Saturday, July 19, 2014

Bleu Cheese, Cherry and Spinach Barley Risotto

Serves 6

  • 1.5 c. barley
  • ~5 cups chicken stock
  • 1-2 T butter
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced 
  • 1/2 pound cherries, halved, seeds removed
  • 2-3 ounces St. Agur, or similar rich bleu cheese
  • 2 ounces (half a package) baby spinach
  • Minced marjoram and thyme to taste, fresh preferably
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Honey to taste (optional)
Cook barley risotto style. toast grains first in pan with no liquid. Add liquid to cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Continue to add liquid as the other liquid evaporates until cooked al dente (1 hr, to 1.15). Meanwhile, saute shallots and garlic, then add cherries, then add spinach and stir till wilted. Set aside. Add blue cheese to barley, and stir in. Add in more chix stock till a thick, viscous, soupy texture is achieved. Add cherry mixture, and season to taste. Serve warm. We served this with steak. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Mexican Spiced-Chocolate Bread Pudding with Chipotle Whipped Cream

Serves 6 

OK, so this isn't exactly authentically Mexican, but the heat makes it feel decidedly non-French. I got the idea for this from a confluence of things. 1) I had to do dessert for a progressive dinner, and the theme was Mexican... which brings me to 2) I remembered this amazing "mexican chocolate bread pudding" we had in California. That one was made with croissants, but did not have any heat (not sure at all what was Mexican about it, but it was the best bread pudding I'd ever had.) So to make it more Mexican, I remembered 3) a chipotle whipped cream my mom had served with pumpkin flan. And from that trio of parents, this bread pudding was born. And it is one of the best I have ever had (not trying to toot my own horn, but it's awesome).  
  • 6 pain au chocolates, cut into 1" squares
  • 9 ounces chili-chocolate bar, like Vosges' hot chili bar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • 2 cups cream (1/2 cup + 1/2 cup + 1 cup)
  • 1 tsp + 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a 3 quart baking dish, place 1/2 of pain au chocolate pieces. Chop 1/2 of chocolate (4.5 ounces), and distribute half of this (~2.25 ounces) around pain au chocolate. Arrange remaining half of pain au chocolate pieces, and other portion of chopped chocolate (~2.25 ounces) on top of this. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, milk, 1/2 cup cream, and 1 tsp vanilla. Pour over the top of the pain au chocolate in the baking dish. Bob the pain au chocolate pieces to ensure that all are saturated with the custard mixture. Cook for around 50 - 55 minutes, or until golden brown and puffy. Allow to cool. 

For the ganache sauce, chop remaining 4.5 ounces of chocolate. Melt chocolate pieces over a double boiler, then whisk in cream. Add only 1/4 cup at first, then add more until you get a saucy consistency. 

Whip cream to medium peaks. Add confectioner's sugar, and more if needed to taste. Add other tsp vanilla, cinnamon, and chipotle chili powder. 

Serve bread pudding with chocolate sauce and whipped cream. 

Nota bene
If you are unable to find a chili-chocolate bar, you can get a similar flavor profile by adding chipotle cinnamon either to the custard mixture, or by tempering (melting) the chocolate over a double boiler, and adding to that. 

Sautèed Kale with Apples and Mustard

Serves 3

This has very German flavors to me, and is a wonderful winter side dish. We had it with bourbon-braised pork

  • ~ 5 ounces of kale, torn into large shreds
  • 1 granny smith apple, cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 1 T butter
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1.5 tsp whole grain mustard
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste
Melt butter in a sautè pan over high until foaming. Saute apples until beginning to brown. Don't let them get mushy though, you want to keep them crisp-ish. If you feel they are getting too soft, just move to the next step. Reduce heat to medium-high. Add kale, and saute for 3-5 minutes, so that is just starting to wilt. You'll need tongs to move it around and make sure that you don't end up with some parts over done. Remove all kale to a medium mixing bowl. Add lemon juice, mustard and honey. Season with salt, pepper to taste. Add more honey, lemon juice, or mustard, if desired. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Pumpkin Soup with Chipotle Chiles

Serves 6

I made this to try and get rid of some stuff in my pantry, hence the pumpkin. It was very good, but adding some fennel might also be nice, and some sage.  

  • two 15 ounce cans pure pumpkin
  • one 15 ounce can coconut milk
  • one large yellow onion, diced
  • 2-3 cups chicken stock--until you achieve the consistency you'd like. I wanted something rich.
  • 1 T butter
  • 1-2 tsp marjoram
  • 1 tsp sage (optional, did not use the first time)
  • Kosher salt
  • White pepper
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • maple syrup (optional, for garnishing)
  • 1 small (appx 7 oz) can chipotle chilis in adobo sauce. Minced
  • Sour cream, for garnish
Sweat the onions over medium high heat until translucent. Add pumpkin, coconut milk, marjoram and desired amount of stock to onions and simmer for around 15 minutes to let the flavors mix. Add kosher salt, white pepper (or black) and brown sugar to your taste. Remove from heat and puree in small batches. Garnish with 1 T sour cream/bowl, and a drizzle of maple syrup. Provide minced chipotle on the side as a condiment. We used about 1 tsp each. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Molten Chocolate Ganache Cake

Serves 12
Recipe from Ina Garten 

When I do this, I actually do it as cupcakes, or mini-cupcakes, since a large party is the only way I could ever be convinced to actually do something made with chocolate (just not a fan). 


  • 1/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 16 ounces Hershey's choclate syrup
  • 1 T pure vanilla Extract
  • 2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces good semisweet chocolate, or chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp instant coffee/espresso granules
  • Flavoring (to taste... grand marnier, mint, almond, hazelnut, etc...)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour an 8" round cake pan, or cupcake tin. Line the bottom with parchment paper, or use muffin cups for cupcakes. 

Cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the chocolate syrup and the vanilla. Add the flour and mix until just combined. Don't overbeat of cake will be tough. 

Pout the batter into the pan and bake for 40 - 45 minutes (less for cupcakes) or until it is just set in the middle. Don't overbake! Let thoroughly cool in the pan. 

For the ganache, cook the heavy cream in a double boiler and add chocolate and coffee granules until melted and warm. Remove from heat and add flavor to taste. 

Glaze cooled cake with ganache, and serve with whipped cream or ice cream. 

Bruschetta with Arugula Pesto, Pepperonata, and Goat Cheese Truffles

Makes 20 Bruschette

I adapted this recipe from a salad in Mario Batali's Babbo cookbook. In that salad, the arugula is blanched and makes up the base of the salad, with the bread, truffles and pepperonata arranged over the top of the blanched greens. I love the flavors, but wanted to find a way to make it more "portable" so I could do it at a party. The blanched arugula wouldn't exactly work, so we did this arugula pesto. 


  •  15 ounces goat cheese (low water content, so you can form truffles)
  • Pimenton
  • Fennel seeds, ground to a dust
  • Poppy seeds
Roll goat cheese into 1" balls. Roll a third of them in each of the spices above. 

1 Recipe Arugula Pesto 
  • 5 ounce packaged washed/dried arugula
  • 1 ounce parmigiano reggiano cheese, grated
  • 3 cloves garlic--skin still on
  • Large 1/3 cup raw walnuts
  • 4-6 T EVOO
  • Large pinch of salt
Pan-roast the garlic. In a small saute pan,  heat 1 tbsp canola oil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-high and add the garlic cloves. Turn each piece of garlic every few minutes till quite brown on all sides, but not black. This will roast the garlic in about 10 minutes.

Place walnuts in food processor and pulse until coarse-grained. Add everything else except EVOO and salt. Pulse till all is coarsely ground. Add 4 T oil, and pulse till you achieve correct pesto consistency --pretty fine, but no where near a paste. You should be able to distinguish individual grains. Add more EVOO if you need it, and salt to taste.

  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced 3 mm thick
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced 3 mm thick
  • 2 T canola oil
  • 2 T sherry vinegar
Heat canola oil over high. Add peppers, and saute until beginning to brown. Add sherry vinegar, and cook around 30 seconds more. Season with salt and pepper. 

  • 1 baguette, sliced into 1/4" slices (not on the bias), and toasted on both sides
Split all truffles in half. Spread one hemisphere of one flavor of truffle onto the sliced baguette. Spread appx 1 tsp arugula pesto on top of that. Then spoon around 1 tablespoon of pepperonata onto arugula pesto. Place another hemisphere of a different flavor of truffle on top. The colors on this are great, especially for Christmas. 

Note: All except bread can be made ahead--up to several days. If you make the pesto ahead, just make sure to add a small amount of EVOO to the top to prevent it from oxidizing. 

Wild Mushroom and Gruyere Tart

Serves 12 for appetizer portions
Modified from a recipe on

  • 1/2 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg yolk 
  • 2 tsp
  • 1/4 cup creme fraîche or sour cream

  • 2 T butter
  • 1.5 pounds fresh wild mushrooms (chanterelle, black trumpet, oyster, enoki, hedgehog, shiitake, maitake). Don't overdo the really strongly flavored ones like maitake. 
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced to a paste
  • truffle salt (optional, but highly recommended)
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal (appx 1.5 cups)
  • 1 Pillsbury "unroll" style pie crust
  • 6 ounces sliced gruyere
Preheat oven to 400 

Purée ricotta in a food processor until smooth. add 2 tsp EVOO and egg yolk, and pulse just to blend. Remove and gold in creme fraîche. 

Melt butter over medium heat, and add garlic. Saute until garlic is beginning to get golden. Add mushrooms and saute till soft, and significantly cooked down. Add truffle salt and thyme, and adjust until you have the desired flavor (usually takes many giant dashes of truffle salt). 

Place pie crust in a tart pan. Spread over ricotta-creme fraîche mixture on bottom. Place half of the mushrooms on top of dairy mixture in tart. Then arrange half of gruyere on top of mushrooms. Place the remaining mushrooms on top of that, and the remaining gruyere on top of that. 

Bake for 25 - 30 minutes until gruyere is golden and bubbly, and crust is golden.