Jumat, 26 November 2010

Spanish Chickpea and Chorizo Stew

This is the kind of food that is perfect for this time of the year. Rich and earthy with chunky pieces of chorizo and tiny meatballs simmering in a paprika flavored comforting broth: this stew is everything an autumn family meal should be. I added one Russet potato to make it a whole meal itself. It is equally tasty with the Chorizo alone. Just skip the meatball part and increase the amount of chorizo to ten or twelve ounces.

Chickpea Stew with Chorizo and Meatballs
(The new Spanish table)
serves 4 or 5

For the Chickpeas
1 cup dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans), soaked
1 bay leaf
6 oz. sweet Spanish-style chorizo sausage

For the Meatballs
2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
10 oz ground pork (not too lean)
1/4 grated onion
1 small egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp. coarse salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
Olive oil

For Finishing the Stew
2 Tbs Olive Oil
1 medium-size onion, finely chopped
1 medium-size carrot, finely chopped
4 medium-size garlic cloves, chopped
2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon smoked sweet Spanish paprika
3 Tbs finely chopped fresh flat-lea parsley
Sea Salt
1 Russet Potato cut into small dices (optional)

1. Prepare the chickpeas: Place the chickpeas in a heavy 4 - 5 quart pot, add cold water to cover by 2 inches, and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the bay leaf, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour, periodically replenishing the liquid with more water.

2. After 1 hour, cook the chorizo in boiling water for 2 minutes and drain it. Add the chorizo to the chickpeas and continue cooking until the chickpeas are tender but still a little al dente, about 30 minutes longer, adding more water to maintain the level of liquid.

3. While the chickpeas are cooking, make the meatballs: Place the bread in a small bowl, add cold water to cover, and let soak for 5 minutes. Drain and squeeze out the excess liquid, then finely crumble the bread. Place the bread, pork, onion, egg, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Gently knead the meatball mixture with your hands just until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined. If the mixture is too moist to form into meatballs, refrigerate it for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

4. Preheat the oven to 425 F.

5. With oiled hands, shape the mixture into meatballs the size of a cherry tomato. Arrange the meatballs on a baking sheet and bake, shaking the pan once or twice, until they are lightly browned and firm to the touch, about 12 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.

6. To finish the stew: Heat the olive oil in a medium-size skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion, carrot, and half of the garlic and cook until soft but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, cover the skillet, and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the paprika, stir for a few seconds, then stir the tomato mixture into the chickpeas. Cook the stew until the chickpeas are very tender, 15 to 20 minutes longer ( add the potatoes if using).

7 . Using as slotting spoon, transfer the chorizo to a cutting board, cut it into 1/2 inch slices and return them to the pot. Gently stir in the meatballs and simmer them in the stew for about 5 minutes.

8. Place the remaining garlic, the parsley, and a pinch of salt in a mortar and, using a pestle, crush them to a paste. Stir the parsley mixture into the stew and let it cook until all the flavors meld, about 5 minutes. Let the stew cool for about 5 minutes, then ladle it into bowls and serve.

Sabtu, 20 November 2010

Pumpkin Muffins

While strolling through the web looking for new interesting recipes, a book review caught my eye. It praised a book by Sarabeth Levine titled "Sarabeth Bakery" . I discovered that she had a famous muffin recipe and that people were waiting in line at her baker to buy these muffins.

Sarahbeth happened to post this recipe on her new blog and fortunately enough I had all the ingredients at hand, except for the pastry flour which my local supermarket doesn't carry anyway. I swapped it with All Purpose flour and Cake flour and I think it worked out fine.

That same day I brought the muffins to a potluck and everyone told me how much they loved the muffins. Since I loved them as well, I am going to post the recipe here for you.

They are different from regular pumpkin muffins, less sweet, with a lot of pumpkin flavor - absolutely wonderful.

Pumpkin Muffins
Makes 12 to 14 muffins
Bakers Note: If you use generous scoops of batter, the yield will be 12 muffins. For smaller muffins, use 7 muffin cups in each of 2 muffin pans. Distribute the batter in a random pattern (not in rows) in each pan so the muffins bake evenly. Butter only the cups that you are going to use, or the butter in the empty cups will burn.

Softened unsalted butter, for the pan
3 2/3 cups/500 g pastry flour, sifted (could be replaced with 250 g cake flour and 250 g all purpose flour)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) / 115 g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into ½-inch cubes
1 1/3 cups / 270 g superfine sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten
One 15-ounce can solid-pack pumpkin
1 cup seedless golden or dark raisins
¼ cup hulled unsalted sunflower seeds

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400°F. Brush the insides of 12 to 14 muffin cups with softened butter, then brush the top of the pan.

2. Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt together into a medium bowl.  Beat the butter in the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed until creamy, about I minute. Gradually beat in the sugar and continue beating, scraping the sides of the bowl often with a silicone spatula, until the mixture is very light in color and texture, about 5 minutes. Gradually beat in the eggs. Reduce the mixture speed to low. Beat in the pumpkin; the mixture may look curdled. In thirds, beat in the flour mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl often, and mix until smooth. Add the raisins. Increase the speed to high and beat until the batter has a slight sheen, about 15 seconds, no longer.

3. Using a 2½ inch-diameter ice-cream scoop, portion the batter, rounded side up, into the prepared cups. Sprinkle the tops with the sunflower seeds.

4. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and continue baking until the tops of the muffins are golden brown and a wire tester inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean, about 15 minutes more.

5. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove the muffins from the pan and cool completely.

Rabu, 17 November 2010

Steel Cut Oat Bread

Is there anything better than the smell of a freshly baked loaf of bread in the house? I don't think so. This is one of my favorites. A crunchy gold brown crust and a light and fluffy inside makes this bread irresistible. 
If you have never heard of the no-knead bread and would like to start baking your own bread I highly recommend this webpage  Breadtopia.  It has very nice video instructions and lots of good and easy bread recipes. 

Steel Cut Oat Bread
(makes 1 loaf)
(adapted from NYT /breadtpopia/M.Preston)
It’s amazing what the addition of a mere half cup of steel cut oats can do to enhance and vary the quality of a basic loaf of no knead bread. During the long fermentation period, the grains soften and swell to give the bread a wholesome and satisfying flavor and texture.
Simple enough to whip together in a heartbeat and interesting enough to become a regular in your no knead rotation.
3/4 cup (3 oz.) whole wheat flour
1/2 cup (3 oz.) steel cut oats 

2 1/4 cups (10 oz.) bread flour or All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 tsp. instant yeast or 1/4 cup sourdough starter

1. In a large bowl combine flour, oats, yeast and salt. (If you use sourdough starter, add it to the water and stir to dissolve. Add 1 1/2 cups water, and stir with a fork 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.

Tip: I let the dough rise in a colander or basket lined with baking paper. When the dough has risen, I lift the whole thing and put the dough together with the paper in the pot.

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, la cloche, Roemertopf) 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.

Senin, 15 November 2010

Potato Roesti

This is one of our all time family favorites. I don't even look for other recipes anymore. These Roesti are crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, flavored with Rosemary and Garlic - absolutely perfect. They are finished in the oven which saves you space on the stove and lets you clean up early. We had sauteed chanterelle mushrooms and a little green salad with them but you can serve them with a piece of meat or fish too.

Potato Roesti
(cook with Jamie)
serves 4

olive oil
a small knob of butter
600 g/1lb 6oz floury potatoes, peeled and cut into matchsticks
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
a few sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves picked
6 cloves of garlic, peeled


Preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F. In an ovenproof non-stick frying pan, about 22cm/8 inches wide, heat a splash of olive oil. Add the butter and toss the potatoes in it with a pinch of salt and pepper, the rosemary leaves an the whole garlic cloves.

Fry on a medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring all the while, until the potatoes start to soften a little.
Then place the pan in the oven and cook for about 25 minutes or until the potatoes are lightly golden, both on top and the bottom.

Take the pan out of the oven and cover it with a piece of damp greaseproof paper. Wrap your hand in a tea towel, or use a perfectly sized plate, and press down on the paper to flatten and compact your roesti.

Remove the greaseproof paper and place the pan back in the oven for 25 minutes. Cut into slices and serve.

Kamis, 11 November 2010


Only recently my husband brought  home two pieces of  cake from work that was prepared by his dear colleague Karen for Boss's day. It was her delicious Sour Cream Pound Cake which he  likes so much. She also told him that she really enjoys following my Blog and urged him to bring home the pieces for me to taste and to get my opinion. Karen, "from cook to cook", I can tell you that my husband is right: the cake is delicious!  The cake is so good that I want to give  all of you Karen's delicious pound cake recipe with a little "Thank You" to Karen for sharing it

Karen's Delicious Sour Cream Pound Cake
(adapted from Kraft Foods)

  • 3 cups flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 3 cups sugar (I used 1/3 less sugar and it is still delicious)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup BREAKSTONE'S or KNUDSEN Sour Cream
  • 2 Tbsp.vanilla
Make It

MIX flour and baking soda. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy approx. 10 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

ADD flour mixture to sugar mixture, alternately in thirds with sour cream, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla; mix well. Pour into greased 10-inch tube or 12-cup fluted tube pan.

BAKE at 325°F for 1 hour - 1 hour 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Don't overbake or the cake will be dry. Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool completely.

Minggu, 07 November 2010

Creamy no Cream Cauliflower Soup

I love vegetables, but cauliflower is not really one of my favorites. I guess simply because I didn't find the right recipes yet. They all seem kind of boring to me. Not this one. I found it in Dorie Greenspan's new book: "Around my French Table" and I thought I have to try it. I was not disappointed. Onions and Celery are slowly roasted before you add the cauliflower. This brings out all the sugar of the veggies. Then you have to cook it for another 20 minutes with the cauliflower. There is no need to add any creme whatsoever and the result is a smooth and silky soup, full of delightful flavors. 
This soup is the perfect start for an elegant dinner. 

Creamy Cauliflower Soup 
(Dorie Greenspan: Around my French Table)
serves 4 
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Vidalia, Spanish, or large yellow onions (about ¾ pound) coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, split, germ removed and thinly sliced
3 celery stalks, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 thyme sprigs, leaves only
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 head cauliflower, leaves removed, broken into florets (discard the tough core)
5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
Optional toppings
Extra-virgin olive oil or walnut oil
Grated cheese
Crushed toasted walnuts
Crème fraîche or sour cream
Shaved truffles
Put the olive oil and butter in a large Dutch oven or soup pot and warm over low heat. When the butter is melted, add the onions, garlic, celery, thyme, ½ teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of white pepper. Stir until all the ingredients glisten with oil and butter, then cover the pot and cook slowly, stirring often, for 20 minutes.
Toss the cauliflower into the pot and pour in the broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat so that the broth simmers gently, and cook, uncovered, for another 20 minutes, or until the cauliflower is very soft.
Puree the soup in batches in a blender or food processor; or use an immersion blender. This soup is best when it is very smooth, so if you think it needs it, push it through a strainer. (If you used a standard blender, this shouldn't be necessary.) Taste for salt and pepper; I like to pepper the soup generously.
Serve plain or garnished with the topping of your choice

Kamis, 04 November 2010

Pici con ragu

When I asked my son what he wanted for dinner tonight, he picked "Pici con Ragu" from Jamie's Italy cookbook. I agreed, but honestly, I had no idea what I had  gotten myself into.
I had made pasta before, so I figured it wouldn't be too difficult.  Boy, was I wrong....

At least it was an easy start: the sauce rather classic, cooked by itself almost the whole afternoon and came out deliciously. The dough was prepared in a couple of minutes. I stored it in the fridge as recommended and decided to have an afternoon rest. My inner voice told me, though, that I should give myself enough time to practice rolling out of the Pici. So I started relatively early in the afternoon to roll out my first Pici, and I was so right!
The dough was easy to handle, but the skewer stuck to the dough and I couldn't get it out when I rolled them as thin as I wanted them to be . So I floured the stick, but then the dough didn't wrap around the pasta anymore...
Long story short, I rolled out the little pieces, divided them in half, rolled them almost to the length of the stick and then pressed the skewer into them to flatten them out a little.
It worked o.k. I know now why pasta comes in packages.
Still, the dish was scrumptious - empty plates across the table... Would I do it again? Only when I have plenty of time, really a lot....

Pici con Ragu
(Jamie's Italy)
serves 4

For the pici

455 g/1lb finely ground semolina flour
approx. 200ml /7floz water

for the ragu sauce

olive oil
1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
3 bay leaves
a sprig of fresh rosemary
500 g/1lb 2oz minced beef or veal
4 x 400 g tins of good quality plum tomaoes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a bloc of Parmesan cheese for grating

Place the flour in a bowl and, a little at a time, add just enough cold water to make a stiff dough. The drier the dough, the easier it will be when rolling it out later. Dust a clean work surface with flour and knead the pasta dough for 10 minutes or so until smooth and velvety. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate it until you are ready to use it.

Pull of a orange sized piece of dough and roll it with your hands into a long thin sausage shape on a very lightly four-dusted work surface. When it's about 2cm/ 1 inch thick, divide it into 3cm / 11/4 inch pieces so you end up with lots of little nuggets of dough.

Make sure the table or board is dry and free of flour, otherwise rolling will be difficult, and have a damp cloth nearby to moisten your hands. Take a 1mm thick 15cm/6 inch long wooden skewer, hold it at both ends and press it down lengthways into a piece of dough as if trying to cut it in half down the middle. When you've pushed the skewer in half-way, roll the dough gently round the stick using your fingertips.

You should end up with a very thin, sausage-shaped piece of pasta with the stick through the middle. When the pasta is rolled just thinner than a cigarette, stop rolling and gently pull it off, making sure you pull on the stick rather than the dough. Giving the stick a twist will also help. You should end up with a long thin hollow noodle. Repeat with the rest of the dough and lay all your pici on a tray, dusted with semolina flour, to dry out slightly before using.

When you have laid all the pieces out on a tray and dusted them with semolina flour, you can start to make the ragu sauce. Heat a saucepan  big enough to hold all the sauce ingredients, add a splash of olive oil and the chopped onion and garlic, and cook slowly for about 10 minutes until soft and lightly coloured. Add the bay leaves, the whole sprig of rosemary, the minced beef or veal and the tomatoes. Stir will and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer gently for 2hours with a lid on the pan.

If the sauce starts to stick at any point, add a splash of hot water and stir well. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Using a pair of tongs, fish out the bay leaves and rosemary sprig and discard them.

Cook the pici in a pan of boiling salted water for around 10 - 15 minutes until cooked through but still al dente. Drain and then stir them into the hot ragu sauce.Ad a good spash of olive oil, then taste and season again if necessary. Serve with lots of freshly grated Parmesan.

Senin, 01 November 2010

Mexican Lime Soup with Chicken

Lime juice, jalapeno pepper, Mexican Oregano  and Queso Fresco, a mild unaged white cheese, makes this soup very special. Even if you don't like Mexican Food, you should try this one. If you can't find Queso Fresco use a very mild Feta. 

(SERVES 4 - 6)

3 - 4 limes
2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves, each about 10 oz. (315 g)
1 t kosher salt, plus more, to taste
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste
1 Tbs. Olive Oil
1 large onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno chile, minced
3 cups (750ml) low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano (or regular Oregano)
1 Avocado, pitted, peeled and diced
2 oz. (60 g) queso fresco or mild feta cheese, crumbled

Cut 1 lime into 4 to 6 wedges - set aside for serving. Juice as many of the remaining limes as needed to measure 1/4 cup (60ml).

Season the chicken with the 1 tsp.salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper,Ina large saucepan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the chicken, skin side down, and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate. Add the onion to the pan and saute until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and chili and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the broth, 3 cups (750ml) water, the lime juice and oregano, then return the chicken to the pan.

Increase the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover partially and simmer until the chicken shows no sign of pink when pierced with a tip of a sharp knife near the bone, about 40 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a carving board and let cool slightly. Meanwhile, keep the soup at a simmer. Remove and discard the skin and bones, and shred the chicken into bite-size pieces. Stir the chicken into the soup. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.

Put the avocado, cheese and lime wedges in separate small bowls. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and serve immediately. Pass the avocado, cheese and lime wedges.