LENTILS AND RADICCHIO? YES, PLEASE!

I bet many of my readers will consider clicking away from the blog right now, because… lentils? Not the most popular item in the pantry. Radicchio? Not the veggie that jumps into the grocery cart of most shoppers. Both together? Thanks, but no thanks. Can I ask you to trust me on this? Actually it’s not even me you should trust, but someone with a lot more gastronomic fame: Melissa Clark. And credit should actually go to my beloved husband who not only found the recipe but made it for our dinner. So basically I am  giving to charity from other people’s wallets. But hey, I am the resident blogger. So there!

LENTIL SOUP WITH RADICCHIO SLAW
(adapted from Melissa Clark)

for topping:
half a radicchio head, thinly sliced
drizzle of olive oil
lemon juice to taste
1 avocado, diced very small
salt and pepper to taste
for soup:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 cup green lentils
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
Juice of 1 lemon, more to taste
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Make topping and reserve in fridge by mixing all ingredients together in a small bowl.

Make the soup: In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over high heat until hot and shimmering. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until golden, about 4 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, black pepper and sauté for 2 minutes longer.

Add broth, 2 cups water, lentils and carrot. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover pot and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary.  Using an immersion or regular blender or a food processor, purée half the soup then add it back to pot.  

Stir in lemon juice and cilantro. Serve soup and add a generous amount of radicchio slaw on top.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This soup was excellent served with a mixed olive sourdough (recipe published not too long ago in the blog, click here if you’ve missed it). I find it a bit hard to decide if the topping made the soup or if it would shine as brightly on its own. A perfect combination. We had leftover radicchio slaw, and found ourselves munching on small amounts once our bowls of soup were appropriately empty. Next day we improvised a full salad with the other half of the radicchio head, adding a bunch of goodies we had in the fridge.

We mixed radicchio, tomatoes, olives, and avocados together. Dressing was kept simple again, olive oil and lemon juice, right before serving we added a tiny touch of white balsamic vinegar. OMG this was good. Later on we decided that capers would have been perfect, and of course some feta cheese or other sharp cheese of your choice.


Simple dinner… Red snapper, a little rice and this tasty salad… 

The secret with radicchio is to allow it to sit with the dressing for a little while, or warm it up very very briefly to soften the leaves. But that is another method that I intend to share in the near future. The great thing about this preparation is that leftovers keep very well in the fridge for 24 hours. My lunch next day was this salad with a fried egg, sunny side up. I was a happy camper.

ONE YEAR AGO: Tres Leches Cake

TWO YEARS AGO: The Joys of Grating Squash

THREE YEARS AGO: Auberge-Pecan Walnut Bread

FOUR YEARS AGO: Gluten-free and Vegan Raspberry Bars

FIVE YEARS AGO: Lasserre, a French Classic

SIX YEARS AGO: Sourdough Bread with Walnuts and Dates

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Braised Brisket with Bourbon-Apricot Glaze

EIGHT YEARS AGO: The Real Vodka Sauce

NINE YEARS AGO: Pork Tenderloin and Blue Cheese

 

 

CARROT CAKE MACARONS

You read that right. Carrot Cake Macarons. I am a member of a Facebook group for Macaron-Baking-Addicts and a couple of months ago a very experienced baker raved about them. I am usually not that wild about store-bought products, but for some reason that recipe intrigued me enough to make me go for it. The product in question is a Carrot Cake Spread by Trader Joe’s. I added it as the main flavoring for a simple Swiss Meringue Buttercream, and that was the filling for coral-tone macarons. Living Coral, the Pantene color of 2019. I had to try and match it, just because macarons are by definition a celebration of color. At least in my mind they are…

CARROT CAKE MACARONS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the shells:
150 g almond flour
150 g powdered sugar
56 + 56 g egg whites
40 g water
150 g granulated sugar, super fine
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
gel food dye (2 parts red, 1 part yellow, 1 part pink)

for the Swiss meringue buttercream filling:
3 large egg whites, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
pinch salt
3 to 4 tablespoons carrot cake spread 

Make the shells: Add the almond flour and the powdered sugar to the bowl of a food processor and pulse it 10 to 12 times. You want to have it fine but not allow the oil in the almonds to seep out and turn it into a paste.  Immediately sieve it on a large bowl and reserve.

To a small bowl, add half of the egg whites (56 g), then add the food dyes and vanilla. Mix until it is all well incorporated, the dye sometimes resists mixing homogeneously into the egg white.

Now comes the fun part. You will add the other half of the egg whites to the bowl of a mixer and the granulated sugar and water into a small saucepan. Have an instant thermometer ready. Start beating the egg white in slow-speed, as you turn the heat and start bringing the sugar syrup to a boil, without stirring (this is important, or you risk crystallizing the sugar and having to start all over). When the sugar starts boiling, increase the mixer to medium-speed. You want it to be at the stage of soft peaks by the time the syrup reaches 244 F. Once that happens, slowly drizzle the syrup into the egg white-sugar, as you continue beating. Beat until the temperature cools down to around 115F, no need to bring it down all the way to room temperature. You don’t want to have a very stiff meringue at this point, or it will be too hard to incorporate into the almond flour.

The second fun part starts now, the famous macaronage. Add the dyed egg white and the meringue on top of the almond flour and mix gently but decisively. If you have never made macarons before, I advise you to watch some videos on youtube to familiarize yourself with the proper macaronage. You want the batter to flow from the spatula and form a figure eight on the surface as you allow it to drip, but it should not flow too rapidly. If you spoon some batter on parchment paper, it should smooth out in about 30 seconds or so.  Once you get to the right stage, fill a piping bag fitted with the piping tip of your choice (I like a 1/2 inch opening), and pipe on parchment paper or Silpat.

Bang the baking sheet a few times to release air bubbles, and allow it to dry at room temperature for 30 minutes or until the surface feels dry to the touch.

Bake at 300F for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool before peeling off the baking sheet. Decorate either before filling them or after, depending on the type of decoration you choose. I used an air-brush and stencils (see my composite picture), with the color Sunset Orange from Chefmaster.

 Make the filling. Place the egg whites and the sugar in a large metal mixing bowl set above a pot of simmering water. Whisk the mixture until the sugar melts and the mixture becomes warm and very thin in consistency, reaching a temperature of around 160F. 

Transfer the contents to a Kitchen Aid bowl and whisk on high-speed until stiff peaks form. Now, change the whisk to the paddle beater, add the butter and salt, mixing on low-speed.  Add the butter piece by piece and keep mixing. When the butter seems to be all incorporated, even if it looks a little curdled, increase the speed to high. The mixture will become smooth and totally creamy within a few minutes. 

Add the carrot cake spread and mix on low-speed. Taste and add more if you feel like it. Put the mixture in a piping bag fitted with an open star piping tip and fill your macarons.

Place them in the fridge overnight and bring to room temperature 15 minutes before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know I have a lot of macaron recipes. They always involve the French meringue method because it is so simple and it has always worked for me. I had issues with the Italian meringue and several batches were a failure, but I know that many bakers find them better in terms of texture and reproducibility. Basically because the Italian meringue is much more stable and is less affected by humidity in the environment.

My main goal in macaron baking is maximize the proportion of feet, because I like them with bigger feet and a plump shell, so I like to try different methods and compare how they work for me. The Swiss meringue method should happen eventually, although for the time being I intend to play with the current recipe a few more times.  I am happy that this batch worked perfectly. The main thing I changed was adding the food dye to one half of the egg white component, and add that to the almond flour together with the Italian meringue. In the past, I followed recipes that instructed you to add the egg white to the almond flour first, forming a thick paste and allowing that to sit while the meringue is prepared. I found that this approach makes it pretty tough to incorporate the meringue and probably negatively affected the macaronage step that follows.

The filling. O. M. G. These macarons will be so unique, different from any macaron you’ll ever have, I guarantee it. It is sweet, perhaps sweeter than most fillings I enjoy, but it has that spicy characteristic of carrot cakes, the cinnamon-clove mixture, that breaks the sweetness a bit. If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s around, the product is available through amazon. The texture was perfect, no hollows, and with a nice “macaron-chew.”  I will play with this method on my next mac-adventure, that will involve more than one color of batter. Let’s hope that the stars will align properly at the time…

ONE YEAR AGO: Soup Saturday: Say Goodbye to Winter

TWO YEARS AGO: Manchego and Poblano Soup

THREE YEARS AGO: A Smashing Pair

FOUR YEARS AGO: Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

FIVE YEARS AGO: Crispy Chickpea and Caper Spaghetti

SIX YEARS AGO: Spring has Sprung!

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Chickpea and Fire Roasted Tomato Soup

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Double Asparagus Delight

NINE YEARS AGO:  Sun-dried Tomato and Feta Cheese Torte

 

 

 

RAINBOW CARROTS WITH ROSE HARISSA

Giving credit where credit is due, I saw this recipe over at Eats Well with Others, and made it that same evening. I did not have pomegranate seeds at the time, so I used diced mango as a sweet component. We loved it so much I made it again a few days later, this time pomegranate seeds were involved, and I can tell they are a must here. Because I used rainbow carrots, there was not that much contrast of color, but their tiny bursts of sharpness and fresh flavor contribute a lot to the sweetness of the carrots. This will certainly be a regular appearance in our meals, at least for as long as I can get my hands on the amazing ingredient that is rose harissa. Thank you, Joanne!

RAINBOW CARROTS WITH ROSE HARISSA
(inspired by Eats Well with Others)

1 pound carrots of several colors
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp rose harissa
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp salt
lemon juice to taste
½ cup pomegranate seeds
fresh cilantro to decorate (optional)

Heat oven to 450F.
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Peel the carrots and cut into batons. In a large bowl, mix together the olive oil, harissa, cumin, pomegranate molasses, and salt.  Add the carrots to the bowl and toss well to combine. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes, or until starting to caramelize and become tender.

Remove from the oven, add some lemon juice and  sprinkle with pomegranate seeds. Decorate with cilantro leaves, if so desired.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I am absolutely in love with this dish. I had to wait a long time to get rose harissa, since it was shipped all the way from England, so I get very protective of my bottle and always wonder if I should really use it in this or that preparation. Well, this one is definitely worth getting that couple of tablespoons from My Precioussssss.  My love for this sauce should be quite clear from the composite photo above… It is not really hot, it’s intense and complex, with a very subtle floral component from the rose. The more I use it, the more I love it. Which means soon it might be time to cave and place another order for it. Either that or emigrate to UK.

ONE YEAR AGO: Deviled Eggs go Green

TWO YEARS AGO: Tiramisu

THREE YEARS AGO: Pulled Pork, Slow-Cooker version

FOUR YEARS AGO: The Pie of the Century

FIVE YEARS AGO: Bon Bon Chicken

SIX YEARS AGO: Leaving on a Jet Plane

SEVEN YEARS AGO: A Pearfect Drink

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Ming Tsai Under Pressure

NINE YEARS AGO: Paris, je t’aime!

 

A SOURDOUGH QUARTET

Today I share four different ways to play with sourdough… Different amounts of whole-wheat flour, different ways to slash and decorate it, and a version studded with a mixture of Kalamata and green olives that was probably the winner with the resident bread taster.

First, a loaf that pushes the level of whole-wheat a bit higher than I normally go for. I am calling it 50:50 sourdough, for obvious reasons

50:50 SOURDOUGH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

100 g active sourdough starter at 100% hydration
390g water
250g whole-wheat flour
250g bread flour
10g salt

Dissolve the starter in the water in a large bowl, mixing well until it is well-dispersed. Add the flours and salt, mix with your hands or with a wooden spoon until it forms a shaggy mass.

After 20 minutes, do a minimal kneading, about 10 times or so until the dough becomes smooth. You will now allow the dough to ferment for 4 hours at room temperature, folding the dough every 40 minutes, and keeping it covered with plastic. You don’t have to be precise, but allow the full four hours fermentation to take place.  You can do foldings at 40 min, 1h 20 min, 2 hs, 2 hs 40 min, 3 hours 20 min. After that final kneading, leave the dough undisturbed for 40 minutes more, then proceed to shape as a round (or a batard, if you prefer).

Place inside a banetton well dusted with flour and keep it in the fridge overnight, from 8 to 12 hours.

Next morning, heat the oven to 450F.

Invert the dough on a piece of parchment paper and lightly, very lightly coat it with flour, then rub all over the surface with the palm of your hand. Score the pattern of your choice.

Bake at 450F for 45 minutes, preferably covered for the first 30 minutes to retain steam.  Cool completely over a rack before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The amount of whole-wheat flour in this bread makes it hearty and quite filling. I kept the hydration level of the final dough at 78%, because it makes it easier to slash the surface. If the hydration is too high, it’s a lot harder to get a pattern going.  I started from the center and drew a little spiral, not too deep but deep enough to coach the bread into opening a bit. Then I use a brand new razor blade to form the design inside the spiral.  I really liked the way it turned out, and the crumb was more open than I expected.

Next, a very similar formula, but lowering the level of whole-wheat a little bit.

70:30 SOURDOUGH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

100 g active sourdough starter at 100% hydration
400g water
350g bread flour
150g whole-wheat flour
10g salt

Dissolve the starter in the water in a large bowl, mixing well until it is well-dispersed. Add the flours and salt, mix with your hands or with a wooden spoon until it forms a shaggy mass.

After 20 minutes, do a minimal kneading, about 10 times or so until the dough becomes smooth. You will now allow the dough to ferment for 4 hours at room temperature, folding the dough every 40 minutes, and keeping it covered with plastic. You don’t have to be precise, but allow the full four hours fermentation to take place.  You can do foldings at 40 min, 1h 20 min, 2 hs, 2 hs 40 min, 3 hours 20 min. After that final kneading, leave the dough undisturbed for 40 minutes more, then proceed to shape as a batard (or a round, if you prefer).

Place inside a banetton well dusted with flour and keep it in the fridge overnight, from 8 to 12 hours.

Next morning, heat the oven to 450F.

Invert the dough on a piece of parchment paper and brush off all the flour stuck from the banetton to keep it as clean as possible. Place the stencil of your choice on top of the bread, shake some all-purpose flour, lift the stencil carefully. Slash the bread in a way that will be compatible with the design. You need to cut one or more reasonably deep slashes to coach the bread to open in those spots.

Bake at 450F for 45 minutes, preferably covered for the first 30 minutes to retain steam.  Cool completely over a rack before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The overall technique remained the same, but the reduction in the proportion of whole-wheat makes the bread considerably lighter not only in color but also in taste. Since the slashing was going to be a lot simpler and the main decoration would come from the stencil, I increased the hydration a little bit to 80%.

Next, comes a loaf with even less whole-wheat in the formula, but made more special thanks to the inclusion of a good amount of olives, both Kalamata and green. I had never mixed two kinds of olives in the same loaf, and I can tell you this will be happening again soon. Phil decided this might very well be his favorite bread of 2019. It turned out divine, even if I say so myself.

MIXED OLIVES SOURDOUGH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

50 g active starter
380 g  water
470 g  bread flour
30 g whole-wheat flour
9 g fine sea salt
150 g pitted green and kalamata olives, chopped
1 tsp Herbes de Provence

Dissolve the starter in the water in a large bowl, mixing well until it is well-dispersed. Add the flours and salt, mix with your hands or with a wooden spoon until it forms a shaggy mass.

After 20 minutes, do a minimal kneading, about 10 times or so until the dough becomes smooth. You will now allow the dough to ferment for 4 hours at room temperature, folding the dough every 40 minutes, and keeping it covered with plastic. On your first folding cycle, add the mixture of olives. You can do foldings at 40 min, 1h 20 min, 2 hs, 2 hs 40 min, 3 hours 20 min. After that final kneading, leave the dough undisturbed for 40 minutes more, then proceed to shape as a round (or a batard, if you prefer).

Place inside a banetton well dusted with flour and keep it in the fridge overnight, from 8 to 12 hours.

Next morning, heat the oven to 450F.

Invert the dough on a piece of parchment paper and brush off all the flour stuck from the banetton to keep it as clean as possible. Place the stencil of your choice on top of the bread, shake some all-purpose flour, lift the stencil carefully. Slash the bread in a way that will be compatible with the design.

Bake at 450F for 45 minutes, preferably covered for the first 30 minutes to retain steam.  Cool completely over a rack before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: A light crumb due to the smallest proportion of whole-wheat (only 6%), and a hydration of 76% bumped a little bit due to the water content of the olives. The presence of the olives also made me reduce slightly the amount of salt.

Hard not to use superlatives to describe this bread. Green olives are definitely under-appreciated and I admit to this sin. Of course the Kalamatas bring a lot of flavor and moisture, but there is definitely a lot more happening through the slightly sharper nature of the humble green creatures. I did not pay close attention to the ratio of the olives in the mix, but I think it was pretty close to 50:50.  The crumb turned out pretty open and very moist, difficult to eat only one slice, and it went well with pretty much anything we paired it with, including a nice lentil soup made by the husband.

To get the best effect of a stencil design made with white flour, start with the bread inverted from the banetton and delicately but thoroughly brush off any residual flour that might have stayed glued to the surface. Then sprinkle the white flour over the stencil of your choice. If the bread has any flour on the surface, the design won’t be as evident after baking. The other thing to keep in mind is that you need to try and avoid the bread from opening right in the middle of your design. The best way to avoid that is to make a deep slash coaching the dough to open where you want it to. You can never be 100% sure it will work, but that’s your best bet. You can see how I dealt with it on the composite picture above.

Finally, I share a bread that used the exact same formula of the previous one, but no olives. In this case, my main goal was to do a white-on-black stencil design. Some bakers use charcoal powder, I decided to go with black cocoa powder, the kind that is used to bake Oreo type cookies.

BLACK COCOA SOURDOUGH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

50 g active starter
380 g  water
470 g  bread flour
30 g whole-wheat flour
10 g fine sea salt

water and black cocoa powder to form a thin paste

Dissolve the starter in the water in a large bowl, mixing well until it is well-dispersed. Add the flours and salt, mix with your hands or with a wooden spoon until it forms a shaggy mass.

After 20 minutes, do a minimal kneading, about 10 times or so until the dough becomes smooth. You will now allow the dough to ferment for 4 hours at room temperature, folding the dough every 40 minutes, and keeping it covered with plastic. You can do foldings at 40 min, 1h 20 min, 2 hs, 2 hs 40 min, 3 hours 20 min. After that final kneading, leave the dough undisturbed for 40 minutes more, then proceed to shape as a round (or a batard, if you prefer).

Place inside a banetton well dusted with flour and keep it in the fridge overnight, from 8 to 12 hours.

Next morning, heat the oven to 450F.

Invert the dough on a piece of parchment paper and brush off all the flour stuck from the banetton to keep it as clean as possible. Make a paste with cocoa powder (preferably dark) and water. Brush the surface of the bread with it, then immediately place the stencil of your choice on top of the bread, shake some all-purpose flour, lift the stencil carefully. Slash the bread in a way that will be compatible with the design.

Bake at 450F for 45 minutes, preferably covered for the first 30 minutes to retain steam.  Cool completely over a rack before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The goal for this bake was to play with a new stenciling technique. After the shaped dough is inverted out of the banetton, simply make a little paste of cocoa powder and water, liquid enough to brush with a silicone brush, but not too soupy.  Then, add the stencil on top and dust with all-purpose flour.  I imagine other colors could be used. Beet powder, sweet potato powder, butterfly pea powder…  I am not sure the red color of beet powder would be preserved during baking, I tried using it in the dough once, and the result was a brownish color with very little to do with my expectations. Worth giving it a try, I am sure. Even if it turns brown, could be still a nice contrast with the white pattern of the stencil. I should mention that there is absolutely no taste of cocoa in the baked bread.

The bread had absolutely amazing oven spring, which in a way messed up the design a little, but a baker should never complain of too much oven spring, since that can upset the Gods of the Sourdough and result in failure after failure for months to come. Yeah, I am a scientist. Very pragmatic. But I try to keep a sense of humor.

Final remarks: these loaves use a very simplified method.  I did not do autolyse, and did not bother adding the salt later, it all went into the dough at the same time. As you can see from the photos, I got enough oven spring and a nice crumb using these shortcuts. Also, I never bother waiting for the shaped bread to sit at room temperature before baking, or keeping the oven at 450F for an hour before baking. Some bakers insist those steps are important for a good bake. They are not. Once the oven reaches temperature, my cold, shaped bread goes in. It amazes me that people would waste so much energy heating up an oven to very high temperature for a long time before baking their loaves. Trust me, it is not at all necessary.

ONE YEAR AGO: When bad things happen to good people

TWO YEARS AGO: Sweet Potato “Hummus”

THREE YEARS AGO: Cauliflower Crust Pizza

FOUR YEARS AGO: Silky Rutabaga Puree

FIVE YEARS AGO: Bon Bon Chicken: Light and Spectacular

SIX YEARS AGO: Red Wine Sourdough Bread with Cranberries

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Award-Winning Sourdough Baguettes

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Country Rye (Tartine)

NINE YEARS AGO: Penne a la Vechia Bettola

 

 

 

 

AFRICAN PEANUT STEW WITH SMOKED TURKEY

Fact: I’ve had this recipe waiting since 2005 when a friend raved about it. I know that for sure because I was cleaning files in my computer and stumbled on this folder of “must make recipes.” with a date of May 2005. Fourteen years. Talk about taking my sweet time. To make things even more interesting, I did not include the recipe, but something that at the time seemed enough for me to retrieve it. Mean Chef’s Favorite Chicken Peanut Stew.  Anyway, to make a long story short, I have no idea which recipe he was referring to, but found a bunch of possibilities online and from that I came up with this version that turned out absolutely blog-worthy. I used turkey breast that we smoked ourselves, but you can go with the more authentic version that calls for chicken thighs.

AFRICAN PEANUT STEW WITH SMOKED TURKEY
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, adapted from several sources)

1/2 turkey breast, smoked (or 4 chicken thighs, bone-in, skinless)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 piece of ginger, minced (about 2 tsp)
salt and pepper
2 sweet potatoes, cut in large pieces
3 cups chicken stock
1 can small diced tomatoes (I used Muir Glen, about 15 ounces)
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
2 tsp ground coriander

Heat the olive oil in a large pan. If using chicken thighs, brown them well on all sides, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go, and adding more oil if needed. Remove the chicken to a bowl as you work with the other ingredients.

Add the fennel pieces and the ginger to the pan, a touch more of salt and pepper, saute until fragrant.  Add the sweet potatoes, stir a few times, then add the chicken stock, stirring the contents to release any bits stuck to the pan.

Add the tomatoes, peanut butter, peanuts, and coriander, mix well to combine. If using chicken thighs, add them now. Cover the pan and cook for about one hour at gentle heat, until chicken is cooked through.  If using smoked turkey (or any type of pre-cooked poultry), cook the sweet potatoes until tender, then add the pieces of meat and simmer everything together for 10 minutes or so.

If using chicken thighs, when they are tender, remove the pieces, shred the meat, discard the bones. Add the meat back to the stew and simmer it all together for 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning, add cilantro right before serving.
.

SMOKED TURKEY BREAST

1 turkey breast, bone-in
1 (64-oz.) bottle apple cider
3/4 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 rosemary sprigs
10 fresh sage leaves
1 hickory wood chunk
1 black walnut wood chunk

Make the brine in advance to give it time to cool completely. Bring cider all ingredients up to wood chunks to a boil in a large stockpot. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until salt and sugar are fully dissolved. Cool completely.

Place turkey in brine; cover and chill for 12 hours.

Heat smoker to 250 F. Place wood chunks receptacle. Remove turkey from brine, and dry with paper towels. Smoke turkey, maintaining temperature inside smoker between 225° and 250°, for around 4 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 165°. 

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I know most people do not have an electric smoker, but please don’t let that prevent you from trying this recipe, go for chicken thighs and it will be equally delicious. I must say, however, that the stuff that we smoke at home is so much better than anything bought at the store, that it makes the investment worth it. Salmon is the best example, but turkey comes a close second. I would not dream of making this stew using store-bought smoke turkey. It is way too harsh and intense, with a very dry texture. In this dish we can detect some hint of smoke in the background but it is subtle and delicate.

We both thought that this would be a perfect recipe for Thanksgiving for two or four people. You know, when roasting the whole bird seems like unnecessary trouble. It has the perfect combination of flavors. Add some sage instead – or in addition to – coriander, and you will be all set with a great meal for that special holiday of November. I intend to remind my readers about it when the time comes… but first, there is a lot of Spring and Summer to enjoy and I CANNOT WAIT.

ONE YEAR AGO: First Monday Favorite Feb 2018

TWO YEARS AGO: First Monday Favorite Feb 2017

THREE  YEARS AGO: Overnight Coffee Cake

FOUR YEARS AGO: Zucchisagna: A Twist on a Classic

FIVE YEARS AGO: Night and Day

SIX YEARS AGO: Farro Salad with Roasted Leeks

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Watercress Salad

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Carrot and Sweet Potato Puree’

NINE YEARS AGO: Croissants: Paris at home on a special day

 

 

LEMON-BLUEBERRY ENTREMET CAKE: A SHOUT FOR SPRING

Don’t even get me started on my thoughts about this winter. It drags, it is unbearably cold, snowy, pathetic. You may be reluctant to take the word of a Brazilian about it, but I quote my beloved husband, the Michigander: this is the worst winter we’ve had in 10 years. So there. He said it. I had no choice but to make a cake that brings the colors and brightness of Spring to the table, hoping to coach the weather into following suit. A cookie base, a chocolate genoise layer, a blueberry compote, all surrounded by a smooth lemony mousse. Want to know what makes me very happy? It is my very own recipe. Take THAT, former cake-o-phobe self!

Since there are so many components, I am giving each recipe separately so that if you like to make a single component, it will be easier to follow. Little advice for you:
Make. The. Mousse.  

LEMON-BLUEBERRY ENTREMET CAKE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

equipment needed:
Silikomart Universo mold (or a springform type pan with 8 inches in diameter)
round cake ring, around 7 inches (to cut cookie base and freeze the insert)

for the cookie base:
80 g of softened butter
65 g powdered sugar
5 g vanilla sugar
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
90 g all purpose-flour
10 g almond flour
1/4 teaspoon of baking powder

Heat the oven to 350 F.  In a bowl beat the butter, the powdered sugar and the vanilla sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one by one, constantly beating. In another bowl sift the flour and baking powder and add to the previous mixture. Finally, add the almond flour. Stir very well. The dough does not get too thick or too liquid, the texture must be creamy.

Spread the dough as a circle, about 1/8 inch thick, smooth the surface with a spatula. Bake for about 15 minutes (depending on the oven) or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Then, cut a circle just slightly smaller than the diameter of your silicone mold. Make sure it fits snuggly into the opening of the mold.

for the chocolate genoise:
113 g unsalted butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
140 g cake flour
55 g Dutch process cocoa powder
8 large eggs
225 g granulated sugar

Heat the oven to 350 F. Line the bottom of two 8″ cake pans with a parchment round.  Melt the butter in a small saucepan, transfer to a bowl and reserve.

Sift together the flour and cocoa, set aside. Put the eggs and sugar in a mixer bowl. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk until the eggs are lukewarm. Put the bowl onto the mixer and whisk until the eggs are tripled in volume.

Sift half the flour/cocoa over the egg mixture and use a balloon whisk to fold, repeat with the remaining flour/cocoa. Whisk a little bit of the batter into the melted butter, and add the vanilla extract. Fold the butter mixture into the rest of the batter. Fold gently to avoid deflating the mixture too much. Divide the batter evenly between the pans.

Bake until the cake springs back when pressed in the center, about 30 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack. Slice the cake in half lengthwise to the thickness you want for your entremet. I cut it a little less than 1 inch thick. Leftover cake can be frozen for a few months, well-wrapped in plastic.

for the blueberry insert:
150 g blueberry puree (blueberries processed in food processor until reasonably smooth)
6 g gelatin (Gold, about 3 sheets)
16 g granulated sugar
2 drops bergamot essence oil (optional)

Add the gelatin sheets into a bowl with very cold water and let it sit for 10 minutes.  In a small sauce pan, cook the blueberry puree with the sugar until the sugar is fully dissolved. Add the bergamot essence, check that the temperature is below 175 F, then add the softened gelatin sheets, well-drained from the water.  Mix well.

Add the puree inside a 7 inch cake ring lined with plastic wrap and placed over a baking sheet and freeze it. You can also use any other type of mold you like, as long as it is smaller than the Silikomart mold used to assemble the entremet later. Also keep in mind that you’ll need to easily un-mold the blueberry compote after it’s frozen solid, so choose your gadget carefully. You can leave it in the freezer for 3 hours or several days.

When the compote is frozen, place a layer of genoise chocolate cake on top of it, press gently to form the final insert of the entremet.

for the lemon mousse:
2 eggs
juice of 2 lemons
100 g granulated sugar
30 g butter, cold
6 g gelatin (Gold, about 3 sheets)
280 g whipping cream

Place the gelatin sheets inside a bowl with cold water and leave it for 10 minutes.

In a sauce pan, preferably non-stick, add the eggs, sugar and lemon juice. Cook stirring often over gently heat, until it thickens slightly . Aim at a temperature of 170 F, do not let it go higher than that, or you will scramble the eggs and ruin it completely.

Remove from the heat, pass it through a sieve into a glass bowl. Once the temperature is below 175 F, add the gelatin and the pieces of cold butter. Mix gently.  Put a plastic over the surface and allow it to cool to room temperature.

Once it is almost cooled, beat the whipping cream to soft consistency. Add it to the lemon curd, folding it gently. Your mousse is ready to use.

for the yellow mirror glaze:
100 g glucose
100 g granulated sugar
100 g white chocolate, cut in small pieces
50 g water
65 g condensed, sweetened milk
6 g gelatin (about 3 sheets)
1/2 tsp titanium oxide (optional, but worth it)
yellow food dye 

Place the gelatin sheets inside a bowl with cold water for 10 minutes as you prepare the other ingredients.

In a sauce pan, heat the glucose, sugar and water until boiling. Make sure the sugar is fully dissolved. Let it cool slightly, and add to a bowl with the white chocolate in small pieces. After a few minutes, use a spatula to dissolve the chocolate. Add the gelatin and the condensed milk, and mix gently, try to avoid incorporating air bubbles. Add the titanium oxide and the yellow food dye. Place the mixture in a tall, plastic container and use an immersion blender to fully emulsify the glaze. At this point, you can either wait for it to cool to the pouring temperature (about 96 F), or place it in the fridge overnight, with plastic film touching the surface.  In both cases, right before glazing the cake, pass the mixture through a fine sieve to burst any small bubbles that might interfere with the mirror effect.

for the spider web effect:
2 tablespoons neutral glaze (store-bought or prepared from scratch, recipe here, omit the cinnamon)
purple food dye

Heat the neutral glaze to 150 F.  Add the purple color. Mix well. Keep hot until needed, with a hot spatula ready to go.

FINAL ASSEMBLY: The dessert is assembled inverted, that is the top will be at the bottom of the Silikomart mold. Start by spreading about 1/3 of the lemon mousse inside the Universo mold. Make sure to use the back of a spoon to smooth the sides of the mousse all around, to avoid large bubbles to stay near the surface.

Remove the blueberry-genoise insert from the freezer and place it gently over the mousse, with the cake facing up. Add a little more mousse all around the sides, then finish with the cookie layer. Use any leftover mousse to fill all gaps, press the cookie gently to make it leveled with the opening of the mold. Wrap it all in plastic and freeze at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.

Have the yellow mirror glaze at 96 F, with bubbles removed by sieving. Have the purple neutral glaze ready at 150 F. Un-mold the frozen cake, place it elevated over a rack so that the glaze can freely drip from the sides. Smooth the surface with your hands, but work quickly to avoid condensation of water on the surface.  Pour the yellow glaze on a circular motion, making sure all cake is covered by glaze. Immediately grab some purple neutral glaze with the hot spatula and smear over the surface, preferably a little off-center.  The effect will depend on many factors, including how much pressure you apply to the spatula, and the temperature differential between the two color glazes.  Once the glaze stops dripping, you can use a knife to clean the bottom, and carefully move it to a serving platter.  Defrost it in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving.  Use a hot knife to slice into pieces.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This dessert was planned in a very unusual way. Instead of choosing cake or mousse flavors, I started with the colors of the glaze. I know, crazy! I wanted bright, contrasting colors in a spider-web style. Yellow and purple popped in my mind. Only then I decided on the flavors of lemon and blueberry. Entremets join several components of contrasting textures, but to simplify it  I opted for a single element with a crunchy nature, the cookie base from this blog post by Miúda. To cut the sharpness of the lemon and add another type of texture, a chocolate genoise was included. Confession: I had it in the freezer from another baking project. With those components in mind, I went to work, using some bits and pieces found online, and some general instructions from “The Pastry Chef’s Little Black Book “ which I highly recommend. It is a very extensive list of basic formulas and variations. If you want to come up with a mousse, a compote, a genoise, you can find all the do’s and don’ts in that book.

The spider-web effect: I’ve been flirting with the idea of trying it for a long time. In theory, it is quite simple. If you are comfortable mirror-glazing a frozen mousse cake, you are 80% of the way there.  The method was created by Gerald Sattler, and is based on the non-miscibility of water and oil.  Mirror glazes are oil-based (cocoa butter, sometimes condensed milk and other types of dairy) while neutral glaze is water-based. You use the neutral glaze at a higher temperature not only to spread it easily, but because it slows down the gelling of the mirror glaze and the setting of the cocoa butter present in it.  The combination of a water-based environment with the shock of temperatures generates the interesting effect, making each cake unique. The process is absolutely fascinating. Take a look at one of Sattler’s videos here, and be ready to be amazed. The effect can be achieved in ways other than the spatula. Yes, yours truly is already planning her next adventure…

The purple color became more “purple” once the glaze set. If you look at the composite picture, taken right after pouring, you’ll notice a more “brownish” color, which made me at first a bit hysterical worried. But it definitely changed as it cooled, and the real nature of the dye I used came through. Happy ending… always a nice thing.

Here you see the slice showing the layers. The cake changed a bit by sitting in the fridge overnight.  I added the glaze around 2pm, and cut a test-slice in the evening. At that point, the cookie base was very crunchy and the cake was more on the dry side. Genoises are usually moistened with some type of syrup, but since this was going to be surrounded by a mousse and a compote, I used it without any added moisture. Next morning I cut the cake to take to the department and it was considerably improved. The cookie base not as tough, very easy to cut through and with a more melt-in-your mouth characteristic. Similarly, the cake was more moist and tender.

All in all, I’m very happy with this dessert. The lemon mousse component was the real winner.  In fact, if you’d like to serve a mousse by itself, maybe with a small cookie as adornment, consider this exact lemon version. Very refreshing, bright in the palate, smooth and with the right amount of sweetness.

I hope you enjoyed my first adventure in Spider Glaze Territory. I wanted a more prominent spider effect, but I was going absolutely crazy and losing my composure it’s hard to figure out what to do on a first time. Details such as how much neutral glaze to add, how hard to press the spatula, the exact temperature of the glaze when spreading it, they all have a huge impact on the final look. It’s such a fun technique, though. I can hardly wait to try it again. Stay tuned…


Grab a pin before you leave….

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Walk Strong3: A review of Jessica Smith’s latest workout program

TWO YEARS AGO: Pork Medallions with Black Berry Compote

THREE YEARS AGO: Indian-Spiced Chicken with Chickpeas and Spinach

FOUR YEARS AGO: Curry Cardamon Cookies

FIVE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, March 2014

SIX YEARS AGOBoeuf Bourguignon for a Snowy Evening

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Chickpea Salad

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Soft Spot for Chevre

NINE YEARS AGO: Roasted Onion and Asiago Cheese Miche

 

BOUILLABAISSE FOR A CHILLY EVENING

Bouillabaisse is a classic Mediterranean dish. Not to brag or sound like a pain-in-the-butt snob, but I once enjoyed a bowl in a wonderful restaurant in Nice. One of those unforgettable meals in which the setting, the company, the food, all conspired together to make you feel on top of the world. Or close enough. Where we live we have access to the very best beef you can dream of, but seafood? Not so much. So I realize that calling my humble seafood concoction “Bouillabaisse” is a bit of a stretch. The fish was previously frozen, same goes for the shrimp. I know that nowadays the frozen stuff is processed almost immediately upon fishing, but still… Cooking seafood in the middle of the country always seems a bit strange. However, I must say we were very pleased by how tasty it turned out. Not the same as sitting down for a beautiful meal in Nice, but… being at home with the fire-place going, and the three pups all cozy near us has its charm also.

A SIMPLE BOUILLABAISSE
(adapted from several sources)

3 pounds of mild fish, cut into large pieces (I used cod and red snapper)
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 pound clams
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced onions (I omitted)
1 fennel bulb, very thinly sliced
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp saffron threads
2 tsp salt or more to taste
1 cup shrimp stock (made with shrimp shells, lemon and onions)
1 cup clam juice (store-bought)
fresh thyme
orange zest and a bit of juice
parsley leaves, minced

Make the shrimp stock.  In a sauce pan, add the shells, cover with water, juice of half a lemon and half an onion. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Drain, reserve the liquid to use in the bouillabaisse. In a small bowl, mix a couple of tablespoons of the shrimp stock with the strands of saffron, rubbing them between your fingers to release the oils.  Reserve.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot on medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions and fennel. Stir to coat the vegetables with the olive oil. Cook on medium heat until softened and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Do not let it brown. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf, thyme, the saffron infused shrimp stock, salt, orange zest and juice. Simmer gently for 10 more minutes. 

Add the pieces of fish, the shrimp, the reserved shrimp stock and the clam juice. Bring to a gentle boil,  add parsley, simmer covered for 5 minutes. Add the clams, cook for 10 minutes or so until they open and are cooked through. Keep the heat at a very gentle level.  Remove bay leaf before serving, adjust seasoning.  Wonderful with a nice piece of sourdough bread.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Traditionally, Bouillabaisse is served with a rouille on top. Think of a sauce made from hearty bread, olive oil, and other tasty suspects. I omitted, we had a slice of sourdough with it instead. I added a generous squirt of lemon juice to my bowl, it’s something I find myself doing so often, it always seem to make the food shine a bit brighter. If you want to simplify things even further, you can use just clam juice and water as the cooking liquid, but making shrimp stock is so simple, and it does intensify the seafood flavor in the soup. If you can find sea bass, definitely use it. It is the best fish, in my opinion, but as you can imagine, not easy to find in our neck of the woods.  And when we do find it, we must be ready to shell some serious cash for it.


The smell as this soup-stew cooks is something! The main thing to pay attention to is not to overcook the delicate seafood, and keep the heat at a very gentle simmer, because shrimp in particular tends to toughen up easily. I had considered cooking the shrimp sous-vide separately and just add it to the soup when serving, but ended up going the more traditional route. If you have a sous-vide gadget, keep in mind that it makes absolutely perfect shrimp, with a texture you cannot get any other way.

The resident oyster-shucker made sure we have the perfect appetizer to open this meal…

Totally off-topic: today marks my first anniversary of…..  braces!
One year down, one more to go (sigh)

ONE YEAR AGO: Bergamot-Cherry Macarons

TWO YEARS AGO: Roasted Veggies with Queso Cotija Dressing

THREE YEARS AGO: Creamy Broccoli and Mushroom Casserole

FOUR YEARS AGO: Maple Walnut Biscotti

FIVE YEARS AGO: Barley Risotto with Peas

SIX YEARS AGO: Oatmeal Fudge Bars

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Cauliflower Steaks

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Soft Spot for Chevre

NINE YEARS AGO: Quick sun-dried Tomato Crostini