Rosemary Pecans

November 9, 2008

rrpecans
Easy and so, so good you’d better have carryout bags for your guests. The basic recipe works with just about any kind of nuts. Just make sure you don’t burn them. Use your nose. When they start to smell toasty, they’re roasted.

PS You can get Szechuan peppers from mail-order houses like Penzys. Trust me, they’re worth the extra effort.

8 ounces unsalted pecan halves [or English walnuts]
1 T melted sweet butter
1 tsp sweet curry powder
1/4 tsp Szechuan peppers, crushed in a mortar and pestle
1 tsp honey
2 T finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp sea salt or to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degree F. Spread the nuts in one layer in a 9- by 13-inch baking pan and roast until fragrant and beginning to change color, 8 to 10 minutes. In a small saucier over very low heat, melt the butter. Add the curry powder, peppers, honey, and rosemary. Add the warm nuts and salt and toss until thoroughly coated.
Makes 1 1/2 cups.


Baked Roasted Pepper Pasta

May 28, 2008

2 ounces log chevre
2 ounces water
1 bay leaf
2 ounces uncooked small pasta
1 large roasted red bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
1/8 cup plain breadcrumbs plus 2 teaspoons, divided
2 teaspoons grated Parmesan
2 teaspoons olive oil
sea salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 F degrees (325 F convection). Lightly grease a small, 7-inch gratin dish and set aside.

In a small sancier over very low heat, melt the chèvre with the water and bay leaf. Remove the bay leaf. Add the pasta, pepper, 1/8 cup breadcrumbs, and salt. Pour into the prepared dish and sprinkle with remaining breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and olive oil. Tent with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes (40 convection). Uncover and bake 10 minutes longer or until browned.
Makes 2 servings.


Eggplant-Pepper Tapenade

September 25, 2007

This tapenade is so good, I eat leftovers for breakfast. Make it as hot as you like but don’t forget to wear plastic gloves or sandwich bags while seeding and slicing the hot peppers. SAM

1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/2 pound peppers: poblano, chipotle, banana, or jalapeña, trimmed, seeded, and thinly sliced
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound Italian eggplant
2 tablespoons water
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 to 2 teaspoons hot curry powder, or to taste
1/4 cup tahini
Juice of 1 lemon (3 tablespoons)
Sea salt to taste

In a medium chef’s pan over low heat, sweat the onion and peppers in 1 tablespoon oil until soft, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the eggplant in half and place cut-side down in a glass baking dish. Add the water, cover with plastic wrap leaving one corner open for steam, and microwave on high for 8 to 9 minutes or until the skin is slightly wrinkled and begins to collapse. Microwave longer in 1- or 2-minute intervals, if necessary. Cool, still under the plastic, then gently squeeze out any excess juice and scrap the flesh into a medium mixing bowl. Add the sweated onions and peppers, garlic, curry, 2 tablespoons olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, and salt. Pulse with an immersion blender until well blended or use a food processor or blender. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Serve with pita or flatbread.
Makes 2 cups.


Corn-on-the-Cob

September 24, 2007

Okay, after an entire summer of fabulous sweet corn from farmers’ markets, here’s the scoop on preparing Corn-on-the-Cob:

BOILED
Shuck and clean the corn, brushing away all silks. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop in the corn and boil until tender, 5 minutes for 1 to 2 ears, 10 minutes for 3 to 4 ears. Boiled corn is quite good. The disadvantages of boiling are that it steams up your kitchen and it leeches away some of the flavor.

Steaming, though, does seem to preserve more flavor.

STEAMING ON THE STOVE
On the stovetop, you can steam corn in a basket over boiling water. Shuck and clean the corn and place it in a steamer basket over boiling water. 10 to 15 minutes will make it tender and sweet. Again, though, you’re filling your kitchen with steam—not so good in hot climates.

Or, you can microwave corn-on-the-cob.

MICROWAVE STEAMING 1: Naked Corn
Shuck and clean 2 ears of corn and place them in a microwave-safe container twice as large as the volume of corn. Add 2 tablespoons of water and cover with plastic wrap, leaving one corner open for escaping steam. Microwave on high for 5 minutes. Tilt the dish so that the corn rolls over. Microwave for an additional 3 minutes. For greater numbers of ears, check your microwave manual for times. The steamy water makes corn cooked this way very moist and tasty.

You can also microwave corn in the husks.

MICROWAVE STEAMING 2: Husked Corn
Trim the silks and any loose husks and place 2 ears in the microwave oven on top of a paper towel. Microwave on high for 4 minutes. Using tongs, turn the ears over and microwave for an additional 2 minutes. Remove to a wire rack until cool enough to handle. This method makes the corn drier than steaming under plastic.

MICROWAVE STEAMING 3: Husked Corn, Wrapped
Wrap 2 individual ears still in the husks in plastic wrap and place in the microwave oven. Microwave on high for 5 minutes. Using tongs, turn the ears over and microwave for an additional 3 minutes. Remove to a wire rack until cool enough to handle. This method makes the corn more moist than husked corn without the wrap, but less moist than naked corn.

It seems so easy to toss husked corn into the microwave, but the truth is I like naked steamed corn best. SAM


Chocolate-Coconut Cookies

September 22, 2007

This is a yummy variation on my long-time favorite cookie Coconut-Oatmeal. Like the oatmeal, this chocolate version is made with vegetable shortening, which makes the cookies dense and chewy. You’d think butter would be better, but it doesn’t work nearly as well. I don’t know why. If anyone does know, please tell me. SAM

1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces German sweet chocolate, cut in 1/2-inch chunks
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/3 cups shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. With an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the shortening, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt and add to the butter mixture, blending well. Stir in the chocolate, walnuts, and coconut by hand. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and place 1 1/2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on the baking sheets for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.
Makes 2 dozen cookies.


Chocolate Chess Pie

September 21, 2007

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For many good cooks, chess pie, as wonderful as it is, is only the beginning. Pecan pie is basically a good chess pie chock full of pecans. Lemon Chess is a dream of a dessert. I remember with awe my first bite. And just wait till you taste Chocolate Chess! SAM

2 eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
12 tablespoons butter, softened (1 1/2 sticks)
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 (9-inch) unbaked pastry shell

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. With an electric mixer on high speed, beat the eggs until foamy, about 3 minutes. Lower the speed to medium, and beat in the flour, sugar, and brown sugar, until well blended. Beat in the butter. Stir in the walnuts and chocolate morsels by hand. Pour the batter into the pastry shell and bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
Makes 8 servings.


Chocolate Truffles

September 20, 2007

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While you’re in a candy-making mood … SAM

1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate morsels
8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup amaretto liqueur
1/2 cup cocoa powder

In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, melt the chocolate. Remove from the heat and add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring until melted. With an electric mixer on high speed, beat the egg yolks until lemon colored. Gradually beat in 1/4 of the chocolate mixture. Add the egg mixture to the remaining chocolate mixture by hand, stirring constantly. Stir in the cream and amaretto. Pour the batter into the top of the double boiler and cook over simmering water for 1 minute or until thickened and smooth, stirring constantly. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Form into 1-inch balls and roll in cocoa powder. Store in the refrigerator.
Makes about 4 dozen truffles.