Archives for February 2014

Now It Registers by Teri Hiben

I was a reluctant registering bride.  This I recently confessed to some friends who have newly engaged sons and daughters.  Because I work at Marcel’s they were asking me what should be included in a good registry.  Today I can answer that with all confidence, but exactly 30 years ago I found myself overwhelmed. 

photo (43)My mom lived in Colorado and I was teaching full time and going to graduate school.  There were decisions that required my then fiancé and me to imagine kitchen and home needs well into the future.  We were ill equipped, but jumped right in and registered.  We’re thankful that we managed to register for heavy duty pots and pans, bakeware, everyday dishes and china which have served us well.  We’re also thankful that we had wise friends and family who gave us wonderful gifts that were not on our registry:  a beautiful vase, a Le Creuset dutch oven (I didn’t know what a treasure that would be!), lovely serving pieces, high quality knives, some awesome kitchen shears.  All of these generous gifts from people we loved and love today helped us on our way.

 Thirty years ago my husband and I did not know that we would make our home in Glen Ellyn and raise three wonderful sons, now grown into men of whom we’re quite proud (and who have eaten LOTS of homemade food, I assure you); that we would so enjoy hosting many gatherings of family, friends, neighbors, people young and old for meals, desserts, parties.  I didn’t know in 1984 that I would grow to enjoy cooking and creating in the kitchen, that my husband would be so adventurous to eat those creations, that I would look forward to opening my CSA box each week in warmer months, that I would learn how to can and preserve food, that I would love to provide nourishing meals not only for my family but to sick and hurting friends, that I would one day be able to walk downtown Glen Ellyn and work at a cooking store named Marcel’s.  My husband and I have had a very blessed 30 years! 

As for my friends’ engaged children, I encouraged them to come to Marcel’s and get one-on-one help with our knowledgeable staff to help them develop a well thought out registry of quality, durable cookware and all they need for entertaining those they will enjoy for many decades ahead.  What delights await them!

Teri’s French Chocolate Bark

Teri's French Chocolate Bark
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Ingredients
  • 1 c. whole salted, roasted cashews
  • 6-7 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 6-7 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • ¼ c. dried, crystallized ginger, finely diced
  • ½ c. dried cherries
  • ½ c. dried apricots, finely diced
  • ¼ c. golden raisins
Instructions
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a pencil, draw a 9x10” rectangle on a piece of parchment paper placed on a sheet pan, then turn the parchment paper over.
  • Spread the cashews in one layer on another sheet pan and bake for 8 mins. Set aside to cool.
  • Place the chopped chocolate in a glass bowl and place over simmering water until almost melted. Stir with a spatula until completely melted. Stir vigorously until the chocolate is smooth and slightly cooled; stirring makes it glossier.
Pour the melted chocolate onto the parchment paper and spread it lightly into the drawn rectangle. Sprinkle the top with the prepared fruit and nuts evenly in the following order
  • Ginger, Whole cashews, Cherries, Apricots, Raisins
  • Set aside for 1-2 hours until firm. Cut the bark into 18-20 pieces. Serve at room temperature.
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Farro and Kale Salad with Olives and Pine Nuts

Farro and Kale Salad with Olives and Pine Nuts
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup farro
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 cup Castelvetrano olives (5 1/2 ounces), pitted and halved, plus 2 tablespoons of the brine
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound Tuscan kale, stems discarded and leaves cut into 1/2-inch ribbons
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
Instructions
  • In a medium saucepan of salted boiling water, cook the farro until al dente, about 25 minutes. Drain well and spread on a baking sheet to cool completely.
  • Meanwhile, in a small skillet, toast the pine nuts over moderate heat, tossing occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool completely.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the olive brine with the lemon juice and olive oil. Season the dressing with salt and pepper. Add the kale, toss well and let stand until barely wilted, 15 minutes. Mix in the farro, pine nuts, olives and red bell pepper. Season the salad with salt and pepper and serve.
Adapted from Food and Wine, August 2013
Adapted from Food and Wine, August 2013
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Pastry Cream, Pasta, and Yeast by Kelly Sears

We all have them; ingredients that make us flip the page in the cookbook, dishes that we shy away from, and those that just plain fill us with anxiety.  For me, these were my trilogy of trepidation; pastry cream, pasta, and yeast.  Pastry cream just sounded fancy and difficult, making pasta seemed like a whole lot of work, and yeast, very Goldilocks; too hot it dies, too cold it doesn’t ferment, and getting it just right seemed daunting.

When the fork in the road limits the food on your plate, it’s time to take action.  One day I just decided this was it; today was the day.  It was as simple as that, I just decided.  And guess what happened? After the first batch of pastry cream, I thought, really, that’s it? After combining flour, water, and an egg and yielding a toothsome bowl of noodles, I thought, huh, that was scary?  And after watching the Luge in the Olympics where men and women race down a slide made of ice at 87 miles an hour on a board with two rails wearing nothing but Lycra and a helmet, I can’t believe a one ounce packet of yeast ever made me uneasy!  

It’s never too late to learn something new, something that may give you pause, something that you’ve been avoiding for a long time.  Maybe it’s how to get a good sear on a steak, maybe it’s how to make the perfect crepe, or roll sushi, or poach an egg.  Whatever your nemesis is, my guess is that Marcel’s has a class that will teach you that technique, that skill, the way to handle that ingredient that will have you saying, huh, that’s all there is to it?

In 2014, I’ll be celebrating the 29th anniversary of my 21st birthday, whoo-raah!  I decided to challenge myself to learn something new each month, something I’ve always wanted to do but never took the time.  In January, I embarked on making a great cocktail.  The trial and error part was really fun!   February is mastering caramel – I’ll keep you posted.

When was the last time you did something for the first time?  Maybe today is the day to just decide. 

pastry-creamNot too Fancy or too Difficult Pastry Cream 

16 oz. milk
2 oz. sugar
1½ oz. egg yolks
2 oz. whole eggs
1.25 oz. cornstarch
2 oz. sugar
1 oz. butter
½ T. vanilla

Dissolve 2 oz. sugar in the milk and bring to just a boil.
Beat the egg yolks and whole eggs together in a bowl.
Sift the cornstarch and 2 oz. sugar into the eggs and whip until perfectly smooth.
Temper the eggs into the milk, return to the heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
Mixture should come to a boil and then make a “glug, glug” sound.
Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla.
Pour into shallow pan and cover with plastic film so the plastic makes contact with the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a crust from forming.
Cool and chill as quickly as possible.

Culinary Comforts of Home by Dana Williams

As the holidays wind down every year, there’s always a lot of talk about the long, loathsome, gray days ahead. I have to say that I’ve never shared this point of view. Frenzy – gone! Pressure – over! Over booked social activities – goodbye! For me, it’s always been the perfect time to cozy up in my small kitchen and cook and bake to my heart’s delight. And yes, I love both. 

Beef BurgundyThe creativity of cooking is so much fun. While I always follow a recipe as written the first time I make it, I’m never afraid to tweak it when I go back the second time. For instance, my favorite Beef Bourguignon is from Ina Garten’s “Barefoot in Paris” but years ago I realized we liked it better with baby portabellas vs button mushrooms and I always use twice as many as called for. Ditto with the beef – I use 3 1/2 lbs instead of the written 2 1/2 lbs. My family likes a really hefty stew! It’s such a satisfying dish to make and setting flame to the brandy soaked veggies nestled in my Le Creuset dutch oven never fails to give me a little thrill!

I’ve also fallen in love with making my own version of no knead bread. Simple, delicious and no heavy equipment needed – just a 4 or 5 qt lidded pot that can withstand high baking temps. I have a couple different Le Creuset pieces for this but traditional cast iron is perfect as well! Crusty, chewy with a hint of pepper that makes it just a little bit different from a traditional loaf – you have to try it! 

No Knead Bread

4 cups bread flour
2 1/2 cups room temperature water
1/2 tsp yeast
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp coarsely ground pepper

Need 4 or 5 quart lidded pot that can withstand high baking temperatures (such as cast iron).

Combine dry ingredients.  Add water a little at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon.  Cover, and let sit 18 – 24 hours. Put pot into a preheated 450 degree oven, leave for 30 minutes. While pot is heating, turn dough out onto a floured surface and with floured hands, form into a free form ball. Let rest under a towel. When the heated pot is ready, remove from oven and lift dough into it. Bake for 30 minutes with lid on, remove lid and bake for another 20 minutes. Turn out immediately and let cool before slicing.