Posted by: Patty | January 8, 2013

TWD Pizza with Onion Confit

Question: Is it possible to photograph purple food and make it look tasty?

Answer: No!

Despite looking weird, today’s recipe produces a delicious pizza. The pizza dough is started with a sponge that rises for 1 1/2 hours. More flour is then beaten in and there is a second rise. You can now shape and bake the pizzas, or you can tightly wrap the dough and chill it overnight.

After starting the dough you make a confit of onions. The recipe calls for red wine and the onions slowly simmer, creating tender, wine poached onions that are very tasty but also very purple. I also used some herbed goat cheese, mozzarella, parmesan and sopressata for toppings.

pizza toppings IMG_1268

You can see in the photos that the onions are an unappealing purple. But, they have great flavor. The pizza crust was crispy and chewy, and we ate all of it.

I divided half of the recipe into 2 pieces and made two 10″ pizzas last night. The other half of dough will be used for dinner tonight. The recipe suggests freezing extra dough but I’d rather try some other toppings, maybe a tomato based sauce. To bake I heated my Emile Henri pizza stone for an hour. I also followed another TWD writer’s suggestion to use parchment paper under the pizza if you don’t have a peel. The paper made it very easy to transfer the pizza to the oven and it did not burn.

The Boy Can Bake blog will have the full recipe, or you can find it on page 157 in Baking with Julia. If you love pizza this is a recipe that really works in a home oven.

Here’s an update: tonight I made traditional pizza with tomato sauce, sopressata, and mozzarella cheese. The second night the dough was not as elastic but still made a good crust. its a great recipe for pizza at home.


Posted by: Patty | January 1, 2013

Wilson’s Warbler!! in Virginia

Happy New Years Day to all. We decided to visit Huntley Meadows today. A Wilson Warbler had been sighted and we decided to see if the bird was still on site.

And we were very lucky:

wilsons warbler

This little bird was hopping around, picking up seeds, and ignoring people. He was definitely in the wrong place considering the winter weather, but he was busy eating seeds and unaware that he was in the wrong climate. a real treat to see.

What a great weekend for me! On Saturday I attended a cooking demonstration by Marisa McClellan of “Food in Jars“; on Sunday afternoon our local bookstore, Politics and Prose,  hosted an event with Luisa Weiss, the creator of the blog “the Wednesday Chef”. I met two great food writers in one weekend.

Luisa spoke for almost an hour, first reading from a chapter in her book titled “Eating for Heartbreak”.

Her book is a memoir with recipes; her blog reports on recipes that she has collected and prepared from the dining sections of the NY Times and LA Times newspapers, among other sources. She named her blog Wednesday Chef because thats the day the newspapers publish their dining sections. Why hadn’t I figured that out? Very clever title.

She invited questions and there were many from the crowd of 50+ people. She had advice for writing a blog; when discussing friends and family on  a blog, never write anything that might surprise the person in question. Also, when using a published recipe always credit the source and if possible link to the original post. She spoke about the differences between blogging and writing a book. It definitely sounded like book writing was the more difficult work. She also told some funny stories about choosing the name “Hugo” for her newborn son. Did I mention she is doing a national book tour with a newborn? Luisa can do everything!

You can visit The Wednesday Chef blog here.  Luisa’s adventures are always entertaining.

Cheers, Patty

Posted by: Patty | September 29, 2012

Jam Making with Marisa McClellan in Washington DC

Amid the beauty of the United States Botanical Gardens in Washington DC,

Marisa McClellan, author of “Food in Jars” taught an amazing class about jam making and canning in the main foyer of the conservatory building.

On a simple folding table, with a single induction burner, Marisa showed the basics of jam making and canning from start to finish in one hour! As a cooking instructor, I was very impressed.

She shared so much information about the hows and whys of the techniques of safely canning jams. There were many questions and Marisa made sure that all questions were answered. She offered everyone samples of the tomato jam she cooked during class; it was delicious.

After class I returned to my kitchen and made a half batch of the Pear Ginger Conserve in her cookbook. (Page 96)

I had purchased some bartlett pears and fresh ginger at the farmers Market in Penn Quarter on Thursday, hoping to make jam based on my mother’s ginger pear jam recipe. Look at that locally grown ginger: it is so fresh.

I did add some candied ginger to the recipe because thats what my mother used in her pear preserves. The half recipe yielded 2 half pint jars and one 4 ounce jar . Marisa’s web site gives directions for cooking a small batch, you can read it here. It takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes, time well spent.

Marisa’s book is on Amazon, or check your local bookstore. It is a cookbook that you will love using.

Cheers, Patty

Posted by: Patty | September 27, 2012

Davis Tanis’s awesome tomato soup

In December 2010, David Tanis visited my Williams-Sonoma store in Washington, DC to introduce his new cookbook “Heart of the Artichoke”. Chef Tanis demonstrated Ravioloni with Butternut Squash for our customers. Assisting David was so much fun for me. And, I have successfully made the ravioloni several times and it is delicious. He is a great teacher.

Since then I have used his cookbook many times and always intended to feature the book in a post. But tonight I made the Chilled Tomato Soup, page 141 and absolutely had to share this simple but brilliant method of pureeing tomatoes.

I had several brandywine tomatoes that were looking a bit tired and decided to try David’s method. It is soooo simple and really highlights the pure taste of tomato.

You slice the tomato in half, grate it on the large holes of a grater, strain, season, chill and serve.When you grate, the skin acts as a barrier to the grater, you can get very close to the skin and really utilize all the tomato pulp. Here is the soup: (it looks a bit brown but thats because brandywine tomatoes are very dark in color):

The flavor is the essence of summer tomatoes. Here are the skins remaining after grating:

I recommend you visit your farmers market this weekend, find some heirloom tomatoes and try this method. It is the best. The season for tomatoes is almost over and you don’t want to miss out on this super easy preparation of tomatoes.

And here’s a picture of straining the pulp. Very easy.

Other recipes I love from this cookbook are Pho, Lamb with prunes, Green Beans with pickled shallots, and Flat Roasted Chicken.

David writes the column “City Kitchen” in the New York Times. It appears on Wednesdays in the dining section and is a good  source for seasonal recipes. He frequents the local farmer markets in NYC and suggests easy and great tasting recipes for whats ripe now.

Cheers, Patty

Posted by: Patty | August 23, 2012

Small Batch Plum Jam

The canning blog “Food in Jars” recently issued a challenge to try small batch jam making. I have a plum jam recipe from my grandmother Mary Roth that uses 4 pounds of Italian plums. It makes way too much jam for my little family, especially because I have made so many other flavors of jam this summer. I simply followed the guidelines from “Food in Jars” and had great success. You can find Marisa’s method here. Marisa also has a new cookbook, I bought the Kindle version and have had fun trying her recipes. In particular, the rhubarb jelly is yummy and makes a great glaze for fruit tarts.

Here are the ingredients I used:

3 cups pitted and diced Italian plums

1/4 cup very thinly sliced lemon

1/4 cup very thinly sliced orange

1/4 cup currants

1 1/2 cups sugar

I added the sugar to the fruit (excluding the currants) and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator. The next morning I prepped 2 Ball canning jars by sterilizing them. I cooked the jam for about 15 minutes in a 12″ saute pan, then added the currants and continued cooking for about 5 minutes.

The jam  thickened, I ladled it into the hot jars and processed them in a water bath for 10 minutes. Voila: 2 jars of one of my favorite jams, finished in about an hour. What a great approach to jam!

By the way, Italian plums can only be found at the end of August and early September. They aren’t very tasty eaten raw but cook with them and the flavor is delicious. Try to find them at your local farmers market.

Enjoy, Patty

Posted by: Patty | August 21, 2012

TWD popovers


Our baker this week is Marion Cunningham and we are preparing her popovers. After trying her recipe (which is excellent) I decided to make a smaller batch and to use my Vitamix blender. Here’s a recipe that will fit into a standard 6 cup popover pan.

By the way, I’m on vacation and can’t figure out how to link on my iPad. So, for Marion’s recipe, google Tuesdays with Dorie and you should be able to find the links to our recipe hosts.
Cheers, Patty


3 large eggs, room temperature

1-3/4 cups whole milk

2 cups AP flour

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Optional: grated gruyere cheese, about 1 Tablespoon per popover

Cooking Instructions

1. In a bowl, stir together the flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
2. Heat the milk in a microwave to be warm to the touch, about 2 minutes.
3. In a Vitamix, blend the eggs for 2 minutes. The eggs will be thick and foamy.
4. Now, with the Vitamix running at a low speed, slowly add the warmed milk through the opening in the top of the Vitamix. Blend well for at least a minute at a high speed.
5. Slowly add the flour mixture through the opening in the lid. Then blend at high speed until smooth, no more than a minute.
6. Now, let the batter rest for ONE hour at room temperature.
7. While the batter is resting, preheat the oven to 450*. Heavily butter a 6 cup popover pan. Place the pan on a cookie sheet. Many recipes call for non-stick spray but butter is much better at releasing the popovers from the pan.
8. Carefully pour batter into each cup, almost to the top. If you would like, add 1 Tablespoon grated gruyere cheese to the top of the batter. You may have a Tablespoon of batter leftover. That’s ok.
9. Bake for 15 minutes at 450*, then REDUCE the temperature to 375* and cook for another 25-30 minutes.
10. Serve!
11. The cooking time might seem to be too long but it is necessary to dry out the interior of the popovers. Even with the long baking time, the popovers will be very moist on the inside. That’s what makes them great to eat with butter and jam.

Today would be Julia Child’s 100th birthday. To celebrate, many restaurants are offering menus featuring Julia’s recipes and food writers are sharing memories of their experiences with Julia. After we were married in 1976 I cooked my way through “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”. No, I didn’t make every recipe but I had fun trying new techniques. And, of course, I concentrated on desserts, my favorite course to cook. In honor of Julia’s birthday, this morning I made Chocolate Mousse. The ingredient list is simple: eggs, sugar, chocolate, butter and some flavorings. With that short list you make the creamiest mousse ever but you also make an enormous mess in your kitchen. Here’s just some of the equipment needed to produce her mousse:

Fortunately, the mousse must chill for several hours; you use that time to clean up the kitchen. You are rewarded with the best dessert ever.

In addition to “Mastering” one of my favorite cookbooks is Julia’s “The Way to Cook”. Before I teach a cooking class I reread many of the the recipes in this book. Her writing is so clear and reviewing her recipes always helps me  explain different techniques in class. Thanks Julia!

Today Dorie Greenspan has written a tribute to Julia, you can read it here. Thanks to Dorie for a great article. See what other Tuesday with Dorie cooks are saying about Julia here.

Cheers, Patty

Posted by: Patty | August 8, 2012

TWD: Baking with Julia: Berry Galette

Flo Braker is our baker for this week’s selection from the cookbook “Baking with Julia”. Flo has been teaching for more than 35 years and she has written a number of baking cookbooks. My favorite is “Baking for All Occasions”.  Her essays on baking technique are a great source of information that explains why recipes work, and how substitutions affect the finished product. When I’m trying to improve a recipe or change a recipe I reread the baking primer in this book. Its full of baking wisdom.

Our recipe this week is a berry galette. Galettes are the easiest form of pie. The dough recipe includes cornmeal, flour, sour cream mixed with water, and was super easy to make in the food processor. I did change one step. Instead of adding the liquid to the dough through the feed tube, I removed the lid, added a small amount of the liquid, pulsed a few times and repeated that step several times. I find that adding liquid to pie dough through the feed tube results in overworked dough. After chilling it for one hour I rolled the dough and prepped my fruit. I choose a mixture of fresh cherries and blueberries. In addition to 1 tablespoon of sugar I added 1 teaspoon of tapioca flour to the fruit. Tapioca flour helps thicken the juices and I like its effect more than flour or cornstarch.

The galette baked for 40 minutes and came out with the fruit bubbling. The balance of crust to fruit was perfect. And the size of the galette makes it just right for  a quick dessert. There weren’t any leftovers, not even a crumb.

I definitely plan to try a savory tart with this dough. Smitten Kitchen has a zucchini galette recipe that I have made several times. I love the combination of ricotta and zucchini but have had trouble with that crust leaking butter all over the pan. I think Flo’s crust will be great with SM’s filling.

For the recipes visit our hosts for this week: Tomato Thymes and The Kitchen Lioness. They have the full recipe for you.

Cheers, Patty

Posted by: Patty | July 31, 2012

TWD: Baking with Julia Child, Blueberry Peach Pie

July has not been a great month for baking. We had a power failure that lasted 6 long days, during a heat wave here in DC. And I traveled to my little cottage in upstate NY where I did manage to make Blueberry Boy Bait from the Smitten Kitchen blog. But this is my only Tuesdays with Dorie post for this month.

The pie crust is a big batch recipe, yielding 4 crusts. I was very tempted to use my own crust because it always is delicious. Baker Leslie Mackie’s recipe is very different: she uses 20 Tablespoons of fats to 2 1/2 cups of flour. Mine uses 15 Tablespoons of fat to 3 cups of flour. I was hoping that the new recipe would result in an extra flaky crust. The crust was actually more crumbly than flaky. So I will continue to use my recipe, which is based on my grandmother’s:

The filling is precooked which helped with thickening the juices. The pie was very tasty, especially for breakfast today.

Our hosts are Hillary and Liz and you can find the full recipe at their blogs.


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