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
Apr012012

Banoffee Pie

Yesterday I joined a bunch of friends attending a dessert party. My friend who invited me extended the invitation along with instant mockery along the lines of, "We know you can't bake, so if you want to bring a savory dish, you can."  I know, right? WHAT A BITCH!

Gauntlet dropped, I considered a few REALLY fussy recipes, thinking I'd show HER.  As the date approached, the dread of baking anything that would take me hours increased so I went through my recipe file for things I know I love and that I've not made for this group of friends before. I stumbled upon a note I'd sent myself a couple of years ago when I was on business in the UK and discovered Banoffee Pie for the first time.  My friends over there were incredulous that Id never heard of it, and were smugly unsurprised when I tried it and wanted to rub it all over my body.

Banoffee Pie is an orgasm in a pie shell. (Yes, ladies…that means you can have 2 or 3). Graham crackery type of shell (made with Digestive Biscuits, actually), chewy toffee, whipped cream and bananas. It ended up being little fuss, other than having to plan in advance to make the pie shell the night before to allow for cooling time. (You could do it all in the same day with little effort, but my morning before the party was full. You want to allow time for the crust and toffee to cool before you add the whipped cream mixture.)

This recipe was one I found on the Today Show website when I did a Banoffee search. The only change I've incorporated is one I learned from making one of Nancy Silverton's desserts—adding crème fraiche to the whipping cream at the end. Crème fraiche stabilizes the whipped cream and adds a slight tangy note.

Hope you guys enjoy this pie as much as we did. The Baketard baked. Suck it, Kairu! (And after sucking it, please accept my thanks for the ipad photo and the photo of the completed slice.)

Banoffee Pie

Ingredients

For biscuit base

2 1/4 cups digestive biscuit crumbs (pulse biscuits in food processor)

1/2 cup melted butter

3 tbsp sugar

For toffee filling

1/2 cup melted butter

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 10 oz (300 ml) can sweetened condensed milk

Banana cream topping

2 cups whipping cream

7.5oz Crème Fraiche

3 tbsp icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 ripe bananas, sliced

Preparation

For biscuit base:
Mix together ingredients for the biscuit base. Press into the bottom and sides of a lightly greased 9 inch springform pan, about an inch and a half up the sides of the pan will do. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 10 -12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in the pan on a wire rack.

For toffee filling:
In a small saucepan combine melted butter, brown sugar and vanilla extract. Bring to a slow boil until foamy, then add condensed milk. Bring back to a slow boil over medium low heat. and cook stirring continuously for another 3 or 4 minutes until the mixture darkens slightly. Remove from heat and pour into the prepared cookie crumb crust. Chill for 2 hours or more until thoroughly cooled.

For banana cream topping:
Add whipping cream, icing sugar and vanilla extract to the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat together until soft peaks form, then whip in crème fraiche. Once incorporated, gently fold in bananas.

Spread the banana cream topping over the toffee filling and garnish the top of the pie with chocolate shavings if desired. Chill for about another hour before serving.

 

 

Saturday
Mar312012

Braised Lamb Cheek Vol Au Vents with Creamed Mustard Greens and Gremolata

Mary had a little lamb. It was DELICIOUS

I’ve been going through my recipe files and trying to organize them into a cookbook for the iPad so that I have easy, portable access when I want to find something. This is all for my personal use, because most of my go-tos are recipes I’ve found online over the years, created by someone else and thrown into an email folder, never again to see the light of day. When I make a recipe and love it, it goes into a different folder and gets sent out to the recipe mailing list I’ve grown over the years. (Today, if you’re on that list, you get an update when I throw a new recipe up to Baketard, which is intended to replace that list.)

Digging through old files I found this recipe, which was one we made a while back when we had a friend coming to town. I was lucky enough to score some lamb cheeks at the farmers’ market, and this recipe was just pretty and fussy enough for me to want to give it a go. I mean, let’s be serious—who doesn’t love ANYTHING surrounded by a vol au vent of puff pastry? Looks fancy, but it is really easy to prepare. You just need to plan for some braising time.

If you can’t get lamb cheeks (and let’s be honest, they’re not easy to acquire), this recipe would also work well with shanks. The cooking time would need to be a little bit longer—just check the meat after 3 hours and see if it’s ready to fall off the bone. That’s what you’re going for here.

I’m looking forward to light, delicious spring foods soon. Right now, with our overcast skies and constant rain, I’m still craving this kind of grub.

Enjoy!

Braised Lamb Cheek Vol Au Vents with Creamed Mustard Greens and Gremolata

Adapted from a recipe by Michael Thurman, Martini House, St. Helena

Serves 6

6 4 oz. lamb cheeks

2 carrots, cut up

3 large onions, cut up

1 head garlic, minced

2 large cans chicken broth

1 bunch thyme

1 bay leaf

2 T black peppercorns

6 T whole mustard seed

Puff Pastry

Creamed Mustard Greens

4 bunches mustard greens

3 shallots thinly sliced

2 T butter

1 qt heavy cream

3 T whole grain mustard

2 T fresh ground

mustard seed

1 T fresh ground

nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

Gremolata

1 lemon

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

 

Lamb Cheeks

Season lamb cheeks with salt and pepper. Brown both sides on medium/high in 3 tablespoons vegetable oil. Set aside. Add 2 more tablespoons oil to pan, add vegetables, and sauté until golden brown. Transfer cheeks and vegetables to stock pot and cover with chicken broth.

Add thyme, garlic, and spices and bring to a boil. Cover with lid or foil and place in preheated 375 degree oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Remove cheeks from liquid and cover with plastic; set aside. Strain liquid and discard vegetables and herbs. Reserve braising liquid.

Creamed Mustard Greens

In 2 quart saucepan sweat shallots in melted butter until translucent. Add cream and whole grain mustard. Bring to a slow simmer on medium heat (cream will scald and boil over if too hot.) Reduce cream by half; set aside and keep warm. Skim any skin that continues to form and discard.

Bring 2 gallons of salted water to a boil and add mustard greens. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes (until tender) and remove and plunge into cold water. Remove greens and

squeeze out excess water. Place in food processor and puree while slowly adding cream mixture. When desired consistency is met add nutmeg and mustard seed. Set aside.

Gremolata

Combine garlic, lemon zest, and parsley in mixing bowl. Add olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Vol au Vent (Puff Pastry)

Puff Pastry sheets can be purchased in the freezer section of the grocery store. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Allow pastry to thaw for about 20 minutes. Cut into 2-inch squares and place on heavily buttered cookie sheet. In small bowl, whisk egg and milk together. Brush egg mixture lightly over pastry squares.

Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Once removed from oven, cut 1/2" x 1/2" in the middle of each pastry square, remove and set aside

Plating

Warm Vol au Vent in oven and place lamb cheeks in hot braising liquid until warmed through. Place pastry on middle of plate and fill with greens. Place cheek on the greens and spoon one tablespoon of gremolata on top of cheek. Garnish plate with any extra gremolata.

Thursday
Mar222012

Giorgio Locatelli's Branzino alla Vernaccia in Crosta Di Pomodoro (Sea Bass with Tomato Crust and Vernaccia Wine)

As the two of you who read this blog know, I have a crush on Giorgio Locatelli. His cookbooks completely rock my world. Our first cookbook club we ever hosted? Locatelli. The restaurant I must visit whenever I’m lucky enough to be in London for work or pleasure? Locatelli. My go-to for amazing Italian recipes, stories and inspiration? Locatelli.

Get it?

We had friends over this weekend and made a big Italian dinner for everyone. After obligatory appetizers, we started with a nod to it being St. Patrick’s day--a Corned Beef and Cabbage Strudel with a mustard sauce. It was great, got my Irish obligation out of the way, gave us a reason to switch wines, and had everyone sated enough to provide some cooking time to finish the other plates. (Let me know if you want the recipe and I’ll post it).

My Poodle Becky came over and graciously offered to help with the fish dish. I am a pretty confident cook. But when your friend is the author of a sustainable seafood book (Good Fish: Sustainable Seafood Recipes from the Pacific Coast) AND was just nominated for an International Association of Culinary Professionals cookbook award AND you are trying a dish with fish you haven’t cooked before, you swallow your pride and cry, "uncle." Or at least whimper a bit to get the bitch to help.

Oh, and by the time we got to the fish we were about five bottles in. But I digress…

Becky rocked it. She finished filleting the fish, removed the bones and scales the fishmonger missed, and made this amazing dish while I worked on the next course. (Recipes for that to follow: gnocchi Bolognese; braised fennel with orange, sambuca and chile; and a sweet and sour eggplant dish similar to a caponata). The caramelized onion and artichoke puree is decadent, the tomato crust on the fish provides an indescribably sexy, crunchy tang, and the wine reduction provides the necessary acid. It all comes together seamlessly.

Note: The Branzino was really small so I subbed in a rockfish instead. Any firm, white fish will work but be sure to get a thick fillet so it doesnt overcook when you try to crisp the skin.

This is one of the best fish dishes I’ve ever had, and next time, I’ll do it all on my own.

Sea bass with tomato crust and Vernaccia wine

Branzino alla Vernaccia in Crosta Di Pomodoro

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 tomatoes

3 tablespoons diced green olives

1 tablespoon sun-dried tomatoes

2 tablespoons bread crumbs

4 thick sea bass fillets(each about 7 ounces)

Juice of 1 lemon

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

160 ml Vernaccia (or other spicy dry white wine)

3 tablespoons fish stock

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

salt and pepper

For the artichoke puree:

2 large globe artichokes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 white onion (thinly sliced)

160 ml cup white wine

3 tablespoons heavy cream

3 pats of butter

Blanch the tomatoes, skin, quarter and deseed, then cut into dice about the same size as the olive dice.

Put the sun-dried tomatoes into a food processor, process them quickly, then add the bread crumbs and whiz again until the tomato is absorbed into the bread crumbs and it looks a bit like a crumble mixture. Spoon out onto a tray and flatten down. Leave in a warm place in the kitchen for an hour or so to dry out.

Preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F) and take your sea bass out of the fridge so that it can come to room temperature. Squeeze the lemon juice, put half to one side and add the rest to a bowl of water. Have this ready before you start preparing the artichokes for the puree.

To make the puree, snap off the artichoke stalks and discard them. With a small paring knife, starting at the base of each artichoke, trim off all the green leaves and put the artichoke into the bowl of water with lemon juice while you remove the leaves from the next one. Repeat with the remaining artichokes. Using the same paring knife, begin to trim away the white leaves from each artichoke until you are left only with a few tender ones surrounding the heart. Put back into the bowl of water and continue to trim the other artichokes, putting them into the water as soon as they are ready, so that they don't discolour. Cut each artichoke heart in half, scoop out the hairy chokes and discard them. Leave the remaining hearts in the bowl of water until you need them.

Heat a saucepan, add the olive oil and then the sliced onion. Cook for about 10 minutes until the onion is soft but not coloured. Thinly slice the artichoke hearts, add them to the onion and cook for another 5 minutes, the add the white wine. Allow the alcohol to evaporate completely (about 15 to 20 minutes) and then add half a pint of water. Continue to cook for another 20 minutes or so, until the artichokes are soft and all the water has disappeared — keep an eye on the pan and stir as the water evaporates, to avoid the artichokes catching fire and burning.

Transfer the contents of the pan containing the artichokes to a food processor and puree until smooth.

Put the cream in a pan and boil it to reduce it by half. Add the artichoke puree and let it cook for a few minutes. The resulting puree should be soft but firm enough for the sea bass to sit on top; if you feel that it is too wet, let it cook a little longer to dry it out. When it is ready, season to taste, cover and keep to one side.

Take an ovenproof nonstick frying pan big enough to fit all the fillets comfortably and get it hot on the burner. (If you don't have a big enough pan, you will need to cook the fillets in two batches.) Lightly season the fish on the skin side, put a tablespoon of olive oil into the pan (it will heat up instantly) and add the fillets, skin side down. As the heat goes through the fish, it will turn from translucent to white and opaque.

As soon as the fillet has turned white halfway up the fillet, turn it over (the skin should now be crisp and golden) and sprinkle with the dried breadcrumb and tomato mixture. Pour the wine into the pan (around, not over the fish) and transfer to the oven for a couple of minutes. The bread crumbs will crisp up and become darker in colour.

Take the pan from the oven and lift the fish onto a warm plate. Put the pan back on the heat, add the olives, tomatoes and fish stock, and bubble up so that it reduces by half. Then put the sea bass back into the sauce, crust upward, for a minute or so to heat through.

At the same time, put the artichoke puree back on the heat to warm through. Stir in the butter and, when the puree is hot, spoon it onto your plates and put the fish on top.

To the pan in which the fish has been cooked, add the reserved lemon juice, the rest of the olive oil and the parsley, then spoon this mixture around the fish and serve.


Sunday
Mar182012

Orange and chocolate ricotta fritters with honey

Desserts intimidate me. With a blog called Baketard, this shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. During the summer, I make ice cream constantly. I can whip up a soufflé or throw together a silky crème brûlée with the best of them, but when it comes to baking or dough, it's hit and miss. I'm so used to cooking savory foods where you get to improvise according to your tastes, with baking I tend to breeze by steps, forget an ingredient, or be left baffled because I just don't do it often enough to understand things like what a dough should feel like when it's ready. Cooking is joy and relaxation for me. Baking is work. Because of this, I try to find recipes that tickle my brain and inspire me, push my comfort zone a little bit, but don't put me into an all-day, overwhelming project to make something like a cake that I'm unlikely to execute well.

I found this recipe at my favorite recipe website, Australian Gourmet Traveller. I've gushed about this magazine before. (I prefer it to our US cooking magazines because it never dumbs anything down for the reader, and the food coming out of Oz these days completely inspires me.) I made this last night to cap off an Italian dinner party, and we all loved it. David and I also loved it left over with our coffee this morning. I don't know WHY we can't diet around here.

The recipe calls for you to make the dough and let it sit for an hour in the refrigerator. I actually made it about 3 hours ahead and it worked just fine.  I didn't have golden caster sugar (do they even sell it in the US?) so I sent out a plea to my baking gurus on twitter, and the consensus was to blitz some demerara sugar in the food processor as a substitution. I didn't have any handy, so I blitzed some turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw) instead and it worked just fine.

These doughnuts didn't seem greasy, and the chocolate orange flavor came blazing through, even with the honey. Enjoy!

Orange and Chocolate Ricotta Fritters with Honey

Serves 6

225 gm ricotta, drained
30 gm dark chocolate, finely chopped
50 gm golden caster sugar
30 ml orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier or Cointreau
egg and 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
1 tbsp finely grated orange rind
75 gm (½ cup) plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
For deep frying:
vegetable oil

To serve:
pure icing sugar

To serve:
honey
 
1. Combine ricotta, chocolate, sugar, liqueur, egg, egg mixture and orange rind in a bowl and mix until smooth, add flour and baking powder and mix to combine. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
2. Heat vegetable oil in a deep saucepan or deep-fryer to 180C. Using 2 teaspoons, form ricotta mixture into rough quenelles and drop in batches into hot oil. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until golden and cooked through, remove using a slotted spoon and drain on absorbent paper. Dust heavily with icing sugar and serve hot, drizzled with honey.
  
Tuesday
Mar062012

Roasted Grape Risotto with Hazelnuts and La Tur Cheese

To say I love Holly Smith and the food she serves at Café Juanita in Kirkland would be a gross understatement. I met Holly a few years ago when a friend “bought” her at the Seattle Men’s Chorus Auction, and invited us to his home to share a multi-course, wine-paired dinner she hosted with some of her staff from the restaurant. It didn't hurt that she was totally down with our snarky banter and was willing to go with the bitchy flow in the room! The food completely blew my mind—so much that for birthdays and celebrations, when David asks, “Where would you like to go” the answer is an unwavering, “Café Juanita”. (If you go, eat her signature dish…..the rabbit will completely change your life. When in doubt, Eat The Bunny Eat The Bunny Eat The Bunny. She also makes a foie dish that will make you weep with joy).

Because I am her biggest stalker fan, I often search the net for her recipes I can try at home. I ran across this risotto recipe and made it this weekend. It Blew. Our. Minds. The sweetness of the grapes and the tangy cheese are incredible together. Don’t be daunted by trying to procure the cheese.  In Seattle, you can get it at PFI for about 10 bucks. Otherwise, if you have a good cheesemonger you should be able to hunt it down.

David proclaimed this to be the best risotto I’ve ever made at home, and I have to agree.

What’s your favorite risotto recipe?

Roasted Grape Risotto with Hazelnuts and La Tur Cheese

Recipe from Holly Smith, Chef/Owner of Cafe Juanita

Serves 6

Ingredients

Roasted Grapes:

•1 bag seedless red Grapes from California

•>1/4 cup fennel seed

•1/2 teaspoon chile flakes

•1 tablespoon thyme

•1 teaspoon salt

•1/4 cup olive oil

Directions

Mix all ingredients together. Roast at 400 degrees F until soft and caramelized golden. Take out and leave at room temperature.

Roasted Hazelnuts:

•1 cup hazelnuts roughly chopped

In a 350 degrees F degree oven, roast hazelnuts until lightly browned, for approximately 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool. Reserve for later.

Risotto:

•2 1/2 cups Carnaroli rice (Arborio is acceptable substitution)

•7 to 8 cups chicken stock (vegetable stock may be used as well)

•2 medium yellow onions, finely diced

•1 pound unsalted Plugra butter at room temperature

•8 shallots finely minced

•1/2 cup verjus

•1 1/2 wheels of La Tur Cheese

•1 cup roasted hazelnuts (recipe above)

•Roasted grapes (recipe above)

Melt 4 ounces of butter in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add diced onions and shallots and cook over medium to high heat, stirring until uniformly caramelized. While the onions are cooking, bring the stock up to a simmer in a separate pot. It is always best to add hot stock to your risotto. Add the rice to the onions and stir. Coat all kernels well. Add the verjus and stir. Add 4 cups of hot stock and stir well. Turn the heat down to medium. When the rice has absorbed most of stock, begin adding 1/2 cup more at a time. Stir every minute or two until the stock is absorbed. Continue until about 7 cups total have been added to the rice. Taste and add more stock if not cooked through. When rice is just done and still very moist, turn off the heat and let rest for 2 minutes off the burner.

Divide the remaining butter into three portions. Add one portion at a time into the risotto, beating with a wooden spoon until well incorporated. Add one-half wheel of the La Tur cheese and stir vigorously. Fold in the roasted grapes and stir gently. With the remaining wheel of the La Tur, divide into 6 sections and roll in the reserved roasted hazelnuts. Divide and plate the grape risotto onto six plates. Garnish each with hazelnut La Tur cheese.

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