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Waldorf Salad

21 Feb

Late in the game—the book has already been designed, laid out, and copy edited once—my editor and I decided that The Apple Lover’s Cookbook really needs a Waldorf Salad recipe. I wanted it to be substantial, though, and not mayonnaise-y like the traditional salad. Adding rotisserie chicken and using a blend of Greek yogurt and mayo in the dressing solved those problems. I also wanted lots of walnuts, some lemon, and tarragon, and halved red grapes instead of raisins. I kept the celery and the apple, but left the fruit out of the creamy dressing so that it still looks pretty.

Waldorf Salad

Apple Notes: You want apple varieties that resist browning. Some examples: Cortland, Ginger Gold, Spigold, and Fuji.

Active time: 30 minutes; Total time: 30 minutes
Makes: 4 servings as a lunch entree, 6 as a side dish
Notes: If you don’t like tarragon, you can substitute parsley, chervil, or chives. A 1 1/2 pound rotisserie chicken will give you enough meat for this salad.

For the dressings:
1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/3 cup (about 3 ounces or 100 g) reduced fat Greek-style yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon (see Notes)
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons (about 1/2 ounce or 18 g) minced sweet onion, such as Walla Walla or Vidalia

For the salad:
2/3 cup (75 g) walnut pieces
1/2 pound (226 g) breast and/or thigh meat from a rotisserie chicken (see Notes)
1 1/2 large celery stalks (about 4 ounces or 113 g), very thinly sliced crosswise
1 cup (about 6 ounces or 175 g) halved seedless red grapes
1 medium salad-friendly apple (about 6 ounces or 170 g, see Apple Notes) cored and cut into thin wedges.
6 ounces butter lettuce

Equipment: 8- to 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet

1. First, make the dressings: In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon lemon juice with the olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Set aside. In another small bowl, stir together the yogurt, mayonnaise, tarragon, honey, lemon zest, remaining salt, and pepper. Stir in onion. Set aside while you prepare the salad.

2.  Toast walnuts in skillet over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until brown and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Pour into a medium bowl and let cool as you prepare the chicken: Remove any skin and tear the chicken into 2- or 3-inch strips. Add to the bowl with the walnuts. Add the celery and the yogurt dressing and stir so that everything is evenly covered.

3. In your serving bowl, toss the lettuce, grapes, and apple slices with the lemon-oil dressing. Spoon the chicken mixture over all. Use your hands to lightly fluff the leaves and grapes, just to make it look pretty. Serve on chilled salad plates.

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Cookin’ Cake

21 Feb
I’ve had a set of six vintage aluminum jello molds for about five years now.

I bought them at Cookin‘, a secondhand cookware shop in San Francisco. It’s  fun, if overpriced: rambly, stuffed-to-the-rafters, and organized in a way that isn’t clear to anyone but the owner. It’s a nice way to spend an afternoon if you’re in the Haight. But I think many of its customers find the name vaguely embarrassing. “Hey, do you want to go to, ummm Cookin’ today?” They say it like they’re inserting quotes around the word.

The store has been around for about 30 years. Maybe “Cookin'” seemed jazzy in the early 70s.

Anyway, these molds have been collecting dust on a bookshelf, but on Friday I found myself with some extra cake batter (from the most delicious yellow  cake recipe by Shirley Corriher). I buttered, floured, and filled up a mold, popped it in the oven for 25 minutes, and voila.

I could’ve been gentler with the release, but Max didn’t complain.

10 Random (but useful!) Summer Food Observations

1 Jun

1. Ice cream and fro-yo taste better on a plastic spoon.

2. Lately, I prefer Korean fried chicken to American. Especially with that pickled diakon. Great examples: Roppongi in Allson, and Bon Chon, moving soon to Harvard Square.

3. Favorite summer cocktail: The Backyard at Gargoyle’s on the Square. Light, a little flowery and grassy, a little sweet.

4. If you’ve never tried Indian ice cream, sample the Khulfi at Christina’s or the saffron and pistachio falooda (like a multi-textured milk shake) at Dosa Factory.

5. The creamiest low-fat tangy frozen yogurt, IMO, is at Ufood Grill, but I also love the tamarind flavor at Berryline.

6. If you want to try your hand at DIY barbecue, you can’t go wrong with this Mexican-inspired variation: Achiote-and-Orange Pulled Pork from Sunset Magazine.

7. No Cape house? Have a waterfront picnic on the Esplanade docks near the Arthur Fiedler sculpture, or on the steps of the ICA.

8. It’s cherry season!! Whole Foods has the best ones, and they’re on sale for $4.99 right now.

9. According to a recent UCLA study, hamburgers made with an antioxidant-rich spice mixture consisting of cloves, cinnamon, oregano, rosemary, ginger, black pepper, paprika, and garlic powder, had 71% less malondialdehyde (a reactive and mutagenic oxidizer = BAD stuff) after cooking than regular beef-only burgers. I guess my mom was really on to something with her Surprise Burgers.

In other words, if you like it then you shoulda put some zing on it. Ooof.

10. If you have kids, Kimball Farm in Westford is as good as it gets: mini-golf, bumper boats,  batting cages, fried scallops, barbecue, and good ol’ maple walnut ice cream.

The Best Cranberry Sauce

24 Nov

In honor of Thanksgiving, here’s a recipe for a Spiced Tea Cranberry Sauce that I developed for Sunset magazine a few years ago. It’s made with cardamom, cinnamon, star anise, and—stay with me—Earl Grey tea. That may sound odd, but Early Grey is flavored with bergamot, a citrus fruit, and it’s amazing with cranberries.

This sauce is incredibly easy to make—just pay close attention to the timing, so you don’t over-steep the tea.

In a 4-quart pot over high heat, combine 1 3/4 cups water; 2 1/4 cups sugar; 4 whole cardamom pods; 3 whole star anise; and 3 cinnamon sticks. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10 minutes. Add 5 Earl Grey tea bags, and simmer exactly 2 minutes. Remove tea bags and spices with a slotted spoon and add 8 cups whole cranberries (about 2 1/2 bags, fresh or frozen). Increase heat to medium-high and simmer, stirring often, until cranberries soften and split their skins and sauce thickens, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature before serving (the sauce will thicken further as it cools). Or cover and refrigerate up to 4 days. Yield: 6 cups

(Photo by Iain Bagwell)

Pennsylvania Apple-Apricot Kuchen

17 Nov


IMG_4597

Originally uploaded by Amy Traverso

Active time: 30 minutes; Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Makes: 8 to 10 servings

For the dough:
2 1/3 cups (330 g) flour
3/4 cup (225 g) sugar
4 teaspoons (40 g) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (4 g) table salt
15 tablespoons (213 g) butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs (about 55 g each), at room temperature

For the filling:
1 lb. (454 g, about 2) firm-sweet apples (such as Golden Delicious or Jazz)
2 tablespoons (30 g) sugar
1 tablespoon (15 ml) lemon juice
2 tablespoons (30 ml) apricot jam
Garnish: 2 tbsp (4 g) sliced almonds mixed with 1 teaspoon (5 g) sugar and 1/4 teaspoon (0.5 g) cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350º, and position rack in center of oven. Butter and flour a 9- or 10-inch Springform-style pan with removable sides.

2. To make dough, sift dry ingredients into the bowl of a standing mixer (or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer). Add butter and mix at medium-high speed for 30 seconds. Add eggs and mix until ingredients form a ball, another 30 seconds (dough will be very soft). Using a spatula, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into two equal pieces, wrap each in plastic wrap, and chill 25 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, peel, core, and slice apples into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar and lemon juice over apples and stir. Set aside 10 minutes.

3. Press one ball of dough into prepared pan so that it covers the bottom. Cover with sliced apples. Top all over with small dabs of jam. Divide the remaining ball of dough into 10 equal-sized balls and distribute evenly in top of apples (the dough will rise up around filling as it bakes). Sprinkle with almond garnish. Bake until dough is golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes. Remove to cooling rack and let cool 10 minutes, then remove sides of pan and serve.

Apple-Pear Cobbler with Lemon-Cornmeal Biscuits

14 Jul

I’ve been working on an apple cookbook for W.W. Norton for far too long, and am devoting the next several weeks to finishing it up. Here’s a recipe from yesterday’s session—one of my favorites so far.

Pale, but tasty!

Pale, but tasty!

Apple-Pear Cobbler with Lemon-Cornmeal Biscuits

You know you have a good dessert when, after spending all day in the kitchen developing it, you still choose to eat another serving instead of a proper dinner. This is a fresh and unexpected take on a New England classic, topped with tender but crunchy cornmeal biscuits, laced with lemon and glazed with cream and sugar. The apples and pears in the filling are fully complementary (remember: fruits that sweeten together can be eaten together!), and really pop with a hit of lemon juice.

Active time: 35 minutes; Total time: 65 minutes
Makes: 8 servings

For the filling:
2 1/2 pounds firm-tart apples, such as Granny Smith or Newtown Pippin
1 1/2 pounds ripe pears, such as Bosc or Bartlett
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small cubes

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