Thursday, March 26, 2009

godfather cake 'torta di moro'

I called this one 'The Godfather Cake' and the first bite knocked me out. Rich olive oil gives it a voluptuous depth, and an unexpected crispy bite. Moros, or 'blood oranges' counter back with a spark of bright, citrus flavor. A Dio, dolce mia vita...
2 blood oranges (Moro)
2/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/3 c. kefir, or plain yoghurt
1 c. sugar
3 lg eggs
1 3/4 c. Wondra, superfine flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/2 t sea salt

the bath:
1/4 c. Aperol*, optional
2 t. clover honey
1 blood orange juiced (about 1/2 c.)
squeeze of lemon
*Originated in 1919, Aperol is an Italian orange aperitif made from a blend of spirit, rhubarb, chinchona, genziana and a secret combination of herbs.

Preheat oven to 350 & lightly butter one round 9" cake pan. Grate the zest off 2 oranges and mix in a bowl with 1 cup sugar until sugar turns a deep orange. Remove the flesh segments of one orange and place in a small bowl (this is a little tricky but a paring knife will help). Squeeze the juice of the second orange into a measuring cup. Depending on how much juice you get, add kefir until it gets to the 2/3 cup mark. Pour this into a mixing bowl; add eggs and whisk well.
In another bowl; mix flour, baking powder/soda and salt. Gradually whisk the juice mixture, sugar mixture, and then the orange segments into the flour. (segments should break into bits)
Gently fold olive oil into batter until it is evenly distributed. Pour into single pan and bake on center rack 45 minutes. When the top is light golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean-it's ready. Leave to cool and set 10 minutes.
Mix the ingredients for the bath to desired taste and sweetness; you can heat gently or simply blend at room temperature. Pour onto a dish platter, place cake in the center and dust with powdered sugar. (Adapted from NY Times Melissa Clark, 'Secrets of the Cake Stand')

Monday, March 23, 2009

ukranian borsht

Veselka, in NY's east village, is an old favorite for home-style ukranian cooking. if i can't make it there, i love recreating their borscht at home. butttered challah on the side is great for dunking. *this recipe makes enough for leftovers and always tastes better the second day*

1 1/2 lb shortribs of beef
8-10 cups water
1 T vegetable oil
1 med onion, sliced
1 bay leaf
2 cloves
6 whole blk peppercorns
5 medium beets, rinse & cut stems w/ 1" remaining
1 onion, chopped
1/2 head cabbage, thinly sliced
2 t garlic, minced
1 carrot, chopped
1 lg potato, diced
4 cups low sodium beef broth
1 T butter
2 T red wine vinegar
fresh dill
sour cream

Heat oil for the stock in large pot med-high heat. Add onion, and then shortribs; brown on all sides. Add water gradually to deglaze and put spices in the pot; bring to boil and skim any foam on the surface. Reduce heat to low & let simmer 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 and bake beets on cookie sheet for 1 hour. (this seems time-consuming but roasting the beets makes a big difference in flavor). Rinse hot beets in cold water so the skins slide off easily, then cool & dice into small pieces. Put aside in a bowl to add to the beef stock.

In another large pot, melt butter on med heat. Add onion, carrot, potato & cook 10 minutes. Add garlic, cabbage and saute another 5 minutes. Add beets, vinegar, and simmer until soft- about 20 minutes.

Take your shortribs out of the stockpot to cool, then pull beef off the bones, discarding any large bits of fat, and add the meat (and bones for extra flavor if you like) into the soup pot. Gradually transfer beef stock into the soup and simmer 10 minutes; add salt & pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls and serve with sour cream and a large pinch of chopped dill on top.

spaghetti gambas al'ajillo

like a scampi on pasta, garlic and shrimp are irresistible together. i've tried this with, and without the white wine; this is our favorite- oily and spicy with an al dente bite

1 lb med shrimp ( i keep a frozen bag on hand for this), shells and veins removed, tails on
4-5 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced 'Godfather'-style, with a razorblade or sharp paring knife 
1/2 lb spaghetti rigate or linguini fini
6 T olive oil
1 t crushed red pepper
1/2 c. parsley. coarsely chopped
sea salt & fresh pepper

Get your pasta started with a pot of boiling, salted water. Heat garlic & red pepper in a large skillet of olive oil on low; be careful to watch it doesn't brown. Add shrimp, simmer and flip with tongs as they turn pink, moving the cooked ones away from the pan's center of heat. Turn off burner just as the last shrimp as colored, and add salt, pepper and parsley. Drain pasta, saving some of the cooking water at the bottom; toss in skillet with shrimp and oil. Serve. 

bbq ribs, beans and greens

sunday dinner, southern style! indoors or out, this is one sexy mess you can sink your teeth into

3 lb baby back pork ribs
1/4 c worcestershire sauce
2 T dijon
1 T dk brown sugar
Tabasco or hot sauce, as needed

1 bundle collard greens
2 slices bacon
1 sml onion chopped
salt crushed red pepper

pinto beans, can or dry-soaked, seasoned with salt & pepper
cornbread * i cheated and made from a jiffy box ;-)

Season ribs with salt & pepper, and heat broiler or grill. Mix worcestershire, dijon, brown sugar, and hot sauce ; slather ribs and set aside. In a large pot, simmer bacon, red pepper, & onion until soft. Rinse and chop greens, then add to the pot with 2 cups of water. Cook until water is evaporated and greens are soft but bright. Season with salt & pepper as needed.

Broil the ribs about 3-4 minutes each side (15.. on the grill) until charred and cooked through.
Serve with cornbread, beans an' greens. 

tagliatelle alla boscaiola

if you can find dry porcini mushrooms or powder in your market, it's great to keep in the cupboard. a little goes a long way, and i can't think of anything that packs in the earthy, woodsy flavor like these little guys do.
1.5 c. dry porcini, soaked 1-2 hrs
1 shallot, minced
8 oz tagliatelle (i like the 'nests')
1 c. heavy cream
2 T olive oil
1/2 c. pancetta or ham, diced (optional)
grated nutmeg
grated parmagiano-reggiano
salt & pepper

Drain the mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid aside, and chop coarsely. Heat the oil, shallot, pancetta until soft. Add mushrooms, salt & pepper and cook 4-5 minutes on low-med.
Add the cream & nutmeg; cook 5 minutes then add 2 c. of the mushroom liquid.Simmer very low 25 minutes until thickened. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted water al dente. Toss pasta in the sauce, cover & let sit a minute or two to absorb the flavor; serve with grated parmesan.

*This is really great followed with simple roasted chicken breasts (bone-on); coated with olive oil, salt, juice of a whole lemon, lots of black pepper, and roasted at 400 for about 15 minutes.

bouillabaisse sans le sou

2 T olive oil
1 T garlic, minced
2 onions, chopped
2 teas fennel seeds 
28oz can crushed tomatoes
1lb white flesh fish (cod, bass or similar)
1lb littlenecks
3lb mussels
saffron (3-4 threads)
dash of turmeric 
zest of 1 orange
cayenne powder
1 c chopped parsley

Cook oil & onions in a large saucepan until soft. Add zest, fennel, saffron, cayenne & cook 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, bring to a boil, and reduce to medium and cook 15 minutes more. 
Scrub clams and mussels, and rest in a bowl of cold water. Raise heat to high, add monkfish,
then lower again & cook for 10 minutes. Raise heat again, add clams & mussels, bring to a boil, reduce to low and watch for shellfish to open. Add garlic and parsely, season with salt & pepper. Serve right away with a crusty baguette. 
*this does not reheat well, so I've taken the remaining soup, removed all shells, and put in the cuisinart for a few seconds. Then add some cream, chopped potatoes- voila seafood chowder.