Archive for August, 2008
Thanks to Rachel’s hard work and perseverance, these profiteroles (a.k.a. pâte à choux, a.k.a. cream puffs) came out perfectly on the first try (of the 2nd attempt). Light, flaky and not overly sweet, profiteroles are a simple but very elegant way to indulge your sweet tooth. Top the puffy dumplings with a semi-sweet chocolate sauce and you’re on your way to portly heaven.
Who are these lovely people and why are they dressed as French stereotypes? You’re catching a rare glimpse into the inner sanctum that is Gourmet Club. Rachel and I had the privilege of hosting, and I’ll be posting the menu and more info soon.
Growing up, matzoh ball soup was my go-to metaphorical ethnic penicillin. For some, chicken soup will always be the prescribed treatment for aches, pains and a sore throat. However, there’s no reason that we can’t soothe ourselves with something a little more filling. Next time you call in sick, email this 30-minute remedy to your significant other as a subtle dinner suggestion. You’ll be back on your feet in no time.
Makes: 4 bowls
Total kitchen time: 30 minutes
- 1 cup pancetta, finely diced (you can use bacon if you want, but make it good bacon)
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- 5 cloves of garlic, smashed
- 1 small leek, diced
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 1 can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups shitake mushrooms, sliced into 1/8” strips
- 1 package portobello mushroom ravioli (or any other ravioli that sounds good to you – lobster, pesto or spinach all work)
- finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, to garnish
- 1/4 cup shaved parmesan, to garnish
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Heat a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the pancetta has started leaving brown bits on the bottom of the pot.
- Add the onion, garlic and leek and continue to cook over medium heat for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the white wine to deglaze the pot – the acid in the wine will let the brown bits on the bottom become unstuck. Scrape them up with a wooden spoon or spatula.
- Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer. Let simmer for at least 20 minutes, or up to 4 hours for maximum flavor. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- When you are about ready to serve, bring the soup to a boil and add the mushrooms. Cook for 1 minute, then add the ravioli and cook according to the package directions, usually about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes.
- To serve, ladle a generous serving of broth and a few ravioli into a bowl and top with a little parsley and parmesan cheese.
A few weeks ago I ate at Crow, a fantastic little restaurant in my neighborhood. They served a gnocchi with brown butter, roasted corn and morel mushrooms that blew my mind. Honestly, it was so good that I would have kept eating until I developed a food hernia, had there not been a finite portion before me. Here’s my version, topped with a Boursin- and wild mushroom-stuffed chicken breast.
Makes: 2 finite portions
Total kitchen time: 45 minutes
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 6 oz. wild mushrooms (morels are best, but shitake or porcini work as well)
- 3 tbsp. Boursin cheese (it comes in a small box, available at most grocery stores)
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 2 cups gnocchi
- 1/2 cup corn kernels (roasted, if you can make/buy them this way)
- 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat your oven to 400°F and set the top rack in the middle position. In a large stockpot, boil 1 gallon of water (or as much as you can fit).
- If you’re using using dried mushrooms, let them soak for 20-30 minutes in a bowl of hot water to re-hydrate. Drain and chop the mushrooms into 1/4” pieces.
- Prepare the chicken breast by cutting a slit through the side of the breast, being careful not to cut all the way through the other side. Expand the incision to make a pocket in the breast.
- Reserve half of the mushrooms. Divide the remaining half and the Boursin cheese between the chicken breasts, stuffing it into the pocket you created. Wipe away any excess Boursin that may be hanging outside the pocket – it will burn when the breast is cooked. Salt and pepper the chicken breasts and lightly coat with olive oil.
- Bake on an oiled, rimmed baking dish for 20 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F.
- Meanwhile, boil the gnocchi until just undercooked. This will usually take 2-3 minutes. The gnocchi will float when they are ready. Drain the gnocchi and set aside.
- In a large, not-nonstick skillet, heat the butter over medium-high heat. Swirl the butter in the pan and cook until small brown spots begin to form. This is one of the butter solids beginning to burn, and this is how we’ll make our brown butter. Raise the heat to high and add the gnocchi. Toss the gnocchi to coat in the butter and sear them, flipping occasionally, until they develop a very slight golden-brown crust.
- Add the corn, remaining mushrooms cinnamon and cloves and sauteé 1 minute more, then remove from the heat. Salt and pepper the gnocchi to taste, then plate and serve.
Of course, you can always serve the gnocchi on its own as a main course. Try pairing it with a brothy asparagus, mushroom and pancetta soup as a starter. Or, kneel below a wheelbarrow of brown butter gnocchi with your mouth agape. You know, whatever works for you.
In my ongoing quest of creating great dishes that use loose tea as a key ingredient, I’ve come up with some killer pork chops. This recipe uses Apricot Peach Fruit Tea from the Portsmouth Tea Company to create an in-pan glaze that was born to love tender, juicy pork. Too bad this tea is decaf – I’d sprinkle it over my bacon as a pick-me-up breakfast any day.
Makes: 2 sweet chops
Total kitchen time: 15 minutes
- 2 boneless pork chops, trimmed
- 2 tbsp. Apricot Peach Fruit Tea
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Pat the pork chops dry on both sides. Salt and pepper the chops on all sides.
- Coat the pork chops on both sides with the loose tea. Press the tea into the skin of the chops until it sticks.
- Place the pork chops on a room-temperature skillet (not nonstick) with at least 1” of space between them. Cover the skillet with a lid and place it over medium heat.
- After 6-7 minutes or so, the fist side should be nicely browned. Flip the chops and cook, covered, another 5 minutes or so or until cooked through.
- By this time, a thick, sweet glaze has developed in your skillet. Plate the pork chops and top with a heaping spoonful of the pan glaze.