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Archive for October, 2012|Monthly archive page

Caramel Apples

In Food, Recipes on October 28, 2012 at 7:27 pm

Let’s just cut to the chase here. I can’t make caramel. Please don’t tell me how easy it is, and that you have a great recipe from Martha Stewart that any monkey can make. Seriously, don’t. After spending god knows what on ingredients, to say nothing of the war zone that was my kitchen after burning the living daylights out of the carmel, dealing with the aftermath of sticky hell, and breaking a candy thermometer (don’t ask), I finally caved and nuked a bag of Werthers Chewy Caramels with a couple tablespoons of milk—and guess what?

Amazing. To make six apples, you’ll need about 10 ounces of chewy caramels. The hardest part about this method is unwrapping the caramels. First, spear your apples with a popsicle stick and place them in the fridge to chill for 15 minutes (plus they get extra cold and crispy and delicious when you bite into them after they’ve been dipped in caramel). Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Put unwrapped caramels in a microwave-safe bowl along with 1.5 tablespoons of whole milk and nuke for 1 minute. Stir with a wooden spoon, and then microwave for another minute. Caramel will be bubbly. Remove apples from fridge, and roll each apple quickly in caramel and place on prepared baking sheet to set.

A Pan and a Pancake

In Food on October 21, 2012 at 9:04 am

There are certain luxuries in life that are worth the splurge. Natural linen bath towels, Maldon sea salt, face cream, and a 1920s Griswold 12-inch cast iron skillet. Because I do not have that perfectly well-seasoned skillet handed down through generations, I cheated and bought one on eBay.

Instantly, it became part of the family. Saturday mornings now look a little like this.

6 am (if I’m lucky): wake-up call from two hungry boys. “Mommy, are you going to make The Pancake?” the four-year-old asks. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, make coffee. In a medium bowl, I mix together 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup whole milk, two lightly beaten eggs, and a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg.

6:35 am: Melt 4 tablespoons butter in skillet while giving baby a bottle.

6:40am: When butter is very hot, pour in batter and bake in oven until golden and puffy, about 15 to 20 minutes.

7am: Sprinkle with powdered sugar, squeeze with lemon and serve to a hungry four-year-old and his daddy.

I discovered this recipe for David Eyre’s Pancake in The Essential New York Times Cookbook, and it originally appeared in the paper in 1966. Some of you might know this pancake by another name, a Dutch Baby, which I’d describe as a cross between a crepe and a popover. A well-seasoned skillet with sides high enough for the pancake to puff up against is essential—as is starting the weekend with a happy family.

Baby’s First Food

In Baby Love, Food on October 13, 2012 at 5:27 pm

If you want to know the answer to the question: Are two kids more work than one? The answer is uh, yeah. Which is why I haven’t been posting as frequently the last several months. I can’t believe that our baby boy is almost seven months (or that our first baby is four years!). Something magical happened around the six month mark—he started sleeping until 6 am (which feels spa-like compared to his previous 5am wakeup calls), two little front teeth started to appear and best of all, I got to make baby’s first food.

I know, I know, this is just one more countertop device, but the Béaba Babycook makes it all so quick and easy. Just add water, put your veggies in a basket and it steams the appropriate length of time. I threw in a peeled new potato, a couple of green beans and a few cherry tomatoes and let it do its thing.

Then empty the basket into the bowl of the Babycook, flip the switch to blend and voila! This tomato-potato-green bean combo was surprisingly popular with my little guy, and best of all I know exactly what’s in there. Plus it makes me feel pretty on top of the world anytime somebody, no matter how tiny, likes my cooking.

Roasted Baby Peppers Stuffed with Tuna

In Food on October 13, 2012 at 5:08 pm

A couple of weeks ago we had a dinner party that included a couple of serious Barolo fans and so we worked backwards from there. There was the wine, and glasses big enough to hold a LOT of it.

The main course was Bistecca Fiorentina, which we served with balsamic marinated radicchio, basil and fresh ricotta, and a warm wild mushroom salad with toasted hazelnuts. To start, my friend Laurie brought over a couple of bottles of Casa Coste Piane Valdobbiadene Prosecco. It is totally gorgeous—a light, dry bubbly with pear and white peach flavors.


But back to the food. We needed some nibbles for the bubbly, and I wanted to riff on the baby peppers stuffed with tuna that are served at Pizzeria Mozza. However I did not want to poach ahi in olive oil and make my own aioli. So…here is my highly modified version (think canned tuna and good old Best Mayo, or Hellmann’s depending on your zip code). My advice is to make more than you will need for the peppers so that you have enough left over to spread generously on onion bagels the next day.

Roasted Baby Peppers Stuffed with Tuna

Adapted from The Mozza Cookbook by Nancy Silverton with Matt Molina and Carolynn Carreño

For the peppers:

  • 48 baby peppers (preferably assorted colors), stems attached
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt

For the tuna stuffing:

  • 2 250-gram tins of Ortiz El Velero Bonito Tuna, drained
  • 3/4 cup Garlic Mayonnaise (recipe follows)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 2 heaping tablespoons capers, rinsed, drained, and finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 teaspoons anchovy paste
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

For assembling the peppers:

  • Finishing-quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • Maldon sea salt or another flaky sea salt, such as fleur de sel

For the Garlic Mayonnaise:

  • 1 teaspoon Champagne vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 large garlic clove, grated or minced
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise

To make Garlic Mayonnaise, combine champagne vinegar, lemon juice, garlic and mayonnaise in a medium bowl and whisk until blended. Taste for seasoning and add salt if desired. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to use (can be made a couple days in advance).

To prepare the peppers, adjust the oven racks so one is in the middle position and preheat the oven to 350ºF. Place the peppers on a baking sheet, rub them all over with the olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and spread them out in a single layer. Roast the peppers for about 30 minutes, turning them occasionally, until their skins are wrinkled and slightly charred in places. Remove the peppers from the oven, leaving the oven on at the same temperature, and set aside to cool to room temperature.


Combine the Garlic Mayonnaise, parsley, capers, mustard, anchovy paste, vinegar, and lemon juice in a large bowl. Add tuna. Use a wire whisk as you would a potato masher to break up any large chunks but you do want the tuna to have texture. Fold the tuna and other ingredients until they are thoroughly combined.

To assemble, slice each pepper almost in half lengthwise, leaving them attached on one side. Carefully scrape out and discard the seeds, and spoon a scant tablespoon of stuffing into each pepper. Arrange the peppers on a platter. Drizzle with finishing-quality olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, sprinkle with sea salt, and serve.