Olive Oil Cake with Orange and Pine Nuts

olive-oil-cakeYou know how you learn a new word and all of a sudden you hear it everywhere? Well sometimes that happens with recipes. Lately I have seen LOTS of recipes for olive oil cakes and I thought that was a sign that I should try making one. I read a recipe by Mario Batali and one by Michael Chiarello which seemed interesting, but the one that really got to me was on one of my favorite food sites – Food52. I tried it yesterday and for a first try it produced an incredibly moist cake that was not overly sweet, but had complex flavors of bitter and sweet orange, toasted pine nuts and wine-soaked raisins. I happen to love candied orange peel, especially if it is coated in very dark chocolate. While this recipe calls for fresh oranges – both the fruit and the peel – it may be a bit much for someone who does not enjoy the sweet/bitter notes of that part of the fruit. DO NOT wash your oranges – it will make them more bitter. If you must, wipe the skin with a slightly damp cloth. This goes for any citrus fruit you cook with. The recipe also called for fresh rosemary, which while very pretty did not seem to add any real flavor in my opinion. In the coming weeks I will try this recipe again with some changes that I want to try. In the meantime, I think this version is still worth making.

It calls for Paneangeli, which is an Italian leavening that has vanilla built in. Since I have another recipe that calls for it as well, I was willing to order it through Amazon if you are not fortunate enough to have an Italian grocery store nearby. It can be used any time you have a recipe that calls for a mix of both baking soda and baking powder. Italians swear by it. The original measurements must have been in metric which would account for the strange amounts. This cake will last for days without drying out and even by day 2 the flavors have melded and intensified. It is definitely worth indulging in this with your favorite dessert wine, which in our case is a Ferrari Carano Eldorado Gold. Vin Santo, the Italian dessert wine, is of course, the classic wine to serve. If you are not a fan of dessert wine (Then you haven’t tasted the right one yet!) coffee or tea will do.

NOTE: I have been passing by the cake and taking bits as I go by. This cake is seriously delicious!

Olive Oil Cake with Orange and Pine Nuts by Food 52 and slightly tweaked by me

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Yield: One 10-inch cake that serves 10 to 12

Ingredients img_2362

1/2 cup very moist raisins

1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons vin santo or other sweet dessert wine

1/3 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted in a dry pan saute pan until fragrant

1.5 medium navel oranges, unpeeled and cut into small dice

2 large eggs

1 packet of Paneangeli OR 1 teaspoon baking soda plus 1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 cup of granulated sugar plus 2 Tablespoons

Generous pinch of salt

1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon EVOO (a good fruity olive oil but not a super-fancy drizzling oil)

1.75 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Rosemary tufts from 2 long fresh rosemary sprigs

 1/4 cup granulated sugar

Directions 

  1. Bring the raisins and dessert wine to a simmer in a small saucepan over high heat. Turn it off, cover and set aside for at least 30 minutes but up to overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Just before pouring the batter in, generously coat a 10-inch angel food (or straight-sided bundt pan) generously with a non-stick cooking spray that contains flour.
  3. Put the eggs, Paneangeli and 3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons of the sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer with the whisk attachment. Mix on medium-high speed for 4 minutes, at which point the mixture will be light and thickened.
  4. Gradually add the EVOO in a slow steady stream that you pour down the side of the bowl. Mix until the EVOO is incorporated.
  5. Reduce the speed of the mixer to low and add the flour and salt, alternating with the raisins and dessert wine in 3 batches, scraping down the bowl each time. Only mix enough to incorporate the flour and distribute the raisins.
  6. Turn off the mixer and using a rubber spatula, mix through the oranges. img_2365Set the batter aside for 10 minutes. This allows the leavening to start taking effect and will make it easier to get the batter out of the bowl.
  7. Scrape the batter into the generously sprayed pan. Scatter the pine nuts evenly over the top. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar over the top and distribute the rosemary, gently pushing the tufts lightly into the batter.
  8. Bake the cake for 10 minutes. Turn the temperature down to 325 degrees F. and bake the cake for another 35 to 38 minutes, turning twice for even browning.  It’s ready when the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into it comes out clean. Allow it to totally cool in the pan on a rack.
  9. Once cool, turn the cake out onto a plate or board and immediately flip the cake over onto a cake plate. You will lose some of the sugar, pine nuts and rosemary. It’s OKAY! The original recipe said to dust with confectioner’s sugar, but I think it is totally unnecessary. Cut with a very sharp knife. Because of the bumpiness of the orange pieces, the cut may not be perfect, but when you and your guests taste it, no one will care. img_2371

 

 

Beef Stew

img_2350My sister has been after me to make my beef stew and since the weather has turned autumnal, I’m happy to comply. I’ve made Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon and frankly, I like this better and it is much less fuss. There is also a lot of built-in flexibility with my version. I happen to like really big chunks of meat and LOTS of vegetables. Sometimes I actually run out of room in my cocotte and I have to leave out the mushrooms. It still is wonderful. I always use wine in my stew but you could use only beef stock and it would still be delicious. The one thing I am adamant about, however, is that the meat you use should be a well-marbled chuck roast. This is cooked “low and slow” and something that is leaner will end up like shoe leather. I buy my chuck roast whole and trim and cut it myself. It really only takes about 15 minutes to cut up yourself and is well-worth the time. Other than peeling the potatoes, there isn’t that much active time with this dish, so take the time and cut the meat yourself. This way you can have lovely large, meaty, moist chunks of beef and who wouldn’t want that?! I have made this in a slow cooker but prefer the results when I make it in the oven. This dish can – and should – be made ahead. The flavors only improve with age and reheating. Purely for aesthetics, I would, therefore, only add my peas just before serving when I am heating the stew through or I add them straight from the freezer into the hot stew after I have turned off the heat when I know that I will be only reheating this once. You can of course, make this and eat it in the same day. It just is even better when made a day in advance.

Lisa’s Beef Stew

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

4.25 pounds of untrimmed chuck roast (This will yield about 3.75 pounds trimmed)

2 Tablespoons EVOO

Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste (don’t be too stingy)

2 cups beef stock

2 cups red wine (Use what you will be drinking – a cabernet or malbec or zinfandel)

28 ounces canned tomatoes, preferably fire roasted

5 Tablespoons Minute Tapioca

1 Tablespoon dried thyme

2 bay leaves

2 teaspoons sugar (brown or white)

1 pound baby carrots

1.5 pounds small red or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled but left whole

10 ounces pearl onions (Use frozen – it is NOT worth the effort to peel fresh ones. Trust me, I’ve done it!)

10 ounces frozen peas (If you prefer, you could use green beans, cut into thirds, but I always use peas…)

8 ounces of brown mushrooms like a Cremini or Baby Bellas, halved or quartered (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Trim the roast and cut into large chunks (2 x 2 inches)img_2344img_2345
  3. Toss the meat with salt and pepper
  4. Brown on all sides in a heavy Dutch Oven or Cocotte in the heated EVOO. I did this in two batches. When your last batch has browned, add back all of the meat along with the bay leaves and canned tomatoes.
  5. Sprinkle the Tapioca, sugar and thyme over the meat and mix through. Add the wine and beef stock. Bring to a boil, cover and place in the oven. Cook for 1.5 hours.
  6. After 1.5 hours, add in the carrots, onions and potatoes and gently stir through. Re-cover the pot and place it back in the oven for another hour. If you are using the mushrooms, add them now and cook for another 30 minutes. Otherwise just cook the stew for the additional 30 minutes for a total of 3 hours. Turn off the heat and add in the frozen peas, gently mixing through. Allow the stew to cool, covered. I don’t bother refrigerating it if I am using it the next day but feel free. When you are ready to eat the stew, place it in a 300 degree oven for about 30 – 45 minutes until heated through. Adjust your seasonings if necessary.

Note: Because you are using the Minute Tapioca, there is no need to thicken the sauce or to add a roux. I told you this was easy! Serve this with a crusty bread and a green salad.

Ground Lamb with Potatoes and Yogurt Relish

img_2326It doesn’t take much to put me in the mood for Indian food. These recipes come from At Home with Madhur Jaffrey, which Frances and Matthew sent me as a gift this past year. I like that the recipes are accessible to the home cook and yet filled with wonderful flavor. Madhur Jaffrey serves this dish with a moong dal, which I have blogged about in an earlier post. She calls this her family’s soul food. It isn’t the most visually spectacular dish, but the fragrance and flavors make it well-worth the effort. Somewhat amazingly – even to me – I only needed to buy yogurt and fresh spinach to make these three dishes.

Ground Lamb with Potatoes by Madhur Jaffrey and tweaked by me

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

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Ingredients

3 Tablespoons canola oil or EVOO

Two 3-inch cinnamon sticks

1 medium onion finely chopped and 1 shallot

1 teaspoon finely grated, peeled fresh ginger

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 pounds ground lamb

3 Tablespoons plain yogurt (I used 2% Greek yogurt)

3 Tablespoons tomato puree plus 1 teaspoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

1.75 teaspoons Kosher salt

3-4 medium boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch cubes (I used Yukon Gold)

Directions

  1. Pour the oil into a large, heavy frying pan (I like cast iron) and set over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the cinnamon sticks and allow them to sizzle for 10 seconds.
  2. Add the onions and stir fry until they begin to brown at the edges. Then add the ginger and garlic and stir for one more minute.
  3. Add the lamb, stirring to break up any clumps and cook until all redness disappears.
  4. Add the yogurt, tomato puree, cumin, coriander, cayenne and turmeric and stir for one minute.
  5. Add the salt, potatoes and 1.25 cups of water. (This amount of water was cut from the original 2 cups and still yielded more liquid than I felt was necessary.) Stir and bring to a boil. Cover the pan, turn the heat to low and cook gently for 30 minutes.

Yogurt Relish with Spinach

Yield: 4 servingsyogurt-relish

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons canola oil or EVOO

1/4 teaspoon whole brown or yellow mustard seeds

1/2 clove garlic, sliced thinly

5 ounces baby spinach leaves (If you are not using baby spinach, you will  need to remove the stems.)

Kosher salt to taste

1 cup plain yogurt (I used 2% Greek yogurt)

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste

Directions

  1. Pour the oil into a small frying pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, add the mustard seeds and as soon as they start to pop (a matter of seconds), add the garlic. Cook, stirring for a few seconds.
  2. Add the spinach and stir for about 5 minutes or until the spinach is cooked through. Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt and mix it through. After the spinach has cooled, I coarsely chopped it.
  3. Put the yogurt into a bowl and whisk lightly with a fork until creamy. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and the cayenne, stirring to mix.
  4. Just before eating, fold the entire contents of the frying pan into the yogurt.

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Pumpkin Bundt with Cinnamon Streusel

img_2311So I read somewhere that there is a world-wide shortage of canned pumpkin this year. Now while I was not one to panic when there was all this craziness in 1999 with the coming of the new millennium about how we needed to stock up on bottled water, candles and toilet paper (in part because I knew my sister had stocked up) I did have a moment of panic about a lack of canned pumpkin. I will do many things by hand, taking the extra steps, but I have never been one to prepare my own pumpkin purée and I am not about to start. And I find it difficult to imagine the fall and winter without my pumpkin pie, especially since it is a favorite of my godchildren’s. The logical thing to do would be to see this as an opportunity to look for wonderful new recipes that don’t require pumpkin, but oh no – I suddenly had this craving – this actual physical need – for everything pumpkin-related. I started scouring my local grocery stores for canned pumpkin – preferably organic – and can now say unequivocally that I have enough canned pumpkin purée to last me through several winters. Therefore, when I came across this recipe for a pumpkin bundt cake, I decided it was safe to give it a try. It has a cinnamon streusel running throughout and an optional salted caramel sauce. I have included a version of a salted caramel sauce that I have made in the past for an apple pie. The sauce that came with the original recipe did not measure up, which is why there are no photos of it here with the cake. After throwing out the sauce, I simply used powdered sugar.   I made a few minor tweaks to the original recipe and the result is a lovely, fragrant, moist cake – not amazing, but very nice with coffee or milk. I am still on my quest for a true pumpkin experience.

Pumpkin Bundt with Cinnamon Streusel and Salted Caramel Sauce by Kelli Foster of kitchn

Yield: 1 large Bundt cake serving 10-12

Ingredients

For the cinnamon streusel:
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

For the cake:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons unsulphured molasses

For the salted caramel sauce:
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup heavy cream
3.5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Directions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Generously butter and flour the sides and tube of a 12-cup Bundt pan or coat with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. Make the cinnamon streusel: Mix the sugar, chopped walnuts and cinnamon together in a small bowl; set aside.
  3. Make the cake: Whisk together the flour, spices, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
  4. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (Alternatively, use a large bowl and hand mixer.) Beat on medium-high speed until fluffy and lightened in color, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. Beat in the pumpkin purée, molasses and vanilla extract, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Don’t worry if it looks almost a bit curdled. Once you add the dry ingredients all will be well.
  5. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and beat lightly, just until the flour is no longer visible.
  6. Transfer half of the batter to the prepared Bundt pan and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle the cinnamon streusel over the batter in an even layer. Top with the remaining batter.
  7. Bake until the cake springs back to a gentle touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 85 minutes. Ovens vary so see how things are going after 1 hour. Cool for 15 minutes in the pan on a wire rack. Flip the cake out onto the rack and cool completely. While the cake cools, prepare the salted caramel sauce. Alternatively, you could just sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

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Make the caramel: In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar and water over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and bring to a boil, without stirring. If necessary, use a wet pastry brush to wash down any sugar crystals on the side of the pan. Boil until the syrup is a deep amber color – about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the sugar from the heat and carefully whisk in the heavy cream. The mixture will bubble. Stir in the unsalted butter and salt. Transfer the caramel to a glass bowl or jar and allow it to cool.  The sauce will thicken as it cools. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve with the cake. Leftover sauce holds up well in the fridge and is wonderful on everything apple or on ice cream.

Fettuccine with Mushrooms and Spinach

img_2304Whenever I do not know what I feel like cooking, I look to pasta for inspiration. I came up with this one on Sunday and I hope that my cousin David will like it. The sauce turned out better than even I expected. It calls for half & half and a little butter – get over it, people! It won’t kill you and it is sooooooooooooooo satisfying.  And yes, you should pair it with a good red wine, a crusty bread so you don’t miss a drop of sauce and a salad if you are feeling ambitious. I like a sharp pecorino grated on top but parmesan would also be great. Pecorino is pretty salty so adjust your salt accordingly if using. And the best part is that you don’t have to be too crazy about measuring. Below is a guide, but feel free to eyeball your ingredients based on personal preference.

Fettuccine with Mushrooms and Spinach

Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

1 pound of Fettuccine (preferably rigate)

2 Tablespoons EVOO

1/2 to 3/4 pound of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into large dice and generously sprinkled with Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper (The thighs have more flavor than chicken breasts and also don’t dry out as easily.)

1 yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced

5 cloves of garlic, crushed and minced

Lots of fresh thyme (preferably lemon thyme if you can get it)

2 T unsalted butter

1/2 cup red wine (use what you will be drinking or if you have some left-over that is still good for cooking but no longer at its best for drinking)

12 ounces mushrooms, sliced (I like cremini or baby bello)

1 generous cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

10 ounces of baby spinach (It really cooks down so this is NOT too much). If you use regular spinach, you will need to remove the hard stems.

1 cup half & half

red pepper flakes to taste

Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, heat the EVOO and add the onion and diced chicken. Do not move the chicken around too much because you are trying to get a nice brown on it. Once the chicken has browned, remove it to a bowl and set aside. It should be easy to pick the chicken from the onions.
  2. Add the garlic to the pan and saute until the garlic just begins to brown. Add the red wine and mushrooms and cook on a medium high heat until the wine becomes syrupy and reduces by half.
  3. Add in the butter, thyme (at least 1 Tablespoon), chicken and the grape tomatoes. If you are making the sauce ahead, stir through and turn off the heat and cover until you are ready to cook the pasta.
  4. Cook your pasta according to package, but 3 minutes before it is finished (so if it cooks for 8 minutes then 5 minutes in) throw your spinach into the pot with the pasta and give it a stir. Finish cooking.
  5. Drain the pasta and spinach together and immediately add to the sauce. If your pan isn’t big enough, then add the sauce to the pasta which has been returned to its cooking pot. Immediately add the cream and hot pepper flakes, if using and cook on high heat for about a minute, mixing everything through. Plate and add freshly grated cheese.

Note: If you Really don’t want to use cream, add 1/2 cup of chicken stock and 1/2 cup of pasta water at the end before draining the pasta. It will give a creamy-ish sauce and will also taste delicious. But if you can, definitely use the cream.

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    Tarte Aux Pommes – Apple Tart

    img_2298I have been making this tart for over 25 years and it is always wonderful. Unfortunately, this is one of those hand-written recipes that I have and where it never occurred to me to write down its origins. I’m certain that I have made some changes over the years since I have scratched out amounts and made additions in the margins. It’s not particularly difficult to make and it gives a lovely presentation. It does not replace my mother’s apple pie recipe; however, I have never been able to duplicate that to my satisfaction. I periodically try, but there is something about the apples I have available – or perhaps it is simply that reality cannot live up to my memories and I have never tasted another apple pie that compares.

    The French Apple Tart is lighter than an American apple pie and is delicious in its own right. I traditionally made this with a rich tart pastry dough that had egg and butter in it, but nowadays I make it with a basic Crisco crust, which is vegan. If you have no issue with eggs or butter, go for the richer crust. Otherwise, it will still be delicious with a vegan crust.

    Tarte Aux Pommes

    Yield: One 9-inch tart

    Ingredients

    Pastry for one 9-inch tart

    5 large, unblemished Golden Delicious or similar baking apple like a Jonagold (do NOT use a Granny Smith. You want a sweeter, more tender apple.)

    2 Tablespoons butter or vegan buttery sticks

    Zest of 1 large lemon

    Generous 1/4 cup of granulated or raw sugar plus about 2 Tablespoons of sugar mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

    Generous 1 Tablespoon of Calvados, Rum or Apple Jack

    1/4 cup of apricot or apple jelly, melted

    Directions

    1. Roll out your pastry dough into a 9-inch fluted flan pan with a removable bottom and refrigerate for at least 1 hour
    2. Core and peel 2 of the apples and cut them into thin slices. Heat 1 Tablespoon of the butter in a 10-inch skillet and add the apple slices. Sprinkle with the lemon zest and 1/4 cup of sugar. Cook, gently tossing for about 10 minutes or until the apples are tender but not mushy. Turn off the heat and add the Calvados, Rum or Apple Jack.
    3. Mash the apples lightly and chill. (Use a potato masher or fork.) This can be made up to one day ahead.
    4. When you are ready to bake the tart, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
    5. Remove the pastry-lined pan from the fridge and fill it with the mashed apple mixture, spreading it thinly and evenly.
    6. Core, peel and thinly slice the remaining apples and lay them over the mashed apple mixture in concentric circles to form an attractive pattern. Slightly overlap the apples since there will be some shrinkage when it bakes.
    7. Sprinkle generously with the sugar cinnamon mixture and dot with the remaining butter. Place the tart on a baking sheet to catch any leaks, although generally there aren’t any.
    8. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the apples are tender and the pastry is browned. The apples will continue to cook even when this is removed from the oven, so do not over-bake. You will learn to smell when pastries are done, but also use the pastry itself as your guide.
    9. Remove the tart to a cooling rack and when cooled so that the apples have sunk into place, melt your jelly. Using a pastry brush, carefully brush each apple slice so that it shines like a jewel. Be careful to not disturb the pattern. Allow to cool completely before serving.

     

    Bucatini with Butter-Roasted Tomato Sauce

    img_2288OMG! I came across this recipe by accident, printed it out and then did nothing with it for months! What a fool I was. This is one of those recipes that doesn’t look like much, but is actually amazing – and it is made with entirely shelf-stable foods – well except for the butter, but I actually consider that shelf stable since it lasts for a long time and I always have it on hand. Don’t get me wrong – olive oil is wonderful and I used it even when years ago they told us it wasn’t good for you, but sometimes butter really is better. The finished product looks deceptively unassuming, but the taste – oh the taste! This is a keeper if for no other reason than your house will smell incredible. The actual sauce can be made up to 4 days ahead.

    Bucatini with Butter-Roasted Tomato Sauce by Dawn Perry Bon Appetit

    Yield: 4 servings

    Ingredients

    28 ounces of whole canned tomatoes (use San Marzano please)

    8 to 10 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

    3 anchovy fillets packed in olive oil (I promise that you won’t see them in the finished product)

    1/4 cup (1/2 stick) of unsalted butter cut into 8 pieces

    1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (we found 1/2 teaspoon was a bit spicy for us, but we are not particularly into heat)

    Kosher salt and freshly ground cracked black pepper

    12 ounces bucatini (if you absolutely can’t find bucatini, use spaghetti)

    Grated Parmesan, Pecorino or Asiago for serving

    Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a large rectangular baking dish, combine the tomatoes (crushing lightly with your hands), garlic, anchovies, butter and red pepper flakes. Season with a little (about 1/2 teaspoon) of salt and several good cracks of black pepper.
    2. Roast, tossing once halfway through, for about an hour to 1 hour. Using a fork or potato masher, break up the tomatoes and garlic. The consistency should be like loose jam. I cooked my sauce in the morning up to this point, covered it and went out for the day.
    3. 30 minutes before you are ready to eat, warm the sauce, covered in a 350 degree F oven. Meanwhile boil the water for the pasta and cook according to directions.
    4. Just before you pour out the pasta to drain, take 1/2 cup of the starchy water and add it to the tomato mixture, stirring it through.
    5. Drain your pasta and add it to the tomato mixture, mixing it through to coat everything with the sauce. It’s a powerful sauce filled with flavor so don’t get hung up on the fact that it doesn’t look impressive. Serve it topped with cheese and fresh chopped parsley or basil if you want some color.

    Note: This sauce would make a wonderful pizza sauce; simply don’t add the pasta water.