Friday, May 22, 2009

Homemade Potato Chips

These are not meant to look or taste like Lays. They are not thin, they are not fried, they are not meant to be eaten twenty at a time. They are quite substantial. You need to serve them with a dip that is worthy or by themselves.

Good Olive Oil
1 potato for every two people
Kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spread each baking sheet with 1 Tbsp olive oil each. (It will take about one baking sheet for every two potatoes.) Put the sheets into the oven for ten minutes to heat.

Slice the potatoes on the narrow side, lengthwise about 1/16 inch thick. Place slices on the hot baking sheets with no overlapping. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake the chips for 10 minutes. rotate the pan and bake for another ten minutes. Flip each chip and bake for another 5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove chips to a paper towel to cool. Repeat until all slices are done.

You can eat them right away which is best or store them in a ziplock bag after COMPLETELY cool.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

GOOD Pizza Crust

I must emphasize that this is good pizza crust according to the way I like pizza crust. You might feel EXACTLY the opposite as I do. I like CPK. I like New York style. I like Z Pizza. I do not like heavy or thick dough (with the exception of the dough made by Andrea Carter which is dripping in butter and made in a cast iron skillet.) I think that I was scarred for years from homemade pizza dough that was heavy and thick. I was convinced that no good could from a homemade dough. No matter how much the "maker" of it would try to convince me, I always politely ate as little as possible and wondered if it was just me. There is something about having the right equipment as well. The right pan. The right oven. The right ingredients.

1 1/4 cups warm water (100-110 degrees)
2 packages dry yeast
1 Tbsp honey
3 Tbsp olive oil (the good stuff)
4 cups flour
2 tsp kosher salt

Combine the water, yeast, and honey in the bowl of an electric mixer. Let bubble. (This shows that the yeast is good. No bubbles = bad yeast. Throw out and start over.) Add the olive oil, 3 cups of flour, and the salt. Mix with the dough hook. While mixing, add the last cup of flour. Knead on low speed for about 10 minutes until smooth. Sprinkle it with flour if it sticks to the bowl. When ready, turn it out on a floured surface. Knead by hand until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a well oiled bowl and turn until covered in oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise about 30 minutes at room temperature.

Divide the dough into six equal parts and roll each one into a smooth ball. Place the balls on a baking sheet and cover them with a damp towel. Allow the dough to rest about 10 minutes. Use immediately or chill for up to four hours.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. The dough should be room temperature when you work with it. Roll and stretch each ball to about an 8 inch circle. Place on baking sheets.

Top with desired toppings. Take about a teaspoon of Italian Seasoning and grind it in the palm of your hand. Sprinkle on the top of the pizza toppings. Bake for 15 minutes or until the crust is crisp and the toppings are ready.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Pastel de Choclo

One day, when I was the PTO Hospitality Chair, I came up with this crazy idea to have an International Feast. The issue was, whenever you try to be truly international, you end up with a lot of European and Mexican dishes. That is not a real problem, because it is all quite yummy. But I wanted equal representation from all cultures and continents, and not just cliches. I literally spent hours and days and weeks on the Internet until I felt I had a balance of yummy food from multiple countries. This was my find from Chile. It is kind of like a South American version of Shepard's Pie. Instead of mashed potatoes, there is a light cornmeal topping. It was a hit and many people wanted the recipe.

The meat filling for this recipe is called pino and is also used to fill the famous Chilean empanadas.

(Chilean ground beef casserole with corn batter topping)

Yield: 4-6 servings





2-3 T


chopped fine

1 each



2-3 cloves

Ground beef

1 lb


1 T

Cumin seed

1 t


1 t

Water or stock

1 cup


1 T

Corn, fresh or frozen

1 lb


1/4 cup


1-2 T


as needed


1 T

Salt & pepper

to taste


1 T


2-3 T


Basic Steps: Sauté → Simmer → Puree → Thicken → Bake

  1. Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium flame. Sauté onions till translucent. Add the garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes more. Add the ground beef, paprika, cumin, oregano and salt and pepper and sauté till beef is just cooked through.
  2. Pour in the water or stock and bring to a simmer. Sprinkle flour over all and stir in well. Simmer for another 5-8 minutes till thickened. Adjust seasoning. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Place the corn, cornmeal, cornstarch and sugar in a food processor and process till well pureed. With the blade running, add milk a little at a time till the corn forms a thick batter. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Preheat oven to 375º. Melt the butter over medium-low heat in a large saucepan. Add the corn puree and cook, stirring constantly, until well thickened, about 5-8 minutes.
  5. Spread the beef mixture in a greased casserole dish. Top with the corn puree and spread out evenly. Sprinkle the sugar over the top and bake for 30-40 minutes till bubbling and golden brown on top.

Pão de Queijo

I first had these at a Brazilian BBQ place called Picanha. Along with the gluttonous portions of meat, meat, meat ... these were served. They have a glorious texture and a saltiness from the parmesan cheese. I have worked to get them right. No small feat. At first, the starch overpowered the cheese. I think I finally have something worth serving to others.

Like many Brazilian foods, Pão de Queijo from scratch is tricky to prepare. It is difficult to make the balls rise as much as the prepared mix. Also, the rolls can harden very easily if left overnight.

The secret is to use mashed potatoes in the dough.


2 lb of manioc starch (polvilho). You can use either sweet or sour manioc starch. Some people complain that sour manioc starch causes heartburn, however sour manioc starch makes the rolls rise more. It is your choice.

1lb of mashed potatoes (just cooked potatoes, mashed with no salt or oil).

2 tablespoon margarine

1/2 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

1 teaspoon salt

3 1/2 oz grated parmesan cheese

2 cups (500ml) milk


Preheat oven to 350° F

The mashed potato should be cool before using.

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except the milk. Then add the milk slowly while you mix until you get a soft dough.

Place 1 inch balls spaced in a unbuttered cookie sheet and bake at moderate oven (350 F) for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes about 50 rolls.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Roy's Edamame Recipe

We love this stuff. I serve it just with salt and all four girls will heat it hot, room temperature, or cold. I just need to keep it in the fridge. They will gobble whatever I put out so I need to keep more on hand. So much healthier than chips. Trader Joe's has them already cooked and I usually toss them with a little more salt. But the Roy's recipe is awesome. Spicy hot, but not too hot. Just enough that you want to drink it with some ice water. And what could be healthier than edamame and ice water?

This recipe is from the official Roy's website and this is the introductory paragraph.

It was as a young boy growing up in Japan that Roy began to love edamame. The Yamaguchi family embraced the Japanese custom of offering edamame at the beginning of each meal, and always kept some ready in the refrigerator as a healthy snack for the kids. To this day, Roy still regularly prepares and eats it as often as he can, and explains, "Edamame is a great way to start a meal so you don’t get filled up on bread."


Roy’s Edamame Seasoning
8 oz. kosher salt
4 oz. shichimi (Japanese red pepper seasoning)
1 oz. granulated sugar

1/2 lb. edamame beans, in pods
1 tbsp. of Roy’s Edamame Seasoning


Boil 7 cups of water in a large pan. Wash edamame bean pods well. Add edamame to boiling water and let boil for 5–10 minutes. Drain the edamame and sprinkle well-blended Roy’s Edamame Seasoning over them. You can serve edamame warm or cool.

If you don’t have the ingredients to make Roy’s Edamame Seasoning at home, sprinkle edamame with regular, kosher, or sea salt—whatever you happen to have.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Frushi is fruit sushi. It is a bonafide breakfast dessert but it is welcome any time of the day.
You can dip it in yogurt, a fruit sauce, or eat it plain. You can roll it or shape it. You are only limited by your own imagination as to what types of fruit you want to use. Here is the basic recipe for the rice.Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups water
1 cup uncooked sushi rice or other short-grain rice
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light coconut milk
Dash of salt


Bring water and rice to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until water is almost absorbed. Remove from heat; let stand, covered, 15 minutes.

Place rice in a large bowl. Add sugar, coconut milk, and salt, stirring gently until well combined. Cover and let stand 20 minutes.

Lightly coat hands with cooking spray. Divide rice mixture into 20 equal portions, shaping each into a ball (about 1 rounded tablespoon each). Lightly press each rice ball into an oval between palms; place ovals on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Top each oval with fruit. To make a roll, place the rice on wax paper in a rectangle of about 7 inches by 5 inches. Add the fruit filling across the length, roll up and slice. Cover and chill frushi until ready to serve.

Ina's Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Before you start gathering the ingredients, you can buy this mix.But if you want to do any tweaking, here is the recipe. I love this stuff. Once a year. More than that would be a little much. But I do love the concept of brunch. I just do not have a brunch lifestyle. If I ever get a brunch lifestyle, I would eat this more often.

Streusel Topping:
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp kosher salt
3 Tbsp butter
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Place all ingredients in a bowl and pinch together until mixed and crumbly. Set aside.

1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup sour cream
2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan. Cream the butter and the sugar, until light. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla and sour cream. Add pre-sifted flour b. powder, b. soda and salt. Mix until just combined. Final mix with a spatula to make sure well combined.

Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread with a knife. Sprinkle with 3/4 cups of streusel topping. Spoon the rest of the batter in the pan, spread it out and scatter the remaining topping on top. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Transfer to a cake platter, streusel side up.

1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp REAL maple syrup

Whisk together (add a few drops of water, if not runny.) Drizzle over cake with a fork.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Classic Gougeres

We had these at the French Laundry. A perfect little something to pop in your mouth a savory puff. Light and airy and rich. Just enough to let you know that yummy things are on the horizon. Lucky me: I found a recipe.1 cup water
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour
4 large eggs
1 cup grated cheese (Gruyere is recommended)
1/4 tsp ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Bring the water, butter and salt to a simmer in a heavy, medium sauce pan until butter melts. Add flour. Stir rapidly with a wooden spoon until flour absorbs and forms a ball. Stir until dough is no longer sticky. Cool dough 2-3 minutes. In a mixing bowl, add dough and mix. Add one egg at a time. Stir in cheese and pepper.

Drop rounded teaspoons of dough onto baking sheet, spacing about three inches apart. Using damp fingertips shape dough.

Bake gougeres until golden brown, about 30 minutes, rotating sheets about halfway through. Using a sharp knife, check one puff to be sure the center is done. It should be moist, but not gooey. Serve hot or warm.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Chocolate Dipped Frozen Banana Bites

I love chocolate. I love bananas. I have one issue with the chocolate dipped frozen bananas: they tend to be too big for me. I just want a taste. The beauty of these bites is that they are ... well, just a bite. Which also means we increase the chocolate to banana ratio: always a good thing. You can also control how frozen you want them: solid or just chilled. ( They last longer if you freeze them.)

Then there are the toppings. I like salted nuts. It reminds me of a good ice cream sundae. But I have a definite thing for Butterfingers and Butterfingers smashed up on a frozen banana is very good. Still crunchy and salty and gooey and creamy and sweet and cold.

Then there is the issue with what is considered a ripe banana. According to both Martha and Ina, it should be yellow with a few brown spots. My mother-in-law calls that a rotten banana and prefers them green. I call that under ripe. Rotten is when it is gooey and ready for banana bread. My concept of a good ripe banana is the same as Martha and Ina. I think I am in good company. But to each his/her own.

2 cups bittersweet chocolate
3 Tablespoons canola oil
3 ripe bananas

crushed oreos, toffee bits, chopped Butterfingers, chopped salted peanuts, toasted coconut

Stir chocolate and oil in heavy saucepan over low heat just until smooth. Let stand 15 minutes to cool.

Place each topping in a separate shallow bowl. Lina baking sheet with foil. Dip one banana slice at a time in chocolate, shake off excess. Drop dipped banana in topping. Sprinkle more topping over to coat. Transfer to foil lined sheet. Repeat with remaining bananas.

Freeze until firm, about 3 hours, Serve.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Tanin Don (Stranger Rice)

Imagine that you were a foreigner and came to America and tasted a peanut butter sandwich and loved it. You could not speak the language so you did not know what it was. For the remainder of your days you seek it out. American restaurants both at home and back in America don't feature it on the menu. What was that? Where can I find it? Is it possible to eat something so comforting and common and then never find it again?

I ate the most sublime Japanese comfort food. I have spent years trying to figure out what it was even called. I knew it had the name "don" in it and that it was some sort of grilled onion and meat and egg combo served over rice. Every Japanese restaurant I have been to in the last 15 years, has been the source of hope and then disappointment when I could not find it.

I found it in a Japanese cookbook that I checked out of the library: Tanin Don. Now that I have it, I will probably find it on every menu out there.


1/2 cup Dashi stock
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp mirin

Combine Ingredients, bring to a boil. Serves 1. (Multiply for more servings.)

2 0z thin sliced pork loin
1/4 onion
1 egg
Sauce (see above)
1 serving rice

Cut onion thinly. Mix sauce ingredients and bring to a boil. Add pork and onions. Simmer. When pork is cooked and onions softened, pour beaten egg over evenly. Cover with lid and cook over low heat until half done. Place all, including liquid, over hot, steaming rice.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Pastry Cream (for eclairs)

This is the cream for the inside of the Eclairs. It is basically a thick vanilla pudding.

1/4 cup cornstarch
2 cups milk
4 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp unsalted butter

In a medium bowl, whisk the cornstarch into 1/2 cup of the milk. Let rest for 1 minute, then whisk again. Whisk in the egg yolks.

In a medium saucepan, stir together the rest of the milk, sugar, and vanilla. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. While constantly whisking, drizzle in the eggs mixture. Stir constantly until tiny bubbles boil up for ten seconds. Mix in the butter. Remove from heat. Strain, if necessary. Pour into a heat resistant bowl and cover the surface directly. Cool and store in fridge until ready to use.

For coconut pudding, use coconut milk in place of regular milk.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puff Dough

Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé

(makes 20-24 Éclairs)

½ cup whole milk

½ cup water

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

¼ teaspoon sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

5 large eggs, at room temperature

In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to a boil.

Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all of the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium and start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together very quickly. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan, it’s supposed to.

You need to continue to stir for another 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the dough will be very soft and smooth.

Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using your

hand mixer or if you still have the energy, continue by hand. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough. You will notice that after you have added the first egg, the dough will separate, once again do not worry. As you keep working the dough, it will come back together again by the time you have added the third egg. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted it should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.

The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be piped out onto a parchment lined sheet pan.

You can pipe any size eclairs but try to make them all uniform in size so they bake evenly. I like to make them about 3" - 4" in length and 3/4" - 1" in diameter.

Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately.

When ready to bake put them in a preheated 375 degrees and cook for 15 minutes. Start checking every couple minutes until they are nicely browned and puffed and almost hollow on the inside. Remove them from the oven and let them cool before filling.