Recipes for Times of Sheltering in Place
These are challenging times with the coronavirus pandemic. Many of us are staying at home as we social distance, self-isolate, or self-quarantine. Our relationship with food has changed, and cooking and eating have taken on new roles -- of diversion from stressful times, sustenance when we must be especially conscious of taking care of our bodies and health, and of course, pleasure. As a result, people are developing a new vocation or pastime that is contributing to creativity and empowerment while they are enjoying the novelty of eating structured or scheduled meals with their families, a companion, or just plain alone in this highly electronic age of telecommunications and social media.
What to cook when you've never cooked before, when food items are unavailable at the supermarkets, when restaurants and cafes are closed except for take-out or delivery, or when one needs time away from the kids? I've collected a few simple, easy, and healthy recipes which don't take a lot of time or require "exotic" ingredients. Rather, they use items that are in your kitchen cupboards or pantries, and readily available at most supermarkets. These are recipes that even your children can make.
Here's a list of what you'll find as you scroll down:
Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
Glazed Plum Tart
Angel Food Cake
Lemon Lavender Avocado Loaf
Ruby Robey's Strawberry Shortcake
Croissants aux Amandes (Almond Croissants)
A Salad-Hater's Favorite Salad -- Baby Spinach with Pignoli Nuts and Pears
Grilled Brie and Pear Sandwich
One Bowl Yellow Cake
May Daisy Cocktail
Broiled North Fork Grass-Fed Beef Tri-Tip Steak for Two
Big Bill's Tomato Chutney
Thai Shrimp Coconut Soup with Shitakes and Lemongrass
Creamy Braised White Beans
Two Casseroles -- Apricot Chicken and Sour Cream-and-Mushroom Chicken
Baked Steel-Cut Oats with Nut Butter
Made-in-the-Pan Chocolate Cake
Split Pea Soup
Lentil Soup with Sausages
Pasta with Marinated Artichokes and Sun-dried Tomatoes
Bess Feigenbaum's Cabbage Soup
Pantry Crumb Cake
Steamed Fish with Ginger
Food: Leave It for Leftovers
Salmagundi Two Calves' Feet Recipe
Lamb Shank and Wheat Berry Soup (coming soon!)
In the next few months, I'll be adding to this quarantine recipe diary. Please send me a recipe of yours via my contact page and add a photo of the finished product if you have one.
Few of us may have control over our food supply or the space to grow a garden to become self-sufficient and self-sustaining like these folks in the photo. But if we all could heed the words and actions of Chef José Andrés, founder of World Central Kitchen (WCK), a non-profit devoted to providing meals in the wake of natural disasters, we and our planet would be in a better place.
Farmers have been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. We hear of dairy farmers who are throwing out milk because restaurants are closed and no longer serving food; of workers at pig slaughter houses becoming ill with Covid-19 and plants shutting down. Supermarket shelves are wiped clean of certain food items -- from meats like chicken to yeast. Grocery prices have gone up exponentially. Food pantries have opened to serve the unemployed and others who can no longer afford to buy food for their families or serve three meals a day. A number of people who have time and space have begun to create their own vegetable gardens. To the right is my small contribution to the "growing" food project and the recipes which follow below.
Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
(adapted by Charlotte Druckman from Ravneet Gill, "The Pastry Chef's Guide: The Secret to Successful Baking Every Time" (Pavilion, 2020) in New York Times Cooking, October 16, 2020)
British pastry chef Ravneet Gill has created a wonderful recipe for chocolate chip cookies, different from other chocolate chip cookies in their having dense puddles of goo. She is meticulous in her instructions, and you should be, too, in following them. One is instructed to chill the cookie dough overnight so that the cookies will not spread when baked, and to roll the dough into balls before putting them in the refrigerator in order to get a nice plump, domed cookie -- not a sad flat one. Always use dark chocolate and kosher salt if you don't have Maldon sea salt.
Yield: 14 cookies
Time: 30 minutes, plus 12 hours' chilling
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons/140 grams unsalted butter (1 1/4 sticks), softened
Scant 3/4 cup/140 grams dark brown sugar
2/3 cup/110 grams superfine sugar
1 large egg
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons/250 grams all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon Maldon sea salt (or kosher salt)
6 ounces/170 grams dark (bittersweet) chocolate, chopped into large chunks
1. Put the butter and both sugars in a stand mixer or mixing bowl. Cream together using a paddle attachment on medium speed, a handheld electric whisk or a wooden spoon for 1 to 2 minutes until paler but not fluffy. (Do not mix for too long; if you beat the mixture until super light and fluffy, that will cause the cookie to deflate later when cooking.)
2. Add the egg and beat over medium speed until evenly combined.
3. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (all the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt), then fold into the butter mixture using a rubber spatula until combined.
4. Add the chopped chocolate and fold into the dough until evenly distributed.
5. Immediately scoop out heaping 1/4-cup portions (about 60 grams), roll into balls and place on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 12 hours. (If space is tight, you can condense them on one sheet before refrigerating, then redistribute among two sheets before baking.)
6. The next day, heat the oven to 350 degrees.
7. Make sure the dough balls are evenly spaced out among two baking sheets, as they will spread. Bake the cookies for 13 minutes (or 15 minutes if baking from frozen), until the cookies are puffed and golden at the edges. You want the middle to be ever so slightly, not-quite set.
8. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet; they will continue firming up as they cool. Once cooled, eat! These cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days. The balls of dough will keep for up to 2 days in the fridge or 2 weeks in the freezer.
(adapted from Julia Child, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1 (1961))
My summer garden is thinning out and producing fewer vegetables as our nights become cooler and the days become shorter. Now I have the space to plant other seeds this fall in order to cultivate long, purple beans, arugula, and radishes which I had no room for in June.
I have already picked the few remaining tomatoes, the long, thin Italian eggplants, the yellow squash and green patty pan squash, and the single bell pepper. How should I use them? I immediately thought of Julia and her recipe for ratatouille. While my bell pepper was oh so small and I didn't have quite enough tomatoes (the recipe calls for a pound and a half), I decided to make the dish anyway, but serve small portions. And Julia didn't disappoint!
Serves 6 - 8
Ingredients: 1 medium eggplant (about 1 pound/450 g) 3 to 4 small zucchini (about 1 1/2 pounds/675 g) 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup/125 ml olive oil, plus more if needed 3 green bell peppers (about 1 pound/450 g), cored and diced 1 medium onion (about 1/2 pound/225 g), sliced 3 or 4 closes garlic, chopped Salt and pepper 2 or 3 large, very ripe tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds/675 g) 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
Use a medium, enameled cast-iron casserole or Dutch oven.
Instructions: 1. Trim and peel the eggplant with a vegetable peeler. Cut it lengthwise into 3/8th-inch/8 mm slices, about 3 inches/7.5 cm long and 1 inch/2.5 cm wide. Rinse and trim the zucchini, then cut them into slices about the same size as the eggplant. Put the eggplant and zucchini in a bowl, toss with the salt, and leave them 30 minutes -- salt draws out the juices. Drain the eggplant and zucchini and dry them on paper towels. (Because my Italian eggplants were tiny and tender, I did not peel them but left the skins on.) 2. In a large skillet, heat 2 or 3 tablespoons of the oil. Add the eggplants and zucchini and sauté over brisk heat, browning them lightly and adding more oil as needed, 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Set the eggplant and zucchini aside. 3. Add the peppers and onion to the pan with a little more oil and sauté, stirring often, until tender and the onions are starting to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and season with salt and pepper. 4. Peel, seed, and slice the tomatoes. Spread the tomatoes on top of the peppers and onions and cook over low heat until the tomato juices start to run, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat and cook, stirring, until most of the juice has evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes. Set the tomato mixture in a bowl. (Again I did not peel and seed the tomatoes as they were fresh from my garden and juicy.) 5. Oil the casserole and spread one-third of the tomato mixture in the bottom. Sprinkle some parsley on the tomato mixture, then top with half the eggplant and zucchini. Add another one-third of the tomato mixture, sprinkle with parsley, and top with the remaining eggplant and zucchini. Make a final layer with the remaining tomato mixture and sprinkle with parsley. Cover the casserole and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. 6. Uncover and baste the vegetables with their juices. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Continue simmering, uncovered, until the vegetables are moist and tender, about 15 minutes longer -- if overcooked, the vegetables will become soggy. Serve the ratatouille, very warm or at room temperature, in the casserole. It will keep for up to 2 days in the refrigerator; warm it slightly before serving, as chilling may subdue the flavor.
Note: The cooking and sautéing times can all be adjusted to suit your tastes and the freshness of the produce. The photo shows the pepper, onions, garlic, and tomatoes cooking in the tomato juices before they are put into the cast-iron casserole with the eggplant and zucchini mixture.
Glazed Plum Tart
(adapted from Edna Lewis, The Taste of Country Cooking (1976))
Edna Lewis is one of the great American cooks who was instrumental in creating the canon of the American table, recognizing and privileging its southern influences. She refused, however, to call herself a chef.
This simple tart recipe, adapted from Edna's cookbook, The Taste of Country Cooking, is a rare treat. While the plum season may be short, the beauty and taste of the pastry depend upon the plums. They should be purple plums and almost bursting from the seams with juice. The dough is like a sugar cookie, only with butter holding it together. The dough is so easy to make that you can use it for other tarts or pies. I experimented with peaches and mango. The peaches were juicy and worked well, but the texture of the mango did not lend itself to a successful filling for the tart.
Measurements here are also given in the metric system as it is more exact.
Use a 9-inch/23 cm tart pan with removable bottom or shallow springform cake pan, greased
For the filling:
1 1/2 pounds/675 g purple plums
23 cup/140 g sugar
For the pastry dough:
1 cup/125 g flour, more for rolling
1/4 cup/60g sugar
1 stick/110 g butter, diced, more for the pan
1/2 teaspoon salt
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1. Heat the over to 425° F/220° C and set a rack in the center. 2. Wash and drain the plums, halve and pit them. Set the plums, cut side down and in a single layer, in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle them with sugar and bake until the juice runs freely, 12 to 15 minutes. Set the plums aside to cool. Leave the oven on and reduce the temperature to 350° F/175° C.
3. Make the pastry dough: In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, butter, salt, and lemon zest. With your fingertips, rub the ingredients together to form crumbs, then press them together into a ball of dough. Knead the dough in the bowl for 15 minutes, working in 1 to 2 tablespoons more flour if needed -- it should be rich and sticky. (Alternatively, the dough can be mixed and kneaded with the dough hook of a stand mixer, allowing 3 to 5 minutes.)
4. Form the dough into a thick circle and place it into a greased tart pan. Press it over the bottom and sides of the pan with your fist, making a rim that is 3/4 inch/2 cm high and about 3/8 inch/8 mm thick. Arrange the cooked plums, cut side up and in concentric circles, on the dough, reserving the syrupy juice. Bake until the crust is lightly browned, 30 – 35 minutes.
5. Take the tart from the oven and let it cool. Transfer the plum juice to a small saucepan and stir over medium heat, simmering until syrupy, 3 to 5 minutes –take care, as it burns easily. Spoon the syrup over the plums before serving.
6. Edna suggests a ring of whipped cream inside the rim of the tart as an optional decoration, or one can add vanilla ice cream on top.
Edna Lewis was born and raised in a small Virginia farming community where she developed early on a deep love for the products of the field and orchard -- the gifts of nuts and berries hidden in the woodlands, the savory pleasures of wild game, and the taste of farm-bred fowl and livestock.
The Edna Lewis Cookbook (1972), written with Evangeline Peterson, contains over 100 recipes, arranged in menu form and organized by seasons of the year. Combining her lifelong knowledge of southern American cookery with the sophistication, delicacy, and mastery of French cuisine, it blends hearty American fare with elegant continental food. (Photograph by John T. Hill)
With Scott Peacock, she wrote The Gift of Southern Cooking: Recipes and Revelations from Two Great American Cooks (Alfred A. Knopf, 2003). That is where I found this recipe for Angel Food Cake, with its irresistible lightness of being.
Angel Food Cake
Time: I hour
Yield: 10 servings
1 cup cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
12 large egg whites at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Combine flour and 3/4 cup sugar (this is half the required sugar) and sift twice onto wax paper or a plate. Set aside.
2. Put egg whites into a large mixing bowl and beat on low speed until frothy. Add cream of tartar, salt, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon water. Continue beating, gradually increasing speed until egg whites begin to increase in volume. Springle remaining 3/4 cup sugar over whites 1/4 at a time, and beat until incorporated. Do not overbeat. Egg whites should be just firm enough to form soft peaks.
3. Sift 1/4 of the reserved flour and sugar mixture over beaten whites and fold in. Repeat until entire mixture has been added, making sure each addition is fully incorporated into whites before adding more.
4. Spoon batter into an ungreased 10" tube pan. Use a long spatula or butter knife to draw a deep line through center of batter following circumference of pan; this will release any large pockets of air.
5. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until cake is golden brown and springs back to the touch. Remove from oven and invert onto a plate; cool completely in pan. When cooled, use a long straight-edged spatula to loosen cake from sides of pan. Store tightly covered.
(adapted from Susan Spungen, "Susan's Kitchen," Hampton Cottages and Gardens (HGC), October 2020, page 82)
Originating in France, this tart is named after the Tatin sisters who invented it and served it in their hotel as the signature dish. The pastry is traditionally associated with apples, but other fruits may be used. The apples are caramelized in butter and sugar before the tart is baked. It is a perfect dessert for the fall when apples are at their best.
7 large Gala apples (or other firm, crisp, seasonal apples that will hold their shape while cooking such as Granny Smith)
4 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 12"-round, chilled pie dough or puff pastry
crème fraîche, for serving
1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Peel the apples and cut them into thirds off the core, then cut out any remaining seeds. Put them into a bowl and squeeze the lemon half over the pieces. Set aside.
2. Have the butter pieces ready by the stove. Add the sugar to a large (12") heavy-bottomed skillet and place over medium-high heat. Cook without stirring until sugar begins to liquify, 2-4 minutes. 3. When the sugar melts further and begins to brown, reduce heat slightly and give it one good stir with a whisk to get rid of any clumps, then don't stir again. Swirl the pan gently until the sugar is dark amber, 5-8 minutes total. This process must be done carefully to avoid burning the sugar. 4. Remove from heat, then carefully add the butter pieces and swirl until they melt. 5. Return skillet to the burner, add the apples and scraped vanilla seeds and pod, and cook over medium-high heat, gently stirring and turning the apples until they soften and start to turn translucent at the edges, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Take out the vanilla pod. (It can be saved for another use.) 6. Using tongs, transfer apples rounded side down to a smaller (10") pan with an oven-proof handle or to a 10" pie plate. Arrange the apple pieces in a concentric circle around the outside, overlapping them quite a bit. Arrange remaining pieces in the center of the ring. 7. Top the apples with the pastry round, trim (if necessary) so that you have about 1" overhang all the way around, and tuck in the edges. Cut a few vents in the center and place pan on a baking sheet. 8. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until pastry is nicely browned and apples are bubbling around the edges. 9. Run a butter knife around the perimeter to loosen the tart and let it cool, preferably 30 minutes, until you are ready to serve. If it has cooled completely, either return it to the oven to warm it up or place it over low heat for a few minutes to melt the caramel again. 10. To invert, top with a serving plate, grasp the pan and plate tightly together (wearing oven mitts if the pan is still warm), and flip. Remove the pan. If any apples stick to the pan, just reposition them on the tart. 11. Serve warm with crème fraîche, if desired.
(contributed by Caroline Oliver, from the kitchen of Jon Morris)
This recipe is just in time for the summer tomato season -- whether you're growing your own plants or buying heirloom and juicy varieties from farmers' markets. I grew up in New Jersey and nothing tops a Jersey tomato.
The other day someone asked me why I say "toe-mah-toe" -- with a short "a" -- and not "toe-may-toe" -- with a long "a." I said I think it has to do with my English heritage (and my mother wanting us to speak "the king's English). But the pronunciation is also closer to the French word for the fruit, "tomates" ("toe-mat"), and there's a bit of French Huguenot in me as well.
I had never heard of Duke's mayonnaise. It is a condiment created by Eugenia Duke in Greenville, South Carolina, in 1917. Early in its history its popularity was largely limited to the South. Today it is a key ingredient in countless regional delicacies, and chefs across the nation declare Duke's to be the only mayonnaise fit for their kitchens. It contains more egg yokes than other varieties of mayonnaise and no added sugar. Today it is the third largest mayonnaise brand after Hellman's and Kraft.
The recipe makes two pies (one for you and one to share) and is unbelievably tasty. It's even better the next day!
Prep time: 15-30 minutes, plus 1 hour or
more to let the salted, cut tomatoes sit
Cook time: 30-40 minutes Serves 4-6 people
2 9-inch frozen pie shells
1 large vidalia onion 7-8 tomatoes (about 3 pounds), mixed variety if possible Kosher salt Butter Fresh basil (about 15 leaves) 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese 2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese (use cheddar as alternate) 1 cup Duke's mayonnaise 1 tablespoon Sirachi or hot sauce Fresh ground pepper
1. Slice tomatoes into 1/4 - 1/2 inch slices. Lay tomatoes out on cooling rack or sheet pan, then generously salt and pepper. (This sweats the tomatoes so make sure every tomato gets a good pinch of salt!) Let tomatoes sit out for at least an hour (or longer). You can flip partway through and add a little more salt.
2. Dice tomatoes and put in a colander, stirring occasionally while you complete the next steps.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pull out pie shells to start thawing. Pre-bake pie shells for about 10-12 minutes. 4. Chop onions and sauté in butter and salt until browned. Then thinly slice basil leaves.
5. Evenly layer the bottom of each pie shell with onions, then tomatoes, and lastly basil.
6. Mix together cheeses, mayonnaise, and Sirachi or hot sauce. Place dollops around each pie and spread to cover.
7. Bake pies at 350 degrees on sheet pan for 30-40 minutes. After cooking let pies rest. (I prefer overnight.)
8. Reheat at 300 degrees for 20 minutes or microwave slices for about 30 seconds.
This recipe was contributed by Caroline Oliver, a colleague of Jon Morris, the recipe-writer. An investment advisor and portfolio manager at Palladium (Registered Investment Advisers) in Norfolk, Virginia, Caroline loves to cook but admitted that she doesn't have a green (or red) thumb for growing tomatoes. After receiving her undergraduate degree, she studied at the University of Strasbourg in France and obtained an MBA from Old Dominion University. Caroline also serves on a number of boards in her community, among them Lake Taylor Transitional Care Hospital Foundation and Norfolk Botanical Garden.
Lemon Lavender Avocado Loaf
(from Allrecipes.com, submitted by Sheena)
What could be better than a summer bread that combines lemon, lavender and avocado? On the North Fork we are blessed not only by the Long Island Wine Country, but by a lavender farm in East Marion. At Lavender by the Bay you can pick your own lavender or buy fresh-cut or dried bunches as well as varieties of lavender plants. Culinary lavender is available along with lavender teas and lavender honey, though the honey season is short.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 3/4 cups white sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups mashed avocado (about 3)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons dried lavender
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour 2 9"x5" loaf pans.
2. Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
3. Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl until light and fluffy. The mixture should be noticeably lighter in color.
4. Add eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to blend into the butter mixture. Beat in the avocado and lemon juice with the last egg.
5. Pour in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing until just incorporated.
6. Fold in the lavender and lemon zest, mixing just enough to evenly combine. Pour the batter into prepared pans.
7. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool the pans for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.
Lavender by the Bay
7540 Main Road
East Marion, NY 11939
A must reference when using lavender in baking and cooking:
Ruby Robey's Strawberry Shortcake
(Charity Robey, The Shelter Island Reporter, July 2, 2020,
and adapted by Rafael Torres)
This recipe was published in time for the Fourth of July holiday weekend when strawberries are in season. With the heat and rain this spring, strawberry season was short, but if you don't mind using store-bought berries like Driscoll's, you're still in luck. A true shortcake is crumbly and flaky, not elastic, and definitely not spongy, according to Charity Robey's grandmother. It should also have the taste and consistency of a slightly sweetened baking soda biscuit. Once you put the sugar on the berries, they create syrup, and a copious amount of the sweet nectar is another key to a good shortcake. It should be allowed to soak into the cake, flavoring it. The whipped cream should go on at the last minute, then decorated with the extra strawberries. (Photo: Charity Robey)
When I made the shortbread dough and divided it into eight parts, the cakes were 1" high by 2 1/2" in diameter, not the 2" x 4" mentioned in this recipe. I then decided not to cut the baked cakes in half or butter them. A friend, Rafael (Ralph) Torres, who's a cook at Sophie's Rest in Southold on the North Fork of Long Island, suggested putting the whipped cream on top of the cakes first -- as a foundation to hold the strawberries and syrup but also to showcase the white-and-red colors. He then added confectioner's sugar as a whimsical accent to each cake to complete the white-red-white theme.
Serves 8, either as one cake or as 8 individual cakes
Berries: 1 quart fresh strawberries, about 3 cups when hulled and sliced 1/4 cup sugar
Cake: 2 cups all-purposed or self-rising flour 3 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 cup sugar 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup shortening 1 egg 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk 2 tablespoons butter
Whipped cream: 1/2 pint cold heavy cream 1 tablespoon sugar
1. Put the hulled and sliced strawberries in a bowl, reserving one nice berry to garnish each serving. Add 1/4 cup sugar (or more if the berries are tart) and mix to coat the berries. Set them aside for at least an hour while you prepare the cake.
2. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease an 8-inch cake pan, or two cookie pans if you are making 8 individual cakes. 3. Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Cut in the shortening with two knives or a pastry blender until the mixture feels like coarse sand. 4. In a small bowl, mix the egg with a fork and add the milk. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir just until the dough forms a rough ball. It's fine if there are crumbs falling off, or if the dough does not form a neat ball. Don't overmix it! 5. Gently press the dough into an 8" lightly-greased cake pan, or if you are making individual cakes, divide the dough into 8 parts and gently press each into a circle about 2 inches high and 4 inches across on your prepared cookie pan, leaving at least two inches between each cake. 6. Bake at 425 degrees for 8-10 minutes for the individual cakes or 15-20 for one 8-inch cake. They are done when they are very light brown. 7. Cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack, split horizontally while still warm, and butter each cut side. 8. Spoon half of the strawberries and their syrup onto the bottom half. Replace the top and spoon the rest of the strawberry mixture onto the top. 9. Whip the cream with a hand mixer until it starts to thicken, add a tablespoon of sugar and continue to whip until soft peaks form. Spoon the whipped cream on top of the cake(s) and garnish with the reserved strawberries.
Sweet Rafael ("Ralph") Torres divides his time between cooking at the restaurant Sophie's Rest in Southold on the North Fork of Long Island -- known for its prime rib Tuesdays -- and working in his family business, Juan Chavez Painting and Staining, based in Orient, New York.
Croissants aux Amandes
(David Lebovitz, L'Appart, pages 95-97)
"The French are a frugal lot, which is one reason I fit right in," writes David Lebovitz in his book about buying and renovating an apartment in Paris. "I hate throwing things away, especially anything edible. Bakeries do their part, too, giving a second life to leftover croissants by stuffing them with a velvety smear of rich frangipane (almond cream) and baking them again. I've often warned visitors not to try them, because once you do, you are on a slippery slope and will always crave them."
These can be made with frozen or good-quality, store-bought croissants. If your croissants are larger than the normal ones, you may want to double the frangipane filling and the syrup. Extra frangipane can be frozen for your next batch. For a sweeter syrup, you can add 2 more tablespoons of sugar to it.
I used mini-croissants and smothered the top of them with frangipane. In baking, the frangipane melted, making one of my creations look like a humped zébu cow from Madagascar (in the top of the photo) while the other resembled a piglet (in the bottom). Don't be deceived, even though Andre Agassi once said, "Image is everything!"
Frangipane 1/2 cup (50g) almond flour (also called ground almonds) 1/4 cup (50g) sugar 1 large egg, at room temperature 3 1/2 tablespoons (50g) unsalted butter, at room temperature A few drops of pure almond extract Pinch of salt
Syrup 1/2 cup (125 ml) water 1/4 cup (50g) sugar 2 tablespoons dark rum, amaretto, or kirsch (optional)
4 croissants, preferably day-old 4 tablespoons (20g) sliced almonds Powdered sugar
Steps: 1. Preheat the oven to 375℉ (190ºC). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. 2. Make the frangipane: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the almond flour, sugar, egg, butter, almond extract, and salt on low speed until combined. Turn the speed to high and beat the almond cream for 3 minutes, until very light and fluffy. (You can also beat it by hand in a bowl with a wooden spoon or flexible silicone spatula.) 3. Make the syrup: In a small saucepan, heat the water and sugar until it comes to a boil. Sir to dissolve the sugar, remove from the heat, and add the liquor. 4. Starting at one side, slice each croissant in half horizontally, stopping just before you reach the other side, leaving it closed as a hinge. Brush the inside of each croissant liberally with the syrup on both sides, making sure each side is completely saturated. It may seem like a lot, but the finished croissants benefit from the moisture. 5. Smear the inside of each croissant with 2 tablespoons of the frangipane. Put them on the prepared baking sheet and press each down firmly. Divide the remaining frangipane and smear it over the top of each croissant. Sprinkle each croissant with 1 tablespoon of the sliced almonds, then bake until the tops are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let cool a few minutes, then sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Serving and storage: The almond-filled croissants are best served the same day they are made, either warm or at room temperature, but they can be kept in an airtight container overnight.
To the left below is David Lebovitz leading a class on making croissants aux amandes at the kitchen shop Sur La Table on November 8, 2017 in New York City. To the right are copies of his book L'Appart which had just been published the day before by Crown Publishing Group, a subsidiary of Penguin Random House.
A Salad-Hater's Favorite Salad -- Baby Spinach with Pignoli Nuts and Pears
(contributed by Dawn Heard, Peconic, NY)
This is a very easy salad to put together and also delicious, with different textures -- crunchy and soft -- and a savory and sweet taste. It can be made for just one person or serve a group by adjusting the quantity of ingredients.
Why Bosc pears? Bosc pears have a more firm, dense flesh than other pear varieties. They are ideal for baking, broiling or poaching as they retain their shape and texture. Their flavor is also less likely to be overwhelmed by the use of strong spices, with their own complex flavor of honey sweetness and juiciness. Plus they are unique for their color -- a warm, cinnamon brown with russeting over the surface of the skin which will "dress up" this salad with pleasing colors. Need I say more?
Time: 15 minutes
Yield: depends upon the quantity you desire
salt and pepper
1. Fill a bowl full of baby spinach. 2. Put pignoli nuts into a frying pan with a nice amount of olive oil and brown. (I use about 1 oz of nuts per generous serving.)
3. Pour the nuts and oil over the spinach. (The spinach will melt a bit.) 4. Pour a bit of Balsamic vinegar into the same pan and add a squeeze of lemon juice.
5. Cube the Bosc pear(s) after cutting out the center core, stir them into the Balsamic vinegar, and sauté slightly until soft. (I use 1 Bosc pear per generous serving)
6. Pour the pear and vinegar over the salad.
7. Salt and pepper to taste and toss.
8. You can also add crumbled feta, thinly sliced raw asparagus, or finely chopped prosciutto.
Grilled Brie and Pear Sandwich
(from www.mamasgottabake.com/2013/10/grilled-brie-and-pear-sandwich/, adapted and elaborated on by Ellen)
"Do not let the peasant know how good cheese is with pears" goes the old saying. Intrigued with these words and their portent, Massimo Montanari, a food historian from Italy, unravels their origin in his book, "Cheese, Pears and History in a Proverb" (Columbia University Press, 2010). At first cheese and its visceral, earthy pleasures were treated as the food of Polyphemus, the uncivilized man-beast. Pear, on the other hand, became the symbol of ephemeral, luxuriant pleasure-and-indulgence of the social elite. Joined together they took on an exclusive savoir faire as taste evolved into a cultural attitude.
Pear and brie are a perfect combination. With arugula and pecans, it's buttery, creamy, sweet and crunchy. This makes for a delicious sandwich break in the middle of the day.
Time: 15 minutes
Servings: makes 2 darn good sandwiches
4 slices of bread, such as a hearty multi-grain variety
1 firm, ripe pear (I chose Bosc)
small wedge of brie, cut into 1/8" slices
handful of fresh arugula handful of toasted pecans (if you want to make them especially tasty, roast or caramelize the pecan halves in butter with light-brown sugar)
1/2 stick butter, at room temperature
salt and pepper, if desired, or other spices or herbs of your choice
1. Cut the pear in quarters and with a sharp knife cut out the core and seeds, then cut each quarter into thin slices. (The recipe calls for using a mandoline on a larger setting and slicing the whole pear before cutting out the core and seeds, but this method is not necessary.)
2. Butter the four slices of bread making sure you cover every square inch of bread with butter to insure perfect toastiness.
3. Layer a bread slice with the arugula and pecans, several pear slices, and the brie. Then place the second bread slice on top. Repeat this step for the other two pieces of bread. Make sure the buttered slices are on the outside!
4. Heat a cast iron skillet to medium and place the two sandwiches in the pan. Let the sandwiches get a nice sear on them, then cover the pan with a lid to allow the cheese to melt better. When the sandwich is golden on the first side, flip it over until it browns on the other side.
If you can't get enough of these scrumptious pears, slice some up (with or without a mandoline on a thinner setting), and make some pear chips to serve along with the sandwiches. However, to really savor the loveliness of the fruit, one should just eat it in its natural state!
(from Martha Stewart)
The recipe calls for firm, underripe pears. Very thinly slice pears lengthwise with a mandoline or chef's knife and place in a single layer on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake in a preheated 225 degrees oven 1 1/2 hours. Flip slices and continue baking until darkened slightly and edges have curled (they should still be pliable), 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Transfer to a wire rack and let stand until cool and crisp. Store at room temperature in an airtight container up to 1 week.
(from David Lebovitz, www.davidlebovitz.com)
Everything David Lebovitz touches seems to turn to gold ... or a light olive green in this case. A professional cook and baker for most of his life, he spent over a decade at Alice Water's Chez Panisse in Berkeley. He left the restaurant business in 1999 to pursue a career in writing; and in 2004 he moved to Paris, writing about the delights and disasters of making the City of Light his home in L'Appart (2017). He is the author of numerous books, among them: My Paris Kitchen (2014), The Perfect Scoop (2018), The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World's Glorious -- Perplexing -- City (2011), and The Great Book of Chocolate (2004). He has turned his website, www.davidlebovitz.com, into one of the first and most popular food and living blogs.
This recipe for artichoke tapenade is so simple to make and doesn’t require pitting an endless amount of olives like regular tapenade. David reminds us that the name tapenade comes from the word in Provençal for capers, tapéno? So you can’t have tapenade without capers. You shouldn't have any trouble finding them in a jar, though recently my grocery store was out of them. Be sure to rinse and squeeze them dry to remove the unpleasant taste of the brine. You can buy the olives in specialty markets and then pit them. To pit the olives, David suggests pressing them with your thumb, "being careful to stay out of the way of any squirts of oil, then pluck out the pits." He rinses them also if they're conserved in a heavily flavored brine. Those who are less adventurous can buy standard pitted green olives without pimentos in a jar. They work well in this recipe, too.
Serves 8-10 as an appetizer
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced 1 cup (4 ounce, 120 g) pitted green olives
1 tablespoon (10 g) capers
8-10 (14 ounces, or 250 g) canned artichokes, drained well and quartered
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 tablespoons (90 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon chile powder
salt to taste
1. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the garlic, olives, capers, artichoke hearts, lemon juice, and olive oil until almost smooth, but still chunky.
2. Taste, and add salt, chile powder, and additional lemon juice, if desired.
3. Serve with toasted slices of baguette or crackers.
Storage: The tapenade will keep for up to one week in the refrigerator.
One Bowl Yellow Cake (from Melissa Clark, New York Times, May 22, 2020)
"My recipe is a classic yellow cake that's whisked in one bowl. It is slightly fussier than other one-bowl cakes in that you'll definitely need that whisk, and a dedication to some brief but furious mixing. But the result is a cake that's fantastically silky, tender and buttery without being at all heavy -- and without calling for an electric mixer," writes Melissa Clark.
Time: 1 hour
Yield: 1 two-layer cake, one single-layer, thick cake, or 24 cupcakes
3 eggs at room temperature
1 1/4 cups/250 grams of granulated sugar
4 tbs/60 grams of unsalted butter (equals one-half a stick of butter), melted
1/2 cup/120 milliliters of flavorless oil (such as sunflower, safflower, canola oil)
1 cup/240 milliliters of buttermilk or combination of yogurt or sour cream thinned with milk
lemon or orange extract
shot of bourbon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsps baking powder
2 cups all-purpose flour or cake flour
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Melt 4 tbs unsalted butter and let it cool.
3. Crack eggs into a large bowl, add sugar and whisk the heck out of it. You want the mixture to be frothy and bubbly, but you don't need it to look like mousse or to "ribbon" on itself, it just has to inflate slightly. This helps give you a nice light crumb.
4. Whisk in the butter, flavorless oil, and the buttermilk (or yogurt or sour cream thinned with some milk).
5. Add flavorings: citrus zest, lemon or orange extract, vanilla extract, almond extract, shot of bourbon. You can experiment with the flavorings you use.
6. Whisk in salt, baking soda and baking powder.
7. Finally whisk in flour. Whisk vigorously for another 30 seconds to eliminate any lumps.
8. Pour the batter into greased and parchment-lined (or floured) pans. You can use two 8-inch layer cake pans (bake for 30-35 minutes); a 9x13-inch pan (25-35 minutes); or 24 cupcake molds (use liners and bake for 17-22 minutes). Depending upon the pan(s) you use, the baking time will vary.
9. The batter rises a lot. The cake is done when it's golden and the top springs back when lightly pressed in the center.
10. Once cooled, you can frost it as you like -- whipped cream with fruit, chocolate frosting, or satiny buttercream.
For the frosting, you can use whipped cream and strawberries or other fruits, chocolate frosting, or satiny buttercream. I chose to make a chocolate fudge icing and then decorate the cake with banana slices. I prefer this icing to chocolate buttercream frosting because it never hardens, but stays creamy and fudgy.
Chocolate Fudge Icing (without powdered sugar)
1 cup of granulated sugar
3-4 squares of chocolate (you can substitute cocoa if you don't have squares)
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbs butter
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups milk
1. Put sugar, salt, egg and 1/4 cup milk into a medium-sized pan and beat until well-blended.
2. Add chocolate, butter and rest of milk. Cook over medium heat until dark and thick.
3. Add vanilla and cool to spread on the two layers of the cake or on top of the cupcakes.
May Daisy Cocktail
(from David Lebovitz, "Drinking French," adapted from The PDT Cocktail Book by Jim Meehan, recipe by Phil Ward, photo courtesy of Bill Slack)
It's May. Think lily-of-the-valley, or "muguet," the flower presented as a symbol of good luck to friends and colleagues on May 1st for the "Fête du Travail" (Labor Day) in France. Or think mint juleps and the Kentucky Derby. Yet in these uncertain and challenging times, national and local events have been significantly altered, postponed, or canceled altogether. But we can still drink! Wine and spirit stores are considered "essential businesses" and during the lockdown have remained open so that our bars and wine cellars can always be replenished.
David Lebovitz's new cocktail book, "Drinking French" (Ten Speed Press, March 2020), couldn't have come at a better time. The "May Daisy Cocktail" gets its flavor from two iconic French spirits, cognac and Chartreuse. As David writes, "It's a very easy cocktail to make and a good dose of fresh fruit juice does make me feel hopeful about spring. A mint leaf reminds us that things are in bloom again, too." And, most importantly, it will refresh our spirits (ha!).
For 1 cocktail:
To make simple syrup, heat 1/2 cup (100g) sugar with 1/2 cup (125ml) water, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Let cool and refrigerate until ready to use.
2 ounces cognac
1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 ounce green Chartreuse
1/2 ounce simple syrup
fresh mint leaf or sprig
1. Add the cognac, lemon juice, Chartreuse, and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker. Fill two-thirds with ice, cover, and shake vigorously until well-chilled, about 15 seconds.
2. Strain into a chilled wine glass. Garnish with a fresh mint leaf or sprig.
Broiled North Fork Grass-Fed Beef Tri-Tip Steak for Two
(from the kitchen of Pat Mundus)