Memorable Quotes:

"A Bearnaise sauce is simply an egg yolk, a shallot, a little tarragon vinegar and butter, but it takes years of practice for the result to be perfect." Fernand Point

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Eric's Staff Lasagna - The French Laundry Restaurant

Eric’s Staff Lasagna
(makes about 9 servings)
½ cup olive oil
1 ½ cups minced yellow onion
2 tablespoons minced garlic
½ cup tomato paste
8 cups cut-up peeled tomatoes (about 12 to 14 medium tomatoes, cut into rough 1-inch pieces)
¼ cup chopped oregano or ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped basil)

1 ½ pounds whole-milk ricotta
3 large eggs
½ cup chopped Italian parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1-pound lasagna noodles
½ pound mozzarella, grated
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce: Heat the oil in a large heavy pot. Add the onions and garlic and cook gently for 4 to 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes (the tomato paste will separate from the oil and the oil will turn a vivid orange). Add the tomatoes and stir to combine.

The sauce can be completed on the stovetop or in the oven. The oven method requires less attention but a longer cooking time. For the stovetop, simmer the sauce gently for 1 ½ to 2 hours, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot every 10 minutes to prevent scorching.

For the oven method, preheat the oven to 325. Bring the tomatoes to a simmer on top of the stove, cover the pot with a parchment lid, and place the pot in the oven for 3 to 4 hours.

When the sauce is done, it should be thick, slightly chunky, and reduced to about 1 quart. Add the oregano (or basil) and let cool to room temperature (about 1 hour) before assembling the lasagna.

Meanwhile, for the filling: In a large bowl, whisk together the ricotta and eggs until completely blended. Add the parsley and salt and pepper to taste and mix until well combined. Refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the lasagna.

Cook the noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water according to the package directions. Drain the noodles and allow them to cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 350.

To assemble the lasagna: Spread a think layer (3/4 to 1 cup) of sauce over the bottom of a 9- by 13-inch baking pan. Place a layer of noodles (no more than one quarter of them) in the pan, slightly overlapping them. Spread half the ricotta mixture evenly over the noodles and top with another layer of noodles. Reserve 1 cup of the remaining sauce and spread the rest over the noodles, completely covering them. Arrange another layer of noodles on top and cover with the remaining ricotta mixture. Top with a final layer of noodles and spoon the reserved sauce over them. Toss the grated mozzarella with salt and pepper to taste (to give the cheese more flavor) and sprinkle it over the top.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the mozzarella is a spotted golden brown and the lasagna is hot throughout. 

Peanut Butter Caramel Swirled Brownies

Peanut Butter Caramel Swirled Brownies
Recipe courtesy Bobby Flay
Prep Time:
55 min
Inactive Prep Time:
50 min
Cook Time:
35 min
24 to 48 brownies depending on desired size
                1/2 cup heavy cream
                1/4 cup sugar
                1/4 cup water
                1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
                1 tablespoon corn syrup
                Pinch sea salt
                1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
                1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
                6 ounces high-quality unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
                2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, plus 4 ounces
                1 teaspoon espresso powder
                4 large eggs
                1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
                1/2 cup packed light brown muscavado sugar
                2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
                1/4 teaspoon fine salt
                1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
Bring the cream to a simmer over low heat in a small saucepan. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over high heat and cook, without stirring until amber brown. Slowly whisk in the warm cream until smooth and let cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and whisk in the peanut butter, corn syrup, sea salt and 1/8 teaspoon of vanilla extract until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and let cool until thickened at room temperature, about 30 minutes.
Put a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang on the narrow ends. Spray the foil and pan with nonstick spray.
Combine the butter, unsweetened chocolate, 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate and espresso powder in a medium bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Let the chocolate melt over low heat, stirring frequently until smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, both sugars, vanilla and salt until smooth. Whisk in the melted chocolate mixture until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the flour in 2 additions (the batter will be thick). Stir in the remaining 4 ounces of chopped bittersweet chocolate.
Scrape half of the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Using a tablespoon, drop dollops of half of the peanut butter caramel every 2 inches over the top of the batter. Carefully add the remaining batter and smooth over the caramel. Smooth the top and dollop the remaining caramel over the top. Use a butter knife to swirl through the batter to get a marbleized effect.
Bake until the top is set but still soft and the edges are puffed and just beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 23 to 25 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center will come out still gooey (be brave!--underbaking the brownies is one of the secrets to their fudgy texture). Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the neatest cuts, refrigerate the pan for about 20 minutes before cutting the brownies. Using the foil, lift the brownie slab out of the pan. Carefully peel off the foil and put the brownie on a large cutting board. With a large sharp knife, cut the brownies into 48 squares. (The brownies can be stored in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to 3 days; they can also be frozen, well wrapped, for up to 2 weeks.)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ravioli Recipes

Dough for Ravioli
(From Beard on Pasta)
4 cups of flour (preferably durum or semolina)
1 tsp of salt                                                           
3 eggs
6 egg yolks
2 tablespoons water
Make a mound of flour and salt, open a hollow in its center, break in the eggs, yolks, and water, and then combine with a fork until you are forced to continue mixing by hand.
When you have formed the dough into a rough ball and cleaned off the table you begin the fraisage. Pull off walnut-sized pieces of dough, and push them away from you using the heal of your hand, smearing them on the work surface one at a time. When all of the dough has been worked this way, gather the bits back into a ball, using the pastry scraper to help. The fraisage will have blended the flour and fat so that the dough can be kneaded. Knead well and let rest for 1 to 2 hours before you roll out. I use about 3-4 ounces of dough for each sheet (top and bottom).
This dough keeps very well so if you don’t want to use all of it right away, just refrigerate it, wrapped in plastic, and tear off a piece as wanted; it will keep for several days.
Spinach Ravioli Filling
2 ½ pounds of fresh spinach, or two 10 ounce packages of frozen spinach
1 large clove of garlic
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ cup ricotta cheese
½ teaspoon Tabasco
1 teaspoon of salt
½ cup butter, melted
¼ pound Gruyere cheese, grated
½ cup chopped parsley
Plunge the spinach into boiling water, let wilt for 1 minute, and drain. Place it in a hand towel and squeeze out all the liquid. If you use frozen spinach, defrost it and squeeze it dry in the same manner. Combine the spinach with the garlic, nutmeg, ricotta, Tabasco, and salt in the beaker of a food processor, and process until you have a smooth paste.
Roll out the pasta dough into 2 rectangular sheets. Drop tiny bits of filling, about ½ teaspoon each, at regular intervals across one sheet of pasta. Lay the second sheet over it and, using your fingertip, press down between the mounds of filling, forming squares. Cut along the edges of the squares with a pastry cutter, and seal the edges closed with the tines of a fork. 
 (Alternatively, you can use a ravioli tray).
Four Cheese Ravioli
(From Pasta, Risotto & You)
By Nancy Caivano
For filling:
6 oz ricotta
6 oz provolone, grated
6 oz mozzarella, grated
1/2 cup grated pecorino romano cheese, (or parmesan)
3 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp basil, finely chopped
1 tbsp chives, finely chopped
Salt and Pepper
Prepare filling:
Combine ricotta, provolone, mozzarella, Romano, eggs, parsley, basil and chives in a large bowl. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Keep in refrigerator until ready to use.

Monday, February 8, 2010

California Pizza Kitchen - Spinach Artichoke Dip

Spinach Artichoke Dip-Cpk Recipe 

This is from the California Pizza Kitchen cookbook. The photo is pre-baking. Everyone loves this dip! It's a bit time consuming, but worth it. Don't let the long list of ingredients intimidate you!
30 min | 30 min prep
SERVES 8 -10
  1. In a large saucepan, warm the olive oil and butter over medium heat. When butter has melted, add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, 3-4 minutes.
  2. Stir in garlic and cook 2-3 minutes longer, stirring frequently and stopping before onion and garlic start to brown.
  3. Sprinkle the flour over and continue cooking, stirring continuously, until the mixture turns a golden-blond color, about 10-15 minutes. Slowly add the stock, whisking continuously until it is smoothly incorporated.
  4. When the mixture begins to simmer, stir in the cream. Return to simmer. Remove from heat and add the Parmesan, bouillon cubes, lemon juice and sugar and stir until thoroughly blended.
  5. Add the sour cream, spinach, artichoke bottoms, Monterey Jack and Tabasco sauce. Stir until all ingredients are thoroughly combined and the cheese is melted.
  6. Transfer to a warm serving bowl and serve immediately, accompanied by tortilla chips, pita chips or toasted baguette slices.
  7. I make mine the day before, refrigerate and then heat up in a 350°F oven for about 30 minutes or until heated through.