Monday, April 21, 2014

Lemon, Ricotta and Almond Flourless Cake

This recipe comes from a blog called Cakelets and Doilies. I really like it. At altitude, it's a bit hard to make because you have to get the egg whites to whip up correctly to get the right lightness and volume.   I have something to practice now. Icing sugar is the British term for powdered sugar. Check the package because in the U.S. powdered sugar often contains corn starch. 

120 grams (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
275 grams (1 1/3 cups) caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1/4 cup lemon zest
4 eggs, separated and at room temperature
240 grams (2 1/2 cups) almond meal
300 grams (10 1/2 oz) ricotta
Flaked almonds, to decorated
Icing sugar, for dusting

Heat oven to 160 degree celcius fan-force (325 degree fahrenheit fan-forced). Line the base and sides of a 20cm round cake tin with baking paper and set aside.

Place the butter, 165 grams caster sugar, vanilla seeds and lemon zest in an electric mixer and beat for 8-10 minutes or until pale and creamy. Scrap down the sides of the bowl, then gradually add the egg yolks, one at a time, continuing to beat until fully combined. Add the almond meal and beat to combine. Fold ricotta through the almond meal mixture.

Beat the egg whites in a clean bowl with a hand-held electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining sugar to the egg whites mixture and whisk until stiff peaks form. Gently fold a third of the egg whites into the cake mixture. Repeat with the rest of the egg whites.

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin, smooth the tops with a palette knife, decorate the cake with almond flakes, and bake for 40-45 minutes or until cooked and firm to touch. Allow to cool completely in the cake tin. Dust with icing sugar to serve.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Finocchio con Latte al Forno (Fennel Baked in Milk)

This recipe comes to you via Saveur. It's so not like the usual things I cook and yet I must admit it was really good. I love fennel and this dish is silky and creamy and good. The licorice flavor of the fennel is tempered and yet you can taste it clearly without it overpowering the dish. Those Italians sure know what they are doing.  


3 medium bulbs fennel, fronds reserved
4 cups milk
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tsp. fennel seeds, crushed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan


1. Heat oven to 475°. Remove tough outer layer of fennel. Halve bulbs lengthwise and cut into 1⁄2" wedges. Combine fennel, milk, and 2 tbsp. butter in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until fennel is just tender, 30–45 minutes. Add fennel seeds and season with salt and pepper.

2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer fennel to a 2-quart oval baking dish; pour 1 cup of the milk mixture over fennel. Sprinkle with Parmesan, dot with remaining butter, and bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 20 minutes. Serve fennel garnished with some of the fronds.

Spiced Fava Bean Soup with Rice and Tomato

Dawn Perry contributed this recipe to Bon Appétit. I was not able to find fresh fava beans so I used dried navy beans which I soaked overnight first. If you substitute beans like I did, you will need to simmer the soup much longer, more like 40-45 minutes instead of just 20 minutes before you add the rice because beans like navy beans just need more time to soften up. Otherwise, this is a solid soup.


2 medium onions, peeled, quartered
4 garlic cloves
½ cup olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
1 14.5-oz. can crushed tomatoes
8 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
8 oz. dried skinless fava or lima beans (about 1½ cups)
¼ cup short-grain brown rice
⅓ cup plain Greek yogurt
⅓ cup chopped unsalted, roasted pistachios


Process onions and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes.

Add cumin, coriander, and allspice and cook, stirring often, until onions start to brown, about 5 minutes. 

Add tomatoes and cook, stirring often, until mixture is jammy, about 5 minutes.

Stir in broth and bring to a boil. Add beans, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, 20 minutes. Add rice and simmer, partially covered, until rice and beans are soft, 30–35 minutes; season with salt and pepper.

Top soup with yogurt and pistachios just before serving.

Spicy Garlic Chickpeas

Dawn Perry contributed this recipe to Bon Appétit and it's a keeper. The chickpeas have an uncanny french fry vibe. They are really good.


2 15-oz. cans chickpeas (rinsed)
4 crushed garlic cloves
1 chile de árbol, crushed, or ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
¾ cup olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Cook chickpeas with garlic and chile in oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until garlic is golden and chickpeas begin to blister, 6–8 minutes; season with salt and pepper.

Sicilian Spaghetti with Almonds, Anchovies, and Fresh Tomatoes

Another Grace Parisi contribution to Food and Wine, this recipe is almost all raw and it's great. I have some subtle modifications... of course because I am a snob. :) Roma tomatoes are better than beefsteak, and I lightly toast raw almonds in the oven instead of purchasing roasted and salted almonds. I think the dish works great without the added salt and if you really want it, you can always add salt to taste.

1 1/2 lb roma tomatoes diced
1/4 c basil thinly sliced
2 scallions white and green thinly sliced
1/2 c olive oil
crushed red pepper to taste (optional)
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
1/2 c toasted almonds
3 large oil-packed anchovies
1 large garlic clove smashed
1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
2 T capers
1 lb spaghetti

In a large bowl combine the tomatoes, basil, scallions, olive oil, and crushed red pepper. Season with salt and pepper to taste, mix and let stand for 20 minutes.

In a food processor, pulse the almonds, anchovies, and garlic until chopped. Add the parmesan cheese and capers and pulse till fully chopped and mixed.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta. When done, drain and shake off excess water.

In a bowl, combine tomato mixture, almond mixture, and pasta. Toss well.
Serve with additional parmesan cheese as desired.

Japanese-Style Trout with Dashi

Grace Parisi does it again, courtesy of Food and Wine. The eel sauce is very good and can be adjusted easily to taste by adding or subtracting sugar. I like the eel sauce so much that I used the leftover for chicken fried rice that was amazing! Instead of using instant dash, I found an easy and good recipe on a website called Azelia's Kitchen.

1 cup soy sauce
1 cup mirin
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon instant dashi
2 carrots, finely julienned
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, finely julienned
Four 6-ounce rainbow trout fillets, bones removed
Steamed sushi rice and crumbled nori, for serving

In a medium saucepan, bring the soy sauce, mirin, sugar and vinegar to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until the glaze is reduced to about 1 1/2 cups, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in another medium saucepan, combine the dashi with 1 1/2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add the carrots and leeks and simmer just until crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let stand.

Preheat the broiler and position a rack 6 to 8 inches from the heat. Arrange the trout fillets on a sturdy baking sheet, skin side up, and broil for about 2 minutes, until the skin begins to sizzle. Carefully peel off the skin. Brush the fish with some of the glaze and broil for 3 minutes, brushing once or twice more, until the sauce is lightly caramelized. Turn the fillets, brush liberally with more glaze and broil for 3 minutes longer, brushing once or twice, until the trout is cooked through and lacquered.

Mound rice in shallow bowls and drizzle lightly with the glaze. Using a slotted spoon, add the carrots and leeks. Top with the fish and nori and spoon the dashi into the bowls. Serve with the remaining glaze on the side.

DASHI - Mushroom Stock

The mushroom stock can be made couple of ways, soaking the mushrooms in room temperature water all day / overnight, or if speeding up the process bring the water to 30-40˚C.

60-100g whole dried mushrooms
2 litres of water approx (30-40˚C it’s just warm to the touch)

Bring the water to the right temperature and add mushrooms. Let them sit for few hours, the longer the stronger the stock. I prefer the stock on the milder side and between an 1-2hrs is fine for me.

Strain the mushroom stock, there will be some tiny gritty bits in the bottom.

Linguine with Tuna, Capers, and Olives

I found this recipe in Food and Wine. I really liked it. The orange zest is a nice compliment to the salty flavors of the capers and olives. The oil from the tuna lends a nice base that smooths out and unifies the overall composition and makes the tuna less fishy. Plus, it's a really easy dish to make. If you can't find dried sage or rosemary, pop some fresh herbs in the oven at 350 and dry them out a bit. It works pretty well.

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
3/4 teaspoon grated orange zest (from 1/2 orange)
1 tablespoon drained chopped capers
1/4 cup chopped green olives
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
2 6-ounce cans tuna packed in olive oil
1/2 teaspoon wine vinegar
3/4 pound linguine
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

In a medium frying pan, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the garlic, sage, and rosemary and stir until the garlic just starts to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the orange zest, capers, olives, salt, pepper, and the tuna with its oil. Remove from the heat; stir in the vinegar.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the linguine until just done, about 12 minutes. Drain the pasta and toss with the tuna sauce and parsley.

NOTES Tuna Packed in Oil

Here we use tuna packed in olive oil, and we count on that oil as part of the sauce. If your tuna doesn't have at least one-and-a-half tablespoons of oil per can, add a little more olive oil to make up the difference. Of course, you can use tuna packed in vegetable oil, too, but avoid water-packed tuna at all costs. The flavor, and most of the nutrients for that matter, leach out into the water.