Happy Birthday America!

Make fondant: Microwave 2 cups mini marshmallows and 1 tablespoon water for about minute until puffy. Stir until smooth. Microwave a little more if lumpy. Stir in 2 cups of powdered sugar. Dust counter with a little powdered sugar and knead mixture until it forms a lump. Divide into 3 pieces. Knead in red and blue food coloring. May want to wear gloves. Roll out flat to about 1/8 inch thickness, cut into stripes about 1/4 inch wide. Lay red, white and blue stripes side by side and go over gently with rolling pin to join. I have a little star cookie cutter that I use. Lay out on parchment to dry.

Preheat oven to 350º

Line cupcake pan with reusable silicon baking cups.

Sift through a strainer into a measuring cup: 1 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside. Mix 1 cup whole milk and 1 1/4 teaspoons Madagascar Vanilla extract. Set aside. Sift 1/2 cup Valrhona cocoa powder.

In a stand mixer add 8 tablespoons European butter such as Plugra room temperature, beat until smushed, add 1 1/4 cups sugar as it mixes until incorporated, add 2 large eggs one at a time. With mixer on low, alternate between flour mixture and milk mixture until smooth. Add cocoa powder. Mix until just blended.

I use an ice cream scoop to fill each cup two thirds of the way. Bake around 18 minutes but start checking around 15 with a toothpick. It is crucial with this recipe not to over bake.

Cool on wire rack.

In a small Pyrex bowl, mix 1 cup Callebaut semisweet chocolate chips and 1/2 cup heavy cream. You can melt it over a pot of simmering water (make sure the steam doesn’t get into the chocolate) or in 30 second increments in the microwave, stirring until smooth. Let the mixture cool for a few minutes and then dip the cupcakes, giving them a twist and then pulling up. Allow to cool before adding decoration.

The Narcissist

All wrapped up in itself!

If making tortillas, you need to make extra large ones, like ten inches in diameter.

Brown one pound of ground beef, add one medium diced yellow onion, sauté until starting to brown, two cloves of pressed garlic, one tablespoon chili powder, one teaspoon cumin, sauté for a minute, add one 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes and a half a can of water. Bring to a boil and then turn on low to simmer for fifteen minutes or so.

Prepare toppings: chopped tomato, onion, iceberg lettuce, cilantro (leaves only). Shredded cheddar, Jack or Cojita cheese. Sour cream or Mexican Crema. Avocado if you want.

Heat tortilla in pan or toaster oven.

Spread sour cream on tortilla and layer remaining ingredients along the center. Fold over the sides and then roll. If you don’t know how: 

So That’s What the Big Knife is For!

Why are sweet potatoes so dang hard to cut through?

Preheat oven to 425º

2-3 sweet potatoes depending on how large (plus extra if you have a dog) cut into fries (can be wedges or sticks).

Set aside dogs portion and coat the rest lightly in olive oil, honey and Tajin.

On a nonstick baking sheet of parchment paper, arrange fries in one layer.

Roast for around twenty minutes or so until tops are browned. Turn fries over to brown other side (If the fries aren’t too thick you can skip this if you’re feeling lazy and just let them get nice and brown on one side)

While sweet potatoes are roasting, mix one five point something ounce plain yogurt with a little lime juice, finely chopped scallions and Tajin.

Wishful Puttanesca

Put a small bowl and a cutting board on the counter
In the bowl empty two cans of Yellowfin tuna in olive oil
Top with the zest and juice of one lemon
Set aside

Large lidded frying pan on medium, medium low heat add
A third a cup of olive oil
3-4 (depending on mood) anchovies
Tablespoon of capers, drained
8-10 Kala olives roughly chopped
2 pressed garlic cloves

Sauté until anchovies melt

Add can of whole San Marzano tomatoes, breaking tomatoes up a little
Raise heat to boil
Add a half cup of white wine and burn off
Turn heat to medium low and add tuna and lemon mixture

Allow to simmer while you make Penne

Garnish with chiffonade of basil

Rise and Shine

Preheat oven to 425º
KitchenAid mixer with dough hook
Nine inch Square baking pan

Mix on low:
3 cups King Arthur Irish Style Flour
2 cups organic whole wheat flour (you can use white flour here for a lighter bread)
1 cup organic white all-purpose or bread flour
Can substitute half cup of whole wheat flour for ground flax or bran
Tablespoon of baking soda
Half cup of dark brown sugar

Mix on medium for a minute or so

Stop and lower bowl and grate in half a stick of cold butter

Mix on medium for a minute or so
Slowly pour in 2 cups buttermilk

Mix on medium for a few minutes
If there is still some dry flour in the bottom, add a little whole milk
If it’s sticking to the sides, add a little flour
It should be in a ballish shape going around

Flatten into pan
Score into four sections
Bake for 45-50 minutes
Cool in pan

Can be frozen

Turkish Dream

If making your own Naan, do that first. Usually use four here cut in half, so eight.

Set a bowl, two measuring cups and a cutting board on the counter.

In the bowl, add one slice of bread or a half cup of panko and about a half cup of whole milk.

In one measuring cup, combine around five ounces of plain yogurt and four ounces of crumbled feta. Set aside.

In the other measuring cup, add one medium sized tomato finely diced, sprinkle with Maldon sea salt, then add one half cucumber finely diced, one red onion finely diced (dice the whole onion and put three-quarters of it in the bowl with the soaking bread), one cup of parsley finely chopped (put half in with the bread mixture. Stir together and set aside.

To the bowl that has the bread, milk, red onion and parsley add one egg and mix thoroughly and add a half teaspoon or so (depending on mood) of: dried oregano, dried mint, cardamon, cumin, smoked paprika. Then add one pound of ground beef and mix throughly.

Get a large frying pan, sprinkle with salt and set on medium high heat or whatever you normally do to sear. Form Kofte mixture into ovaline shapes about the length of the Naan. Sear on both sides and cook until desired temperature in batches—not too crowded in the pan.

Slice Naan in half short wise and toast for a minute or so.

Spread yogurt feta on Naan, top with Kofte and top with tomato mixture? Relish? Chutney?

If You Fusilli

Big stockpot. Boil water. Add Fusilli. Set for desired cooking time. Cut broccoli into florets while cooking and add to last three minutes of pasta cooking. Drain into colander or colander and bowl if colander is not big enough.

Put stockpot on low. Put about a half cup of olive oil, eight to ten crushed garlic cloves, several sun-dried tomatoes (how many depends on how you feel) cut into small pieces, a half teaspoon of thyme. Turn heat up until garlic is just sautéed. Whatever you do don’t let it brown.

Off heat stir in pasta and broccoli and about three-quarters a cup of grated Parmesan.

That’s it.

Make Way for Dumplings!

Buy wrappers (the round ones found in Asian markets) or make them:

Make dipping sauce: Half cup soy sauce, quarter cup seasoned rice vinegar, one tablespoon grated ginger, one tablespoon sesame or Perilla oil.

Mix together: One pound ground pork, small package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, four scallions, white and light green parts, finely chopped, one tablespoon sesame or Perilla oil, two teaspoons grated ginger, one tablespoon soy sauce.

Have a small dish with water ready. Lay wrappers out on board. Coat edges with water. Place about a tablespoon of the mixture in the middle and then fold over, crimping as you go.

Set a plate somewhere warm like the top of a toaster oven with a damp cloth.

Coat a large lidded frying pan with canola oil. Heat until almost smoking. Place dumplings bottom down, not too crowded. Don’t disturb for a minute and then peek. If browned, loosen from pan. Pour a quarter cup of water into pan and cover for five minutes. Put on plate and cover with damp cloth while making batches.

Taco To It

Make the pickled onions early in the day or the day before. Cut a red onion in half and then quarter inch slices. Boil until softened, drain and place in a bowl or jar and cover with white vinegar.

Make corn tortillas and cover.

Mise en place: sliced radishes, shredded red cabbage, cilantro, avocado sliced thin

Mix mayonnaise with sriracha.

Cut into taco sized pieces and coat some sort of mild white fish (tilapia, cod, haddock) in flour and pan fry in canola oil. Sprinkle with Maldon sea salt. Keep warm on a plate.

Heat up tortillas in pan or comal. Swipe tortilla with sriracha mayo and layer ingredients.

Serve with horchata. Or Margaritas.

Soval Salmon

Around 2 pounds of salmon deboned
Eight or so scallions finely chopped
About a cup of parsley finely chopped
Two tablespoons of butter
Half cup white wine
Maldon sea salt
Piece of parchment paper big enough to fold over salmon
Baking pan

Preheat oven to 325º

Sauté scallions and parsley in butter until soft. Add wine and burn off. Lay salmon on parchment. Sprinkle salmon with salt. Spoon scallion and parsley mixture over salmon and fold over the parchment paper. Bake at 325º until it reaches 145º. I usually start checking at 20 minutes.