Friday, May 27, 2011

Message spécial à nos nouveaux (et vieille) amis français (or, the Rebirth of Food)

Photo courtesy Jenn and Tony Bot

Well, it finally came to this. Leah has a new job that officially bars blogging, and so the
IL2E torch has been passed to a slightly older generation, one conveniently sheltered under the same roof and on whose postings she can exercise immediate and compelling influence. But really, this is all me now. No need to worry that this is a front or some devious way of circumventing written company policy. Just put your collective uni-mind at ease.

Today's edition is a special shout-out (or cri-dehors) to our new (and old) French friends with whom we shared a lovely weekend in Nantoux, a tiny sun-dappled village in Burgundy wine country. Leah whipped up a batch of these special cocoa brownies, prompting requests for a French-language recipe. And thus, I Like to Eat takes the first step toward its future as a multinational media empire. Et alors, sans plus de cérémonie (and with apologies for the awful French translations)....

(or, The World's Best Cocoa Brownies)
Courtesy Smitten Kitchen, with addition by Leah

Ce recette donnera 16 brownies plutôt grands ou 25 petits [Makes 16 biggish or 25 smallish brownies]

141 grammes de beurre sans sel [10 tablespoons unsalted butter]
280 grammes de sucre [1 1/4 cups sugar]
****82 grammes de cacao non-sucré en poudre (Dutch-process/solubilisé/alcalin) [3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch-process)****]
~1.5 grammes de sel [1/4 teaspoon salt]
2 ml d'extrait de vanille [1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract]
2 grands oeufs, froids [2 large eggs, still cold]
66 grammes de farine de blé pour tout usage (ou pain/patîsseries) [1/2 cup all-purpose flour]
40-60 grammes de noix ou noix de pécan, si désirés [2/3 cup walnut or pecan pieces (optional)]

**** Le cacao normale en poudre solubilisé suffira ici, mais si vous pouvez le trouver (et on peut le trouver à La Grande Épicerie à Paris, par exemple), substituez deux cuillères à soupe de cacao noir en poudre (i.e. cacao très alcalin) à la même mesure du cacao normale. Cela donnera une richesse plutôt fumée. ****

Positionner une grille dans le tiers inférieur du four et préchauffer le four à 169 ° C. Graisser ou beurrer le fond et les côtés d'un moule de 20 x 20 cm carré.

Mélanger le beurre, le sucre, le cacao [et le cacao noir si vous en avez] et le sel dans un bol moyen résistant à la chaleur et placez le bol dans une poêle large de l'eau frémissante. Remuer de temps en temps jusqu'à ce que le beurre soit fondu et le mélange est lisse et assez chaude pour que vous souhaitez supprimer votre doigt assez rapidement après l'avoir trempée dans de tester. Retirer le bol de la poêle et mettre de côté quelques instants jusqu'à ce le mélange est seulement tiède, pas chaude. Il semble assez rudes à ce point, mais ne vous inquiétez pas - il lisse les fois que les œufs et la farine sont ajoutés.

Incorporer la vanille avec une cuillère en bois. Ajouter les oeufs un à la fois, en agitant vigoureusement après chacun. Quand la pâte semble épaisse, brillante, et bien mélanger, ajouter la farine et remuer jusqu'à ce que vous ne pouvez pas le voir plus longtemps, puis battre vigoureusement pendant 40 coups à la cuillère en bois ou une spatule en caoutchouc. Incorporer les noix, si vous utilisez. Étendre uniformément dans le moule chemisé.

Cuire jusqu'à ce qu'un cure-dent plongé au centre ressort légèrement humide avec de la pâte, de 20 à 25 minutes, c'est la suggestion Medrich, mais il m'a fallu au moins 10 minutes de plus pour les configurer. Laisser refroidir complètement sur ​​une grille. (je vais plus loin et lancer des mines dans le réfrigérateur ou le congélateur pendant un certain temps, c'est la seule façon je peux les couper avec des lignes épurées.)

Soulever les extrémités de la chemise de parchemin ou d'aluminium, et de transférer les brownies une planche à découper. Couper en 16 ou 25 carrés.

OR, in English:

**** This recipe works fine with normal Dutch-process cocoa, but if you can find black cocoa powder (sold by King Arthur Flour in the U.S.), substitute two tablespoons of that for the same amount of the regular cocoa. It adds a rich, smoky chocolate flavor reminiscent of Oreos. ****

Set the oven rack in the lower half of the oven and preheat to 325° F. Grease or butter the bottom and sides of an 8" x 8" baking pan.

Put some water in the bottom half of a double boiler and bring to a gentle boil. In the top half of the boiler, mix the butter, sugar, cocoa [and black cocoa if you have it] and salt. (if you don't have a double boiler, put the water in a large skillet and mix the ingredients in a medium heat-resistant bowl.) Stir until the butter melts and the mixture is just barely hot enough to touch. It will be very grainy; that's OK.

Stir the vanilla in with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at at time, stirring quickly to prevent cooking. The batter should begin to smooth out and look shiny. Add the flour and stir until it is completely incorporated, then stir for 40 strokes. Add the nuts now if you want.

Bake for 25-30 minutes (we agree with SK that it's closer to 30 minutes than the minimum 20 called for in the original recipe). Near the end of cooking, test by inserting a toothpick or thin-bladed knife into the center. Bake until it comes out just a bit moist with a little batter on it, then remove and let cool completely on a rack. Then pop it out of the pan and cut into squares (or whatever you want to cut it into; they're your brownies).

Enjoy with milk, vanilla ice cream, and/or red wine.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Kale Chips

IE - the only good way to eat kale.

If you're not up on your dark green, leafy vegetables, kale is the one with curly ridges on its leaves. I'm pretty sure I never would have tried kale if CCO hadn't made me. It tastes like you'd expect a dark green, leafy vegetable to taste -- slightly bitter with an aftertaste. I would have happily never eaten it again -- because of the curly leaves, kale can be hard to clean, and it's more bitter than some of it's equally-healthy cousins like chard or collards. But our CSA gives it to us frequently and I always feel guilty letting perfectly good vegetables go to waste, even if I prefer their cousins.

Eat Rating: Good. It really is the best way to eat kale. Crispy, tastes like the outer layer of roasted brussel sprouts.
Difficulty: Easy. Very, very easy.

Recipe courtesy Gregg Keckler

1 bunch kale
Olive oil
sea salt

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Wash the kale and then tear bite-sized pieces of the leaves off the stalk. Set aside and let dry for a few minutes (or if you want to be fancy, use a salad spinner).

Lay the kale pieces out on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle salt to taste over the chips.

Bake for 15 minutes, then remove and let cool. The chips will be crispy and can be stored in a bag for a day or two at room temperature.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pears Poached in Reisling

When we were getting ready for our wedding in February, CCO and I decided we'd buy all the wine and beer. It would be cheaper that way, we reasoned, since the caterer would be charging a flat fee per person regardless of whether they had anything to drink. And it was cheaper -- even though in a last moment dash, my dear CCO went out and bought several more cases "just in case."

Unfortunately (or fortunately?) he also forgot to keep the receipt. So after the wedding, we had to keep something like six cases of wine. I'm not really complaining. But there are only so many days you want a super sweet riesling. Unless of course, you also have pears. Then it's quite great that you still have two cases of riesling hidden behind the couch.

Eat Rating: Delicious. Not overly sweet, but a nice end to dinner -- especially if you serve with a square of dark chocolate.
Difficulty: Easy. Requires a vegetable peeler and a melon baller (you could use a spoon)

Adapted from the Food Network

4 pears, any variety
1 750 ml bottle of riesling
2 cups sugar

Add the bottle of wine and the sugar to a medium-sized saucepan and whisk to combine. Set aside.

Using a vegetable peeler, peel a pear all the way up to the stem. Take the melon baller (or a spoon) and starting at the bottom, spoon out the core until all the seeds are gone. Place the peeled, cored pear in the saucepan to keep from browning while you work on the other pears.

[LN: the recipe calls for you to take a round of parchment paper and place it over the pears to ensure they are submerged. You could also use a small plate for this.]

Once all the pears are in the wine, check to make sure the liquid is high enough to cover them completely. If it's not, add a little water until they are fully covered.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20-25 minutes. The pears are done when you can easily insert a knife into the fruit.

Serve immediately or let come to room temperature. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream or a square of dark chocolate.

Pears can refrigerated in the poaching liquid for 4-5 days.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Foolproof Gazpacho

You shall have to make do with this picture of tomatoes, dear reader. The soup was devoured before pictures could be snapped.

On days when it's wicked hot, I often can't bring myself to turn on the oven. I turn to cereal or -- if I happen to have some good heirloom tomatoes from the market -- to delicious, cold gazpacho. The soup is best made with heirloom tomatoes, those ugly, weirdly colored tomatoes you used to be afraid of as a kid. I often like to use the yellow heirlooms for gazpacho -- they're a little sweeter than the red or purple kind. But really any of them will do.

This soup can be eaten right away, but it's best if you can make it about 2 hours ahead of time and let it chill in the refrigerator. Don't be afraid to make a big batch -- the soup is actually at its best on the second day.

Eat Rating: Awesome. I have a whole new appreciation for really good tomatoes.
Difficulty: Easy. Requires a blender or food processor.

CCO's recipe

2 lbs yellow heirloom tomatoes (or any kind of heirlooms)
1 large cucumber (You can peel and seed if you want. I like to use the whole thing)
1 purple onion
1-2 jalapenos
Handful of parsley or cilantro
3/4 cup water
3 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Using a knife, cut around the core on the top of the tomato and pull it out. Roughly chop about 2/3 of the tomato and put in a blender.

Cut 2/3 of the cucumber in large pieces and place in the blender.

Cut the onion in half. Roughly chop one half and throw in the blender.

Cut off the top of one jalapeno, slice down the side and remove the seeds. (You should probably wear gloves while doing this). Toss in the blender.

Blend the vegetables to make a rough puree. Pour into a bowl.

Dice the remaining tomato, cucumber, jalapeno and onion into small pieces. You want it large enough to give the soup a nice crunch, but not so large that you have to spend an inordinate amount of time chewing. Add the diced vegetables to the puree, then mix in the water and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Chill at least two hours before serving with a dollop of sour cream or croutons.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Rainier Cherry Sorbet

Cherries -- glistening happy orbs of deliciousness. I love cherries, all kinds. But if I had to pick a favorite, it might be Ranier Cherries, with their skin a soft, pale yellow with a hint of pink, like they're blushing. They're the sweetest of the cherries, great for eating on their own.

Rainier Cherries

A few weeks ago at the farmer's market in Mt. Pleasant, one of the sellers had a few quarts of Rainiers. I bought one, planning on eating the entire quart on my own as soon as I got home.

When I got home, though, I decided to look around and just see if anyone had any good recipes for desserts with Rainier Cherries. The answer is no, not really. Almost all recipes are for Bing Cherries, the deep red kind. This was a problem I could fix.

It was hot out, so I decided some kind of ice cream or sorbet would be perfect. I started with David Leibovitz's recipe for Cherry Sorbet and adjusted it, lessening the sugar to make up for the sweetness of the cherries and scaling it down for the one quart of cherries. The result? Pink, light and perfectly sweet.

Adapted from David Leibovitz, The Perfect Scoop (LN: I highly recommend this book, BTW)

1 quart Rainier Cherries, stems and pits removed
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp kirsch or a few drops of almond extract

Place the cherries, water, lemon juice and sugar in a saucepan over low heat. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes until the cherries are soft. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Using a stick blender, puree the cherry mixture. (LN: Alternatively, you could place it in a blender to chop up.) You can either puree all the way or puree and leave a few chunks of cherry in there, as I did.

Pour into a glass bowl and refrigerate until well chilled. Place in ice cream maker and use as directed. (If you don't have an ice cream maker, see this post about how to make ice cream without one.)

Eat immediately -- it will be soft like frozen yogurt -- or freeze for 2-3 hours until hardened some and serve.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Red Currant Jelly

For the past several weeks, they've had currants at the Farmer's Market -- little red, white and pink berries of tart goodness. I had never tried canning with them before. Generally, I stay away from berries with seeds because you have to strain them. But I recently acquired a sieve (it's amazing the amount of random kitchen gear people give you when you get married), so I figured this would be a good first test for jelly.

The difference between jam and jelly -- if you don't already know -- is that jam is made from the whole fruit, while jelly is made just from the juice. So with jam, you throw the fruit in with the sugar and boil until it's ready to jar. With jelly, you place the fruit in a saucepan with water and boil until the fruit has released all it's juice. Then you proceed like you would with jam, adding sugar and pectin to the juice.

Currant jelly is certainly delicious (it's apparently insanely popular in France) -- tart, but a little sweeter than raspberry. I definitely recommend it.

For more on canning, see here.

Adapted from the Ball Blue Book of Preserving

3 pints red currants
1/2 cup water
2 2/3 cups sugar
5 tsp pectin

Remove currants from their stems and rinse thoroughly in a colander. Place the currants and water in a saucepan. Bring to boil and gently crush the berries against the side of the pan with the back of a spoon. Simmer for 15 minutes until the berries are softened.

Allow to cool slightly, then strain the juice through cheesecloth, squeezing as much juice from the berry mass as possible. You should get about 2 cups of juice from the 3 pints.

Place the juice and the sugar back in the saucepan and bring to a boil. Once it's boiling, add the pectin and stir until mixed in. Bring to a full boil and boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and fill jars.

Waterbath process for 5 minutes. The jelly will keep unopened for up to one year. After opening, store jelly in the fridge and use within 2-3 weeks.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Rhubarb Lemonade Spritzer

I was actually trying to make this Rosemary Lemon Rhubarb spritzer, but my darling CCO forgot to mention that he threw out my stash of rosemary. (In fairness, it was probably shrivelled since I forgot to put it in the fridge)

So I made the recipe without the rosemary and it tastes just fine.

It also makes a nice gin drink -- but then again I think everything makes a pretty nice gin drink.

Adapted from Simply Recipes

1 lb rhubarb, peeled and cut into chunks
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Combine rhubarb, water and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

Strain out the rhubarb chunks and stir in lemon juice. Chill until cold, then use in drinks.

Rhubarb Lemonade Spritzer: Fill the glass about a quarter of the way with syrup and fill the rest of the way with chilled seltzer water.

Rhubarb Martini: In a shaker of ice, add equal amounts gin and syrup. Shake and strain into a martini glass.

Rhubarb Gin Fizz: In a shaker of ice, add equal amounts gin and syrup. Shake and strain into a highball glass. Fill the rest of the way with seltzer water.