Archives for September 2015

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan
Eggplant Parmesan
  1. 2 medium eggplants, about 1 1/2 lbs. (675 g) cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
  2. olive oil, about 3 T.
  3. kosher salt
  4. Red Pepper Tomato Sauce (recipe below, or whatever tomato sauce you love)
  5. Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
Breadcrumb Topping
  1. 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  2. 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  3. 2 T. olive oil
  4. 1/2 t. kosher salt
  5. pepper to taste
Red Pepper – Tomato Sauce
  1. 2 red bell peppers, stemmed and seeded
  2. 2 beefsteak tomatoes (to yield about 2 cups chopped)
  3. water, about 1/2 cup
  4. kosher salt
  5. freshly cracked pepper
  6. fresh basil leaves, (1/4 to 1/2 cup loosely packed)
  7. 2 T. butter, room temperature
  8. 1-2 T. olive oil
Eggplant Parmesan
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment then drizzle some oil over top and spread out with your hand. Lay the eggplant slices in a single layer — use two baking sheets if necessary. Season generously with salt and pepper. Flip the slices, season with salt and pepper. Drizzle more olive oil over top. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven, flip slices, bake for 15 more minutes. Set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees.
  2. Meanwhile, toss breadcrumbs with 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese, 2 T. oil, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Into a circular gratin dish (about 9 inches in diameter) or a 9-by-9-inch or similar baking pan, spoon a small amount of sauce, then add a thin scattering of Parmigiano, then a single layer of eggplant. Repeat until all ingredients are used, ending with a little sauce and a sprinkling of parmigiano. Top with breadcrumb mixture.
  4. Bake until eggplant mixture is bubbly and top is golden, 25 minutes or so depending on size of pan and thickness of layers. Remove from heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Recipe can also be reheated.
Red Pepper Tomato Sauce
  1. Dice the peppers. Depending on the size, you will have about 2 cups. Place in a medium-sized saucepan or pot. Dice the tomatoes. Again, depending on the size you should have about 2 cups. Add to the pot. Pour in 1/2 cup water and turn heat to high. Season with salt and pepper to taste. I have been using about 1 teaspoon of kosher salt.
  2. Bring to a simmer, then turn heat down to medium high. Set a timer for 25 minutes. After about five minutes, the tomatoes and peppers will begin to release their juices, and the whole mixture should be bubbling. Adjust the heat if necessary so that the mixture stays at a constant bubble — medium to medium-high should do it. Stir every five minutes or so to make sure the tomatoes and peppers are not sticking to the bottom of the pan. If they are, add water by the 1/4 cup.
  3. After about 25 minutes or more or less — when the peppers and tomatoes are tender and nearly all of the liquid has evaporated and the tomatoes and peppers are beginning to stick to pot — add the basil to the pot, give it a stir, then transfer the contents of the pot to a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. Add as much butter and olive oil as you like. Blend again until smooth. Taste. Adjust seasoning as necessary.
Adapted from Alexandra's Kitchen / Jamie Oliver
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Batter Up! by Judy Fitzgerald

batter /ˈbætə/

  1. a mixture of flour, eggs, and milk, used to make cakes, pancakes, etc, and to coat certain foods before frying

Not to be confused with…

Batter up!

  1. (baseball) (Used by an umpire to invite the next batter to the batter’s box, especially at the beginning of a half-inning.)

The noun “batter” takes me back to my childhood days with my mother, Sally, teaching me and my two younger sisters, Diane and Susie, how to make batter for cakes, cookies and breads. Not to be mistaken with the baseball umpire terminology used by my dad Geno and brother Steve! To this day, I recall pulling out my Mom’s recipe box packed with all of her handwritten recipes. We had recipe books, but I thought the best ones, collected and saved for many years, came right out of the recipe box. I would go straight to the “Desserts and Baked Goods” divider in the box, thumbing through each and every individual recipe to decide which sweet treat would be chosen for the week. My two sisters would often join me in this ritual which generally began in the fall and continued through the cold winter months inside of our Madison, WI family home.

Our kitchen was usually stocked with just the right ingredients for most of these recipes.  We often baked a cake, bread, or pies but thousands of homemade cookies came out of our oven on Sunday afternoons in anticipation of packing lunches for the week ahead. We always included something sweet for our home packed lunches.  With four kids in our household, that meant A LOT of hand packed lunches everyday, every week, year after year. My dad and brother loved participating in “quality control.”

PumpkinBreadJudyOne of my favorite things to bake for lunches or to give away were what we referred to in our household as “quick breads.” Some of these homemade favorites included Pumpkin, Banana, Zucchini and Rhubarb. We made several mini size loaves, which included frosting or a sprinkling of a sugar, butter and cinnamon topping.  After just the right amount of time in the oven (always tested doneness of our baking with a toothpick), we allowed them to cool and then wrapped each one individually in foil and finished with a bow to give away as gifts for any holiday, birthday or whatever else we deemed was a reason to give a homemade sweet treat.

So as we head into the Fall 2015 baking season, I flashback to the fall baking of my childhood days and have included a time-tested favorite recipe for Pumpkin Bread.  It is shown here as originally written on my duplicate recipe card. My duplicate copy didn’t have step by step instructions.  You see, after all those years, we had the steps memorized!

Batter Up! and Enjoy

Pumpkin Bread
Pumpkin Bread
  1. 4 eggs
  2. 3 cups sugar
  3. 1 cup oil
  4. ¾ cup water
  5. 3 ½ cups flour
  6. 1 ½ t. salt
  7. 2 t. baking soda
  8. ½ t. baking powder
  9. 3 t. cinnamon
  10. 1 t. ground cloves
  11. 1 t. nutmeg
  12. 1 - 16 oz can pumpkin
  1. 2 T. melted butter
  2. 3 – 4 t. brewed coffee
  3. 1 cup powdered sugar
  4. 1 t. vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Mix all bread ingredients and pour into 3-4 small loaf pans.
  3. Bake for one hour.
  4. Mix together frosting ingredients and frost cake while still warm!
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Broccoli Salad with Cumin and Lemon Juice

Broccoli Salad with Cumin and Lemon Juice
  1. 3 cups chopped broccoli
  2. 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  3. 2 T. finely chopped cilantro
  4. 1 t. ground cumin
  5. 3 T. extra virgin olive oil
  6. juice from 1 lemon
  7. salt & pepper to taste
  1. Wash and chop the broccoli to about 1/2" pieces. Place broccoli pieces in large non-reactive bowl.
  2. In small bowl whisk garlic, cilantro, cumin, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  3. Pour over broccoli and let sit at least 1 hour.
  4. Enjoy!
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Cheddar Cheese Puffs

Cheddar Cheese Puffs
Yields 36
  1. 1 stick (8 T.) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  2. ½ t. salt
  3. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  4. 4 large eggs, room temperature
  5. 1 ½ t. dry mustard
  6. ¼ t. cayenne pepper
  7. 1 ½ cups (about 6 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats. In a medium-size heavy saucepan, combine 1 cup water, butter and salt, and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and add flour. Mix with a wooden spoon until dough starts to pull away from sides of pan and form a lump. Set aside, without stirring, 5 minutes.
  2. Add eggs 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. With each addition, dough will look glossy and slick at first; let it come together before adding next egg. Mix in mustard, cayenne and cheese. Dough will be quite loose and sticky.
  3. Scoop up a heaping teaspoon of dough and use another spoon to scrape it onto lined pan; it should form a mound about an inch in diameter. Alternatively, use a pastry bag or thick plastic bag with one corner cut off, to pipe small mounds onto pan. Repeat with remaining dough, leaving 1/2 inch between puffs.
  4. Bake until puffy and golden, about 25 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Remove from oven and serve immediately, or turn oven off and open door slightly to keep puffs warm up to 1 hour.
  1. Cheddar replaces the more traditional Gruyère, Roquefort or Parmigiano-Reggiano in this French recipe for gougères. The Cheddar performs admirably.
Adapted from Julia Moskin
Adapted from Julia Moskin
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Stovetop Granola

Stovetop Granola
  1. 1 T. olive oil
  2. 4 cups rolled oats, not instant
  3. 1/3 cup butter
  4. 2 T. honey
  5. 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  6. 1/2 cup chopped almonds
  7. 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add oats, cook and stir until starting to brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove oats and spread on rimmed cookie sheet to cool.
  2. Melt butter in same pan over medium heat. Stir in honey and brown sugar. Cook, stirring constantly, until bubbly. Return oats to pan. Cook and stir 5 minutes.
  3. Pour onto cookie sheet and spread to cool. Once cool, add cranberries and nuts.
  1. This is a great snack any time of day, but it also makes a yummy and healthy topping for fruit and yogurt for breakfast.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Taco Truck by Jamie Bordoshuk

The last Saturday in August is a big day in my neighborhood. At 3 p.m. sharp, the street is closed off, the  bounce house is inflated and the tables and chairs start lining the driveways. It’s our annual block party, and for the past 15 years it’s been our way of saying hello to each other and goodbye to summer.

We’ve kept some traditions from year to year: Musical Chairs for the grown-ups, the bike parade for the kids and the family vs. family water balloon fight. The DJ keeps us going late into the night until we cap the party off with an impressive fireworks display that lights up the sky with sprays of gold, red, blue, green and white glimmering sparks.

But everyone knows that a block party is only as good as the food. And ours is no exception. If you live on the north side of the street, you bring an appetizer to share. The southsiders bring dessert. It’s common to find homemade Chinese egg rolls, Indian samosas with green curry dipping sauce and Italian tiramisu sitting next to each other – a mini-replica of the cultures lining my street.

taco movilInspired by the diversity of the neighborhood, our homeowner’s association decided to mix it up for the main course this year: the Taco Movil. This taco truck was really something – with flashing lights, two serving counters and a huge side buffet filled with endless salsas, shredded cheese, greens and guacamole.   

It was impossible to choose between the beef, chicken or chorizo tacos, the pork carnitas and the spicy chipotle chicken tostadas. So I had them all.  

Here’s my take on the Spicy Chipotle Chicken Tostadas.

Spicy Chipotle Chicken Tostadas
Yields 16
Spicy Chicken Topping
  1. 1/4 cup kosher salt, plus more to taste
  2. 2 lbs. skinless, bone-in chicken thighs
  3. 1 (28-ounce) crushed, drained tomatoes
  4. 2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, plus 2 T. adobo sauce
  5. 1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
  6. 1/4 t. ground cinnamon
  7. 2 t. ground cumin
  8. 1 medium white onion, diced
  9. 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  10. 4-6 ounces fresh Mexican chorizo (about 1/2 cup), casings removed, crumbled, fried until almost crisp (optional)
  1. 16 store-bought crispy tostada shells
  2. Kosher salt (if needed)
  3. 14 oz. can refried beans
  4. shredded iceberg lettuce
  5. thinly sliced white onion
  6. Mexican crema or sour cream
  7. queso fresco
  8. cilantro leaves with tender stems
Make the spicy chicken topping
  1. Fill a large pot with 8 cups water; stir in 1/4 cup salt. Add chicken and simmer over medium-low heat until just cooked through, about 45 minutes. Drain, then chop or tear chicken into bite-size chunks. Discard bones.
  2. Meanwhile, purée tomatoes, chiles, adobo sauce, pepper, cinnamon, and cumin in a blender until smooth.
  3. Cook onion in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until sweet and charred (you want more char than "caramelization"), 8–10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and fragrant, about 3 minutes longer. Add tomato mixture to skillet, reduce heat, simmer, partially covered, about 30 minutes. Divide tomato mixture in half, freeze half for another day. Add chicken and chorizo, if using, and cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is well-coated and moist and liquid is reduced and thickened, about 10 minutes more.
  4. Season with salt, if needed.
Assemble the tostadas
  1. Spread 1 Tablespoon refried beans on a tostada shell.
  2. Top with 1/4 cup spicy chicken topping, then lettuce, onion, crema, queso fresco, and cilantro.
  3. Repeat with remaining tostada shells.
  4. Serve at room temperature.
  1. Spicy chicken topping can be chilled for up to 3 days. Reheat and let cool to room temperature before using.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Strawberry Lemon Sorbet

Strawberry Lemon Sorbet
  1. 1 lemon, seeded and roughly chopped
  2. 1 or 2 lemons, juiced (1/4 cup)
  3. 1 cup sugar
  4. ½ cup water
  5. 6 cups frozen unsweetened strawberries
  1. Place lemon, lemon juice, water, and sugar into a blender. Blend until smooth. Add strawberries. Blend until smooth.
  2. Serve immediately or transfer to a lidded container in the freezer until serving.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Fruit Hand Pies

Fruit Hand Pies
Yields 12
  1. 2 ¼ cup flour
  2. 2 T. sugar
  3. ½ lb. unsalted butter (2 sticks), well-chilled, cut into small pieces
  4. ¼ - ½ c. ice water
  5. ½ tsp. salt
  1. 2 cups fruit (blueberries, peaches, nectarines, plums, a mix of several, cut into 1/4” pieces – do not chop berries)
  2. 2-3 T. sugar
  3. zest of 1 lemon, lime, or ½ orange
  4. juice of 1 lemon, lime or ½ orange
  5. pinch of salt
  6. 1 T. cornstarch
  7. pastry for crust
  8. 1 egg, lightly beaten
  9. sugar
  1. In bowl of food processor, combine flour, sugar and salt. Pulse several times to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with some larger chunks remaining. (Or by hand, cut in butter with a pastry blender). Add ice water (begin with just ¼ c.) in slow stream and mix just until dough holds together. If too crumbly, add more water 1 T at a time and mix. Do not over-mix or over process. Divide dough in half and place each half on plastic wrap. Shape into flattened rectangle. Refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. In large bowl, mix together fruit, sugar, zest and juice, salt and cornstarch; mix until combined. Set aside.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 piece of dough to a 16”x11” rectangle. Trim edges. Cut into 6 rectangles. Place these on baking sheet and store in refrigerator until ready to use. Brush edges of rectangle with water, mound about 2 Tablespoons of fruit in the center, fold dough over and press edges to seal. Crimp with fork. Place each pie on parchment lined baking sheet, brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Cut slits in top.
  5. Bake hand pies, rotating sheet halfway through until juices bubble and pastry is golden brown, about 30 min.
  1. *Crust for 1 2-crust pie or 12 hand pies
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Asparagus Brie Tart

Asparagus Brie Tart
  1. 1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted
  2. soft cheese (brie, cream cheese or shredded cheese)
  3. 1 egg, beaten
  4. 1 bunch asparagus
  5. pine nuts or almonds
  6. capers
  7. garlic powder
  8. dried herbs (herbes de provence)
  9. salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Lay pastry on parchment lined baking sheet. Pinch up edges a bit to form a crust-like rim. Spread some cheese all over, then spread beaten egg over that. Lay out asparagus in single file, trimmed to size of pastry. Sprinkle with nuts and capers. Top with garlic powder, dried herbs, salt and pepper.
  3. Bake 15-20 minutes then cut into squares.
  4. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt to finish, if desired.
  5. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Adapted from The Forest Feast by Erin Gleeson
Adapted from The Forest Feast by Erin Gleeson
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Sauteed Shishito Peppers

Sautéed Shishito Peppers
  1. olive oil
  2. Shishito peppers
  3. sea salt
  4. lemon juice
  1. Heat a little olive oil in a wide sauté pan until it is good and hot but not smoking. Add the peppers and cook them over medium heat, tossing and turning them frequently until they blister. They shouldn't char except in places. Don't rush. It takes 10 to 15 minutes to cook a panful of peppers. When they're done, toss them with sea salt and add a squeeze of fresh lemon. Slide the peppers into a bowl and serve them hot. You pick them up by the stem end and eat the whole thing, minus the stem, that is!
Marcel's Culinary Experience