It’s been a while since we last posted. In these last months Flavory Savory has undergone many growth pains…all good. We will be back in a few months with a redesigned website and a new look. Flavory Savory will be dedicated to educating people on the techniques and joy of fine cooking. Since my last post I have taught many cooking classes and recognize the hunger for websites dealing with good eating, simple quality ingredients, sustaining our cherished environment, and keeping the whole thing relaxed and fun.
To that end, wish us luck. We’ll see you soon.
Over the past weeks we’ve experienced substantial growth and have gained many friends. It’s time to reward that loyalty. For the next few months we will undergo major reconstruction to our site. Our readers will have access to simplified printing, e-mail lists, searches, video and audio, and a cooking technique archive. You’ll also see a much needed facelift to the site. Our new blog site will make a delicious dialogue easy as pie.
We’ll keep you updated on progress and ask that you hang in there while we grow some new bones…ouch.
We’re finally back again after teaching two ‘I died and went to Carboholic Heaven’ cooking courses at local schools. “Much Ado About Gnocchi” and “Risotto Rules.” turned out to be exciting and successful. Our students were stellar and left well fed and much wiser. Marge and I can finally take a deep breath catch up on “Flavory Savory.” We’ll fill you in on the tasty details of our classes in a future post.
Easter came and left like the “Good & Plenty” freight train, loud, flashy, and chocked full of good things to eat. And what do you do at 6 AM on Easter morning when the house is sound asleep, not even a peep, except from our dachshund…who wanted to eat? You make Irish Soda Bread of course.
I rejected using my weary old soda bread recipes, tried and true but ever so boring. I opted for a variation of an Ina Garten soda bread that I had seen her make a few weeks earlier. It looked simple, delicious, and was done entirely in a KitchenAid. (A bit noisy for a my quiet morning house but massively efficient) With a few modifications and alterations, I was able to pop the dough into the oven in less than thirty minutes. (Move over Rachel!)
Let me warn you. This dough is very, very wet and sticky. I found myself wearing it as much as working it. Use tons of flour on your board and hands to keep the dough and your sanity together. The original recipe calls for shaping the dough into a single loaf, too massive to lift. I’ve modified the recipe so you can make two smaller loaves and freeze one. Add a tablespoon or so of caraway seeds along with the raisins if your fancy travels in that direction.
So here it is…enjoy some warm Irish soda bread today. And please don’t scold with the feared question…”Another bread recipe??”
IRISH SODA BREAD
Adapted from an Ina Garten Recipe
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for board and raisins
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups cold buttermilk
2-large eggs, lightly beaten
Zest of one orange
1 cup dark or golden raisins
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or Silpat and spray with Pam or similar. This bread tends to stick.
Add the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a KitchenAid or similar mixer with the paddle attachment. Add the cold butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour and the size of small peas, around 1 minute.
Lightly beat the buttermilk, eggs, and orange zest together in a large measuring cup with a fork or whisk. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the mixture for brushing on the loaves. With the mixer on slow speed, carefully add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and mix just until combined. Toss the raisins with a few tablespoons of flour in a bowl and then into the dough on slow speed. Remember, I said that this dough will be quite wet and sticky.
Scoop out the dough onto an amply-floured board and knead for a minute or so into a large ball. Use as much flour as needed to work the dough. Divide the ball in half and shape into two round loaves. Place the loaves on the prepared sheet pan and cut a shallow X into the top of each loaf with a serrated knife. Brush each loaf with the reserved buttermilk mixture.
Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until a knife or tester comes out clean. The internal temperature of the loaves should be at least 200 degrees F. The loaf should have a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom.
Cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature with softened butter or jam.
Makes 1 giant loaf or 2 manageable loaves
Baking lemon scones should be a cake walk, or better yet, a biscuit walk. After all, aren’t scones just glorified biscuits in formal attire? Most scone recipes require that you to sift some flour, sugar, baking powder and salt, then cut in cold butter, add some liquid, knead the dough ever so lightly, shape it, bake it, and just like a biscuit…you try again.
I’ve been driven to tears, as has my long suffering but no longer patient wife over lemon scones. She’s had it with my whining and tossing lemon rinds and colorful epithets. I’m truly sorry. This recipe should have been posted weeks ago but I just could not get the “pucker-factor” right. I tried adding lemon zest to the dough…blah, blah, boring…barely a hint of citrus. Then it was on to adding zest plus ten tablespoons of lemon juice to replace the milk. My eyeballs remain crossed from acute lemon-scone-acid poisoning. After spending almost twenty bucks on those little yellow sour suckers, I thought of chucking the whole idea.
As luck and fortune would have it, last week I came upon an old Bon Appetit recipe that re-vitalized my cerebral scone cells. I conducted wild experiments on the recipe, changing quantities and ingredients like a mad scientist and finally created a lemon scone I could share without fear of death threats. These are biscuity scones, light, lemony, and ready to crumble when prodded with a raspberry laden spoon. Since there are no eggs in the recipe, they don’t resemble the cakey, coffee shop scones widely available (dastardly calling these monstrous creations scones).
Best of all, you can actually knead this dough for a minute or two and still produce flaky scones. I did go overboard though and add walnuts and cranberries for looks and texture. (And to cover as many food groups as possible to increase nutritional value of course…)
You can use regular lemons for these scones. I happened to have some Meyer lemons in the house and added the juice. Meyer lemons are essentially a cross between a lemon and an orange. They add a richness and sweet citrus touch, but the scones will taste less of lemon.
Lemon Scones, With Walnuts And Cranberries.
Makes 12 Scones
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into slices
3/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 - 1 cup cold half and half
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Preheat to 375°F. Position rack in middle of oven.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat. Whisk the 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice in a small bowl for the glaze and set aside.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, lemon zest, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Cut in the chilled butter using your fingertips, pastry cutters, or a food processor. The flour should resemble coarse meal with some pea size pieces of butter. Mix in cranberries and walnuts.
Add 1/2 cup half and half and 2 tablespoons lemon juice to the dry ingredients. Toss with a fork until dough comes together in moist clumps. Add more half and half until dough just comes together and is no longer dry. Gather dough into a ball and knead very lightly for a minute or two. Divide the dough in half. Press out each half with your palms onto a floured surface to form a 6-inch-diameter round, about 1 inch high. Cut each round into 6 wedges with a knife of bench scraper. Transfer wedges to baking sheet and brush with lemon-sugar glaze.
Bake scones until lightly golden and tester comes out clean, about 15-18 minutes. Right after removing from oven, spoon any leftover laze over hot scones. Serve warm or at room temperature with raspberry jam and crème fraiche.
Gnocchi are basically dumplings, and can be made of almost any ingredients that can be formed into dough. At their best, gnocchi are feathery light pillows of creamy heaven. We’ve all tasted less than feathery versions.
Today gnocchi are primarily made with potatoes, which have become traditional in Italy. The potatoes are often combined with other vegetables, especially fall squash. Other types of gnocchi are made with semolina flour, milk, and cheese, then topped with more cheese and baked (also known as Gnocchi alla Romana), and then there are the “gnocchi gnudi” (”naked gnocchi”) from Tuscany made of ricotta cheese and spinach. I love them all…each and every one.
We took on the task of making butternut squash gnocchi last week for an upcoming course I’ll be teaching. The browned butter and sage sauce is nutty and makes good friends with the creamy flavor of the butternut squash.
Crafting gnocchi can be frustrating for any of us. The dough seems impossible to form without adding tons of flour. But the technique is simple and there are a few ways to keep the lead out of our gnocchi.
Potatoes: it is important to choose the right type of potato. The potato needs to be floury, with minimum water content. The best are old Idaho and Russet potatoes, low in water and high in starch, the older the better. Dryness and starch content increase with aging. Waxy new potatoes do not make good gnocchi.
Water is our enemy! More water in our ingredients will require that we use more flour in our dough. More flour creates heavyweight gnocchi. Bake rather than boil your potatoes to keep out moisture. Drain the squash if possible. Place the cooked squash in a cheesecloth lined colander sitting in a bowl, cover and put in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. The amount of water in the bowl may surprise you. If you don’t have time, the gnocchi dough may need a bit more flour but should still be quite good. Get out every ounce of water and your gnocchi beg to float away.
Don’t fret over making the ridges in the gnocchi. Look at the photos and do you best. It takes a bit of practice and time to become a good “gnocchi ridger”. Try the mini meatballs at first.
By the way, the photos in this post make our finish gnocchi appear the size of golf balls. In fact they’re a little bigger than 1/2 inch. We made some of the gnocchi with ridges and some as rounds for variety.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH GNOCCHI WITH BROWN BUTTER & SAGE SAUCE
1 1/2 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed,
-cut into 6 pieces (You should end up with around 1 pound)
1 large Russet or baking potato, around 1 lb (or two 1/2 pounders)
1 large egg, beaten lightly
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour or as needed
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 fresh sage leaves, julienned into 1/8 inch ribbons
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Instructions for Gnocchi:
1. Bring a large pot (6 quarts or more) of salted water to a moderate boil over high heat.
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prick the potato several times so that moisture can escape during baking. Put the squash pieces on a lightly oiled or nonstick baking or cookie sheet and cover with foil. Bake both until a knife pierces them easily, about 1 hour. Let the potato and squash stand until barely cool enough to handle.
Peel the potato, cut it into large chunks and pass them through a ricer directly onto a work surface or a sheet tray. Then put the squash through the ricer directly on top of the riced potato. (You can use a food mill if you don’t have a ricer. Don’t mash the potatoes or you’ll end up with a gummy mess) With a fork spread the potato-squash mixture out until it is around 1/2 inch thick without pressing or compacting it and let it cool to room temperature.
3. When the mixture is completely cooled, transfer it to a clean work surface if it is on a pan or tray. Drizzle the beaten egg over the mixture. Sprinkle with nutmeg and salt. Scatter 1 cup flour over the mixture
Working quickly and gently, use a bench scraper to reach underneath the ingredients and lightly toss them together to chop and combine. Continue lightly mixing the ingredients without kneading using the scraper and your hand until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
4. Begin kneading the dough very gently, not like you would for bread dough. If the dough feels sticky sprinkle on a little more flour. Try to use as little flour as necessary to form a dough that is slightly moist but firm and not tacky. Kneading should take no longer than 2-3 minutes. When the dough feels soft and smooth, shape it into a thick log. With a knife of your scraper, cut the log into 6 equal rounds.
Test a few gnocchi in boiling water to check for the right amount of flour.
5. Dust the dough, your hands, and the work surface lightly with some of the remaining flour. Working with 1 round at a time, lightly flatten it with your palm, then use both palms to roll the dough into a rope 1/2 inch thick, flouring the dough if necessary as you roll to keep it from sticking. Add flour to your work surface or your palms as needed to prevent sticking.
When you have completed making all the ropes line them up 3 at a time and use the scraper or a knife to slice the ropes into 1/2-inch-wide nuggets. Flour the nuggets lightly and gently toss them with the flour to prevent sticking.
6. Now you are ready to shape the gnocchi. Hold the tines of a fork at a 45-degree angle to the table with the concave part facing up. Pick up a nugget with your thumb and index finger, grasping it on the cut sides. Place it on the tines of the fork as far from the end as possible. With your thumb gently press the nugget with a forward movement so that it curls slightly. One side will have the indentations from the tines; the other side will be slightly concave from your thumb. Keep the finished gnocchi on a floured baking sheet until you make them all. Do half the gnocchi with ridges. With the other half, form the nuggets into balls, place them on the floured baking sheet and press down lightly.
7. Carefully drop the gnocchi, a few dozen at a time, into the boiling water, stirring gently with a wooden spoon. Cook the gnocchi until they rise to the surface of the water. Wait about 30 seconds to 1 minute (depending on the size) and remove them from the water with a slotted spoon or skimmer, draining them well, and transfer to a wide skillet holding the heated sauce.
Note: If the gnocchi start to fall apart in boiling water, you need more flour. If the gnocchi don’t float after 2 minutes, you probably used too much flour.
Instructions for Sauce:
1. Melt butter in a large skillet or pan over medium heat and cook until the foam subsides and the butter begins to lightly brown. Add the sage leaves and a pinch of salt and pepper.
2. Add the gnocchi to the browned butter, tossing lightly and carefully to coat. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.
Marge and I are muffin freaks. For me, the sin of choice is brimming with nuts, dried fruit, pumpkin, sugar, molasses, butter…the things that make food taste really good. When my daughter suggested a muffin starring applesauce and oat bran cereal, it wasn’t a leap to imagine eating dry cardboard and everyone shouting “delicious” as their noses grew to infinite dimensions. I don’t even like recipes that begin with the words, “Oat Bran”.
Everyone now know that I was wrong as dumb can be. I should have trusted that my daughter recognized real flavor…genetics of course. The Oat Bran Applesauce Muffins are a creation from Hodgson Mill, an Illinois company producing whole grain and organic products like flour corn meal, cereals and pastas. The recipe is displayed on the Hodgson Mill website. Their oat bran cereal needed for these muffins is available in most grocery stores of from Hodgson Mill directly.
The muffins are surprisingly meaty and moist. Lightly sweet and grainy with a hint of toasted apple, they are great for snacking…and quite filling. Once again, I’m giving you a quick make-and-bake food. You won’t spend more than fifteen minutes from “first longing” to “in the oven.” This is starting to sound like an infomercial but these muffins are dynamite. Delicious and good for you…what a novel idea. There are only two left in the batch we made a few days ago.
PS. I haven’t forgotten the lemon scones. I wasn’t happy with the initial results and have reworked the recipe and method. I’ll have them posted soon.
Oat Bran Applesauce Muffins
½ cup brown sugar packed
1 ½ cups oat bran hot cereal (Like Hodgson Mill)
1 ½ cups unbleached white flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs or 4 egg whites
1 cup applesauce chilled
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners or grease individual cups. Blend sugar, cereal, flour, baking powder and soda, and salt together. Add eggs, applesauce, and vegetable oil. Mix until well blended, but do not over mix. Spoon into liners or prepared muffin cups. Let stand 10 minutes. Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from muffin pan and cool.
I spend more than a bit of time enjoying food blogs. The writing, recipes, photos and ideas are often refreshing and entertaining, especially true with the best of the best. My personal “best of the best” is undoubtedly Smitten Kitchen, written in New York City in a tiny kitchen by Deb Perelman and her husband Alex.
Dictionary.com defines “smitten” as:
1. Struck, as with a hard blow
2. Grievously or disastrously stricken or afflicted
3. Very much in love.
I vote for door number three. Five minutes and it’s apparent how Deb is in love with her work. This award winning site is years beyond wonderful. The mouth watering recipes and tantalizing photos bring me back to the same pages over and over. You need to link to Smitten Kitchen…but only if you have at least a half hour for the Disney World of food blog fantasy.
I ran across Deb’s post for Black Bread last week and couldn’t stop obsessing on the photos. The recipe is for a rich pumpernickel style bread and was posted in on April 29th of last year. I made the bread yesterday, finally giving in to an almost irresistible urge. Hours and countless steps later, I fetched the loaves from the oven. My photos above and below cannot express how every bite was moist and cakelike brought me to my shabby knees. And although the recipe is neither for the faint of heart nor for those who need a quick yeasty fix, the result more than rewards the effort.
Click on the link for Smitten Kitchen’s Black Bread and give it a whirl. Let your kitchenaid or mixer do most of the kneading, around 5-7 minutes worth once the dough has pulled away from the bowl. Otherwise, just follow Deb’s instructions.
I warn you…be prepared to become a Smitten Kitchen groupie as have I.
We have a custom at our house. When bananas ripen to at least the black polka dot stage, one of two things will take place. We wait a few more days and enjoy the honey like sweetness…or we throw them into a plastic bag to hibernate in the freezer. And when fancy strikes on an icy day in January and we want a sweet and nutty bread that comes together in 15 minutes and is on the table in about an hour, we know just what to do.
This great “warm me up from this horrible winter” banana bread is quick and very easy to prepare. If Marge and I work together, we can have the batter ready in ten minutes. She will rescue three of the frozen, now quite black fruit from the freezer and quickly warm them up in the microwave. I will whip the sugar, eggs, shortening, and now mashed bananas together with a splash of vanilla. Marge, already having whisked together flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder, dumps all into my wet mix. We fold in some chopped nuts of our choice, scrape the batter into a prepared loaf pan and we’re done for the day. Sixty minutes later the aromas waft lazily throughout the house, the bread hops out of the oven and in ten minutes the butter is melting…on our bread and in our mouth.
So here is our gift to the lovingly indolent cooks like us…very little effort…truly great results…
NUT SPLITTIN’, NO FUSSIN’, BANANA BREAD
1 cup white sugar (or 1/2 cup white sugar and 1/2 cup dark brown sugar)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 very ripe bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup roughly chopped nuts of your choice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan with canola oil, or prepare with butter and flour.
Whip sugar, eggs, oil, mashed bananas and vanilla with electric mixer until smooth and creamy, around 2-3 minutes. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in another bowl. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix just until moistened. Fold in nuts.
Pour into loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick or thin knife inserted into bread comes out clean. Remove from oven, cool on rack in pan for 5 minutes. Remove from pan and cool slightly on rack. Serve warm with softened butter or fruit preserves. Add a dollop of crème fraiche or sour cream for a rich touch.
COMING SOON…ULTIMATE LEMONY SCONES!!!
Happy New Year to all who shared our online table in 2009. We wish joy and tasty pleasures to our yet-to meet friends in 2010. We’re planning a superb menu for the upcoming year. The entrees include:
-The Secrets of Bountiful Biscotti
-A Ham and Egg Salad To Make Chickies Proud
-Much Ado About Gnocchi
-Risotto Rules of the Road
-Scones, Not Stones
We would love to hear your ideas for future recipes or anything else you care to share. Just go to the the bottom of this or any post, click on comments, and let her rip. We’ll see to you soon.
Jim, Marge, and Mr. Darcy
We got a bit of snow in southeast PA last weekend…a wee bit to the tune of 14 inches or so. When I finally dared to glance at the back yard, the dark outline of our Weber gas grill loomed like a submarine churning the Arctic ice. It was very cold and very nasty out there. Our curious dachshund, Mr. Darcy, glanced up at me from the doorway with an icy stare as if to say, “You want to go out there…go right ahead.”
In our fridge in the garage a small prime rib roast sat patiently waiting to share a hot oven with two sweet potatoes hiding in the crisper. Marge and I had planned to enjoy the snow-day with an elegant and hopefully romantic meal…cooked in our warm and cozy kitchen.
I’m not sure when I realized that our lonely Weber, quietly freezing in the empty yard, had been desperately trying to catch my attention. It craved the heat and begged for my help. There was only one thing to do.
I lost no time in trimming and tying the roast, dusting it with salt and pepper, and giving a quick massage with olive oiled fingers. After donning a scarf, gloves, hat and coat to ward off the frost, I entered the icy abyss, meat in hand. Marge seemed quite amused as I fired up the black monster to nearly 600 degrees. The snow and ice began to melt into little puddles around the base of the grill. The warmth felt grand. I slid my trophy roast onto the blazing grates, listened to the screaming sizzle, got my first nostrilful of caramelized fat, and settled into my frosty backyard chair. It had a sort of ‘Survivor” feel.
Marge pretended to participate by wrapping the two sweet potatoes in layers of aluninum foil (a warm sweet potato coat against the harsh wind). We threw the shiny packets onto the grill with the roast, lowered the heat, dropped the cover, and retreated to the warm kitchen where we kept vigil through the small window over the sink.
Two hours later, our table was decked out with buttered veggies crusted brown with parmesan bread crumbs, a zingy horseradish sauce for the ribs, and a lone stick of very soft butter. The temperature on the meat thermometer signaled a 130 degree warning, so I ran outside and carted the meat and potatoes into the kitchen (I would have preferred 125 degrees but you have to know which battles to fight). The sweet potato packets felt awfully soft through the hot foil. They probably had been done an hour earlier and were quite peeved about having to stay outside.
After a ten minute rest (for the beef), we reverently sliced through the center of the wonderfully crusty two-rib roast. It glowed crimson and juicy. We dug into the meltingly delicious meat with the horseradish sauce providing a zingy zap. Mr. and Mrs. Sweet potato wore very charred exteriors and harbored a sweet, orange flesh made better with tiny pats of sweet butter. This had to be heaven, made even more cherubic with a swig of young and frisky Pinot from Sonoma.
Our trusty Weber did us proud this icy December, and right after a near blizzard. We cherished the food and the day. Then again, maybe we felt the promise of a warm spring yet to come. Happy Holidays!
Marge and Jim.
For anyone who wants info on how we prepared our roast on the grill, here goes. Our roast rib weighed in around 4 pounds and had two ribs.
Trim the fat very lightly if desired and tie the roast between the ribs with one length of butchers twine to keep meat and fat layers together during roasting. Allow the beef to come to room temperature so the meat cooks evenly. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and rub with olive oil.
Heat your grill on high for at least ten minutes. Quickly brown the roast on all sides over high heat. Turn off all but one burner, preferably in the front, and moved the roast to the back of grill off the direct heat. Close the grill cover. Our grill thermometer registered around 300 degrees with one burner on full and the others shut off. Cook to 125 degrees internal temperature for rare, and 130 degrees for medium-rare to medium. Remove meat, cover loosely with foil, and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.