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Burma, Myanmar, Burmese cooking,

The book:  Burma: Rivers of Flavor, by Naomi Duguid (Artisan, $35 – here’s my complete review)

The recipe:  Shrimp salad

Why I tried itBy the time I got to this recipe, I had discovered the joys of Shallot Oil (see recipe accompanying the shrimp salad recipe). I was willing to try anything dosed with shallot oil, and this was an easy one to try. Also,  I’m always on the lookout for new ways to use shrimp, one of my favorite ingredients.

Why I loved it:  Cool, crisp, and a flash to put together.  The shrimp slices have plenty of exposed surface area to pick up flavors, and I never tire of the endless spectrum of ways fish sauce and lime seem to go together.

Estimated preparation time: 15 minutes if you’ve already got the Shallot Oil or are just using plain oil. The Shallot Oil takes about 20 minutes.

Burma, Naomi DuguidShrimp salad
Serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons peanut oil or Shallot Oil (see below)
About 1 pound medium to large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and rinsed
3 scallions, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/2 medium English cucumber
2 tablespoons chopped coriander
1 green or red cayenne chile, minced, or 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red chile powder
1 teaspoon fish sauce
About 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Salt (optional)

Place a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil, then toss in the shrimp and stir-fry just until they turn pink, a minute or two.

Transfer the shrimp to a cutting board. Slice on the diagonal and place in a shallow bowl. Add the scallions.

Cut the cucumber into 11/2-inch lengths and slice each length into julienne (you should have a scant cup). Add the cucumber, coriander, and chile to the shrimp and toss lightly. Add the fish sauce and lime juice and toss to mix well.Taste and add a little salt if you wish, then toss and serve immediately.


Fried Shallots and Shallot Oil
Makes a generous ¾ cup flavored oil and about 1 ¼ cups fried shallots

Here you get two pantry staples in one: crispy fried shallots and delicious shallot oil. Drizzle shallot oil on salads or freshly cooked greens, or onto soups to finish them. You can fry up shallots each time you need them, but I prefer to make a large batch so they’re around when I need a handful to flavor a salad.

1 cup peanut oil
2 cups (about 1/2 pound) thinly sliced Asian or European shallots

Place a wide heavy skillet or a large stable wok over medium-high heat and add the oil. Toss in a slice of shallot. As the oil heats, it will rise to the surface, sizzling lightly. When it’s reached the surface, add the rest of the shallots, carefully, so you don’t splash yourself with the oil, and lower the heat to medium. (The shallots may seem crowded, but they’ll shrink as they cook.) Stir gently and frequently with a long-handled wooden spoon or a spider. The shallots will bubble as they give off their moisture. If they start to brown early, in the first 5 minutes, lower the heat a little more. After about 10 minutes, they should start to color. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally to prevent them from sticking to the pan or to each other, until they have turned a golden brown, another 3 minutes or so.

Line a plate with paper towels. Use tongs or a spider to lift a clump of fried shallots out of the oil, pausing for a moment to shake off excess oil into the pan, then place on the paper towel. Turn off the heat, transfer the remaining shallots to the plate, and blot gently with another paper towel. Separate any clumps and toss them a little, then let them air-dry 5 to 10 minutes, so they crisp up and cool. (If your kitchen is very hot and humid, they may not crisp up; don’t worry, the flavor will still be there.)

Transfer the shallots to a clean, dry, widemouthed glass jar. Once they have cooled completely, seal tightly. Transfer the oil to another clean dry jar, using all but the very last of it, which will have some stray pieces of shallot debris. (You can set that oil aside for stir-frying.) Once the oil has cooled completely, cover tightly and store in a cool dark place.

Excerpted from Burma: Rivers of Flavor by Naomi Duguid (Artisan Books) Copyright © 2012.


brussels sprouts, marcona almonds, spinach

The book:  The Sprouted Kitchen, by Sara Forte (10 Speed, $25 – here’s my complete review)

The recipe:  Brussel leaf and baby spinach sauté with Marcona almonds

Why I tried itI’ve known for a while that a second, totally different, more lovable vegetable is hidden in every Brussels sprout if you can just bear the tedium of picking it off, leaf by leaf.  It hardly ever seems worth it.  But the picture was so enticing, and I found myself with the time one day, so I decided to go for it.

Why I loved it:  The skunkiness of cabbage is almost impossible to find in Brussels sprouts when they’re sautéd as separate leaves – with such quick work, there’s no chance for that smelly culprit, hydrogen sulfide, to break out of its cell.  Better still, the leaves are both tender and substantial enough to hold their shape a bit, a counterpoint to the wilty spinach.  And best of all, there are Marcona almonds.  Yes, it’s a splurge, but not only are they fantabulous in the dish – you can also secretly snack on them as a reward for detaching Brussels leaves for half an hour. The maple and vinegar are just right, fleeting hints of tart and sweet for an elegant side.

Incidentally, there’s no need to discard the tiny core of the Brussels sprouts.  I threw it in the pan along with everything else.  My result might not have been as refined-looking as the photo, but it sure tasted amazing.

Estimated preparation time: 30 minutes. But 5 minutes if you can get somebody else to separate the Brussels sprouts leaves and wash the spinach.

Brussel leaf and baby spinach sauté with Marcona almonds
Serves 4

marcona almonds1 pound brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine or
champagne vinegar

1 tablespoon maple syrup
4 cups baby spinach
2 generous pinches of sea salt
1/2 cup Marcona almonds

1.  Working with one brussels sprout at a time, peel each individual leaf, starting from the outside and working toward the middle. Continue to peel until you get to the tough core where it is just too tight to pull any more leaves. Discard the core [ed.: Or don’t!]  and put the leaves in a big bowl.  Repeat with the remaining brussels sprouts.

2.  Over medium heat, warm the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add all of the brussels leaves and saute for about 30 seconds. Add the vinegar and maple syrup and toss to coat, Add the spinach to the pan and toss until it is just barely wilted. It is better just slightly underdone in this case, as it will continue to cook in its own heat.

3.  Sprinkle with the salt and Marcona almonds and serve immediately.

Reprinted with permission from The Sprouted Kitchen © 2012 by Sara Forte, 10 Speed Press.

roast corn, shrimp salad

The book:  Grain Mains, by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough (Rodale, $24.99)

The recipe:  Roasted corn and shrimp “ceviche”

Why I tried itI happened to be testing this book during corn season – a hot, dry week when I didn’t really feel like eating a steaming bowl of whole grains (though I tested and liked many in this book).  Although I’d never thought of corn as a whole grain, this easy salad looked like a good bet for a quick weeknight dinner.  No soaking overnight or boiling for an hour!

Why I loved it:  I was totally unprepared for the blast of flavor the shrimp picked up from what are, after all, some pretty predictable ingredients: lime, red onion, cilantro.  The radish and the jalapeño contributed a lively bite, and I found myself repeatedly going back to the bowl for a couple more forkfuls.  It was so good–and so easy–that I scaled it up for some 16 or so of us at a family reunion a couple weeks later (along with the addictive matzo candy), and it was just as good.

Can you make it in the winter, when there’s no fresh corn to be had? I think so, though I haven’t tried.  I would take frozen corn and thaw it and dry it super-thoroughly on towels.  Then I’d toss it in some oil and spread it out in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet for the broiling step.  It ought to work, if you can get the corn dry enough.  Let me know, if you try!

Estimated preparation time: 30 leisurely minutes, if you aren’t obliged to devein the shrimp first.

Roasted corn and shrimp “ceviche”
Serves 4

4 ears of corn, husked
1/2 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/4 cup minced red onion
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
3 radishes, minced
1 jalapeño chile, seeded and minced
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1. Position the rack 4 to 6 inches from the broiler heat source and preheat the broiler.

2. Lay the corn on a large rimmed baking sheet. Toss the shrimp with 1 tablespoon of the oil in a bowl, then spread them on the baking sheet, too. Broil, turning both the corn and shrimp, until the corn is lightly browned on all sides and the shrimp are pink and firm, about 5 minutes.

3. Cool the corn and shrimp a few minutes, then slice the kernels off the cobs. Dice the shrimp. Add both to a large nonreactive bowl. Stir in everything else: the onion, cilantro, radishes, jalapeno, lime juice, salt, pepper, and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Set aside at room temperature to marinate for 10 minutes before serving.

Reprinted with permission from Grain Mains © 2012 by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough, Rodale Press.

The book:  Susan Feniger’s Street Food, by Susan Feniger, Kajsa Alger, Liz Lachman (Clarkson Potter, $27.50 – here’s my complete review)

The recipe:  Matzo candy with caramel, chocolate, and halvah

Why I tried itI just loved the idea that somebody would try to take matzo, the blandest starch ever (putting the carb in cardboard for 3000 years!), and make something completely droolworthy out of it.  Could it actually work?

Why I loved it:  The very flaws that define matzo – its boring, brittle blandness – make it just about the perfect delivery system for a decadent layering of caramel and chocolate.  It’s just about the easiest dessert I know how to make, too, a making-the-best-of-what-you-have-on-hand kind of dessert – which seems somehow to true to matzo’s Exodus roots.

Estimated preparation time:  Hardly more than 30 minutes, if you remembered to start by preheating the oven and can find your corn syrup.

Matzo candy w/caramel, chocolate & halva (CH 7)Matzo candy with caramel, chocolate, and halvah

Olive oil spray
1 (11-ounce) box unsalted matzo crackers (11 crackers)
1/2 cup (1 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 pound semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1/4 pound (1 cup) halvah

1.  Set the oven to 300 degrees. Spray 3 baking sheets with olive oil spray, or spread a small quantity of oil over the sheets with a basting brush.

2.  Lay the matzo out in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets.

3.  Put the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a small saucepan set over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes, until the butter melts. Raise the heat to medium and cook until the mixture is bubbling rapidly, 3 minutes. Add the baking soda, turn off the heat, and stir. The caramel mixture will be thick and bubbly.

4.  Spread the caramel over the top of the matzo crackers, covering their entire surface. Put the baking sheets in the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes.

5. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and immediately sprinkle the chopped chocolate over the caramel-covered matzo. Using a rubber spatula or the back of a spoon, spread the chocolate pieces so that they melt and coat the caramel matzo evenly. Then, while the chocolate is still warm, sprinkle with the halva. Let the matzo cool in the refrigerator for 1 hour or longer.

6. Break the cooled matzo into smaller pieces, and serve. Store any extras in the refrigerator in an airtight container or plastic bags.

Reprinted from the book Susan Feniger’s Street Food.  Copyright © 2012 by Susan Feniger.  Photographs copyright © 2012 by Jennifer May.  Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc.

The book:  Wild About Greens, by Nava Atlas (Sterling, $24.95 here’s my complete review)

The recipe:  Asian-flavored kale and napa slaw

Why I tried it: I’d never tried massaging kale before (though the technique sounded vaguely familiar), and we had a ton of kale in the garden.  I thought the familiar-looking Asian-y vinaigrette was a good way to ease my way into the sketchy underworld of brassica massage…Oh, instead of agave nectar I used brown rice syrup because I happened to have it around.  Honey would work fine too.

Why I loved it:  This is one of those salads that pretty much goes with anything, and it’s super-fast to make.  The carrots and the sprouts and the seeds keep it crunchy and textural, and there’s none of the bitter taste you expect from raw kale; just a sense of ruggedness.  You end up with a good-looking bowl of vivid green that holds beautifully, by the way,  if you’re taking it to a party somewhere.

Estimated preparation time: 15 minutes (plus 15 minutes standing time for the flavors to absorb)   =================================================

Asian-Flavored Kale & Napa Cabbage Slaw
6 to 8 servings

You can also massage the kale with a little bit of kosher salt instead of the oil – it works just as well and helps develop the flavor.

For the dressing:
1 tablespoon olive oil or other healthy vegetable oil
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
2 tablespoons vinegar (apple cider, rice, or white wine)
2 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce or tamari
2 tablespoons agave nectar or other liquid sweetener

For the salad:
5 or 6 leaves kale, preferably lacinato (curly kale will work too)
3 cups firmly packed thinly shredded napa cabbage
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup sprouts, any variety
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds, or 1/8 cup of each
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
Freshly ground pepper to taste

1.  Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together.

2.  Strip the kale leaves from the stems. Slice the stems very thinly or discard. Cut the kale leaves into very thin strips and place in a large serving bowl. Oil your hands lightly and massage the kale for 30 to 45 seconds, until the leaves are bright green and soft.

3. Add the remaining salad ingredients, then toss well with the dressing. Let the salad stand for 15 -minutes. Taste and adjust the tang, saltiness, and sweetness with more vinegar, soy sauce, or sweetener to your liking, then serve.

Reprinted with permission from Wild About Greens © 2012 by Nava Atlas, Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.

The book:  Cindy’s Supper Club, by Cindy Pawlcyn (10 Speed Books, $35 – here’s my complete review)

The recipe:  Classic Georgian “pressed” chicken with walnut and beet sauces

Why I tried it:  I felt there seemed something so crossroads-y about having to have both walnut and beet sauces – Eastern European and Middle Eastern at the same time.  Also, I felt, there was cause to hope that the “pressing” of the chicken would lead to crisp skin.  And what wouldn’t I do for crisp skin?!

Why I loved it:  The slow, weighted “frying” did lead to crisp skin, and it was simple enough that I’d be able to remember that next time without a recipe.  But it was the sauces that really lit my chandelier.  I kept going back and forth between the two, trying one, and then the other, and then both, in a glorious state of indecision.  Yes, it’s a little bit of a bother to make two sauces.  But it’s so very worth it!  If it’s any consolation, you can skip the tomato wedges.  They’re just there for show, as far as I’m concerned.

Estimated preparation time: 1 hour for the sauces (if you haven’t peeled, roasted and grated the beets ahead of time), 1 hour for the chicken.  You might be able to overlap some of the sauce and chicken preps, if you’re thinking ahead, so it could just about be done in 90 minutes.

Cindy's Supper Club, Cindy PawlcynClassic Georgian “pressed” chicken with walnut and beet sauces
Serves 6

1 cup walnuts
1 or 2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon hot paprika
2 to 3 teaspoons cider vinegar
Up to 1 cup water

In a blender, combine the walnuts, garlic, coriander, paprika, and 2 teaspoons of the vinegar. With the motor running, slowly add the water, stopping when the sauce is the consistency of thick cream. It should be thinner than mayonnaise but thicker than a rich broth. Taste and season with the remaining teaspoon vinegar and coriander, if needed, and with salt. Set aside.

2 beets, boiled or roasted, peeled and finely grated.
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive or walnut oil
2 tablespoons cider or rice vinegar
3/4 cup sour cream, or 6 tablespoons each plain yogurt and creme fraiche
1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix well. Cover and chill before serving.


6 pounds chicken legs, separated into drumsticks and thighs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt and pepper
2 or 3 cloves garlic, mashed
1 scant cup water or stock
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, minced and squeezed dry
3 tomatoes, cut into wedges and lightly salted

1. Place a very large saute pan (big enough to hold all of the chicken with a little space left over) over medium-low heat and add the butter (dividing it if using 2 pans). While the butter melts, season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.

2. When the butter is nice and foamy, place the chicken pieces, bone side down, in the pan(s). Cover just the meat, not the pan, with parchment paper, and place a second pan on top of the parchment. Fill the top pan with water (or a weight to press the chicken down, and then “fry” slowly for 25 minutes. Remove the top pan(s), being careful not to slosh any water into the cooking pan(s), flip the pieces over skin side down, and replace the parchment and the top pan(s) and the weight. Cook for another 15 to 20 minutes to crisp the skin and finish cooking the meat.

3. When the chicken pieces are ready, pull them out of the pan(s), put them on a large platter, and keep them warm. Add the garlic and water to the pan juices (dividing them if using 2 pans), increase the heat to high, and cook, stirring to scrape up any browned bits on the pan bottom(s), until reduced by two-thirds. Stir in the parsley and remove from the heat. Spoon the pan sauce over the chicken and place the tomato wedges here and there around the platter. Serve the walnut and beet sauces on the side.

Reprinted with permission from Cindy’s Supper Club © 2012 by Cindy Pawlcyn, 10 Speed Press.

Welcome back to the Best Recipes of 2012! post-Thanksgiving edition.   4 days ago, most of us were no better than we should have been about the carbs, which is one of the reasons I saved this recipe till after the holiday.  The other is that it’s the kind of recipe there’s never enough of, and I figured there was no point in ratcheting up the level of family tension any more than necessary.

The book:  The Fresh & Green Table, by Susie Middleton (Chronicle Books, $24.95 here’s my complete review)

The recipe:  Crispy Red Potato Patties with Asian Slaw and Limey Sauce

Why I tried itI have yet to meet anyone who can resist a crisp potato, and I’ve long loved the way that roasting a potato gets you a whole lot of crunch with a minimum of oil.  Could there be another way to roast potatoes, other than the good ol’  roasty chunks I learned to make from my trusty One Potato Two Potato?  The lime-and-gingery slaw sounded conventional, but it also seemed like a virtuous foil for the potatoes.

Why I loved it:  First of all, the squashed potatoes have all kinds of surface area for crisping up, which they do with a vengeance.  Then it’s lime, lime, lime.  Tart lime and zest juicing up the soft mayo,  lime brightening the fine shreds of cabbage in the slaw, all of it balanced with curve-filling sweetness just where it needs it.  The slaw is great, and it makes you feel good about yourself. But it was the crispy little bits of potato, perfect for dipping in limey sauce, that we were all fighting over in the end.  (If you feel like saving yourself some trouble and just making the potatoes and sauce and skipping the slaw, I assure you the recipe will still rock your socks off, and no one will know.)

Estimated preparation time: 90 minutes, including a bit of downtime during which you can make the sauce and the slaw.

Crispy Red Potato Patties with Warm Asian Slaw & Limey Sauce
Serves 4.

For the potatoes:
16 baby red potatoes of uniform size (about 1½ oz each)
kosher salt
½ cup canola oil

For the limey sauce:
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
½ tsp finely grated lime zest
½ tsp finely minced garlic
kosher salt

1.  To cook the potatoes: Preheat the oven to 475°F. Line a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and top with a piece of parchment. Put a double layer of dish towels on a large cutting board or your counter. Arrange the potatoes (preferably in a single layer) in a large Dutch oven and add enough water to cover them by at least 1 1/2 inches. Add 2 tsp salt, cover loosely, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender all the way through but not falling apart (check with a paring knife), 18 to 20 minutes.

2.  Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer each potato to the dish towels, not touching, and let cool for a few minutes. Using another folded dish towel, gently press down on each potato to flatten it into a patty about 1/2 inch thick (or up to 3/4 inch). The patties don’t have to be perfectly even, and a few pieces of potato may break off. (No matter; you can still roast them.) Let the patties cool for a few minutes more, transfer them to the baking sheet, and let them cool for 10 to 15 minutes longer. (Or, at this point, you can hold the potatoes in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap, for up to 24 hours. Bring to room temperature before roasting.)

3. Sprinkle the potatoes with 1/4 tsp salt and pour the canola oil over them. Care fully flip the potatoes over and season again with a scant 1/2 tsp salt. Rub with some of the oil, making sure that the potatoes are well coated on all sides. Roast, carefully turning once with a spatula halfway through cooking, until they turn a deep orange brown (a little darker and crisper around the edges), 28 to 30 minutes.

4.  To make the limey sauce: In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lime juice, lime zest, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Whisk until well combined. Let sit for a few minutes to let the flavors blend. Refrigerate if making ahead.

For the Asian slaw:
1½ cups very thinly sliced napa or savoy cabbage (pale inner leaves only)
1 cup very thinly sliced red cabbage
1 cup (packed) baby spinach leaves
kosher salt
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1½ tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1½ tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp canola oil, plus 2 tsp
½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp minced peeled fresh ginger
½ tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp thinly sliced scallions (white and green parts)

1. To make the slaw: In a large heatproof mixing bowl, combine the napa cabbage, red cabbage, and spinach. Sprinkle the greens with 1/4 tSp salt. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, lime juice, and brown sugar. In a medium heavy nonstick skillet, heat the 2 tsp canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the red onion and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until the onion is wilted and just starting to brown around the edges, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the onion to the bowl of greens and let the skillet cool for a few seconds off the heat.

2. Reduce the heat to medium-low, return the pan to the heat, and add the remaining 1 tbsp canola oil. When the oil is hot, add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, until very fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the vinegar mixture to the pan (scrape out all the brown sugar with a small spatula), stir vigorously to warm it through, and immediately remove the pan from the heat. Stir and scrape the hot dressing over the greens, tossing the greens with tongs as you pour. Toss thoroughly to coat well and to soften and wilt the greens just a bit. (The cabbage will still be crunchy.) Taste and add more salt (if desired).

3.  Arrange four dinner plates on your counter. On one side of each plate arrange four potato patties, slightly overlapping. On the other side of eacplate, mound a quarter of the slaw. Spoon some of the limey sauce over the potatoes (down the middle of the rowof potatoes), and top each serving with the scallions. Serve right away.

Recipe excerpted from The Fresh & Green Table by Susie Middleton, Chronicle Books (2012). Reprinted with permission.

Happy day after Thanksgiving, folks!  While you’re groaning on the couch in a tryptophan coma*, how’s about a little palate cleanser? I loved this ice cream book published by the Bi-Rite Creamery this past summer.  (My Boston Globe review has more information about this book, in case you’re interested.)
[*OK, turkey has no more tryptophan than other poultry, and the coma is probably caused by the carbs rather than the turkey. But it’s still fun to say “tryptophan coma”.]

The book:  Sweet Cream & Sugar Cones, by Kris Hoogerhyde, Anne Walker, and Dabney Gough (10 Speed Press, $24.95)

The recipe:  Buttermilk Ice Cream

Why I tried it: Buttermilk is one of those magic ingredients – like Worcestershire sauce or dua belibis – that makes everything better.  It makes biscuits better.  It makes marinades better. It makes cold soups better.  It makes fried chicken better.  Why shouldn’t it make ice cream better, too?

Why I loved it:  Two reasons – taste and texture.  First of all, that tart, fresh, farm-scrubbed dairy taste came through. It was like eating crème fraîche straight out of the tub with a spoon, except sweet and more assertive, and  (it’s just ice cream after all) not perverse.  As for the texture, it’s not just the normal  smooth, rich effect you get from using Bi-Rite’s generous formula of 5 yolks per scant quart. This is ultra-premium, private-jet-class velvet–caused by the protein-disassembling acids of buttermilk.  Even when it’s totally “frozen,” a scoop still passes easily through.  It lingers in a soft cool mass on your tongue for a moment, and then it’s gone.

And if it happens to be August? and you happen to have some fresh blueberries around? then you’re in for a food memory that will last a lifetime.

Estimated preparation time: 40 minutes + 4 hours in the freezer.

Buttermilk Ice Cream
I learned a great way to cool down ice cream from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home, and I now use it every time I make ice cream: Fill a deep vessel (> 2 qts.) with ice water.  Carefully tip your warm ice cream custard base into a sturdy freezer-grade Ziploc bag, and place the bag in the ice water (with the opening kept well clear above the water level).  Stir occasionally and gently, over the course of 10 minutes until the base is cool.  Much, much faster than the bowl-within-a-bowl technique.

5 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup 1% or 2% milk
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Make the base: In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the yolks to just break them up, then whisk in half of the sugar (6 tablespoons). Set aside.

2. In a heavy stainless steel pan, stir together the cream, milk, and the remaining sugar (6 tablespoons) and put the pan over medium-high heat. When the mixture approaches a bare simmer, reduce the heat to medium.

3. Carefully scoop out about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture and, whisking the eggs constantly, add the cream to the bowl with the egg yolks. Repeat, adding another 1/2 cup of the hot cream to the bowl with the yolks. Returning to the pan of cream on the stove, use a heatproof spatula to stir the cream as you slowly pour the egg and cream mixture back into the pan.

4. Continue to cook the mixture carefully over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened, coats the back of a spatula, and leaves a clear mark when you run your finger across it, 1 to 2 minutes longer.

5. Strain the base through a fine-mesh strainer and into a clean container. Set the bowl into an ice bath, wash your spatula, and use it to stir the base occasionally until it is cool. Then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the base for at least 2 hours or overnight. (In this recipe, it’s particularly important that the base is cold before proceeding to the next step; otherwise the buttermilk will cause the mixture to “break” and lose its emulsion.)

6. Freeze the ice cream: Add the buttermilk and vanilla to the cold base and whisk to blend.

7. Freeze in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. While the ice cream is churning, put the container you’ll use to store the ice cream into the freezer. Enjoy right away or, for a firmer ice cream, freeze for at least 4 hours.

Reprinted with permission from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones © 2012 by Kris Hoogerhyde, Anne Walker, and Dabney Gough, 10 Speed Press.

Here’s a book that may have passed you by this year. Lyons Press launched a series of small cookbooks from up-and-coming chefs.  The books aren’t flashy, but there are some real treasures in them – like this one.

We’ll be taking a break for Thanksgiving after this post–Happy Turkey Day, everybody!  And stay tuned for more Best Recipes after the holiday.

The book:  Comfort and Spice, by Niamh Shields (Lyons Press, $19.95)

The recipe:  Crispy Pomegranate Molasses Chicken Wings with Tahini Sauce

Why I tried itI think the name says it all.  Like most people, I dislike and avoid deep-frying.  But there are some times when there’s just no other choice, so a few times a year I just go for it.  Also, I have a real weakness for both pomegranate molasses and tahini.  I’d never seen them paired before.  Could it be as good as it sounded?

Why I loved it:  Because it’s wings we’re talking about and not breast, the spices and molasses really penetrated the meat overnight.  The seasoned flour coat doubles down on the cumin anyway, and then you crisp it up in the fryer. Do not Skip the Dip.  When the crisp, sweet, spiced wing meets the cool, tart, creamy dip, sparks fly.

Estimated preparation time: 20 day-before minutesovernight marinade + 30 day-of, messy minutes.

Crispy Pomegranate Molasses Chicken Wings with Tahini Sauce

Recipe excerpted from Comfort & Spice by Niamh Shields, Lyons Press, an imprint of Globe Pequot Press.

Seives 6—8 as a snack
For the marinade
1/3 cup pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted and ground
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
5 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon sea salt

For the chicken
2¾ pounds chicken wings, cut in half at the joint
2 whole eggs, or 3 egg whites, beaten
light oil, to deep-fry (peanut or sunflower)

For the seasoned flour
2 heaping cups all-purpose flour
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground
½ teaspoon chili powder

1.  Combine all the ingredients for the marinade and massage into the wings.
Cover and leave in the refrigerator for at least two hours, preferably overnight.
2. The next day, pour all the ingredients for the seasoned flour into a large plastic storage bag. Add the chicken, close the bag, and toss.
3. Place the eggs or egg whites in a large shallow dish. Transfer the chicken to the egg, coat thoroughly, then repeat with the flour.

4. Heat 2 inches of oil in a very large pan, or a deep fat fryer, until it reaches 35o°F on an oil thermometer or a cube of bread froths the oil immediately. Fry the chicken in batches, ensuring the pan is not crowded. Drain on paper towels and serve warm.

For the tahini dip:  chop 3 garlic cloves and crush in a mortar and pestle with a pinch of salt and 1 teaspoon of toasted cumin seeds. Add ¾ cup tahini, ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, and 5 tablespoons of water. Add the juice of a lemon until the taste and consistency suits you.  Stir in chopped cilantro and serve.

Eggs?  you’re saying.  You picked eggs for one of your best recipes of the year?  Sure did.  This recipe revolutionized my breakfast routine.  No more boring-scrambled-eggs-you-eat-because-you-need-the-protein!  I made it 6 days out of 7 all through tomato season.

The book:  The Fresh Egg, by Jennifer Trainer Thompson (Storey, $14.95 – here’s my complete review)

The recipe:  Scrambled Eggs, Indian-Style

Why I tried it: My Aunty Sen makes a delicious scrambled egg with tomato.  “It looks kind of terrible,” she told me, “but it tastes really good.”  I loved her tomato egg, but it was a little scary-looking, and I ended up not making it at home.  So when I saw this egg recipe with tomato, I thought it was a good chance to get over my own qualms about tomato eggs.  Also, it had onion.  Who can be afraid of a recipe that starts with onion?

Why I loved it:  You know how when you eat scrambled eggs, they’re great for the first bite, OK for the second, and after that you’re just eating them because you have to?  Yeah, that’s what this recipe isn’t like.  It’s full of interesting, complementary flavors that keep bouncing off each other from the first bite to the last.  In fact, the whole experience is over all too soon.  I made this recipe first in the spring, and I didn’t think it could get better.  Then I tried it with the fresh tomatoes in August.  Then I tried it with our chickens’ first eggs, in October.  Oh my!!!

Estimated preparation time: < 15 minutes*.
*once you’re familiar with the recipe.  Less if you keep ginger-garlic paste around (a terrific staple that keeps forever in the fridge, by the way, and available at most Asian markets).  You can use it instead of mincing the garlic and ginger.

Scrambled Eggs, Indian-Style
Haven’t got a fresh tomato? That’s OK. Even a mediocre winter tomato turns into a rock star with this treatment. And if you haven’t even got one of those, you can use a scant tablespoon of tomato paste and loosen it up with a little water in the pan as you sweat the aromatics. I just did, and it was great.
Serves 2

4 eggs
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1 small tomato, chopped
1 green chile, seeded and slivered (or substitute 1 teaspoon chili powder)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon toasted cumin seed
Pinch of ground turmeric

1.  Beat the eggs and set aside.

2.  Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, 2 or 3 minutes. Add the tomato, chile, cilantro, garlic, and ginger and cook until the tomato is soft (so you can mash it). Season with salt and pepper, the cumin seed, and the turmeric.

3.  Pour in the eggs and scramble until they reach the desired consistency. Serve immediately.

Recipe excerpted from The Fresh Egg Cookbook © by Jennifer Trainer Thompson, used with permission from Storey Publishing.

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