4 c brown sugar
3/4 c granulated sugar
1/2 c water

Combine all ingredients in a stainless steel saucepan and simmer for 30 minutes. Raise the heat to high and while stirring constantly, reduce the mixture to a thick consistency.

Thursday
Apr072011

Toasted Pistachio Gorgonzola Dolce Risotto

I found this recipe quite a while ago on Chowhound, and it was written by the most condescending, patronizing idiot I’ve ever read (present Fox News commentators administration excepted). He did say it was the best risotto you’d ever try, and I’m inclined to believe it’s definitely in the top 10. That said, I’ve removed all of his dictatorial commands and comments, with the exception of one: Be sure you use Gorgonzola Dolce rather than your standard grocery store Gorgonzola. (Honestly, you can follow any standard risotto recipe, and add in the Gorgonzola Dolce, Pistachios and Parmesan – they are the unique characteristics of this dish.)
 
We did this with duck breasts in a sweet maple/soy/honey and rosemary reduction and it got rave reviews.  Again, a home defibrillator is nice-to-have.
 
If you want to see the full, bossyassed version from the original author, the link is here.

Toasted Pistachio Gorgonzola Dolce Risotto
1 pound arborio or carnaroli rice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 sweet onion, finely chopped to equal one cup
1 1/2 cups chardonnay
2 cups chicken stock
1 pound Gorgonzola DOLCE (NOTE: You definitely want Gorgonzola Dolce for this)
1/2 pound unsalted butter
1/2 cup toasted (in oven for 3-4 minutes at 325 degrees) unsalted pistachios, chopped
10 oz. (about 3 cups) Reggiano Parmegiano

In a large sauce pan over medium to medium high heat (6 to 7 on a scale of 10) heat olive oil. Add onions until they sweat (several minutes). Add rice and toast stirring constantly as it cooks for two minutes or so. Add wine and cook until completely reduced stirring frequently. When the wine has completely disappeared start adding stock one ladle at a time (about 2/3 cup) and cook stirring constantly until the rice absorbs the stock. Repeat until all of the stock is absorbed. After 8 or 9 minutes of this add the gorgonzola dolce.

Continue to stir the cheese into the mixture for another four minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the butter, toasted pistachios and reggiano. Gently stir all together thoroughly.

Thursday
Apr072011

Hudson Valley Foie Gras 'Lollipops'

Ok, I don’t want to hear about how fussy this recipe is, or how many years of bad karma I’m going to get for making foie gras. IF you like foie, and IF you don’t mind the bad karma that goes with eating foie, this is without a doubt the best preparation I’ve ever had, much less made. A little goes a long way, because it’s incredibly rich, but it is well worth the effort.

Hudson Valley Foie Gras "Lollipops"
Chef Sean Hardy of The Belvedere at The Peninsula Beverly Hills - Los Angeles, CA
Adapted by StarChefs.com

Yield: 12 Servings
Ingredients:
Tangerine Marmalade:
2 cups tangerine segments
1 tablespoon tangerine zest
¼ cup fresh orange juice
Sugar to taste, depending on the acidity of the tangerines

Foie Gras “Lollipop”:
8 ounces Hudson Valley Foie Gras
2 ounces heavy cream
1 ounce port wine
Salt and pepper
Tangerine Marmalade
Crushed pistachios

Additional Garnish:
50-Year Aged Balsamic Vinegar
Reduced pomegranate juice
Pomegranate seeds
Micro celery
Method:

For Tangerine Marmalade:
Add all ingredients to a pot and reduce over medium heat until thickened.

For Foie Gras “Lollipop”:
Dice foie gras then place in a pot with the cream. Gradually heat up the mixture while constantly whisking. Be careful not to go above 120°F or the mousse will break. Once the foie gras is melted, add the port wine and season with salt and pepper. Blend in a blender, then strain through a chinois or fine mesh strainer and chill. To make the lollipops, roll the mousse into a ball, then coat with tangerine marmalade and roll in crushed pistachios. Push a lollipop stick through the center to finish.

Wine Pairing:
Demi-Sec, Gruet, New Mexico, NV