Archive for January, 2011

Endive salad with apples, walnuts, and comté

27 January 2011

Salads are one of the reasons I look forward to winter. Endive salads in particular, because they are from my childhood, but all the other crisp, bitter, cold-weather greens, reds, and yellows: dandelion, escarole, frisée, radicchio…

In a month or so I may be looking forward to fresh peas and longing for tomatoes, but right now I am excited by the falling snow and this crunchy endive salad. It’s ready in 5 minutes and made a perfect lunch yesterday.

***

4 endives (should be tightly compact, white and pale yellow, without a hint of green)

1 red apple

1/2 lemon

About 8 walnuts

Comté (also Guyère or a hard sheep-milk cheese from the Pyrénées)

5 Tbsps good olive oil

1 1/2 Tbsps apple cider vinegar

Maldon sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

***

Cut off endive stub and remove one outer layer of leaves. Rinse quickly under running water, shake dry, and slice crosswise into 1/2 inch (1 cm) pieces. Wash apple, cut into quarters, core, and slice quarters thinly crosswise. Immediately toss the endive and apple with the juice from 1/2 a lemon, as they oxidize quickly.

Shell the walnuts and break them into pieces. Cut the cheese into strips about 1 in (2.5 cm) long and 1/3 inch (1 cm) wide. There should be about as much cheese as there are walnuts.

Mix the walnuts and cheese with the endive and apple. Season with the olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper and toss well.

Cake with pear and toasted hazelnuts

21 January 2011

Or how a simple cake became slightly more complicated but also much tastier.

It all started last Friday when I decided to bake a simple cake, a classic french Quatre Quart (Four Quarters) which goes something like this: 1) weigh eggs: 2, 3, 4, or more, depending on the desired size of the cake; 2) prepare the same weight in butter, sugar, and flour; 3) mix; 4) bake. It is a practical cake, easy to make anywhere (with a scale). Some recipes call for baking powder, but to me Quatre Quart is a dense cake; when I want something lighter, more akin to Pound Cake, I make Gâteau au Yaourt (Yogurt Cake), another simple formula cake that will find its way into these pages soon enough.

Truthfully, I never just make Quatre Quart – it’s not that exciting as is. But it is a good base for baking improvisation. So I lower the amount of sugar, as a matter of habit; I always add fruit; and I often substitute ground nuts for part of the flour. Last Friday I used pears and hazelnuts and went a bit hard on the sugar. That Very Simple Pear and Hazelnut Cake was easily improved with a hint more sugar and some lemon zest, a second version that I made on Tuesday. It was much better though slightly undercooked (a mere technicality) and I was starting to write down the recipe when I thought “toasted hazelnuts.” The added step makes the cake a bit less simple, but well worth it, and no one here complained about having to eat the same cake three times in one week.

So here it is, Simple Cake with Pear and Hazelnuts – Take 3.

***

1 cup (125 g) hazelnuts

1 1/4 cups (250 g) butter

1 cup (200 g) sugar

4 eggs

1 lemon

1 1/4 cup (125 g) flour

1 tsp salt

5 pears*

*

Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).

In a roasting tray, toast hazelnuts for about 12 minutes until they begin to darken. As soon as they are cool enough to handle, roughly remove the skins by rubbing the hazelnuts between your hands. Place in a food processor and pulse-chop into a fine flour.

Lower oven temperature to 350°F (180°C).

Cut butter into small pieces and place in a large bowl to soften at room temperature.

Using a wooden spoon, cream the butter with the sugar until smooth. Thoroughly beat in the eggs, one at a time (the dough will be lumpy at this stage), add lemon zest, flour, salt, hazelnuts, and mix well.

Peel, core, and cut pears, first into quarters and then into thin slices about 1/8 inch (3 mm). Squeeze lemon juice over the pieces of pear, toss, and gently combine into the batter.

Generously butter a 10 inch (25 cm) springform pan. Pour batter inside and smooth surface with a large spoon or spatula.

Place pan over a large piece of aluminum foil in the oven for 1 good hour (10 to 15 minutes longer if the pears are very juicy). **Most springform pans leak, the aluminum prevents drops to fall in the oven and burn.** Test with a knife that should come out clean.

As soon as the cake is out of the oven, use a knife to release the cake from the sides of the pan.

*I wanted the cake to have lots of pear, but someone pointed out that 5 pears could create too much juice and make the cake soggy. So if the pears are large, or if they are very ripe and juicy, you may want to use fewer. Another option is to toss the pear pieces very lightly with flour before folding into the cake, this will help absorb some of the juice.

Roast chicken with lemon and fennel seeds

6 January 2011

Some years ago I discovered that a chicken could be seasoned under the skin with salt, pepper, butter, and herbs. It makes for excellent roast chicken, and I decided it would be the only way to go in the future. But it is also a bit finicky, and somehow roasting a chicken became an unwieldy affair in my mind.

Until recently, when I came across good chickens from Epicurean Farms. They are fairly small, very tasty, and usually sold whole. So I started roasting again and rediscovered that it is actually probably the easiest way to cook these animals, especially if you are not chopping herbs and delicately stuffing them under the skin. Now roasting a chicken seems effortless like an afterthought; it can be done for lunch or dinner, or after dinner – at anytime, really, since it is excellent cold, especially with green tomato chutney.

Chickens can be stuffed with any combination of herbs, garlic, or onion on hand and I usually add a lemon, slashed so it releases its juices. This version with fennel seeds was a staple in our house when I was growing up.

***

1 whole chicken

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbsp fennel seeds

1 small lemon

2 small garlic cloves

Butter

***

Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).

Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. If you remember to do it in advance, let the chicken sit uncovered in the refrigerator for a few hours so the skin dries out before roasting.

Season the cavity of the chicken with salt, pepper, and fennel seeds.

Poke the lemon with a fork multiple times on all sides and stuff it into the chicken with the whole, skin-on garlic cloves. Truss or just bind the legs together with kitchen string. Massage the chicken all over with softened butter and season the outside again with salt and pepper.

Place the chicken on a roasting pan and into the oven for 10 minutes at 425°F (220°C) then lower to 375° (190°C) and roast for 40-50 minutes, depending on the size of the bird (large chickens may need to cook even longer — pull away one thigh and if the flesh at the joint is still translucent pink, cook a little longer).

Let rest 10-15 minutes before carving. Squeeze the lemon over the pieces of chicken before serving.

***

Related posts

Braised chicken legs with cherry tomatoes

Happy New Year! (Lentil soup with cumin)

4 January 2011

It’s not that I haven’t been cooking – or eating – since early December, but somehow all the feasting and visits from friends and family got in the way of writing. It was a productive period nonetheless, culinarily speaking, in which I unexpectedly improved a foie gras recipe and expanded my cookie baking horizon, all of which should make for a profuse Christmas season next year, if I am better organized.

But it’s 2011, and since I just learned that lentils are a New Year’s tradition in some regions of France and Italy – the way black-eyed peas and collard greens are here in the South – and because I will grab any excuse to make this soup, here it is at last, the deliciously simple lentil soup with cumin from Moro: The Cookbook, somewhat rewritten but barely altered.

***

From Moro: The Cookbook by Sam and Sam Clark

2 cups (400g) lentils (green, red, or yellow)

3 medium onions

6 garlic cloves

Olive oil

3 heap tsps cumin seeds

Sea salt

Freshly ground back pepper

Lemon, plain yogurt, and Harissa to serve (optional)

*

To wash the lentils, cover with cold water and drain in a fine mesh sieve.

Finely slice onions and garlic.

Heat enough olive oil to cover the base of a large heavy-bottom saucepan, add the onions and brown over medium heat, stirring occasionally (about 10 minutes). Meanwhile roughly grind the cumin seeds in a mortar. Once the onions are nicely golden, add the garlic and cumin and stir. Then add the lentils and stir to mix with the onion/cumin mix.

Cover the lentils with 4 times their volume of cold water (8 cups or 2 l), place lid on the pan, and let simmer gently until lentils are soft, about 40 minutes, checking occasionally to add water if necessary. (There should be some excess water in the pot otherwise it will be a purée rather than a soup, but not too much because the soup should be nice and thick.)

Season with salt and pepper and blend until smooth.

Squeeze some lemon and add a spoonful of good plain tart yogurt or some Harissa if desired.

*

Related posts

Baby food | le

Lentils


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 115 other followers

%d bloggers like this: