Monday, May 31, 2010

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Spaghetti Carbonara with Roasted Garlic

The crown of comfort: a huge plate of spaghetti carbonara, big and bold and bursting with flavor. Comfort food at its best!

Spaghetti Carbonara with Roasted Garlic

2 eggs at room temperature

10 cloves garlic
2 ounces good olive oil, divided
8 ounces prosciutto, cut into ¼” strips
6 ounces pecorino romano cheese, grated just before adding
1 pound spaghetti noodles (not thin)

Ample water for boiling noodles

Roast the Garlic: Preheat oven to 350ยบ. Peel 10 cloves of garlic and cut into almond-sized pieces if the cloves are large. Put a generous tablespoon of oil onto the center of an 8-inch sheet of foil, plonk the garlic on top and fold to make a sealed pouch. Bake for 12 minutes, and set aside. Do not open foil pouch for at least 5 minutes after removing from the oven.

Cook the pasta: Bring water to boil in a large pot. Add the pasta and time for 1 minute less than the cooking instructions.

Cook the prosciutto: Heat the rest of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat. When there is 5 minutes left on the pasta, add the prosciutto. When there is 2 minutes left on the pasta, add the garlic. Lower the heat if necessary. You want these ingredients hot but not sizzling.

Heat the bowls: Put 4 pasta bowls or wide soup bowls into the oven to heat for 2 or 3 minutes.

Final cooking and plating: Remove pasta when slightly undercooked, and drain in a colander.Whisk the two eggs vigorously and set aside. Bring the prosciutto and garlic back up to medium heat and toss in the pasta, primping it as you would a stir-fry. Cook for a minute or two.

Remove the bowls from the oven and set to one side. Add the noodles, dividing them and the toppings into four portions, and put some of the egg directly over each portion, stirring slightly. When the egg has set (30 seconds or less), top generously with pecorino romano cheese. Toss lightly.

This is a simple pasta preparation. What is of absolute importance is that the components and the pasta bowls are all hot when the final dish is assembled. This assures the complete melding of flavors and adequate cooking of the eggs.

Serve immediately with thick slices of foamy ciabatta bread (or Lago di Como bread) and slathers of fresh butter. If this doesn’t make you feel better after a long day, then I’m afraid there’s no hope for you! 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


This is a second run at this clone of a seasoning mix and I think it's spot on...


3 cups sifted flour
1/3 cup powdered eggs
2 teaspoon garlic salt (or garlic powder)
2 teaspoons onion salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried powdered rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried powdered thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper (or a little more to taste hotter)

Combine all ingredients for the seasoned flour.

Rinse chicken with water and roll in flour mixture and fry. Best if cooked in canned Crisco shortening till golden brown.


Dip in flour mixture, then dip in beaten eggs and re-dip in flour mixture pressing the flour onto the chicken for a good thick coating.


Makes 3 1/2 cups of seasoned flour

Sunday, May 23, 2010



1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
4 tablespoons milk, lukewarm
1 teaspoon white sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup butter
4 tablespoons white sugar, I used vanilla sugar from Penzy's
6 egg yolks
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups milk
1 cup butter, melted
2 (6 ounce) jars honey
1 to 2 cups raisins
1 1/2 pounds walnuts, chopped
ground cinnamon


1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease one large baking sheet.

2 Dissolve yeast in 4 tablespoons lukewarm milk. Add 1 teaspoon sugar and 3 tablespoons flour. Stir well and set aside.

3 Cream 1 cup butter with 4 tablespoons sugar. Add egg yolks, one at a time. Add yeast mixture and mix well.

4 Add 5 cups sifted flour, salt and 1 1/3 cup milk and beat well. Beat dough for 10 minutes or until bubbles form. Cover with flour and let rise 2 hours.

5 Cut dough in half and roll out each half as thin as possible on floured board. Spread each half with melted butter, honey, raisins, walnuts and douse with cinnamon.

6 Roll up like jelly roll, place on baking sheet, allow to rise and bake for one hour.

Makes 24 servings

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Spago House Salad Dressing

Spago House Salad Dressing

2 large shallots, minced (1 heaping tablespoon)

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons Zinfandel vinegar
2 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Freshly ground white pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together the shallots and the mustard. Whisk in the vinegars, and then the olive and vegetable oils. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer to a covered container and refrigerate until needed.

Yield: 1 1/4 cups

Sunday, May 16, 2010

No Knead Bread ~ technique

Start here with a discussion on it in the NY Times, "Better Bread with Less Kneading."

Read this one too,"The Secret of Great Bread."

Then watch this video, "No Knead Bread."

And this video, "No Knead Bread Revisited."

The recipe below was found  here.

No-Knead Bread

Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery

Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast or 3/4 teaspoon regular dry yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups water, plus about 1/8 c more
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 1/2 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Peppermint Sandwich Brownie Cookies

Brownie Cookies

2 oz. (4 Tbs.) unsalted butter; more for the pan
12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup mini semt-sweet chips

Position an oven rack on the center rung. Heat the oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment (or grease and flour the pan).

In a double boiler over simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate. Stir to combine; let cool. In an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sugar on medium high to a ribbon consistency, 3 to 4 min. Take the bowl off the mixer. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and the vanilla; stir to combine. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Stir the flour mixture and the chips into the batter; let the batter rest for 5 min.

Spoon the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a #4 tip (or into a heavy-duty zip-top bag with one bottom corner snipped to create a 2/3-inch diagonal opening). For each cookie, pipe 1 Tbs. batter onto the lined baking sheet. While you pipe the second tray, bake the first until the cookies are puffed and cracked and the tops barely spring back when pressed, 8 to 10 min. The cracks should be moist but not wet. Cool the cookies on a wire rack.

Peppermint Filling

1/2 stick butter (4TBS), softened
1/2 to 3/4 cup powder sugar
1/4 tsp peppermint extract or oil ( to taste you may like more)

Just stir together until you have an icing thickness.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Brioche Dough

Brioche Dough:

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
2 1/4 cups bread flour
3 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 cup cold water
6 eggs
2 3/4 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 10 to 12 pieces

Using a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the all-purpose flour, bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt, water, and 5 of the eggs. Beat on low speed for 3 to 4 minutes, or until all the ingredients are combined. Stop the mixer, as needed, to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure all the flour is incorporated into the wet ingredients. Once the dough has come together, beat on low speed for another 3 to 4 minutes. The dough will be very stiff and seem quite dry.

With the mixer on low speed, add the butter, 1 piece at a time, mixing after each addition until it disappears into the dough. Continue mixing on low speed for about 10 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. It is important for all the butter to be thoroughly mixed into the dough. If necessary, stop the mixer occasionally and break up the dough with your hands to help mix in the butter.

Once the butter is completely incorporated, turn up the speed to medium and beat until the dough becomes sticky, soft, and somewhat shiny, another 15 minutes. It will take some time to come together. It will look shaggy and questionable at the start and then eventually it will turn smooth and silky. Turn the speed to medium-high and beat for about 1 minute. You should hear the dough make a slap-slap-slap sound as it hits the sides of the bowl. Test the dough by pulling at it; it should stretch a bit and have a little give. If it seems wet and loose and more like a batter than a dough, add a few tablespoons of flour and mix until it comes together. If it breaks off into pieces when you pull at it, continue to mix on medium speed for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until it develops more strength and stretches when you grab it. It is ready when you can gather it all together and pick it up in 1 piece.

Put the dough in a large bowl or plastic container and cover it with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly onto the surface of the dough. Let the dough proof (that is, grow and develop flavor) in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or up to overnight At this point you can freeze the dough in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Dulce de Leche Topping

Dulce de Leche Topping

In a heavy 5- to 6-quart pan over medium-high heat, stir 4 cups whole milk and 1 1/4 cups sugar until sugar is dissolved and mixture is boiling. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally with a flexible spatula, until mixture is golden brown and reduced to about 2 cups, about 1 1/2 hours (mine took about 2 1/2 hours on very low heat).

Pour through a fine strainer into a bowl; discard residue. (*I did not have to do this step. Mine was smooth and rich and had no residue.)

Makes 2 cups.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Snickerdoodle Bundt Cake

Snickerdoodle Bundt Cake
Yield: 10 servings
Time: 25 minutes prep + 60 minutes to bake
Recipe adapted from: My Baking Addiction


2 t ground cinnamon
1 C white sugar

2 1/2 C flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 C butter, softened
1 C sugar
1 C brown sugar
3 eggs at room temperature
2 t vanilla
1 C full-fat sour cream at room temperature


1. In a small bowl, combine 1 C sugar and 2 t cinnamon. Mix it together well.

2. Generously grease the inside of your bundt pan with shortening, or spray heavily with Bake Kleen Cooking Spray.

3. Gently dust the entire inside of your pan with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Be sure you get inside all the little nooks. You will most likely only use about 1/3 C of the mixture. Set aside the leftovers to use in the middle of the cake.

4. In a mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set the good little mixture aside for later.

5. In a Kitchen Aid mixer or using hand held beaters beat the softened butter on medium speed for 1 minute.

6. Add the white sugar and mix for 3 minutes.

7. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and add the brown sugar. Mix for 2 minutes.

8. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing for a full minute after each one.

9. Stir in the vanilla.

10. Grab your good little dry mixture and add it alternately with the sour cream. When both sour cream and all of the dry mixture are added continue to mix for 2 minutes.

11. Spread 1/2 the batter into your pan. Pour the leftover cinnamon and sugar over the top. Spread the rest of your batter over the top.

12. Bake at 325 degrees for 55-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

13. Cool for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Banana Pudding

Banana Pudding

Adapted from: Classic Southern Desserts


1 cup sugar
1/4 cup + 1 tsp flour
3 cups whole milk
3 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla
6 oz. vanilla wafers (about half of a box)
3 bananas
3/4 cup whipping cream (or more if you’d like!)
1/8 cup powdered sugar
few dashes salt


Whisk milk and egg yolks in a bowl and pour into a heavy saucepan. Add sugar, flour, and salt and whisk together until smooth. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 20 minutes or until thickened. If it’s not getting as thick as you’d like after 20 minutes, feel free to add another teaspoon of flour. Remove from heat; stir in the vanilla.

Arrange one-third of vanilla wafers in bottom of a small serving dish. Slice 1 banana and layer over wafers. Spoon one-third of custard over bananas. Repeat until custard is gone and you have a few solid layers.

Beat whipping cream at medium speed with an electric mixer until foamy; gradually add powdered sugar to mixture, beating until soft peaks form. Spread over custard. Serve immediately or cover and chill for eight hours.

Makes: 6 servings

Monday, May 3, 2010

Benedictine Sandwiches

Benedictine Sandwiches (from Saveur Magazine)

6 oz. cream cheese, room temp
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and grated
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and grated
2 tbsp. mayonnaise
1/4 tsp. Tabasco sauce
White pepper
Green food coloring (I used 2 T watercress)
1 cucumber sliced paper thin
Watercress for garnish

1. Place cream cheese in a bowl and mash with a fork until smooth. Wrap cucumber in cheesecloth, then squeeze out and discard juice. Put in the blender with the watercress and pulse a few times. Add cucumber mixture to cream cheese and mix thoroughly.

2. Wrap onions in cheesecloth and squeeze juice into cream cheese mixture, then discard onions.

3. Mix mayonnaise and Tabasco sauce and add to cream cheese mixture. Season to taste with salt & pepper, then add 1 drop green food coloring if you would like and mix well. Serve on thinly sliced white sandwich bread. Garnish with cucumber slices and watercress

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Buttermilk Fried Chicken ~ KFC Clone

Well today, I said enough is enough, and I set out to come up with the best buttermilk fried chicken recipe. A fried chicken that the Colonel himself would swoon over, with a thick, crunchy, aromatic crust, and a tender juicy interior that’s infused with flavor, right down to the bone.

To make my ultimate fried chicken, I’ve employed a few tricks that I’ve learned over the years. The first is to brine the chicken. This is a must for any roast chicken, and it works equally well in fried applications. The fundamentals of brining are simple, you’re soaking the chicken in a salt and sugar solution that flavors the meat, and much like a marinade would, while increasing the chicken’s moisture content. For my fried chicken, I decided to user buttermilk instead of water, and I stuffed it full of aromatics such as onion juice, garlic, celery seed and rosemary. After a night soaking in the buttermilk brine, the chicken is literally bursting with flavor, from the inside out.

Satisfied that I’d given the chicken the love and flavor that it needed, I moved onto the skin. In fried chicken circles, there’s much debate over how to get a nice crunchy crust. I’ve found the double dredge gets a nice thick crinkled crust that stays crunchy long after the chicken has turned cold (not that there would ever be chicken left on the plate long enough to go cold). Since the brine is quite salty, I avoided adding any salt to the flour, but that didn’t stop me from cramming in more flavors with spices like onion powder, paprika and more celery seed.

The last secret to making the best fried chicken is to let the coated chicken air dry for about an hour before frying it. This does two things. The first is that it gets the chicken up to room temperature, which helps it cook evenly once it’s in the oil. The second benefit is that some of the surface moisture evaporates, making the chicken crisp up nicely as it’s fried.

Best Buttermilk Fried Chicken

1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic finely grated on a micro plane
1/2 small onion finely grated on a micro plane
2 C cultured buttermilk
2 Tbs kosher salt (half if using table salt)
1 Tbs sugar
4 whole chicken legs (thigh and drumstick connected)
1 1/2 C all purpose flour
1 Tbs onion powder
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp celery seed grounds
1/4 tsp black pepper ground
Vegetable oil for frying


Put the celery seed, rosemary, peppercorns, and bay leaf in a spice grinder and grind. Add the spices, onion and garlic into a gallon sized freezer bag with the buttermilk, salt and sugar. Seal the bag and shake to combine. Add the chicken legs and seal the bag, pushing out as much air as possible, so the chicken is submerged in the buttermilk. Refrigerate overnight.

In a gallon sized freezer bag, combine the flour, onion powder, paprika, celery seed and black pepper and shake to combine. Remove the chicken from the buttermilk brine and use paper towels to dry off the chicken and remove any extra bits of spices. Add the dried chicken into the freezer bag with the flour one at a time and toss to coat. Shake any excess flour off as you transfer the chicken to a wire rack.

Strain the buttermilk brine through a sieve to remove the spices. Dip the chicken in the buttermilk mixture then put each piece back in the bag with the flour and apply a second thicker coating of flour. Place the chicken on the rack and let it air dry for at least 1 hour.

In a large heavy bottomed pot, add the oil. The oil should be at least 2″ deep. Heat over medium high heat until it reaches 340 degrees F. Carefully add the chicken to the hot oil. The temperature will fall a bit, and you want to keep the oil right around 320 degrees F for the duration of them frying, so adjust the heat source as needed. The chicken will take about 12-15 minutes to cook through and should be golden brown on the outside. You can use a meat thermometer to check and see if the chicken is cooked on the inside, but take the chicken out of the oil once before checking, or the juices coming out of the chicken will make the oil splatter.

As the chicken is done, remove them from the oil and drain on a paper towel lined wire rack. Let the fried chicken rest for a few minutes and serve.