Savory Cake: Carrot, Feta, and Cumin

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Savory Cake: Carrot, Feta, and Cumin

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Caprese Stacks with Candied Pancetta

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Caprese Stacks with Candied Pancetta

Caprese Stacks are an appetizer so sincerely simple that you may wonder how the heck I’m going to squeeze 500 words out on the subject. I mean Caprese salad is nothing more than tomatoes, basil and mozzarella on a plate, right? Caprese Stacks are simply vertical versions of the same thing, right? Of course, there’s a definitive argument to be made about simplicity demanding quality. But I could peck that idea out in fewer than two dozen syllables. Besides, I know you know how important quality ingredients are. You don’t need me to tell you what you already know.

Still, I feel like there’s a little room for my voice to be heard on this subject. Because if you look out there in blogland you’ll basically see two kinds of Caprese. Simple and silly. I have plenty of respect for the simple versions but most of the silly salads leave me smirking. There’s no room for mango in Caprese. Ancient grains belong in another recipe. And don’t let kale anywhere near the plate. Come on, don’t try so hard. Remember my argument about simplicity and quality. Still, I can’t help but feel there’s a tiny bit of wiggle room between simple and silly. I’m talking about pork, of course.

Behold! Caprese Stacks with Candied Pancetta. As simple and glorious as it should be yet topped with a serious burst of umami. Sweet and savory. Creamy and crunchy. And as fresh as it can possibly be.

Caprese Stacks with Candied Pancetta

When I first conceived of a pork topper for these Caprese Stacks my brain went straight to bacon. Candied bacon is a thing these days. So I decided some sweet sticky heat was just daring enough to get a little notice from my guests. But I couldn’t quite envision the finished stack. Would the bacon be crumbled, or set to the side in meaty strips? I wanted to stack a rasher on top but it’s not structurally suited for that. I needed something round.

How about Canadian bacon? Well, and I mean no offense to Canadians, I don’t really like Canadian bacon. Then again I don’t really like ham either. It’s a texture thing. Still, I often find myself picking up packages of Canadian bacon in the market and admiring it for its round shape and uniform slice. As a cook, I see that consistency of form and I think how nicely Canadian bacon would stack. In other words, I see the presentation possibilities. Which is almost enough to get me to buy a package. Then again I don’t really like Canadian bacon so I always put the package down and go back to the drawing board.

And that’s how I came upon pancetta. Caprese Stacks with Candied Pancetta. GREG

Candied Pancetta Candied Pancetta

Tomato-Basil Caprese Stacks with Candied Pancetta

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 6Published

Feel free to make these stacks as tall as you like.

Tomato-Basil Caprese Stacks with Candied Pancetta

Ingredients

  • 12 slice ripe tomato (centercut, about 3/4-inch thick)
  • salt and pepper (as needed)
  • 6 slice fresh mozzarella (about 3/4-inch thick)
  • basil leaves (as needed)
  • 6 slice candied pancetta (see recipe)
  • balsamic syrup (see recipe)
  • very good extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

Place a slice of tomato on each of 6 small plates; sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper then lay on a basil leaf or two. Top each with a slice of mozzarella and a basil leaf or two. Top each stack with another slice of tomato, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and a slice of candied pancetta. Garnish with basil leaves and an artful drizzle of balsamic syrup and very good extra-virgin olive oil.

Candied Pancetta

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 6Source Adapted from Cooking LightPublished
Candied Pancetta

Ingredients

  • 6 slice pancetta
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. One is for baking and one is for cooling.

In a small bowl, combine sugar cayenne. Place pancetta in a single layer on one of the prepared baking sheets; rub spice mixture evenly on both sides. Bake in the heated oven for 25 minutes or until crisp.

Remove from oven. To avoid sticking, immediately transfer each pancetta slice to the clean, cool parchment-lined baking sheet. These can be made up to 6 hours in advance.

Balsamic Syrup

Print This Recipe Total time Yield ½ cupPublished
Balsamic Syrup

Ingredients

  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoon granulated sugar

Directions

Place vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, stirring occasionally and simmer about 20 minutes, or until reduced by about half. Do not raise the temperature to speed up the process. You’ll get balsamic hard candy. Remove from heat and let the sauce thicken as it cools.

 

 

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Chicken and Leek Pie and Its All-Butter Crust

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Chicken and Leek Pie and Its All-Butter Crust

I made this Chicken and Leek Pie last night because I like to make pie. I added sweet currants and balsamic to this savory Chicken and Leek pie because I thought it would provide some balance. I didn’t give my pie much more thought than that. As I said I like to make pie and I generally don’t need too much motivation. Still, I gave the filling for this pie much more thought than I did to the crust. When making a savory pie I almost always use the all-butter crust I call the “Basic Pie Pastry” in my book Savory Pies. Especially when I don’t want to think too much.

I like my recipe. You’ll notice that it’s rather generous in proportion. That’s because I want to enjoy rolling the dough. I don’t want to worry if I’m doing it just right. My recipe should give the pie maker plenty of leeway to roll the rounds at least a couple of inches bigger than needed. This makes for neat, clean edges. Neat, clean edges make me feel like I know what I’m doing. Feeling confident is the very first step in making a great pie.

Still, the crust is pretty darn important. Too important for me to flippantly discount recipes that are new to me. Crisp, flaky and just salty enough. Creating a crust with “tooth” that melts instantly on your tongue is the key to any great pie. But differing opinions and confusing controversies abound. What combination or ratio is best? All-butter or all-shortening? Maybe lard is better? Then again, there’s the popular 70 percent butter to 30 percent shortening (or lard) version. Is that any good? Don’t get me started on solidified coconut oil. Well, I have tried them all. The all-butter crust remains my favorite for its rich, savory flavor. It has just 4 simple ingredients that are always on hand at my house. So in my opinion, this is the one to master. In fact, commit it to memory. I have.

Which means, when it comes to crust I don’t have to think about it too much.

Until this morning that is. In today’s Saturday section of the LA Times, Noelle Carter offers a primer on pies. Well, actually pie crusts. She totally blew my “don’t overthink it” thesis out of the water. She gets in deep with pie nerds and culinary experts to help develop the “perfect pie crust”.

Simple syrup (per Nicole Rucker), cider vinegar (a dubious trick of most people’s grannies), and a well-considered 2:1 ratio of butter to shortening. There’s so much thought in this crust that’s it’s hard for me to imagine that it could be anything but “perfect”.

What I’m grudgingly saying is this: I’m mightily impressed by Noelle’s recipe. But is that enough to get me to change my ways?

So today – not only do I have the recipe for the Chicken and Leek Pie with Currants and Balsamic I developed on the fly last night – I’ve also included my Basic Pie Pastry and Noelle’s Flaky Pie Dough. Feel free to discuss them quietly amongst yourselves. Maybe even try one or the other – or both. I plan to.

However, as Noelle states: “Passionate pie bakers tend to have a religious zeal…”

Myself included. And though I’m perfectly prepared for Noelle’s recipe to come out on top, I’m just not prepared to admit it quite yet. GREG

PS I’d be willing to admit defeat right now if it weren’t for that darn vinegar. The acid is supposed to inhibit the formation of glutens which creates a tender crust. In my opinion, you could never add enough vinegar to get the pH low enough to have any real effect on the glutens. So why bother?

Chicken and Leek Pie and Its All-Butter CrustChicken and Leek Pie and Its All-Butter Crust All-Butter Crust

Chicken and Leek Pie with Currants and Balsamic

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 8Published
Chicken and Leek Pie with Currants and Balsamic

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoon unsalted butter (divided)
  • 2 ounce thinly sliced pancetta (roughly chopped)
  • 2 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • water (as needed)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, (as needed)
  • 4 leeks (white and pale-green parts only, washed and thinly sliced into rounds)
  • 2 teaspoon dried herbes de provence
  • ¼ cup minced fresh parsley
  • ½ cup dried currants
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour (plus more for rolling)
  • 2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • pie dough (enough for a 9-inch two crust pie)
  • 1 large egg yolk mixed with 1 teaspoon water (for egg wash)

Directions

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Cook pancetta, stirring often, until crisp, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl with a slotted spoon.

Raise the heat under the skillet to medium-high. Season chicken with salt and pepper and cook until lightly browned, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Add a splash of water to skillet. Lower heat to medium again, cover and cook until chicken is cooked through about 12 minutes. Transfer to a clean plate.

Leaving all the liquid in the skillet add leeks, a pinch each salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 8 minutes. Bring the heat to low, cover, and cook until leeks are very soft, about 6 minutes. Check the moisture several times. The leeks should be loose and moist but not soupy, but most of all not dry. Add a splash of water if necessary. Once cooked transfer the leeks to the large bowl with the pancetta.

Chop or shred chicken and add it to the bowl of leeks and pancetta along with herbes de Provence, parsley, and currants.

Melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in ⅓ cup flour and cook, whisking constantly, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Whisk in broth, adding a little at a time, until smooth. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 3 more minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the balsamic vinegar. Mix the sauce into chicken and leek mixture; season with salt and pepper. Let cool.

The filling can be made up to 1 day ahead. In which case over and chill.

Meanwhile, on a floured surface using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the bottom crust 1/8 inch thick or so and large enough to cut a 12 to 13-inch circle (depending on pie pan). Transfer it to a 9 or 10-inch pie pan, letting it drape into place and over the sides evenly. Trim the edges to about ½-inch overhang if necessary. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours.

When ready to bake place a parchment covered, rimmed baking sheet on lowest rack of the oven, then preheat to 425°F. Spoon filling into prepared pie pan, packing it in well. Use the back of the spoon to smooth the top.

Roll out the second disk of dough to 12” round. Moisten the edges of the bottom crust with water and place the top crust over the filling. Trim to about 1-inch overhang. Fold and tuck the overhanging upper crust under the overhanging bottom crust and press down all around to seal. Decoratively crimp the border using a fork or your fingers then make 5 evenly spaced 2-inch slashes starting about 1 inch from the center and radiating toward the edge.

Just before you put the pie in the oven brush the exposed pastry with egg wash and sprinkle with freshly cracked black pepper (optional). Set the pie directly on the parchment-lined baking sheet, lower the heat to 375°F and bake at least 55 minutes or until the crust is well browned and the sauce bubbles through the slashes. Use a ring of foil to protect the edges if they’re browning too quickly.

Remove from oven let cool at least 20 minutes before slicing. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Basic Pie Pastry

Print This Recipe Total time Yield Two 8- to 10-inch pie crusts or one 8- to 10-inch double-crust pie shellSource Savory Pies by Greg HenryPublished

High-fat European-style butter is essential to a perfect pie crust. Which, along with chilling, helps keep the dough flaky and minimizes shrinking. Many people swear that the addition of ¼ teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice makes for a guaranteed flaky crust. I’m on the fence but you can add these if you want to.

Basic Pie Pastry

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cup all-purpose flou (or 312 grams, scooped & leveled, plus more as needed)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 9 ounce very cold high-fat, European-style unsalted butter (cut into ½-inch dice)
  • 2 ice cubes
  • ¼ cup ice cold water (plus 2 tablespoons optional)

Directions

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment pulse flour and salt 5 or 6 times until well combined. If there are additions such as spices, herbs, cheese, vinegar or lemon juice add these now (see specific recipes).

Add butter, and continue pulsing until the mixture is crumbly and coarse, with various-sized but obvious chunks of butter scattered throughout.

Place two ice cubes, broken up if necessary into the feed tube of the food processor. With machine running, pour ¼ cup cold water through the ice filled feed tube a tablespoon at a time until dough just comes together and begins to pull cleanly away from the sides of the bowl in jagged clumps. Don’t let the machine run too long and don’t worry if you don’t use all the water. Overworked dough and/or too much water are the main culprits in pastry that is tough or dense. However, in warm weather or dry climates you may need up to an additional 2 tablespoons more cold water. You’ll learn to know when it’s the right balance of wet and dry.

Move the dough to a lightly-floured work surface and gently knead 2 or 3 times. If the dough seems quite sticky or at all wet, sprinkle in another few teaspoons flour. Give dough another couple of quick, gentle kneads. Divide dough in half. Shape into two discs about 5-inches round and 3/4-inch thick, or as indicated in individual recipes. Wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 1 hour (or up to 2 days) to distribute moisture evenly, or freeze up to 1 month.

Flaky Pie Dough

Print This Recipe Total time Yield Two 8- to 10-inch pie crusts or one 8- to 10-inch double-crust pie shellSource Noelle Carter, Los Angeles TimesPublished
Basic Pie Pastry

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 ¼ teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 2 ¼ cup bleached all-purpose flour (chilled)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (make it generous)
  • 4 tablespoon cold shortening or lard
  • ½ cup cold butter (cut into ½-inch cubes)
  • ice water (if needed)
  • 1 egg white (for brushing a par- or blind-baked shell)

Directions

In a small bowl, combine the sugar with the water, stirring until the sugar is dissolved to form a simple syrup. Stir the cider vinegar in with the syrup. Cover and refrigerate until well-chilled.

To make the dough using a food processor, pulse together the flour and salt until thoroughly combined. Add the shortening and pulse until incorporated (the dough will resemble moist sand). Add the butter and pulse just until the butter is reduced to pea-sized pieces. Sprinkle the syrup over the mixture and pulse a few times until incorporated. Remove the crumbly mixture to a large bowl and very gently press or knead the mixture until it comes together to form a dough, adding additional ice water, a tablespoon at a time, if needed. Mold the dough into a disk roughly 6 inches in diameter. Cover the disk tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 1 hour.

To make the dough by hand, whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the shortening and incorporate using a pastry cutter or fork (the dough will resemble moist sand). Cut in the butter just until it is reduced to pea-sized pieces. Sprinkle the syrup over the mixture, and stir together just until incorporated. Gently press or knead the mixture until it comes together to form a dough, adding additional ice water, a tablespoon at a time, if needed. Mold the dough into a disk roughly 6 inches in diameter. Cover the disk tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 1 hour.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a large round roughly 1/8-inch thick. Place in the baking dish or pan, trimming any excess that extends more than 1 inch from the sides of the dish and crimping the edges as desired. (One trick I use is to roll out the dough onto floured parchment or wax paper, invert and center the pie dish over the dough and then flip the dough into the dish.) Use any extra dough to make a decorative border (brush the edges of the unbaked crust with water or egg white before pressing any cutouts or other decorations) or save it for later use: Form the dough into a disk, cover tightly and refrigerate until needed. Freeze the formed shell for 20 to 30 minutes before filling and baking.

If par-baking (or blind-baking) the crust, line the frozen shell with parchment and fill with pie weights. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, then remove the weights and parchment, prick the sides and bottom a few times with a fork and bake until the crust bottom is dry and lightly colored, an additional 10 to 15 minutes (longer if fully baking the shell). To “waterproof” a par-baked crust, cool the crust for several minutes, then brush the bottom and sides of the crust with egg white before filling.

 

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Summer Squash Confit will Tame that Monster Zucchini

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Summer Squash Confit

Confit, rillettes, oil poached. Whatever you want to call it I’ve been into it lately. Tuna one week. Halibut the next. It’s a simple way to prepare a luxurious piece of fish and it takes almost no attention. Pork and duck get the same treatment quite often because they too become impossibly elegant when submerged in fat and slowly cooked. But what about vegetables. Well, spread some Garlic Confit on bread. I guarantee it will end your addiction to butter. Yeah, it’s that sweet and silky. So, here it is the end of summer and I’ve decided to give Summer Squash Confit a try.

We’ve all heard stories about that neglected little summer squash nestled into the back of the garden. It’s green and well-formed and you plan to pick it real soon and use in a stir-fry. Really you do. But that will have to wait until later – a little binge TV seems a better way to pass a hot September afternoon. I know you know where this story is going so I won’t bother to finish, but it ends with a monster zucchini as big as your (fill in the blank).

Summer Squash Confit

Well, I didn’t grow any summer squash this year but I did pick up an oversized specimen or two at the farmers market. They sell the monsters at a terrific price. Probably because they’re less delicate in both taste and texture. I suppose this turns most customers away. But it doesn’t have to. Packed with herbs and given the confit treatment, Summer Squash Confit is a great way to bring a little silky sensuality to one of the least sexy summer vegetables out there. Of course, technically speaking confit is a noun, not a verb. The food geeks may scold me for calling confit a method and attaching it to a vegetable, but that just makes me like Summer Squash Confit all the more. GREG

Summer Squash Confit Summer Squash Confit

Herbed Squash Confit

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4 cupsSource Chef Steven SatterfieldPublished

Strain and save the poaching oil to make salad dressing.

Herbed Squash Confit

Ingredients

  • 2 pound summer squash (or zucchini, or a mix of both, trimmed)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (plus more for seasoning)
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh marjoram plus more to garnish
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh oregano
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 cup olive oil (or perhaps more, as needed)
  • toasted baguette slices (for serving)

Directions

Heat the oven to 300°. On the large holes of a box grater, grate the squash and transfer to a large colander set in the sink. Toss the squash with the 1 teaspoon of salt until evenly combined and then let the squash stand at least 20 minutes and up to 2 hours.

Using your hands, squeeze the squash to remove as much liquid as possible and spread it out in an even layer in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Tuck all the herb sprigs into the squash and then pour the olive oil over the squash to submerge.

Bake until the squash is very tender and lightly browned at the edges, about 45 minutes. Let cool, remove herb stems and season with salt. Use a slotted spoon to serve the confit on toast slices and garnish with fresh marjoram to serve.

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Tuna Naanwich with Harissa and Olives: Inspired, Adapted, Augmented

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Tuna Naanwich with Harissa and Olives

I’ve been pecking out words for this blog and bringing them to your virtual table for almost 10 years. Yet I still have no tried and true formula for the process. Sometimes I write my own recipes. Sometimes I adapt a recipe from another source. But there are still other recipes that are born in a place that’s somewhere in between. The genesis for this Tuna Naanwich with Harissa and Olives is Melissa Clark’s recipe for Slow-Roasted Tuna. I found it in her book Dinner: Changing the Game.

The recipe instructs the cook to submerge chunks of tuna in oil and bake them in the oven at 350 F degrees for 12 to 20 minutes. It’s a novel approach. One that I would describe as a poaching “shortcut”. In Melissa’s words the method “splits the difference between confited tuna (tuna thoroughly submerged in oil and cooked at low heat) and roasted tuna (tuna drizzled with oil and cooked at high heat).”

Which is true. However, I often poach fatty fish at a higher temperature than a lot of recipes suggest. Fattier fish such as tuna or salmon can take a bit more heat and not suffer the way a non-fatty fish such as cod, sole, or halibut would. Melissa’s method, however, calls for a lot less oil than other recipes for oil-poached fish I’ve tried. So I may not like the moniker “roasted” (slowly or otherwise) but I love the cooking method.

Tuna Naanwich with Harissa and Olives

As I said, I got the inspiration for this Tuna Naanwich from Melissa Clark. I find I’m easily motivated by her recipes. She has an uncanny grasp of what people want to eat and she knows how cooks want to spend their time in the kitchen. At least this cook. Still, I did make a few changes to the cooking method.

The original recipe asks us to cut the tuna into 1″ x 1 1/2″ chunks and place them in an 8″ cake pan. The only way to get all that fish into an 8″ cake pan is to stack the chunks fairly tightly to the rim. However, at 350 degrees F. I found that the fish in the center of the cake pan cooked at a drastically different rate than the fish at the surface of the oil. I tried unsuccessfully stirring the fish halfway through cooking. Not only did I make an oily mess on the counter but the fish began to break up – further adding to the inconsistent rate of cooking. I had more success attaining a uniformly pink interior when I cut the fish into 1/2″ x 1″ x 1 1/2′ slabs as there was no need to stir the fish during baking. I served the fish at room temperature tucked into warm naan and drizzled with some reheated poaching oil. I also added slices of moderately hot Fresno chili peppers. I like the splash of color and the nip of heat. My version of her recipe reflects these changes. GREG

Tuna Naanwich with Harissa and OlivesTuna Naanwich with Harissa and Olives

Naanwich with Tuna and Harissa

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4-6Source Inspired by Melissa ClarkPublished
Naanwich with Tuna and Harissa

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pound fresh tuna fillets (cut into ½″ x 1″ x 1 ½′ slabs)
  • 2 tablespoon harissa (or more to taste)
  • salt and pepper (as needed for seasoning)
  • ¼ cup halved and pitted kalamata olives
  • 2-3 Fresno chili peppers (sliced, seeds discarded)
  • 2 clove garlic (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • extra-virgin olive oil (as needed)
  • 4-6 naan (about 8 inches in diameter)
  • baby kale leaves (to taste)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Lay the tuna slabs onto a clean work surface. Gently massage the harissa onto all sides of each slab then season with salt and pepper. Spread the olives halves and Fresno chili slices across the bottom of an 8 or 9-inch cake pan or equivalently sized oven-proof dish. Place about half of the tuna on top of the olives and chili peppers then tuck in the garlic, bay leaf, and thyme sprigs. Lay the remaining fish on top and pour in enough olive oil to barely cover all the fish. The fish should fit snuggly, but not be packed in. You want the oil to engulf the ingredients.

Cover the pan with foil and place it on a rimmed baking sheet. Transfer to the heated oven and cook the fish 12 to 15 minutes. You will want to check the fish at about 10 minutes. You’ll want to remove it from the oven while it’s still quite rare. It will continue to cook as it cools. Use your judgment.

Remove the pan from the oven and allow it to cool while still covered. You may make the fish several hours ahead of time to this point.

To serve use a slotted spoon to gently remove the fish, olives, and peppers to a plate. Transfer the poaching oil to a small saucepan and gently reheat it over medium heat.

Meanwhile, heat a griddle or large skillet and warm the naan, on both sides, until pliable and just beginning to toast. Generously spread some tuna, olives, and peppers onto the center of a piece of naan, then top with some baby kale leaves. Drizzle with hot poaching oil then fold the naan in half like a taco, and fasten it closed with 1 or 2 toothpicks. Repeat with remaining pieces of naan. Serve immediately.

Tuna Naanwich with Harissa and Olives

 

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Late Summer Tian Provençal

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Summer always seems far too short. But this year, more than ever, I’m not ready to let it go just yet. I live in Los Angeles so I know we’ll have more sunshine. Still, I can feel the nip in the air despite the golden glow of summer’s last light. There will be more dinners outside and I’m sure to dangle my feet in the pool a few more times. However, the lure of sweaters and soup is just around the corner. So for now, I’m hell‑bent on keeping summer going as long as I can with this Tian Provençal.

Tomato-Eggplant Tian Provençal

Originating in sunny Provence, tian is a French word that describes a shallow ceramic casserole dish as well as the food it contains. Traditionally it features a variety of vegetables, herbs and cheeses layered and baked – much like a gratin (or even a casserole). You’ll often see the ingredients carefully constructed with beautiful rounds lined up in a repeating pattern (à la Thomas Keller in the movie Ratatouille). Which is an arrangement that very much appeals to the artist in me. However, the vegetables in my Tomato-Eggplant Tian Provençal are laid into the dish in a more casual manner. Which, in my opinion, has its own artful elegance well-suited to the late season glut of vegetables we’re seeing at our farmers market.

In fact, it was a bag of gnarled end-of-season tomatoes and a couple of collasal eggplants that inspired the casual approach to this tian. I served it as an open-faced sandwich on lightly toasted olive bread at what I know will be one of the last languorous meals the season. GREG

eggplant tomato tian Tomato-Eggplant Tian on Olive Bread

Tomato-Eggplant Tian on Olive Bread

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 10-12Published

This dish is delicious served warm from the oven, but it’s even better served at room temperature the next day.

tomato eggplant tian

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pound eggplant (about 2 medium globe eggplants)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (divided)
  • ½ teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 clove garlic (peeled and minced)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (plus more for seasoning)
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup olive oil (plus more as needed as needed)
  • 1 pound medium tomatoes
  • 4 ounce crumbled goat cheese (divided)
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • freshly cracked black pepper (as needed for seasoning)
  • 10-12 slice olive bread (lightly toasted if you like)
  • very good extra virgin olive oil (to taste)

Directions

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Peel the eggplant and then slice crosswise into thin rounds (about ⅓ inch thick). Place the slices into a large bowl and toss them with half the thyme leaves, rosemary leaves, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, red pepper flakes, and ¼ cup olive oil. Set aside.

Slice off the stem end of the all the tomatoes and discard. Slice the rest of the tomatoes crosswise into thin rounds (about ⅓ inch thick). Place the slices into a large bowl and set aside.

Arrange about one-third of the eggplant slices in a single layer, slighting overlapping, on the bottom of 2-quart baking dish (or similarly sized casserole dish such as a French tian). Spread about half the crumbled goat cheese over the eggplant slices, then layer half the tomatoes, slightly overlapping, on top of the cheese. Repeat the process with another third of the eggplant slices, the remaining goat cheese, and the remaining tomatoes slices. Top the tian with the final third of eggplant slices, then drizzle any liquid remaining in the bowls over the top.

Sprinkle the panko and remaining thyme leaves over the top evenly and then drizzle generously with additional olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper.

Transfer the dish to the oven and bake until golden and bubbly, about one hour. Serve warm or room temperature scooped on top of olive bread slices and drizzled with very good extra virgin olive oil.

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I Like Ginger, Sesame, and Soy Chicken

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Scallion-Stuffed Ginger-Sesame Chicken Thighs

Ginger, sesame, and soy is an amazing combination to me. I’ve loved the trio since the very first potsticker I ever stuck in my mouth in the early 1980s. Until then the only Asian food I’d been introduced to was the Moo Goo Gai Pan in the Family Style combination dinners my parents ordered as a special treat at the Vietnam era Chinese restaurants they favored in Salt Lake City, Utah. I loved those forays into the adult world of dining, but honestly, I don’t remember much about the food. I’m sure these meals did indeed feature ginger, sesame, and soy in some watered down combination but this is not when my fascination with these flavors began.

No. The discovery came to me in the least likely of places. Santa Barbara, California circa 1985.

Ginger, Sesame, and Soy

When I should have been out moonwalking in my parachute pants with people my own age I was attending gyoza parties held in the kitchen of the man I rented a room from while I was in college. Roger was at least a decade older than me. He was successful, worldly and seemed to live life with a sophisticated joie de vivre I openly admired. So when it came to potstickers I happily sat down with his friends and learned how to wrap, roll, steam, and fry them. I also learned how to mix up the dipping sauce – a piquant potion of rice vinegar, mirin, ginger, sesame, and soy.

Scallion-Stuffed Ginger-Sesame Chicken is my attempt to put all these flavors (and some of those memories) together on one plate. It’s a sophisticated dish that’s still simple enough for a weeknight dinner. It can even be started the night before to save even more time because marinating the chicken for some time beforehand helps the flavors seep through while keeping the meat delicate enough so it doesn’t fight with the flavorful ginger, sesame, and soy. GREG

Scallion-Stuffed Ginger, Sesame, and Soy Chicken Thighs

Scallion-Stuffed Ginger-Sesame Chicken Thighs

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4Published

You can stuff and roll the chicken thighs a day in advance to cut down on work before dinner time. Store the chicken covered in the refrigerator. Allow them to come room temperature before to cooking.

Scallion-Stuffed Ginger-Sesame Chicken Thighs

Ingredients

  • 6 scallions
  • 3 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 4-6 clove garlic (peeled and minced)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 1-2 teaspoon sambal oelek
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Directions

Cut the greens from the white and light green parts of the scallions. Thinly slice the white and light green parts crosswise, then cut the greens lengthwise into 1-inch strips. Set the scallions aside separately.

Combine the crosswise sliced green onions, brown sugar, soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, garlic, sesame seeds, ginger, and sambal oelek.

Lay the chicken thighs on a clean work surface, opening them up and laying them as flat as possible. Season the chicken thighs on both sides with salt and pepper.

Mound a few scallion strips in the center of each thigh, reserving about half the scallions for garnish. Fold the sides over to enclose the scallions and secure each with one or two toothpicks. Place the rolled thighs in a one-gallon ziplock bag and pour half the ginger-sesame soy mixture over the thighs to coat them well. Seal the bag and marinate the chicken at least one hour and up to twelve hours.

When ready to cook preheat the oven to 400°.

Arrange the stuffed chicken thighs seam-side down on a large, rimmed parchment-lined baking sheet and roast for about 35 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through.

Place the cooked chicken on a serving platter and drizzle the remaining ginger-sesame soy sauce. Garnish with remaining scallion strips. Allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

 

 

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Grilled Peaches and Pound Cake with Maple-Corn Panna Cotta

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Grilled Peaches and Pound Cake with Maple-Corn Panna Cotta

I’m going to use a recipe for Maple-Corn Panna Cotta as an excuse to talk about you and your grill. You see, I know you love your grill. In fact, I’ve seen you in that backyard of yours cooing into its grates. I know it’s none of my business but I bet you grilled half the summer away with that smoky look of longing burning in your eyes. The lusty licking of flames doesn’t scare you. You and your grill got a good thing going on. I get the attraction. The lure of tasty summertime meals served charred and smokin’ in the sultry summer air is enough to get anyone’s grill on.

But be honest – after an entire summer of grilling are you feeling just a bit restless? Are you longing for something sautéed and saucy? It’s only natural. Flames are great, but do you ever wonder what sous vide would be like?

What? I’m just asking… even a grill master has the right to look around a little bit, so long as you keep your tongs in your apron.

I’m not suggesting any drastic changes between you and that sweet grill of yours. I know it’s sexy beast. But maybe just maybe you’ve grown tired of the same old routine. Maybe grilling has lost some of its heat.

Well, lucky for you grilling isn’t just for burgers, steaks, and chicken. So put your brain to work and spend the last rays of summer fantasizing about fun foods that you may not have considered grilling!

Grilled Peaches and Pound Cake with Maple-Corn Panna Cotta

That’s just what me and my old grill did. We shook things up. Introduced a few new flavors. Nothing exotic, nothing dangerous. But the thrill of the unfamiliar reminds me just what a grill I got. Look at the hot mess we made! Grilled Peaches and Pound Cake with Maple-Corn Panna Cotta. Even the pound cake is grilled! GREG

Grilled Peaches and Pound Cake

Grilled Pound Cake and Peaches with Maple-Corn Panna Cotta

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4-6Source Adapted from Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez DentonPublished
Grilled Pound Cake and Peaches with Maple-Corn Panna

Ingredients

  • 1 large, fresh ear ofcorn
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ½ cup cream cheese (at room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
  • ½ cup maple syrup (plus more for drizzling)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 (¼ ounce) packet of unflavored powdered gelatin
  • canola oil (for oiling grates, as needed)
  • 3-5 tablespoon unsalted butter (melted)
  • 3 large, firm rips peaches
  • 4-6 slice pound cake (about 1-inch thick)

Directions

Working over a large bowl stand the corn cob upright on its stem end. Cut down the sides of cob with a sharp knife, releasing kernels without cutting into the cob. Run the dull edge of the knife down the cob to release any remaining corn and liquid. Set aside.

Make the panna cotta: In a medium nonreactive pot, whisk corn kernels and all the collected liquid, cream, milk, cream cheese, maple syrup, vanilla paste, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil then remove the pot from the heat. Let the flavors meld about 10 minutes then transfer the mixture to a blender. Blend until smooth, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl. Discard the solids and set the cream mixture aside to cool somewhat.

Meanwhile, put the gelatin into a small bowl and add just enough cool water to cover completely. Let sit 2 or 3 minutes or until the mixture is jelly-like, then whisk it into the warm cream mixture. Make sure the gelatin is completely melted before you stop whisking. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill at least 8 hours before serving.

Grill the peaches: Heat grill to medium and then carefully oil the grates. Halve and pit peaches; brush both sides with butter. Place peaches on grill; cover grill, and cook until charred and softened, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a warm serving plate.

Grill the pound cake: Brush butter over both sides of cake slices. Grill, uncovered, over indirect medium heat for 1-2 minutes on each side or until golden brown grate marks appear. Transfer to the warm serving plate with the peaches.

To serve: Remove the wrapping from the chilled panna cotta. Peel off any skin if necessary, then beat the panna cotta with a wooden spoon into a pudding like consistency and transfer to a chilled serving bowl.

Bring the chilled bowl of panna cotta and the warm plate of pound cake and peaches to the table. Serve family style with additional maple syrup on the side for drizzling.

 

Which Came First? Bacon Egg Burger

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Bacon Egg Burger

I’ve been doing the occasional wine pairing with the recipes I present for as long as I’ve been blogging. After all, I did call this blog Sippity Sup and I meant to imply with that name that these posts were to be a celebration of both sips (drink) and sups (food). Until today we have always chosen the sip to go with a particular sup. In other words, I’d pick the food I wanted to make and my brother Grant, my partner Ken, or once in a while my friend Helen would pick a wine to go with the recipe. This Bacon Egg Burger paired with a red blend from the Haut-Médoc AOC is the exception to that tradition.

Wine Pairing

Chateau Rollan de By Cru Bourgeois Médoc 2011

Chateau Rollan de By Cru Bourgeois Médoc 2011
Ken Eskenazi

Price $25

Pairs well with all meats, hamburgers, wild mushrooms, strong cheeses, bacon and eggs (for dinner)

The Médoc is a well-known as a wine growing region of France. It’s located in the département of Gironde, on the left bank of the Gironde estuary, north of Bordeaux. Ken was recently sent samples from this region to taste. In the process he wrote up some tasting notes. Because many of the wines from this region are blends featuring Merlot, a medium-bodied wine, they pair easily with medium-weight foods. Ken’s notes suggested a few possible pairing ideas which included simply prepared meats, and/or mushrooms. Both sensible suggestions.

Bacon Egg Burger

However, when I looked deeper into his tasting notes I was intrigued by the idea that these elegant Cru Bourgeois blends from the Bordeaux region could also be paired with foods with far humbler pedigrees. Ken suggested hamburgers and even the classic combination of bacon and eggs.

Both suggestions intrigued me. GREG

Bacon Egg Burger

Bacon and Egg Burger

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4Published

“Larding” is a tried and true culinary practice where fat is injected into food using a long needle. Larding enhances the moisture of the meat while it cooks and also adds flavor. This Bacon and Egg Burger simplifies that practice by hand-mixing minced bacon into the burger.

Bacon and Egg Burger

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ⅓ pound raw bacon (finely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoon minced shallot
  • ¼ cup minced fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper (as needed)
  • 2 teaspoon canola oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • ketchup (to taste)
  • 4 English muffins (sliced and toasted)
  • sliced red onion (to taste)

Directions

In a bowl, combine beef and chopped bacon. Add shallots and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Using your hands, lift and fold ingredients together until blended. Do not overmix.

Form the meat into 4 equally-sized patties about 3/4-inch thick and ⅓ of a pound each. Season again on the outside with salt and pepper.

Swirl canola oil across the bottom of a heavy bottomed, non-stick or cast iron skillet. Place over medium-high heat. Sauté burgers until browned on bottom. Turn them, basting with fat in pan. When browned on both sides, check the interior temperature of the burgers with an instant-read thermometer (140°F for medium-rare to 160°F for well done). Move the burgers to a warm plate to rest. Lower the heat to medium and leave the fat in the skillet and keep it on the burner.

Crack eggs into the skillet and cook sunny side up, until the whites are firm and the yolks runny, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Spread some ketchup onto the bottoms of the toasted English muffins. Lay a burger on each bottom; top with red onion and an egg. Place the English muffin top onto the burger; serve warm.

We were sent a sample of Chateau Rollan de By Cru Bourgeois Médoc for the purpose of this pairing. All opinions are our own.

Bacon Egg Burger

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Chateau Rollan de By Cru Bourgeois Médoc 2011

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Chateau Rollan de By Cru Bourgeois Médoc 2011

I love a good blend. Lately, I’ve been obsessed with blends from France. Mostly Rhône varietals, like Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre (GSM) for reds and Marsanne/Roussanne and Viognier for whites. This is undoubtedly due to my fab trip to the Ardèche last year. Still, I’ve always steered clear of the more famous blends from the Bordeaux region– assuming that they’re out of my price range. You hear a lot about the Chinese and other collectors driving up the price of Bordeaux’s Grand Cru Classé wines into the three figures and beyond. Well, there’s a big (price) difference between a Grand Cru and a Cru Bourgeois.

Chateau Rollan de By Cru Bourgeois Médoc

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s as big of a difference in quality. Take the 2011 Chateau Rollan de By Cru Bourgeois Médoc that I was recently sent to sample. The wine is a blend of 70% Merlot, and 10% each of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Which is surprising, considering that red blends from the Left Bank of Bordeaux are usually mostly Cabernet Sauvignon. In 1989 new owner Jean Guyon replanted the Cab vines he found there with Merlot due to the preponderance of clay in the soil– because Merlot loves gravelly clay. Good move.

The nose of this sustainably farmed blend is a pleasing, rich bouquet typical of Bordeaux and the Médoc. I get aromas of cedar, ripe black fruit, plum, licorice and a good dash of spice. Judging by the deep ruby color and viscosity I suspect the palate will provide a decent body and nice lush sensation in the mouth. I’m not disappointed by the play of noticeable acidity and smooth tannins – velvety and satisfying. Classic cassis and blackberry crumble flavors (there is a touch of sweetness on the finish from the time spent in new oak barrels) play well together. This is a well balanced, totally integrated blend: no angularity here, no one element dominates.

I suppose the lesson in all of this is don’t be put off by joining the “crew bourgeois.” You can find both value and nuance there. KEN

We were sent a sample of Chateau Rollan de By Cru Bourgeois Médoc for the purpose of this review. All opinions are our own.

Pairs With Which Came First? Bacon Egg Burger

Chateau Rollan de By Cru Bourgeois Médoc 2011