Posted in baking, food, home cooking at 2:03 am by wingerz


I haven’t been blogging much lately but that doesn’t mean that our kitchen has been quiet. A few months ago I started making pastries. Our butter consumption has skyrocketed and I think my work pals will die young, but at least we’ll be well fed.

Launching yelp.fr inspired me to tackel chocolate croissants. They turned out to be easier than I thought to make (lots of resting time), but they might be the best thing that’s ever come out of our kitchen. The Danish braid was quite tasty too – I made five of them (two apricot, one cheese, one strawberry, and one cherry).

The recipes are a bit too long and don’t make much sense without the diagrams, so I’m leaving them out. They’re both from ATK’s Family Baking Book.


Oranges and asparagus

Posted in food, home cooking at 12:50 am by wingerz


Two of my favorite winter ingredients, together at last: juicy oranges and sweet, tender asparagus. The sauce is pretty similar to my favorite salad dressing ever (recipe).

Pan-Roasted Asparagus with Warm Orange-Almond Vinaigrette
from Cook’s Illustrated

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons minced shallot
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 pounds thick asparagus spears, ends trimmed

1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering; add almonds and cook stirring frequently, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add orange juice and thyme; increase heat to medium-high and simmer until thickened, about 4 minutes. Off heat, stir in shallot, sherry vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste; transfer vinaigrette to small bowl. Wipe out skillet.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil and butter in the skillet over medium-high heat. When butter has melted, add half of asparagus to skillet with tips pointed in one direction; add remaining spears with tips pointed in one direction. Using tongs, distribute spears in even layer (spears will not quite fit into single layer); cover and cook until asparagus is bright green and still crisp,about 5 minutes.
3. Uncover and increase heat to high; season asparagus with salt and pepper. Cook until spears are tender and well browned along one side, 5 to 7 minutes, using tongs to occasionally move spears from center of pan to edge of pan to ensure all are browned. Transfer asparagus to serving dish, pour vinaigrette over and toss to combine; adjust seasonings and serve immediately.


Braised artichokes

Posted in food, home cooking, pasta at 2:11 am by wingerz


Artichokes are kind of a pain to prep, but they’re plentiful this time of year (and also delicious). This recipe is braindead simple (once the artichokes are ready) and really good. I mixed in some grated Asiago cheese and lightly roasted asparagus and served it over spaghetti.

Braised Artichokes with Tomatoes and Rosemary
from Perfect Vegetables

1 lemon, cut in half
4 medium artichokes
3 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 14.5 can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

1. Squeeze the lemon juice into a large bowl filled with cold water. Drop the spent lemon halves into the water. Cut off the stem and top quarter. Then, to get to the heart of the artichoke, bend back and snap off the outer leaves, leaving the thick bottom portion attached to the base. Continue snapping off the leaves until you reach the light yellow cone at the center. With a small knife, carefully trim off the dark green outer layer from the bottom of the artichoke. Cut off the dark section of the top. Halve the raw hearts to remove the the purple leaves and the fuzzy choke with a sharp-edged spoon, then quarter. Cut into 1-inch wedges and drop them into the bowl of water until ready to cook.

2. Heat the oil in a large sate pan or deep skillet over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Drain the artichokes and add them to the pan along with the tomatoes, wine, rosemary, 1/4 tsp salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover the pan, turn the heat down to medium, and simmer until the artichokes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 30 minutes. Add more salt, if necessary, to taste.


Strawberry shortcake

Posted in baking, dessert, food, home cooking at 1:06 am by wingerz


Wow, the farmer’s market still has strawberries. Wasn’t expecting to have them all winter long. This was dessert tonight, and I’d definitely make it again.

Rich and Tender Shortcakes with Strawberries and Whipped Cream
from Cook’s Illustrated

3 pints fresh strawberries , hulled; 1 pint crushed with potato masher or fork, 2 pints quartered
6 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 cups bleached all-purpose flour , plus more for work surface
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar for sprinkling
1 stick unsalted butter (8 tablespoons), frozen
1 egg , beaten
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon half-and-half
1 egg white , lightly beaten

Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream , chilled (preferably pasteurized or pasteurized organic)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Mix crushed and quartered berries with sugar in medium bowl; set aside while preparing biscuits (or up to 2 hours).
2. Adjust oven rack to lower middle position; heat oven to 425 degrees. Mix flour, salt, baking powder, and 3 tablespoons sugar in food processor, pulse to combine. Add cold butter that has been cut into half-inch pieces and continue to pulse until the mixture looks like coarse cornmeal flecked with pea-sized bits of butter. Pour the mixture into a bowl; stir in the egg and half-and-half with a rubber spatula until the mixture comes together.
4. Pat dough into 9- by 6-inch rectangle, 3/4 inch thick. Cut dough into six pieces (original recipe says to cut into 2 3/4″ rounds, but I don’t own a biscuit cutter). Place 1 inch apart on small baking sheet; brush dough tops with egg white and sprinkle with remaining sugar. (Can be covered and refrigerated up to 2 hours before baking.) Bake until golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes. Place baking sheet on wire rack; cool cakes until warm, about 10 minutes.
5. Chill nonreactive, deep, 1- to 1 1/2-quart bowl and beaters for a handheld mixer in freezer for at least 20 minutes. Add cream, sugar, and vanilla to chilled bowl; beat on low speed until small bubbles form, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium; continue beating until beaters leave a trail, about 30 seconds more. Increase speed to high; continue beating until cream is smooth, thick, and nearly doubled in volume, about 20 seconds for soft peaks or about 30 seconds for stiff peaks. If necessary, finish beating by hand to adjust consistency. (Can be transferred to fine sieve or strainer set over measuring cup and refrigerated up to 8 hours).
6. Split each cake crosswise; spoon a portion of berries and then a dollop of whipped cream over each cake bottom. Cap with cake top; serve immediately.


Roasted Salmon

Posted in fish, food, home cooking at 3:37 pm by wingerz


I first had something like this over at Nick and Ceida’s place. The salmon is wonderfully silky-smooth. As always, use good fish and don’t overcook.

In the photo, topped with a tangerine-ginger relish and accompanied by a shrimp salad. Recently I served it with couscous with wild mushrooms and a creamy cucumber-dill salad.

Oven-roasted Salmon
from Cook’s Illustrated

1 skin-on salmon fillet (1 3/4 to 2 pounds), about 1 1/2 inches at thickest part (see note)
2 teaspoons olive oil

1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place rimmed baking sheet on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Following step by step illustrations below, use sharp knife to remove any whitish fat from belly of fillet and cut into 4 equal pieces. Make 4 or 5 shallow slashes about an inch apart along skin side of each piece, being careful not to cut into flesh.
2. Pat salmon dry with paper towels. Rub fillets evenly with oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. Reduce oven temperature to 275 degrees and remove baking sheet. Carefully place salmon skin-side down on baking sheet. Roast until centers of thickest part of fillets are still translucent when cut into with paring knife or instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of fillets registers 125 degrees, 9 to 13 minutes. Transfer fillets to individual plates or platter.


Favorite recipes of 2009

Posted in equipment, food, home cooking at 3:01 am by wingerz

  1. Cream scones
  2. Easy and delicious, especially with fresh fruit jam. This might be my favorite recipe of the year; I’ve made it at least five times, probably more.

  3. Peach pie (lattice)
  4. Lattice-top is impressive but easier than it looks.

  5. Fresh fruit tart
  6. Ultimate summer dessert. I miss fresh peaches.

  7. Braised short ribs
  8. Tender beef in a rich sauce. Works well as a make-ahead recipe.

  9. Shrimp fra diavolo
  10. I love shrimp.

I’m sad to have not included a fish recipe in the top 5, maybe next year.

Of the new kitchen equipment I acquired, the food processor that I got for Christmas last year has been life-changing. I use it to mix all sorts of doughs for pastries, pies, and pasta. Recently I’ve been using it to grate potatoes and carrots. It’s quite an amazing machine.


Pecan Pie

Posted in baking, dessert, food, home cooking at 1:16 pm by wingerz


I’m surprised that I’ve never posted a pecan pie recipe. It’s a staple of Liao holiday celebrations. I like this recipe a lot because it has a ton of maple syrup instead of corn syrup. Of course, it doesn’t mean that it’s any less sweet, and it also doesn’t mean that I like pecan pie.

Maple Pecan Pie
from Cook’s Illustrated

4 tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon table salt
3 large eggs
1 cup maple syrup , pure, preferably Grade B or Grade A dark amber
1 1/2 cups whole pecans (6 ounces), toasted and chopped into small pieces

1. Prep a pie crust like the one for the pumpkin pie.
2. Melt butter in medium heatproof bowl set in skillet of water maintained at just below simmer. Remove bowl from skillet; mix in sugar and salt with wooden spoon until butter is absorbed. Beat in eggs, then maple syrup. Return bowl to hot water; stir until mixture is shiny and warm to the touch, about 130 degrees. Remove from heat; stir in pecans.
3. Pour mixture into warm shell; bake until center feels set yet soft, like gelatin, when gently pressed, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer pie to rack; let cool completely, at least 4 hours. Serve pie at room temperature or warm, with lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.


Pumpkin Pie

Posted in baking, dessert, food, home cooking at 1:09 am by wingerz

pumpkin pie

In a Thanksgiving mood, I baked three of these and took them to work. I haven’t eaten all that much pumpkin pie but I thought this was pretty good – almost a pumpkin custard pie. Would probably make them again, especially since I still have one can of pumpkin in my pantry.

This is a pretty fool-proof recipe. Only thing I would have done differently is to give the crust a few more minutes to brown.

Pumpkin Pie
from Cook’s Illustrated

1. Prep a single pie crust (all-butter, vodka), fluting the edges. Remove pie pan from refrigerator, line crust with foil, and fill with pie weights or pennies. Bake on rimmed baking sheet 15 minutes. Remove foil and weights, rotate plate, and bake 5 to 10 additional minutes until crust is golden brown and crisp. Remove pie plate and baking sheet from oven.

2. For the Filling: While pie shell is baking, whisk cream, milk, eggs, yolks, and vanilla together in medium bowl. Combine pumpkin puree, yams, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in large heavy-bottomed saucepan; bring to sputtering simmer over medium heat, 5 to 7 minutes. Continue to simmer pumpkin mixture, stirring constantly and mashing yams against sides of pot, until thick and shiny, 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Remove pan from heat and whisk in cream mixture until fully incorporated. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl, using back of ladle or spatula to press solids through strainer. Rewhisk mixture and transfer to warm prebaked pie shell. Return pie plate with baking sheet to oven and bake pie for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 degrees and continue baking until edges of pie are set (instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 175 degrees), 20 to 35 minutes longer. Transfer pie to wire rack and cool to room temperature, 2 to 3 hours. Cut into wedges and serve.


Poached salmon

Posted in fish, food, home cooking at 2:00 am by wingerz


Ah, delicious, delicious salmon. I normally sear it but was looking to mix it up a bit. This is a pretty straightforward recipe, and quite good. Do NOT let the salmon overcook. 125 deg F gets you to medium (110 for rare); it’s better to pull it out earlier rather than later.

Served alongside roasted red bliss potatoes (tossed with a drizzle of truffle oil) and a salad with sour cream and dill dressing.

Poached Salmon with Dill and Sour Cream Sauce
from Cook’s Illustrated

2 lemons
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill fronds , plus 8-12 dill stems
2 small shallots , minced (about 4 tablespoons)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup water
1 skinless salmon fillet (1 3/4 to 2 pounds), about 1 1/2 inches at thickest part, white membrane removed, fillet cut crosswise into 4 equal pieces (see note)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. Cut top and bottom off 1 lemon; cut into 8 to ten 1/4-inch-thick slices. Cut remaining lemon into 8 wedges and set aside. Arrange lemon slices in single layer across bottom of 12-inch skillet. Scatter dill stems and 2 tablespoons minced shallots evenly over lemon slices. Add wine and water.
2. Place salmon fillets in skillet, skinned-side down, on top of lemon slices. Set pan over high heat and bring liquid to simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until sides are opaque but center of thickest part is still translucent (or until instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part registers 125 degrees), 11 to 16 minutes. Remove pan from heat and, using spatula, carefully transfer salmon and lemon slices to paper towel-lined plate and tent loosely with foil.
3. Return pan to high heat and simmer cooking liquid until slightly thickened and reduced to 2 tablespoons, 4 to 5 minutes. Strain cooking liquid through fine-mesh strainer into medium bowl; discard solids. Return strained liquid to skillet; whisk in Dijon mustard and remaining 2 tablespoons shallot. Simmer over high heat until slightly thickened and reduced to 2 tablespoons, 4 to 5 minutes. Whisk in sour cream and juice from 1 reserved lemon wedge; simmer 1 minute. Remove from heat; whisk in 2 tablespoons unsalted butter and 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill fronds. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Season salmon lightly with salt and pepper. Using spatula, carefully lift and tilt salmon fillets to remove lemon slices. Place salmon on serving platter or individual plates and spoon sauce over top. Serve, passing reserved lemon wedges separately.


Roasted rack of lamb

Posted in food, home cooking, meat at 2:35 am by wingerz


It’s been a while since I posted something meaty. I was inspired by our Costco run to try out this recipe (only made a half-portion). Got a really nice crust going on it. I could have been a bit more patient with the sauce, but I was getting hungry.

Roasted Rack of Lamb with Red Wine Pan Sauce and Rosemary
from Cook’s Illustrated

2 racks of lamb (each 8 to 9 ribs, weighing 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds), rib bones frenched, and meat trimmed of fat and silver skin (see illustrations below)
Table salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 medium shallots , minced
1 cup dry red wine
2 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth (canned)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter , softened
Table salt and ground black pepper

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, place shallow roasting pan or jelly-roll pan on oven rack, and heat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Season lamb with salt and pepper. Heat oil in heavy-bottomed 12-inch skillet over high heat until shimmering. Place racks of lamb in skillet, meat-side down in the center of the pan, with ribs facing outwards; cook until well-browned and nice crust has formed on surface, about 4 minutes. Using tongs, stand racks up in skillet, leaning them against each other to brown the bottoms; cook until bottom sides have browned, about 2 minutes longer.
3. Transfer lamb to preheated roasting pan. (Begin pan sauce). Roast until instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of each rack registers about 135 degrees, 12 to 15 minutes, depending on size of rack. Cover meat loosely with foil and let rest about 10 minutes. Carve, slicing between each rib into individual chops, and serve immediately with the sauce.
4. Pour off all but 1 1/2 tablespoons fat from skillet used to brown lamb; place skillet over medium heat. Sauté shallots until softened, about 1 minute. Add red wine and rosemary; increase heat to medium-high and simmer until dark and syrupy, about 7 minutes. Add chicken broth; simmer until reduced to about 3/4 cup, about 5 minutes longer. Off heat, swirl in butter; season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve with lamb.

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