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Cooking and Booking

Updated: 2018-03-05T20:54:51.448-05:00


Risotto with Roasted Vegetables


This is one of those endlessly adaptable recipes that is great to have in your arsenal in case company shows up at a moment's notice. It's quite good enough for that. Hopefully, though, they'll give you more than a moment's notice, since this takes about an hour. That's not too bad, still, for company and all.Anyhow, please make this. And please feel free to use your favorite mix of vegetables. Asparagus and artichokes would be lovely, for example. I toyed with the idea of adding some crispy pancetta to mine, but I left it out for the sake of simplicity. It wouldn't have been a bad addition, and neither would chicken or even some medium-rare grilled steak. Let your imaginations run wild. Please, though - do tell me what you come up with!Risotto with Roasted Vegetables4 tablespoons olive oil, divided1 teaspoon dried oregano3 cloves garlic, minced2 red bell peppers, cut into strips 1-2 inches long and 1/2 cm wide3 yellow squash, cubed1 head cauliflower, chopped2 tablespoons butter1 onion, chopped fine1 1/2 cups arborio rice1 cup dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)4-6 cups chicken stock, simmering1 cup fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggianosalt and freshly ground pepper1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Toss together half of the garlic, the red pepper, squash, cauliflower and 2 tablespoon olive oil. Spread over a baking sheet and sprinkle liberally with salt, pepper, and the oregano. Roast for 45 minutes.2. Meanwhile, prepare the risotto. In a large pan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter with the remaining olive oil. Add the onion and the remaining garlic with a pinch of salt and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.3. Add the rice and stir until the grains are fully coated with the fat and appear mostly translucent with a small pearl of white in the middle.4. Add the wine and cook until it has mostly evaporated. The rice should begin to seem creamy almost immediately.5. Begin adding the chicken stock in 1/2-1 cup intervals, cooking each time until it has absorbed most of the way and the rice seems fairly gelatinous and creamy. The best way to tell when it is done is to taste it - when the texture is to your liking, it's done! As you make more risotto, you'll get a feel for it.6. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese and remaining butter - these will bring the risotto to its final, creamiest texture. To serve, ladle the risotto into bowls and spoon the roasted vegetables on top. Enjoy![...]

Coconut Pecan Icing (for German Chocolate Cake)


My dad's all-time favorite cake is German chocolate cake, and since today was his birthday, I made him some. Aren't I a great daughter?

Anyways, I never really liked it myself because of the icing - the stuff in the can is just awful, and recipes for it tend to be hit or miss. So this past Christmas, my mom and I tried out a recipe for caramel sauce that we added some coconut and pecans to, and it turned out fantastic - really fantastic. Eating-it-out-of-the-pot-with-a-spoon fantastic.

This is it.

Coconut-Pecan Icing

3/4 cup butter
1 cup evaporated milk
2 cups brown sugar
a pinch of salt
2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
2 cups chopped pecans
2 teaspoons vanilla

1. This is very important. Make a german chocolate cake. You can make it from a box, it's OK. Trust me, when it's covered with this icing, no one will care. Besides, it's tough to beat boxed cake mix for tastiness and ease. Go ahead. Give in to the box. I won't tell anyone.

2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, evaporated milk, brown sugar and salt. Bring to a vigorous boil and let boil for about 5 minutes.

3. Add the coconut, pecans, and vanilla and stir well.

4. Let cool to room temperature. The cake should cool at about the same rate, so you should be golden - just hope the icing survives! If you have icing left, ice the cake. Enjoy. Hope you still have cake left tomorrow to enjoy some more.


I'm Back! I Brought Some Mongolian Beef with Me... Can You Forgive Me?


Let me just say.... I have missed you all so much, it's kind of ridiculous. And let me tell you, there's been loads going on. Let's see.......... I graduated from college!..... I moved to New Orleans and back in with my parents for the time being...... Actually, that's about it, but those were big changes.Anyways, I'm back. At least, I hope I'm back. And I've missed you guys a bunch, so hopefully I've learned my lesson and I won't leave again. I've been reading quite a bit, so I have lots of books for you, and I have lots of recipes to try out and share with all of you lovely folks.So lets get this show on the road, shall we?Mongolian Beefadapted from this recipe3 teaspoons cornstarch3 teaspoons soy sauce3 teaspoons rice wine3 tablespoons water3 pounds beef (any fairly well-marbled cut will do, I used flank steak), thinly sliced1 cup soy sauce1 tablespoon sugar4 tablespoons neutral oil, divided4 bunches scallions, white parts finely chopped, green parts cut into 2-inch pieces1 inch ginger, grated5 cloves garlic, minced2 tablespoons oyster sauce1/2 teaspoon sesame oilsalt, pepper and sugar to taste1. Whisk together the cornstarch, water, rice wine, and 3 teaspoons of soy sauce. Marinate the beef slices in this mixture for 30 minutes.2. Pour the cup of soy sauce (yes, a whole cup) into a small saucepan and put said saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and reduce the soy sauce to a quarter cup. When it has reduced, add the sugar and stir to combine. Meanwhile, continue with the recipe. This was a substitution for the sweet and dark soy sauce (2 tablespoons and 1/2 teaspoon, respectively) called for in the original recipe. If you have those, by all means, use them.3. In a large skillet or wok, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add one-third of the beef and stir-fry until browned and about half-cooked. Remove from the pan. Repeat with the rest of the meat, adding more oil as needed.4. Heat the final tablespoon of oil over medium heat and add the garlic, ginger, and the white parts of the scallions. Saute until aromatic and softened, about five minutes. 5. Return the meat and all of the collected juices to the pan. Add the oyster sauce and the reduced soy sauce to taste to the pan. Turn off the heat, then add the green parts of the scallions. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and sugar. Serve over steamed white rice. Enjoy![...]

Short Break


I apologize (again) for the unannounced absence. I'll be taking a short break from blogging due to some family things I need to focus on right now. I should be back in the middle of August.

Weekend Reading #2: The Known World


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The Known World, by Edward P. Jones, tells the story of slavery in pre-Civil War Virginia from a slightly unusual perspective: that of slaves owned by free blacks. The writing is beautiful and the story is incredibly touching. I encountered a slight difficulty in reading it, though - through the middle 150 pages or so, the story dragged. This is through no fault of Mr. Jones - introductions had to be made an events had to occur that would render the last third of the novel possible and believable. However, there was a time that I wasn't sure that I could finish the book.

I did finish it, though, and I'm very glad that I did. The last hundred pages or so made the entire struggle worthwhile. I finished the book in a single sitting. It went quickly and I was very satisfied with the book as a whole. I've heard complaints that the book drags through the middle and then rushes through the story at the end, and I can certainly see where those complaints are coming from. I think the pace was very effective, since the events were happening for the characters so quickly that they couldn't get a handle on what or why they were happening and what the final results would be.

Overall, I highly recommend the novel and I'm eager to read more of Jones' work.

Daring Bakers: Danish Braid


This month's Daring Bakers challenge is hosted by Kelly of Sass & Veracity and Ben of What's cooking? and the have selected the Danish Braid recipe from Sherry Yard's The Secrets of Baking.When I saw this challenge, the first thing that I thought was that it was a good thing I made croissants back in March - otherwise I would have been shaking in terror. Post day snuck up on me this month and I wound up rushing through the recipe, but that was the only problem that I encountered. I said yesterday that no matter how good this turned out, it wouldn't be worth making again just because the dough was almost impossible to work with. I was happily proven wrong. Not only did the dough become easier to work with with each fold, it was also extraordinarily delicious. I made a cranberry and orange filling and an orange-vanilla glaze, and I was blown away by the results. Not only will I make it again with this same recipe, I'll definitely play around with it as well.Danish Braid with Cranberry-Orange FillingIngredientsFor the dough (Detrempe) 1 ounce fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast1/2 cup whole milk1/3 cup sugarZest of 1 orange, finely grated3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped2 large eggs, chilled1/4 cup fresh orange juice3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour1 teaspoon saltFor the butter block (Beurrage)1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter1/4 cup all-purpose flourDOUGHCombine yeast and milk in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed. Slowly add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice. Mix well. Change to the dough hook and add the salt with the flour, 1 cup at a time, increasing speed to medium as the flour is incorporated. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until smooth. You may need to add a little more flour if it is sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.Without a standing mixer: Combine yeast and milk in a bowl with a hand mixer on low speed or a whisk. Add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice and mix well. Sift flour and salt on your working surface and make a fountain. Make sure that the “walls” of your fountain are thick and even. Pour the liquid in the middle of the fountain. With your fingertips, mix the liquid and the flour starting from the middle of the fountain, slowly working towards the edges. When the ingredients have been incorporated start kneading the dough with the heel of your hands until it becomes smooth and easy to work with, around 5 to 7 minutes. You might need to add more flour if the dough is sticky.BUTTER BLOCK1. Combine butter and flour in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle and then beat for 1 minute more, or until smooth and lump free. Set aside at room temperature.2. After the detrempe has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 13 inches and ¼ inch thick. The dough may be sticky, so keep dusting it lightly with flour. Spread the butter evenly over the center and right thirds of the dough. Fold the left edge of the detrempe to the right, covering half of the butter. Fold the right third of the rectangle over the center third. The first turn has now been completed. Mark the dough by poking it with your finger to keep track of your turns, or use a sticky and keep a tally. Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.3. Place the dough lengthwise on a floured work surface. The open ends should be to your right and left. Roll the dough into another approximately 13 x 18 inch, ¼-inch-thick rectangle. Again, fold the left thir[...]

Cherry Torte


I am currently frantically trying to finish the book that I'm currently reading, so in lieu of posting my review today, I'll post a delicious cherry torte recipe instead. I'll post the review as soon as I finish the book.

I cannot claim this recipe as my own. I got it from my mom and made only slight changes. She got it from somewhere else - though I'm not sure where. It is, however, extremely easy and absolutely delicious. I made it recently for the first time in years and I was blown away by the tastiness.

Cherry Torte

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
1-2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2-3 cups pitted and halved cherries (enough to cover the pan you're using)

1. Preheat the oven to 350F and butter a 9-inch round pan.

2. Cream the butter and the sugar. Add the eggs, salt, and vanilla and mix thoroughly.

3. Add the flour and mix until just combined.

4. Spoon the batter into your buttered pan. Arrange the cherries, cut side down, on top of the batter. Sprinkle with about a quarter cup of sugar.

5. Bake at 350F for 45 minutes to an hour, then allow to cool to room temperature.

6. Serve and enjoy!

Weekend Reading #1: The Road


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The Road was recommended to me last fall by Maud Casey, who I was lucky enough to have as a Creative Writing Professor. I was skeptical at first, primarily because it's really not my kind of reading and I rarely go into a book that I know will leave me depressed. However, I was almost instantly proven wrong.

There aren't many books that I read in a single sitting these days - I just don't have the time. Once I started on Cormac McCarthy's masterpiece, though, I was determined to finish it. To stop reading would have been to abandon his characters, and that wasn't something that I was willing to do. I couldn't leave McCarthy's world, because the pace of the book made me believe that if I put the book down, something terrible would happen while I was away.

The novel opens with a father and son walking through the desolated countryside of an unspecified location, believed to be the American midwest. The word as we know it has ended suddenly and murder, looting and cannibalism has become the most common way to survive. They cannot survive another winter in their location, and they are moving south. McCarthy writes that the man and his son are "each other's worlds entire," and they keep each other alive though their journey south.

The Road is bleak, harrowing, and excruciatingly painful to read. Overall, though, it is a hopeful look at what good people can rise above, no matter the circumstances they find themselves in. McCarthy writes monster stories, but he makes people - ordinary people - the monsters. Through all the pain and the suspense, this book was truly a delight to read.

A housekeeping point:

Even though life got in my way and it took me a long time to post this first review, it was great fun to write. Of course, I'll be back on food early next week (I have a fabulous recipe I'm sitting on), but these reviews should be a weekly event from now on. I think it would be fantastic if we bloggers could take this idea and run with it. So here's what I'm thinking: If you would like to participate in Weekend Reading, please post an original review of a book you've read sometime during the week, and send me an email at cookingandbooking AT junebug DOT org by midnight on Friday, with your blog name, a permanent link to your review, and your name. I'll post a recap on Saturday morning. Hopefully we can really get this to take off and get some people reading!

Squash and Zucchini Tart


One of my favorite flavors of summer is squash. I just can't get enough of it - all year long, really, but in the summer the flavor just goes to a whole different level and the squash is incredibly sweet. So, I'm always on a quest to find new things to do with it. When I saw Deb at Smitten Kitchen's Ratatouille Tart, I was intrigued. However, I'm neither a huge fan of tomatoes or of eggplant, so it wasn't really my thing. So, on simplifying it, I came up with this delicious squash and zucchini tart.

Squash and Zucchini Tart

1 tart shell, blind-baked (I used this recipe, and I doubt I'll ever use another)
2 each yellow and green squash
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper

1. Either by hand or using a mandoline, thinly slice the squash. You will probably have some slices left over after assembling the tart - they'll be delicious on a salad.

2. In a small saucepan, combine the olive oil, butter, and garlic over low heat until the butter is just melted. Turn off the heat and let sit while the tart shell is baking.

3. When the tart shell has cooled to room temperature, brush it lightly with the oil and butter. Working from the outside in, lay the squash slices in the shell, slightly overlapping each one. I used three rings plus a few pieces for the center, but your mileage will vary depending on the size of your squash.

4. Brush the squash lightly with the butter and oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

5. Bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes. Serve and Enjoy!


Daring Bakers: L'Opera


This month's Daring Baker's Challenge is hosted by Ivonne, of Creampuffs in Venice, Lisa of La Mia Cucina, and cohosted by Fran of apples peaches pumpkin pie and Shea of Whiskful, and they've chosen this delicious, amazingly wonderful and absolutely worth the time it takes to make it Opera Cake. This month's challenge is dedicate to Barbara of winosandfoodies.As I mentioned, this cake is amazing. I'm extremely proud of how mine turned out. Traditionally, L'Opera is made with chocolate and coffee flavors, but we decided to stick with light colors in honor of Livestrong Month and Barbara. My cake was flavored with orange and vanilla. Other than that, the only change I made to the recipe was just to make four layers instead of three. Will I make it again? Absolutely. I'll probably try other flavors as well.And don't you dare forget to check out the rest of the wonderful concoctions the Daring Bakers have come up with at the blogroll!A Taste of Light: Opéra CakeThis recipe is based on Opéra Cake recipes in Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets and Tish Boyle and Timothy Moriarty’s Chocolate Passion.For the joconde6 large egg whites, at room temperature2 tbsp. (30 grams) granulated sugar2 cups (225 grams) ground blanched almonds2 cups icing sugar, sifted6 large eggs1⁄2 cup (70 grams) all-purpose flour3 tbsp. (11⁄2 ounces; 45 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled1.Divide the oven into thirds by positioning a rack in the upper third of the oven and the lower third of the oven.2.Preheat the oven to 425◦F. (220◦C).3.Line two 121⁄2 x 151⁄2- inch (31 x 39-cm) jelly-roll pans with parchment paper and brush with melted butter.4.In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or using a handheld mixer), beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar and beat until the peaks are stiff and glossy. If you do not have another mixer bowl, gently scrape the meringue into another bowl and set aside.5.If you only have one bowl, wash it after removing the egg whites or if you have a second bowl, use that one. Attach the paddle attachment to the stand mixer (or using a handheld mixer again) and beat the almonds, icing sugar and eggs on medium speed until light and voluminous, about 3 minutes.6.Add the flour and beat on low speed until the flour is just combined (be very careful not to overmix here!!!).7.Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the meringue into the almond mixture and then fold in the melted butter. Divide the batter between the pans and spread it evenly to cover the entire surface of each pan.8.Bake the cake layers until they are lightly browned and just springy to the touch. This could take anywhere from 5 to 9 minutes depending on your oven. Place one jelly-roll pan in the middle of the oven and the second jelly-roll pan in the bottom third of the oven.9.Put the pans on a heatproof counter and run a sharp knife along the edges of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Cover each with a sheet of parchment or wax paper, turn the pans over, and unmold.10.Carefully peel away the parchment, then turn the parchment over and use it to cover the cakes. Let the cakes cool to room temperature.For the syrup1⁄2 cup (125 grams) water⅓ cup (65 grams) granulated sugarZest of 1 orange2 tablespoons Triple Sec1.Stir all the syrup ingredients together in the saucepan and bring to a boil.2.Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.For the buttercream1 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar1⁄4 cup (60 grams) water 1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract1 large egg1 large egg yolk13⁄4 sticks (7 ounces; 200 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperatureZest of 1 orange1 teaspoon orange extract1.Combine the sugar, water and vanilla bean seeds or extract in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat just until the sugar dissolves.2.Continue to cook, wit[...]

Cheese Puffs


Before I get into this (absolutely astoundingly amazing and delicious) recipe, I would like to apologize for my unannounced absence. I didn't think that exam week would hit me as hard as it did, but I was wrong. I do have a new job that has gotten me very much re-interested in cooking and baking, so I am now 100% back and ready to share my creations once again.Now, onto the cheese puffs (or gougeres, if you prefer). You can certainly make these with any kind of cheese you like. I used Parrano Cheese, a Gouda with an Italian flavor, because I picked it up at Whole Foods and I really wanted to showcase it. The only consideration to take into account if using a different cheese would be to adjust your amount according. With something very strong, a Parmiggiano Reggiano or a blue, I would recommend using less cheese, and more with something very mild.Cheese Puffs1 cup water1 stick butter1/2 teaspoon salt1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated if possible)1 cup flour4 eggs, at room temperature1 1/2 cups finely shredded cheese1. Preheat the oven to 350F. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the water and butter to a simmer with the salt, pepper, and nutmeg.2. Add the flour and stir for a minute or two. The dough should pull away from the sides of the pan and be very thick and slightly shiny. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (you could do this by hand also, but the mixer is easier).3. Mix the dough for a few minutes to cool it off. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing completely after each addition. Add the cheese and mix until combined.4. Move the dough into a piping bag fitted with a large round or star tip (I used a star). Pipe onto a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet in little spiral mounds.5. Bake for 20 minutes, until puffed and just barely golden.6. Serve warm from the oven and enjoy!Currently, I'm reading... The Known World, by Edward P. Jones.[...]

Shrimp and Broccoli Rabe Quiche


Monday nights are casserole nights in my apartment - I have a night class, so I come home in the afternoon and put something together, then throw it in the fridge and leave instructions for my boyfriend to cook it when he gets home. Most of these are very unpostable, Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup affairs. This one, on the other hand, was quite good and not at all trashy.Shrimp and Broccoli Rabe Quiche1 pie crust, blind-baked (I used this recipe from Smitten Kitchen cut in half and minus sugar, but any will do)2 tablespoons olive oil2 tablespoons butter1 small onion, sliced2 cloves garlic, mincedzest of 1 lemon1 bunch broccoli rabe, roughly chopped1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined and roughly choppedSalt and Pepper1 cup cheddar cheese3 eggs1/2 cup half-and-half (or 1/4 cup each cream and milk)pinch nutmeg1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and lemon zest and saute until the onion is soft.2. Add the broccoli rabe and toss to coat with the oil. Cook, uncovered, for 3-5 minutes, stirring, until the greens are reduced to less than one quarter of their starting size.3. Add the shrimp and season well. Cook until the shrimp are pink and opaque. Taste and re-season. Transfer the whole mixture to the pie crust.4. Sprinkle the cheese over the filling.5. Combine the eggs, half-and-half, and nutmeg. Season liberally with salt and pepper, then whisk.6. Pour the egg mixture slowly over the filling, giving it some time to settle in. Stop just before it reaches the lowest point of the crust. The top of the filling may not be covered, but that's OK.7. Bake the quiche, uncovered, in the 375F oven for 30-45 minutes, until the center is set. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes.8. Serve and enjoy![...]

Slow Roasted Duck


For my birthday dinner, I decided to go out for Tapas because I've been on a trying new things trip lately, and I thought that would be a fantastic way to try as many new things as possible. One of the new things was duck confit. I don't see duck much here in Maryland - I mean, we have a lot of ducks, but not much duck meat. Not to mention, no one that I know well enough to take food from hunts, so duck is kind of hard to come by. Anyway, to make a long story short, I loved it. So, at Whole Foods Market in Annapolis, this transpired:Me: I wish they had duck.BF: [Disappears for a while, then comes back] Like this duck? [Hold up a duck]Me: Oh my god! Duck![Duck buying proceeds]Me: I don't know how to cook duck.So, I went to Food Blog Search and found this fantastic looking recipe from Amuse Bouche, which I used as my inspiration. My technique is about the same, but my flavors are different. And let me tell you, this duck was amazing. The skin was crispy, the meat was moist but not at all greasy, and the flavor was heavenly. Not to mention, the smell during the whole five hours of cooking was unbelievable.Slow Roasted Duck1 duck, giblets and any flaps of fat removed, rinsed1/2 onion, peeled4 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled1/2 orange, in four pieces1 tablespoon salt1-2 teaspoons pepper1. Preheat the oven to 300F.2. Season the cavity liberally with salt and pepper. Stuff it with the onion, garlic, and orange. Rub the skin with more salt and pepper, and prick with a paring knife, being careful not to pierce the skin (this works best if you do it at an angle).3. Put the duck in a pan just large enough to hold it so the fat doesn't burn with the breast side down. Roast for one hour.4. At the end of the hour, pull the duck out of the oven and transfer it to a baking sheet, large plate, cutting board - just something to hold it. Carefully pour the accumulated fat out of the roasting pan. Don't throw it away! Flip the duck over and put it back in the roasting pan. Roast again.5. Every hour, pull the duck out of the oven, drain the fat, and flip the duck. If there are any pockets of fat towards the last two hours, prick them again with the knife.6. After the duck has cooked for five hours total (more or less if your duck is very large or very small - this is very forgiving), pull it from the oven for the last time. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes, then carve it the same way you would a chicken. One duck should serve 2 people very comfortably, but probably not more than that.7. Serve and enjoy! The duck fat, in my opinion, is too good to throw away. Mine is in a mason jar in the fridge, until I can accumulate enough to make confit. It's also supposed to be amazing with potatoes. Food Blog Search has a wealth of ideas for it. I also froze the bones to make stock in the future.[...]

Dorie Greenspan's World Peace Cookies


I have a confession to make: I'm a bit of a show-off. So, when I found out that my classmates and I would be taking turns bringing snacks for a particularly long class, I knew that I would have to bring something fantastic. Luckily, for my birthday a few weeks ago, I was given Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours, which turned out to be a treasure trove of recipes. There are, quite literally, fewer than five that I would not make.So I decided to make these double-chocolate shortbread cookies, and they were a hit. I was thrilled with the results (and with the leftovers!). So, here is the recipe, with a few slight modifications.Dorie Greenspan's World Peace Cookies1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder1/2 teaspoon baking powder1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened2/3 cups packed light brown sugar1/4 cup sugar1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (or fleur de sel)1 teaspoon vanilla extract5 ounces (about 3/4 cup) chopped chocolate (I used milk, the recipe calls for bittersweet) or mini chips1. Sift the flour, cocoa, and baking powder.2. Beat the butter with the paddle attachment of a stand mixer (or a hand mixer) until light and fluffy. Add the sugars, salt, and vanilla and cream together, again until light and fluffy.3. Turn off the mixer and add the flour mixture all at once. Cover the mixer with a towel and pulse about 5 times. Check to see if the flour has been incorporated at all. If it hasn't, pulse a few more times. If it has, mix just until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Add the chopped chocolate and mix quickly.4. Turn the dough out of the mixer and use your hands to form it into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap well and chill for at least 3 hours and up to 3 days (it can be frozen for up to 2 months, just add a minute to the cooking time - no need to thaw).5. Preheat the oven to 325F. Unwrap the log of dough (if you like, roll it in about 1/4 cup of sugar) and cut it into 1/2 inch rounds. Place on a baking sheet 1 inch apart. If they crack, just press them back together. Bake for 12 minutes. Dorie notes that they won't look done or be firm, they that's how they should be. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and let rest until just warm or room temperature. Makes about 36 cookies.[...]

Dressed-Up Mac and Cheese


A while ago, I decided to go check out the organic market near the apartment. I found an 8 ounce block of beautiful, creamy white raw milk sharp cheddar cheese. It's been sitting in the fridge for a bit, patiently waiting for me to get the inspiration of what to do with it - and it hasn't been easy, trying to find something that would really show off the flavor of the cheese. Now that I've cooked with half of it, the rest will probably be snacked on with crackers.This pasta is kind of a dressed-up mac and cheese. I used homemade pasta, but you could certainly use store-bought, in any shape that you like. It is fantastically creamy and surprisingly easy to make.Pasta with Cheddar Sauce1 recipe homemade pasta, or 1 pound dry1 tablespoon olive oil1 tablespoon butter1/2 small onion, thinly slicedSalt and Freshly ground pepper1 tablespoon flour1 cup milkPinch nutmeg4 ounces grated sharp white cheddar (best quality you can find!)1. Cook the pasta until al dente and preheat the oven to 350F.2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, but not brown. Season with salt and pepper.3. Add the flour and cook for a few minutes so it doesn't taste raw. Stirring constantly, slowly add the milk.4. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook until thickened, 3-5 minutes.5. Add the shredded cheese to the pot.6. Stir the cheese into the sauce until it is smooth and velvety.7. Add the drained pasta to the sauce and stir until it is well-coated. Transfer to a buttered baking dish.8. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the tops of the pasta are golden brown. Serve and enjoy!Currently, I'm reading... In Persuasion Nation, by George Saunders.[...]

Warm Corn and Black Bean Salad


I have to admit, I don't have a musing introduction to this recipe. So, in lieu of that, a few announcements. If you check out the sidebar to the right, you'll see a form to subscribe to Cooking and Booking by e-mail. You'll also see a form for the Food Blog Search, which was put together by several people, including Elise of Simply Recipes, and compiles recipes from over 2,000 food blogs. I've been using it religiously myself, and it's a fantastic tool.

Also, after the results of the poll I posted last week, I'm going to start trying very hard to post reviews of the books that I mention or have mentioned in the past. If there are any that you'd particularly like to see, please let me know. I will be posting the first review on Friday, and subsequent reviews on the subsequent Fridays!

So, without further ado, a warm salad with corn and black beans that is absolutely delicious and incredibly filling.

Warm Corn and Black Bean Salad

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium onion, sliced thinly
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons roasted red peppers, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried (or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh) cilantro
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups fresh or frozen corn
1/4 cup water

1. In a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion, red pepper, and garlic, and saute until the onion is translucent and just beginning to brown. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Add the water, corn, and black beans. Bring to a simmer and cook until the corn is thawed (if it was frozen) and the water is almost completely evaporated.

3. Stir in the cilantro and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy! I served mine with a plain cheese quesadilla, but this would also be delicious with grilled chicken or fish, or by itself. A squeeze of fresh lime juice would be fantastic as well.


Chickpea Fritters (Falafel)


Whenever I'm about to post a recipe that has a very specific name that comes with connotations or cultural implications, I do a good amount of research beforehand to make sure that I don't inadvertently offend anyone or post an inauthentic recipe. So, I have looked through a lot of recipes for falafel recently. Falafel seems to be one of those rare recipes that doesn't have any hard-and-fast requirements. (If you know otherwise, please correct me!)Normally, falafel is made with ground chickpeas, but I like a little bit of texture, so I decided to hand-mash my chickpeas. I also added some spinach, which was a great flavor and texture contrast to the chickpeas. I didn't make sandwiches with mine, but you certainly could.Falafel1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds1 teaspoon sesame seeds1/4-1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper1/2 teaspoon kosher salt1 teaspoon cumin1/4 cup grated onion1-2 tablespoons grated garlic1 can chickpeas1/2-1 cup thawed frozen spinach, squeezed dry1 tablespoon olive oil1-2 tablespoons flourVegetable Oil (for frying)1/2 cup breadcrumbs1. Toast the fennel, coriander, and sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat until lightly browned and fragrant.2. Combine the toasted seeds, pepper, salt and cumin in a mortar and pestle and grind until fine and well-mixed.3. In a large bowl, combine the spice mix, onion, garlic, chickpeas, spinach, flour, and olive oil and mash with a fork until well-mixed. The mixture should be relatively dry and able to hold its shape fairly well.4. Divide the mixture into about six portions. I used a #20 cookie scoop, and it worked perfectly.5. Using your hands, shape the portions into patties.6. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1/4-1/2 inch of vegetable or canola oil until the surface ripples.7. Coat the patties lightly with the breadcrumbs. If you like, you can season the breadcrumbs with salt, pepper, and cumin.8. Carefully place the falafel in the oil. Fry for 3-5 minutes per side, until golden brown.9. Serve and enjoy! I served mine alongside some simple steamed rice.Currently, I'm reading... The Constant Gardener, by John Le Carre.[...]

Weekend Herb Blogging #129: Zucchini/Courgette


This week's edition of Weekend Herb Blogging is hosted by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook, and I'll be writing about one of my favorite vegetables, just beginning to come into season around here: zucchini.Until I started doing a bit of research for this post, I thought (as I think most people do) that zucchini was a vegetable. Little did I know, it isn't! It's a fruit. See? You just learned something!Anyway, this is one of my favorite ways to prepare zucchini, because it really lets the flavor shine through.Grilled Zucchini4 zucchini, washed and sliced either diagonally or lengthwiseOlive oilSalt and pepper1 tablespoon butter (optional)1. After slicing the zucchini, preheat your largest grill pan to medium to medium-high. I don't know if this would work on a real grill - the zucchini gets fairly soft and I suspect it would fall apart on the grates.2. Drizzle the slices, on one side, very lightly with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.3. Put the slices, seasoned-side down, on the grill pan. Drizzle and season the second side. If all of the zucchini doesn't fit, you can work in batches and keep it in a warm oven.4. Cook on the first side until the zucchini begins to look transparent, about 5 minutes. Turn over. If your grill pan is like mine and has warm and cool spots, rotate the slices around to make sure that all the slices get grill marks on at least one side.5. Cook on the other side for about another five minutes. If you want to, during the last minute of cooking, melt the butter in the pan - it will flavor the zucchini a bit more.6. Serve and enjoy!Today, I'm reading... Of Love And Other Demons, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.[...]

Smashed Roasted Potatoes


I believe I have mentioned my love of mashed potatoes in the past. I can't imagine that I haven't. Anyway, I have a deep and abiding love for all things mashed potato. But, even the best loves can get boring.

So, outside of the ordinary loading and gravies and such, how does one jazz up mashed potatoes? Roasting, of course!

Smashed Roasted Potatoes

4 medium-large Yukon Gold Potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 stick salted butter
1 tablespoon heavy cream (or milk or half-and-half)

1. Toss the potatoes with the olive oil and salt and pepper and spread in a baking pan or sheet.

2. Roast at 450F for 30 minutes, or until very tender and well-browned.

3. Use a fork to smash the potatoes and mix in the softened butter. I find that it's easiest to break the potatoes in the baking pan, then scrape them into a bowl and mix.
4. Add the cream, and wait for the butter to melt.

5. Season with more salt and pepper to taste, serve, and enjoy!


I just finished reading... Angela's Ashes(image) , by Frank McCourt.

Recipe Archive


BeansFalafelWarm Corn and Black Bean SaladBeefBeef and Bean Soup with Rice NoodlesBeef and Cabbage Fried RiceMongolian BeefBreadsBasic French BreadChallahCroissantsJulia Child's French BreadBreakfastDanish BraidHome FriesCakes and CupcakesCherry TorteCoconut-Pecan Icing (for German Chocolate Cake)Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party CakeL'OperaMint Julep CupcakesCandies and SweetsMexican Chocolate TrufflesChickenChicken and Artichoke StewChicken and DumplingsChicken with Basil-Riesling Cream SauceMacaroni and Cheese with Chicken and BroccoliSimple and Juicy Roast ChickenCookiesDorie Greenpan's World Peace CookiesDuckSlow Roasted DuckFishSalmon with Wine-Butter SauceTilapia with Pureed Chickpeas and Olive RelishHors D'ouvres/SnacksAsian-Style Pork DumplingsCheese PuffsSpinach and Artichoke Mini-PiesIce Cream/Sherbet/Sorbet/GelatoDulce de Leche GelatoPastaHomemade Pasta DoughMacaroni and Cheese with Chicken and BroccoliPenne with Sausage, Onion and Cranberry SauceDressed-Up 'Mac and Cheese'Pies/Quiches/TartsLemon Meringue PieShrimp and Broccoli Rabe QuicheSpinach and Artichoke Mini-PiesSquash and Zucchini TartPorkAsian-Style Pork DumplingsBirch Beer Braised PorkSlow Cooker Shredded PorkPotatoesHome FriesScalloped PotatoesSmashed Roasted PotatoesRiceBeef and Cabbage Fried RiceGreen Onion RisottoRisotto with Roasted VegetablesTriple Garlic RisottoSoupBeef and Bean Soup with Rice NoodlesVegetablesGrilled ZucchiniPan-Roasted Brussels SproutsSpinach and Artichoke Mini-PiesSquash and Zucchini TartTilapia with Pureed Chickpeas and Olive RelishWarm Corn and Black Bean Salad[...]

Birch Beer Braised Pork


I almost feel bad about posting a recipe for this. Really - it's almost too simple for a recipe. That said, it took me awhile to figure out the best way to go about it, so I'm going to post it anyway.

I had quite the debate with myself over what kind of soda I wanted to use in this dish - root beer, plain cola, orange soda, and ginger ale all came up at one point or another. Eventually, though, I settled on the birch beer for it's complex spiciness. All of them would certainly work, and I'd love to hear about your results if you try any of them.

One last thought before I get into the recipe: The leftovers were delicious!

Birch Beer Braised Pork

1 pork shoulder, small enough to fit in your largest saucepan or dutch oven
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 (2-liter) bottle birch beer

1. Season the pork liberally with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a very large saucepan or dutch oven.

2. Brown the pork on all sides.

3. Add the birch beer to the pan, either enough to cover the pork or then entire bottle.

4. Simmer for about 3 hours.

5. Remove from the pan (carefully!) and shred with two forks. Before serving, pour over about a half-cup of the cooking liquid to keep the meat moist and flavorful.

I just finished reading... Possession: A Romance(image) , by A.S. Byatt.

Process Post - Croissants


Croissants were, until very recently, at the top of my list of things that I eventually had to make from scratch. I made them over my spring break, and I was very happy with the results. They were a two-day endeavor, but they were absolutely worth it. I used this recipe, and the instructions on how to form them can be found here.I mixed my yeasty liquid together, and was relieved, as I always am while baking, when it foamed up.Next, I mixed in the dry ingredients.The dough started to come together.By the time it came together completely, it was very smooth. As per the recipe, I kneaded it by hand for a few minutes and wrapped it and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes.While the dough was in the fridge, I beat the crap out of three sticks of butter and wrapped them in wax paper, then put them in the fridge also.When the dough came out of the fridge, it had risen slightly and was spongy and just a bit chilly.I rolled it out and put the butter in the middle.I folded the dough like a letter over the butter.I rolled the dough (and the butter) out again, and folded it like a letter again.After this, it went back in the fridge for an hour. After the hour, it came out of the fridge and I rolled it out and folded it like a letter, then put it back in the fridge. I did this two more times, and after the final fold, I cut the dough in half so that I could freeze half. I could see all the layers of butter in the dough.Half of the dough went into the fridge, and half into the freezer. The next morning, I rolled out the dough from the fridge, one half at a time, and cut it into triangles.I rolled up the triangles and let them rise. I baked them. Slightly too much, unfortunately.However, overdone though they may have been, they were absolutely delicious. Much better than my usual Starbucks croissants. They were quite a bit of work, but it was soothing to do something that had to be done at a leisurely pace, and it turned out to be a great way to kick off my break. I would definitely make them again, and I can't wait to have the opportunity to use the dough that's still in the freezer!I just finished reading... The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon.[...]

I'm a Daring Baker! - Dorie's Perfect Party Cake


This month's Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Morven, of Food Art and Random Thoughts, and she chose Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake, from her book Baking: From My Home to Yours. You can find the recipe here.Morven was kind enough to give all us Daring Bakers some flexibility with the flavors for this cake, and I chose to make a lime cake with lime buttercream, with orange-tequila marmalade instead of the raspberry jam. My first attempt was, for a lack of a better term, a disaster. I accidentally came home from the store with whole-wheat pastry flour, instead of regular cake flour. The cake was grainy and it was almost impossible not to break the layers. For my second try, I followed Dorie's advice to use Swan's Down brand cake flour, which worked much better.I used a tablespoon or so of lime zest instead of the lemon zest for the cake batter, and vanilla extract instead of lemon, since I couldn't find lime.Rubbing together the zest and sugar was easily my favorite part of this recipe - it was amazing how much lime scent wafted up while the sugar took on the consistency of wet sand.After many a Daring Baker had problems getting the cakes to rise, I beat the crap out of the batter once it was mixed. Still, my cakes just barely rose. The finished texture wasn't lacking, though, so I think it's just the nature of the recipe.To make the tequila-orange marmalade, I just mixed together a small jar (14 ounces, I think) of orange marmalade, a teaspoon of kosher salt, 3 tablespoons of sugar, and a half a cup of tequila in a medium saucepan, brought it up to a simmer, and cooked it for 10 minutes. Then I transferred it to a mason jar and threw it in the fridge to cool. It's pretty loose, so the syrup soaked into the cake.For the buttercream, I just swapped lime juice for the lemon juice. Overall, I wasn't impressed. My boyfriend loved it, but it wasn't my cup of tea. For one, the buttercream was far looser than I would like. For another, I'm just not crazy about fruity cakes. Cakes should be chocolate. Or vanilla. Or hazelnut, or coffee, or mocha, or a million different things. I just don't care for fruity cake. That being said, I would adapt the basic cake recipe for other cakes. To be honest, though, this isn't a cake that I will be making again.[...]

Beef and Cabbage Fried Rice


With only two people to cook for (including myself), I found that preparing my family's traditional corned beef and cabbage (yes, I know it's not Irish - but we're immigrants, so that makes it authentic, right?) left me with a veritable feast of leftovers. The mashed potatoes were no problem. The corned beef made a delicious hash. But the cabbage proved to be a challenge, so I came up with this delicious fried rice. Is it even remotely close to authentic Asian cuisine of any culture? I doubt it. But it is tasty, and that's all I'm concerned about.Beef and Cabbage Fried Rice1 pound beef, thinly sliced2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil1 onion, thinly sliced2 cloves garlic, minced or grated2-4 tablespoons soy sauce, shoyu or tamari (I used tamari)2 tablespoons stir-fry sauce (optional)1/2 teaspoon ground ginger1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flake1/2 head cabbage, thinly shredded3 cups cooked riceSalt and freshly ground black pepper1. Season the beef with salt and pepper and stir fry in a wok or other large pan over high heat until cooked about halfway through, 2-3 minutes. Don't worry about over-crowding the pan, I found it didn't matter.2. Add the onions, garlic, soy sauce, stir fry sauce, ginger, and red pepper flake. Stir and cook until the onions are soft.3. Add the cabbage (add more oil if necessary). Cook until wilted and about 2/3 its original volume. For volume reference, the picture above is only half the cabbage.4. Add the rice and mix well. Cook until the rice is warmed through and season to taste.5. Serve and enjoy![...]

Home Fries


After the response I got to my homemade pasta post, I've realized what my posts are missing: pictures! So, from now on, I'm going to try to include more pictures for most of my normal posts.I'm not generally one for breakfast. I like breakfast food, but in the morning, I just don't want to cook. During the week, breakfast usually consists of cold cereal (oatmeal if I'm feeling adventurous), if it consists of anything other than tea or coffee. So, on the weekends, breakfast normally happens around lunchtime. Either way, it's a good way to start the day and it's always very yummy. And really, with potatoes and bacon, where can you go wrong?Home Fries6 slices bacon, sliced into 1/4" strips2-3 Yukon Gold or other waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into thin slices2 tablespoons butter1 tablespoon olive oil1 small onion, thinly sliced1/2 teaspoon dry mustard1 teaspoon dried thymeSalt and pepper1. In a large skillet or pot, fry the bacon until crispy. Remove to a paper-towel lined plate to drain. Remove the bacon fat from the pan, except for 1 tablespoon.2 . Add the butter and olive oil to the pan, and saute the onion until translucent. Add the mustard and thyme.3. Add the potatoes to the pan and toss to coat with the oil. Season with salt and pepper. Over medium heat, cover the pan and let the potatoes cook for about five minutes, then stir.4. Again, cover the pan and stir. Keep repeating this process until the potatoes are cooked through and crispy and the onions are caramelized.5. Once the potatoes are well-browned and cooked through, add the bacon back to the pan and cook until it is warmed back through. Serve and enjoy!Currently, I'm reading... The Gathering, by Anne Enright.[...]