January 31, 2009

Spring Cooking Classes

I'm very excited about the upcoming cooking classes I'm teaching...

Sunday, March 1 @ 1:00-3:30
Cookin' the Books: Baking From My Home to Yours

My favorite Tuesdays with Dorie recipes!
  • Peanut & Caramel-Topped Brownie Cakes
  • Coconut Key Lime Pie
  • Black-and-White Banana Loaf
  • Dark Chocolate Sorbet

Saturday, March 21 @ 6:30-9:00
Girls Night Out: Skewers & Shooters
This was so fun last time; I can't wait to do it again!
  • Vanilla Vodka & Pineapple "Hand Grenades"
  • Chicken Skewers with Dukka Crust & Balsamic Reduction
  • Pea Soup Shots with Spicy Crab
  • Chai-Brined Shrimp & Mango Skewers
  • White Chocolate & Mint Mousse Shooters

Friday, April 17 @ 6:30-9:00
Girls Night Out: Flamenco Friday
A Spanish inspired menu...
  • Spanish Alexander Cocktail
  • Piquillo Pepper Cheese Crostini
  • Calamari & Black-Eyed Pea Salad
  • Almond Cake with Brandy Cream

Sunday, May 3 @ 1:00-3:30
Bloody Mary Sunday
My first hands-on class!
  • Bloody Mary Bar (featuring my soon-to-be-famous Bacon Vodka)
  • BLT Cheesecake
  • Smoked Salmon & Herbed Egg Stuffed Puff Pastry
  • Chocolate, Apple & Brie Panini

Saturday, May 9 @ 6:00-8:30
Date Night for Couples: From Beer to Sushi Eternity
Jerad and I are teaching this class together,
and he's picking out the beer!
  • Salt & Pepper Edamame
  • Sticky Sushi Rice
  • Hand-Formed Nigiri
  • Spicy Tuna Rolls
  • California Rolls
  • Philadelphia Rolls
  • Japanese Beer

Saturday, May 30 @ 6:30-9:00
Girls Night Out: Pepper-azzi
Because some like it hot!
  • Cinnamon Martini
  • Thai Shrimp Lettuce Wraps
  • Curry-Lime Chicken
  • Chocolate & Black Pepper Ice Cream

Saturday, June 6 @ 6:30-9:00
Girls Night Out: Ciao Bella
An Italian Inspired Menu!
  • Prosecco & Saba Cocktail
  • Antipasto Salad
  • Mackerel with Sicilian Caper & Tomato Salsa
  • Limoncello Trifle

Friday, June 26 @ 6:30-9:00
Girls Night Out: Brewed Awakenings
Calling all coffee-lovers!
  • Espresso Martini
  • Coffee-infused Mushroom Soup
  • Coffee, Honey, & Red Chili-Glazed Grouper
  • Coffee Slaw with Grilled Pineapple
  • Classic Tiramisu

If you're interested in taking a class, you can call Kitchen Conservatory at 314-862-2665 or register online. Hope to see you there!

January 29, 2009

Daring Bakers: Tuiles

This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen (aka Baking Soda) of Bake My Day! and Zorra (aka Kochtopf) of 1x umruehren bitte. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux's Finest Desserts.

According to the Karen, "traditionally, tuiles are thin, crisp almond cookies that are gently molded over a rolling pin or arched form while they are still warm. Once set, their shape resembles the curved French roofing tiles for which they're named. The Dutch angle: traditionally this batter was used to bake flat round cookies on 31st December, representing the year unfold. On New Year's Day however, the same batter was used but this day they were presented to well-wishers shaped as cigars and filled with whipped cream, symbolizing the New Year that's about to roll on."

We had a choice of making the sweet tuiles or a savory version. I went with the savory version, using a muffin pan to form the warm tuiles into cups & filling them with a mushroom caviar.

Savory Tuile/Cornets
from Thomas Keller's The French Laundry Cookbook

1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool to the touch
2 large egg whites, cold
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds (or other seasonings)

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the softened butter until it is completely smooth and mayonnaise-like in texture. Using a stiff spatula or spoon, beat the egg whites into the dry ingredients until completely incorporated and smooth. Whisk in the softened butter by thirds, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary and whisking until the batter is creamy and without any lumps. Transfer the batter to a smaller container, as it will be easier to work with.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Make a 4-inch hollow circular stencil. Place Silpat on the counter (it is easier to work on the Silpat before it is put on the sheet pan). Place the stencil in one corner of the sheet and, holding the stencil flat against the Silpat, scoop some of the batter onto the back of an offset spatula and spread it in an even layer over the stencil. Then run the spatula over the entire stencil to remove any excess batter. After baking the first batch of cornets, you will be able to judge the correct thickness. You may need a little more or less batter to adjust the thickness of the cornets.

I didn't use a stencil. Instead, I smeared the batter onto the pan with an off-set spatula, trying to make them as round and thin as possible. In hindsight, a stencil would have been easier. I also sprinkled the batter with thyme instead of sesame seeds.

There should not be any holes in the batter. Lift the stencil and repeat the process to make as many rounds as you have molds or to fill the Silpat, leaving about 1 1/2 inches between the cornets. Sprinkle each cornet with a pinch of black sesame seeds.

Place the Silpat on a heavy baking sheet and bake for 4 to 6 minutes, or until the batter is set and you see it rippling from the heat. The cornets may have browned in some areas, but they will not be evenly browned at this point.

I baked my tuiles initially for about 8 minutes, until they were browned. I then removed them from the oven and immediately transfered them to an upside-down muffin pan that sat on the oven door. I was hoping they would cool into cups. I even put them back into the oven that way to warm a bit, thinking they'd sort of "melt" down around the cups. No such luck. They came out only slightly curved. They still worked as cups, though.

NOTE: Keller's signature French Laundry appetizer is cone-shaped tuiles filled with salmon tartare. To make the cornets, follow the directions below.

Open the oven door and place the baking sheet on the door. This will help keep the cornets warm as you roll them and prevent them from becoming too stiff to roll. Flip a cornet over on the sheet pan, sesame seed side down and place 4-1/2 inch cornet mold at the bottom of the round. If you are right-handed, you will want the pointed end on your left and the open end on your right. The tip of the mold should touch the lower left edge (at about 7 o'clock on a clock face) of the cornet.

Fold the bottom of the cornet and around the mold; it should remain on the sheet pan as you roll. Leave the cornet wrapped around the mold and continue to roll the cornets around molds; as you proceed, arrange the rolled cornets, seams side down, on the sheet pan so they lean against each other, to prevent from rolling.

When all the cornets are rolled, return them to the oven shelf, close the door, and bake for an additional 3 to 4 minutes to set the seams and color the cornets a golden brown. If the color is uneven, stand the cornets on end for a minute or so more, until the color is even. Remove the cornets from the oven and allow to cool just slightly, 30 seconds or so.

Gently remove the cornets from the molds and cool for several minutes on paper towels. Remove the Silpat from the baking sheet, wipe the excess butter from it, and allow it to cool down before spreading the next batch. Store the cornets for up to 2 days (for maximum flavor) in an airtight container.

Mushroom "caviar" is simply finely diced shallots & mushrooms sauteed in olive oil & finished with a splash of beef broth & a sprinkling of thyme. I add some grated Parmesan cheese to the finished dish before eating.

January 28, 2009

Biscuits are messy to make.

Monday night, I watched the sleet & snow fall and wondered if school would be canceled the next day. By 10:00, there was already a growing list of school closures.

"Do you have stuff to make biscuits in the morning?" Jerad asked.

"I guess so," I replied.

"Good. We can make biscuits & gravy for breakfast, since you won't have school."

By the time I went to bed, my school still wasn't added to the list of closed schools. At 5:15 the next morning, while every other school in the area was listed, mine still wasn't on there. About 15 minutes later, I got the call.

I answered the phone with a cheery "Good morning!" and promptly went back to bed.

* * *

I'd only made biscuits once before...in junior high foods class. And, they were awful...flat, hard, & dry.

Despite making a huge mess in the kitchen (flour EVERYWHERE!) , these biscuits were easy to make. They were dense, crispy, & buttery and reminded us of pot pie crust...which was actually a nice contrast in texture with the sausage gravy we smothered them in. Next time, though, I'll try a different recipe...one that will yield a softer dough and give me big, fluffy biscuits.

Basic Biscuits

from Homesick Texan

According to Homesick Texan, "beaten biscuits are what people made in the days before baking soda and baking powder was around. In order to get the biscuits to rise, cooks would beat the dough with a mallet, rolling pin or even an axe for over half an hour until it blistered. This injection of air into the dough caused them to lift a bit, but beaten biscuits are still pretty flat, crispy and dense."

Two cups of flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of sugar (can add more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 stick of butter, cold (8 tablespoons)
3/4 cup of buttermilk, cream or half-and-half

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • Mix all the dry ingredients together.
  • Cut the stick of butter into pieces, and work into the flour mixture with your hands or a pastry blender until it resembles pea-sized crumbs.
  • Add the liquid, mixing until a bit loose and sticky.
  • Pour dough out on a floured surface, and knead for a minute. Dough should be smooth and no longer wet. You can sprinkle more flour on the surface if you find it’s sticking.
  • Take dough into a ball, and hit it with a rolling pin, turning it and folding it in half every few whacks. Do this for a couple of minutes.
  • Roll out dough until it’s 1/4 of an inch thick, and then fold it in half.
  • Using a round cutter (can use a glass or a cup if don’t have a biscuit cutter) cut out your biscuits from folded dough.
  • Place on a greased baking sheet close together (so they rise up not out), and bake for 15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
Makes 10-12 biscuits.

January 27, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie: Chocolate Gingerbread

I almost didn't make this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe. Heather of Sherry Trifle chose the Chocolate Gingerbread, and while it looked like a delicious dessert, I thought I was still gingered-out from the holidays.

But then, I didn't want to miss this week since I didn't make the last two recipes (Corn & Pepper Muffins and Berry Surprise Cake). I really like being in the TWD group, and I don't want to be kicked out.

You see, I've already been kicked out of one group...not a blogging or baking group, but a group a people I used to be a part of who have quite obviously not included me lately. No more invitations to happy hours or dinners for me. I was hurt as I began noticing my exclusion a couple months ago, and I even apologized for having been cranky over the holidays (they are not really a happy time for me). That didn't seem to matter; I have, apparently, been voted off the island. It's okay, though...really. I've learned to appreciate my true friends even more...the friends who don't dump me because my stress or unhappiness might ruin their good time, the friends who might even go out of their way to cheer me up.


I finally decided to make the gingerbread on Sunday afternoon (it made my house smell yummy!) and took it to school yesterday for my fellow teachers with hopes of brightening a cold, gloomy Monday.

  • I used jarred minced ginger instead of fresh ginger, and I omitted the sugared ginger or Asian "stem ginger in syrup".
  • The original recipe calls for a chocolate mocha icing, which I also omitted. Instead, I dusted some powdered sugar on top.

January 23, 2009

"a cheap spaghetti supper"

Jerad gave me a huge, wide, Caribbean blue Le Creuset dutch oven for my birthday in October, and I didn't use it for a couple months. I was saving it for something special...the perfect recipe to break it in.

And then Jerad used it himself...to make a roasted chicken & potato dinner.

It hasn't been in my cabinet since. We've made soups, pastas, and braises. The pot goes from stove to table to fridge to stove to sink and back to the stove for the next meal. I think I've had some kind of food in it since its inaugural recipe. It is, at the moment, my favorite thing to use in the kitchen

Likewise Jerad's mom, Gwen, gave me a copy of Nigel Slater's Appetite for Christmas (She's totally awesome, by the way), and I hadn't yet made anything from it. I was, again, waiting for the perfect time to make the perfect meal. And then I realized that's not what Slater is all about. He's about putting simple but good ingredients together to make delicious meals...meals you can cook and eat any day.

So, when I was thinking about what to make for dinner on Wednesday I remembered that I had some diced prosciutto and a quarter loaf of homemade bread and some parsley...all of the ingredients for a slightly modified version of :

Slater's "cheap spaghetti supper"

It's not just that this is a cheap supper but that it is put together from things we tend to have knocking around. Its practical, almost puritan background is a bonus. The point is that crisp bacon and bread crumbs work brilliantly with the long strings of pasta. It makes a change to have pasta without sauce. A few glugs of oil at the end are lubricant enough. You can safely use any of the thin pasta family here instead of spaghetti: tagliatelle, tagliarini, fettuccine, or linguine. I have used the wide, floppy ribbons of pappardelle before now. They all work. Try to get a mixture of bread crumb sizes, as they are more interesting to eat.

Per person:

white bread--2 thickish slices, crusts removed
spaghetti--a thick handful, about 4 ounces or so
butter--a thick slice
olive oil
bacon--2 slices of lean center-cut
parsley--a small bunch, the leaves only, roughly chopped

Whiz the bread to rough crumbs in a food processor, or grate it by hand. It won't hurt at all (in fact it will be a bonus) if some of the crumbs are on the large side. Put a big pot of water on to boil, salt it generously, and shove in the pasta. Let it cook [according to the package directions], till it is tender but chewy.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a frying pan with a little olive oil to stop it burning. Cut the bacon into short pieces and fry it in the butter till its fat is golden and the kitchen smells wonderful. Scoop the bacon out with a slotted spoon into a large, warm serving bowl. Add a bit more butter and oil to the butter and bacon fat in the pan and tip in the bread crumbs. Stir them from time to time in the sizzling butter till they have turned a rich gold. You need to keep an eye on them because they appear as if they are never going to brown, then suddenly they are almost black.

Drain the pasta and toss it with the hot crumbs and any of their butter, the bacon, and the parsley, plus a little olive oil to moisten and flavor.

Slater suggests a number of other additions to this simple recipe, including adding garlic, hot pepper flakes, lemon & thyme, anchovies, roasted tomatoes & basil, or butter & parmesan.

Here are my modifications, based solely on what I had on-hand:
  • I used bacon grease instead of butter to cook the meat, then I added a tablespoon of butter to the remaining oil before browning the bread crumbs.
  • I used a whole package diced proscuitto instead of bacon.
  • I made breadcrumbs out of some homemade wheat bread I had left, crusts and all.
  • I boiled an entire package of angel hair pasta.
  • I topped each bowl with a tablespoon or so of grated Parmesan cheese.

January 20, 2009

Lamb Minestrone

We've only had 1 week of classes after Christmas break and already we've been off for three snow days. Well, two of them--last Thursday & Friday--were "cold days," the weather being too blustery to have school. With yesterday being a holiday, I've had the last five days off.

Remind me to stop complaining about my job.

You would think that with all those days off, there'd be a flurry of activity in my kitchen. Not so. I brewery hopped in St. Louis on Thursday, grocery shopped & errand ran on Friday, baked a cheesecake then made another batch of ravioli with Jerad's family for his birthday on Saturday, had a impromptu day of slot-machining & drinking with Sarah on Sunday, and enjoyed a lazy day at home on Sunday...watching movies in front of the fire, reading, baking bread, and making soup.

Lamb Minestrone
adapted from Tyler's Ultimate

10 cups chicken stock
11 cloves garlic
1/2 pound small rigatoni
Extra-virgin olive oil
8 fresh sage leaves
1 sprig fresh rosemary, needles only
1 sprig fresh thyme, leaves only
1 pound ground lamb
2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
2 celery ribs, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 (28-ounce) can crushed plum tomatoes
1 bay leaf

1 sprig fresh thyme
juice of 1 lemon2 (28-ounce) cans cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 bunch fresh parsley leaves, finely minced
Coarsely ground black pepper
Kosher salt


  • Combine the stock and 8 cloves of smashed garlic in a big saucepan and simmer for about 15 minutes to give the stock a nice, garlicky taste; strain out the garlic. Keep warm.
  • Bring a pot of salted water to boil for the rigatoni. Boil the pasta for about 6 minutes; it will be undercooked. Drain & set aside.
  • Pour 1/4 cup olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the sage & rosemary and warm the oil over medium heat to infuse it with the flavor of the herbs, 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Add carrots, celery, onion, & 3 cloves of minced garlic and cook until soft but not browned. Transfer to a bowl.
  • Cook the lamb in the pan (add more oil if needed), breaking up the meat with the side of a big spoon until well browned.
  • To the pan with the sausage stir in the crushed tomatoes, bay leaf, thyme, lemon, cannelloni beans, black pepper, salt, and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes stirring occasionally.
  • Stir the pasta into the simmering soup. Cook for a few minutes until pasta is done.
  • Add the parsley and taste for seasoning. Discard the bay leaf before serving.

January 19, 2009

An Ode & A Cheesecake

This is Jerad. He is my best friend, my lover, my support, my strength, my inspiration. I couldn't have made it through these past couple years without him.

It was not, however, love at first sight. In fact, we hated each other the first time we met. I thought he was a stupid hick, and he thought I was a raging bitch. But, we worked together often and eventually became friends. After I separated from my husband, Jerad and I spent more time together. I began to fall in love with him a few months later, when he surprised me with a Valentine's Day gift...a red Kitchen Aid toaster, the perfect thing for me!

Since then, Jerad has always been there for me. He understands me better than anyone else ever has and accepts all my faults & quirky habits. He is the most attentive, caring, loving, generous person I've met. For the first time in my life, I feel like this is where I belong. Overall, I'm happier than I've ever been, and I am thankful he's a part of my life.

This is for you, buddy! Hope you had a wonderful birthday this weekend!

Tall & Creamy Cheesecake
from Dorie Greenspan's
Baking: From My Home to Yours


For the crust:

1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

For the cheesecake:
2 pounds (four 8-ounce boxes) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
zest & juice of 1 lemon
1 1/3 cups sour cream or heavy cream, or a combination of the two
1 cup fresh raspberries


To make the crust:

Butter a 9-inch springform pan—choose one that has sides that are 2 3/4 inches high (if the sides are lower, you will have cheesecake batter leftover)—and wrap the bottom of the pan in a double layer of aluminum foil; put the pan on a baking sheet.

Stir the crumbs, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Pour over the melted butter and stir until all of the dry ingredients are uniformly moist. (I do this with my fingers.) Turn the ingredients into the buttered springform pan and use your fingers to pat an even layer of crumbs along the bottom of the pan and about halfway up the sides. Don't worry if the sides are not perfectly even or if the crumbs reach above or below the midway mark on the sides—this doesn't have to be a precision job. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven.

Center a rack in the oven, preheat the oven to 350°F and place the springform on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Set the crust aside to cool on a rack while you make the cheesecake.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

To make the cheesecake:

Put a kettle of water on to boil.

Working in a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until it is soft and lives up to the creamy part of its name, about 4 minutes. With the mixer running, add the sugar and salt and continue to beat another 4 minutes or so, until the cream cheese is light. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one by one, beating for a full minute after each addition—you want a well-aerated batter. Add the lemon zest & juice. Reduce the mixer speed to low and stir in the sour cream and/or heavy cream.

Put the foil-wrapped springform pan in the roaster pan.

Give the batter a few stirs with a rubber spatula, just to make sure that nothing has been left unmixed at the bottom of the bowl, and scrape half the batter into the springform pan. Sprinkle the raspberries over the batter & top with remaining batter to reach the brim of the pan. (If you have leftover batter, you can bake the batter in a buttered ramekin or small soufflé mold.) Put the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough boiling water into the roaster to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, at which point the top will be browned (and perhaps cracked) and may have risen just a little above the rim of the pan. Turn off the oven's heat and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Allow the cheesecake to luxuriate in its water bath for another hour.

After 1 hour, carefully pull the setup out of the oven, lift the springform pan out of the roaster—be careful, there may be some hot water in the aluminum foil—remove the foil. Let the cheesecake come to room temperature on a cooling rack.

When the cake is cool, cover the top lightly and chill the cake for at least 4 hours, although overnight would be better.

Remove the sides of the springform pan— I use a hairdryer to do this (use the dryer to warm the sides of the pan and ever so slightly melt the edges of the cake)—and set the cake, still on the pan's base, on a serving platter. The easiest way to cut cheesecake is to use a long, thin knife that has been run under hot water and lightly wiped. Keep warming the knife as you cut slices of the cake.

Wrapped well, the cake will keep for up to 1 week in the refrigerator or for up to 2 months in the freezer. It's best to defrost the still-wrapped cheesecake overnight in the refrigerator.

  • Cheesecake, I've learned, takes a long time to make. From start to finish, it's about 8 hours. Plan accordingly.
  • I couldn't find fresh raspberries (because the grocery store re-arranged the produce section and I was having a blonde moment that day), so I used frozen. This was a mistake. The thawed berries were too wet and therefore the middle of the cake didn't set.
  • I had enough batter leftover to fill two ramekins. I filled each half full, added a couple pieces of Toblerone to one and a couple Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies to the other, then covered them with the remaining batter. I added the ramekins to the waterbath when there was about 30 minutes of cooking time left and let them sit in the oven with the cheesecake for the extra hour.
  • OH MY! The Thin Mint mini-cheesecake was awesome! I''ll be making those again, for sure!

January 12, 2009

Cherry Crisp

I got onto a baking kick Sunday evening, culminating in putting together a cherry crisp on a whim at 10:00 pm because I wanted to use up the bing cherries that were expiring in the fridge.

And because I'd been browsing a few of my cookbooks that afternoon and remembered the blackberry crisp recipe I'd bookmarked in one of them.

I've really gotten into baking lately; I finally understand that baking mojo. It is quite therapeutic...soothing and calming.

And delicious.

Cherry Crisp
adapted from Nigella Express

2-3 cups bing cherries, pitted & halved
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup AP flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, melted

  • Mix the cherries, sugar, & cornstarch in a small but deep casserole dish.
  • Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl, then sprinkle over the cherries.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.
  • Let cool just slightly before eating...you wouldn't want to scorch your tongue!

January 11, 2009

Homemade Honey Wheat Bread

I remember trying to make biscuits from scratch for homework in my junior high foods class. It was a disaster. The dough didn't rise, and the biscuits were hard as hockey pucks. My dad made fun of me for a while.

My Grandma Green used to make the best white bread...big, soft loaves that we'd eat warm with butter. My dad loved when Grandma would have a fresh loaf ready for us when we visited. My dad liked fresh bread so much that we'd even buy warm loaves at Silver Dollar City when we were on vacation and eat them with some blackberry jam we'd also purchased.

But, we never had fresh bread at home. My mom wasn't much of a baker, and my dad could only make pancakes and mayonnaise sandwiches.

Several years ago, I decided to make fresh bread and homemade jam for my dad for Christmas. The jam was good, but the bread was reminiscent of those biscuits...flat and dense. I tried a couple different recipes, but nothing turned out right.

That's why I was so excited to learn about the no-knead bread recipe last year...finally, a bread I couldn't screw up!

Tonight, however, I thought I'd try a traditional bread recipe again. I've mastered pie dough and pasta, so I was confident with mixing and kneading bread dough.

I was a little skeptical when I first kneaded the dough. It seemed hard, tough. It let it rise, thinking that it would never double...but after I moved the bowl to the radiator, it rose just fine.

I did notice that it didn't rise much more (if any) during baking, so I didn't get the big sandwich loaf I was hoping for. Nonetheless, it was pretty good!

Honey Wheat Bread

1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon half & half
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons instant active dry yeast (or 1 packet)
1 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
olive oil for greasing bowl & pan
1 egg for egg wash
oats (optional)
  • Combine the first 5 ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer & stir with a whisk.
  • Sprinkle the yeast on top of the wet ingredients, cover with a towel and let proof while you measure out the flour.
  • Add the flour to the yeast mixture & mix with a stand mixer fitted with dough hook just until the ingredients all come together to form a ball and now dry flour is left in the bottom.
  • Remove the dough from the bowl and knead by hand until it's smooth and elastic, about 10-15 minutes.
  • Please the dough in a greased bowl, turning to coat the dough. Cover with a towel and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled. (I set the bowl on top of the radiator.)
  • Punch the dough down, then knead for a few minutes until smooth. Form into a loaf and placed in a greased loaf pan. Let rise in a warm place until almost doubled in size.
  • Brush the top of the dough with the egg (mixed with a tablespoon of water) and sprinkle with some oats (if using).
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for a few minutes. Remove the loaf and let cool on a wire rack.

January 6, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie: French Pear Tart

The first recipe of 2009 for Tuesdays with Dorie was chosen by....Dorie Greenspan herself! You can see the full recipe on her website.

This was my second time making Dorie's tart dough; the first was so hard I could barely cut through it. I didn't quite understand what the dough was supposed to be like. This time, though, I mixed the dough by hand and gently patted it into the pan. It was perfect!

The crust, ready to be blind-baked.

Dorie says that canned pears are just fine in this dessert, but since I'd never poached fruit before--and in the spirit of this project--I started with fresh fruit.

The tart, before baking.

I only used two pears in my tart, but after it baked I realized I could have fit in the third. Nonetheless, it was very good....rich but not too sweet!

The tart, after baking.

January 3, 2009

Duck Potstickers with Spicy Cherry Dipping Sauce

In yet another attempt to find yummy ways to use up all this wild duck (the duck pastrami was a complete bust, but I'm planning another attempt soon!), I made potstickers. The recipe I used called for grinding the raw breast meat, but since I don't have a grinder that will tackle such a task, I made some alterations.

First, I braised the boneless, skinless breasts like I did for the shepard's pie. This time, I seasoned the meat with salt, pepper, ginger, & garlic. I still topped them in bacon, sliced onions, & chicken stock, then roasted them (covered) at 400 degrees for 15 minutes & for an additional 40 minutes at 300 degrees. Afterwards, I let the meat cool before shredding it.

I made the filling by mixing the cooked meat & bacon with scallion, carrot, ginger, garlic, soy, & pepper in a food processor to make a paste.

I will say that I didn't soak the meat in milk (or buttermilk) beforehand, and I could really taste the difference. The filling ended up tasting very livery, which is not something I really liked. However, if you like that sort of thing, you're sure to love these...they were rich and meaty. Next time--and every time I use wild duck from now on--I'll be sure to give them a milk bath to cut back on the gamey flavor. That being said, I will try this recipe again!

Duck Potstickers with Spicy Cherry Dipping Sauce

For the potstickers:
4 wild duck breasts, boneless & skinless
4 slices bacon (for braising)
1 onion, sliced (for braising)
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
2 scallions, coursely chopped
2 tablespoons minced ginger
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
black pepper
potsticker or wonton wrappers
duck fat
chicken stock

For the dipping sauce:
1 cup cherry jam
1 tablespoon chile paste (sambal oelek)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Braise the ducks breasts as explained above.
  • Pulse the cooked meat with the bacon, scallion, carrot, ginger, garlic, soy, & a couple grinds of black pepper in a food processor to form a paste. Taste & adjust seasonings if needed.
  • Fill the potsticker wrappers with about a 1/2 tablespoon of filling, fold over, and seal the edges. Shape the potstickers so that they are standing up, not laying flat.

  • Melt about 1 tablespoon of duck fat in a nonstick skilled. When it's hot, add the pot stickers and cook for a few minutes until lightly browned on the bottom.
  • Add 1/4-1/2 cup of chicken stock to the pan and cover with a lid. Steam for about 5 minutes, or until most of the stock has evaporated. Remove the lid and continue cooking until the bottoms of the potstickers are browned and crispy. Remove from the pan & serve with the dipping sauce.
  • To make the dipping sauce: Combine the three ingredients together. Puree in a food processor if you have chunky jam & add more soy if you want it to be thinner. Alternatively, you could simmer the ingredients in a sauce pan until melted and smooth.

January 2, 2009

Upcoming Cooking Classes

Here are the upcoming classes I'm teaching at Kitchen Conservatory:

Saturday, Jan. 10 @ 6:30-9:00
Girls' Night Out: Skewers & Shooters

Everything in a shot glass or on a stick!
  • Pineapple & vanilla vodka hand grenades
  • Chicken skewers with dukka crust & balsamic reduction
  • Pea soup shots with spicy crab
  • Chai-brined shrimp & mango skewers
  • White chocolate & mint mousse shooters

Sunday, Feb. 1 @ 1:00-3:30
Cookin' the Books: Intercourses

Aphrodisiac foods to get you in the mood!
  • Hibiscus cocktails
  • Spicy ginger shrimp
  • Grilled coffee-rubbed lamb chops
  • Wild mushroom ragout
  • Honey-almond tart

Sunday, March 1 @ 1:00-3:30
Cookin' the Books: Baking From My Home to Yours
Recipes inspired by the Tuesdays with Dorie baking group!
  • Caramel & peanut-topped brownie cakes
  • Coconut-key lime pie
  • Black & white banana loaf
  • Dark chocolate sorbet

If you're interested in taking a class, you can call Kitchen Conservatory at 314-862-2665 or register online. Hope to see you there!

January 1, 2009

Lasagna Bolognese

Happy New Year!

I decided not to go out for New Year's Eve this year. Instead, I stayed home and made lasagna with a classic meat sauce. The sauce is fairly easy to make, though it takes a bit of prepping & several hours to cook. The pasta was
very easy to make and hand-roll into long sheets that were folded into individual gratin dishes & layered with the sauce and cheese.

Bolognese Meat Sauce
from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
via Emily Weinstein's "How to Cooking...Something: Bolognese"

Yield: 2 heaping cups
Time: At least 4 hours
Marcella's Notes:
  1. The meat should not be from too lean a cut; the more marbled it is, the sweeter the ragu will be. The most desirable cut of beef is the neck portion of the chuck.
  2. Add salt immediately when sauteeing the meat to extract its juices for the subsequent benefit of the sauce.
  3. Cook the meat in milk before adding wine and tomatoes to protect from the acidic bite of the latter.
  4. Do not use demiglace or other concentrates that tip the balance of flavors toward harshness
  5. Use a pot that retains heat. Earthenware is preferred in Bologna and by most cooks in Emilia Romagna, but enameled cast-iron pans or a pot whose heavy bottom is composed of layers of steel alloys are fully satisfactory.
  6. Cook, uncovered, at the merest simmer for a long, long time; no less than three hours is necessary, more is better.
My Notes:
  1. I used extra-virgin olive oil instead of vegetable oil.
  2. I used 1 pound of 81% lean ground beef & 1/2 pound of ground pork.
  3. I added garlic with the carrots & celery & dried oregano with the nutmeg.
  4. I wanted a thicker, less chunky, more saucey sauce, so I briefly pureed some with my immersion blender.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
2/3 cup chopped celery
2/3 cup chopped carrot
3/4 pound ground beef chuck (or you can use 1 part pork to 2 parts beef)
Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
1 cup whole milk
Whole nutmeg
1 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
  • Put the oil, butter and chopped onion in the pot and turn the heat on to medium. Cook and stir the onion until it has become translucent, then add the chopped celery and carrot. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring vegetables to coat them well.
  • Add ground beef, a large pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper. Crumble the meat with a fork, stir well and cook until the beef has lost its raw, red color.
  • Add milk and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely. Add a tiny grating -- about 1/8 teaspoon -- of nutmeg, and stir.
  • Add the wine, let it simmer until it has evaporated, then add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients well. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat down so that the sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers, with just an intermittent bubble breaking through to the surface. Cook, uncovered, for 3 hours or more, stirring from time to time. While the sauce is cooking, you are likely to find that it begins to dry out and the fat separates from the meat. To keep it from sticking, add 1/2 cup of water whenever necessary. At the end, however, no water at all must be left and the fat must separate from the sauce. Taste and correct for salt.

Semolina Lasagna

from Lidia Bastianich via Cooking Light


1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup semolina flour

1/3 cup water

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 large eggs


  • To prepare pasta, lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours in a food processor; process 30 seconds. Combine water, oil, and eggs in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk. With processor running, slowly pour water mixture through food chute, processing just until dough forms a ball. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead lightly 5 times. Shape dough into a disk. Dust dough lightly with flour; wrap in plastic wrap. Let stand 30 minutes.
  • Divide dough into 6 equal portions. Working with 1 portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), press dough portion into a flat narrow rectangle. Roll the dough into a 20 x 4–inch rectangle, dusting with flour, if necessary (turning dough over occasionally and dusting surface with flour). Lay pasta sheet flat; cover. Repeat procedure with remaining dough portions to form 6 sheets.
  • Bring 6 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil. Slowly lower 1 pasta sheet into boiling water; cook 1 1/2 minutes or until done. Carefully remove pasta from water with a slotted spoon; lay pasta flat on a jelly-roll pan covered with a damp towel; cover. Repeat procedure with remaining pasta sheets.
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Place 1 pasta sheet on each of 6 individual baking dishes lightly coated with cooking spray; spoon a 2-3 tablespoons of sauce & sprinkle a large pinch of cheese over each serving. Fold noodle over sauce. Repeat procedure, ending with sauce. Top each serving with 4 teaspoons mozzarella and 1 tablespoon Parmigiano-Reggiano.

  • Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until cheese melts and pasta is thoroughly heated. (Finish by putting under the broiler for a few seconds to brown the cheese, if needed.)