Since I have all these vanilla beans sitting around (I bought half a kilo of them a couple of months ago) as well as raspberry liqueur that nobody really wants to drink, I came up with this variation of my fruit bread. It just came out of the oven, so I can't try it yet. I won't know what it tastes like until I get to Italy and share it with my family! Let's hope this experiment was a success. ;) It sure smells and looks like a success.

Raspberry-Vanilla Fruit Bread

about 3-4 cups mixed dried fruits--a small handful each dried cherries, apricots, figs and apples and half a handful each dried peaches and pears
about 3-4 Tbsp candied ginger
3 vanilla beans, halved, seeds scraped out
1 cup raspberry liqueur
grated zest of two small clementines
2 Tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
5/8 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
2/3 cup milk
2 1/4 cups unbleached white flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp sea salt
1 cup walnuts, lightly toasted (stir often in a dry pan over med-low until they smell/taste toasty)

Cut the larger fruits into smaller pieces. The pieces of fruit in the bread can be as large or as small as you like. Place all the fruits in a saucepan with the ginger, liqueur, vanilla seeds and pods and clementine zest. Bring this to a boil, then remove the pan from the heat, cover and let it steep for about 30 minutes. (You don't really have to put the vanilla pods in this mixture, as the flavors won't have much time to come out. It might be nice to use them for something else, such as making vanilla sugar).

Butter and flour a loaf pan. Preheat your oven to 180° C (350° F). Cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl, then beat in the egg, then the milk.

Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the wet mix. Fold the mixture together, being careful not to overmix. Stir in the walnuts, the macerated fruit and its liquid. Spoon or pour the batter into the loaf pan.

Bake for 1 hour or until a knife inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Let the bread cool in the pan for 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling. Wrap the bread in plastic or foil once it's completely cooled. Wait until the next day before slicing it. In this bread's previous incarnations, we've enjoyed toasting it and spreading it with unsalted butter, cream cheese, or mascarpone.
saansaturday: (whip me)
( Monday, 21 November 2005 14:27)
Recipe as requested:

Both these recipes for sopapillas yield about 4 dozen!! But the recipes halve well, if you don't need that many.

2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 1/4 cups warm milk (the original recipe I used calls for scalded milk but I don't find this necessary)
4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. shortening or lard, plus extra

In a bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the water and milk. Stir and let dissolve for about 10 minutes.

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl and cut in the shortening. Make a well in the center and add the yeast mixture. Stir until a dough forms.

Knead the dough for about 10 minutes or until it becomes smooth and elastic. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let it rest about 5-10 minutes.

Heat 2 inches of shortening in a deep heavy pan at medium-high heat. You can also use a deep-fryer.

Roll the dough to a 1/8 inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough into squares (about 4 inches square) and fry until golden brown on both sides, turning once. If the sopapillas don't puff up, your shortening isn't hot enough. Drain the sopapillas on paper towels. Serve with spicy foods to cut the heat, stuff with meat or whatever, or serve as a dessert with honey (or anything you want, of course).

Baking Powder Sopapillas
I prefer yeast sopapillas but these are good too.

4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. shortening
1 1/2 cups warm water

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl, cut in shortening, make a well, add water and work into a dough.

Knead the dough until smooth, about 5-10 minutes, cover with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let it rest for about 20 minutes.

Roll and cut the sopapillas out and fry as in the previous recipe.
When I was searching for something to eat this morning, I saw lots of things to make a good sandwich with (smoked turkey breast, buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes, gouda, goat cheese, prosciutto, etc.) and started craving one of my sandwich concoctions--I do make fabulous sandwiches. I was sad that I had no bread in the house, having eaten the last of a baguette late last night when I got hungry and, feeling very lazy, the last thing I wanted to do was to get dressed and go buy bread. So I thought about baking bread. I started thinking about various quick breads that might also make a good sandwich and got stuck on biscuits. Not only did it seem that a biscuit with mayo, tomato, turkey and gouda would probably be pretty damn tasty, I started craving just the biscuits themselves.

You all know how I love to cook and bake and if you've been reading for any length of time you know I have no trouble with quick breads, yeast breads, pie crusts or other pastry. Yet I have always been a drop-biscuit-from-Bisquick-mix kind of person. It's the ease of this method (and I do find the biscuits made this way tasty) that always wins over making my own from scratch. And even on the few occasions I've made biscuits from scratch, I've made drop biscuits, just so I wouldn't have to knead the dough and then clean up the mess from that. Lazy, I know. But today I was craving *real* biscuits, the kind that are round and tall and fluffy yet mouth-melty sexy. Oh gods.

I started searching for a recipe that had the ingredients listed by weight, because I've found that I always get better results when baking if I weigh. But alas, Americans are not into weighing, and even Alton Brown's recipe used volume measurements.

I searched my recipe database for biscuit recipes and came up with about ten of them. But which to use? I ended up flipping a coin to decide between what I decided were the two best candidates. The winner was from a book called Learning to Cook with Marion Cunningham. I have no idea who Marion Cunningham is, but damn does she have a good biscuit recipe!

Still missing a printer, I wrote only the bare essentials of the recipe down (her version is greatly detailed).

1/3 cup shortening, plus extra
2 cups AP flour, plus extra
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup milk

Oven 225 C (450 F).

Stir dry ingredients together with a fork.

Add shortening and cut in.

Add milk and stir. Don't overmix.

Lightly knead about 10 times on a floured surface.

Cut out biscuits and place with a little space between them on a greased baking pan.

Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

A recipe like that would probably confound someone like V but is was probably more info than I needed. :P I could have done it with just the ingredient list and the oven temperature. ;) When I patted the dough out to a 1/2 inch thickness, ready to cut out the biscuits, I suddenly realized that I had nothing to cut them with, so I ended up using a Guinness pint glass.

They came out of the oven after a bit more than 15 minutes, beautifully browned and fluffed up. I took a few photos before spreading two of them with butter and devouring them. The biscuits were everything I wanted--a bit crispy on the outside and the fluffy insides did that sexy melting thing in my mouth. Is it possible to have oral sex with food? I think I just had oral sex with biscuits!

The recipe made eight biscuits and I only ate two, so I'm thinking forget the sandwich idea, go buy some sausage and make some sausage gravy and have biscuits and gravy for dinner. Ye Gods! I love knowing how to cook. :)

two photos )
I've been working on writing down my favorite recipes, particularly for New Mexican food. (In the past I was generally sharing experimental food with you, not old favorites). There will be many more of these recipes coming in the future. Here are the results so far:

Corn Tortillas )

Flour Tortillas )

Calabacitas )

Green Chile Spinach Enchiladas )

Green Chile Stew )

Tortilla Soup )

Frijoles Pintos (pinto beans) )

Frijoles Refritos (refried beans) )

Sopa )
Pumpkin Pie )
saansaturday: (botticon)
( Wednesday, 19 October 2005 14:25)
Dinner last night:

1 spaghetti squash
olive oil
salt and fresh ground pepper

250 grams spaghetti
more olive oil and a little butter
about 1 cup bread crumbs from stale bread (I used potato bread)
5-7 cloves garlic, minced
a little less than a cup of walnuts, chopped roughly
a handful of fresh sage leaves
juice of half a lemon
about 1 cup parmesano reggiano
salt and fresh ground pepper

Cut the squash in half and remove its guts. Place cut side up in a roasting pan. Rub the cut surfaces with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast in a 190 C (375 F) oven for about 1-1.5 hours, or until the squash is tender. Remove from the oven and let cool enough to handle. Scoop the flesh into a bowl and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium, add some olive oil and a little butter, then add the breadcrumbs, garlic and walnuts. Cook, stirring often, until the breadcrumbs and walnuts are toasty. Remove the breadcrumb mix from the pan and set aside. Turn up the heat a bit, add a little more olive oil to the pan, then add the fresh sage leaves. Fry the leaves for about a minute or until they are crispy. Remove them from the pan and set aside. Then add the spaghetti squash to the pan along with a little more butter or oil, if necessary. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water. When the spaghetti is almost but not quite done, add it with some of its cooking water to the squash. Cook and stir until the spaghetti is done. Then add most of the breadcrumbs and fried sage along with the lemon juice, parmesano reggiano and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with the reserved breadcrumbs and fried sage leaves.
I made this to take to Thanksgiving in Italy last year. Last night I altered the recipe a bit. This version of the bread had more fruit and more ginger than last time; I'm not exactly sure how much more. It's also a bit sweeter. With all the fruit as well as walnuts, this bread is hearty and a slice or two makes a nice breakfast. I had the first slice this morning (it tastes best if you let it sit overnight before slicing it) toasted and smothered in mascarpone, which melted some from the heat of the bread and made a gooey, creamy, fruity mess. :)

Sherried Fruit Bread (variation)

about 3-4 cups mixed dried fruits--I used a mixture of mangoes, apricots, prunes, apples, peaches, pears, cranberries, currants and raisins
about 4 or 5 Tbsp candied ginger
a little more than 2/3 cup good sherry
grated zest of one orange
2 Tbsp unsalted butter at room temp.
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
a little more than 3/4 cup milk
2 1/4 cups unbleached white flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 heaping tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
a little fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
1 cup walnuts, or a bit more, lightly toasted (stir often in a dry pan over med-low until they smell/taste toasty)

Cut the larger fruits into smaller pieces. The pieces of fruit in the bread can be as large or as small as you like. Place all the fruits in a saucepan with the ginger, sherry and orange zest. Bring this to a boil, then remove the pan from the heat, cover and let it steep for about 30 minutes.

Butter and flour a loaf pan. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl, then add the egg, then the milk.

Combine the flour, baking powder, spices and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the wet mix. Fold the mixture together, being careful not to overmix. Stir in the walnuts, the macerated fruit and its liquid. Spoon or pour the batter into the loaf pan.

Bake for 1 hour or until a knife inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Let the bread cool in the pan for 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling. Wrap the bread in plastic or foil once it's completely cooled. It tastes better if you let it sit for a day before slicing. It is especially good toasted and spread with butter or cream cheese.

four photos behind the cut )
saansaturday: (further back and faster)
( Tuesday, 18 October 2005 12:34)
by Harry Crosby

            I am the criminal whose chest is tattooed with a poinard above which are graven the words "mort aux bourgeois." Let us each tattoo this on his heart.
            I am the soldier with a red mark on my nakedness -- when in a frenzy of love the mark expands to spell Mad Queen. Let us each tattoo our Mad Queen on his heart.
            I am the prophet from the land of the Sun whose back is tattooed in the design of a sun rising. Let us each tattoo a rising sun on his heart.
saansaturday: (madness)
( Tuesday, 18 October 2005 12:24)
Illustrations of Madness
by Harry Crosby


As boys lift a kite in the air so there is lifted into my brain the word Explosion which explodes and explodes in the intellect for hours at a time and no matter how much I wish to direct my mind to other objects and banish the explosions I find myself unable to do so because the word keeps exploding in my mind to the exclusion of all other thoughts. I am during the entire time aware that the explosion is subconscious and does not belong to the train of my own cognitions.


I can cause good sense to appear as insanity, distort the wisest institutions of civilized society into the practices of barbarians and strain Christianity into a jest book.


My heart is a madhouse for the twin lunatics of her eyes.


I rejoice in that dangerous automatic liberty which deprives man of the volition which constitutes him a being responsible for his actions.


I continuously feel hurricanes of magic storming into me as wild and as insane as eagles catapulting themselves into the Sun.


I have heard for days and nights on end the reverberations crashing in my head of all the skyscrapers and buildings of the world, the reverberation of the crashing of ships in the fog at sea, the reverberation of the crashing of iron thoughts on the cold floor of the brain.


There is in me the infernal fury of the Sun by means of which I practice atrocities on the Philistines. The operation of my fury is instantaneous and I leave them to the malignity of my scorn and ridicule.


All compromise with me is impossible.


The inward nerves of my vision are beyond the sentiments of my heart and have no communication with the operations of my intellect. I boast of having effected this in a very complete manner by having caught and distilled certain rays of light from the Sun.


Because of a machine of light in my brain, because of the interpretation of a wall of words ( amor   fire   velocity   invulnerability ). Because of the spells and incantations of a sorceress, I am beyond the force of assailment. In order to ascertain whether this be true or not let them decapitate me. They will find a hollow shell where once the arrow burned. It will have gone to Ra.
I made this up tonight. I'm not sure I have the words to describe how good it was.

1 small hokaido pumpkin (or another variety of your preference)
about 3 Tbsp butter
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 head of garlic, minced (or less if you're not a garlic freak like me)
400 grams cream
about 1 tsp. dried thyme, crushed
1/4 tsp. chipotle powder
salt and fresh ground black pepper
about 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
200 grams Italian sausage, cut into slices
250 grams squid ink (black) spaghetti

Preheat oven to 200° C (400° F). Cut the pumpkin in half, remove the seeds and membranes, rub the cut sides with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then place cut side down on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile prepare the garlic-infused cream sauce. Sweat the onion and garlic with a bit of salt in butter over medium-low for about 15 minutes. Stir in the cream, lower the heat, and simmer, stirring often, for another 20 minutes. Then add the thyme, chipotle powder, salt and pepper to taste.

When the pumpkin comes out of the oven, let it cool enough to handle. The skin should easily peel away from the flesh. Break it into pieces of whatever size you like and set aside.

Heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high. Add a little olive oil, let it heat, then add the sausages and fry until browned on all sides. Turn the heat down and add the pumpkin pieces, turning them gently. You can let them fry a little but you do have to be gentle to keep them from breaking. Add the cream sauce to the pan with the sausage and pumpkin. Stir gently and keep at a bare simmer, stirring often, while you cook the pasta in boiling salted water.

When the pasta is just a bit undercooked, add it to the sauce with some of its cooking water. Toss and stir gently to combine, and serve. :)
saansaturday: (further back and faster)
( Saturday, 1 October 2005 14:02)
I just typed this up for elsewhere and even though it's such a simple recipe that everyone should know, maybe some of you don't. So I'll repeat it here. :)

My favorite fast/easy dinner is Spaghetti alla Carbonara.

You'll need:
3 eggs
1/2 cup or more Parmesano Reggiano (or half Pecorino Romano and half Parmesano Reggiano)
about 125 grams of pancetta (or prosciutto), chopped in small cubes
500 grams spaghetti
about 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
garlic (as much as you like), sliced very thin
about 1/2 cup dry white wine
salt and pepper

Bring a pot of water to boil for the pasta. Meanwhile break the eggs into a bowl, add the cheese and whisk. I also go ahead and add my salt and pepper at this time but the first time you make it you should add them at the end so you can find out by tasting how much you like.

Salt the water, add the spaghetti, and cook until just under al dente.

Meanwhile heat a large frying pan over medium, add the olive oil, then add the pancetta and sauté until it's crispy, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another minute. Add the wine and let it reduce while the spaghetti continues cooking.

When the spaghetti is nearly done, drain it and add it to the pan with the pancetta and garlic with a bit of its cooking water. Stir until the spaghetti is cooked to your liking. Dump the contents into the bowl with the eggs, stir, and add salt and pepper to taste. Yum. :)

Braised Meatballs in Red Wine

The sauce for these meatballs is so simple and elegant. It is important to use the best ingredients--a good red wine you like to drink, a nice tomato paste (I use some fabulous organic tomato paste) and tasty beef broth or stock, preferably homemade. Resist any temptation you might have to add herbs or garlic to the sauce--you don't want to mess with this subtle simplicity. It makes for a nice contrast with the meatballs flavored with summer savory, parsley, parmesan, onion and pepper. :) I would also advise against adding garlic to this recipe--get your garlic kick with the spinach mashed potatoes....I'm telling you, this recipe as I made it last night is just too good to fuck with.

about 170 grams of a day-old baguette (depending on the size of the baguette, about 1/3 to 1/2 a loaf), crust left on, cut into slices
1 cup whole milk
1/2 kilo mixed ground beef and pork
2 eggs
about 1/2 to 1 cup grated parmesano reggiano
1 medium onion, minced
1/2 cup minced fresh Italian parsley
2 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1-2 Tbsp minced fresh summer savory

All purpose flour

2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups dry red wine
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 cups beef broth

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Put the bread and milk in a bowl and push the bread down to submerge it. Let it stand for 10 minutes to absorb the milk. Then squeeze most of the milk out of the slices and place them in a large bowl. Discard the milk. To the soggy bread add the ground meat, eggs, parmesan, onion, parsley, salt, pepper and savory. Mix well with your hands. Form mixture into meatballs. Place the meatballs in a baking dish and bake for 30 minutes. Let cool enough to handle.

Dust meatballs with flour; shake off excess. Melt the butter and oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add the meatballs and sauté until brown on all sides. Return all the meatballs to skillet. Whisk wine and tomato paste together in a small bowl to blend. Add the wine mixture to meatballs and bring it to boil. Continue boiling, stirring frequently, until the wine thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Add broth, reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring frequently, until flavors blend and the gravy thickens, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the meatballs and their sauce with the spinach mashed potatoes.

Spinach Mashed Potatoes

some potatoes
some milk
5 or so cloves garlic, crushed
some butter
salt and pepper to taste
some frozen spinach

Boil the potatoes in salted water until they are tender. Meanwhile heat milk, crushed garlic, salt, pepper and butter over medium-low in a small saucepan. Keep this at a bare simmer. When the potatoes are nearly done toss the spinach into the saucepan and stir until heated through (or use a big saucepan and use fresh spinach). Drain and mash the potatoes, then mash in the spinach mixture. Serve alongside the meatballs in red wine.

a photo of the leftovers I had for lunch today--I was in too much of a rush to get out of the house to take a photo last night. )
saansaturday: (botticon)
( Monday, 15 August 2005 14:59)
I've just obtained some beautiful organic vanilla should be fun trying to think of things to do with this many vanilla beans! Currently they're scenting half the house, along with the tomato bread scent lingering from last night's baking.

Yes, I know, it is obvious that I should make vanilla ice cream.

2 pretty pictures )


saansaturday: (Default)
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