Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Daring Bakers: Fanciful Filbert Cake

This month, the Daring Bakers really put my pastry skills to the test. Chris of Mele Cotte chose the filbert cake with praline buttercream from Carol Walter's Great Cakes.  While at first glance the recipe appeared intimidating, a second glance revealed it to be many mini recipes put together.  Still, I'd never made praline, or praline paste, and the cake looked like it could be temperamental.  And I wanted it to look pretty despite my less the adequate piping skills.  I must say that praline paste is easy and the resulting praline buttercream was AMAZING.  I was pleased that my ganache set with a shiny finish although my piping skills for the decoration were, as expected, less then adequate.  

I served this cake after battle oxtail, and it was met with acclaim.  P felt it was my most professional, french bakery like cake to date.  It was, but don't know if I prefer that type of cake.  I think I may just like a more casual, homestyle layer cake.  But this one is more of a challenge, which is the point of the daring bakers, after all.  I can't wait to see what' up next!

Friday, July 25, 2008

R2R: Thank George's Bank

Recipes to Rival is back with its second challenge and this time it's breakfast!!  Hooray for the often overlooked but as we all know, most important meal of the day!  I was happy to see that this selection by Belita included both hollandaise and a poached egg, which, in my opinion makes any recipe a winner.   Unfortunately, I had a few mishaps along the way with this one.  P and I had made a similar recipe before for mother's say brunch.  We had made a crab cake eggs benedict which was bangin' and I expected as much from this one. Unfortunately, I was a bit let down.

We replaced cod for haddock because it was available and cheap.  The fish cake "batter" came together well, although I added extra fresh herbs and a sea salt mix I have for fish to punch up the flavor.  I refrigerated them after forming to help them stay together while frying.  However, most of my cakes fell apart and did not brown evenly.  P had the brilliant idea of adding a few breadcrumbs to the surface of the last few, and those fared better in the cohesion department but still didn't brown as nicely as I would like.

Eggs were poached, easy peasy.  The secret is the vinegar in the water- they help the egg white stay together and not go all feathery and all over the place. 

I figured that despite the messiness of the cakes, all of which were serviceable just not picture perfect, the whole thing could be covered in the hollandaise and no one would be the wiser, right?  in theory, except when your HOLLANDAISE SEPARATES WHEN IT HITS THE PLATE.  That's right.  separates.  P and I have made Hollandaise with great success in the past- light, fluffy, fantastic.  This seemed a little more viscous when we made it but we still tasty, cohesive and saucy in the bowl.  On the place, however, well, you see the result.  disappointing, isn't it. 

Why, might you ask, did my sauce separate?  Online I found that it can separate due to coagulation or evaporation at standing.  Perhaps the viscosity i had noticed was actually coagulation?  I dunno, but at any rate it made me sad. 

While I love fancy breakfast recipes, and this one had potential to be an all-star, it needs some perfecting before I'll serve it again.  However, I did learn that my hollandaising needs some practice, so perhaps perfecting this recipe would be an excellent excuse for that!

Thank George’s Bank
(serves 4)

4 Black Dog Fishcakes (recipe follows)
2 teaspoons white vinegar
4 eggs for poaching
½ cup hollandaise sauce (recipe follows)
toast or breakfast bread of choice

1. Prepare fishcakes and hollandaise sauce.
2. Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add white vinegar and reduce the heat to a simmer.
3. Crack and gently drop in the eggs.
4. Simmer about 3-5 minutes or until whites are firm and yolks are done to your likes.
5. To serve: place each poached egg on a fishcake, cover with hollandaise sauce. Serve with your favorite breakfast sides.

Black Dog Fishcakes
(this says 4 patties, but even with wasting a lot on mistakes, I still got 6. I think this more yields 12)

These fishcakes are a popular Black Dog alternative to bacon or sausage. These are excellent for using up leftover potatoes!

2 cups cooked potatoes, mashed
1 pound skinless and boneless codfish
1 cup diced yellow onion
1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme (1 teaspoon dried)
1 teaspoon white pepper
1-2 teaspoons salt
1 egg, beaten
½ cup cream
2 tablespoons butter

1. If you don’t have leftover mashed potatoes, peel and dice two large potatoes. Boil in salted water for about 20 minutes or until soft. Mash and set aside.
2. Place fish in a steamer, cover with diced onion and seasonings. Cover and steam for 10-15 minutes or until the onion is cooked.
3. In a medium bowl, combine cooked fish and seasoned onions with the mashed potatoes. Mix in the egg and cream, divide into four patties.
4. Sauté the fishcakes in a sauté pan in butter over medium heat until browned.

Hollandaise Sauce
(from Joy of Cooking)

10 tablespoons (1¼ sticks) butter
3 large egg yolks
1½ tbsp cold water
½-2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
dash of hot pepper sauce
salt and white pepper to taste

1. Over low heat, melt the butter.
2. Skim the foam off the top and keep warm.
3. In a double boiler (or a bowl on top of a saucepan), place the egg yolks and water.
4. Off the heat, beat the yolks with a whisk until they are light and frothy.
5. Place on top of saucepan or double boiler and whisk continuously until eggs are thickened, 3-5 minutes, making sure the eggs don't get too hot.
6. Pour into a separate bowl to cool, and while whisking continuously, slowly add the butter, omiting the milk solids.
7. Whisk in the lemon juice, hot pepper sauce, salt, and white pepper.
8. If sauce is too thick, add a few drops warm water.
9. Serve immediately or you can keep it warm up to 30 minutes by placing the bowl in warm water.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Review by P: Anjou

anjou: Not recommended.

thank you,


206 Market St
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 923-1600

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Review: Osteria

Last night was our third visit to Osteria, to celebrate the birthday of my father-in-law.  We've always been thrilled with the service and the food, and were unsurprised to find that Marc Vetri et al had earned themselves a Beard award nomination for best new restaurant this year.  I'm sorry to report that we were slightly let down this time. 

The food was still generally up to snuff- the wood-oven pizza with homemade cottechino sausage and egg is as fantastic as I remember it, P's grilled chicken was more succulent and flavorful then chicken has any right to be.  My pork milanese was very crispy and well seasoned and toped with a lemony arugula salad.  The rigatoni with chicken liver ragu is still not to be missed- creamy and sage-y.  The special antipasto plate again was a disappointment for the charge.  The vegetables were good but not transcendent and a small portion considering the price. 

The food isn't the problem- it was the service and atmosphere which appeared to have changed.  We were seated on the "porch" which is a glassed  in addition.  It was freezing on a 95 degree day and the combination of glass and stone walls made it very noisy even though the nearest tables were at the other end.  My mother in law was using her napkin as a blanket, that is how cold it was. Our waitperson wasn't exactly the liveliest- which is fine, but I also felt she was pushing us with the up-sell over and over again. We were spending a considerable amount of money, but nothing wants to make me part with my money more then someone who is unobtrusively and repeatedly trying to get me to part with more of it. 
 I'm sure we will be back, but this time I'm not leaving with the feeling that I need to come back as soon as possible.  I can give it awhile before I'll need to give them another shot.

640 N Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19130

Osteria on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

TWD: Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler

so, even though I was less then a fan of the last cobbler, I went ahead and tried this one.  One, because I skipped out on blueberry pie and two because I love cherries.  I made these into mini cobblers which meant I got to use my teeny cookie scoop to do the crust.  Honestly, cookie scoops are a revelation.  Run, don't walk to your nearest cooking supply store or online retailer and buy yourself many.  You will not regret it.  I used to like to mock Marta Stewart for her drawer of cookie scoops while secretly coveting it, but now I will stop mocking and merely outwardly covet it.    I put it off getting one forever and am now shocked I lived without for so long.  Much like the miracle that is DVR.  Anyhow, back to the cobbler.  I found this recipe more successful then the last Dorie cobbler.  I guarded against being unhappy with the sweetness by upping the sugar in the dough.  I found the whole wheat flour added nice texture and nuttyness to the crust, and although i was wary about the ginger, it was just what the fruit needed.  I'm still not totally sold on cobblers, but I will in this instance thank Dorie for this one.  Leftovers also made a lovely breakfast (only in theory since one would never eat dessert, even fruity dessert for breakfast).

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

TWD: Chocolate Pudding!

who doesn't like pudding?  I thought that this recipe had a lot of questionable in and out of the food processor, but in the end it was reasonably simple and came out well.  here's a hint: you know how they say don't cook with a wine you wouldn't drink?  don't bake with a chocolate you wouldn't eat.  I was a bit short on the chocolate, so I added a bit of a Dagoba chocolate I didn't really care for, but the taste really came out in the pudding.  It's not as if I melted down a chocolate bunny, it's good quality chocolate, just not my taste.  not as if it stopped me from sampling, as you can see.  For those of you without pudding to eat, enjoy Barry and LeVon's tribute to pudding here.  check out my fellow TWD bloggers here

Monday, July 14, 2008

New Feature

You may have noticed a new feature on the site- a list of gelato flavors.  I'm a huge fan of Capogiro gelato and gelato in general.  I'm going to keep a list of the flavors I try in order to highlight their creativity and as as excuse to eat more gelato.  Check out what's new!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Review by P: 10 Arts by Eric Ripert

We were married on July 14 one year ago. Since our anniversary falls on Bastille Day, we headed out for a Gallically themed evening of seeing the local production of Les Miserablès, to be preceded by dinner at 10 Arts, the newest restaurant from celebrity chef and noted toaster oven enthusiast Eric Ripert.

I can't say I know too much about Ripert's other restaurants, but I know they have a reputation for well-executed, medium-concept French cuisine – not anything that is going to blow your mind, but a step up from the steak-frites-and-crême-brulée bistros that seem to be sprouting up everywhere like champignons. (OK, no more gratuitous French for the rest of this post. I promise. I took Spanish in high school anyway.) Going in with this frame of mind, I think we were satisfied, though not thoroughly enough impressed to be planning a trip back anytime soon.

The restaurant is located in the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton hotel, which is a magnificent space, but unfortunately lends that eating-in-a-hotel-lobby feel to the whole experience. This is definitely better than the eating-in-a-office-building-lobby feel of say, Rae, but still makes you think you're in town for a vacuum cleaner salesmen's convention rather than having a romantic evening out. Still, the space is tastefully appointed, with a nice bar, circular wine cellar in the center beneath the atrium's dome, and neat almost holographically-frosted glass panels that L. thought I spent way too much time talking about. We had pretty early reservations because of our tickets to the show, so it was still light out, which is unfortunate because I bet the whole deal is a lot more dramatic in the dark.

Oh, right – the food. For appetizers, L. got a warm goat cheese salad and I had tuna carpaccio. The salad was nice; though the dressing on the greens was a touch salty, the overall taste was light and bright, and the goat cheese was creamy and flavorful. My carpaccio was a disc of impossibly thin raw tuna (it looked more the color of salmon than tuna with the white plate showing through) dressed simply with lemon and a sprinkling of chives. Again, well done but nothing that will knock your socks off.

For the main course, I went with rabbit paillards served with arugula, peas and coarse mustard. The rabbit was thin and tender, though I really would have liked the breading to be crispier and a little less greasy. The peas were nice but more of them would have been appreciated. I'm a mustard fan so I dug the sauce, but L. is not, which is just fine because she ordered the bouillabaisse anyway. Its broth was delicious and quite rich, and the seafood itself included mussels, sea bass, and one of those shrimp that's so big you have to call it "prawn" or it will smack you with its tail.

We split a dessert, which was a jelly-roll type thing filled with peach mousse, served with tiny round peach nuggets and olive oil ice cream. Because it was our anniversary, they also gave us a plate with two each of strawberry macarons, fudgy chocolate triangles and blueberry gelées. I thought all of the desserts were awesome. The little macaron especially was just crazy light, to the point where it starts crumbling and deflating between your fingers on its way to your mouth. L. was not so enthusiastic about them, which is a surprise, since as you may have gathered from the rest of this blog, she does like her desserts.

Aside from the desserts, one thing I must give mad props to is the service. Everyone was exceptionally friendly and attentive (and as the saying goes) without being obtrusive.

With the exception of the $12-$14 drinks and wines by the glass, I don't think the prices were too excessive, especially for a restaurant situated in a hotel. If you are concerned about the prices, you can always make up a room number, sign the bill off to there and never come back. (Note: not recommended. Especially when the hotel is crawling with police for the National Governors' Convention which happened to be in town.)

Overall, in our experience, 10 Arts does most things competently and a few things exceptionally. Despite the Top Chef-judging, platinum-haired celebrity shine that you'd think the place should exude, I would by no means call it a "dining destination", but it is a pleasant enough place to have dinner if you're staying a few floors up and don't feel like stumbling upon a place in the neighborhood. Enjoyable but probably not worth a repeat. Though I might go back for dessert.

10 Arts
10 Avenue of the Arts
Philadelphia, PA 19102

10 Arts (Ritz-Carlton) on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Healthy Cookies?

About a year ago, I purchased the King Arthur Flour's Whole Grain Baking Cookbook in an attempt to incorporate those healthy whole grains into my not-so-healthy baking hobby.  When I opened the book, I realized that whole grain baking involved more then just whole wheat flour- who knew? The techniques are sometimes counterintuitive and it often involves sneaky additions like vinegar in the strangest places.  I took some children on a trip and I decided to make a nice treat for those who decided to behave.  Since I'm trying to inspire healthy food choices in these kids, why not sneak in some whole grains in an innocent chocolate chip cookie? (not that that makes up for the butter, sugar, and oil, but at least it adds some nutritional value).  They ate them happily and asked for more, which is a good sign.  They passed my taste-test too, crispy and light, not the expected heavy taste that you sometimes get from whole wheat flour.  These cookies use barley flour a well as whole wheat, which, according to King Arthur, lends a mild flavor.  The only caveat is that they call for a LOT of chocolate chips.  I'm not complaining or anything, I'm just saying, these cookies will be LOADED with chocolate, so cut back if you like more cookie to chip balance. 

Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies
from King Arthur Flour's Whole Grain Baking

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp espresso powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 tb cider vinegar
1 lg egg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup barley flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
2 2/3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment OR a silpat) 2 baking sheets. In a large bowl, beat together the butter, oil, sugars, vanilla, espresso powder, and salt till smooth. Beat in the vinegar, egg, baking powder and baking soda. Stir in the barley flour and wheat flour, then the chips. The dough will appear oily, and because of the quantity of chips, it won't be completely cohesive; that's ok.

Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls, onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 15-17 minutes, until the cookies are an even golden color. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before transfering to wire rack. Yield: 30 cookies

Monday, July 7, 2008

Battle Oxtail

A few weeks ago, P and our friend J decided that they were going to match culinary wits in an iron-chef style battle.  Secret (well not so secret, but theme,) ingredient: oxtail.  Neither had cooked with it before. There was a fiasco of coming up with the rules.  How many dishes?  How much oxtail could they use?  When H and I tried to offer helpful suggestions (for example, use Iron Chef judging categories of plating, originality, taste), they men decided that the wives were "meddling" and that "it wasn't fun anymore."  So fine, we stayed out of where we weren't wanted, and just showed up to eat.  Our husbands felt we would each be bias against our own spouse, so they had equal footing.  We all agreed this needed to be documented in the blogosphere to make it really count.

the rules? (as decided upon without the meddling, bothersome input from the wives)
-2 dishes per competitor
-each competitor would receive an equal amount of product (4 large, 2 small oxtails)
-product must be purchased together from the same place (Espositos on 9th street)

the results?
well, there were some missteps from both sides.  First course was very shaky, second course brought some tough decisions.  Here's the run down (all recipes at the end of the post):

First course- J 
Oxtail and Porcini Ravioli with a Red Wine Reduction
this dish had a great concept- fresh ravioli with herb infused dough, filled with braised oxtail, porcini, and more fresh herbs.  The sauce was a delicate reduction of the braising stock.  Only problem- the ravioli were very undercooked.  ruh-roh!  The dough may have been a bit thick as well, but there is no telling due it being close to raw. 

First Course- P
Seared Oxtail Ribbon with Blueberry Sauce or "Babe the Blue Ox"
There is a reason that people braise oxtail.  that reason is all the fat, tendon, membrane, and other connective tissues that surround the meat.  P had this revolutionary idea to make an "ethereal" dish of seared 'ribbons' of the meat which he would carefully butcher away from all the chewy detritus. He did a trial run of this and was able to somehow get himself an edible piece of meat.  When he made the dish for the actual event, he was not so successful.  I had to spit my first bite out.  It was like chewing a rubber ball.  My husband is an amazing cook.  He has never, ever, served me something inedible.  until now.  H's piece was totally edible.  J's was like mine.  P switched with me but I still couldn't finish. Clementine (bestdogintheworld) appreciated the scraps. The Blueberry sauce was very good and has potential with many other applications, including, perhaps, duck.  I would have like a bit of acid in it though. But the flavor was very clean and well, the sauce was purple, which gives it extra points automatically.

Second Course- J
Daube of Oxtail with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
This dish was the winner of the night for me.  It involved a pigs foot, and after knowing that, I still ate it.  Daube is a classic french peasant's dish that sounds like a complicated braise.  Wikipedia tells me that for best flavor, daubes are made in several stages and allowed to cool overnight for the flavors to meld.  I know J did just that.  The sauce was rich, meaty, just sweet enough and the meat was fall- apart tender. He used a serrano ham and a pig's foot to lend a porky deliciousness to the entire dish.  The roasted garlic mashed potatoes were pretty good, too.  What's not good about potatoes, roasted garlic, butter and cream?

Second Course- P
Hickory Smoked Oxtail Braised in Guinness with Polenta and Collards
This dish of P's was far more successful in that it was edible.  Actually, it was very very good.  It was H's favorite preparation of the oxtail.  P's first smoked the oxtail on the barbecue with hickory chips, then braised it with some carrots and such in guinness for a long time.  The smoky flavor complemented the meat well without overpowering it, and the guinness added a subtle richness.  It wasn't braised for days, so it wasn't as tender as the previous dish, but it was still very tender and tasty. I also give P points for including a vegetable, although I don't feel as if it really incorporated with the rest of the dish.  Also the collards were a bit gritty from not being properly cleaned and the polenta was not prepared with the proper water to cornmeal ratio so it was a bit mushy.

The winner?
Overall, I give J more points for final execution (although undercooking the ravioli is close to unforgiveable) and P more points for creativity and originality.  J used classical preparations that succeeded overall, while P took risks with original recipes that fell short in parts.  As the men predicted, H and I each voted against our spouses, making it a tie.  Then both guys did this whole self-depricating bit where they said that the other person's dish was better, their own was so bad, blah blah blah.  I think the only fair way to decide is for each competitor to stand on opposite ends of the room with their dishes, put Clementine in the middle, and see who she runs to first.  Or YOU, the readers can decide.  Which would you rather eat?

Epilogue: J's Rye Dill Bread

J, quite the boulanger, made two delightful rye loaves for us to eat along with dinner. They were too pretty not to be documented (after we ate the first one).  I realized it's not rye I don't like, it's caraway.  This loaf didn't have too much caraway.  Even though I don't like caraway OR dill, I like this bread. 

Now, for the recipes

J's Recipes

Oxtail and Porcini Ravioli with a Red Wine Reduction

1 lb oxtails, trimmed of fat
½ bottle (375 ml) red wine
1.5 cups beef broth
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 oz dried porcini
2 tbsp butter
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
½ tbs fresh rosemary
½ tsp dried tarragon
½ tbs fresh thyme
¾ tbs cornstarch
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 450°.
2.Trim excess fat from oxtails. Season with salt and pepper, and place in an enameled Dutch oven. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes, turning once.
3. Add wine, broth, vinegar, rosemary, tarragon, and thyme to pan. Stir gently to mix and scrape browned bits free.
4. Cover and bake in a 325° regular oven until meat is very tender, about 2 1/2 hours.
5. De-fat the braising liquid.. Boil, uncovered, over high heat, until reduced to 1.5 cups. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water until smooth. Stir into braising liquid, and stir until mixture boils and thickens. Taste and, if desired, add 1 to 2 more teaspoons vinegar.
6. Discard bones and shred meat.
7. In a medium skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add onion and carmelize. In the meantime, soak the dried porcini in boiling water for 20 minutes.
8. Chop mushrooms and add to the skillet, along with the shredded oxtails. Cook briefly and set aside.

To make the ravioli
2 Large eggs and 1 egg white
½ tsp salt
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp finely diced fresh thyme and/or rosemary

Form flour, salt, and herbs into a mound with a well in the middle. Into the well pour the beaten eggs and olive oil. Work the egg into the flour with your fingertips until it forms a smooth, rather stiff dough. If it is too crumbly, add water, or if it is too sticky, add flour. Knead the dough for about ten minutes, divide in half, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rest for 20 or 30 minutes.

Roll out dough by hand, and then pass through pasta roller. Cut desired size squares or circles.
Place filling in center, wet edges with water, and place another circle/square on top and seal the edges.
To cook, gently place in boiling water and remove when floating. Serve with red wine sauce.

Daube of Oxtail
adapted from The Cooking of Southwest France by Paula Wolfert.

4 1/2–5 1/2 pounds oxtail, cut into pieces
1 pig’s foot, split
3/4 lb slab salt pork
1 tbsp olive
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1 bottle Syrah, Cabernet, or Merlot
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
Herb bouquet: 3 sprigs parsley, 1 sprig thyme, and 1 bay leaf, tied together
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 oz Serrano ham  

1. The day before serving, preheat the oven to 275°F. Trim fat from oxtails.
2. Blanch the pig’s foot and salt pork in boiling water for 3 minutes, then drain.
Slice the rind off the salt pork and reserve. Cube and divide the salt pork into 2 batches.
In a large skillet, heat the oil and slowly cook half the salt pork until the cubes turn golden brown, about 10 minutes.
Line an enameled cast-iron 5- or 6-quart casserole or Dutch oven with pork rind, fat side down. Transfer the browned salt pork to the casserole.
3. Season the oxtail pieces with salt and pepper, and brown in the skillet over moderately high heat. Transfer the pieces to the casserole as they finish browning.
4. Remove and discard half the fat in the skillet. Cook onions in remaining hot fat until golden brown. Add onions to casserole or Dutch oven.
5. Deglaze the skillet with 1 cup of the wine. Boil down to a glaze. Add another 1 cup of wine and repeat. Add the remaining wine, vinegar, and 1 1/2 cups water. Bring just to a boil and pour over the meats. Add pig’s foot, herb bouquet, and garlic. Cover and place in oven; cook very slowly for 3 hours without disturbing.
6. Remove oxtail to a bowl and cover. Remove the meat from the calf’s food while still warm and place in a food processor. Add the remaining salt pork cubes, the cooked pork rind, cooked garlic, and the ham. Grind to a smooth paste.
7. Strain the cooking liquid, pushing down on the onions to extract all their juices. Remove as much fat as possible and pour the juices into a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to moderate, and boil slowly, skimming from time to time, until reduced by one third.
8. Carefully return the pieces of oxtail to the casserole and spread the meat paste on top. Add the reduced liquid. Cover and bake in a 275°F. oven for 2 ½ hours without disturbing.
9. Remove the casserole from the oven; transfer the oxtails to a work surface; discard any loose bones. Season with salt and pepper, place in a bowl, and cover and refrigerate. Separately, cover and refrigerate the cooking liquid

10. About 2 ½ hours before serving, preheat the oven to 275°F. Remove the jellied liquid from the refrigerator and lift off all congealed fat. Combine liquid and meat in the casserole, cover and reheat the daube without stirring for 1 ½ hours.
11. Remove the oxtails to a deep heatproof platter. Cover with foil and keep warm in the turned-off oven. Strain the sauce into a small saucepan. Bring the sauce to a boil and cook at a slow boil, until sauce lightly coats a spoon about 20 minutes. Pour over the meat and serve hot.

Caraway and Dill Rye Bread

1 cup + 3tbs water
2 tbsp sugar
1 ¼ cups rye flour
2 cups bread flour
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp vital wheat gluten
2 ¼ tsp instant yeast
1 tbsp dried dill
2 tbsp caraway seeds
½ cup sour cream

Proof the yeast in 3 tbsp water.
Combine the sugar, rye flour, bread flour, salt, wheat gluten, remaining water, and yeast mixture in a mixing bowl. Let stand for 20 minutes.
Add the remaining ingredients and mix, and then knead (by hand or using a stand mixer) until the dough forms a smooth, slightly sticky ball. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise approximately two hours, or until doubled in bulk.
Gently form the dough into two small loaves or boules. Bread may be formed in banettons if desired. Cover lightly with a lint free cloth and let rise another two hours, or until nearly doubled.
Place a baking stone on the middle oven rack, with a shallow metal dish on the rack below it. Preheat oven to 500˚ F.
Slash the top of the bread with a lame or sharp knife. Slide bread onto stone, and pour 1 cup boiling water into pan beneath the baking stone. Close the over door. After 45 seconds, spray the interior oven walls with water. Close oven door and reduce heat to 350˚ F.
Bake approximately 30 minutes, until an instant read thermometer registers 190˚ F to 200˚F when inserted into the middle of the loaf.
Remove to wire rack and allow to cool.

P's Recipes (please excuse my husband's poor recipe writing skills.  he doesn't use them, so I don't think he knows what they are supposed to look like)

"Babe the Blue Ox"

the sauce was two oxtail bones roasted at 350 for 30 minutes. then, covered with water and simmered low for 2-3 hours. skim fat/crap as it bubbles up. added about 1/2 cup of blueberries, cooked down another 30 minutes, strained.

oxtail itself was just meat removed from bones, flattened out via cuts, salted and seared for about 1 minute on each side.

Smoked Oxtail Braised in Guinness
moke whole oxtails with hickory chunks for 30-45 minutes
finely dice one one onion and one carrot, cook in a little olive oil until onion is translucent. add 1 tsp madras curry powder, 2 bay leaves, salt, pepper, 1/4 tsp allspice. cook down for 2 minutes or so and then add 1 can of Guinness.

get liquid simmering then add previously smoked oxtails. cover and put in 225° oven for 4-5 hours. take out occasionally to flip oxtails around and skim fat.

remove oxtails and let cool a bit. pull meat off of bones. skim fat from liquid and put on stove to reduce to desired consistency. add meat back in, cover and hold in low oven until ready to serve.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Fideos with Clams and Cauliflower

When I saw this recipe from Top Chef on Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy it looked irresistible.  Plus, we had cauliflower growing in our garden and this seemed like a good use for it.  I had never worked with fideos before, but it looked like a challenge I was ready to take on. I made this in my paella pan, not in individual dishes, and with the saffron and the clams, it felt a bit like paella's creamier, more sophisticated cousin.  

 I'll admit that I got perplexed a time or two while making this recipe, like how will a pound of pasta cook down to edible with only a 1/2 cup of liquid?  and how is this cream mixture not going to be positively soupy? I admit I didn't use the whole pound of pasta as it wouldn't all fit in my pan.  But keep the faith, stick it under the broiler, and it will all come out right, I promise. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

TWD: Apple Cheddar Scones

I almost skipped out on this week's recipe.  We had a busy weekend and I spent all day today dragging behaviorally challenged elementary school children around historic Philadelphia.  But I came home, sat for a bit and forged ahead.  I am glad I did because this has been my favorite of he four recipes I've done so far!  I found it a snap to make (i didn't find the dough as problematically sticky as my fellow TWDers) and the flavor is subtle but rich.  I love the combination of fruit and cheese (who doesn't?) and it comes through wonderfully in these scones.  They are light and just crumbly enough.  I did take the liberty of adding some freshly grated nutmeg, cause it goes oh so well with the feature ingredients.  Today, I'm a happy blogger.  Check out The Floured Apron, where host Katrina has posted the whole recipe.