Friday, August 31, 2007

David Lebovitz's Chocolate Coconut Sherbet

I will have to admit that I was a bit wary about the whole "this doesn't have dairy" vibe that this recipe was giving off. I was worried it would be an icy, watery consistency, giving way to what I call, "chocolate water flavor..." (Think chocolate milk, and substitute water for the milk. Got it? Ick.)

I was gloriously wrong. This sherbet is what the Hope Diamond would be like if you could freeze it, add chocolate to it, and eat it with a spoon. It is velvety, dark, and dare I say - naughty. It whispers coconutty sonnets to you.

If you have the patience to wait long enough for it to ripen for a day, by all means do so (Elizabeth couldn't wait, as evidenced by her soft-servishness cone above.)

By all means, get thee an ice cream maker and whip some of this up.

David, you're a genius.

(You can procure the recipe from, or pick up a copy of The Perfect Scoop, David's new book.)

Sea Scallops with With Brown Butter and Lime

I have this rule that I don't eat seafood this far inland. Rules, as you know, are sometimes meant to be broken. This is especially true if you love scallops, haven't had them in a year (due to said rule) and find that there are 6 or so pristine looking scallops at the grocery store fishmonger.

It's a simple sauce, really. After pan frying the scallops in a bit of butter, I added some white wine to deglaze (about 1/4 cup) which was reduced to about a tablespoon or so, added a squeeze of lime juice, a half-teaspoon of sugar, and a tablespoon of butter. I flipped the whole mess on medium-high until the butter browned. A bit tart, a bit sweet, and a bit sour.

Eight thousand degrees

Alas, there is not much to say, other than the fact that it has been ungodly hot here and I have been eating nothing but the Catalan Tomato Bread from Amanda's blog, Figs, Olives, Wine (

I currently have no idea on how to do a sexy html cut, as I am rather braindead at this very moment. I'm starving after doing some yard work and taking a walk most of the morning. And the tomato bread smells like heaven.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Brie and Pear Confit

This is my favorite breakfast. There's nothing like the crunchy, gooey, sticky, slightly salty, sweet, and heady combination of pear confit with brie on a baguette. If you've only had brie baked en croute, I beg you to try this. If you could put love on a plate, I'm quite sure that this is what it would look like.
Brie and Pear Sandwich
(makes 1 sandwich)
6-inch piece of baguette
3 oz brie, rind removed
3 Tbsp. pear confit (recipe follows)
Slice the baguette lengthwise; spread the cheese on one half and the jam on the other half. Place each half on a foil-lined baking sheet, and set under the broiler until cheese is melted; about 45 seconds. Let cool slightly and assemble sandwich.

Quick Pear Confit

3 ripe Bartlett Pears, peeled, cored, and sliced thinly
1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat so that the pear mixture is just simmering. Simmer until the mixture is thick and of jam-like consistency, stirring every few minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Yield: about 3/4 cup.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Evie and Emily are coming down with something, so in the vast nose-wiping marathon - where the finish line is a tissue, not a sleeve - I have not ingested anything other than a cup of coffee.

Until now. I'd give you the recipe for these chocolate chip pecan cookies, but it is not mine. You will find it conveniently located on the reverse package of Hershey's semi-sweet chocolate chips. I substitute half of the butter for butter flavored Crisco (trans fats be damned!) and increase the vanilla to 1 tablespoon.

I am a vanilla whore. There, I said it. Luckily, I can get beans at a really low price (pathetically low, even... and they're excellent, fat, gorgeous beans.) I make my own extract... for those of you wondering why I had a few bottles of vodka laying about. Making your own extract is pathetically easy. I will never understand why someone will pay five dollars for a few tablespoons of the stuff when they can make a liter of it for about $15. It nearly lasts forever, but it does take a bit of time to steep. With my method, I've cut out some of the time altogether, so that your extract will be deep, dark, and delicious in no time.

Vanilla Extract

20 Grade A Tahitian vanilla beans, divided.
1 liter good-quality vodka

A large glass container with a lid, or at least enough rubber bands to make a plastic wrap lid. Glass is important, because if you happen to use plastic, you may get some off-gassing and some funky flavors may ensue.

Chop 18 of the vanilla beans into 1-inch pieces. Reserve the remaining 2 beans. Pour half of the vodka into a food processor with the vanilla beans. Puree those bad boys as well as you can and pour it into the glass container. Keep the original vodka bottle and cap (we're all about recycling, folks.) Add the remaining vodka, cover, and let steep in a cool, dry, dark place for about 3 weeks. Strain the extract through a couple of layers of cheesecloth, squeezing the pulp to coax out any remaining extract. Vanilla beans will sneak into the mix. This is good. Pour the extract back into the bottle from whence the vodka came. Add the reserved 2 vanilla beans. I tend to store it for another few weeks before I use it, but at about halfway through the bottle, I'll start a new one.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Zia Anna's Breadcrumbs

My Zia Anna was the best cook in the family (I'd like to think that I've moved up in rank.) Every single time I went to Cambridge to visit, she had a plate of cold chicken cutlets in the fridge, just for me to take on my trip home... they never made it as far as the I-90 onramp. Hell, sometimes they didn't make it out of the driveway!

The instructions are a bit simple, but crucial. They were dictated over the phone to me by Zia and I guarantee you that you'll never buy prepackaged Italian breadcrumbs from the store ever again (unless you're really in a pinch, and then you'll complain how they taste like sawdust.)

Zia Anna's Breadcrumbs

3 cups homemade breadcrumbs made from stale Italian or French bread
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup minced flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup fresh garlic, minced fine
1 cup to 1 1/2 cups finely grated Reggio Parmigiano cheese

Chuck all of the above ingredients into the food processor until everything is very well blended. Taste the mixture: You should be able to taste the cheese and spicy garlic flavor very well (if not, add more of each until your mouth tastes of garlic and cheese.) Store in the freezer.

Like I said, quite easy to make, but you do have to taste it to make sure the flavor is coming through and hitting you in the face like an errantly thrown shoe. I make so much at a time that I keep one in one of those plastic cereal containers in the fridge, and a few ziploc bags in the freezer. Soon, you'll find yourself using them for everything... even tofu.

So this is tofu.

I must say that I'm rather impressed by my first foray into "plain" tofu. Of course, I've had tofu IN other things, but the only way I've really had it on a stand-out basis was in the hot-and-sour soup from my local Chinese take-out.

I had a real hankering for my aunt Anna's chicken cutlets. Conveniently, I had the breadcrumbs from her recipe in my freezer, but no chicken. Nor did I feel like going to the market to purchase chicken and wait until it thawed, pound it to annoying thinness, and fry away.

I did have a package of extra-firm tofu. I sliced it up, killed a few trees by the embarrassing amount of paper towels that I used to press the excess moisture from them, dipped them in beaten egg, breaded them, and pan-fried them.

Of course, the perfect condiment for cutlets (other than homemade marinara) is hot pepper jelly. They came out crispy and delicious! Not unlike a chicken cutlet (and really, we eat the cutlets for the breading anyway.) They had a very tender quality as well.

So, my leftover tofu is neatly sliced, pressed, and is marinating in some chicken broth that I had in the fridge. Breadcrumb recipe to follow soon.