The Cool House: recipes
Showing posts with label recipes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label recipes. Show all posts

Sunday, September 20, 2009

My House Smells like a French (or Belgian) Restaurant

Since I got back from our challenging European vacation I have been (unsurprisingly) obsessed with comfort food. The very first night, despite jet lag, I made Fusilli with ground Buffalo and Three Cheese Sauce. Okay, I cheated by using a jar of Trader Joe's sauce but I added a parmesan rind I had left over in the fridge to the sauce that I mixed with the browned buffalo - unctuous, soothing and exactly what was needed after a plane ride of almost eight hours.
The next evening I was restored enough after 10 hours sleep to cook Pork Tenderloin with a Mustard Sauce and serve it with Stoemp, the Belgian speciality of mashed potatoes with vegetables. The standards are carrots or spinach but I finely chopped green onions to add the perfect bite to an otherwise typically Franco-Belgian dish.
A disappointing but not bad bottle of Pinot Noir became the basis for Boeuf Bourguignon, the classic French stew and an embarrassment of onions prompted me to make Soupe à l'Oignon in the proper fashion with cognac and real bouquet garni.
The only dish I haven't tackled is Lapin Chasseur although the cats did present me with a laid out bunny on the doorstep - a welcome home present.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Almost as addictive as twitter

It's summer and in spite of the thunderstorms and pouring rain I have been making a batch of ice cream every week. Last week it was a refreshing blueberry that turned out the most amazing shade of purple. Today's gelato recipe is a sweet vanilla ice cream with cream cheese for stabilization and texture. It's rescued from boring blahness by

the addition of a handful of roughly chopped Sea Salt and Turbinado Sugar Dark Chocolate Almonds from Trader Joe's. These are the most addictive bonbons ever to land on the supermarket shelves. I decided to make this gelato just to limit the number of times we pass by the kitchen cupboard and sneak a couple. Buy 'em, try 'em but be warned, you may have to give them away to save yourself!

The Recipe
2 1/2 cups of cream and whole milk (or half and half)
1/2 cup cane sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4oz cream cheese
2 tbsp sour cream
Handful of chopped chocolate almonds. (If you can't get the salty ones you could add a 1/4 tsp gray sea salt)

Heat the cream, milk and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Cook stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Add vanilla and cream cheese. Whisk gently until the cream cheese has melted into the cream mixture. Take a bowl and fill with ice cubes, place the pan in the bowl and allow to cool. Whisk in the sour cream. Meanwhile chop a handful of the almonds. When the cream mixture is cool to the touch pour into an ice cream maker and add the nuts.
There you have it, almost every tastebud is tickled: Creamy, Crunchy, Sweet, Sour and Salty Gelato. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Citrus Polenta Cake

Because it's the weekend. Because it's raining. Because I needed to bake a cake. Just because.

Lemon Polenta Cake
Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter and flour a 9" cake pan.
1 stick of unsalted butter
2 tablespoons Italian olive oil
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup polenta
4 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
zest 1 1/2 lemons

Melt butter. In a separate bowl whisk eggs and sugar until light in color and doubled in volume. Sift flour, polenta, baking powder and salt. Add butter and olive oil to eggs and fold in dry ingredients. Spoon into cake pan and bake 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes in the pan.

Citrus Syrup
Heat 1/2 cup of water and 1/3 cup sugar with three or four strips of candied orange peel until sugar has dissolved. Add the zest of half a lemon and an optional tablespoon of Cointreau. Bring to a boil, and reduce until slightly thickened. Add the juice of one lemon. Pour over the polenta cake.
Serve the cake with whipped cream and fruit compote.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The perfect meal

Something unctuous and sexy, satisfying but not heavy, that's what I look for in the perfect Valentine's meal. After some thought I came up with a menu that I thought would be the perfect romantic dinner on Saturday evening. That was until The Guy reminded me that Valentine's Day is another Hallmark tradition we don't celebrate, like Mother's Day or our wedding anniversary. So I made it yesterday, put it on the table with a bottle of Malbec and no fanfare, but by the end we agreed that it was the most enjoyable meal we have had this year, or a long time into last, including our trip to Argentina. (There were better individual dishes in Buenos Aires, lots of them, but not a better meal). Of course our culinary memories could have failed us because we have subsisted on soup and the occasional pasta dish since Solstice, so real food was bound to be a success as long as it wasn't raw, burnt or I didn't confuse salt for sugar.

Beef en Daube
1 lb cubed beef chuck
1 tbl olive oil
3 cloves garlic, sliced (I used one huge clove of elephant garlic)
1 cup red wine (I used Malbec)
1 cup good beef broth or stock
1 14 oz can of tomatoes
1 tbl tomato paste
1 carrot, peeled, cut into chunks
1 stick celery, cut into chunks
1/2 onion, quartered
1 tbl Herbes de Provence
Bay leaf
Pinch of powdered cloves
1 strip orange peel
1 tsp capers

Heat olive oil in a casserole. Add garlic and cook gently for 5 minutes. Remove garlic and set aside. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add beef, sprinkling it beef with salt and pepper. Cook until browned. Add the chopped vegetables, garlic wine, broth, tomatoes and tomato paste. Sprinkle over the herbs, spices. Bring to a boil. Turn the heat off, stir in capers, orange peel and bay leaf and place in a 300F oven for 2.5 hours. Take out of oven, adjust seasonings and if desired place in a lower temperature oven until ready to serve. It will be silky, the beef will have almost dissolved and the smell will be rich and full of promise.

Serve with bread or pasta or these baby Yukon potatoes, baked in the oven with butter, salt and rosemary. Mmm.

And for dessert, a variation on drunken fruit salad: red fruits steeped in St Germain liqueur with a couple of crunched sugar cubes. Hit the sugar cubes with the back of a spoon, sprinkle over the fruit, then pour over the elderflower eau de vie. That's the elegant way to do it. A lazier more sensual way is to allow the whole sugar cubes to soak up some of the alcohol and then suck the cubes.
So, for Valentine's Day, what do you think I should serve The Guy? Peanut Butter and Marmite sandwiches or just plain bread and butter?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Reality Check Recipe

While searching the internets for a comfort-food recipe to cheer us up and warm us through I stumbled upon this gem from Nigella Lawson on NPR. Two pretty big differences there guys. Do you think it was a metric/US conversion problem or a good old-fashioned typo? Whatever, recipes are like Yahoo! Maps driving directions: you should always perform a reality check first.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Beer, deer and chocolate

I'm kicking off the New Year with beer. Not "hair of the dog" style, not to drink at all. I'm more of a wine/gin girl but I love to cook with beer. Today it's Vension Shepherd's Pie, hot and comforting after last night's celebrations, and especially appreciated in the arctic blast that has enveloped us since yesterday. It's a standard Shepherd's Pie recipe plus a teaspoon of cumin, another of allspice, two tablespoons of Trader Joe's Spicy Tomato Chutney (yep, still working through those leftovers), and 3/4 bottle of dark beer, I used Negra Modelo because that's what was in the 'fridge, but any dark beer will do. I also threw in the remaining spoonful of the Tapas Tomatoes as there simply weren't enough to serve as a side dish. Because venison is very lean I made sure all the olive oil, and the garlic clove, from the tapas dripped into the meat and vegetables. How good is it on New Year's Day? Perfect. This dish even smells comforting.
If you can't get your hands on some venison and straight up Shepherd's Pie doesn't do it for you, another great meat and beer recipe to keep out the winter chill is Nigel Slater's Braised Beef with Beer and Onions from The Guardian last weekend. Simple and soul-warming.
Incidentally the best quote from 2008 comes from the first paragraph of his article "I can't bear to think of a day without (just a little) chocolate. Not that I need much. But a tiny square or two is necessary if I am to retire with a feeling that my day was something." I think that's my New Year's Resolution: 2 squares of chocolate to validate every day.

Tomato Tapas

To welcome in the New Year I need something hot, sweet, zesty and good-looking, even if it's just a humble tomato. Here's my favorite from last night. Happy 2009!

Tomato Tapas

1 box Grape Tomatoes
Clove Garlic
Thinly sliced lemon zest
Couple sprigs fresh Rosemary
Pinch red pepper flakes
Salt and Pepper
Spanish Olive Oil

Put ingredients in a shallow dish. You'll need enough olive oil to come a little way up the tomatoes - say 2 tablespoons or so. Bake in a 375F oven until the smell drives you crazy or 20-30 minutes.
Serve with chilled Fino Sherry, or Champagne on New Year's Eve, or as a side dish to Vension Shepherd's Pie on New Year's Day.
For real recipes go over to Simmer Till Done. Marilyn has some of her best posts of 2008 in a round-up edition. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fall Flavors

OK, it may be autumn but I just got a new paddle for my ice cream maker and I'm in the mood for ice cream. Kind of nuts really - the weather turns chilly and I turn the ice cream maker on but I guess you could always serve it with a steaming slice of pie, right?
Anyway, I have been experimenting with mixes that don't need eggs because no eggs means no cooking and cooling so the whole pocess goes much quicker and, based on the couple of recipes I've made so far, I prefer the taste and the texture.
I was intrigued by this recipe from Jenni Britton of Jenni's Splendid Ice Creams in Columbus Ohio. It uses cornstarch and a little cream cheese but she does boil the milk. I couldn't quite see why it was necessary so I did some more research and found another recipe that didn't. However, it did call for a whole lot of cream cheese - an entire 8oz package! That's a little too much Philly for my taste. So I amalgamated the two and came up with this Maple Syrup and Ginger Ice Cream to celebrate the fall season.

Maple Syrup and Ginger Ice Cream
2 cups whole milk
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2 tbls cream cheese
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup candied ginger, chopped

Blend cream, milk, cream cheese, sugar, maple syrup and salt until smooth. Churn in ice cream maker and add chopped candied ginger. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze.

Then at the weekend I got in the holiday season with another kind of eggless recipe: Whiskey and Cranberry Sour Cream Ice. This one is based on this recipe from Desert Candy. It turned out to be The Guy's favorite, I slightly preferred the other but I will make them both again and vary the flavorings.

Whiskey and Cranberry Sour Cream Ice
2 cups sour cream
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup cup sugar
2 tbls maple syrup
3 tbl whisky
I/2 cup dried cranberries

1. Soak the cranberries in the whisky for an hour or so.
2. Blend all other ingredients until smooth. Place in the refrigerator and chill while the cranberries are soaking. Pour cream mix into ice cream maker and add cranberries.
If I were making this again I might add some finely chopped candied orange peel to the churning ice cream to make it even prettier.
There are no photos of the ice cream because it was eaten so quickly so you'll have to be content with the tree that I snapped while waiting for a train on Monday. Pretty, no?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Spam and serendipity

I was checking my gmail and decided to look at what spam they had collected for me when I noticed the link in the corner. Look at what I got, a genuine spam recipe for Gingered Spam Salad. At once delightful and truly repulsive. And unsurprisingly, it serves just one person. After all would you share this with anyone else?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Tequila, citrus and spice, or maybe not...

Tequila, citrus and spice in the form of Spicy Grapefruit Margaritas, that's what food critic, Top Chef judge and soon to be host of his own show on Food Network TV, Ted Allen, is proposing for a refreshing summer cocktail. Sounds just my kind of thing except Tequila and I don't get along together so I'm replacing the Mexican alcohol with Finnish Vodka. And because I don't have a sweet tooth I'm also junking the sweetened grapefruit in favor of freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice. This should give me the perfect combination of fresh fruit and heat with enough of the hard stuff to get a little buzz. (Not everyone has a palate like mine so you may want to use the sweetened juice or an ounce of simple syrup with the freshly-squeezed juice to take the edge off the tartness). Then of course it was announced today that peppers can cause a deadly bout of salmonella so I've decided to do without them as well. Ha!
Never mind, I'm calling my cocktail Citrus Vodka and the recipe follows. I'm still going to stick with a slightly Spanish theme in the form of some of my favorite tapas: Spanish Cocktail nuts (Marcona almonds, corn, pistachio nuts, roast chickpeas), fava beans; grilled queso, chopped chorizo and Tortilla chips and home-made guacamole. That's my perfect summer supper anyway.
If you want to try Ted Allen's Spicy Grapefruit Margarita the recipe is over here

Citrus Vodka Cocktail:
1 cup vodka
2 cups fresh squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice
1 cup of fresh orange juice
1 lime cut into wedges
Ruby red grapefruit, cut into small wedges, then into half-wedges

Pour infused vodka, orange and grapefruit juices over ice cubes in a shaker; shake and strain into a chilled martini glass, or just pour over rocks in a highball. Garnish with a grapefruit and a lime wedge.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Cupcakes and family secrets

You know you're part of the family when...

Someone offers you the chance to feel the difference between saline and silicone breasts - saline today, silicone sometime later this summer

They trust you enough to tell you things secure in the knowledge it will not reach the internets the following day

Someone confesses that when they were small they liked to eat the paper that cupcakes are baked in. Bonus points if you admitted you preferred the casings to the cupcakes. Double bonus points if, while telling this story, you are actually chewing on the paper.

They eat all of your Strawberry-Thyme cupcakes but want to know why they are so tiny. That's because these are English fairy cakes (insert inappropriate joke here) adapted from the super-sized American version here. If you are a US reader, make the American version. If you're European and have access to the smaller paper cases the recipe is as follows:

Strawberry-Thyme Fairy Cakes

Take 3 sprigs of thyme and infuse in 5 tablespoons of milk. Set aside for 15 minutes. Discard the thyme. Cream together 100g butter and sugar. Add two eggs, one at a time, with a little self-raising flour, beating between each addition. Carefully fold in 100g sifted SR flour and a pinch of salt. In a separate bowl, mash a couple of strawberries, grate in the zest of half a lemon. Carefully stir this into cake batter with one or two tablespoons of the thyme-infused milk. Divide between 12 paper cases and bake in 180c oven for 12-15 minutes. Cool.
For the Glacé Icing
Mash another couple of strawberries with the rest of the milk and another teaspoon of lemon zest. Sift in enough icing sugar to make icing that coats the back of a spoon and pour it over those fairy cakes.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Win a Designer Pillow

2Modern Design are giving away this gorgeous Thomaspaul pillow currently on sale for $96. Just visit Create My Event and leave a comment with a creative Spring party theme idea to enter. Simple and possibly very satisfying. While you're there scroll down the page for my easy frozen yoghurt recipe. Also simple and guaranteed satisfying.
The competition runs until April 20 2008. Good Luck.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Snow Day Baking

What can you do when the snow is thickly falling outside? You could spend a few hours reading your favorite blogs, catching up on the laundry or cleaning the house. Or you could invite the neighbors over for spaghetti supper and spend the afternoon making Buffalo Bolognese, Tuscan bread and Lemon and Almond biscotti.

1 stick butter
1 cup sugar + 1 tablespoon to finish
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs + 1 egg white to glaze
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped almonds

Cream the butter and cup of sugar. Add the salt, lemon zest, vanilla extract, and whole eggs, beating well after each addition. Gradually stir in flour and almonds. Finish the mixing by hand and shape into 2 12"x6" rectangles.
Place these on a baking sheet 4" apart. Whisk the egg white until foamy and brush over the tops. Sprinkle the tablespoon of sugar over the dough and bake in a pre-heated 375F oven for 20-25 minutes. Remove and let cool on the tray for 1 hour. Then slice on the diagonal into 1/2" slices. Lower the oven temperature to 325F and bake for a further 10 minutes or so until drip and crisp.

Serve with espresso, or fruit salad with whipped cream. Or if your guests can't wait for the Fettucine to cook, they make an acceptable hors d'oeuvre!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Still sick but at least we haven't lost our appetites

We're still too sick to do anything productive like go out for cocktails but at least I can still cook.

What's in the huge size 28 Le Creuset casserole I inherited?

Buffalo chili, lots of buffalo chili. Enough to feed 2 people twice a day for five days.

Fresh out of the oven a loaf of No-time bread

Unfortunately it looks like this bread isn't going to last a day, let alone five. It is seriously good, requires only an hour once you've collected the ingredients from the pantry to slicing it and smearing it butter and it smells like heaven. At least I think it does. I lost my sense of smell sometime around January 3 with the first cold and it hasn't returned yet.
The basic recipe was so good last time that I got creative and made a *Tuscan inspired version

*No-Time Bread (standard recipe)
1 loaf

4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (two packets)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups water
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

In the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer put the yeast, sugar, and water and let it sit.

Heat the oven to 450°F. Put a Dutch oven in to warm as the oven heats. Get out your flour, salt, vinegar, spray oil, and anything else you need.

Now that the yeast has had a few minutes to bubble up, add 3 cups of the flour as well as the salt and vinegar and beat for several minutes with the paddle. Add the last 1/2 cup of flour and switch to the dough hook and beat for seven minutes. Alternately, knead vigorously for five minutes, or until the dough becomes extremely elastic. This will still be a wet dough, but not goopy. The dough will clear the sides of the bowl but still stick to the bottom

Oil a microwave-safe bowl and transfer the bread dough to it, rolling it in the oil. Cover the bowl with a very wet towel. Cover the whole thing with a dry towel and put in the microwave for 25 seconds.

Tuscan Loaf
To the dry ingredients I added:
I tablespoon chopped rosemary
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
To the water and balsamic I added:
2 tablespoons olive oil

Recipe via

Friday, January 25, 2008

Food for a cold day

Is there anything better when the temperature is below freezing than homemade salsa soup*

A loaf of bread direct from the oven

And a hunk of Iberian cheese with red pepper?

Oh yes, it's that glass of Cabernet that adds the appropriate warmth to the lunch.

*Salsa Soup
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 chopped onion
* 2 chopped carrots
* 2 chopped sticks celery
* 1 tablespoon minced garlic
* 1 teaspoon salt and fresh pepper
* 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
* 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
* carton vegetable or chicken stock
* 1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes
* 1 15-oz. can cannellini beans
* 2 tablespoons salsa

Sweat onions, garlic, carrots and celery in olive oil for 5 mins. Add beans, tomatoes, stock, red pepper flakes and oregano. Season. Cook 45 mins - 1 hour. Stir in salsa. Serve.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Hoppin' John

We didn't manage to do without food today although we were frugal, and there was no alcohol imbibed. I made the customary New Year's Day dish of rice and beans known as Hoppin' John, although my recipe is anything but traditional.
Disclaimer: This is spicy. We like our food very spicy. You may prefer it without a couple of the *HOT* ingredients.

Hoppin' John
1 can black-eyed peas
Olive oil
1 small red onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
Red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
Dash of Tabasco
Half a spicy chorizo
1-2 cup(s) chicken stock

In a casserole fry the onion and garlic in oil until soft. Add can of beans. Add herb and spices to taste. Cook five minutes. Add 1 cup chicken stock and Tabasco. You may need more chicken stock depending on taste and how long you let the beans cook.
In a pan gently brown slices of chorizo. Add to beans. Fifteen minutes before you are ready to eat cook rice in a separate pan. Serve beans over rice.
Makes enough for 2-3.
Brilliant for hangovers.

Friday, April 20, 2007


Lots of things to celebrate this week in addition to finishing the first bathroom remodel. I got my Social Security number at long last and that means I am a certified, numbered real person and with that and my Dept of Homeland Security photo id I was able to renew my NY state driving license, which expired in November. (Living in NY and being dependent on your husband's visa is both demeaning and frustrating; I've been a kept woman and felt like chattel. It does little for one's self-esteem, especially when they take away your driving privileges because your visa has less than six months to run, even though you've been granted an extension for three years). And the number of places I'm asked to show my driving license here? Banks, stores, airports..... it's impossible to exist without one. But enough of the Kafkaesque nightmare that is USCIS, Department of Homeland Security and NYS DMV. I am now legitimate again.

The biggest celebration though is that after an entire month Sadie the dog has decided that the Fatboy dog bed isn't so scary and she's taken to sleeping on it at night (after Cassis the cat has made it cosy and warm. I'm still waiting for Polly to pluck up the courage to try her bed out.

Ooh, and one more huge celebration. I did not know this until two minutes ago but today is NATIONAL GARLIC DAY. I love garlic: roasted, fried, preserved in oil, in Rogan Josh, leg of lamb, sliced in poached sea bass, Skordalia it's all good. I think I will keep the celebration going all weekend long.