Friday, July 31, 2009

Peanut Butter Brownies

As I've mentioned before, my father loves ice cream. So much so, my brother and sister-in-law bought my mom and me (they already have one) ice cream makers for Christmas this year so that we could stage our first annual ice cream making competition in honor of Dad. Everyone came through with great flavors ranging from Ethan Awake Awake Java Chip and Salty Dawg (salted caramel and a nod to Jersey accents) to Dad's a Peach. We decided that a cake was unnecessary, but that there needed to be something to put candles in so that my nephew Cooper and his Pops could blow them out. I decided to make Dorie Greenspan's peanut butter brownies. I've had my eye on them for a while and will definitely make them again. They provided a fine backdrop for the birthday candles and for the array of ice cream flavors, but are perfectly delicious and very satisfying on their own.

Peanut Butter Brownies

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup roasted salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

1 cup chunky peanut butter (do not use natural or old-fashioned)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided, room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped


  • Preheat to 325 and position rack in center of oven. Line a 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with foil or parchment, leaving long overhang, and lightly butter.
  • Place 3/4 cup butter in large saucepan. Add both chocolates and stir over low heat until smooth. Remove from heat. Whisk in sugar, vanilla and salt, then eggs, 1 at a time. Fold in flour, then nuts.
  • Pour and spread in prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 30 minutes. Place pan on rack and cool.
frosting and ganache
  • Using electric mixer, beat peanut butter and 1/4 cup butter in medium bowl to blend. Beat in powdered sugar, salt and nutmeg, then milk and vanilla.
  • Spread frosting over brownies.
  • Stir chocolate and remaining 1/4 cup butter in small saucepan over low heat until smooth. Drop ganache over frosting and spread to cover. Chill until set, about 1 1/2 hours. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and keep chilled.
  • Using foil or parchment as an aid, transfer brownie to work surface and cut into squares. Bring to room temperature and serve.
  • Enjoy!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

White pizza w Swiss chard, goat cheese + garlic

For some reason I always get the hankering to make pizza in the middle of the summer when turning the oven up to 500 degrees borders on masochistic. I told myself that this year would be different. Simple. I'd wait until fall, when the first chill in the air would welcome the searing oven temperature and make for a cozy evening. But then the New York Magazine Cheap Eats issue showed up in my mailbox with its alluring pizza spread. Toast. I promptly made pizza (on what seemed like the hottest day of the summer to date).

The following recipe is adapted from the January (note the winter month) 2002 issue of Bon Appetit. I chose it because Swiss chard is growing up a storm on The Anthill Farm and, in turn, my fridge is stocked. I love love loved the pizza toppings here, but the crust wasn't necessarily a keeper. It was tasty and satisfied my craving, but I will keep looking for "the" recipe. Next on my list is Jim Lahey's no-knead recipe from the aforementioned (and somewhat manipulative:) New York issue, but in this particular case I wasn't willing to wait the 12 hours the dough needs to rise. The clock was ticking and I really wanted homemade pizza for dinner.

White pizza with Swiss chard, goat cheese and garlic

4 small or 2 large servings


3/4 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
1 1/2 t. dry yeast
1 T olive oil
1 t. salt
1 3/4 cups flour

1 bunch (10 oz) Swiss chard, ribs removed
2 T olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced

yellow cornmeal
8 oz mozzarella cheese, coarsely grated
4 oz soft goat cheese, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
  • For the crust:
  • Pour 3/4 cup water into a large bowl and sprinkle yeast over and stir to blend. Let stand for 10 minutes so yeast dissolves.
  • Add oil and salt and then 1 1/2 cups flour. Stir until well blended (dough will be sticky) and turn out onto a well floured surface and knead, adding just enough flour to prevent sticking, until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
  • Form dough into a ball, place in a large oiled bowl, turning to coat, cover with a kitchen towel and set in a cool-ish room temp place until the dough has doubled in size, about 2 hours.
  • Punch risen dough down, reform into a ball and allow it to double in size again, about 3 hours.
  • Meanwhile, cook the chard (stems and leaves) in a large pot of salted boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water and squeeze dry. Coarsely chop cooked chard.
  • In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium heat and cook garlic until lightly browned. Remove garlic and set aside. Add the chard to the garlic infused oil and cook 1 minute. Season to taste.
  • Preheat oven to 500 and, if you have one, place baking stone at base of oven. If not, place oven rack in bottom position.
  • Punch down dough and form into a ball. Place on a floured work surface, cover with kitchen towel and let rest 30 minutes. Roll (primarily using your fingers to press and stretch dough) dough in to a 13 inch round and transfer to a rimless baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal.
  • Sprinkle prepared dough with mozzarella cheese, leaving a 1 inch border. Scatter chard over mozzarella, top with goat cheese rounds and then reserved garlic. Brush the crust with olive oil and drizzle a bit over pizza.
  • Bake, rotating once, until crust is browned, about 15 minutes.
  • Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Blueberry Crumb Cake

I love crumb cake and this one's a winner! Though the pictures here don't do it justice, I highly recommend this recipe. It comes together in about 15 minutes active time (it's baked and ready-to-eat in 45 minutes total) and it requires no fancy tools or tricks. The cake is moist with a soft crumb and the lemony zest nicely compliments the juicy blueberries resting on top. The topping is sugary and nutty and gives the cake great texture. All of these parts add up to a happy combination that utilizes the berries that are in abundance at farmers markets right now. If blueberries don't do it for you, go ahead and use any soft fruit you like, just cut into bite size pieces if necessary. Skip that bowl of boring old cereal or the semi-stale muffin from the corner bodega and make this crumb cake. Your morning cup of coffee will be that much more enjoyable. Seriously.

Blueberry Crumb Cake

1/4 cup canola oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt

1/3 cup brown sugar
1 T flour
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 cup walnuts, broken
1 T melted butter
1 cup blueberries
  • Preheat oven to 375 and place rack in middle position. Butter an 8 x 2 inch pan, set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the oil, egg, milk and zest and whisk well.
  • Using any thing with fine-ish whole, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and add mixture to liquid ingredients. Mix well.
  • Combine all of the ingredients for the topping except for the blueberries.
  • Pour batter into prepared baking pan and spread evenly. Top batter with blueberries and then sprinkle brown sugar mixture over berries.
  • Bake, turn once halfway through cooking time, for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Enjoy!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Corn with miso butter and bacon

This recipe is adapted from David Chang of Momofuku in NYC. However you may feel about the chef and his empire, I would highly recommend that you make this deeply savory and satisfying side dish. Skip the restaurants' long lines and bring a bit of the "Lucky Peach" into your home.

Corn with Miso Butter and Bacon
serves 4 to 6

1/4 1b bacon, cut crosswise into 1/8 inch strips
1 T unsalted butter, softened
1 T miso (preferably white miso, but use whatever you can find)
1 small onion, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise into half moons
10 ears corn (6 to 7 cups), halve cob and place cut side down and cut kernels from cob from top to bottom
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 cup water
2 or 3 sliced scallions
  • Cook bacon in 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, 6-8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to paper towels to drain.
  • Meanwhile, combine softened butter and miso paste.
  • Cook onion in bacon fat over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, 5-8 minutes. Add corn and pepper and increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring constantly, 3 minutes. Add water and butter mixture and cook until corn is tender, about 4 minutes. Stir in reserved bacon, scallions and salt and pepper to taste.
Because of it's complex flavors, I like to serve this alongside simple poached fish or shrimp.

Poached Fish

4 fillets salmon or shark (dog fish)
salt and pepper
1 T butter, softened
1 shallot, diced
  • Season fish with salt and pepper
  • Rub softened butter over the bottom of a deep, heavy-bottomed 10-or 12-inch sauté pan.
  • Sprinkle the shallot over the bottom of the pan and set the fish fillets on top.
  • Pour clam juice and wine over and around the fish to come about 2/3 up the sides of the fish.
  • Cover the pain tightly with a lid or aluminum foil, set over medium-high heat, and bring the liquid to a rolling boil, about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the fish for another minute.
  • Remove the cover and use a spatula to carefully remove the fillets from the sauté pan and transfer them to a large plate or platter. Cover loosely with foil so that the fish will continue to cook from the carryover heat.
  • To serve, spritz with lemon and sprinkle with fresh basil.
  • Enjoy!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Cocoa Cake

This is a great "go-to" cake. It has been a favorite of mine since I found the recipe in Gourmet Magazine in 2003. It's moist and flavorful while remaining light and airy. It's not super rich, making it perfect for any occasion (even breakfast, as far as I'm concerned). Give it a go; my guess is that it will become a part of your repertoire as well.

Cocoa Cake
adapted from Gourmet
serves 8 to 10

2 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 t baking soda
3/4 t salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 t vanilla
1 1/3 cups water
confectioners sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 and put rack into middle position. Butter a 9 by 2-inch round cake pan and dust with flour, knocking out excess
Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.
With and electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
Add the flour mixture and water, alternating, a little bit at a time, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix until just combined.
Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake until springy to the touch and a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean, 55 minutes.
Cool cake in pan for 1 hour. Invert onto a rack or plate and then turn right side up and dust with confectioners sugar.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lamb burgers tonight!

Summertime means burger time. I don't have a grill and that doesn't stop me, nohow! Lamb might be my favorite medium and this recipe is superlative. I tried it because I had beets in my CSA share this week. And the olives were a draw, as well. Sweet and salty with a touch of smoke from the cumin in the lamb; this combo is packed with freshness and flavor.

If you don't like lamb, use beef. If you don't like burgers, skip them altogether and make the salsa to serve with fish or all by its lovely lonesome. That said, I highly recommend this meal as is, but don't skip it all together if you're not into one of it's parts. I said, ...

Moroccan-spiced lamb burger with beet, red onion and orange salsa
adapted from The Gourmet Burger
serves 4


2 beets
2 T olive oil
1 T honey
1/2 orange
1 medium red onion, chopped
1/4 cup green olives, chopped

  • Roast beets or boil as follows: Cut off greens about 1 inch above roots and wash beets. Place in a small sauce pan and cover with cold water. Bring water to boil, lower heat and gently boil beets, covered, for about 30 minutes. Test doneness by piercing with a pairing knife. If it easily cuts through the beets, they're done. Rinse beets with cold water and, when cool enough to handle, peel beets and cut into 1/3 inch cubes.
  • Meanwhile, whisk the olive oil and honey in a medium work bowl.
  • Cut the top and bottom off of the orange and rest on either side. Using the curve of the fruit, cut off the skin and pith (the white part) from top to bottom. Over the work bowl with oil and honey, hold the orange in your hand and use a pairing knife to cut along the white membranes into the middle of the fruit in order to remove the segments. Once you've segmented half the orange, set it aside to eat or use later. Use a whisk to slightly break up the orange in the oil and whisk until combined. Pictures below.
  • Add beets, onions and olives to vinaigrette, season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside. Can be prepared 8 hours ahead. Cover and chill.


1 T olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
2 T fresh cilantro, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t paprika
1 1/4 lb ground lamb

4 buns or nutty bread (I used Eli's Health Loaf and it was super tasty, but required a knife and fork. A bun is probably easier.)
mayonnaise, if there is excess liquid from the salsa, add it to the mayo for added flavor
mixed greens

  • In a small saute pan, heat oil over medium-low and cook shallot and jalapeno until just soft, 5 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, combine the shallots and jalapeno mixture with garlic, cilantro and spices. Add lamb, mix gently and shape into 4 patties. Can be prepared 8 hours ahead. Cover and chill.
  • When ready to cook, heat medium saute pan (with 2 T olive oil) or grill to medium-high and cook burgers for 4 minutes on each side, turning only once, for medium.
  • While burgers are cooking, grill or toast bread.
  • Top burger with mayo, greens and a spoonful of salsa. Serve remaining salsa on the side.
  • Enjoy!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Hand rolled egg noodles

I love to spend the day in the kitchen cooking, that seems pretty obvious, no? Throw in a gal pal (did I just write that?) and life is pretty much perfect. Good food, gossip and an ice cold Greyhound compliments of Gils...Yes, please.

This was Gillian's first foray into noodle making and she did a damn fine job. The noodles were toothsome and tasty and didn't need much in the way of sauce. We went with a quick saute of garlic and zucchini. Make these to impress someone. Seriously, homemade noodles, that's pretty special. Just like Gillian.

Hand rolled egg noodles

serves 4

1 cup flour
1/2 t salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • In a large work bowl, combine flour and salt and make a well in the center. Pour the eggs into the well and, using a fork, gradually incorporate the flour into the eggs. Continue until the dough comes together. It will be wet dough and look shaggy; not to worry.
  • Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface and with well-floured hands knead until dough is smooth and no longer sticky. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or as long as 24 hours.
  • Using half the dough at a time, on a well-floured surface, roll out the dough, making sure to rotate it after each pass of the rolling pin to prevent sticking, until it is about 1/8 inch thick. Don't be afraid to add flour.
  • Using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, cut dough into whatever shape you like. Whatever you chose, try to be consistent in size and shape so the cooking time for your noodles is the same. Place cut noodles onto drying racks to air dry. Use immediately or dry until hard and store in an air tight container for a few days.
  • To cook, bring a pot of water to boil, salt water and add noodles. Cooking time will vary. I would recommend that you start checking after about 3 minutes. Gillian's took about 4 minutes.
  • Serve with whatever sauce you like. We sauteed garlic in olive oil, added thinly sliced zucchini and about a 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid, turned the heat off, covered to steam and added the noodles when they were ready. Yum!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I heart bread

My mind flashes to Pac Man and then to the summer of Katie-love when when I look at this pic;)

Jonesing for pepperoni bread, I went in search of a recipe. I found Craig Claiborne's sandwich-style pepperoni loaf and went with it, but I decided to use the (almost) half cup of olives I had in the fridge instead. It's amazing where you end up on the other side of a recipe search! Now I have a great olive bread recipe in my repertoire and pepperoni (or caper, sun dried tomato, cranberry, nut...) bread to look forward to. Sigh.

Olive Bread

makes 1 loaf

3 1/2 cup flour
2 t sugar
1 1/4 t salt
1 package yeast
2 T butter
1 1/4 c hot water (120-130 degrees)
1/2 kalamata olives, finely diced
butter or oil for greasing pan

  • Preheat oven to 375. Lightly grease a six cup loaf pan.
  • Put four, sugar, salt, yeast and butter into food processor. Start blending and gradually add water. Blend until dough leaves the sides of container and blend for 15 minutes longer.
  • Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and make a well in center. Add olives and knead until blended. Shape into a ball and place in a lightly floured bowl. Cover with a clean cloth and keep in a warm place until dough has doubled in size, 30-40 minutes.
  • Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead bread for a few seconds. Shape into an oval and place seam down in prepared pan. Cover and let stand again for 30-40 minutes.
  • Using a sharp knife or a razor, cut a thin gash lengthwise in the center of the bread.
  • Bake, turning once halfway through cooking time, until golden and hollow when you gently knock on it, 35-45 minutes.
  • Enjoy!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Bison burgers at the beach

Vacation, like the rest of my life, largely revolves around food. I'm a pretty straight-forward cook to begin with, but on vacation especially, I'm all about simple food. After lazy days reading in the shade and swimming, I want good food without much fuss. I also want bright sunny summer food. I'm guessing that my hankering for the latter is unusually keen due to the long rainy season we've had here in New York. I'd love a gin and tonic. Extra lime, please.

The Acme in Cape May Courthouse leaves much to be desired in the meat department, but we did rustle up some decent bison. And the farm stands on the way into Stone Harbor offer little in the way of local produce. Oh me, so spoiled by all the amazing farmers with an arm in NYC. Not to worry, we made do... We celebrated the 4th with lobster and early-season sweet corn with drawn butter followed by my mom's yummy star-spangled chocolate cupcakes with classic vanilla buttercream.

Fully invested in our lethargy by Sunday, we had bison burgers with cheddar on rye, steamed asparagus and a green salad. We finished supper with ice cream from Springers, the ice cream shop I waited in line for on many a summer night during my childhood. It's worth the wait. But if you're like me and grew up real smaat, you'll pick some up in the afternoon before the crowds arrive. (The hard part is then waiting to eat it.) I chose black raspberry to top with plump blackberries. My beau opted for chocolate peanut butter. With a side of sugar cones, of course! It's the creamiest ice cream. Seriously. The creamiest. And wait 'til they get fresh peaches... It makes my father, an ice cream lover extraordinaire, a very happy man.

Bison burgers with cheddar on rye
serves 4

1 lb ground bison or buffalo
salt and pepper
4 1/8 inch slices cheddar cheese
4 slices rye bread
Dijon mustard
  • Divide meat into four even parts. Work each piece briefly in hands, tossing semi firmly back and forth and form into a patty. Salt and pepper one side of each.
  • Heat grill or saute pan (add 1 T oil, adding more as necessary) to medium high. Add patty to heat seasoned side down. Cook 2 to 3 minutes (depending on how well-done you like your burger). Flip burger, season and add cheese. Cover with a lid (on both the grill or pan) and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, toast bread and slice each piece in half. Spread with mustard.
  • Sandwich burgers between sliced bread and add whatever you like. I like mine straight up.
  • Dig in and enjoy!

If you find yourself in Stone Harbor, New Jersey, check out these places for good eats...

Third Avenue between 97th and 98th

Donna's Place Seafood and Restaurant
Third Avenue @ 107th Street

The Bread and Cheese Cupboard
96th Street between 2nd and 3rd

Your nose won't let you pass by this bakery. Well done shnoz, well done. Make sure to try the sticky buns. They're light and yeasty, sticky for sure, but not too sweet. You can choose from walnut, raisin or plain. The minimum order is six, which seems like a lot, but two of us had no problem polishing them off during the course of a weekend. When I was a little girl I usually chose one of the doughnuts my grandfather "Pa" brought back to the house, but now I know better.

The number one reason to stop by the crowded Cupboard though, in my grease loving opinion, is the pepperoni bread. I'm beginning to drool just thinking about it... I have to restrain myself when there's a loaf of this soft and salty goodness on the counter. But, not so much so that we won't stop on our way out of town to pickup another loaf for the ride home. It makes the end of a relaxing weekend at the beach somewhat more palatable.

Stone Harbor makes for big smiles!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Happy 4th

Assert your independence and throw some strawberries or raspberries onto this cookie-like tart for a little red with your white and blue and, voila, a beautiful holiday treat! Whatever you do.. Make. This. Tart. Now!

Blueberry Maple Tart with a Crumbly Oat Crust

Oat crust

1 1/2 cups rolled oats, not instant
1/4 cup plus 2 T packed brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 T all-purpose flour
12 T (1 1/2 sticks) butter
  • Preheat oven to 375. Lightly butter an 11 inch tart pan.
  • Combine the oats, sugar and flour.
  • Melt butter and add to dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly and press evenly into prepared tart pan.
  • Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until golden brown.

Yogurt filling

2 cups low fat greek-style yogurt, drained for no less than 10 hours
2 T maple syrup
  • Drain the yogurt over a bowl using cheesecloth or a small sieve lined with a paper towel. Set in the fridge overnight or in the morning on the day you'll serve the tart.
  • When ready to serve tart, pour out the drained liquid and mix maple syrup into the thickened yogurt. Spoon into tart shell and smooth evenly.
Top yogurt with 4 cups fresh BLUEBERRIES!