Thursday, January 19, 2017

Cheese Scones

These cheesy scones make a great breakfast or snack on the go.  The cheese plays an important role in imparting flavor and defines the taste of the final product. I combined grated Parmesan for the flavor and a sharp Cheddar for the bite. A hint of cayenne adds that extra kick. Once you have the ingredients measured out, it goes pretty quickly. So start by setting the oven to 400 degrees F, and get to work...
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 stick of butter 
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar 
1/4 cup milk or half and half 
Extra cheese for the topping

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper.
2. Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.
3. Cut the butter into the bowl and mix with a dough blender or with your fingertips taking care to do it quickly so the butter does not melt. 
4. Combine the cheeses and add to the mix.
5. Make a well in the center and add in the milk a little at a time while mixing till it comes together in a ball. wrap and chill for a few minutes.
6. Flour a pastry board and roll out the dough. Using a cutter, cut out the scones and place them on the sheet ( space them well) Brush them with milk or half and half. Sprinkle with the extra cheese 
7. Bake for 15 - 18 minutes or until they are golden .  Serve warm. 
Note: They taste wonderful with a salad !

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Cooking for the Holidays in NYC

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Keep Calm and Bake

The Holidays are coming up fast, it's freezing outside and the gift lists just keep getting longer as do the checkout lines at every store in the city. When it all gets too much, I take a step back and do some culinary therapy and what better way to kick start the holidays than to fill my home with the scent of cinnamon and cloves? It's a win-win situation. You put a smile on everyone's face, give them a surprisingly healthy breakfast and end up with a home that smells divine. Serve them up straight out of the oven, smear with a dab of apricot jam or butter and you're guaranteed rave reviews. Only downside is that they disappear very quickly. Great for kids lunches or snacks and for that unexpected friend who shows up for coffee. This may be the easiest and quickest solution for an action packed holiday season. So keep calm and keep baking!

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2-3 chunks pineapple grated or minced
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 apple - peeled, cored and shredded
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup browned butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease 12 muffin cups, or line with paper muffin liners.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the carrot, raisins, nuts, coconut, and apple.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat together eggs, oil, and vanilla. Stir egg mixture into the carrot/flour mixture, just until moistened. Scoop batter into prepared muffin cups.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Grandma's Roast

My grandmother made the best stuffing and the most delicious roast chicken. All those years ago she magically spun out some of my most favorite childhood meals in her poorly equipped kitchen. Her oven was only a little bigger than a toaster oven and sometimes there would be a power failure right in the middle of cooking but I never tasted an undercooked meal nor did I see a collapsed cake. Everything was perfect and executed with lightning speed. A sparse tiny woman- she sped around her kitchen like she was ice skating. Not only did I learn to cook from her but she taught me the discipline of the kitchen - she was like a Drill Sargent! Hair had to be tied back, hands washed and cutting boards secured. My grandpa was smart- he made himself scarce. You didn't mess with grandma and yet I have so much love and respect for her. Grandma's been gone for many years now but her handwritten recipes and sweet memories are here to stay.

Recipe for Stuffed Roast Chicken:
2 Roaster Chickens - remove the innards and rinse. Pat dry.
6 cloves of garlic, sliced roughly
Herbs- Rosemary, Thyme and Sage
4-6 tbsp butter melted
salt and pepper

For the stuffing:
2 cups bread crumbs
2 tsp mixed chopped herbs
3-4  tbsp butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup green apple cubed
salt and pepper
1/2 cup dried cranberry
kitchen twine and large needle

1. Combine the stuffing ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
2. Cut slits in the fleshy parts of the chicken and slide in the garlic slivers.
3. Brush the melted butter over the entire chicken and season well.
4. Separate the stuffing into two parts and place each half into the cavity of each chicken.
5. Stitch the cavity to seal in the stuffing. Tie the legs of the chicken together. Tuck in the wing tips.
Place them on a rack in a large roasting pan, place the herbs over them and cover with the aluminium foil.
6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and roast the chickens for 1 1/2 hours approximately. At this time the chicken should be cooked. Remove the foil and continue roasting till the chickens turn golden brown and crisp.
7. Strain the pan juices and use to make a gravy.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Bye bye American Pie

“The homemade pie has been under siege for a century, and surely its survival is endangered.” 
― Janet ClarksonPie: A Global History

It's true that more and more people are inclined to run down to the corner bakery and pick up their pies instead of baking them at home. Why not? They usually taste great and almost remind you of grandmas home-made version all those years ago. Baking a pie has become a mammoth task involving flour and grease and potentially a lot of unnecessary work for the busy bees of today. Pie making is slowly but surely evolving into a lost art. The reality is that it really isn't that gargantuan a task. For me- baking a pie is not something I do very often but when I do - it is more often than not, a gratifying and therapeutic experience and one that ultimately gets a standing ovation from my audience at home. This particular recipe is adapted from David Leibovitz and is definitely fool-proof. The buttery crust is edible all by itself, never mind the dark chocolate/ toasted pecan filling. At the end of the day there is a vast difference between a pie that comes in a cardboard box and one that pops out fragrant and hot from the oven.

Recipe for Chocolate Pecan Pie:
1 1/4 Cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
4 ounces unsalted butter cut into 1 inch pieces
4 tablespoons ice water

For the filling:
3 eggs
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
2/3 cup corn or golden syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp melted butter
2 tsps Bourbon or liquor of your choice
1 cup lightly toasted pecan chopped coarsely
1 cup bittersweet chocolate bits

1. To make the crust: Combine the flour, salt and sugar. Add in the cubed butter and mix until the butter pieces are the size of small peas. Add the ice water and combine until the dough comes together. Do not knead. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

2. Flour a surface and roll dough out into a 12 inch circle. Transfer into a 9 inch pan and tuck the edges in and crimp with a fork.

3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

4. Combine the eggs, brown sugar, syrup, vanilla, salt, butter and bourbon. Stir in the pecan and chocolate and scrape into the pie shell.

5. Bake for about 30 minutes. Cool before slicing.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Kaboom Shrimp

 This  Shrimp concoction was developed by sheer trial and error and christened Kaboom Shrimp by my son Neil because of the heat and spice it exudes. It's freezing outside and I crave something spicy, tangy and rampant with fried garlic and olive oil. A Putanesca sauce comes to mind because it embodies all of the above but I don't want pasta, instead I want to wipe up the sauce with  some of that crusty Italian bread, fresh from the supermarket. A Putanesca sauce AKA a whore's sauce was named aptly after the  fishy, tangy aroma of this spicy sauce. Although my sauce is not unlike a Putanesca - I take poetic license and add whatever suits my mood. There's shrimp in my freezer and a jar of large pickled cherry peppers in the fridge sitting beside a jar of olives. I pull out all of this and get to work. No recipe but pure appetite at work.... it is truly worth a try!

1 packet frozen Shrimp tail-on
2 glugs olive oil
1 tbsp sliced garlic
2 dried chili peppers
2-3 cherry peppers
2 tbsp pickled olive medley sliced
1/2 can of crushed tomato
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp anchovy paste
dried or fresh basil to taste (ample amount)

1. Heat the olive oil in a wok and saute the shrimp and the garlic, adding the olives, peppers, chilies and tomato in quick succession once the shrimp is cooked and golden.
2. Season and add in the anchovy paste and basil. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve with crusty bread.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Bottoms Up!

A green pineapple sat on my kitchen counter for a few days and finally turned golden this morning. It took its time getting there but was disappointing nonetheless; hopelessly pale on the inside and way too tart to eat. But I didn't have the heart to throw it away, and so I turned it into an old fashioned upside down cake with a twist. I upped the ante with a few glugs of Malibu (white rum with a coconut flavor). This was inspired by the Pinacolada which marries the coconut and pineapple flavors well. To replicate the coconut flavor, I added sweet dessicated coconut to the batter. This definitely contributes to the depth of flavor and adds sweetness and crunch to an old favorite. It is essentially a cocktail and a dessert rolled into one. Cheers!

Recipe for a Pinacolada Upside Down Cake:
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
4-6 fresh pineapple slices, cored
6 maraschino cherries
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla 
2 tbsp Malibu
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut 

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Melt the 2 tbsp butter in a cast iron skillet. Add in the brown sugar and shake the pan gently to mix the two. Remove from the heat and place the pineapple slices in the syrup and decorate with the cherries. 
2. Cream the butter and the sugar till light and fluffy. 
3. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each. Add in the vanilla and the Malibu. Mix well.
4. Sift the flour and the baking powder and mix in. 
5. Pour batter over the pineapple and top with the shredded coconut. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the coconut is golden and a skewer comes out clean from the center of the cake. Cool, run a knife along the edges, place a large platter over it and flip over. Serve with table cream.