Best Pound Cake EVER!

OK, so maybe not the best ever, but definitely amazing. And amazingly easy to make. I still think the frozen Sara Lee pound cake is my all time favorite. But this isn’t so bad either. The ones they sell at starbucks are actually pretty good too. I could have added more poppy seeds, but too late now. Besides poppy seeds get stuck in my teeth sometimes. Not very attractive. You can’t see the whole cake in the picture, but it looks pretty nice with a big belly bump in the middle that reveals the inner goods. The texture is just dense enough that you can’t hit someone over the head with it, but bready enough to make it a good tea time snack with some dunking in tea or whatever other liquid. I wanted to do a lemon poppy, but no lemons in the house, so I used oranges instead. Gives it a real good flavor.

MAKES 1 5″x9″ cake

INGREDIENTS:
3 eggs
170g (1¼ cup) flour
170g (just a little less than 1 cup) sugar
170g (1½ sticks) butter, melted
2.5g (¼ teaspoon) baking powder
Zest of 2 oranges
1 tablespoon poppy seed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

PREPARATION:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees (170 celcius).

Butter and flour mold and set aside. Melt the butter and set aside.

Beat the eggs in a bowl. Using a wisk add vanilla, zest and poppy seed and mix. Add sugar and mix. Add flour and baking powder and continue mixing with a wisk until homogenous. Add melted butter. Once everything is incorporated, pour the batter into mold and put it into oven right away. Bake for about 55 minutes. Once a toothpick comes out clean, take the cake out of the oven and the mold and let cool.

It’s so easy!

July 28, 2009. To Make. Leave a comment.

Pizza from Nice

Last night, I came back from a tanfastic weekend in Provence to find Domino’s coupons in the mail. I don’t like pizza, but suddenly craved it so bad. I couldn’t stop thinking about it so I made one today, in the spirit of Provence. I made a Pissaladiere, a pizza from Nice. This is a very weird pizza that contains all my least favorite ingredients in the world, but the combination is deadly. Deadly good that is. Pizza dough, onions, tomatoes, anchovies and olives. YUCK! But put together, you get this sweet caramelized oniony taste with a shockingly salty anchovie taste and a bite of oily olive and warm tender juices bursting out of the tomatoes!

It’s actually a little more complicated than just piling things on top of each other. As easy as this is to make, it requires something very special. a virtue of some sort. Something I have a lot of. But not enough to spare…It’s called patience. You have to make sure the onions are beautifully caramelized and almost melting off your tongue and the tomatoes are well confit-ed and are juicy and tender and give a slight tinge of sweetness. Isn’t this pissaladiere oddly beautiful and mouthwatering looking?

MAKES 1 10inch (26cm) pie

INGREDIENTS:
1 10inch pizza dough
600g (about 1 lb) yellow onions
4 roma tomatoes
16 black olives
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 can or jar of good quality anchovies
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon butter, or olive oil

PREPARATION:
Caramelize onions. Slice onions very fine. In a large pot (I prefer non-stick in this situations), add the butter, onions, garlic, thyme and sugar and cook on medium heat. You want the onions to cook through and let out their wonderful sticky juices. About 10 minutes. Once onions are translucent and cooked, raise the heat to medium/high and start the caramelization process. You will need to stick by the stove till the process is over. Using a wooden spoon, stir the onions pretty often so it doesn’t burn. You will get all this great brown stuff on the bottom of the pan. Stir the onions and try to recuperate as much as possible. If you can’t get it all to come off with the spoon, just add like a tablespoon or 2 of water. The water will deglaze the pan and continue the process until the onions are looking brown and succulent. This took me about 15-20 minutes, but if it takes you longer, don’t worry. Just keep at it. Set aside.

Peel the tomatoes. You can cheat and buy already peeled tomatoes in a can, but it won’t be as good. Make an X on the bottom of the tomatoes, or top, then dunk them in boiling water for about 10seconds. Then put them in ice cold water to stop the cooking. The peel should come off real easy. Cut each tomato into 4, seed and core. At this point, I confit-ed the tomatoes in the oven. Which is basically sprinkling them with a little olive oil, salt and sugar and drying them out a bit in a low temp oven like 200 degrees (100 celcius). This process really brings out the flavors of the tomatoes, but it is a lot of work, so you can just used sun dried tomatoes in oil or just raw tomatoes. When the tomatoes are ready, cut each piece again in half. You will have 16 pieces now. Set aside.

Preheat oven to pizza package direction. Mine said 375 degrees (190 celcius) for about 20 minutes. Assemble the pissaladiere. Spread the onions on the bottom, make a pretty design of some sort with the anchovies. If the anchovy fillets are too big, cut in half. Add the tomatoes to your liking as the olives. I halved the olives and added them. Then bake.

You can eat this hot, warm or cold and serve with a scrumptious side salad and some provence rose wine!

July 27, 2009. Pizza, To Make. 1 comment.

Dinner with Friends – Version Vegetarian

I love cooking! And I love having people over to cook for. It’s more fun when you eat with a bigger group. I also like to test my concoctions on people and hear their praise. I take compliments very well. So I called over some friends, including one which is vegetarian. But thank goodness she’s not vegan. I love butter too much. However, I ended up having 2 vegan dishes. Anyhow, the theme was eggs, berries and herbs. I served 5 courses and cheese and apero.

Apero
Mushroom cocotte with quail eggs
Decomposed ratatouille on tartine

Menu Soiree
Herb oeuf cocotte
Berry Easy Strawberry Salad
Salad Minuscule
Lemon Rosemary Cream Pasta
Assortment of Unpasteurized French Cheeses
Red Berries with Creme Anglaise

It was an aggressive menu for one person to prepare. But I am Mega Super Jamie, domestic goddess slash brilliant statistician and lover of champagne. I can do anything! Every dish was perfectly seasoned, perfect consistency, perfect everything! They are all pretty easy to make and I measured everything with excruciating precision so hope you try out some of the recipe’s!!!

Mushroom Cocotte with Quail Eggs

FOR 4

INGREDIENTS:
16 small white button mushrooms
16 quail eggs
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/4 cup creme fraiche (or mascarpone)
1/4 cup grated gruyere (or comte if available)

PREPARATION:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees (or 190 celcius).
Brush off the dirt from the mushrooms if there are any. Or gently wash them under cold water. Tear off the stalk. Lay the mushrooms on a baking sheet top side down. Add half a teaspoon of creme fraiche or mascapone, then gently crack an egg into the middle of the mushroom. Top with some parsley and cheese. Bake in a preheated oven for 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Berry Easy Strawberry Salad
This salad is amazing and one of my favorite things to make. I kind of don’t want to give out the recipe because I want to keep it to myself. But it’s just too good not to share. The vinaigrette is so wonderfully silky and the best part is this is completely fat free and you can get all your daily vitamins in one dish! Well, maybe not calcium. Hope it becomes one of your very favorites!

FOR 4

INGREDIENTS:
1 package of prewashed salad greens (or just baby spinach works)
3 cups strawberries, cut into bit size pieces
4 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
Pepper

PREPARATION:
Make the vinaigrette. Take one cup of strawberries and sugar. Blend and make a smooth puree. In another bowl, take 4 tablespoons of the strawberry puree and 4 tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar and mix. Add pepper if you want. For the vinaigrette, you will want to use the same quantity of puree as the vinegar. And it’s very important that you use white balsamic vinegar. It has just enough vinegariness that makes the salad so wonderful. The vinaigrette will be amazingly silky and brilliant, you don’t need any oil. Mix the vinegar, salad greens and strawberries and serve immediately. Serve pepper mill to those who want to add some.

You’ll have a little bit of the puree left. Use it to make more vinaigrette or do what I did. Make strawberry lemonade!

Salad Minuscule
I call this salad minuscule because I chopped everything into small tiny tiny bits. All the different colors mix so much better and the dish looks so much more vibrant. Besides, it’s more fun to eat it all mini. I feel so mini and petite eating teensy weensy pasta. I think I have some weird obsession with mini objects because I’m tall. You can also get every little piece of the ingredient in one bite so you can really taste the amazing mélange of freshness. Seriously though, there is absolutely nothing miniscule about this salad. I thought I was making enough for about 6 small plates, but I can never get my pasta measurements correct. They don’t look like much when uncooked. But whatever the case is, 5 of us ate it as the 2nd course of a 5 course dinner and left half. I took the leftovers on the TGV and I could see everyone staring with jealous eyes as they ate their store bought baguette sandwiches. How could they not be though! It’s such a beautiful and delicious dish!

FOR 6-8 (depending on appetite)

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups mini farfalle pasta (any mini pasta will work)
1 cup yellow tomatoes, chopped small (about 2 tomatoes)
1 cup red cherry tomatoes, chopped small (about 1lb = about 20 pieces)
1 cup chopped cucumbers, chopped small
1 cup black olives, chopped small
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
4 tablespoons fresh chervil, chopped
4 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
4 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped
4 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (but any vinegar will work)
½ cup fruity delicious olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

PREPARATION:
You can work in any order. Either cook the pasta to package direction, mine said 8 minutes to al dente, and set aside while the other ingredients are being prepped, or prep the other ingredients, set aside and then cook the pasta. Whichever suits you. I did the ladder. Make sure you wash everything, chop it small and in a big big bowl, mix. Add the cooked pasta and season. The olives are pretty salty so salt might not be necessary. Serve whenever.

This pasta is wonderful because you can add any ingredients in your fridge. But I find that the above combination works best for my taste buds. If you can’t find certain herbs, not a biggie. Just use whatever you have. I actually bought mint to add to the mix, but completely forgot about it. Think it would add a very nice freshness on a hot summer day. Chervil is a very common herb here in France, but I had the hardest time finding it while in NYC. Actually, I couldn’t find it at all. For those of you wondering what it is, it looks like very small flat leaf parsley and has a slight smell of tarragon. So just add more parsley and tarragon to the mix if you can’t find chervil.

Another little secret about this dish…I actually worked on it over a couple days. Like chop a little here and there when I had time. And I had these delicate, not spicy, little green and red peppers that I chopped up and added. It’s just such an easy dish and feeds so many! A perfect dish for any occasion!

Bon appetit!

July 25, 2009. To Make. Leave a comment.

Crudites and Funner Sauces

I always liked sauces and dips. Still lurv em! I wanted to jump start my detox with some healthy crudites loaded with essential vitamins and antioxidents. I think my spread is way better than anything in St. Tropez, although they have a cuter basket to serve the veggies. I made 3 different dips for the evening. Aioli (or garlic mayo), a blue cheese concoction and Jamie’s very special dip. I then prepared some of my favorite veggies all nicely cut up, a huge head of cooked and ready to eat artichoke and bought some cooked organic madagascar shrimps. The dips were super fun and I felt so healthy, although…the dips were kinda mayo based.

Aioli (Garlic Mayonnaise)
MAKES about 1 cup

INGREDIENTS:
1 head of garlic
1 very fresh egg yolk
1 tablespoon of dijon mustard (optional but better with)
1/2 cup of your favorite oil (either olive or peanut is good)
Pinch of salt and pepper

PREPARATION:
I made a garlic confit and then mashed the garlic, which turned into a really nice thick puree. I think the Aioli tastes way better like this. To make the garlic confit, add all of the peeled garlic into a small pan and cover with oil. Add whatever herbs you have. I like to use thyme and bay leaf for these kind of operations. Let the garlic cook in the oil on very low heat, else it’ll burn and turn an unattractive brown color. About 20 minutes. Take out the garlic, mash it up in a bowl and add the yolk and mustard. If you are using mustard, lay off on the salt because mustard is super salty. Once the oil is cool enough, pour it slowly into the garlic mixture and make mayonnaise. If the garlic confit is too much work, just mash up the raw garlic or put it into a food processor and follow the next steps. But it is way better to confit the garlic. Cause you still get all the beautiful garlic taste, but will still have kissable breath.

Jamie’s Very Special Sauce
This sauce sounds weird but it so delish. I promise you’ll be licking the plate
MAKES about 1.5 cups

INGREDIENTS:
2/3 cup of mayonnaise (homemade is best)
3 tablespoons Heinz ketchup
1 tablespoon worsteshire sauce (optional)
1 teaspoon cognac (optional)
5-6 cornichons, chopped (it’s important to use a sweet and vinegary pickle)
1 medium can of tuna in oil, drained

PREPARATION:
I like to use homemade mayonnaise for this. But you can use store bought to save time. In a bowl, add all the ingredients and mix. Make sure the tuna is all broken up and well incorporated. Serve with your favorite dipping utensil.

Homemade Mayonnaise
MAKES about 2/3 cup

INGREDIENTS:
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/2 cup of neutral oil (I like to use peanut)
Salt and pepper

PREPARATION:
Add egg yolk, dijon mustard, pepper and using a wisk, pour oil in a slow stream and create a thick emulsion.

Blue Cheese Dip
MAKES 2 cups

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup fromage blanc (or plain yogurt or sour cream)
3 scallions, chopped
1 cup of good quality crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons chives
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper

PREPARATION:
Put everything in a bow and mix till desired consistency.

July 20, 2009. To Make. Leave a comment.

Tomatomania

Been in St. Tropez enjoying the long weekend with friends and since I’m suffering from never ending vertigo slash rose hangover and another is pregnant, another with a baby and the last…think she just doesn’t care to do anything with the kitchen. So basically our team is worthless this weekend so I’m posting an old dish I made way back yonder in May. This dish was inspired by my new book at the time called ‘Cooking in Provence.’ I really don’t like tomatoes that much…but seems like I’m always doing something with them. This is a tomato tart with a puff pastry crust. I stacked the tomatoes just a little too high so it took a really really long time to bake. I’ll redo and repost at a future time when it’s not too hot to use the oven.

Succulent Tomato Tart
Check out the cookbook ‘Cooking in Provence.’ It has some wonderful recipes with beautiful pictures. This recipe I followed was amazing. The tart’s supposed to cook for about 1.5 hours, although, mine took about 3 because I stacked too many tomatoes in the middle. The tomatoes dry out and confit and turn into this nicely caramelized tart with an explosive sweet and savory flavor. This is great because you can make it way ahead of time and keep it in the fridge.

FOR 6

INGREDIENTS:
3 pounds tomatoes (about 15 depending on size)
1 puff pastry sheet (the one I used was about 12″)
1 cup mascarpone cheese
Basil leaves, chopped
Salt, freshly ground black pepper
Some amazing olive oil

PREPARATION:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (or 180 if celcius). Mix the mascarpone and chopped basil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Set aside. Slice tomatoes into rings and set aside. Lay out the puff pastry onto a baking sheet and spread the mascarpone mix leaving just a small edge at the outer circumference. Arrange tomatoes over lapping each other. Put some of the scrap bits in the middle so the tart doesn’t cave in too much. But what you don’t want is to tover stuff like I did. The tart should be slightly concave. I’ll redo and post a better example next time. Drizzle some oilve oil. About 2 tablespoons. Pop into oven for about 30 minutes. It starts to get watery and you’ll get worried. That’s just normal. Then lower the heat to 300 degrees (or 160 celcius) and wait another 45 minutes. If you did it right, the tart should be perfect. Serve at any temperature.

July 15, 2009. To Make, Tomato. Leave a comment.

Too Hot for Hot Food

Tis the season for cold meals. Actually, forget meals…tis the season for piscines on the cote d’azur! But when starving…a scrumptious salad will do.

Mixed Green Salad with Jamie’s Special Vinaigrette
This is the easiest and fastest thing in the world to make and my special vinaigrette is just bursting with flavors, you’ll feel like there’s an explosion of flavors going on in your mouth.

FOR 4 (first course)

INGREDIENTS:
1 package of pre-washed mixed greens
1 tablespoon of excellent quality dijon mustard
2 tablespoons of really good Sherry vinegar (red wine vinegar can be used as substitute)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup of really good EVOO
Freshly ground pepper

PRERATION:
In a bowl, add mustard, vinegar, sugar and pepper. Using a wisk, mix all ingredients and slowly wisk in oil so its well emulsified and looking moderately thick. Add more sugar, mustard or any other ingredient to taste. Lightly toss with mixed greens. Serve immedietly.

I should have my own TV show…called 30 second meals! Take that Rachael Ray! I don’t hate her as a person really. I mean…maybe just a little because she’s just so bubbly. I’m just more jealous of her success and celebrity chef status. And she looks a little weird.

July 5, 2009. To Make. Leave a comment.