Monday, January 30, 2006

Three Cheese Pizza with Onions, Sage and Rocket

Position one rack on lowest level of the oven, then put the pizza stone on that rack (I remove the other rack because it just gets in the way). Pre-heat the oven to 475 degrees for at least ten minutes but 20 is better.

One one-pound lump of frozen dough, thawed and worked to a 14-inch round
1 T olive oil
2 oz Fontina cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 oz Gorgonzola dolce cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 c thinly sliced red onion
12 large fresh sage leaves, thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 oz grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
4 oz loosely packed rocket (arugula)

Brush the oil on the dough, keeping away from the edges. Scatter Fontina and Gorgonzola onto dough, keeping an inch away from the edge. Scatter onion and sage (don't skimp on either of these; the onions will pile up but if they're sliced thinly, they'll wilt during cooking), then top with Parmigiano.

Carefully place in oven, and cook for nine minutes. Remove the pizza from oven (but not the stone), scatter rocket leaves all over, really pile them up, then put the pizza back in the oven for no more than two minutes. The rocket will wilt and turn soft. Put the pizza on a cutting board, pull the foil out from under it (magic!), cut and eat!

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Monday, December 26, 2005

Sauteed Foie Gras with a Balsamic-Red Currant Sauce

For two

Two 1/2- to one-inch thick slices of raw duck or goose liver at room temperature, deveined
Flour for dusting
1/3 c balsamic vinegar
2 T red currant jam

Have serving pieces ready in a warm oven. If using toast, have the toast ready on the individual plates or platters.

Heat an empty non-stick skillet on medium-high heat for two minutes.

Lightly dust the foie gras on both sides with flour. When pan is hot, add the foie gras. Let it cook without moving it. Cook for 45 seconds per side for 1/2-inch thick pieces; one minute per side for one-inch slices. It will still be pink on the inside. Transfer to serving pieces and put in warm oven.

Drain fat from pan (don't wipe out). Add balsamic vinegar and deglaze pan. Add jam and let it cook for another minute. Spoon over foie gras and serve immediately.

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My Everyday Cornbread

From the Joy of Cooking, this cornbread is a bit moister than regular Southern cornbread and has just a touch of sweetness.

Two slices good quality bacon, chopped

1 T bacon fat or vegetable oil
1 3/4 c cornmeal (no flour)
1 T sugar or honey (optional)
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
3/4 t salt
2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk

Cook the two slices of chopped bacon in a cast iron skillet. When cooked, remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain, and pour all but a tablespoon of fat from the skillet.

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Put the skillet into the pre-heating oven.

Whisk all dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, beat the two eggs until foamy, then whisk in the buttermilk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix together until blended, not too long. Add in most of the bacon bits.

Carefully remove the skillet from the oven and add the batter. It will immediately begin to sizzle. Place the skillet into the oven and cook for twenty minutes total. After ten minutes, sprinkle the remaining bacon on the top of the cornbread. After ten more minutes, give the skillet a shake; if the middle is jiggly, let it cook another five minutes.

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White Trash Cooking Cornbread

From the cookbook White Trash Cooking, this cornbread is dry and savory.

1 T bacon grease or vegetable oil
3/4 pint of buttermilk
1 t salt
3/4 t baking soda
1 egg
1 pint cornmeal (no flour added)
1 T melted butter or bacon grease

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Add the fat to the skillet, then put the skillet into the pre-heating oven.

Pour buttermilk into a mixing bowl and stir in salt and soda until the soda is dissolved. Beat in the egg. Add in the cornmeal and mix until smooth, not too long. Finally, stir in the melted fat.

Carefully remove the skillet from the oven and add the batter. It will immediately begin to sizzle. Place the skillet into the oven and cook for twenty five minutes. Give the skillet a shake; if the middle is jiggly, let it cook another five minutes.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Spicy Charred Green Beans with Scallions

Serves two to three as a main dish

1/2 lb robustly flavored sausage, like italian or kielbasa (in the photo above, the sausage is a veal/pork/smoked duck version I got at Savenor's - really yummy)
2 T soy sauce
1 T rice wine vinegar or white wine vinegar
2 t granulated sugar
1 T red pepper flakes (or less if you like less heat)
1 T canola or peanut oil (butter or olive oil will burn in the high heat)
1 t canola or peanut oil
3/4 lb green beans, stemmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
6 scallions, white and bottom portion of green, cut into 2-inch pieces
4 medium cloves garlic, pressed or minced

For uncooked sausage, I slice the links into half-inch pieces. Heat some oil in the skillet, then add the sausage. Cook until done, flipping as needed. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl or plate and keep warm; set aside. Wipe out the skillet.

[ You could also broil or braise the sausage in whole links. When cooked through, let the meat cool a bit then slice the links lengthwise in two halves. Then slice each half into half-inch pieces. Keep warm; set aside.]

Mix soy, vinegar, sugar, pepper flakes and one tablespoon water in a bowl; set aside.

Heat 10-inch skillet (12-inch would work fine) until very hot, around four minutes. Carefully add two tablespoons oil and swirl then immediately add beans. Flip them with a spatula every 30 seconds or so; they'll start to char almost immediately so keep a close eye on them. Cook for four minutes, then add scallions and keep cooking in the same manner for another four minutes.

Push the vegetables to the sides of the pan and add the teaspoon of oil. Immediately add the garlic and mash with the spatula. After five or ten seconds, stir the garlic into the vegetables. Turn the heat down to medium, add the sausage and stir to combine. Add the liquid mixture; it will sizzle and reduce very quickly in the hot pot. Turn off the flame and let the dish sit a few minutes so the flavors can combine then serve. Goes great with rice!

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