November 13, 2016

Recipe: Brown Buttery Buttermeal Cookies

The other day, my family was driving home on our long daily commute from school and work when we struck up a conversation about cookies.  One of my girls chimed in, "My favorite cookie is Buttermeal!"  We think that she meant to say chocolate chip oatmeal -- in particular the ones with macadamia nuts, coconut and semi-sweet chocolate chips made by her Uncle Deuce. And yet, we were all struck by how instantly appealing the idea of a "Buttermeal" cookie sounded.  So, we spent the rest of the car ride talking about what would go into a Buttermeal cookie if one were to actually exist.  We concluded that it would be buttery like shortbread and would have the subtle nutty flavor of oatmeal.

This weekend, I experimented by riffing on a few well vetted Irish Shortbread recipes and ultimately came up with what the family deemed the perfect Buttermeal Cookie.  They are simple to make and are addictively delicious.  If you like shortbread, buttery cookies, and are keen on the sweet/salty thing, these are a must try.

Buttermeal Shortbread Cookies

1 cup salted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup Rolled Oats (not instant or quick-cook)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup brown sugar (not packed)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 Tablespoons sanding sugar, raw sugar, or organic sugar (large crystals is what you're going for)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Butter a 10" springform pan and set aside.

Step 1:  In a large microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup, melt butter.  Stir in vanilla extract and set aside to cool.

Step 2:  Spread oats out on a small baking sheet.  Bake at 300 for 8 minutes to lightly toast the oatmeal.

Step 3:  In the bowl of a food processor, combine toasted oats, flour, brown sugar, salt, baking powder and corn starch.  Use 12 times for 3-second intervals.  

Step 4:  Pour in the butter/vanilla mixture.  Run food processor till mixture comes together into a cohesive dough (just about 5 seconds).  Transfer dough to the prepared springform pan and press evenly into the bottom of the pan.

Step 5:  Sprinkle the top of the dough with the 2 Tablespoons of coarse sugar.  Then, gently shake the pan side to side to evenly distribute the sugar.

Step 6:  Bake at 300 for 25 minutes.  Allow the cookie 10 minutes to cool on a wire rack before removing the outer ring from the springform.  Use an offset spatula or thin butter knife to make sure the cookie is not stuck to the pan.  Then, invert the cookie on a cutting board.  Flip back on to another flat surface so that the sugared top is facing up.  Cool for another 5 minutes before cutting into wedges.  Serve warm or cold.  

November 5, 2016

Recipe: Pork and Green Chile Street Tacos

This recipe is always a favorite with my culinary students.   It is easy to make and the results are exquisite.  The trio of green chiles strike the perfect balance of bright green pepperiness, smokiness, and mellow heat.  They cook down with onions, garlic and stock into a rich and flavorful sauce.   The tender pieces of pork practically melt in your mouth.  These tacos need no further embellishment -- just load up a warm tortilla and go!

Pork and Green Chile Street Tacos

Serves 4-6 (2 tacos each)

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

  • 1 pound trimmed boneless pork shoulder, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces Poblano Pepper (2-3 large), seeded and julienne cut
  • 4 ounces Anaheim Pepper (2-3 large), seeded and julienne cut
  • 1 Serrano Pepper (seeded, veined and minced)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped cilantro

  1. Season the pork cubes with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

  1. In a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil until just smoking.  Add pork.  Cook on high heat, stirring only once or twice, until golden brown on all sides (about 5 minutes).

  1. Add the onion, chiles, and garlic.  Cover and cook over high heat, stirring once or twice until the vegetables are softened (about 5 minutes).

  1. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Cover partially and simmer over medium heat until the pork is tender and the broth is reduced to a thick sauce (about 20 minutes).

  1. Stir in the cilantro and season with salt and black pepper.  Serve with lime wedges and corn tortillas.

October 29, 2016

Recipe: Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Asian Pears and Honey Walnut Vinaigrette

Here's a very simple, yet elegant salad that works well as a first course at dinner or as a light lunch. Warm goat cheese, crusted in toasted walnuts and bread crumbs is baked and paired with crisp Asian pears, baby greens, candied walnuts and an easy-to-prepare Honey Walnut Vinaigrette.  

My second-year culinary students made this salad just last week.  I'm especially proud to say that both platings pictured here were done by my high school students.  

Asian Pear Walnut Salad with warm Goat Cheese
Serves 4-6

Candied Walnuts
1 cup walnut halves
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

Warm Goat Cheese
1/3 cup fine dry bread crumbs
1/3 cup toasted walnuts
½ teaspoon salt
Pinch of ground pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
6 slices goat cheese
1 egg white, beaten

Honey Walnut Vinaigrette
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon minced shallots
¼ cup walnut oil
½ cup vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped candied walnuts

1 thinly sliced Asian Pear (sliced just before serving)
Mixed Greens (4-6 cups)

1.  Prep Goat Cheese:  In a food processor, pulse bread crumbs, walnuts, salt, pepper and cayenne until  nuts are ground (being careful not to over-grind).  Place in a shallow dish.  Dip cheese slices in egg white, then into bread crumb mixture, turning to coat on all sides and pressing to adhere.  Place on a plate and refrigerate 30 minutes.

2.  Candy the Walnuts: Heat butter in a medium non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add walnuts and sugar.  Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  When sugar begins to melt, stir constantly so nuts are evenly coated and do not burn.  Transfer immediately to a sheet of parchment and separate the walnuts immediately.  Set aside to cool.  Once cool, chop enough walnuts to yield 2 tablespoons for the vinaigrette.

3.  Make the vinaigrette:  In a mason jar, add vinegar, honey and shallots.  Tighten lid and shake to combine.  Add oils.  Shake vigorously till emulsified.  Add 2 Tablespoons chopped candied walnuts.  Shake again for at least 1 minute.  Adjust with salt and pepper.  Set aside to rest until ready to use. Best after 1 hour in the refrigerator.

4.  Warm the Goat Cheese:  On a small, lightly greased baking sheet, bake goat cheese rounds at 400 degrees F until golden brown and softened, about 5-7 minutes.

5.  Assemble:  While goat cheese is warming, slice the pears thinly and assemble salad:  Toss 4-6 cups baby greens with desired amount of dressing.  Plate (4 -5 plates) , then top with pear slices and candied walnuts.  Serve each salad with a slice or two of warm goat cheese.

There will be walnuts and dressing to spare. Dressing can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. Walnuts can be stored in an airtight container for 6 weeks.

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