Sunday, February 27, 2011

squares o' lemon

I've seen this recipe several times on America's Test Kitchen/Cook's Illustrated--always to great reviews. So I gave it a test drive. No complaints. Those little lemony squares are pretty darn good.

For the lemon filling
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more to decorate the finished bars
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into 1-inch pieces

For the lemon filling
7 large egg yolks, plus 2 large eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2/3 cup from 4 or 5 medium lemons, plus 1/4 cup finely grated zest
Pinch of salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
3 tablespoons heavy cream


Make the crust
1. Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Fold two 16-inch pieces of foil or parchment paper lengthwise to measure 9 inches wide. Fit one sheet in the bottom of the greased pan, pushing it into the corners and up the sides of the pan (overhang will help in removal of baked bars). Fit the second sheet in the pan in the same manner, perpendicular to the first sheet. Spray the sheets with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Place the flour, confectioners’ sugar, and salt in a food processor and process briefly. Add the butter and process to blend, 8 to 10 seconds, then process until the mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse meal, about three 1-second pulses.

Sprinkle the mixture into the prepared pan and press firmly with your fingers into an even layer over the entire pan bottom. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350°F. Bake the crust until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Make the filling
1. In a medium non-reactive bowl, whisk together the yolks and whole eggs until combined, about 5 seconds.

Add the granulated sugar and whisk until just combined, about 5 seconds.

Add the lemon juice, zest, and salt; whisk until combined, about 5 seconds.

Transfer the mixture to a medium non-reactive saucepan, add the butter pieces, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the curd thickens to a thin sauce-like consistency and registers 170°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 5 minutes.

Immediately pour the curd through a single-mesh stainless steel strainer set over a clean non-reactive bowl.

Stir in the heavy cream; pour the curd into the warm crust immediately.

2. Bake until the filling is shiny and opaque and the center 3 inches jiggle slightly when shaken, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 45 minutes.

Remove the bars from the pan using the foil or parchment handles and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 2 1/2 inch squares, wiping the knife clean between cuts as necessary. Sieve confectioners’ sugar over the bars, if desired.

Friday, February 25, 2011

adele 21

Adele's just-released album = Greatness. Do yourself a favor and wander over to iTunes, post haste. It's one of those albums to which you'll listen from beginning to end and love every haunting note along the way.

My faves:
  • Rolling in the Deep [Duh]
  • Turning Tables
  • Don't You Remember
  • Set Fire to the Rain
  • One and Only
  • Someone Like You
Buy it.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

sunday :: cookin', sippin' & celebratin'

Seems like forever since I've been able to kick-back and do one of my favorite things: cook. So on this gorgeous day (the sky is blinding blue, and the temps are in the mid 60s)--the first day in who knows how long when I didn't have to write--I opened the windows and doors, cranked Norah Jones ... and cooked (thank you, Giada [both recipes are hers]). And cooked. And sipped (thank you, Messina Hof). And cooked. And celebrated (thank you, God).

penne with treviso and goat cheese (4 to 6 servings)
1 pound penne pasta
1/4 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove, halved
1 poind treviso (or radicchio [I used radicchio]), chopped (about 4 cups)
3 packed cups (5 ounces) baby spinach
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon salt, or more to taste
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn

The pre-(during)cooking toast --

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but still firm to the bite, 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a 12-inch skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and golden, about 1 minute. Remove the garlic and discard.

Add the treviso/radicchio, spinach, chicken broth, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and salt. Cook until the treviso and spinach wilt, 6 to 8 minutes.
Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water. Add the pasta and Parmesan cheese to the skillet. Toss well, thinning out the sauce with little pasta water, if needed. Season with salt, if needed.
Transfer the penne to serving bowls. Top each portion with the crumbled goat cheese and garnish with basil before serving.

But wait ... there's more ....

raspberry pound cake with vin santo cream (4 to 6 servings)

~ pound cake ~
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
1 1/2 cups all-purpoe flour, plus more for the pan
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons grated orange zest (from 1 medium orange)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries, lightly mashed
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

~ vin santo cream ~
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
3 tablesppons vin santo or Moscato wine [I used Moscato]

Place an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350ยบF. Butter and flour a 9 x 5 x 3-inch nonstick loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, orange zest, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk to combine.

Place 3 tablespoons of the flour mixture in a small bowl. Add the mashed raspberries and gently toss until coated (the mixture may clump).

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the granulated sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. With the machine running, add the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla extract.
Add the dry ingredients, a small amount at a time, mixing until just incorporated. Gently fold in the raspberries with a rubber spatula.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool for 20 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the vin santo/Moscato cream: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream until it hold soft peaks. Add the vanilla extract, confectioners' sugar, and vin santo/Moscato. Continue to whip until the cream holds stiff peaks.
Transfer the pound cake to a serving platter. Slice and serve with a dollop of vin santo cream.