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.

Sunday
Apr102011

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)

Ingredients:

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

Ingredients:

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.

 

Saturday
Apr092011

Japanese Eel Canapes

Recipes from Food & Wine

We made these for Thanksgiving appetizers a couple of years ago, and I’ve since made them a few more times. There is some assembly required and prep work needed, but they make a gorgeous, incredibly complex-tasting appetizer.  If you like unagi, you will love this recipe. Of course, unagi isn't sustainable so if you serve it, you will go to hell.
 
Along the way, you'll be eating some kick-ass canapes.

Japanese Eel Canapés
Recipe by Susan Regis
The eel called for in these unusual canapés is available at Japanese markets. This recipe is also delicious made with smoked salmon or smoked trout.

SERVINGS: MAKES 40 HORS D'OEUVRES

INGREDIENTS

1.      2 tablespoons well-drained prepared horseradish
2.      1 cup crème fraîche
3.      1 loaf of Gingerbread
4.      14 ounces Japanese seasoned broiled eel or 1/4 -inch-thick slices of smoked salmon
5.      1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
6.      3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
7.      1/2 cup finely diced red onion
8.      1/4 cup snipped chives
9.      1 small bunch chervil

DIRECTIONS
1.       In a small bowl, stir the horseradish into the crème fraîche and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

2.      Preheat the broiler. Cut the loaf of gingerbread into twenty 1/4 -inch-thick slices and halve each slice. Arrange the slices on 2 large baking sheets and broil, 1 pan at a time, for about 25 seconds to crisp the gingerbread edges. Let cool.

3.      Cut the fish into forty 3/4 -inch-wide diagonal strips. Arrange the strips on a baking sheet and brush with the soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of the melted butter. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes, or until crisp.

4.      Lightly brush the gingerbread with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Top each piece with 1/2 teaspoon of the horseradish cream and a piece of broiled fish. Garnish with a dab of horseradish cream, a sprinkling of red onion and chives and a small chervil sprig.

Gingerbread

INGREDIENTS

1.      2 large eggs, at room temperature
2.      1/2 cup molasses
3.      1/2 cup brown sugar
4.      6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
5.      6 tablespoons vegetable shortening
6.      2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
7.      2 teaspoons baking soda
8.      3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
9.      1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
10.   1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
11.    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
12.   1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
13.   1 cup boiling water

DIRECTIONS
1.       Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8-by-3-inch loaf pans. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with an electric mixer until foamy. Beat in the molasses, brown sugar, butter and shortening. Sift in all of the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until incorporated. Stir in the boiling water until the batter is smooth.

2.      Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the loaves cool slightly in the pans, then turn them out onto a rack to cool completely.

MAKE AHEAD
The gingerbread can be well-wrapped and refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 1 month.

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.