Torte de Elote

Golden Cornfield with Row of Trees by Matthias Hauser


Torte de Elote

Torte de Elote

adapted from a recipe by Pati Jinich, Mexican Chef   

It’s like cornbread but moister. It’s more like a corn souffle but not exactly. You have to try it and you’ll see what I mean.

Torte de Elote

Place rack in the middle of oven and heat to 360 degrees. Butter a 9×12-inch pan. Beat the butter with the sugar until creamy. Slowly add 8 egg yolks, one by one, until incorporated. Add the cream, rice flour, salt and baking powder.
In a blender, process the milk with the corn kernels, then, incorporate it into the mix above. Place the mixture in a big bowl.
Separately, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks are formed. Add 1/5 of the egg whites to the butter/corn mix and blend carefully. Slowly blend the rest of the egg whites until everything is mixed, it ‘s ok if the mixture looks streaky, don’t over work it or it will lose volume. Pour onto the baking dish.
Bake until torte is springy to the touch and lightly browned, 45 to 50 minutes. Once it cools a little, cut into squares. It can be served either warm or cold; it can be covered and kept at room temperature for an entire day, or covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Torte de Elote

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Spatchcocked Chicken with Vegetables and Gravy

Spatchcocked Chicken with Vegetables and Gravy

Bring the chicken to room temperature. Put the oven rack in the center and preheat to 350o.
Spatchcock the chicken. Sprinkle the chicken salt and pepper and with the chopped rosemary.
Heat a cast-iron pan with 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the chicken, skin-side down, and sear until brown, about 5 minutes. Remove chicken.
Add the potatoes, carrots and onion to a bowl along with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt and black pepper. Mix thoroughly until everything is coated with oil. Add the vegetables to the pan and place the chicken, skin side up on top of them.

Roast for about 60 to 70 minutes. Place the chicken on a cutting board covered loosely with foil to rest for 15 minutes. Move the vegetables to a bowl leaving any liquid in the pan.
Place the pan over medium heat. Add the white wine and deglaze the pan. Add the chicken broth and simmer until reduced and thickened. Whisk in the butter and simmer for another few minutes. Pour the gravy over the vegetables.
Carve the chicken into pieces and serve with the vegetables and the gravy. Sprinkle the vegetables and chicken with chopped parsley.

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Pasta Inchiummata 

Pasta Inchiummata  (pasta with pine nuts, currants and tomatoes)

With currants, nuts and mint pasta inchiummata  might seem like dessert but it’s very hardy Sicilian main course. It doesn’t take long to make and there’s no simmering.

Soak the currants in 2 cups of water for 20 minutes. Drain and discard the water; set the currants aside.  In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat the oil and red pepper. Stir in the garlic,  pine nuts and currants. Cook for 3 minutes.pasta inchiummata

garlic, pine nuts, currants


Add the diced tomatoes, basil, parsley, mint, salt and pepper, and then cook for 3 more minutes.pasta inchiummata

tomatoes, basil, parsley, mint


Add the cooked pasta to the sauce. Cook until the pasta is coated with the sauce, about 2 to 3 minutes. Check for seasoning and add salt and black pepper. Toss the pasta in the pan with the bread crumbs and serve.

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Pork Cutlets Piccata

Pork Cutlets Piccata

Pork Cutlets Piccata

This is right from a typical Italian-American restaurant menu. It’s usually made with veal but you can also use pork cutlets. Some people think they’re tastier.

Pork Cutlets Piccata

Pork Cutlets Piccata

Season cutlets with salt and pepper and dredge in flour. Lightly brown in 2 tbsp. butter, oil and garlic over medium-high heat. Remove from pan and set aside.Pork Cutlets Piccata

Remove garlic from pan, add wine and deglaze.  Add stock and simmer until it’s reduced by half. Whisk in remaining butter, lemon juice, capers, and parsley. Add lemon slices and  bring to a boil. Check for seasoning. Pour sauce over cutlets and serve.Pork Cutlets Piccata

 Pork Cutlets Piccata

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Pasta Rosso con Broccoli

Pasta Rosso con Broccoli (Red Wine Pasta with Broccoli)

This recipe is a bit complicated, takes some time and can be expensive depending on the wine you use but it’s very pretty, tastes great and is worth the trouble. It’s also very spicy but it’s up to you how far you want to go with the pepperoncini. (if you don’t have whole dried pepperoncini, use dried red pepper flakes)Pasta Rosso con Broccoli

The pasta –

Pasta Rosso con Broccoli

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 thinly sliced garlic cloves
  • 1 crumbled dried pepperoncini (stem, seeds and core removed)
  • 3 or 4 anchovies
  • 1 bottle red wine (a moderately priced Chianti would work)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 lb short pasta
  1. In one pot heat oil, garlic, pepperoncini and anchovies. Add 3 cups of  wine and salt.
  2. In another pot add pasta to salted boiling water and cook for 2 minutes after it starts to boil again. Drain and add to pot with wine and bring to boil. Keep stirring until wine is absorbed  and the pasta turns red– about 8-10 minutes. Add more wine as needed.

 The pepperoncini –Pasta Rosso con Broccoli
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 thinly sliced garlic cloves
  • 5 or 6 crumbled dried pepperoncini (stem, seeds and core removed)
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. Heat the oil, add the garlic and pepperoncini. Keep the heat low and don’t burn it.
  2. When the peppers and garlic darken a little put everything, including the oil in a food processor (or mortar and pestle) with a teaspoon of salt and grind until it’s a paste.
  3. Put it back in the pan and heat until it dries.

The broccoli –

Pasta Rosso con Broccoli

  • 1 head of broccoli cut into florets
  • ¼ olive oil
  • 1 clove thinly sliced garlic
  1. Boil broccoli for about 5 minutes. Drain and toss over medium heat with garlic and oil.
  2. Turn off the heat, add half of the pepperoncini paste and stir.  If it’s too dry add more oil.

Put it all together –
  1. Pour the broccoli and pepperoncini mixture over the pasta and add a little of the pasta cooking water to make it moist.
  2. Serve with extra pepperoncini paste.

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Shaken or Stirred

Shaken or Stirred

There’s a fairly simple rule about when to shake and when to stir a cocktail. If there’s any fruit juice (even that mere ½ ounce like in the Oh Gosh), cream or egg, you shake. If all of the ingredients are clear, you stir – like the Martinez below. I can’t imagine why James Bond would ask a bartender to shake his Martinis but what the hell – he’s 007.

The Oh Gosh Cocktail  – shake

Shaken or Stirred

Shaken or Stirred

Add all the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled coupette.

Shaken or Stirred


Martinez Cocktail – stir

Shaken or Stirred

Shaken or Stirred

Place all of the  ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Stir with a bar spoon until thoroughly chilled. Strain into the chilled glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Shaken or Stirred


 

Melissa Clark’s Eggs in Purgatory

Melissa Clark’s Eggs in Purgatory
It looks like Eggs in Purgatory is finally going main-stream. Melissa Clark, one of my favorite NYT food writers, just did an article and recipe . Growing up, it was a standard Monday lunch. My mother never made sauce specifically for Eggs in Purgatory like Melissa. She would use leftover Sunday gravy.

Melissa Clark's Eggs in Purgatory

Melissa’s sauce recipe isn’t too far off, except for the anchovies, which might be an interesting addition. The idea of butter in tomato sauce would have been out of the question for my mother.
Aside from this popping up in the Times, about 2 years back I found myself in a trendy restaurant in Williamsburg called Fabbrica. They had ‘Pugatorio’ on the menu. I ordered it and it was standard Eggs in Purgatory, very good too.Melissa Clark's Eggs in Purgatory

Purgatorio at Frabbrica


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Bridget’s Chinese Chews

Bridget’s Chinese Chews

One last Christmas recipe – Bridget’s Chinese Chews. It’s her family’s recipe and a Christmas tradition.

Bridget's Chinese Chews

In a large bowl, thoroughly mix together the first 4 dry ingredients. Then add the eggs, pecans and dates.
Spread thinly (1 inch) in a baking pan. Cook at 350o, 15 to 20 min. Roll small bit into balls while warm and roll in powdered sugar.

Bridget's Chinese ChewsBridget's Chinese Chews

Christmas Eve Seafood Salad

Christmas Eve Seafood Salad

Christmas Eve dinner is sometimes known as the  Feast of the Seven Fishes. If you’re aiming for seven this will get you almost half way there.  It doesn’t have to actually be fish. It could be anything that lives in the sea. Every year, either my daughter Kristina or my sister Nicki’s son  Stephen make it. It’s served with the antipasto along with lots of other things. When I was growing up I never heard of the Feast of the Seven Fishes. My mother and aunt just cooked and didn’t count. I’m sure their total was always more than seven.

This is the family recipe as recorded by Nicki –


Calamari – Cut the cleaned calamari (not lengthwise) into 1/2” circles.  If you did not buy cleaned calamari you must clean the calamari under cold running water.  Pull the head out of the body, making sure to get the clear “bone” out.  Squeeze the body from the tail to the opening to get out any residue.  Then peel the thin skin off the body.  Snip off the eyes and make sure you get the small beak out.  (Go for the extra buck and buy cleaned calamari).  Boil the calamari in rapidly boiling salted water for 2 to 3 minutes.  They should be tender not rubbery.  Drain and set aside.

 

Scungilli – Fresh scungilli can be purchased at an Italian fish market.  If you choose to use the fresh you should buy more than a pound because there is a lot of waste when you clean it.  Rinse the fresh scungilli thoroughly under cold running water.  Boil the whole scungilli in rapidly boiling salted water for about 7 – 10 minutes.  Drain and rinse.  Slice each piece thinly, discarding the “tail” section and any hard pieces along the edges.  There is really quite a bit of waste cleaning scungilli.  Canned scungilli saves time, makes your life easier and is very good.  I have found that La Monica is the best-canned brand and I have been using the canned for the past few years.

Octopus – Rinse under cold running water before submerging the whole octopus into salted boiling water.  Boil for 30 minutes or more until tender.  Drain and rinse under cold water.  Cut off the octopus’ head and cut to separate each tentacle.  With a kitchen scissor nip the dark purple skin and run your fingers along the “suckers” to release any loose particles.  Cut each tentacle into small rounds.

Put the calamari, scungilli and octopus in a large bowl with the celery and garlic.  Add the parsley, oil and lemon juice.  Add salt and pepper to taste and mix thoroughly. This salad can be made the day before and refrigerated.

– Nicki


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