Saturday, August 28, 2010

berry brioche bread pudding

so, we're heading off to the east coast tomorrow, then back to school! we're finally all packed (ok, not all done. but 95% packed). i think we deserve some bread pudding!

we used a recipe from food and wine magazine but subbed blackberries (fresh from a park down the street!) for the blueberries and raspberries. we also added more sugar. we'll say it was to account for the fact that blackberries are less sweet, and not because we weren't paying attention when we halved the recipe. it worked, and was not overly sweet. also, although half the recipe should have been four servings, i was able to cut it into 6 big slices.
i think everybody liked it.
original recipe, with my notes in brackets:
berry brioche bread pudding from food and wine magazine
serves 8 [to 12]


    1. Unsalted butter, for greasing the dish
    2. 1/4 cup turbinado sugar
    3. 2 cups heavy cream
    4. 2 cups whole milk [we used 2%]
    5. 2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup granulated sugar
    6. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    7. 4 large eggs
    8. 4 large egg yolks
    9. 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    10. 2 cups blueberries and raspberries, plus more for serving [or blackberries, and if using blackberries add 1/3 cup more sugar to the cream mixture and 1-2 T more sugar to your berries]
    11. One 1-pound loaf of brioche, cut into 1/2-inch dice
    12. Whipped cream for serving

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter an 8-by-11-inch baking dish and coat the dish with the turbinado sugar.
  2. In a large saucepan, bring the cream, milk, 2/3 cup of the granulated sugar and the salt to a simmer over moderately high heat, then remove from the heat.
  3. In a bowl, whisk the whole eggs, egg yolks and vanilla. Gradually whisk in the hot cream until blended. Strain the custard through a fine strainer into a large bowl.
  4. In a small bowl, toss the blueberries and raspberries with 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar. Using a fork, coarsely mash the berries. Let stand until juicy, about 5 minutes.
  5. Mix the brioche into the custard. Fold in the mashed berries. Transfer the pudding to the prepared baking dish and sprinkle the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes, until set in the center. Remove the foil and bake in the top third of the oven for 20 minutes longer, until lightly golden.
  6. Preheat the broiler. Broil the pudding for 1 minute, until golden brown [be careful! we burnt the top of ours]. Transfer to a rack [we just let stand in the pan on a counter, not a rack] and let stand for 30 minutes, until cooled slightly. Cut the bread pudding into squares and serve with blueberries, raspberries and whipped cream.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

easy vegetable soup

this is one of our quick lunch staples. just saute whatever veggies you want in olive oil, then move them to a pot and add a can of diced tomatoes with their juices plus a can of beans (whatever kind you like) with their juices. heat, stirring, until hot and add italian seasoning, salt, and pepper to taste. this makes enough for a satisfying, healthy lunch for 2.

Monday, August 23, 2010

the great empanada adventure

another example of how rita and i fail at making pretty food. but it sure tasted delicious!we found 2 recipes la madre had printed out for us years ago, mushroom and butternut squash empanadas, and chicken empanada with chorizo, raisins, and and olives. since we had one of these (image courtesy of google):handy dandy (but not so much for uncoordinated people like us) pot sticker/empanada presses, we decided to make the second recipe as small empanadas instead of one big one. we also used pizza crust for both the doughs. because we're lazy like that.

as you can see, we became frustrated with the press system and ended up just rolling the ingredients in balls or dough. it worked. we also ran out of dough halfway through, hence the chicken, chorizo, raisin, and olive filling you see above, un-empanada-ed. we told everyone it was a stew.
Mushroom and Butternut Squash Empañadas
Gourmet | October 2002
chef Claire Archibald
Cafe Azul, Portland, OR
yield: Makes 8 first-course servings

For empanada filling

* 1 cup diced (1/4-inch) butternut squash
* 1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
* 6 small garlic cloves, minced
* 1/4 cup olive oil
* 2 (2- to 3-inch) fresh jalapeño chiles, seeds and ribs discarded and chiles finely chopped
* 1 pound fresh exotic mushrooms such as chanterelles, porcini, or hedgehogs (all one kind, not a mixture), trimmed and coarsely chopped
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/3 cup chicken broth

For sauce

* 1 dried pasilla de Oaxaca chile*
* 3 garlic cloves, left unpeeled
* 1 pound fresh tomatillos, husks discarded and tomatillos rinsed and quartered
* 1/4 cup finely chopped white onion
* 1/4 cup water
* 1/2 teaspoon salt

For empanada crust

* 1/3 Café Azul's pastry dough (1 pound)
* 1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water
* 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt


Make empanada filling:
Cook squash in a small saucepan of boiling salted water until just tender, about 2 minutes, then drain in a sieve.

Cook onion and garlic in oil in a large heavy skillet over moderately low heat, stirring, until onion is softened, about 3 minutes. Add jalapeños and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in mushrooms, salt, and broth and simmer, covered, until mushrooms are tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until liquid is evaporated, about 3 minutes, then stir in squash and salt to taste. Cool filling completely.

Make sauce:
Heat a dry griddle or heavy skillet (preferably cast-iron) over moderately low heat until hot, then toast pasilla de Oaxaca chile, pressing down with tongs, 15 to 20 seconds on each side. Halve chile lengthwise and discard stem, ribs, and seeds.

Heat griddle over moderately high heat until hot, then toast garlic until lightly blackened, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Cool garlic slightly and peel.

Simmer tomatillos, onion, water, chile, garlic, and salt in a large saucepan, covered, until tomatillos are very tender, about 20 minutes, and cool slightly. Remove 1 chile half and reserve, then purée sauce in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids), adding as much of reserved chile half as necessary to achieve desired spiciness. Return sauce to pan and season with salt.

Form and bake empanadas:
Preheat oven to 400°F.

Divide dough into 8 equal pieces (2 ounces each) and form each into a disk. Roll out 1 piece on a lightly floured surface into a 6- to 7-inch round (1/8 inch thick). Spoon about 1/3 cup filling onto center and brush edge of pastry lightly with egg wash. Fold dough in half to form a half-moon, enclosing filling, and press edges together to seal. Crimp edge decoratively and transfer empanada with a spatula to a large baking sheet. Make 7 more empanadas in same manner.

Lightly brush empanadas all over with some of remaining egg wash and sprinkle each with 1/4 teaspoon sea salt. Bake in middle of oven until golden, 25 to 30 minutes.

While empanadas are baking, reheat sauce. Cut each empanada in half with a serrated knife and serve with about 3 tablespoons sauce spooned around it.

* Available at Latino markets and Kitchen/Market (888-468-4433).
add your own note

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cafe azul's pastry dough (which we didn't make. but you can!)
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 4 sticks (2 cups) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
  • About 3/4 cup ice water

Sift flour with salt into a large bowl and blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps.

Beat egg with vinegar in a 1-cup measure using a fork, then add enough ice water to measure 1 cup total. Add to flour mixture, stirring with fork until incorporated.

Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently with heel of your hand just enough to bring dough together. Roll out or pat into a 15- by 9-inch rectangle. Arrange dough with short side nearest you, then fold into thirds like a letter to form a roughly 5- by 9-inch rectangle. Chill dough, wrapped in plastic wrap, at least 1 hour and up to 6 (do not chill longer or dough will discolor).

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and, finally, chicken empanada [or empanadas, or stew] with chorizo, raisins, and olives
serves 12, as a tapa
  • 3 whole chicken legs, including thighs (2 to 2 1/4 pounds total)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large onions, halved lengthwise, then cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-wide strips
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California
  • 1/3 cup finely diced Spanish chorizo (cured spiced pork sausage; 1 1/2 oz; casings discarded if desired)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika (not hot)
  • 1/4 cup chopped pitted green olives
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 pound frozen pizza dough, thawed


Make filling:
Pat chicken dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown chicken, turning over once, about 6 minutes total, and transfer to a plate. Sauté onions, garlic, and bay leaves in fat remaining in skillet, stirring frequently, until onions are softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add chorizo and paprika and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add olives, raisins, wine, and broth and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping up any brown bits. Return chicken to skillet along with any juices accumulated on plate, then reduce heat to moderately low and simmer chicken, covered, turning over once, until tender, 25 to 30 minutes total.

Transfer chicken to a clean plate. (Sauce in skillet should be the consistency of heavy cream; if it's not, briskly simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.) When chicken is cool enough to handle, discard skin and bones and coarsely chop meat. Stir chicken into sauce and discard bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper, then cool filling, uncovered, about 30 minutes.

Form and bake empanada:
Form dough into a ball, then wrap in oiled plastic wrap (oiled side in) and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F. Grease a 15- by 10-inch shallow baking pan (1 inch deep) with 1 tablespoon oil.

Divide dough in half, then roll out 1 half (keep remaining dough covered with plastic wrap) on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin into a 15- by 10-inch rectangle and transfer to baking pan. Spread filling evenly over dough, leaving a 1-inch border, and moisten border with water. Roll out remaining dough in same manner, then arrange over filling and press edges together to seal. Roll edges in and press to form a decorative rim. Make a 1-inch hole (a steam vent) in center of empanada.

Bake empanada 15 minutes, then brush crust with 3/4 tablespoon oil and bake until crust is golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes more. Remove from oven and brush empanada with remaining 3/4 tablespoon oil. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a rack, then slide empanada onto rack using a wide metal spatula and cool to warm.

Cut empanada into squares and serve warm or at room temperature.

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phew, all done!

Saturday, August 21, 2010


sorry for the long absence! we were exploring the pacific back shortly with a real post for all you awesome people.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

jalapeno corn bread

And now, the thrilling conclusion of the corn bread and chili saga!We used a recipe from Bon Appetit and added whole corn kernels and diced jalapenos. It would probably be great with shredded cheese too. We had a ton left over, although with four people in the house it goes pretty fast. Definitely not as excessive as the time me and Lola made cornbread back in NY and had to eat it with breakfast, lunch, and dinner for days afterwards.

Buttermilk cornbread. Recipe from Bon Appitit via Serves 12
2 cups white cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted, cooled

Preheat oven to 450°F. Butter 9x9x2-inch baking pan. Mix first 4 ingredients in large bowl. Whisk buttermilk, eggs and butter in medium bowl to blend. Stir buttermilk mixture into dry ingredients to blend (do not overmix). Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean and top is golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cool in pan. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.)

Monday, August 2, 2010

vegetarian chili

happy august everybody! we celebrated the end of july with some homemade chili (not that july was a bad month or anything. but i am excited to be only a month away from heading back to new york.)who doesn't love chili? its warm, comforting, and hearty. its also simple to make, the kind of thing that you could make a big pot of on sunday and save portions in the fridge for easy lunches the rest of the week (i wish i was the kind of organized, put together person who actually did things like that. instead of the kind of person who regularly makes a peanut butter sandwich in 4 seconds and eats it on the way to class while dripping jelly all over myself. but i did heat up the leftover chili for lunch today.)

recipe from bon appetit, via epicurious, with some changes by the twins
vegetarian chili

makes 4-5 main course servings

* 1/4 cup olive oil
* 2 cups chopped onions
* 2 medium coarsely chopped bell peppers (we used yellow)
* 6 garlic cloves, chopped
* 2 tablespoons chili powder + more to taste
* 2 teaspoons dried oregano
* 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin + more to taste
* 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 2 15- to 16-ounce cans black beans plus 1 15-16 oz can kidney beans, drained, 1/2 cup liquid reserved
* 1 16-ounce can diced tomatoes, with their juices
* small pinch chipotle chili powder (optional)
* 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon + more to taste

possible toppings (we used green onions and shredded mexican cheese):
* Chopped fresh cilantro
* Sour cream
* Grated Monterey Jack cheese
* Chopped green onions

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, bell peppers, and garlic; sauté until onions soften, about 10 minutes. Mix in chili powder, oregano, cumin, and cayenne; stir 2 minutes. Mix in beans, 1/2 cup reserved bean liquid, and tomato sauce. Bring chili to boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until flavors blend and chili thickens, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and extra chili powder, cumin, anc cinnamon if desired.

Ladle chili into bowls. Pass chopped cilantro, sour cream, grated cheese, and green onions separately.

stay tuned for the exciting conclusion (aka the cornbread recipe) in our next post!