Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Drunken Apple Pie - Photos Only

Drunken Apple Pie- isn't drunk as so much as it is buzzed. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

German Apple Cake

This is by far one of my favorite things about fall... German apple cake. 
This is also a great recipe if you need to bring a dessert to a holiday party. 
However, this is not diet friendly nor diabetic friendly. 

- 2 eggs 
- 1 cup of vegetable oil 
- 2 cups of white sugar 
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
-1/2 teaspoon of salt 
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract 
- 2 cups of all purpose flour 
- 1 teaspoon baking soda 
- 4 cups of apples, peeled, sliced very thing
- Pinch of nutmeg 
- Pinch of powdered ginger

The key to this recipe is mixing. 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Flour and grease a cake pan.

Mix the eggs and the vegetable oil thoroughly until they have a creamy consistency. Add the vanilla to the liquid mixture. 
Slowly add the sugar, mixing thoroughly. 

Combine the dry ingredients separately. Slowly add to the liquid batter until thoroughly incorporated, it's going to get a little difficult to stir the batter as you continue.

Fold in the apples to the mixture. 
Pour into the prepared pan. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. 

Once the cake is cooled, you can dust with confectioners sugar or homemade icing from confectioners sugar, water and holiday spices.  

Ravioli; a Labor of Love

There is nothing in the world that reminds me more of my grandparents than homemade ravioli. Every special occasion, birthday and holiday was marked by their presence. Grandma used to ask the boys, "What do you want me to make you for your birthday?" Without fail they would answer, "Ravioli, chicken cutlets and 'eatballs!" After a while she just stopped asking us and would have it waiting for us when we arrived.

Grandma would already have the ravioli's done and ready to go. She would be standing over the stove finishing the meatballs and Grandpa would sit in "his" chair at the kitchen table preparing the chicken cutlets the "right" way. They made it look so easy! Little did we know that the arrival of our favorite foods to the dinner table had been planned well in advance, preparations for the ravioli filling started at least 4 days before any of us had given a thought to our rumbling little tummies.

I'm going to apologize in advance though- I have no idea how to make this for a small number of people.

For the filling you will need:

  • 6 lbs. of ricotta
  • A cheese cloth
  • A colander 
  • A bowl big enough to hold the colander
  • Space in your refrigerator for the bowl holding the colander
Later you will also need: 

  • 5 eggs 
  • Parsley 
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper 
  • Additional Herbs and seasoning you want in your filling. Grandma has one she uses but I have absolutely no idea what it's called in either English or Italian 
Put the ricotta in the large cheese cloth inside the colander and inside the large mixing bowl. 

For the next four days at least twice a day remove this contraption from the refrigerator and dump the excess liquid. Ricotta holds a lot of excess water.

When you are ready to start assembling the ravioli, after rolling out the dough scramble the eggs and mix into the ricotta with the herbs. Season with the salt and black pepper to taste. Reserve and put back in the fridge until you are ready to spoon it out.

For the pasta dough: 
  • 5 lbs of flour
  • 5 eggs 
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 4 1/4 cups of water
Mix all of your ingredients together and knead until the dough is smooth. Allow it to rest for 20 minutes. Knead the dough again and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for one hour. Knead and put it back in the fridge until you are ready to use it. When you are ready to use it, roll out the dough into a log on a lightly floured surface and cut into five sections. Roll out the section until it is flat as in the photo below. Try to keep it uniform in size, it makes it easier to cut the individual raviolis.  

Remove the ricotta filling from the refrigerator and mix. Spoon out about one and a half teaspoon sized portions onto the pasta dough about an inch apart from one another and about 3/4 of an inch from the top edge of the dough. 

Then gently fold over the top part of the pasta dough.

Grandpa loved to watch Grandma in the kitchen and provide "help."
Make sure that all of the cheese you have distributed is covered by the pasta dough.

Take your finger and lightly press down between the dollops of ricotta. 

Then using either a ravioli stamp, a knife, or a measuring cup cut the individual ravioli. If you use a knife be sure to press the edges firmly together with a fork like I did with my empanadas.  This will prevent them from breaking open when you cook them. 


To cook the ravioli boil water with a pinch of salt and a dash of olive oil. Fresh pasta will cook faster than store bought pasta. When they're done, they'll float to the top. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Beer Bread

Things are finally getting back to normal after Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy. No more police at the gas stations, ridiculously long gas lines, power is slowly being restored and most of the trees that were downed are removed from the roads. The recovery is going to take a while but clearly as the following photo will show at least to a certain extent, our household was prepared for our two week blackout...

Hurricane Supplies... sort of. 

Bear in mind, these were only the supplies I was instructed to pick up before the storm hit, everyone else brought reinforcements. As the blackout continued the boys kept restocking and once the fridge started working again, we still had a whole cooler filled with "supplies." 

This recipe is incredibly easy to do. You should keep in mind that whichever beer you chose to use for your bread is going to really impact the flavor. I realized that I like there to be a bit of bite in this recipe so I used the Brooklyn Brewery's Oktoberfest.  

Brooklyn Brewery 
What you'll need: 

  • 3 cups of all purpose flour 
  • 3 tbsp. of sugar
  • 1 tbsp. of baking powder
  • 1 tsp. of salt
  • 2 tbsp. of honey
  • 1 bottle of 12 oz. beer (your choice) 
  • 4 tbsp of melted butter (approximately half a stick)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Mix the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder and salt) together in a bowl. Then, in a separate smaller bowl put the honey in the microwave for 3-5 seconds and mix with a small amount of the beer. This makes it easier to not only mix the honey in, mix into the dry mixture thoroughly along with the rest of your beer. 

Grease and flour a loaf pan. 

Now take half the butter and pour it into the bottom of the loaf pan. Add your batter, and top with the rest of your melted butter. It looks a little funky but it makes the top nice and crispy. 

Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, allow it to cool for 15 minutes and enjoy!

You could also add cheddar (1 cup) and jalapeños (1/4 cup) and serve with a bowl of chili, and a nice cold beer. 

If I was going to add the cheddar and jalapeños, I would omit the honey and use the following ingredients/proportions;

  • 3 cups of all purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 1 teaspoon of salt 
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of cheddar (shredded) 
  • 1/4 cup of jalapeños
  • 1 bottle of 12 oz. beer
  • 1/4 cup of butter
Add the cheddar and the jalapeños last after the rest of the batter has been prepared. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

"Fatalis Fatum" 2008

A red wine blended from Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Absolutely delicious! Serve with a roast beef or lamb dish. There is a very subtle underlying fruity flavor that I really enjoyed.

Sparkling Brut, Blanc de Blanc 2008

A light fruity sparkling wine made from Chardonnay grapes. Can be served with shrimp, scallops and a lobster bisque.

"Perle" Chardonnay 2009

From a Dijon Clone vines, aged 80% in oak barrels served with a salmon dish. It had a light nutty flavor.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tomatoes and Steak

Dinner doesn't have to be complicated, sometimes simple is best. We've grown a lot of tomatoes this summer and for dinner we had steak and tomato salad. Instead of the cherry tomatoes used in the previous recipe just supplement them with beefsteak tomatoes. Because they tend to be more "fleshy" you may have to let them sit longer in order to get the full flavor out of the tomatoes.

Brush your steak with extra light olive oil and then season the steak with coarsely ground black pepper, and coarsely ground sea salt.

Preheat the grill for 15 minutes, cook the steak for two minutes, turn it clockwise to get a nice grid allow it to cook another 2 1/2 minutes on the same side. Flip the steak and do the same to the other side.

If you want to be exact, you can get a meat thermometer rare steak will be 115-120 degrees, a medium rare will be from 125-130 degrees, and a medium steal will be from 135 to 140 degrees.

Personally I don't use a thermometer. Press the tip of your finger to the tip of your thumb If the steak feels like the fleshy part of your hand below the thumb then it's rare. Medium rare, touch the same spot on your hand while gently touching your middle finger to your thumb. Medium is the same method only touching your ring finger to your thumb and for well done touch your pinky to your thumb.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Braised Leg of Lamb with a Red Currant Glaze

There is this incredible little butcher near me that has the freshest cuts of meat around. I went in there with the intention of getting veal-shanks for Ossobuco but I didn't get there until after work and they had already sold out. So I got a leg of lamb. I decided to braise it to see if I could keep it from being too gamey, and I ended up being very happy with the results

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. 

Prep the meat with the spices and a little bit of flour. 
I used black pepper, onion powder, fresh thyme, garlic, chives and flour.

Take the pot that you will be cooking the lamb in, and heat it on the stovetop. I thought I would get a better sear on the fat using butter as opposed to olive oil.  

Sear all sides of the lamb, approximately 2-3 minutes per side. 

Add the liquid that you will be using. I used one part sparkling peach juice, 1 part red wine and 2 parts stock. 

Bake in the oven for 4 hours. 

20 minutes prior to removing the lamb from the oven add in the vegetables that you will be serving with it. I added potatoes, parsnips, carrots and leeks. 
Also, a simple way to do a glaze is to take a jelly and spread it over the meat just before you're about to remove it from the oven. Brush it liberally over the side of the leg and allow it to roast. 

Once you take it out of the oven you can reserve the juices and serve with the lamb once it is sliced and served. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Chicken, Zucchini, and Armenian String Cheese Bake

Before starting on the zucchini, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Marinate the chicken in white wine and rosemary. 

I was at the tail end of the bottle, so I used a Channing Daughters Mudd Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc. Delicious! 

Channing Daughters is a small winery out in Bridgehampton. The intimate tasting room and wonderful staff make it a must see if you're making your way out to the Hamptons.   

Put the marinated chicken in a baking dish and bake for approximately 20 minutes. 
Remove and reserve.

Prepping the Zucchini

I'm still making my way through the copious amounts of zucchini that has grown this summer. Due to their size, the zucchini has a "pithy" center. I prefer removing it because I find both the texture and the flavor to be distasteful. 

Sprinkle a small amount (approximately 1-2 tablespoons) of olive oil on a baking sheet.
Layout the zucchini the first sheet I baked I left the rings intact. However, in the interest of expediency I started cutting them in half for the bottom layers. 

Season with fresh thyme, chives, salt and pepper. 

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 12-15 minutes. 

Once you've finished baking all the zucchini, begin building the layers. I wanted to maintain the moisture  in both the chicken and the vegetables so I poured some of our family's tomato sauce at the bottom. 

I then began stacking zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and since I wanted it to be a little creamy, small amounts of goat cheese. 

Lay in your chicken.
I then took the whole zucchini rings from the first batch I baked, and placed them over the chicken. 

The top layer was topped with the armenian string cheese. 
I had so much fun pulling it apart, it's almost ridiculous. 

Bake for another 15 minutes. 

Eat up and enjoy!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Quick Lunch

I'm making a braised leg of lamb for dinner tonight and needed to make something quick and light for lunch. I made a quick tomato salad with cherry tomatoes and a single piece of Burrata mozzarella.

Tomato Salad:
- 2 containers of heirloom cherry tomatoes
- 1 clove of garlic minced
- 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- Shredded Basil leaves
- Pinch of Salt
- Black Pepper

Wash and slice the cherry tomatoes in half.
Mince the garlic & slice the basil.
Mix all the ingredients and serve with mozzarella.