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.

Entries in nancy silverton (3)

Sunday
Mar102013

Torta Della Nonna

Earlier this year, I talked about my cooking trip to Sichuan and the great friendships I made while studying there. One of my fellow students is a journalist, and he wrote a fantastic article for this morning’s Boston Globe. Another is a retired university professor living in China for a year with his wife (who is teaching at the University), and the third, a retired exec from a large international accounting firm. The latter came to Seattle last weekend to stay with us and meet David for the first time. His only instructions were, “Rather than going out to dinner, let’s cook together. You invite your c*ntiest gays, and I’ll do the same when you come to Florida in March”.

I can do that. Game. ON!

Since we spent two weeks cooking Chinese food together, and have both burned out our respective husbands with Sichuan fare since returning to the US, I decided to cook Italian for him.  With the exception of the appetizer tartlets I mentioned recently, every dish came from Nancy Silverton’s Mozza cookbook, with which I am completely OBSESSED. We have used this book in the past for our cookbook club, where every dish blew our minds.

For this occasion with my friend, we started with the tartlets, moved on to a beautiful take on a caprese salad with burrata, pesto, pine nuts and oven-roasted tomatoes, made a pasta dish with homemade sausage, herbs and fennel pollen, and taking the main stage, a stuffed quail agrodolce dish my friend Becky took over and rocked. (It’s always to have a chef friend over for a dinner party. Especially when they ALSO meet the aforementioned “c*nty gay” requirement). I'll be blogging about the quail dish for sure.  This night was one of those perfect dinner parties for a host, where every dish outshone the last,...culminating in this cheese-filled Torta. This is, for me, the most intricate dessert I’ve ever made successfully to the point I’d call it a “10”, other than that Pastel de Tres Leches cake, which was also a bitch to make.

No weird substitutions or anything here, since it is a dreaded baking recipe. I did find unbleached pastry flour but I had to look for a while to find it. I didn’t find the Italian leavening at either of the Italian delis in town, so I used the baking soda/powder mixture and it worked great. I had to search for honeycomb, but if you have a grocery store with a good cheese selection, they're likely to sell it. (For Seattleites, I got it at the University Village QFC). This dessert looks so impressive with the cheesecake topped with the individual cookies and honeycomb. It’s definitely one I will make again, but there’s a significant time investment here.

Cooling the torta and the cookies

This dinner party involved lots of Negronis, many bottles of red and white wine, and we served the last of my homemade Arancello with dessert. After many jokes, puns and jabs at one another to accompany the food and wine, everyone stumbled their happy asses home. As my friend swerved downstairs to the guest room, he gave the concession I was waiting to hear: “Your friends are WAY c*ntier than mine”.

Well done, people.

Well done.

Torta Della Nonna

From Mozza, by Nancy Silverton and Matt Molina

Ingredients

For the crust:

11/2 cups unbleached pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes

1/4 teaspoon Italian leavening, such as Bench Mate, Pane Angel, or Rebecchi, or 1/8 teaspoon baking soda and 1/8 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of kosher salt

4 extra- large egg yolks

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (if not using Italian leavening)

All-purpose flour, for dusting

Unsalted butter, for the pan

1 extra- large egg white

1/3 cup toasted pine nuts

For the filling:

10 ounces Philadelphia style cream cheese

1 cup mild- flavored fresh goat cheese, such as Coach Farms goat cheese

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup mascarpone cheese

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon unbleached pastry flour or unbleached all- purpose

flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3 extra- large eggs

1 cup sugar

11/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For serving the tart:

Honeycomb

Two types of single- flower honeys, such as chestnut honey and wildflower honey

Cooking Directions

To make the crust, combine the flour, confectioners' sugar, butter, leavening, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, and mix on low speed until the butter and dry ingredients form a coarse cornmeal consistency, about 2 minutes. Add the egg yolks and vanilla, if you are using it, and mix on medium speed until the dough is smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Dust a flat work surface with flour and turn the dough out onto it. Knead the dough for a few minutes until it comes together into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour and up to three days; or freeze it for up to two months. (Defrost the dough overnight in the refrigerator.)

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Dust a flat work surface with flour, cut the dough into chunks, and knead the dough on the countertop to soften it, until it is the texture of Play- Doh. Cut off a 1/3 cup portion (about 3.2 ounces) of dough, wrap it in plastic wrap and return it to the refrigerator.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, butter the inside of an 11- inch flan ring, and place the ring on the baking sheet. Remove the remaining dough from the refrigerator. Dust your work surface and rolling pin with flour and roll the dough out to 2 inches larger than the ring, and to a thickness of 1/8 to 1/4 inch. Gently fold the dough in quarters and place it on top of the flan ring, placing the point in the center and gently unfolding the dough so the ends are flopped over the ring. Gently push the dough down to fit inside the ring, pressing into the crease around the inside circumference so the dough fits snugly against the corners and sides. (Don't stretch the dough to fit or it will shrink during baking.) Dip the knuckle of your index finger in flour and use it to press the dough into the crease to create a straight edge, not sloping sides. Roll the rolling pin over the top of the flan ring to cut the dough. Pull off the trimmed dough and discard. Place the tart shell in the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes and up to one day.

Remove the 1/3 cup of dough from the refrigerator and place it between two sheets of parchment paper. Roll it into an 8-inch circle about 1/16 inch thick. Place the dough sandwiched between the parchment paper on a baking sheet and put it in the freezer to chill until it is firm but not frozen, about 30 minutes.

Adjust the oven rack so it is in the lowest position and preheat the oven to 350ºF and line another separate baking sheet with parchment paper.

Remove the sheet of dough that you rolled very thinly from the freezer, lay it on a flat work surface, remove the top sheet of parchment paper, and use the 8-inch ring to cut a circle out of the dough, working quickly so that it stays cold. Pull away and discard the scraps of dough around the circle and cut the circle into eight or ten equal wedges as you would a pie— however many servings you want the tart to make. Still working quickly, use a metal spatula to carefully lift the wedges one at a time and place them on the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between each. Brush the wedges with the egg white. Scatter 2 tablespoons of the pine nuts over the wedges, dividing them evenly, and gently press the nuts into the wedges to make sure they adhere; reserve the remaining pine nuts for serving with the tart.

Bake the wedges until they're golden brown, about 8 minutes, rotating the pan in the middle of the baking time so the cookies brown evenly. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and place it on a wire cooling rack until the wedges cool, and dust them lightly with powdered sugar.

To make the filling, combine the cream cheese, goat cheese, butter, and mascarpone in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until the ingredients are combined and the mixture is smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula occasionally, about 2 minutes. Add the flour and salt, mix on low speed to incorporate, and transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Combine the eggs and sugar in the bowl you mixed the cheeses in. (There's no need to wash the bowl.) Exchange the paddle attachment for the whisk attachment on your mixer and beat the eggs and sugar together until the eggs are thick and fluffy and the sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat just to incorporate. Gently fold one- third of the egg mixture into the cheese, using the flat side of a spatula to smash the cheese and break up the density of the cheese with the egg. Add another third of the egg mixture, folding it in with a light hand so the eggs stay light and fluffy. Fold in the remaining egg mixture, mixing until the ingredients are combined but there are still visible lumps of cheese in the mix. (The filling can be made up to four days in advance. Transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate until you are ready to bake the tart.)

Remove the tart shell from the refrigerator and pour the filling into the shell to fill it 1/8 inch from the top. (You may not use all of it but you don't want to overfill the ring; discard the excess.) Place the baking sheet with the tart on it in the oven to bake for about 40 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through the baking time for even browning, until the filling is set and the top is golden brown. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and set it aside to cool slightly. Cut the tart into the same number of wedges that you cut cookie wedges. You can serve the tart warm, or set it aside to cool to room temperature. (To rewarm the tart, place the whole tart or individual slices on a baking sheet and put it in a 350ºF oven until it is warmed through; about 5 minutes for slices, about 15 minutes for a whole tart.)

Just before serving, place the cookie wedges on the tart with the outside edges of the cookies about 1 inch from the edge of the tart. Lift the flan ring off the tart. Use a large knife to cut between the cookies, creating even slices using the cookies as a guide. Use a metal spatula to carefully transfer each wedge to a dessert plate. Spoon 1 teaspoon of honeycomb on one side of each wedge. Spoon 1 teaspoon of each of the two honeys into circles about the size of silver dollars on either side of each wedge. Scatter a few of the reserved pine nuts in the center of each pool of honey, but not the honeycomb, and serve.

Wednesday
Jan022013

Chicken Crostone with Liver and Pancetta Sauce, and Rosemary Cake with Lavender Glaze

Happy New Year!

It’s the time of year when we all have to sit back, reflect on the past 365 days, cringe at the weight we gained over the holidays and make a bunch of healthy eating resolutions we will keep for precisely 16 days before we say, “Screw it” and go out for Mexican food after a rough day at work.

We just got back from a holiday trip to Mexico with friends where we ate too much, drank too much, and came back bloated and full of self-loathing (Ah, holidays). Fortunately, I convinced our trainer Anna the Horrible to help us with our New Year’s fitness challenge this time, so hopefully we’ll make it past the 16-day mark because this time we have greater incentive.  Here’s the deal: We want a 3-month challenge. There are four of us who train with her, all of whom want to lose some weight before the summer so we don’t have to go swimming in t-shirts, puffy coats and parkas. We will weigh in with her this week and she will set aggressive goals for each of us for the three month period. If/when we succeed in our goals, our reward will be that we get to set up a workout for her to do, including all the most torturous exercises she makes us do—VersaClimber, throwing a goddamned bajillion pound medicine ball at the wall while doing squats, medieval torture positions to be held while doing a Plank, etc. While she does these things, we will sit in the private training room, comfy on padded yoga mats, EATING FRIED CHICKEN. (I thought this was a brilliant incentive, if I do say so myself).  After some negotiation, she agreed. What we don’t know yet is what the penalties will be for those who DON’T make it, other than having to join her in the workout.

David and I are weighing in with her on Friday, which leaves us only a couple of days left to eat real food. With this in mind, I made a New Year’s Day delicious hangover dinner last night from a couple of different sources.  First, from the Mozza Cookbook, we made Chicken Crostone (It’s supposed to be guinea hen, but who has that lying around—HELLO) in a chicken liver and pancetta sauce.  It’s one of those slow braises which takes a while to make, but the active time is pretty minimal. It was rich, delicious and completely comforting on a cold, dark, hung over Seattle night.

Next, I made a recipe I found this weekend while bored-bored-bored on an airplane, surfing the web for Italian chef websites. It’s a rosemary cake, which is pretty typical for northern Italy, with a lavender glaze. Two of my favorite herbs in one dessert? SOLD! The recipe came from a website called La Tavola Marche. (Out of respect for their blog, I won’t post the recipe here, but you can get it by clicking this link).

Both dishes came out great, but were tough to photograph. There was little light left by the time I ran outside to take a photo glazing the cake, and the frosting looked a little bit nasty so I couldn’t help myself. I’m immature. Sue me. 

Bukcake or Cakekkake?

The chicken wasn’t done until it was pitch black outside (which is about 4pm) so by the time we had dinner there was no way to take a natural light photo. Oh, and the chicken, the sauce and the bread on which it rests are all shades of beige or brown.  This is basically my way of saying DON’T JUDGE. The photos are crap but the dishes were both relatively simple, hugely satisfying, and absolutely delicious.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did, and good luck with your new year’s resolutions. I’ll still be thinking of these recipes next week when we are dining on air with a side of dust and a slice of lemon (all of which are part of a healthy Gluten Free diet).

Guinea Hen Crostone with Liver and Pancetta Sauce

Adapted from the Mozza Cookbook, by Nancy Silverton

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 8 guinea hen thighs* (we used skin-on chicken thighs)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Flour for dredging
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, more as needed
  • 2 1/2 cups diced pancetta
  • 3 cups diced Spanish onion
  • 12 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 4 cups dry white wine
  • 4 cups chicken or guinea hen stock, plus an additional 1 cup for the crostone
  • 1 pound (about 2 1/2 cups) cleaned chicken livers, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
  • 2 lemons, zest removed in long strips, and juiced
  • 4 (2-inch thick) slices peasant bread, such as ciabatta, each slice about 7x3- inches
  • 1/4 cup whole celery heart leaves, for garnish
  • 1/4 cup whole Italian parsley leaves, for garnish

Directions

*Note: You'll probably have to buy guinea hen whole legs rather than thighs. In this case, cut the drumsticks off and make a stock with them, just as you would a chicken stock. Use in the recipe instead of chicken stock.

With a clean kitchen towel or paper towel, pat the guinea thighs dry. Season them with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Dredge in the flour and pat off all excess flour. Meanwhile, heat a large (12-inch) saute pan over medium heat for one minute, and then add the olive oil. It should be hot but not smoking by the time you are done flouring the guinea thighs.

Brown the thighs, skin side down first, adjusting the heat and adding more oil so that the meat sizzles at a nice pace. Cook until golden, 2 to 3 minutes, and then turn the meat and cook another minute or two to color the other side. If your pan is small, cook the thighs in two batches. Transfer the thighs to a plate.

You will now need a 4-quart straight sided saute pan or an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven. This pan should be wide enough to have the thigh pieces fit in single layer and deep enough to hold at least 4 quarts of liquid (a stock pot will work in a pinch). Put this pan over medium-high heat. Add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Add the pancetta and sweat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the onions and garlic and sweat for another five minutes or so, so that the onions are soft and translucent. Add the rosemary, sage, and a small pinch of pepper. (The pancetta should add enough salt to the sauce so don't worry about salting yet.) Sweat for one more minute. Add the wine, 4 cups of the stock, livers, capers, vinegar, and lemon juice. Add the reserved guinea thighs and bring the braise to a simmer. There should be well more liquid than is needed to cover the meat. This is a good thing, as this dish is all about having plenty of sauce and it will reduce as you cook it. Simmer until the guinea is fork-tender and the meat pulls away from the bone easily, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Carefully remove the thighs and reserve on a plate.

Turn up the heat and boil the sauce, stirring from time to time to make sure it isn't sticking and burning, until it reduces by half. To thicken it slightly, use a blender to puree 1 cup of the reduced sauce and add it back to the pan. Stir and taste for seasoning. Add a couple drops of lemon juice if needed. Salt is probably not needed, but use your judgment for final seasoning.

The dish can be made up to this point a day ahead.

To finish, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Put the bread slices in a small baking dish that has been generously coated with olive oil. Ladle the remaining 1 cup of stock evenly over all of the bread. Set two thighs on each slice, skin side up. Toast in the oven until the bread has turned a crispy golden brown on the bottom, about 10 minutes; use a spatula to check and be careful as the toast tends to stick. Reheat the sauce.

Remove the thighs from the toasts, and carefully remove the crostones from the pan and turn them over so that the brown side is up.

To plate, set one slice of toast on each plate. Remove the thigh bone from the meat and place the meat from two thighs on each toast. Spoon some of the warmed sauce over each thigh and a little more to run off the crostone. Garnish with celery leaf (inner yellow leaves only), Italian parsley leaf, and long strips of lemon zest.

Wednesday
Feb292012

Butterscotch Budino with Caramel Sauce and Rosemary–Pine Nut Cookies

This is one of those recipes that makes enough to serve a crowd (10 servings) but you will really want to sit in a dark corner in front of the TV with a huge spoon and eat it all yourself. I’ve made this quite a few times since buying this book, and it’s always a crowd-pleaser.  The crème fraiche / whipped cream mixture adds some nice tang to combat the sweetness of the Budino, and the creme fraiche also stabilizes the cream.

My surprise in this was in the making of the butterscotch. I know it should be self-evident from the name, but this is the first time I did a butterscotch recipe containing butter and scotch. I know, I know--I'm clearly not going to be a Rhodes Scholar any time soon.

I did not make the cookies this recipe called for because…well….that would be baking.

Enjoy!

(Thanks to Matt Wright for the photo help with this one. This is one of the recipes we photographed at his house, as he patiently tried to teach the Baketard to be less of a Photogratard.)

Butterscotch Budino with Caramel Sauce and Rosemary–Pine Nut Cookies

Recipe from Nancy Silverton’s book, Mozza

“A budino is really just a pudding. But this budino, with its deep buttery-caramel flavor and thick, velvety texture is enough to make an Italian chef’s eyes light up. Imagine what it will do for your guests!” –Nancy Silverton

Yield:10 servings

Ingredients:

Butterscotch Budino:

 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

 1/2 cup water

 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

 3 cups heavy cream

 1 1/2 cups milk

 1 egg

 3 egg yolks

 5 tablespoons cornstarch

 5 tablespoons butter

 1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum or scotch

Rosemary–Pine Nut Cookies:

 3 tablespoons heavy cream

 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons honey

 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour, sifted

 1/4 vanilla bean, scraped

 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup butter, divided

 1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted

 2 sprigs of rosemary

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons pastry flour

 1/4 cup cornmeal or polenta

Caramel Sauce:

 1/2 cup heavy cream

 1/8 vanilla bean, scraped

 2 tablespoons butter

 1/2 cup sugar

 2 tablespoons corn syrup

 2 tablespoons water

 

1/4 cup whipping cream

 3/4 cup crème fraîche

 1 1/4 teaspoons fleur de sel

Method:

To prepare the budino, combine the brown sugar, water, and salt in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Cook to a smoking, dark caramel, about 10 to 12 minutes. (The sugar will smell caramelized and nutty and turn a deep brown.) Immediately whisk the cream and milk into the caramel to stop the cooking. The mixture will steam and the caramel will seize, but will become smooth again as you whisk. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce the heat to medium.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolks, and cornstarch. Temper the hot caramel cream into the egg mixture by adding a cup of caramel at a time, whisking constantly. When half the caramel is incorporated, pour the egg mixture back into the remaining caramel, and boil while whisking constantly until the custard is very thick, about 2 minutes. Remove the custard from the heat and whisk in the butter and rum. Strain the custard through a fine mesh strainer to remove any lumps and divide among ten 6-ounce ramekins. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for several hours, or up to 3 days.

To prepare the rosemary–pine nut cookies, place the cream, honey, sugar, vanilla bean seeds, and 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook over high heat, stirring only once to ensure even cooking, until the mixture reaches 230º F on a candy thermometer. Take off the heat and whisk in the all-purpose flour. Pour the mixture into a bowl and fold in the pine nuts and 1 of the rosemary sprigs. Let the mixture stand for 15 minutes. Remove and discard the rosemary sprig. (This mixture can be made in advance, and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. Bring it to room temperature before rolling out the cookies.)

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the remaining 1/2 cup butter and the powdered sugar until it is creamy and smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the vanilla extract and salt and mix until combined. Add the flour and polenta and mix until combined. The dough will be soft. Shape the dough into a disk and wrap the disk in plastic. Chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350º F. On a well-floured surface, roll out the cookie dough to 1/8-inch thick. Cut out circles of dough using a 1 1/4–inch round cutter. Place the circles of dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Work the pine nut mixture between your fingers, creating a thin disk about the size of a dime. Place the circle on a cut-out cookie and garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs, about three leaves for each cookie. Once all of the cookies are finished and garnished, bake them for about 15 minutes until they are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

To prepare the caramel sauce, heat the cream and vanilla in a medium saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Add the butter, turn off the heat, and set aside. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Cook over medium-high heat, swirling the pan just slightly to gauge the caramelization, until the sugar becomes a medium amber color, about 10 minutes. Remove the caramel from heat and carefully whisk the cream mixture into the caramel. Be very careful—the caramel will steam and bubble. Whisk to combine. Place the pan in a large bowl of ice water to cool.

To serve, whip the whipping cream in a chilled medium bowl until it begins to thicken. Add the crème fraiche and beat until thick and fluffy. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the warm caramel sauce onto each budino, sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon of fleur de sel, and add a dollop of whipped cream. Serve with a few cookies on the side