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I love partnering with the wonderful folks of Fry's Food Stores in the kitchen. It's the local grocery store where I do my food shopping, and also a generous sponsor of local events, including one of Phoenix's best food festivals and chef's competitions, Dish it Out. You can find past collaboration recipes such as my Baked Stuffed Lumaconi or Fideuà Mixta, a Spanish seafood dish with fideo pasta, here. My latest assignment called for exploring their bilingual website, Fry's Tu Mesa (Your Table), and trying one of the dishes from their Recipe Archives, "a place full of imagination and mucho sabor." Each recipe is made even easier with helpful videos and a grocery shopping list tool.
Scrolling through, I realized I had everything I needed to make the Asparagus with Queso Fresco - link here. The recipe calls for easy-to-find ingredients that were already in my refrigerator and pantry: Asparagus, sour cream, limes, olive oil, queso fresco (a fresh Mexican cheesea), and Adobo, a Latin seasoning of cumin, garlic, and black pepper. I like a bit of heat in my Mexican cooking, so added some guajillo chile paste. Since they keep well, I always have a selection of dried chiles in my pantry. Here, I toasted two guajillo chiles briefly in a dry pan and then soaked in warm water for half an hour to soften. I pureed one to add to the sauce, and used the other as a garnish.
The crema is a versatile condiment which can be used thick as a dip, or thinned for a sauce. Some other ideas:
- Pick up a can of chipotles in adobo sauce at Fry's and add a spoonful to taste for a spicier, smokier flavor.
- Slather the crema on corn on the cob and then roll in cotija cheese for a delicous rendition of Mexican street corn.
- Use it as a dipping sauce for chicken wings or grilled shrimp.
- Try it on fish tacos.
- Toss with cubed roasted or boiled potatoes for a tasty potato salad.
The crema can be made ahead and the asparagus can be roasted and served at room temperature, making this a perfect do-ahead side dish for entertaining or bringing to a summer potluck, BBQ, or picnic. To finish the dish, spoon the crema over the roasted asparagus and garnish with crumbles of queso fresco and thinly-sliced guajillo chiles.
This post was sponsored by Fry's Food Stores
Earlier this month, I was invited to attend an advance screening of the culinary film, "Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent," and absolutely loved it. It's a fascinating, powerful and moving documentary about legendary chef Jeremiah Tower. Produced by Anthony Bourdain, it opens today, Friday, May 19th at Harkins Shea 14, and is a can't-miss film.
When I was asked if I would like to share one of his recipes here on the website, well, of course! I've always been a fan of this enigmatic talent and, after seeing the film, even more so.
The sauce is made with ancho chile, a smoked and dried poblano pepper that lends a mild raisin-y sweetness and fruity heat. Soaked and reconstituted, anchos are puréed into a sauce seasoned with fresh herbs, mellow roasted garlic and tangy lime, and enriched with butter and olive oil.
It's a versatile and complex condiment layered with flavor that can be used to inspire any number of dishes. So far, I've used this delicious sauce to glaze cod for fish tacos, mixed with Mexican crema for potato salad, and for a juicy-smoky roast chicken and potatoes. Chef Towers himself personally shared a handy tip with me - "It's fabulous with sour cream and mayo for grilled meats, fish, and chicken." Thank you Chef!
Jeremiah Tower's Grilled Garlic and Ancho Chili Sauce
- 2 dried ancho chili pods
- 1 head fresh spring first-crop garlic
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1/2 cup mild extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 ripe lime, zested and juiced
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, chopped
- 4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
- Grill the chilies over a charcoal, wood, or low gas flame until they puff up, or about 3 minutes. Put them in a bowl with enough warm water to cover them. Weight them down with a small saucer, and soak for 2 hours. Drain, saving the water, and remove and discard the stems and seeds.
- Meanwhile, wrap the head of garlic loosely in foil with the thyme and a tablespoon of the olive oil. Cook over low fire or under a broiler until the garlic is tender, or about 20 minutes. Remove the stem and rough outer layers of the skin and discard. Put all the cloves in a food processor and puree the garlic with the remaining olive oil. Pass through a sieve and discard the residue.
- Puree the chiles with just enough of their soaking water to make a smooth puree. Sieve. Clean out the food processor.
- Put the garlic and chili purees in the processor with the lime zest and juice, oregano, butter, and a teaspoon of salt. Puree until soft and smooth. Add more salt if necessary.
Serves 4-6. Tip: If making ahead of time, bring to room temperature to allow butter in sauce to soften.
As someone who loves to graze, a favorite way to dine and entertain is with cheese and charcuterie, or an antipasti platter. Thanks to Fry's and their Taste of Italy campaign, this week was the perfect opportunity. For two weeks every September, Fry's introduces authentic ingredients imported from Italy, and I received a complimentary gift basket for inspiration. This antipasti platter was a perfect al fresco meal to enjoy with my parents on a beautiful autumn afternoon (disclosure: Roasted peppers and jarred pesto were gifted; all others were purchased at Fry's).
Colorful fingerling potatoes were coated with extra virgin olive oil and seasoned with homemade herb salt, and fresh thyme. I left them whole, but they could also be halved. Roast at 425°F, turning occasionally, until tender, about 25 minutes. Toss with jarred Ascheri Basil Pesto made with Genovese basil and impored from Liguria, fresh cracked black pepper, and a squeeze of fresh lemon.
For a traditional Italian snack serve a bowl of olives and lupini beans. Peel the clear membrane from the lupini beans and toss with Cerignola olives, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh herbs.
I stocked up on imported sliced meats this week, including HemisFares Italian Mountain Speck (a Northern Italian dry-cured, smoked ham) and salame di parma, and added roasted peppers and artichokes to my antipasti selection.
To serve, I lined a large platter with lettuce, from the garden and added pepperoni stuffed mushrooms (check back for that recipe), blanched green beans in an Italian vinaigrette topped with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano, a salad of bufala mozzarella and homegrown tomatoes and sliced Asiago cheese.
Frya's Taste of Italy campaign takes place every September. Be sure to stock up on pantry items, cheese and meats, pastas, and other imported Italian ingredients only available in this limited time period.
Baked stuffed pasta takes many forms, with manicotti and stuffed shells the most familiar dishes to grace our table as I was growing up. This month, Fry's food Stores Taste of Italy campaign brought in special ingredients imported from Italy, and I received a bag of lumaconi pasta in my complimentary gift basket. We have family visiting from Austin, Texas and a baking tray of stuffed lumaconi smothered in tomato sauce and blanketed with melted mozzarella and a sprinkle of parmesan was the perfect dish for this week's Sunday Supper.
Lumaconi takes its name from its resemblance to snail shells (lumache is Italian for snail).
The highest-quality dried pasta is extruded through bronze dies, which imparts a rough, ridged texture, enabling flavorful sauces to cling to the surface. Contrast that with the slick, smooth surface of cheaper mass-produced pastas. I'll be stocking up on this pasta before Fry's event ends on the 27th.
Lumaconi Stuffed with Three Cheese and Sausage Filling
One 10.5 oz package of Hemisfares lumaconi pasta
One pound of sausage removed from its casing
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups of whole milk ricotta cheese
2-1/2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
1/4 cup of chopped parsley
1 tablespoon of fresh basil, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
3-4 cups of your favorite marinara
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta shells and cook to slightly before al dente (about 11 minutes). Drain and cool in cold water. Drain, toss with olive oil and set aside.
- Over medium heat, saute onion until soft, add garlic and saute for 30 seconds or until fragrant, and then add sausage. Cook sausage until browned over medium-high heat, breaking up into small chunks. Drain and set aside.
- In a bowl, combine ricotta, eggs, 1-1/2 cups of mozzarella, 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, sausage mixture, parsley, and oregano.
- Coat the bottom of a 9x13 inch pan with a thin layer of marinara. Spoon stuffing mixture into the lumaconi and nestle the stuffed pasta in the pan. Coat each lumaconi with marinara and then top with 1 cup of shredded mozzarella, and 1/4 cup of freshly-grated parmesan.
- Bake at 375 for approximately 30 minutes or until browned.
- I always have an abundance of green onion growing in my garden so added 1/2 cup of chopped I'itoi's onions and garlic chives to the sausage mixture.
- Cooking the pasta to just slightly firm makes it easier to stuff.
- You can also bake pasta covered with foil until bubbly, remove, and turn heat to 425 for 5-10 minutes to brown.
- Instead of dried oregano, I seasoned with my homemade herb salt.
I received the pasta from Fry's Food Stores in a complimentary gift basket for Taste of Italy cooking inspiration. The other ingredients were purchased from Fry's.
As someone who loves to cook as much as I enjoy dining out, receiving a basket of ingredients for meal inspiration is the perfect gift. Thanks to Fry's and their Taste of Italy campaign, I'll be cooking a lot of Italian in the coming weeks. From September 17 through the 28th, Fry’s is carrying authentic ingredients imported from Italy, designed to inspire their customers to explore Italian cuisine in their homes.
My complimentary basket of Italian ingredients included penne rigate and lumaconi pasta, balsamic vinegar, roasted peppers, Amarena cherries, leek and tomato pasta sauce, red and green pesto, wine (Chianti and Pino Grigio), roasted peppers, pear sauce, grissini, rosemary crostini, cheese crackers, and recipe cards.
I also did some shopping to supplement, buying cheese, salame, speck, ravioli, tiramisu ingredients, and more.
So far, I've made steamed clams with leek and tomato broth accompanied by rosemary and olive oil bread (above) for dunking, and an antiplasti platter for family who flew in last night. On the agenda is baked stuffed lumaconi, mushroom ravioli with gorgonzola cream sauce, homemade pasta with ndjua pasta sauce, panna cotta with Amarena cherries, and tiramisu. Check back this week for recipes.
For my participation in Fry's Taste of Spain event, visit this link:
Although I love to cook, pizza has never been a mainstay in my repertoire. Not because I don't love a cheesy pie, but because of the high temps required. I've made some good pizzas on the grill and in my oven but I really need that nicely charred, blistered, puffy crust which, to me, can only be obtained in a hot pizza oven.
Well, I've finally entered the world of obsessive pizza-making, all thanks to this beauty sent to me from the fine folks of BakerStone Pizza Oven Box. Designed to be used on a grill, the stone baking chamber heats up to 700+ degrees. On my four-burner Char-Broil Infrared Grill, it takes about 25 minutes to pre-heat. As our Arizona days become cooler, I'll be making pizzas weekly, but so far this summer I've had winners with a Bianco-inspired pie, pepperoni, and, last week, mushroom with taleggio cheese - recipe below.
Mushroom Marsala and Taleggio Pizza
One ball of pizza dough (recipe here)
16 ounces of mushrooms (I used portabello and fresh shiitake)
1/2 pound of grated Taleggio cheese
1/4 cup of dry marsala wine
2 Tablespoons of minced chives or green onions (I used I'itoi's onions from my garden)
One large shallot, thinly sliced
2 tsp of fresh thyme
2 minced garlic cloves
Extra virgin olive oil
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a 12-inch skillet over moderately high heat.
- Add mushrooms, garlic, and shallot. Sauté 4 minutes.
- Add marsala wine and simmer until the liquid is absorbed.
- Add fresh thyme and chives/onions. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cover rolled out pizza dough with cheese. Scatter mushroom mixture evenly on top.
Final step: Allow the magic to happen in your BakerStone Pizza Oven. At these temperatures, my pizzas cook in about 4 minutes (see video below).
I can't recommend this highly enough - The Bakerstone Basics Pizza Oven Box Kit is now on sale at Sam's Club. It's the same kit I received, which includes a wooden pizza peel and pizza turner/spatula.
I received a complimentary pizza oven kit and this post has been sponsored by BakerStone Pizza Ovens.
I recently received a delivery of a new favorite culinary tool - the BakerStone Pizza Oven Box. I just LOVE this brilliant idea and I've finally achieved a pizza crust that makes me happy. Heating it up on the grill results in a stone baking chamber rising to over 700 degrees, turning out bubbling pizza with perfect puffy, chewy crusts.
Of course, a good dough recipe is key here. While I'm still experimenting, my current technique is cold fermentation and a 50:50 ratio of all-purpose flour and "00" flour. For a detailed look at cold fermenting with a slow rise in the refrigerator, check out Serious Eats. This technique means it's also perfect for freezing, and I now keep my freezer stocked. My recipe uses a stand mixer, though it can be mixed and kneaded by hand.
Pizza Napoletana Dough Recipe
250 grams of 00 flour
250 grams all-purpose flor
325 grams of lukewarm water
10 grams of salt
3 grams of active dry yeast
- Add yeast to warm water and let sit for two minutes.
- Add flours and salt to the bowl of stand mixer and use the paddle at low speed to combine.
- Add water and yeast to bowl and mix on medium speed with a dough hook until it comes together and no dry flour remains.
- Increase speed to medium-high and mix until the dough is stretchy and smooth, about 5 minutes. The dough may stick to the bottom of the bowl but will pull away from the sides.
- Form the dough into a large ball, then cut it into three equal pieces.
- Coat three small containers or gallon ziploc bags with olive oil and add one dough ball to container.
- Allow to rise in refrigerator for at least 48 hours. It can also be frozen. If using frozen pizza dough, thaw in refrigerator for at least 48 hours.
- When ready to use, form into a smooth ball with floured hands, loosely cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for 1-1/2 to 2 hours until almost doubled in size.
Notes: I find that measuring by weight yields the best dough. "00" refers to a super-fine grade of milling. I buy it locally from Hayden Flour Mills. While you can use the dough after one night, I find it's best after three to four days, so plan ahead if possible.
I received a complimentary BakerStone Pizza Oven Box from the manufacturer.
While paella has its legions of fans, it's the Catalan dish fideuà, using pasta instead of rice, which has my heart. I was not in Valencia, Spain, however, when I fell in love, but in Scottsdale, Arizona at the Spanish-influenced Prado eight years ago. Since Chef Claudio Urciuoli (now at Noble Eatery) cooked my first pan and I researched it, it's become one of my favorite dishes to make and as a participant in Fry's Taste of Spain campaign, I've finally been motivated to put the recipe to print.
Unlike paella which uses Calasparra or Bomba rice, fideuà is made with short lengths of thin, dried pasta or fideos (fideus in Valencian). Here in Arizona, this pasta is easy to find, especially in Mexican markets. Look for packages such as those pictured below, which can vary in thickness. You could also use angel hair or vermicelli pasta broken into 2-inch lengths. For this recipe serving two generously, I used a 7-ounce package of La Moderna fideo. I stock up when it is three for $1.00.
For the best flavor, you'll want to use quality saffron, Spanish dry-cured chorizo and smoked paprika/pimentón, and homemade stock. Note: Smoked paprika comes in dulce (sweet/mild), agridulce (bittersweet/medium-hot), and picante (hot).
I love the layered textures and flavors in fideuà - the soft, toasty pasta on the bottom soaked in the smoky broth and the crispy-chewy top flavored with briny seafood.
- 2 cups of chicken or seafood stock (I like to use homemade lobster stock)
- 2 lobster tails
- 1 pound of clams or mussels
- 6 large shrimp
- 1 link of Spanish chorizo cut into 10-12 slices
- 4 tablespoons of extra-virgin Spanish olive oil
- 1 7-oz package of fideo pasta
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 cup dry Spanish white wine such as Albariño (optional)
- 1-1/2 pounds tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped or one 14-oz can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon saffron
- Optional garnishes: Chopped parsley; allioli/Spanish aioli (storebought or homemade); aceite de ajo y perejil/garlic-parsley oil (recipe here)
1. Peel shrimp, scrub clams, and split lobster tails in half lengthwise. Chill until needed.
2. Preheat oven to 400.
3. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy skillet over medium-low heat and cook onion and garlic with bay leaf until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and add wine. When evaporated, add smoked paprika and tomatoes. Simmer, stirring frequently, until mixture is thick, about 20 minutes. Remove bay leaf.
4. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a paella pan or an ovenproof 12-inch shallow skillet over medium heat. Add sliced chorizo and saute for 30 seconds to render slightly and color oil. Add pasta and cook for 2-3 minutes until coated in oil and gold brown, stirring frequently to avoid burning.
5. Add half of the tomato mixture (this sofregit can be used to season other dishes), 2 cups of stock, and crumbled saffron. Raise heat and simmer covered for five minutes. Stir, taste, and season with salt and pepper. You may wish to add more saffron and/or smoked paprika.
6. Nestle seafood into pasta bed. Place clams hinge-side down and lobster cut sides up. Transfer to oven and bake uncovered until seafood is cooked, liquid is absorbed and top of pasta is crisp, 10-20 minutes. Here, I've garnished with smoked paprika sea salt, Espelette pepper, and aceite de ajo y perejil parsley oil (recipe here).
- I've made this with just shrimp, with chicken and chorizo, and vegetarian (try artichokes, piquillo peppers and mushrooms).
- To serve 6, use a larger pan and double the pasta, seafood, stock, and use the full amount of tomato mixture.
- Do-ahead: I make the stock weeks earlier and freeze, toast the pasta earlier in the day, and prep the tomato mixture and garlic-parsley oil 1-3 days ahead. The garlic-parsley oil can be used for easy pre-dinner tapas such as tossed with mushrooms, shrimp, or chicken wings.
- For a dinner party, I place the pan in the middle of the table and let guests serve themselves. At home, my husband prefers the seafood taken out of its shell and tossed with the pasta and a little allioli.
- If some seafood is cooked through before others, simply remove and tent with foil. Replace for presentation, or toss with pasta when serving. Note: Because these clams were larger, I added them to the pan during step 2.
- If pasta seems dry, add more liquid. If too wet, simply cook longer, removing seafood if needed, and returning to pan to serve.
- If you want a more authentic soccarat (crispy crust on the bottom) finish the dish on the stove briefly over high heat.
I've been cooking a lot of Spanish cuisine this month as a participant in Fry's Taste of Spain campaign as I mentioned here, and a tapas for two was an easy and delicious lunch. This platter included:
- Marcona almonds with rosemary
- Mushrooms with sherry and salsa verde
- Hojaldrados de chorizo (chorizo in puff pastry)
- Salchichon de bellota Ibérico (salami made from acorn-fed Iberian pigs)
- Manchego cheese
- Olives with pickled garlic and oregano
All ingredients were found at Fry's (almonds, chorizo, salsa verde, and olives were part of a complimentary gift basket).
The mushrooms are easy with a prepared Spanish-style salsa verde.
Mushrooms with Sherry and Salsa Verde
- One 8 oz box of cremini/baby portobello mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons of amontillado sherry
- 3 tablespoons of salsa verde
- 1-2 tablespoons of aceite de ajo y perejil (Spanish parsley and garlic sauce). Recipe here.
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Chopped parsley to garnish
- Fresh lemon juice
Clean and cut mushrooms in half, larger ones in quarters. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a pan. Add the garlic and cook until soft. Turn the heat to medium-high, add the mushrooms and cook until they are browned. Add the sherry and continue to cook until the liquid evaporates. Add the salsa verde, parsley and garlic sauce, toss, and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and garnish with chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon.
When I was asked if I would like to participate in Fry's Grocery Store's Taste of Spain campaign, I didn't hesitate. This month, the grocery chain is celebrating the country by stocking their shelves with a special selection of Spanish imports and I was provided some ingredients for cooking inspiration. Spanish cuisine is one of my favorites (my last name is actually Basque), and well-used books in my collection include Penelope Casas' Tapas, La Cocina de Mamá and The Food & Wines of Spain. On Friday, I picked up my gift basket, including chorizo, olives, marcona almonds, salsa verde, mojo picon, picos camperos, wine and more:
I also did some shopping this weekend, for additional ingredients for menu planning such as clams, shrimp, Manchego cheese and these goodies from Fry's:
I'll have to go through my pantry and see what else I can play with, but I know I have Arbequina olives, imported octopus from Galicia, pimentón, and ñoras chiles.
This afternoon I served tapas (details here) of marcona almonds, mushrooms, chorizo in puff pastry, Iberico salami, manchego cheese, olives with pickled garlic, and mushrooms with sherry and salsa verde. Tonight I'll be making clams - Almejas a la Marinera. I also made a fresh batch of aceite de ajo y perejil with Spanish extra virgin olive oil, parsley, garlic, and smoked paprika salt. I posted that recipe last month.
The week following Easter is National Egg Salad Week, a delicious solution for leftover deviled or hard-boiled eggs, or simply a great excuse to whip up a batch. Whether served as an appetizer or entree, I love cooking with eggs, and hard-boiled eggs are so versatile. They’re a tasty addition to salads or as garnishes (I especially like them with roasted asparagus) and are the perfect nutritional package, with each egg providing 6 grams of protein and no sugar or carbs.
While it may sound like you'll need an exotic pantry to make this egg salad inspired by the flavors of Spain, the key ingredients are simple - extra-virgin olive oil, fresh parsley, garlic and salt. Aceite de ajo y perejil (olive oil with garlic and parsley) is a traditional Spanish sauce that adds a punch of flavor to dishes. Try it drizzled over grilled seafood or steak, as a marinade or dressing, and tossed with pasta or roasted vegetables. I also use it to dress crowd-pleasing egg tapas, so it’s a natural addition to egg salad.
Combined with mayonnaise, this flavorful sauce adds an herbal zest to egg salad, and its familiar ingredients also marry beautifully with any type of leftover deviled eggs, such as some of my favorites:
Ensalada de Huevo - Spanish Egg Salad
6 large hard-boiled eggs, chopped
¼ cup of homemade or store-bought mayonnaise
1-2 tablespoons of aceite de ajo y perejil
1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon of pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika)
Whisk the lemon juice, mustard, paprika, and parsley sauce into mayonnaise until smooth. Combine with the chopped eggs. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
To make the aceite de ajo y perejil:
1 cup of parsley leaves
3 chopped garlic cloves
2/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Mince parsley and garlic in a food processor with a pinch of salt and pepper. It can be as fine or chunky as you like. With the motor running, gradually add in the olive oil. Taste and season with more salt and pepper to taste (I like to use smoked paprika sea salt).
- For a foolproof and easy-peel method of cooking hard-boiled eggs, look no further than this link from the American Egg Board. Over the years I’ve experimented with old eggs versus fresh eggs, adding vinegar to the water, and poking a pinhole in the shell, and no recipes have been as fast and easy as my new favorite method. I simply steam them for 12 minutes in a pot with a steamer insert and then transfer to an ice bath. The shell slips off easily and the eggs are cooked to a perfect golden yolk. Guaranteed, every time.
- If using leftover deviled eggs, simply chop and toss with aceite de ajo y perejil to taste.
- In addition to sandwiches, this egg salad makes a company-worthy dish as a topping for crostini and garnished with sliced radishes (homegrown) and smoked paprika.
This post has been sponsored by The American Egg Board
A pictorial of some of the dishes I made in January. A special bonus: My parents flew in from Boston and brought lobster (14 pounds of live lobsters, steamed and shelled). Thanks mom and dad!
Buttery, crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread. I've started making double batches of these addictive cookies since we find ourselves reaching for another...and then another. My Meyer lemon tree produces an abundant crop October through January and these treats are the perfect vehicle for the tender, juicy zest. Lemon thyme from the garden provides a lovely herbal counterpoint.
The basis for this recipe is one from Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home To Yours, my favorite baking cookbook, with a couple of modifications. The recipe is pretty simple, especially with a Kitchenaid mixer, but remember to allow time for chilling the dough before baking.
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, measured after sifting
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large egg yolks at room temperature
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves
Zest from one large Meyer lemon (I use a microplane)
2 cups all-purpose flour
- Rub half the zest with your fingers into the sugar.
- With the paddle attachment (or a hand mixer) beat the butter at medium speed until it is smooth and creamy.
- Add both sugars and salt and continue to beat one minute more. You don't want to beat air into it to make it fluffy, but want it nice and creamy.
- Reduce to low and beat in the egg yolks until blended.
- Add flour, thyme, and the remainder of the zest and pulse mixer about 5 times at low speed (drape with a towel to prevent the flour from escaping the mixer). If you still see flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of more times. You want to mix just enough to incorporate the flour into the dough. It should be a uniform, clumpy soft dough.
- Scrape it out onto a floured surface, pat it into a ball, and divide in half. Gently flatten each piece into a oblong shape about an inch thick and chill for at least 2 hours, or freeze one for a later time.
- Preheat oven to 350 when ready to bake and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
- Remove dough from the refrigerator about 7-10 minutes before rolling, just so the dough softens enough to be slightly pliable. Roll out to 1/4-inch thick and cut out shapes with a biscuit or cookie cutter.
- Place one inch apart on the prepared sheet and bake for about 15-17 minutes, rotating halfway through. They should be pale on top and golden brown around the edges. In my convection oven at 350 they are ready in 11-12 minutes.
- Cool cookies for 1-2 minutes before transferring with a spatula to a cooling rack.
- Better butter (higher fat quality) = better cookies. I like Plugra, but for this batch used Tillamook.
- I like to grate the zest over the bowl of sugar to capture the spray of the citrus oils.
- Remember to allow time for the egg yolks and butter to come to room temperature.
- If the cookies soften too much after cutting, put them on the prepared pan and chill for 5 minutes before going into the oven. You want them to be cold when they go in the oven or they can spread.
- You can also roll the dough into two logs and chill (or freeze). Before slicing, brush with beaten egg yolk and roll in coarse or sanding sugar. These were rolled in demerara/turbinado sugar:
This is my favorite au gratin potatoes recipe and my side dish of choice to serve with baked ham. It's rich, creamy, and cheesy and always a hit with our guests. With a food processor to shred the cheese and slice the potatoes, it's pretty easy to put together. The potatoes and cheese are layered and a mixture of heavy cream, shallots, herbs, and salt and pepper poured over before finishing with a little more cheese and popping in the oven.
Just remember to allow for plenty of time - an hour covered, 30 minutes to brown, and 10 minutes to cool. I wouldn't suggest substituting the heavy cream with something lighter. It just isn't as good! This is based on a recipe from a now-closed Arizona restaurant called Steamers Genuine. It serves 8.
2 cups of heavy cream
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 teaspoon of finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons of chopped fresh thyme leaves
2-1/2 teaspoons of salt (I like to use Penzey's shallot salt)
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 pounds of russet potatoes
8 ounces of grated sharp white cheddar cheese (I like the big blocks of Tillamook)
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Brush a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish with softened butter.
- Whisk cream, shallots, herbs, salt and pepper together.
- Peel potatoes (as you go, immerse them in water to prevent browning). Drain and slice thinly, about a quarter inch thick. I use a mandoline or food processor.
- Layer half of potatoes in the dish, overlapping slightly. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup of cheese.
- Top with the rest of the potatoes. Gently press down to even the layers. Pour cream mixture over the potatoes.
- Sprinkle with the rest of the cheddar.
- Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour.
- Uncover and bake 30 minutes more or until potatoes are tender and the gratin is golden brown and bubbling.
- Cool for 10 minutes before cutting into squares and serving. I like to finish with black truffle salt from AZ's GoLbSalt.
Sichuan is one of my favorite cuisines and Fuchsia Dunlop's Land of Plenty: A Treasury of Authentic Sichuan Cooking is my favorite cookbook for authentic dishes. It's such a comprehensive resource for ingredients and techniques with helpful photos, and every recipe I've made goes into my regular rotation. There's a section in the book with four different sauces for cold sliced or shredded chicken. These no-cook sauces are easy to put together with a well-stocked Asian pantry and I make these dishes frequently for lunch. While the book calls for poaching a whole chicken to tenderness with ginger and green onion, I find the sauces are a perfect solution for leftover chicken. The green onions can be left sliced, or made into a paste as they are in this recipe. I use green onions from my garden. Both I'itoi's onions or Egyptian Walking Onions multiply prolifically here in Arizona, and this time I used I'itoi's onions.
Don't confuse "light" soy sauce with low-calorie or low-salt. It refers to a color; light versus dark soy sauce. The easy-to-find Kikkoman is a light soy sauce, although I prefer Pearl River Bridge brand (found at most Asian markets).
I haven't made it with the raw peppercorns as I always have some toasted, ground and sifted in a jar in the pantry. I toast them in a pan, grind in a spice grinder, and sift into a container. It has a very distinct taste so if you're trying them for the first time, go light on this ingredient. When shopping for Sichuan peppercorns, look for fragrance and more husks than seeds. I buy mine from Penzey's. I find they're always high quality with the prized tingling or numbing quality these peppercorns should have.
Jiao Ma Ji Pian Adapted from Land of Plenty
1/2-1 teaspoon whole Sichuan peppercorns or ground Sichuan peppercorn powder
5 tops of green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons chicken stock
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1-1/2 tablespoons of sesame oil
1 pound cooled cooked chicken
- Soak the Sichuan peppercorns in very hot water for 5 minutes until softened and drain.
- Puree peppercorns, green onions and salt in a food processor or grind to a paste in a mortar. Transfer to a bowl.
- Add the chicken stock and soy sauce and when combined stir in the sesame oil. Salt to taste, and drizzle over the chicken slices.
- Alternately: Whisk ground Sichuan pepper, salt, chicken stock, soy sauce and sesame oil until combined. Add sliced green onions, and pour over sliced chicken.
I often use recipes as an inspiration for ingredient combinations or as a base to tweak it and make it my own. This simple Martha Stewart recipe, however, is perfect as is. My only changes are a garnish of Aleppo pepper flakes for their mild and fruity heat. Here in Arizona, I can harvest eggplant and basil almost year round, and this is a frequent lunch in our household. Israeli couscous is one of my favorite pastas, and this easy cooking technique transforms the eggplant into velvety luxurious bites.
3/4 cup Israeli couscous
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound of eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
3 small shallots, chopped
2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar
1/3 cup lightly packed fresh basil, torn or chiffonade
Salt and pepper
In a small saucepan, cook couscous according to directions, drain, and set aside. In a large skillet with lid, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add eggplant and shallots, season with salt and pepper, and stir to coat. Cover and cook, stirring frequently until shallots are caramelized and eggplant is tender, about 10 minutes. Add couscous at end to warm. Transfer to a serving bowl, toss with vinegar and basil, and season with salt and Aleppo pepper.
July cooking - a pictorial of some dishes I made this month.
This colorful composed salad served with a buttermilk-pesto dressing is a legacy of Chef Bernie Kantak. It originally debuted on the menu at Cowboy Ciao when he was Executive Chef, and it can now be ordered at his restaurants Citizen Public House and The Gladly. It's perfect for entertaining since it can be prepped ahead of time and plated when your company arrives. I like to serve it as the first welcome dinner for out-of-town guests. I don't always measure the ingredients, and its deliciousness has never suffered. Be sure to make a generous batch. Everyone always goes back for seconds, and I never have leftovers.
Ingredients to serve 2
1/2 cup Israeli couscous, cooked
1/2 cup chopped arugula
2 ounces diced smoked salmon
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
1/2 cup super-sweet dried corn
1/2 oz crumbled asiago cheese mixed with 1/4 cup toasted pepitas and 1/4 cup dried black currants
Arrange the salad ingredients in rows on a dish to present, and toss with approximately half the pesto dressing to serve.
1/4 cup pesto
1/2 cup aioli or mayonnaise
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 shallot, chopped
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
Blend pesto, shallot and aioli well in a food processor. With motor running, add buttermilk. Add lemon juice and a few grinds of cracked black pepper and combine well. Season with salt and pepper.
Afghani green onion dumplings with garlic yogurt and keema
I love the unique combination of flavors in this layered dish. Thin-skinned dumplings are stuffed with a spicy scallion filling and served with garlicky yogurt and keema, a ground meat sauce seasoned with ginger and coriander.
Notes: I suggest prepping components ahead as making the dumplings can be time-consuming. The meat sauce can be reheated with a little water, and the dumplings can be made the night before. The recipe for aushak printed in the books is great as is, though I've included my changes below. For convenience, I use an 8-oz can of tomato sauce (instead of tomato paste and water) and like to saute the scallions briefly in olive oil with the rest of the filling ingredients (instead of leaving them raw). For the pictured version, I combined scallions with I'itoi onions from my garden. I love the yogurt sauce so I always make more than the 1 cup.
1-1/2 cups of minced scallion tops (about 3 bunches)
1 Tb olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 minced garlic clove
Round gyoza or wonton wrappers
3 Tb vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
8 oz ground beef
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1 8-oz can of tomato sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup yogurt
1 large clove of garlic minced and mashed with 1/2 tsp salt to make a paste
- For dumplings, saute filling ingredients to soften scallions. Let cool slightly. Moisten edges of wrappers with water and place 1 teaspoon of filling in the middle. Fold over and press firmly to seal, squeezing out any air pockets. Cover and set aside or refrigerate if made ahead.
- Combine yogurt and garlic paste and set aside.
- For keema, heat oil in a pan and saute onion until golden. Add beef, garlic, coriander, and ginger and cook, breaking up meat with a fork, until it is browned. Add tomato sauce and simmer for 10 minutes to meld flavors, adding water if the sauce gets too dry. Season with salt and pepper to taste and keep warm.
- Bring salted water to a boil and cook dumplings for approximately 5 minutes. Drain.
- To serve, layer a little garlic yogurt onto a serving dish, place dumplings on top, spoon more yogurt over the dumplings and then finish with meat sauce. Garnish with fresh or dried mint.