Tag: cooking

Cooking For Democracy

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Michael Pollan on How Reclaiming Cooking Can Save Our Food System, Make Us Healthy & Grow Democracy



Full Transcript can be read here

Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! spent an hour with Michael Pollan,  Knight Professor of Science and Environmental Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley School of Journalism.

Pollan has written several best-selling books about food, including “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” and “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.” In his latest book, “Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation,” Pollan argues that taking back control of cooking may be the single most important step anyone can take to help make our food system healthier and more sustainable. “There is a deliberate effort to undermine food culture to sell us processed food,” Pollan says. “The family meal is a challenge if you’re General Mills or Kellogg or one of these companies, or McDonald’s, because the family meal is usually one thing shared.” Pollan also talks about the “slow food” movement. “Slow food is about food that is good, clean and fair. They’re concerned with social justice. They’re concerned with how the food is grown and how humane and chemical-free it is.” He adds, “Slow food is about recovering that space around the family and keeping the influence of the food manufacturers outside of the house. … The family meal is very important. It’s the nursery of democracy.”

What’s Cooking: Bailey’s Irish Cream Cheesecake

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

I love cheesecake. Specifically, New York style cheesecake made with cream cheese, eggs and sugar. It’s an art to get it right, believe me, I’ve been practicing making them for years. I even made a cheesecake wedding cake for a friend’s daughter’s wedding. Three tiers, apricot swirl with a white chocolate cream cheese frosting, festooned for butter cream daisies. I’m told there was none left after twenty minutes. I gave the bride the recipe and a spring form pan as a bridal shower gift so she could make one on her first wedding anniversary.

There are cheesecakes for all occasions, including St. Patrick’s Day laced with Baily’s Irish Cream. It has become a tradition in my house since 1991 when I found the recipe in a 1991 Bon Appétit magazine. It’s best made a day before serving with steaming mugs of hot Irish coffee.

Bailey’s Irish Cream Cheesecake

 photo 349df6c9-00d1-4095-a42c-397c796dacea_zpsc1deba11.jpgIngredients

Crust:

10 whole graham crackers, broken into pieces

1 1/4 cup pecans(5 oz)

1/4 cup sugar

6 T. unsalted butter

Filling:

1 1/2 pound cream cheese, room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

3 large eggs

1/3 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur

1 t. vanilla extract

3 ounces imported white chocolate (such as Lindt)

Topping:

1 1/2 cups sour cream

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 1/2 ounces imported white chocolate, grated

24 pecan halves

Preparation

For Crust:

Preheat oven to 325. lightly butter 9 inch spring-form pan. Finely grind graham crackers, pecans and sugar in processor. Add butter and blend, using on/off turns. Press crumbs onto bottom and 2 inches up sides of prepared pan. Refrigerate 20 minutes.

Filling:

Using mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until smooth. whisk eggs, baileys and vanilla in medium bowl until just blended. Beat egg mixture into cream cheese mixture. Finely chop white chocolate in processor. Add to cream cheese mixture. Transfer filling to crust lined pan. Bake until edges of filling are puffed and dry looking and center is just set, about 50 minutes. Cool on rack. Do not remove cake from pan.

Topping:

Mix sour cream and powdered sugar in small bowl. Spread topping onto cooled cake. Refrigerate until well chilled, about 6 hours. (can be prepared 1 day ahead)

Sprinkle grated chocolate over cake; place pecans around edge. Carefully loosen the rim of the spring-form pan; remove and place cake on a serving plate.

Serves 10, maybe.

Some tips to making the perfect cheesecake:

  • All ingredients should be at room temperature
  • Gently cream the cream cheese before the eggs are added until it is smooth and lump free
  • Avoid over-beating the batter. Over-beating incorporates additional air and tends to cause cracking on the surface of the cheesecake.
  • Before placing the cheesecake in the oven, place an oven proof pan in the bottom of the oven and fill it half way with boiling water. Let the oven return to the proper temperature, then place the cheesecake on a rack in the center of the oven directly over the steaming water. This eliminates having to wrap the outside of the spring-form pan with foil to prevent water from seeping in the cake if place directly in the water.
  • Don’t over-bake the cheesecake. When perfectly done, there will still be a two to three-inch wobbly spot in the middle of the cheesecake; the texture will smooth out as it cools.
  • Bon appétit!

    What’s Cooking for St. Patrick’s Day

    Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

    Sunday is St. Patrick’s Day but Saturday is the big parade in NYC. The tradition on the day is corned beef and cabbage with potatoes, so what to eat on parade day. The easy answer is go traditional with a stew. This beef stew made with Guiness Stout and topped with a Stilton laced pastry crust takes a little work but it is well worth the work.

    Beef and Stout Pie with Stilton Crust

    Ingredients:

       * 7 Tbs. olive oil

       * 1 lb. white button mushrooms, quartered

       * 2 cups frozen pearl onions, thawed

       * Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

       * 3 1/2 lb. beef chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes

       * 1 cup all-purpose flour

       * 3 garlic cloves, minced

       * 2 Tbs. tomato paste

       * 2 1/2 cups Irish stout

       * 1 cup beef broth

       * 1 lb. carrots, cut into chunks

       * 1 lb. red potatoes, cut into chunks

       * 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh thyme

       * One 16-inch round Stilton pastry (recipe below)

       * 1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp. water

    Directions:

    In a 5 1/2-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm 1 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the mushrooms, onions, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

    Season the beef with salt and pepper. Dredge the beef in the flour, shaking off the excess. In the Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add one-third of the beef and brown on all sides, about 7 minutes total. Transfer to a separate bowl. Add 1/2 cup water to the pot, stirring to scrape up the browned bits. Pour the liquid into a separate bowl. Repeat the process 2 more times, using 2 Tbs. oil to brown each batch of beef and deglazing the pot with 1/2 cup water after each batch.

    Return the pot to medium-high heat. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds. Add the beef, stout, broth and reserved liquid, stirring to scrape up the browned bits. Add the mushrooms, onions, carrots, potatoes and thyme and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beef and vegetables are tender, about 3 hours.

    Preheat an oven to 400°F.

    Stilton Pastry

    Ingredients:

       * 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

       * 2 tsp. salt

       * 1 Tbs. sugar

       * 16 Tbs. (2 sticks/250g) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

       * 1/3 to 1/2 cup ice water

       * 4 oz. Stilton cheese, crumbled

    Directions:

    In a food processor, combine the flour, salt and sugar and pulse until blended, about 5 pulses. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 pulses. Add 1/3 cup of the ice water and pulse 2 or 3 times. The dough should hold together when squeezed with your fingers but should not be sticky. If it is crumbly, add more water 1 Tbs. at a time, pulsing twice after each addition. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and shape into a disk. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

    Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let stand for 5 minutes. Sprinkle the top of the dough lightly with flour, place on a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper and roll out into a 12-by-16-inch rectangle. Sprinkle the cheese over half of the dough, then fold the other half over the cheese. Roll out the dough into a 16 1/2-inch square. Using a paring knife, trim the dough into a 16-inch round.

    Refrigerate the dough until firm, about 10 minutes, then lay the dough on top of the beef and stout pie and bake as directed in that recipe. Makes enough dough for a 16-inch round.

    Brush the rim of the pot with water. Lay the pastry round on top, allowing it to droop onto the filling. Trim the dough, leaving a 1-inch overhang, and crimp to seal. Brush the pastry with the egg mixture, then cut 4 slits in the top of the dough. Bake for 30 minutes. Let the potpie rest for 15 minutes before serving. Serves 8 to 10.

    Erin Go Bragh!

    Thoroughly Modern Meatless Mince Pie

    Republished from 11/6/2011 from the What’s Cooking Archives at The Stars Hollow Gazette

    Mince pie is a old holiday tradition that can be traced back to 13th century when European crusaders returned from the Middle East with recipes for meats, fruits and spices. Mincing was a way of preserving meats without salting or smoking. The pie has been served at royal tables and, at one time, was banned by the Puritans since it was a symbol of the Pagan Christmas celebration.

    Traditional mincemeat pie contains shredded meat and suet along with fruits and spices and cooks for hours. Mostly made with beef, there is a record of a recipe that used whale meat.  Today, most cooks buy mince in a jar, like Cross & Blackwell or None-Such, to make pies and small tarts. I use to do that as well, adding chopped apples, walnuts and extra brandy.

    Several years ago, I came across recipe for a meatless mince full of apples, dried fruits and lots of spices. It cooks over low heat for about ninety minutes filling the house and the neighborhood with its spicy aroma. This recipe calls for pippin apples but MacIntosh, Granny Smith or any pie variety of apple is a fine substitute. I use a combination. It can be made a week or so ahead of time and kept refrigerated in an airtight container. The recipe will make one pie or about a dozen medium tarts. I like the tarts even though it’s more work making the crusts. For the top crust, I make decorative cutouts with small cookie cutters, shaped like leaves and acorns. I’ve also just made a few cutouts in the top crust and surrounded the pie edge with the dough cutouts.

    Modern Mince Pie

    Ingredients:

       3 1/2 pounds small pippin apples (about 7), peeled, cored, chopped

       1/2 cup chopped pitted prunes

       1/2 cup golden raisins

       1/2 cup dried currants

       1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

       1/4 cup unsulfured (light) molasses

       1/4 cup brandy

       1/4 cup orange juice

       1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

       2 tablespoons dark rum

       1 tablespoon grated orange peel

       1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

       1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

       1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

       1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

       1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

       Pinch of salt

    Preparation:

    Combine first 17 ingredients in heavy large saucepan or Dutch oven. Cook over low heat until apples are very tender and mixture is thick, stirring occasionally, about 1 1/2 hours. Cool filling completely. (Can be prepared up to 1 week ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

    Position rack in lowest third of oven and preheat to 400°F. Roll out 1 pie crust disk on lightly floured surface to 13-inch-diameter round (about 1/8 inch thick). Roll up dough on rolling pin and transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie plate. Gently press into place. Trim edges of crust, leaving 3/4-inch overhang. Fold overhang under crust so that crust is flush with edge of pie pan. Crimp edges with fork to make decorative border. Spoon filling into crustlined pan, gently pressing flat.

    Roll out second disk on lightly floured surface to 13-inch round. Cut out about 28 three-inch leaves using cookie cutter. Press leaves lightly with tines of fork to form vein pattern. Brush bottom of 1 leaf with milk. Place leaf atop mince, overlapping crust slightly and pressing to adhere to crust. Continue placing leaves atop pie in concentric circles, overlapping edges slightly until top of pie is covered. Brush crust with milk. Bake until crust is golden brown and mince bubbles, about 40 minutes. Cool completely. Serve pie with rum raisin ice cream if desired.

    (To make this recipe vegan substitute light olive oil for the butter.

    Bon appétit!

    Carving Pumpkins 101

    Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

    Rather than try to explain how to carve a pumpkin here is a video that is a handy 5 minute guide.

    How to Carve a Killer Pumpkin with Leah D’Emilio

    And for the more ambitious and artistic pumpkin carvers among us, here is some inspiration with seasonal music.

    Amazing Halloween Jack-O-Lanterns

    Pumpkins, Not Just For Carving

    Re-posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

    When most of us think of pumpkins, we think of the orange orbs that get carved up for Halloween and pumpkin pie with gobs of whipped cream for dessert at Thanksgiving but pumpkins come in all shapes, colors, sizes and varieties. Some are good only for decoration, while others are not only decorative but very tasty in pies, soups and stews.

    According to Wikipedia pumpkin “is a gourd-like squash of the genus Cucurbita and the family Cucurbitaceae (which also includes gourds). It commonly refers to cultivars of any one of the species Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbita mixta, Cucurbita maxima, and Cucurbita moschata, and is native to North America.” Some of the fun activities besides decorative carving for Halloween are Festivals and competitions with pumpkin chucking being among the most popular. Chucking has become so popular that some competitors grow their own special varieties that will survive being shot from catapults and cannons. The festivals are most dedicated to the competition for recipes and the competition for the largest pumpkin. This year that honor went to a 1818 pound beauty from Canada that was on display at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx.

    The pumpkin is one of the main symbols of Halloween and the Wiccan holiday of Samhain, which is a celebration of the end of the year, the final harvest and the coming of winter. The earliest that a craved pumpkin was associated with Halloween is 1866. Throughout Britain and Ireland the turnip has traditionally been used at Halloween, but immigrants to North America used the native pumpkin, which are both readily available and much larger, making them easier to carve than turnips.

    In cooking, the the fleshy shell, seeds, leaves and flowers are all edible. Canned pureed pumpkin is readily available in stores, as are the small, sweet variety of fresh pumpkin for the ambitious cook to make their own puree or for stews. When it comes to pies, the easiest is the canned, my favorite being Libby’s with the recipe on the label, label, label. It’s the only recipe I have ever used for pumpkin pie and I’ve never has a complaint.

    Pumpkin and all it parts are also very nutritious, containing many vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidents. There is also an interesting medical study of pumpkin extract on type-1 diabetic rats:

    (P)ublished in July 2007, suggests that chemical compounds found in pumpkin promote regeneration of damaged pancreatic cells, resulting in increased bloodstream insulin levels. According to the research team leader, pumpkin extract may be “a very good product for pre-diabetic people, as well as those who already have diabetes,” possibly reducing or eliminating the need for insulin injections for some type-1 diabetics. It is unknown whether pumpkin extract has any effect on diabetes mellitus type 2, as it was not the subject of the study.

    One of my favorite recipes is Pumpkin Cheesecake with Bourbon Sour Cream Topping that is more popular than pie with my family.

    Photobucket

    Recipe and baking tips are below the fold
     

    What’s for Dinner? v7.06 The Cheesecake

    As many of you know, last Tuesday was The Girl’s (henceforth referred to as The Woman) 20th birthday.  We had originally planned to bake a cheesecake together Sunday past, but she had a better idea.  She asked me very sweetly, “Do you know what would make this cake really special for me?  If you cooked it by yourself since it is my birthday cake”.  Of course I agreed!

    I got all kinds of suggestions from the community here Saturday before last, and I appreciate all of them.  I finally took the basic recipe from the Kraft site and modified it, and the result was wonderful!

    I shall give you the recipe first, then a photographic gallery with my comments about how to do this.  It is not hard to make a cheesecake that does not dry out or get weepy, but it is easy to mess one up irretrievably!  You should read the entire piece before trying the recipe.

    Thoroughly Modern Meatless Mince Pie

    Cross posted from The Stars hollow Gazette

    Mince pie is a old holiday tradition that can be traced back to 13th century when European crusaders returned from the Middle East with recipes for meats, fruits and spices. Mincing was a way of preserving meats without salting or smoking. The pie has been served at royal tables and, at one time, was banned by the Puritans since it was a symbol of the Pagan Christmas celebration.

    Traditional mincemeat pie contains shredded meat and suet along with fruits and spices and cooks for hours. Mostly made with beef, there is a record of a recipe that used whale meat.  Today, most cooks buy mince in a jar, like Cross & Blackwell or None-Such, to make pies and small tarts. I use to do that as well, adding chopped apples, walnuts and extra brandy.

    Several years ago, I came across recipe for a meatless mince full of apples, dried fruits and lots of spices. It cooks over low heat for about ninety minutes filling the house and the neighborhood with its spicy aroma. This recipe calls for pippin apples but MacIntosh, Granny Smith or any pie variety of apple is a fine substitute. I use a combination. It can be made a week or so ahead of time and kept refrigerated in an airtight container. The recipe will make one pie or about a dozen medium tarts. I like the tarts even though it’s more work making the crusts. For the top crust, I make decorative cutouts with small cookie cutters, shaped like leaves and acorns. I’ve also just made a few cutouts in the top crust and surrounded the pie edge with the dough cutouts.

    Modern Mince Pie

    Ingredients:

       3 1/2 pounds small pippin apples (about 7), peeled, cored, chopped

       1/2 cup chopped pitted prunes

       1/2 cup golden raisins

       1/2 cup dried currants

       1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

       1/4 cup unsulfured (light) molasses

       1/4 cup brandy

       1/4 cup orange juice

       1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

       2 tablespoons dark rum

       1 tablespoon grated orange peel

       1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

       1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

       1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

       1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

       1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

       Pinch of salt

    Preparation:

    Combine first 17 ingredients in heavy large saucepan or Dutch oven. Cook over low heat until apples are very tender and mixture is thick, stirring occasionally, about 1 1/2 hours. Cool filling completely. (Can be prepared up to 1 week ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

    Position rack in lowest third of oven and preheat to 400°F. Roll out 1 pie crust disk on lightly floured surface to 13-inch-diameter round (about 1/8 inch thick). Roll up dough on rolling pin and transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie plate. Gently press into place. Trim edges of crust, leaving 3/4-inch overhang. Fold overhang under crust so that crust is flush with edge of pie pan. Crimp edges with fork to make decorative border. Spoon filling into crustlined pan, gently pressing flat.

    Roll out second disk on lightly floured surface to 13-inch round. Cut out about 28 three-inch leaves using cookie cutter. Press leaves lightly with tines of fork to form vein pattern. Brush bottom of 1 leaf with milk. Place leaf atop mince, overlapping crust slightly and pressing to adhere to crust. Continue placing leaves atop pie in concentric circles, overlapping edges slightly until top of pie is covered. Brush crust with milk. Bake until crust is golden brown and mince bubbles, about 40 minutes. Cool completely. Serve pie with rum raisin ice cream if desired.

    (To make this recipe vegan substitute light olive oil for the butter.

    Bon appétit!

    Pumpkins, Not Just For Carving

    Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

    When most of us think of pumpkins, we think of the orange orbs that get carved up for Halloween and pumpkin pie with gobs of whipped cream for dessert at Thanksgiving but pumpkins come in all shapes, colors, sizes and varieties. Some are good only for decoration, while others are not only decorative but very tasty in pies, soups and stews.

    According to Wikipedia pumpkin “is a gourd-like squash of the genus Cucurbita and the family Cucurbitaceae (which also includes gourds). It commonly refers to cultivars of any one of the species Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbita mixta, Cucurbita maxima, and Cucurbita moschata, and is native to North America.” Some of the fun activities besides decorative carving for Halloween are Festivals and competitions with pumpkin chucking being among the most popular. Chucking has become so popular that some competitors grow their own special varieties that will survive being shot from catapults and cannons. The festivals are most dedicated to the competition for recipes and the competition for the largest pumpkin. This year that honor went to a 1818 pound beauty from Canada that was on display at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx.

    The pumpkin is one of the main symbols of Halloween and the Wiccan holiday of Samhain, which is a celebration of the end of the year, the final harvest and the coming of winter. The earliest that a craved pumpkin was associated with Halloween is 1866. Throughout Britain and Ireland the turnip has traditionally been used at Halloween, but immigrants to North America used the native pumpkin, which are both readily available and much larger, making them easier to carve than turnips.

    In cooking, the the fleshy shell, seeds, leaves and flowers are all edible. Canned pureed pumpkin is readily available in stores, as are the small, sweet variety of fresh pumpkin for the ambitious cook to make their own puree or for stews. When it comes to pies, the easiest is the canned, my favorite being Libby’s with the recipe on the label, label, label. It’s the only recipe I have ever used for pumpkin pie and I’ve never has a complaint.

    Pumpkin and all it parts are also very nutritious, containing many vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidents. There is also an interesting medical study of pumpkin extract on type-1 diabetic rats:

    (P)ublished in July 2007, suggests that chemical compounds found in pumpkin promote regeneration of damaged pancreatic cells, resulting in increased bloodstream insulin levels. According to the research team leader, pumpkin extract may be “a very good product for pre-diabetic people, as well as those who already have diabetes,” possibly reducing or eliminating the need for insulin injections for some type-1 diabetics. It is unknown whether pumpkin extract has any effect on diabetes mellitus type 2, as it was not the subject of the study.

    One of my favorite recipes is Pumpkin Cheesecake with Bourbon Sour Cream Topping that is more popular than pie with my family.

    Photobucket

    Recipe and baking tips are below the fold
     

    What’s for Dinner? v5.30: New Cooking Book

    Hello, all!  Tonight I am publishing the introduction to a new cooking book that I have in the works.  It is not so much a cook book as it is a guide for people who have not cooked much before, or who want to improve their skills.  It will also have information that even experienced cooks will find interesting.  I do not want it to be a very big book, because I really think that the essentials of cooking well are not that complicated.

    Besides, there are lots of good recipe books available, and I want this to be a little different.  It is intended to more like a operator’s manual for the kitchen.

    The introduction will be essentially all of the extended text box except for my signoff.  I would appreciate any suggestions for improvement in the comments, and hope that the purpose of the book is clear from the introduction.  Without further ado, here we go.  By the way, I have not given the work a name yet.

    Pique the Geek 20110130. The Things that we Eat. Oysters

    Oysters are an interesting part of the Mollusc tribe.  They are bivalves, meaning that they have two half shells, which are jointed together on one edge and can open and close as the animal desires, or more properly, is instinctively demanded to do.

    Unlike their cousins, clams, oysters are from infancy pretty much fastened onto some sort of support, so they do not move.  Clams are sort of solitary, and like to dig into sandy beaches.  Another relative, the scallop, is so free to move that jet propulsion is the norm for them!

    Let us examine some of the natural history of these interesting (and often delicious) animals.  We will point out that edible oysters are quite different from the pearl oysters.

    Pique the Geek 20110123: The Physics of Cooking

    I was originally going to write about the ballistics responsible for sparing the life of Representative Giffords tonight, but decided that some might feel that to be offensive.  Please indicate in comments whether or not you think that this would be an acceptable topic.  The piece is very interesting (the draft is in the can), but I leave it to my readers to determine whether it should see the light of day.

    The topic tonight is the physics behind cooking, in the meaning that how heat is added to food makes a huge difference in the rate of cooking, the taste of the final product, and even its texture.

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