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3/4 c uncooked bulgur
1 c boiling water
2 c chopped skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast
1 c chopped plum tomato
1 c chopped English cucumber
3/4 c chopped fresh parsely
1/2 c (2 oz) crumbled feta
1/3 c finely chopped green onions
1/4 c chopped fresh mint
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 t bottled minced garlic
1/4 t salt
1/4 t ground cumin
1/4 t black pepper

Place bulgur in a medium bowl; cover with 1 c boiling water. Let stand 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

Combine chicken and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add bulgur to chicken mixture; toss gently to combine.
4 lg garlic cloves
1-1/2 t salt
2 T olive oil
1 t finely grated fresh lemon zest
1 T fresh lemon juice
5 t minced fresh thyme
1 t freshly ground black pepper
1/2 t ground allspice
1 6-1/2- to 7-lb bone-in leg of lamb, trimmed of all but a thin layer of fat

Mince garlic, then mash to a paste with salt. Stir together garlic paste, oil, lemon zest and juice, thyme, pepper and allspice. Put lamb, fat side up, in a large ceramic or glass dish. Using a paring knife, make 1-1/2"-long slits (about 2" deep) 2" apart all over the leg. Reserve 1 t thyme mixture and push remainder into slits, then rub all over with reserved teaspoon of mixture. Marinate lamb, covered and chilled, 12 hours.

Let lamb stand at room texture 30 minutes before grilling.

Prepare grill for indirect-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal. Oil grill rack, then grill lamb over area with no coals, covered, without turning, until thermometer inserted into thickest part of roast (almost to the bone but not touching it) registers 125ºF for medium-rare, 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours (temperatures in thinner parts of leg may register up to 160ºF). To maintain medium-hot charcoal, add more charcoal (about 2 cups) every 15 minutes.

Let lamb stand on a cutting board, uncovered, 30 minutes.

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2 lbs. chicken wings
1 large yellow onion, halved, plus 1 small onion grated
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 dried bay leaves
2 large carrots, cut into 2" pieces
2 medium red potatoes (about 1/2 lb.), quartered
2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 1/4 lbs. ground chicken
2 tbsp. matzo cake meal
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 egg white, beaten
1 1/4-oz. package clear gelatin
Chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Prepared horseradish, for garnish*

Combine chicken wings, halved onions, thyme, bay leaves, carrots, and potatoes in an 8-qt. pot with 6 quarts water. Season broth with salt and bring to a boil, skimming off any foam from the surface. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer.

Meanwhile, put grated onion, ground chicken, matzo, 2 tsp. salt, pepper, and egg white into a large bowl and gently combine with a rubber spatula. Using wet hands or 2 large spoons, shape the chicken mixture into 3"-long dumplings that are 1" thick and, using a spoon, nestle them in the simmering broth. Cook, stirring gently and occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, the chicken dumplings are set, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the middle reads 165°, about 15 minutes. (For a denser dumpling, cook for 10 minutes more.)

Using a slotted spoon, transfer carrots, potatoes, and dumplings to a platter, loosely cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate. Bring broth to a boil. Remove from heat and strain broth, reserving 4 cups; discard solids. Whisk gelatin into reserved broth, season with salt, and refrigerate until set. Serve dumplings and vegetables chilled with a spoonful of the jelled sauce and chopped parsley and prepared horseradish, if you like.

*If you can find Mama Rose's kosher red horseradish, you'll fall in love.

Greek-ish Spinach Dip

1 10-ounce package frozen whole-leaf spinach
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup feta, crumbled
1/2 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 teaspoon minced mint

Finely chop frozen spinach. Microwave or heat in a saucepan until ice crystals have melted, but do not allow to cook. Strain juice from the defrosted spinach. Measure out 1/2 cup of juice, bring to a simmer and pour in the gelatin. Mix until gelatin is dissolved and set aside to cool.

While gelatin mix is cooling, combine spinach with feta, yogurt, garlic and mint. Add cooled gelatin mix, and stir until completely combined. Place spinach dip in crock, ramekin or mold, and refrigerate overnight. Either serve in crock or unmold.

To unmold, dip container in very hot water for a few seconds (try not to get any water on the dip!). Run the tip of a knife around the edge of the container, and flip over to unmold. You might need to use a knife to pry out. If you damage the dip, simply cover the mistake with a garnish.

Serve with crackers, pita wedges, or sliced-up fruits and vegetables.

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Sweet Potato Tacos, via Smitten Kitchen

1 large sweet potato
1 clove garlic, minced or mashed
¼ teaspoon cayenne and/or smoked paprika to taste
½ fresh chile of choice, seeded and diced (optional)
salt to taste
1 medium yellow onion, cut into half moons
½ red or yellow bell pepper, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Vegetable oil for frying tortillas
8 -10 small corn tortillas
at least ½ cup grated smoked mozzarella and/or cheddar
Small bunch cilantro, chopped, and lime wedges, for garnish

Peel and cut sweet potato into cubes. Place in a medium saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Cook until fork tender, about 25 minutes, and drain. Mash with garlic, spice, chile (if using) and salt. Taste for seasoning and adjust. Should have a little kick in the mouth.
In a medium skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add onion half moons and diced pepper and allow to soften, about 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and reserve.

Meanwhile, prepare the tortillas: Heat ¼ teaspoon of oil in a skillet over medium-heat hit. When oil is hot, place a tortilla in the pan and fry until soft, about 25 seconds; flip and repeat with the other side. Do not let tortilla get too crisp; reduce heat if this happen. It’s key to keep oil to a minimum, as the tortillas will end up unpleasantly greasy.

Place tortillas on a plate and keep warm, and preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Assemble your tacos: Spoon a scant tablespoon of sweet potato mash in the center of each tortilla, and flatten it a bit. Add a teaspoon or so of onion-peppers and top with grated cheese. Fold over so that ends meet and place on a baking sheet. Bake for about 8 minutes, until somewhat crispy and cheese is melted.

Garnish with cilantro and lime. Ripe avocado slices also make a luscious topping!

The joys of ricotta

WHOLE MILK RICOTTA
1 gallon whole milk, pasteurized or raw
1 teaspoon citric acid
1 teaspoon salt
In a large stockpot, combine milk, acid and salt. Heat to 185 to 195 degrees, stirring often. Do not boil.

As soon as the curds and whey separate, turn off the heat. The whey should look somewhat clear rather than milky. Let sit for 10 minutes. Line a colander with cheese cloth and place in a large bowl. Ladle the curds into the cloth. Tie the corners of the cloth together and hang for 20 to 30 minutes.

You can hang the cloth from a knob on a kitchen cabinet or use a wooden spoon through the knot to hang over a deep container. Eat immediately or refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Makes 3 to 4 cups (1-1/2 to 2 pounds).


RICTOTTA SALTA
1-1/2 to 2 pounds ricotta
1 tablespoon kosher salt (if using store-bought ricotta)

Wrap ricotta in cheesecloth and tie ends together. Hang over a bowl for 20 to 30 minutes to allow whey to drain off. Place on a plate or in a bowl and put a weight, such as a large can, on the cheese. Refrigerate for three days, or until the ricotta is very firm.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line a baking pan with parchment. Unwrap the cheese and place it on the parchment paper. Bake for 6 hours, or until the cheese is firm and dry.

Cool completely and then wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for up to three weeks. Use as you might other hard Italian cheeses such as romano or Parmesan reggiano.

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Sweet Potato Cheesecake Sweeties

</i>Lauren Soutiere of East Village Kitchen</i>

1 pound North Carolina sweet potatoes
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) butter, melted
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick spray. Line pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, allowing it to extend above the sides of pan. Spray again. Set aside.

Pierce sweet-potato skins; microwave on high until tender, about 3 to 5 minutes; cool.

Into medium bowl, scoop sweet potato from skins. With electric beater, beat until smooth, gradually adding butter. Add flour, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, salt and baking powder. Beat until smooth.In a small bowl, beat together until smooth cream cheese, granulated sugar and egg yolk.

Spread half the cream cheese mixture into prepared pan; top with half the cream cheese mixture in 8 mounds on top. Repeat remaining sweet potato and cream cheese mixtures. Pull knife through batters to marbelize. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Remove from pan by lifting edges of parchment or foil paper; cut into 16 squares. Serve with raspberry sauce if desired.

Sweet Potato and Rosemary Pizza

From Michelle Nyola of Thoughts on Food

Refrigerated or thawed frozen dough for 12-inch pizza (about 8 ounces)
2 T olive oil, divided
8 oz sliced provolone cheese
1 medium North Carolina sweet potato, peeled and thinly sliced (about 8 ounces)
1 T grated Parmesan cheese
1 t fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1/4 t salt
1/8 t ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. On oiled pizza pan, pat out dough to make a 12-inch circle; brush with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Top with provolone, sweet potatoes, parmesan, rosemary, nutmeg. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste; drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Bake until crust is browned and sweet potatoes are tender, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Mushroom Barley "Risotto"

6 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, pressed
2 cups pearled barley
2 portobello mushroom caps, diced
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
minced herbs like parsley or basil for garnish, if you please

Bring all of the broth to simmer a saucepan. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large saucepan or small dutch oven over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic for about 4 minutes, until soft. Add barley and stir to coat with butter. Add 1/2 cup broth at a time, allowing broth to be almost totally absorbed before adding more. Stir often — the whole process takes about 45 minutes. When about 1 cup broth remains, heat about a teaspoon of olive oil or butter in a small saute pan and add diced mushrooms and some salt. Cook mushrooms until soft, about 5 minutes. After all the broth has been absorbed, turn off the heat. Pour the cooked mushrooms and any juice they created into the risotto. Add salt, pepper, and all of the parmesan. Stir it up. Serve, and garnish if you please.
Adapted from Claudia Fleming’s astoundingly awesome The Last Course which is woefully out of print but I have it on good authority that if you call The North Fork Table and Inn (where she now “pastries”), they have a small supply and might even send you a signed copy. The book includes the recipe for her famous mallomars — need I say more?

2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cup sugar
12 large egg yolks*
2 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoon vanilla or half a vanilla bean, scraped and simmered with the cream
Pinch of salt

In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the heavy cream and one cup of sugar and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup of sugar.
Remove the cream mixture from the heat and drizzle a small amount into the yolks, slowly, and whisking constantly to keep the eggs from curdling. Do this a few more times to warm up the yolks before pouring the yolk mixture back into the cream, whisking constantly.

Cook over low heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain the mixture and whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla, and salt. Cool completely and freeze according manufacturer’s directions.

* I’m going to share with you a little secret: You don’t need to use all of these egg yolks. Oh sure, you can and the results will blow your ice cream-loving mind. However, let’s say you find that you only have six or eight egg yolks on hand, this will also do. The ice cream will be less rich, but still incredibly more rich than anything you can buy at any store.