Saturday, August 27, 2011

Ricotta Orange Pound Cake with Strawberries

I made this simple poundcake recipe for Mike's birthday (he loves anything citrus, and doing a big, extravagent cake seemed like something that we'd toss after a day or two).  The ricotta makes it extra moist and the amaretto and orange zest give a delicious added kick.  Pound cakes are easily kept in the freezer for up to 6 monthes, if tightly wrapped.  Great as a dessert, (unhealthy) breakfast or afternoon snack with tea and coffee; recipe from: Giada's Kitchen: New Italian Favorites 
6 to 8 Servings

1 1/2 cups cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter; at room temperature, plus more to grease the baking pan
1 1/2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Zest of 1 orange
2 tablespoons Amaretto
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
1 pint strawberries, hulled and quartered 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan with butter

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  Stir to combine.

Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, ricotta, and the 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Add the eggs one a a time, beating until each is incorporated before adding the next.  Add the vanilla, orange zest, and Amaretto and mix until combined.  

Add the dry ingredients a small amount at a time beating just until incorporated.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean and cake is beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan, 45 to 50 minutes.  Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. (Note: this is not in Giada's recipe, but I reccomend cutting off the top of the cake, once it's cool enough, so the cake sits flush to the plate when upsidedown)

Using a sieve, dust the cooled cake with confectioners' sugar.

Meanwhile, place the strawberries in a small bowl with remaining 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar.   Toss to combine, then set aside until the strawberries have released some of their juices.

To serve, slice the cake and serve topped with a spoonful of strawberries and their juices.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Rolled Sole Stuffed with Crab

Sunday dinners are my favorite.  I have the day to think about what I want to make and will often have a recipe flagged for months before I get around to trying it.  This recipe for Rolled Sole is one of those that I've wanted to try forever, and it's now one Mike has suggested I use for dinner guests.  The ingredients are relatively inexpensive, and the recipe is pretty "fuss-free" (you can pre-roll the fish and refrigerate up to four hours before baking; sauce may also be pre-made and reheated).  Perfect for people who aren't open to fish, it's a very mellow flavor in that regard - the breadcrumbs and tomato sauce are a great accent.  This recipe came from my favorite cook book: The All New Good Housekeeping Cook Book

2 tablespoons butter or margarine
4 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
8 ounces lump crabmeat, picked over
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs (about 1 slice bread)*
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 plus 1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon plus pinch ground black pepper
6 sole or flounder fillets (6 ounces each)
1 can (14 to 16 ounces) tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup heavy or whipping cream
1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon or parsley
*see note on how to make breadcrumbs below

(Direction for Breadcrumbs)
In these economic times of letting nothing go to waste, bread crumbs are a great way to use up stale bread. There is a difference between fresh and dry breadcrumbs.  Here is a great link that breaks down all different types of breadcrumbs and how to make and use them:

For this particular recipe, I was lucky enough to have some leftover french bread that was a few days old.  The easiest and quickest way to make bread crumbs was to saw it into a few slices and drop these in a food processor.  After a minute or two of quick pulses, I had course bread crumbs ready-to-use.  The leftovers can be frozen and used for up to 2 months.

(Directions for Rolled Sole:)
1/ Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Grease 13" x 9" baking dish.

2/ In nonstick 10-inch skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat.  Add 2 tablespoons shallots and cook until tender, about 2 minutes.

 Transfer to a medium bowl.  Add crabmeat, bread crumbs, parsley, lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; toss with fork until evenly combined.

3/ Sprinkle skinned side of sole fillets with 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Spoon crabmeat mixture evenly over fillets.  Roll up fillets and place, seam side down, in prepared baking dish.  Bake until just opaque throughout, about 25 minutes.

4/ Meanwhile, in blender, puree tomatoes until smooth.  In same 10-inch skillet, melt remaining 2 tablespoons shallots and cook until tender, about 2 minutes.  Add pureed tomatoes, remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, and remaining pinch pepper; increase heat to high and cook, stirring frequently, until liquid has almost evaporated, about 5 minutes.  Stir in cream and heat to boiling.  Remove from heat and stir in tarragon (or parsley).

5/ With slotted spoon, transfer fish to warm platter.  Stir any juices in baking dish into tomato sauce; spoon sauce over fish.  Makes 6 main-dish servings.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The BEST Potato Salad

Mike and I were planning to go to the Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl.  We packed a bottle of red, brie, baguette, tapanade, salami and THIS potato salad.  I worked off a few different recipes, also keeping in mind what we had in the house and the result was positively delicious.  It has a tangy French potato salad quality.

3 large Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed, halved and sliced 1/2" thick 
1 sachet (*optional; see below)
3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
2 tsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove - smashed
1/4 cup thinly sliced chives
1/4 cup paper-thin sliced red onion
kosher salt & fresh ground pepper 
1 tsp tumeric (*optional)

(Ingredients for Sachet)
3 thyme sprigs
10 black peppercorns
10 coriander seeds
1 garlic clove, smashed and peeled
1 7-inch square of cheesecloth
4-5" kitchen twine

(Directions for the Sachet)
Sachets are used to flavor cooking liquids.  A cheesecloth sachet encloses small herbs and spices such as peppercorns and cloves, and works like a tea bag.  Once the contents have added their flavors to the cooking liquid, the sachet can easily be removed and discarded.  

Lay out a 7-inch square of cheesecloth.  Put the thyme, coriander, peppercorns, and garlic near the bottom of the square and fold the bottom edge up and over them.  Roll once, tuck in the two ends of the cheesecoth, and continue to roll.  Tied the cheesecloth at both ends with kitchen twine (or in my case, just knot-off the ends)

(Directions for the Salad)
1/ Fill a pot with enough salted water to sit below a steamer basket.  Bring to a boil; add sachet and place potatoes in steamer basket on top of water.  Reduce heat to medium, cover and steam, gently tossing occasionally, until crisp-tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

2/ Meanwhile, combine vinegar, oil, mustard and lemon juice.  Add scallions, red onion, smashed garlic clove and salt and pepper, to taste.  Toss to combine.

3/ When potato mixture is cool, toss with dressing.  Add additional salt and pepper, to taste and (optional) tumeric.  Toss one last time.