Monday, March 31, 2008

Basted Egg and Fried Parsley Sandwich on Gougère

By Cookbad

After my earlier gougère fail, I still had some of the dough left. . . or is it batter?

I decided to make large scale failing gougères, which turned out quite nicely, cheesey and between popover and brioche.

Then I basted some eggs, which is my new favorite way to make them.

You melt much more butter than is healthy to consume into a pan ocer med to low medium heat and let it melt.

Crack and egg into the pan and baste them by pouring the hot melted butter, spoonful by spoonful over the top of the egg until just as the very top of the yolk turns white, like in the below pict. Then it's done and can go on top of the sliced open gougère.

perfectly finished basted egg. Remove from heat when the top of the yolk shows white.

Then sautee up some chopped fresh parsley in the butter for 1-2 minutes, throw it on the egg, salt, eat.


Perfectly puffed up choux next to my gougères FAIL
By Cookbad

Gougères are profiteroles cheesy cousin.

You can stuff them the same way you would any choux pastry, but I cannot seem to get mine to puff up as they should.

I used to make these by just adding some grated cheddar or gruyère cheese to a simple choux recipe. They never puffed up and reminded me more of tiny little souffle that anything choux.

I've made this recipe that I am posting 4 times now and they have never ever puffed up the way cream puffs do, and they should. . .they are on the cover of the book they come from looking all golden, puffy and self satisfied. . . mocking me. . .

smug gougères
See what I mean?

They are from this terrific book called Bite Sized by François Payard that is about just one it sounds like. Great stuff, much of it pretty expensive to make.

Anyway. . . .

Why do I continue to make a recipe that fails? Because they taste really really good. They go so fast that I don't think I have ever actually tasted a cold one.

Here is the dubious recipe in question.
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
3 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, sifted
pinch of salt
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
5 large eggs
5 ounces (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) heavy cream, slightly heated so it is warm to the touch
3 1/2 cups grated Gruyère cheese, plus more for garnish if desired

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Place 1 cup water and the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to low and add the flour, salt, cayenne, and nutmeg. Cook the mixture fro 15 to 20 minutes, stirring constantly, until it turns into a thick paste and no longer sticks to the sides of the pan.

3. Transfer the batter to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix at low speed, incorporating the eggs one at a time. Do not add an egg until the previous one is completely incorporated.

4. Add the cream to the batter while the mixer is running. Then stop the mixer and gently stir in the grated Gruyère with a spatula, making sure not to deflate the dough.

5. Fit a pastry bag with a #5 or 1/2 inch star tip, and fill it with the dough. Pipe 1-inch rounds of the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Wet your finger and smooth out the top of the gougères. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown.

6. Remove from the oven and sprinkle grated Gruyère on top if desired. Arrange on a platter and serve warm.

FIRST, I think using a paddle to mix is silly silly madness and maybe a translation error, but this guy speaks perfectly good english, so I don't know what he is thinking. And, I'm also no sure at one point during the paddling the dough turns into any condition in which you would have to worry about deflating it while adding cheese.

SECOND: 10-15 minutes doens't come close. I think half an hour is more like it

Last change for this one. I'm moving on.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Coconut & Lemongrass Shrimp Cakes with a Spicy Mango & Cucumber Salsa

my crappy camera phone pictures strike again.

By Cookbad

Hooray! Royal Food Joust -- My first .

The challenge was to use seafood, lime and coconut. It got me thinking about a recipe I made last year for shrimp cakes, so I thought I would reprise, without peaking at the original version

I made coconut & lemon grass shrimp cakes with a spicy mango & cucumber salsa.

This recipe made me want to write about the easiest way to prepare a coconut. You don't have to smash it on the ground (most fun method!) of take the back of a cleaver to it (grrrr).

Find a coconut that you can hear a lot of milk sloshing around in. Poke out the eyes & drain it. Put in the the oven at 350 for 30 minutes. The heat causes it to split apart --for easy opening and also causes the meat to release from the shell.

Another way way to shred up fresh coconut it to get yourself a kudkuran, which is a bench coconut grater. Here is a picture of one in use:

Dude grating coconut using a bench grater.

And just an apology about photo quality. . . .
Also, damn the fact I keep coming up with new and interesting places to hide my camera from children that prevents me from finding it too. Anyone who can tell me where my camera is-- I promise to paypal you 50 bucks. No Joke. Camera phone does not cut taking pictures of food.

Bear with my recipes. They are just architecture- Flavor adjustment in expected.
And let me know if there is anything that's unclear. I love feedback.

Coconut & Lemongrass Shrimp Cakes with a Spicy Mango & Cucumber Salsa
Serves 2-4

2 mangos chopped. Over ripe works wonderfully
1/2 cucumber diced. Seed and peel if you feel like it
chile paste-- again to taste
handful of unsweetened shredded coconut
handful fresh mint
1 diced shallot
juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons of sugar
1-2 tablespoons fish sauce

But everything BUT half the cucumber into a food processor. Pulse. Just to get it to mix, but not to a pulp. Combine with remaining cucumber.

Let this sit in the fridge for the flavors to marry while you make the shrimp cakes.

1 lb. raw shrimp
lemon grass. . I'd say 1/2 a stalk but I use this extremely convenient shredded frozen stuff I bough in Little Saigon.
1/2 chopped fresh coconut
a hand full of green beans
just a bit of lime zest
chile paste to taste
tablespoon fish sauce
1/4 - 1/2 can of coconut milk
handful fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons olive oil
panko, optional

Put everything but the panko into a food processor, and blend. Don't expect the coconut to fully blend, it adds a nice texture in the end. If they mixture looks thin, add some panko and stir.

oil to fry, plenty

Heat a heavy bottomed pan to med-high, add oil. Form shrimp mixture into cakes. Big ones for dinner, small ones make a snazzy appetizer.

Fry them until the are browned, flip, repeat. They don't take much time to cook thru, but it's nice to get them brown.

Serve with salsa on the side and a garnish of chopped mint, cilantro and maybe crushed pistachios, but I skipped that part.

These were good. I ate mine standing up in the kitchen while frying up the next batch I was so all over them.

Just one last little coconut nugget of information:

The milk from green coconuts is supposed to be great for a hangover, among other things. I bought some slightly fermented green coconut juice, called kefir at Whole Foods last week & it was really interesting.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


By Cookbad

I'm a big advocate of cooking in season, so this dish makes me a big hypocrite, but might inspire some garden choices, which it IS the season for.

So, here is a recipe for how to make Ratatouille, just like in the movie!!!

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 shallots, diced
1 1/2 cups canned diced tomatoes (or fresh tomatoes, peeled)
3 tablespoons grated carrots
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1 bay leaf
2 roasted red peppers, diced. Rinsed and patted dry if jarred
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 Roma tomatoes
1 zucchini
1 Chinese eggplant
1 yellow squash
1 clove minced garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon of thyme
1/2 teaspoon oregano
salt and pepper

First you make a base sauce. In a skittle or cast iron pan add olive
oil, garlic and shallots over low-medium heat. Cook until soft, 7-9
minutes. Add tomatoes, carrots, marjoram, bay leaf. Simmer for 10
minutes. Lower heat and add peppers Cook just long enough to combine
the flavors. Remove from heat and discard bay leaf. In either the
skillet you cooked the sauce in, or a round/oval casserole dish (8-10
inches), evenly spread the sauce.

Using a mandolin or very sharp knife, slice tomatoes, squash, zucchini
and eggplant as thinly as possible. Less than 1/8 an inch if possible.

In you prepared sauce dish lay down a strip of overlapping or your
vegetables. Zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes then spring squash. Leaving
a bit of each layer exposed. This strip should start and end about an
inch from either end of the pan. Continue to layer in a spiral
formation around the center strip, slightly overlapping towards the
center. Keep going until either you have used all the vegetables, or
the pan is filled.

Cover with either the lid of the skillet, or a couple layers of foil
and bake at 300 for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Remove lid and return to
oven for another 10 minutes. This dish can be made a day ahead, so
either cover and store or broil for 10-15 minutes until it just starts
to brown. Serve from dish hot or cold.
Makes 4 servings.

Home, Land: cooking.

Its lemon verbena growing right under my mailbox. Who knew? Caroline.

By Cookbad

My friend, also a Caroline -- and fellow alum from the fantastic graduate program at Tisch School of the Arts, Interactive Telecommunication Program at New York University (which means both of us spent 2 years bound up in code and circuits & making glorious works of art with them) has taken up the challenge of blogging every single kind of plan that grows on her place in Monrovia.

Yes. That was one sentence and I am keeping it.

I digress.

Many of the plants she is blogging you can eat, which interests me greatly. If you are anyplace in the Southern California area and have a plant question, I'll bet she can answer it.

Here is her site.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Scam Chocolate

By Cookbad

This isn't a new story and it's made the rounds on the blogosphere last year. But I'm trying to finish up our chapter on desserts and focusing on chocolate right now and thought I'd bring it back.

It is the best piece of investigative food reportage I've read.

It's an account blow for blow about the most expensive chocolate per ounce is not only bullshit, but poorly prepared.

Here is the full scoop.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Peanut Buttter Truffles

By Cookbad

Dessert or treat wise, I say truffles are the biggest bang for your buck.
They are more foolproof than almost any other dessert or sweet I can think of. Combined with the fact that people are tremendously impressed when you tell them that, yes, you were the one to make them, they are one of my favorite things to make. This is a version of the Thomas Keller, French Laundry recipe:

Peanut Butter Truffles
To make about 50 truffles:
6 oz. of dark chocolate
24 oz. of the best peanut butter you can find
1/2 cup of sugar
1.5 tablespoons of salt
9 ounces of unsalted room temp. butter.
24 oz. dark chocolate
1 cup of unsweetened cocoa for coating (that I consider optional)

Melt the chocolate & butter in a double boiler or microwave.

Put the peanut butter, sugar & salt into a food processor and blend. Add chocolate/ butter combo. Blend for couple of minutes.

Transfer mixture to the fridge until very solid.

Once it is solid, get a plate or baking sheet that will fit in your freezer and line it with parchment paper. Wax paper works to. Take a 1 teaspoon measurer and scoop out the mixture then roll into a uniform ball with the flat of your hands. repeat until mixture is done. Put them in the freezer.

If your hand get ridiculously sticky during rolling and the mixture becomes petulant, return it to the fridge (or freezer) to solid it up a bit.

Melt 24 oz. of chocolate over a double boiler, remove from heat and let it sit for 10-15 minutes.

Line another sheet with parchment, grab some tongs.

Take the peanut butter balls out of the freezer.

Using your tongs, dip the peanut butter balls into the mixture, swirl it around some to coat it in chocolate then put in on the parchment lined pan.
Repeat until finished. Put the truffles in the fridge.

When the truffles are cooled, re-melt chocolate and repeat for a second coat.

Remove from fridge, let them come to room temp. then roll them in cocoa powder.

These will keep in the freezer for months.

You can also make truffles with any sort of ganache. Ganache is very simple. It's 1 part chocolate and one part cream. Heat cream to just before boiling, pour over chocolate (chopped, chunked or in chips), wait 2 minutes for the cream to melt the chocolate a bit, then combine with a mixer. You can also any sort of flavor or liquor you like. Then proceed with the ganache just as you would the chocolate mixture.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

How to make Sprouted Wheat Bread: Part 1

The perfect sized sprout for bread

By Cookbad

I'm working on the right proportions to sub in sprouted wheat for wheat flour in bread. Once wheat goes from just a seed to a sprouted seed a whole bunch of it's properties change. They increase in digestive enzymes, proteins, good fats and fiber, overall making a healthier more complex carbohydrate bread.

With all those good things in mind, I'm not sure what replacing regular wheat flour with sprouted wheat will do to the dough. I'm curious to see how the gluten is effected.

BUT FIRST, I need to sprout some wheat, which is pretty much as easy as growing mold on bread.

I invested 8USD in a sprouting jar --it's just a large glass jar with a lid that is made of wire mesh. You can easily improvise one by replacing a large regular jar's lid with either cheese cloth held in place with a tight rubber band. Easier still, poke a bunch of holes in the lid of a jar. Don't use too small a jar. The seeds need room to breath.

Next, I put to use some wheat berries that have been sitting in the back of my pantry for 5 months. Wheat berries are wheat flour before it's ground down and processed.

What I did was:
Throw a handful or two in the jar with 3 cups of water and leave them to soak overnight, 8-16 hrs. Then, empty out the water, and rinse the berries by adding some more water to the jar, swishing it around some and then pouring it out. Do that twice.

Rinse them once or twice a day for the next 48-72 hrs.

In about 48 hours some will show tiny spouts. When most have 1/8-1/4 inch shoots -- like in the picture they are ready for bread making.

I'm going to try 2 different things with my sprouts. I put half in the freezer and the other half, I'm going to mill into flour.

To mill then into flour they need to be dehydrated, which is you can do in an oven at low heat. Spread them on a baking sheet and put them in your oven at 200 max. My oven is ancient and doesn't want to go below 300 no matter how low I set it, so I just left the door slightly open and checked them every 5 minutes, stirring them each check so the ones on the outside didn't get toasted. It took about an hour for them to dry. I checked by taking one berry out, letting it cool and then biting it. If ti was soft, they were still damp.

Eventually, one cracked under my teeth, so I turned off the oven and let them continue to dry. There they sit, waiting to take a turn in my soon to be very cleaned out coffee grinder/ flour mill.

Stay tuned.

Super Food Strata with roasted red pepper and tomato coulis

Healthy, hearty, and as simple as popping in the oven in the morning.

By Cookbad

I thought up this one for the Weekend Breakfast Blogging Balanced Breakfast Challenge!

A strata is a kind of eggy bread puddinngish breakfast dish that you make the night before and let sit overnight so the bread becomes almost custardy. It can be sweet, savory or both. It is perfect breakfast if all you want to do is pop something in the oven and don't want to do any prep. in the morning.

I've been working hard at getting my strata recipe down and think I have it.
For any kind of strata you want to make, a good guideline is:

For every 3 eggs you want use 2 cups of shredded bread and 3/4 cups of milk.
For a 3 egg strata use about 1.5 -2 cups of filling, and all the herbs and spices you like.

A couple more strata tips:
Cook your strata in a deeper souffle of oven ready sauce pan, not a flat casserole dish.

If the egg doesn't cover the bread, add a bit more.

If you are going to use a vegetable, cook it down first so it doesn't drown your strata and make it end up soggy.

Stratas do not photograph well.

Here is the recipe:
Super Food Strata with roasted red pepper and tomato coulis
In a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat:
2 tablespoons olive oil
Cook until soft:
4 clove crushed garlic
1 diced onion
5 oz. cremini mushrooms quartered and browned
Then cook for 3 minutes:
6 oz. baby spinach
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Let it cook a bit then in a souffle dish or deep oven proof bowl mix the vegetables with:
4 cups shredded whole grain crusty bread
1/3 cup of your choice of cheese, grated of crumbled (optional)
Beat together:
6 eggs
1.5 cups of milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper cayenne pepper
ground black pepper to taste
Pour the eggs over the bread and vegetables mixture, cover and set in the fridge overnight.

Put all of the following into a food processor and pulse to blend:
1 roasted red pepper
1 tomato that has been chargrilled and peeled. You do this by just setting the tomato over your gas flame until the skin pops and turns black.
1 clove of garlic
juice of 1 lemon
salt to taste
1/4 cup EVOO
1/3 toasted walnuts

Take the strata out of the fridge 30 minutes before you want to cook it. Take the coulis out to so it has time to get to room temperature before serving.
Preheat the oven to 350.
Bake 45 minutes covered.
It should be puffed up and starting to brown.
Serve with a dollop of coulis.
That lump of orange stuff is the coulis

I opted out of the cheese, but next time I make this I'm thinking fontina.

Also, the coulis is really good all on its own. I put it on a sandwich and turned it into a dip all while waiting for my strata to get down soaking.

Pizza + Beer = fun

I'd had more than a few spicy & sweets before I got took these less than awesome pictures.

By Cookbad

I made a really good pizza the other night. Maple Chipotle Soaked Pineapple & Ham Pizza and I served it with a beer cocktail that I named the Spicy & Sweet Shannon. the pictures are pretty bad. I'd had a few drinks, I was quivering with hunger. . . .

The Pizza:
Slice up some fresh pineapple. About 1 quarter a pineapple is enough for 1 pizza.
Cut into 1/8s and then slice them about 1/4 inch thick. Put them in a bowl with 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1/4 cup water and a chunk or two of canned Chipotle peppers.
Marinde for 30 minute or more.
When they have marinaded, put the pineapple in one layer on a baking sheet, pour over some of he marinade and broil until the tops start to brown a bit.
Get some ham and slice it up into strips.
Dress you pizza

Next, go here for detailed directions on how to make grilled pizza or do it however you want. Top with sauce, cheese, the roasted pineapple and ham. We made this pizza on a particularly shitty grill so it took forever and I eventually just decided to finish it up in the oven.

The Spicy and Sweet Shannon:
All these flavors can be adjusted to your taste.
Pour all this into a pitcher:
1/2 cup of lemon juice
1/4 cup of maple syrup
a few shakes of cayanne pepper
4 light beers

Pour over more ice.

If you are thinking that it sounds an awful lot like the master cleanse with beer, you'd be right.
Sounds gross, but everyone that tried it really liked it.

The pizza, was terrific. I have been thinking about it for days.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


suddenly a thing of the past.
By Cookbad

First the bees and now this.

Remember all those clips on public television you'd see with streams so thick with salmon heading to spawn it looked like rush hour in L.A.?

No more.

Yesterday the New York Times reported that Chinook aka King Salmon have all but vanished.

The Pacific Fisheries Management Council is calling this unexplained event unprecedented.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

How to make Hollandaise Sauce & Eggs Benedict

A superfast and easy version of eggs benedict
By Cookbad

Hollandaise is so easy, I could make it hungover - and I will, next time because Eggs Benedict is a potent hangover cure.

All it is is butter, egg yolk, salt, pepper and lemon. It is a lot like mayonnaise, but made with clarified butter instead of oil.

In theory, it could be pretty easy to fuck up because you are trying to get the hot butter and eggs to emulsify without cooking he egg yolks, which cook pretty damn easily.

Here is my pretty hard to fuck up method:

Makes about 1.5 cups

4 egg yolks
1 1/4 cup butter
salt, pepper to taste
the juice of 1/2 - 1 lemon

Beat the egg yolks until they are pale.
Heat the butter in a small sauce pan and skim the white foamy stuff off the top. Keep it pretty hot but do not let it bubble. Let the milk solids in the butter sink to the bottom.

Melted butter after most of the foam has been skimmed.

discarded butter foam

Keep beating the egg yolks and very slowly pour in a bit of hot butter. Let it emulsify, then add some more, then a bit more until the butter is gone. Add salt, pepper and lemon juice, and you're done. Serve immediately. If you can't and you want to keep it hot, put it over a very low double boiler and stir often.

the finished unbroken product

It didn't break? Did it.

Now to put it to good use:

Eggs Benedict:

Makes 1 serving

Toast up an English muffin. If you don't have one, a nice thick piece of toasted good bread will do. If you want to make some english muffins, go here.

Poach 2 eggs.

Fry up some canadian bacon, ham or rashers of bacon. If you are making rasher and have some asparagus laying around, toss it in the pan with the bacon, It takes them about the same amount of time to cook and the asparagus is nice side.

Make the hollandaise.

Place ham on bread or muffin, place poached egg on pork, slather with hollandaise.


Atethat, who lives in the UK told me that there are no English muffins there (makes sense!) and also, she had only seen eggs benedict at restaurants that cater to tourists.

I think that is a crime.

How to make Mayonnaise

Delicious homemade mayonnaise

By Cookbad

Just testing out the recipe we are using in the upcoming Fresh Eggs Don't Float book.

And hooray! It's good.

Makes about 2 cups:
4 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon of dijon mustard or 1/4 teaspoon of dry mustard
1.5 cups of virgin olive oil or canola oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar
salt, pepper

You can make it in a blender, with a hand mixer or a standing mixer. You can make it by hand if you think your arm will hold out.

It's good to have all these ingredients as well as the bowl and whisk at room temperature, but I didn't and it worked out just fine.

Whisk the egg yolks and mustard until they are pale yellow. Put your oil into something that will allow you to pour it very slowly. While the egg yolks are being beaten slowly pour 1/2 teaspoon on oil into the yolk. When if has emulsified add another 1/2 teaspoon and so on. Towards the end, you can start to pour in the oil a bit faster, but if you incorporate it too quickly, the mayonnaise will break. Add salt, pepper, the juice of 1 lemon and 1/2 -1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar.

All told it took me about 30 minutes to make. I wouldn't have had that sort of patience or stamina if I wasn't using the standing mixer.

From mayonnaise you can make all sorts of sauces and spreads:
Bacon Mayonnaise
Blue Cheese Dressing
Cambridge Sauce
Chantilly Mayonnaise
Gloucester Sauce
Green Goddess Dressing
Curry Mayonnaise
Sauce Vert
Tartare Sauce
Thousand Island Dressing
Sauce Vincent

If you want very quick recipes for each of these sauces, click onto the mayonnaise family tree chart, find you sauce and add on to mayonnaise whatever ingredients are called for. Here is the chart. Click on it to see a much LARGER version:

double click for a bigger verison

All the chart recipes are the ingredients listed + 1 cup of mayonnaise

Joy of Cooking says that you cannot make mayonnaise in a thunderstorm, because it will not bind. I am so looking forward to testing that theory out.

Let me know if that chart is weird or hard to understand or just plain wrong.

Who is making your organic food?

I came across this on boingboing. It is a list of who makes which brands of popular organic brands of food. Heinz, as it turns out, makes a boat load of them. Click here for the full list.

Music to go along with this post from dan le sac & scroobius pip.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Tiny Timballos

By Cookbad

Timballos, timpanos, whatever you want to call them . . . are upsidedown savory pies filled with pasta, sauces, vegetables, anything you want arranged in layers to create a dramatic effect when it is cut into. A couple of years ago I made a crustless one, but more commonly you build one by layering the bottom of a souffle dish or round bottomed pan with a thin dough, add the fillings layer by layer and then bake. Mostly when I try to get the pie out of the pan it has been sticking and falling apart, but it tastes good and the kids will eat it, so I keep trying.

Last night I tried to make tiny single sized versions for The Mini Pie Revolution mini pot pie event. I've made these mini pork pies in the past with great success, but this is the first time I made up a mini (or any) pie recipe.

So here goes:

Makes about 6 small pies in various sized ramekins:

2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1/3 grated asiago cheese
12 tablespoons (1.5 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 tablespoons chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 tablespoons (or more) ice water

In a food processor, mix the first 4 ingredients, then pulse in the butter and shortening until it looks grainy. Then add the water. Continue to pulse a few more times. Form the dough into a ball and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.

2-4 oz. of penne cooked 2 minutes less than the preparation calls for.
enough sauce to cover pasta

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons diced onion
2 tablespoons flour
1.5 cups milk
1/4 cup asiago cheese, grated
Sweat he onions in the butter over med heat then add flour and for 2 minutes stir constantly. Add milk, and whisk until fully combined. Set over medium-high heat and whisk till as it simmers. Add asiago and simmer for 8 minutes.
When it is done, add:
1/2 cup of frozen peas

6 hard boiled quail eggs

A bit of extra asiago cheese

Liberally flour your surface and roll out the dough to no less than 1/4 inch. Place the ramakin you are using onto the dough, then cut a circle around it that is 2 inches + bigger than the raminkins imprint. Then, cut a shape directly around the lid of the ramekin. Remove extra dough, then roll the larger circle out some more. The dough should be as thin as you can work with it. Grease, spray or butter your ramakin. Then, gently lift the larger round, place and work it into the ramakin. If there is gross excess in spots, cut it out and seal it.

Take your tomato covered penne and lay them in a row at the bottom of the pie. Fill in the edges with more penne. Then, make another layer.

Scoop about 2-3 table spoons of your peas and bechamel mixture over the pasta. Then very gently press the quail egg down thru the pea mixture. Ideally it will be standing perfectly upsidedown.

Layer some very thin slices of asiago then cover with another arranged layer of penne.

Place the smaller crust on top and seal with the lower crust.

Pop in to oven at 350 for 45 minutes. Check on it, and if the upper crust is burning, take it out.

When you take it out, place it upsidedown on a plate. It may or may not fall onto the plate. Ideally, they fall out of the ramekins after a bit of cooling. If they stick, I've tried chilling it got get it to fall, heating it on the plate to get it to fall, but sometimes it just won't. Then you have a classic pot pie, that will taste just as good.

Leftover bechamel and tomato sauce can be combined and poured over pies if you like.

I'm really sad about the grey circle around the egg yolk, but that comes from over cooking and I can't figure a way around it after 45 minutes in the oven.

flourless chocolate espresso torte

by Cookbad

I've made this so many times, I know the recipe by heart, but I've never posted it. It's from the little known, by worth getting Cafe Pongo Cookbook.

It's my stand-by-slash-and-burn-everyone-loves-it-cake. It is my Brother-in-laws birthday tomorrow night, and as I'm short on time as of late and know this is always good, I'm happy to make it again.

melt 4 oz. of very good dark chocolate with 1 cup of butter.
mix 1/2 cup hot water with 2 tablespoons of instant espresso
mix all that with:
4 eggs large and 1 cup of sugar.

The recipe suggests to line a 8-9 inch cake pan with cling wrap and then pour the mixture into the pan, place in bain-marie and bake in pre-heated oven at 350 for 45-55 minutes. Last time I made it I used target brand cling-wrap and it melted. That was the first time that happened, so I'm using only saran-wrap from now on, which has never melted.

Let it cool, then sprinkle with some cocoa powder, maybe but a coffee bean or two on and you're done.

It serves 8 full people. If you want to make it for more, make 2 cakes, whip 1 cup of heavy cream with 3 tablespoons of sugar into whipped cream, top one cake with the whipped cream and gingerly place the second cake on top. if it doesn't fall right on top, the whipped cream gives you some wiggle room for adjusting. If the surface cracks, gently rub the crack to hide it and then the cocoa powder should cover any remaining marks.

You can also make them in small individual portions in muffin tins. Shorten the cooking time to 20-30 minutes.

Friday, March 14, 2008

"Fuck off! I'm cooking" button for ALL!

From Cookbad

Sometimes, don't you just want to say it?
Maybe you are in the thick of it, maybe you are cooking because it is 'me time', maybe it food to be on the table in 5 minutes because the kids/significant other/dinner guests are freaking out with hunger.

Maybe you say it all the time are are tired of repeating yourself.

If you want one, email me at and I'll get one to you.

four berry maple and mascarpone strata

stratas do not photograph very well, but are delicious.

By Cookbad

I've been experimenting with stratas a lot lately to see if there is a ratio of egg to bread to milk to filling that would work for any kind of strata be it sweet, savory or in between.

I made this one using my strata ratio of bread:egg:milk being about 6:6:1.5 and if came out splendidly.

4 Berry Maple
& Mascarpone Strata
6 eggs
6 cups of ripped up whole grain crusty bread
1.5 cups of milk
1.5 cups of maple syrup
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
4 oz. mascarpone cheese (cream cheese would work too, the cheese it optional)
8 ounces of mixed blueberries, raspberries, cherries and blackberries, fresh or frozen

1 cup of heavy cream
1/4 cup of maple syrup

Beat together eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and maple syrup.

In a casserole or souffle dish, mix together the bread, the berries and evenly place quarter sized dollops of the mascarpone. Pour the egg mixture over it.

Cover it and stick it in the fridge overnight.

Preheat your oven to 350. Put he strata (covered) and cook for 35 minutes. Take off the cover and cook for another 15 minutes.

During the last 15 minutes of cooking whip the heavy cream with maple syrup into a whipped cream.

Let the strata cook for a bit, then serve with whipped cream and more maple syrup if you like.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Pink Chocolate Fairy Cakes (with creme filling!)

It's a lot of look for one little cake.

by Cookbad

I made these little numbers for a bake sale at my daughters preschool. My only thought was to make them as pink and irresistible to the princess loving, pink adoring, pre-barbi set as possible. So I did a pink cupcake, with pink frosting and toped with some sparkly pink, stuffed with creme.

I made them vegan, although I didn't advertise them as such. It was only implied in the ingredient list I was require to submit with said cupcakes.

And really, why not make them vegan if you can. They are just as delicious. There are a few vegans at the school and I would hate to exclude any pink loving wee vegan from one. BONUS: kids can lick the beaters at any point (if you worry about raw eggs).

Perfect timing to join in on the 2008 CUPCAKE SPECTACULAR!

These were a mash-up of a few different recipes. The cupcakes themselves were from my friend Lacy Sher's book, Down to Earth cookbook- The best vegan cookbook I have ever run across, and I've seen a lot. Anyway, I have sworn to her to keep her recipes in the book and off the internet. Still, there are plenty of vegan cake recipes out there. . . this is one that is similar, but as I haven't made them I ain't vouching for them.

Here is how it goes from there:
Bake them in little paper or silver muffin cups, but don't spray the inside with oil as I read to do someplace. It makes the cupcake slip away from paper and creates a hassle decorating and looks kind of lame.

I wanted mine pink, so out came the food coloring. Admittedly, I over did it in the batter. There is no way to take out color unless you want to double the recipe and incorporate another batch into the over dyed one - which I didn't so, I ran with it.

Actually, maybe you should make the ganache frosting first so it has a chance to cool while you're mixing, baking and creme filling:

Procure a bag of white chocolate chunks, they usually come in 12 oz. packets. Put them in a deep bowl. Next, heat up 1.5 cups of soy milk (this is 1;1 chocolate and soy milk if you want to make more or less). Just as the milk starts to boil take it off the heat and pour it over the chocolate. Wait a couple minutes them take the mixer to them. A high sided bowl comes in handy for the first few seconds, because you've got 2 ingredients with very different consistencies and until they start to incorporate, chocolate and milk will fling all over you and your kitchen if you are using a shallow bowl.

Add a bit of red food coloring.

Mix for 5 minutes.

Stick it in the fridge.

While everything cools, make the frosty creme inside:

1/4 cup non-hydrogenated margarine
1/2 cup non-hydrogenated shortening
3/4 cup superfine (or caster) sugar
¼ cup plain soymilk powder (don’t use low-fat, it has a “taste”)
pinch salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (get the highest quality you can, the kind that’s thick and syrupy tastes best)

Make sure everything is room temperature and whip like crazy with a hand or upright mixer for 10 minute.

This is directly lifted from the Isa Chandra Moskowitz fauxtess cupcakes in Vegan with a Vengeance. Another superior book.

In the UK cupcakes are called fairy cakes and why not exploit that for further 3-6 yo. girl appeal?

Now, you get the creme deliciousness into the cupcake. Get out your pasty or icing bag with whatever tip you can still find, fill it and simply stick the tip of the bag into the top center of the cupcake, press it in 1/4 to 1/2 and inch and squeeze in the creme. Squeeze just until you see the cake rise a bit. Squeeze too much and it will burst, but still taste goood.


Time to ice them. I did it by putting the cupcakes face down into the ganache, giving them a twirl and gently lifting them out, repairing any messy spot with a clean finger. Do it anyway that works bet for you.

Now sprinkle very liberally with hot pink colored sugar and pop a white chocolate chip on top. I tried to do a few with little pieces of silver gilding stuff, but they looked messy so I stuck to the chips.

And there you have it.

You can do this over 2 days. They will taste just as good.

music accompaniment: Miss Li.

Monday, March 10, 2008

How to make grilled pizza - the definitive answer.

By Cookbad

I have perfected the grilled pizza technique, and I'm now convinced that unless you have an oven that will go up to 600 degrees, this is the way to do it. The high and dry heat of the grill is the perfect pizza environment.

So here is how I do it:
I cheat and buy my pizza dough at trader joe's, because I'm lazy and it's good dough. In my previous lazy East Coast days I would stop buy whatever pizza shop I was walking by and buy some dough off of them.

Fire up the grill to high and close the cover.

2 doughs looking at the ocean

Get out a rack big enough to put your pizza on.

Slather a some olive oil on your dough and hands then press it out onto a pan, as thinly and evenly as possible. Don't leave the edges that will be the crust thicker. If you end up with a minor hole or two than can't be repaired, it isn't a tragedy.

Go check and see if your grill is really really hot. 500 degrees where you want it. 400 at the lowest.

When the grill is hot, grab a metal spatula and some tongs.

Take the pan that has the dough stretched over it and hold it dough side down. The dough might start to fall to the grill on it's own, or it may need some gentle help with the spatula. This is the hardest part of the whole project and it took me a few times to get it down. If might fall unevenly and if it does, you can either try to reshape with the tongs (don't rip it) or just leave it.
the dough just before shutting the grill

Remove the pan, shut the grill. Count to 30, slowly.

the dough after 30 seconds

Open the grill. If the dough has huge bubbles and it looks like it is browning well, flip it. If you try to flip it and it rips, close the grill and count to 20. If it is lifting well but sticks to the grill, gently take the spatula to the sticking parts.

Once it is flipped, close the grill and count to 30.

It should be done. Take it off the grill and put it right onto the rack-- the most recently cooked side up.

Let the crust cool a bit and turn down your grill to 400.

to chiffonade basil, lie 5 or 6 leaves on top of one another

Then roll it into a cigar shape and thinnly slice.
If you are using sauce, be conservative but sauce all the way to the edges.

Any vegetables should be sauteed, grilled, cooked down so they don't swamp and dampen the dough. Cheese is easy, what you please with it. Same with meats.

Take the rack and pizza, open the grill and using the tongs, grab as far into the center of the pizza and pull it in one swift motion onto the grill.

Close the grill. After 5 minutes, check it. If you have nicely melted and slightly browning cheese, take it off. If not, leave it another 2-3 minutes.

Most likely the bottom will be charred in a few spots when it's done. But is it still completely edible and delicious.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Cilantro, Pistachio, Ancho Chile Rubbed Chicken with Stinking Rose Polenta

By Cookbad

I'm throwing my hat in the ring for this round of The Paper Chef Challenge!

I was very pleased with the outcome of this dish. The final honey glaze is really nice. You could thicken it with pistachio flour or add crushed pistachio for color.

You can make this in under 45 minutes. Halves really well. I am really happy with it

STILL, it greatly pains me to only have terrible photos of this wonderful dish. My camera has gone missing and I had to take these with my laptop. No amount of adjusting in photoshop could improve them.

Cilantro, Pistachio, Ancho Chile Rubbed Chicken with Stinking Rose Polenta
Serves 4

For the chicken lotion:
1 cup roasted salted pistachios
2 cups cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/3 cup olive oil

For the Chicken dry rub:
2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
1.5 tablespoons cumin seeds
1.5 tablespoons corriander seeds

4 organic chicken breast halves with skin and ribs attached

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup honey

For the Polenta:
1/2 clove of garlic rubbed with olive oil

6 cups of low salt chicken stock
1.5 cups course corn meal

Cilantro leaves for garnish
lime slices (optional)
ancho chile powder
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400 f.

Throw the oil rubbed garlic in the oven and roast for 20 minutes.

Put the first 5 ingredents in a food processor and pulse into a paste or chicken lotion.

Toast cumin and corriander in a pan over med-high heat until fragrant (about 90 seconds)
Crush up and add ancho chile powder.

Rinse, pat dry and salt chicken. Stuff lotion under the skin of the chicken then massage both sides with the dry rub mixture.

Heat a cast iron pan over med high heat. Add some olive oil then brown both sides of chicken.

Put in the oven and cook for 20 minutes.

At this point you want to start the polenta.
Add 1.5 cups of stock to 1.5 cups of corn meal. Stir stir stir until the mixture boils. Reduce to a simmer and stir often. When garlic is roasted, squeeze each clove into the polenta. Keep stirring. It should be finished in about 25-30 minutes.

After the chicken has been cooking for 20 minutes remove from oven and rub the rest of the lotion over the chicken.

Cook for 5 more minutes. Remove from oven.

Remove chicken from pan. Scrape bits of the bottom of the pan, add honey and whisky until smoothish.

When serving, put a pinch of ancho chile pepper on the polenta and serve with a couple of lime slices if you so desire.

UPDATE!! I won!
So, I'll be hosting next months challenge!

Sunday, March 02, 2008


Homemade hooch. About 5% alcohol.

By Cookbad

Tepache is a slightly boozy drink made from mashed up pineapple, skin and all that is left to ferment for 5 days and according to Wikipedia, Tepache is commonly made by inmates in Mexican prison.

This is my first foray into Mexican Prison cuisine, so I'm excited.

This is how I made mine, which is based on Diana Kennedy's version:

Tepache 1 very ripe pineapple (about a 2 pounder) a handful of cinnamon bark, crushed up about 2 inches of ginger, sliced to coins then slightly crushed 10 cups of cold water 1 cup sucanat or brown sugar 1 can of light beer Chop up and then crush up the pineapple into a container large enough to hold all the ingredients. Cover with 8 cups of water. Add cinnamon and ginger. Cover and set in a warm place for 3 days. On the 3rd or 4th day put 1.5 cups of water and the sugar into a saucepan and bring to a simmer until sugar is melted. Let this cool off then add to the fermented pineapple along with the beer. Stir, cover and leave for another day or 2. Strain, strain again and then finally, stain thru cheese cloth. Serve very cold.

You could make it just with the rinds of the pineapple. A nice thing to know if you hate to waste any part of whatever you are preparing.

With all my booze projects I like to take a picture of the lucky person who first gets to taste whatever I have left to ferment. This time the picture as pretty tame, as the tepache was, surprisingly not bad at all.

"It tastes like I'm drinking something I shouldn't" was his first reaction, but he went of to finish the mug.

I have to admit that we tried it only after the beer ran out, and we were slightly past the point of being able to go get more, so we were really wanting to like it.

We didn't drink that much of it, so I cannot report on hangover severity.

UPDATE: I drank all of it over a 4 hour period of time. Adding fresh lime juice made it taste really good. Adding rum to it makes it taste good and will get you drunk. Very mild if any hangover.