Archive for the ‘recipe’Category

Carrot mac & cheese for grown-ups

closeup of carrot mac & cheese
We encounter a lot of great food when we work on researching and updating our Food Lovers’ books about the New England states. But a simple and delicious plate of carrot mac & cheese from Daily Planet in Burlington (15 Center St., 802-862-9647, www.dailyplanet15.com) stuck in our minds. We ate it one chilly night at the bar of this bohemian downtown favorite with a moderately priced contemporary locavore menu and wondered why we had never thought of it ourselves.

A quick Google search revealed that a number of cooks had thought about such a dish. But most of the recipes we could find used either grated carrot or puréed cooked carrots and seemed designed to fool the kids into eating a vegetable. The Daily Planet version was more elegant. The carrots gave the dish a pale golden color and a subtle earthy flavor that had not been smothered in an excess of cheese.

We never got around to coming up with our own version, but this cold and snowy New England winter had us craving comfort foods. One day in our local Whole Foods, we took a look at the fresh juices and had an inspiration. Did Daily Planet substitute carrot juice for the milk while making the base bechamel sauce? It would certainly explain the fresh carrot flavor and the grown-up texture.

We gave it a try, and found the following recipe makes a good carrot mac & cheese that doesn’t taste like Gerber puréed carrots.

CARROT MAC & CHEESE

Serves 2combining carrot mac & cheese

Ingredients

6 oz (1 cup) elbow macaroni
2 teaspoons butter
1/3 cup fine bread crumbs
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
14 oz. (1 2/3 cups) carrot juice
1/2 medium onion, finely minced
pinch of paprika
bay leaf
1 3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Set oven at 350°F. Grease deep 1-quart casserole dish. Set a large pot of water on high heat to bring to boil.

2. Cook elbow macaroni per directions until al dente.

3. While macaroni is cooking, melt 2 teaspoons butter and add to bread crumbs. Stir until crumbs are well-coated.

4. In a large saucepan, melt 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter and stir in flour until well-mixed. Whisk in carrot juice and stir in minced onion, paprika, and bay leaf. Let simmer, stirring to avoid sticking on the bottom, until bechamel thickens.

5. Stir in 1 1/4 cup grated cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.

6. Add macaroni to cheese sauce. Place half of mixture in casserole dish and sprinkle with half of remaining cheese. Spoon remaining macaroni mix into dish, and sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Cover with toasted bread crumbs and bake until crumbs are lightly browned (about 30 minutes).

18

03 2015

Whiskey in a Jar from Dublin’s Quay 14

Gary Campbell mixes whiskey in a jar in Quay 14 in Dublin
The Morrison Hotel on the north bank of the Liffey in Dublin has a swanky, modernist feel, but the Quay 14 bar retains a nice clubby atmosphere enhanced by a crew of barmen who really know their craft. It’s a good spot for a drink and quiet conversation. In fact, one evening we had a nice chat with Gary Campbell, who used to tend bar in Greater Boston before returning to Ireland and shaking drinks at some of the nicer Dublin hotel bars.

Although we prefer our whiskey neat—the best way, we think, to appreciate Ireland’s great contributions to the world of spirits—he persuaded us to try one of Quay 14’s signature cocktails. It’s a variant on the whiskey sour. Made with Bushmill’s 10-year-old Irish whiskey and served in a small canning jar (until they ran out of them), it’s called “Whiskey in the Jar” in deference to the chorus of “Sporting Jenny.” If you have trouble finding pasteurized egg whites, you can usually get Organic Valley’s 16 oz. carton in most health food stores.

Whiskey in a Jar

Whiskey in a Jar at Quay 14 in DublinIngredients
50 ml (a shot) Bushmills 10 Year Old Irish Whiskey
20 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
20 ml simple syrup
1 pasteurized egg white
ice
orange slice

Directions
Add whiskey, lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg white to shaker. Dry shake to emulsify the egg white and lemon juice. Strain for any foreign objects.

Return to shaker with a handful of crushed ice. Shake and strain into glass and top with a thick slice of orange.

04

03 2015

Le Drunch targets Dublin Sunday late-risers

The Marker (right) and the Bord Gais Energy Theatre (left) Coming from Cambridge, Massachusetts, we felt right at home when we spent our last few nights in Dublin at The Marker Hotel, which sits on Grand Canal next to the architectural landmark Bord Gais Energy Theatre. (That’s the hotel on the right and the theater on the left in the above photo.) This corner of Dublin is known as the Silicon Docks, thanks to the presence of Google, Facebook, Yahoo, PayPal, Etsy, Eventbrite, and others. For those who know Cambridge, the Silicon Docks might as well be Kendall Square minus the robotics firms.

Samuel Becket Bridge in Dublin Docklands It’s a stunningly modern part of Dublin, as this night shot of the Samuel Beckett Bridge suggests. (Santiago Calatrava’s design is often likened to an Irish harp, but we think it looks more like the sails of a racing yacht.) Since most of the area has been developed since 2008, it’s not surprising that the buildings are largely big glass boxes with display windows on the ground level and offices above.

The Marker has an excellent yet surprisingly casual in-house restaurant called The Brasserie. Chef Gareth Mullins is justly celebrated and is a bit of a local celebrity, often appearing on Dublin’s Channel 3 to give cooking demonstrations. Drawing from a Maille popup restaurant concept in Paris, Mullins introduced “Le Drunch” (dishes 8€–16€)—short for drinks and lunch—every Sunday afternoon.

It’s been a big hit with Dublin’s digerati and other denizens of the neighborhood, especially young women seeking a stylish spot to chat over a light meal. It’s also popular with people headed to the theater next door. The dishes are elevated versions of homey food, such as terrific fish and chips. That’s a dish we usually eat in restaurants since we don’t have a deep fryer, but Mullins was happy to share the recipe for folks who want to tackle it at home.

The Brasserie’s Beer Battered Cod


Gareth Mullins advises keeping the batter as cold as possible — even adding ice cubes if necessary. A cold batter ensures that the fish cooks up nice and crisp.

Serves 4

fish and chips at The Brasserie, Marker Hotel, Dublin Ingredients
4 pieces skinned cod fillet, 200g (7 oz.) each
150g all-purpose flour (1 cup plus a tablespoon)
150g corn flour (1 cup plus a tablespoon)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 bottle ice cold ale
1/2 cup flour with salt and pepper

Directions

To make the batter, mix the all-purpose flour, corn flour, baking powder, and salt together. Pour in the beer and mix together until just combined. Be careful not to overmix the batter. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To cook the fish, set deep fat fryer at 180°C or 350° F. Drag the cod through the seasoned flour and drop into the batter to thoroughly coat. Lift out of batter and carefully lower into the fryer. Deep fry for 8 minutes until golden and crisp. Take out and drain on paper towels.

Mullins serves the cod with deep fried potatoes (“chips” in Anglo-Irish parlance), marrow fat peas with mint, and homemade tartar sauce.

01

03 2015

Dublin gastropub’s inspired sweet potato soup

Front room at the Exchequer Pub in Dublin Pubs have always had some kind of grub to sop up the suds, but pubs all over Ireland began to take the quality of their kitchens seriously about 10 years ago. The turn toward better food was a matter of survival. Pubs lost a slew of customers after March 29, 2004, when Ireland became the first country in the world to ban smoking in the workplace — including restaurants, bars, and pubs. Once a few pubs introduced quality food with strong Irish roots, it became clear that the gastropub concept was the way to win new customers.

Two years ago, the Restaurant Association of Ireland began giving out awards for best gastropubs, and in the two competitions since then, one of the top contenders in Dublin has been The Exchequer, located on the corner of Exchequer Street and Dame Court (3-5 Exchequer Street, +353 1 670 6787, www.theexchequer.ie). It’s a cozy warren of several rooms, including two bars that stay open late, a small dining room, and a lot of high-stool seating along shelves under the windows. (That’s the bar at the Exchequer Street entrance above.) If you’re particularly fortunate, you might even score one of the old-fashioned sofas or armchairs in the bars. The waitstaff couldn’t be warmer (we got a big hug on leaving after lunch), and the menus run the gamut from steamed cockles and mussels with spicy sausage to a simple sandwich with the soup of the day.

One cold and misty day the bowl on offer was “sweet potato chili soup.” It’s a great example of the gastropub approach to reinterpreting traditional dishes with a few smart tweaks. In this case, the soup was a fresh take on potage parmentier, the classic leek and potato soup. The cook used sweet potatoes instead of regular spuds and added just enough ground chile pepper to lift the taste. With a little experimentation, we figured out how to make a satisfying version at home. We eat it with a slice of Irish brown bread (see previous post).

SWEET POTATO CHILE SOUP

Sweet Potato Chili Soup at The Exchequer in Dublin Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

3 tablespoons butter
6 leeks (white part only), well cleaned and chopped
2 large Garnet sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
5 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon ground Espelette chile pepper (ancho or New Mexican will do)
salt to taste

Directions

1. Over low heat, melt butter in soup pot and add leeks. Cook, stirring, until soft but not brown.

2. Add sweet potatoes and chicken stock. Bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook about 30 minutes until sweet potatoes are soft.

3. Remove from heat and purée until smooth. Stir in ground chile and heat through for another five minutes. Add salt to taste.

08

02 2015

Making The Marker’s Irish brown soda bread

Irish brown soda bread loaf If you’re following our series of posts on dining in Dublin, you might recall that our last post called for Irish brown soda bread. We realize that unless you’re blessed with an authentic Irish bakery (like we are, with Greenhills Bakery in Dorchester), you’ll probably have to make your own. For folks who often flub yeast breads, a delicious Irish soda bread is almost a godsend, since it’s hard to screw up if you follow the directions.

seeds for Irish brown soda bread At the chic and rather new Marker Hotel in Dublin’s hip Docklands district, we tasted a spectacular version of Irish brown bread on the extravagant breakfast buffet. Seeds in brown bread are nothing new, though the classic recipes only call for oat groats to add texture. This version adds the perfect balance of sesame, sunflower, and flax seeds to make the loaf interesting. It’s from Rey Hortillosa, the pastry chef at The Marker, and we made only slight adjustments for North American ingredients. He provided the recipe in metric measures, and we recommend that you weigh everything with a gram scale. (Weighing the ingredients is often a key to success in baking, as it eliminates the influence of relative humidity.) For readers in a hurry or those without a kitchen scale, we’ve added North American volume measurements.

IRISH BROWN BREAD

Ingredients

250 grams (1 3/4 cup) whole wheat flour
250 grams (1 3/4 cup) all-purpose white flour
8 grams (scant 1 1/2 teaspoons) salt
20 grams (4 teaspoons) baking soda
50 grams (1/4 cup) brown sugar
75 grams (1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons) oat groats
1 tablespoon flax seeds
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
560 ml (19 fl. oz) buttermilk

Directions

Set oven at 325°F (160°C). Thoroughly grease a bread loaf pan.

Mix all dry ingredients by hand in a bowl. Add buttermilk and mix by hand until the dough is uniformly wet and sticky. Place dough in loaf pan, being careful not to trap any pockets of air.

Bake 50-60 minutes, until top is brown.

Remove from oven and carefully remove from pan, placing loaf on wire rack to cool. To avoid gummy bread, resist the temptation to cut a slice for at least 10 minutes.

02

02 2015

Chasing Dublin’s most famous cheese sandwich

Interior of Davy Byrnes Pub in Dublin
Having spent a glorious hour or so sampling and buying farmhouse cheese at Sheridans (see last post), we thought it would be a great idea to lunch on the most famous cheese sandwich in Dublin, even if it doesn’t involve an Irish cheese.

Exterior of Davy Byrnes Pub in Dublin Although much refurbished and modernized, Davy Byrnes Pub (21 Duke Street, +353 1 677 5217, davybyrnes.com) has been a downtown fixture just off Grafton Street since 1889. It was a popular watering hole among the literati long before James Joyce immortalized the bar in Ulysses, published in 1922. In chapter 8, “Lestrygonians,” Leopold Bloom stops in on June 16, 1904, and orders a Gorgonzola sandwich. The dish is still on the menu, though the pub now fancies itself “Dublin’s original gastro pub” and emphasizes food over drink more than it did in Joyce’s day.

In Ulysses, “Mr Bloom ate his stripes of sandwich, fresh clean bread, with relish of disgust, pungent mustard, the feety savour of green cheese. Sips of his wine smoothed his palate. Not logwood that. Tastes fuller this weather with the chill off.”

We did not fare as well. “All out of Gorgonzola” was the refrain for several days running. We inquired at Sheridans if the pub bought its cheese from them. “Just once a year, on Bloomsday,” came the answer. We’ll have to go back on June 16 to see if they’re serving the sandwich.

As it turns out, enough people have been able to taste the sandwich that they offer descriptions of the assembly, so here’s a reasonable facsimile of Leopold Bloom’s light lunch intended to fend off hunger until tea. We made it at home, and can attest that, all in all, it’s not bad. By the way, we’ll be posting a delicious recipe for Irish brown bread soon.

Recreating Mr Bloom's sandwich

BLOOM’S GORGONZOLA SANDWICH

Ingredients assembling the Gorgonzola sandwich

Butter
2 slices of Irish brown bread
1/4 inch slab of mountain Gorgonzola cheese
1 slice tomato
Leaves of butter lettuce
Freshly ground pepper
Pungent Dijon-style mustard

Directions

Butter both pieces of bread. Add the slab of Gorgonzola. Top with tomato slice and lettuce leaves. Grind a hefty sprinkle of black pepper on top.

Cut sandwich in three or four strips. Lift up the bread and deposit a generous portion of mustard. As Joyce notes, “Mr Bloom … studded under each strip yellow blobs.”

27

01 2015

Top food with a view at Sophie’s, Dublin’s newest

Sophie's at the Dean Hotel in Dublin When it comes to good eating in Dublin, the best choices at the moment seem to be either the self-styled gastropubs or terrific restaurants in some of the hotels. The latest arrival is Sophie’s (33 Harcourt Street, +353 1 607 8100, sophies.ie) at the Dean (deanhoteldublin.ie), a chic new designer boutique hotel. Both restaurant and hotel opened at the beginning of December, so by the time we arrived on New Year’s Eve, chef Darren Mathews (below) had Sophie’s running on all cylinders.

Chef Darren Matthews at Sophie's in Dublin The top-floor restaurant and bar is surrounded on three sides by windows with views of the Dublin rooftops. It’s a spectacular space, with banquettes and some booths lining the perimeter of the room and — in true Irish fashion — a big bar in the middle. You get a peek at the kitchen coming in, and one corner houses the beehive brick oven used for making pizzas. The Dublin weather is right in your face, but the warm interior includes ancient living olive trees as part of the décor, which makes it easy to laugh at pewter skies and order another glass of wine.

There’s definitely a Mediterranean quality to the menu as well — the wait staff set both olive oil and fabulous Irish butter on the table — but Matthews blends Mediterranean and Irish traditions in intriguing ways. For example, he serves a pork chop with mascarpone polenta, sage, and crumbled bacon. And he dips into home cooking for some dishes, like the “smoked potato and sausage soup” sometimes offered as a starter. It was so good that we vowed not to leave the restaurant without getting the recipe. Apparently sensing our resolve, he sat down with us and wrote the recipe into our notebook. He started making the soup at a previous restaurant when he scooped out the centers of baked potatoes to make gnocchi and thought to use the skins in a soup. It’s evolved from there.

SMOKED POTATO AND SAUSAGE SOUP

Smoked potato and sausage soup at Sophie's in Dublin You might expect potato soup in Ireland, but probably not made with roasted potatoes. Mathews suggests using thick-skinned potatoes and baking them at 450°F until the skins are very, very brown. The flavor changes depending on the type of potato. After experimenting, we like russets best for their pronounced earthy richness. Mathews adds thyme to the potatoes when he makes the recipe at home. He garnishes with mascarpone; we prefer the tang of goat cheese.

Serves 4

Ingredients

500 grams (17.6 oz.) potatoes
50 ml (3.5 tablespoons) olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 liter (34 fl. oz) chicken stock
250 ml (9 fl. oz.) light cream
meat from two links of pork sausage, crumbled
mascarpone or soft goat cheese
1 bunch basil, cut in fine chiffonade
extra virgin olive oil for finishing

Directions

1. Chop potatoes and roast at 450°F for 45 minutes or until very brown.

2. Add olive oil to soup pot and sweat onion and garlic over low heat until soft.

3. Add cooked potatoes, stock, and cream. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

4. In a separate pan, fry crumbled sausage meat, breaking up into small pieces with spatula. Remove from heat and reserve.

5. Process simmered soup in batches in jar blender until smooth. (Immersion blender works but doesn’t yield as smooth a soup.) Return to pot, stir in cooked sausage, and bring back to a simmer.

6. Place rounded tablespoon of mascarpone or goat cheese in each shallow bowl. Ladle in soup and garnish with chiffonade of basil and drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

12

01 2015

Spanish orange & almond tart for Christmas

Holiday tart of almond, saffron, and Seville orange
Last year for the holiday season we made saffron shortbread cookies, and we were feeling bad that we didn’t have a new holiday cookie this year. We got to thinking about winter sweets and some of our all-time favorite flavors, and the two sort of came together.

Some of the quintessential tastes of Spain are almonds, saffron, and bitter oranges. Why not adapt our standard linzer tart recipe to reflect that different range of flavors? Instead of hazelnuts in the dough, we could use almonds. Instead of vanilla, we could use saffron. And in place of raspberry jam, we could use Seville orange marmalade. (OK, we know that the marmalade is more a Scottish than Spanish flavor, but it does use the bitter oranges of Andalucía.)

Our first thought was to make almond meal using toasted Marcona almonds since they are the classic snack almond of southern Spain. We did that, but by losing the skin of the almond, we also lost a lot of the taste. Moreover, toasted blanched almonds ground up into too fine a flour. The result was a perfectly edible tart, but one with a more crumbly crust and less pronounced flavor than we were looking for.

Back to the drawing board. In the end, it turned out that the much less expensive California almonds gave the best flavor and were the easiest to work with. We toasted them in a dry pan in the oven at 400°F for about 10 minutes, then ground them into fine meal in a food processor after they had cooled. This technique gives a good toasted almond flavor, and also makes the saffron flavor more pronounced. The strength of saffron will depend on what kind you are using. It’s not very Spanish, but we got the best results with “Baby Saffron” from Kashmir, using four blisters of the single-serving packs.

Slices of the finished tart go well with espresso or a flute of cava.

ANDALUCÍAN CHRISTMAS TART slice of holiday tart

Makes one 7 1/2-inch (19 cm) fluted tart (serves 6-8)

Ingredients

1/3 cup (66 grams) granulated sugar
1 generous pinch saffron (0.2 gram)
1/4 teaspoon (1.5 grams) salt
1/2 cup (1 stick, 114 grams) butter, softened
1 egg
2/3 cup (96 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) baking powder
1 cup raw almonds (150 grams), lightly toasted
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (200 grams) Seville orange marmalade

Directions

In coffee or spice grinder, mix sugar, saffron, and salt. Grind briefly. Empty into medium bowl. Add butter and beat until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat to mix well.

In another medium bowl, place flour and baking powder. Whisk to blend. Grind almonds to fine meal in food processor. Whisk nuts into flour mixture. Add nut-flour mixture to butter mixture. Mix on low speed until all ingredients are incorporated.

piping lattice onto tart Pat 2/3 cup of the dough into bottom of 7 1/2 inch (19 cm) fluted tart pan with removable bottom. Place remainder of dough into cookie press or pastry bag fitted with a 3/8-inch fluted tip. Pipe around the edges to make side crust. Place orange marmalade into shell and smooth out until even. Pipe a lattice over top of tart.

Refrigerate tart for 30 minutes while preheating oven to 350°F. Bake tart until preserves just begin to bubble – about 35 minutes. Transfer to rack on counter to cool. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream to balance the bitterness of the orange.

12

12 2014

Paul’s baguette makes elegant bread pudding

lemon poopyseed bread pudding made with baguette from Paul The poppyseed baguettes from the Paul boulangerie (see previous post) are a taste treat unto themselves. But like all great French bread, they are best the day they’re baked. We decided that the logical thing to do with stale poppyseed bread would be to make lemon poppyseed bread pudding. The custard does not have any strong additional flavoring (like vanilla extract) and we didn’t make a heavy sweet sauce to go on top. Compared to most American bread pudding recipes, this one is almost austere. The dish is really all about the toasted nuttiness of the poppyseeds, the aromatic freshness of the lemon, and the delicious wheatiness of the bread.

LEMON POPPYSEED BREAD PUDDING


Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients preparing poopyseed baguette for bread pudding

1 tablespoon butter
6 cups (375 grams) 3/4-inch cubes of day-old poppyseed baguette
4 large eggs
1/2 cup (125 grams) brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
zest and juice of 2 lemons
3 1/2 cups whole milk
confectioner’s sugar for serving

Directions

1. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan. Spread bread cubes in it. Add the poppyseeds and crumbs from cutting up the bread.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Add milk and mix well. Pour the mixture over the bread cubes. Let stand, pressing down on bread occasionally, for at least 20 minutes or until bread is saturated.

3. While bread soaks, preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Have a large shallow roasting pan ready.

4. Place bread pudding pan inside roasting pan. Add very hot water to come about halfway up the sides of the baking dish. (Do not overfill, as bubbling water can flood the dish.)

5. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out almost clean, roughly 55 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with a dusting of confectioner’s sugar.

26

11 2014

Summit cocktail gives Cognac real sass

Yoann Saillard mixes Cognac Summit cocktails I was surprised to learn at the Camus Cognac House that the French are rather tepid Cognac drinkers. Sales in France account for only a paltry 3 percent of the brand’s market. (America, by the way, is the leader, followed by Russia and Asia.)

Perhaps that Gallic lack of enthusiasm spurred the Cognac trade association to assemble mixologists to devise new cognac cocktails that might give the storied brandy a modern edge. One such concoction, the Cognac Summit, appears to have caught on and a great place to try it is at the Bar Louise at the Hôtel François Premier Cognac Centre. It occupies a gorgeous, newly renovated old building right in the heart of town.

Young mixologist Yoann Saillard (above) hails from Normandy and knows that region’s signature Calvados apple brandy well. But he has become a big fan of Cognac. “It’s a most interesting spirit,” he said. “It has all the complexity of wine. Lots of people drink it on its own.” Saillard, however, is a showman at heart and mixing cocktails is his thing. For the Cognac Summit he prefers VSOP, which has at least four years of aging. “This cocktail respects the Cognac,” he told me as he sliced ginger and limes and muddled them with the spirit in a chilled water glass. “All the flavors are equal.”

The resulting drink is refreshing and bright, with a peppery sass from the ginger, a fruity tartness from the lime, and bubbly effervescence from the soda. Here is Saillard’s version of the simple, soon-to-be classic Cognac Summit. He uses Fever-Tree Sparkling Lemon but Sprite makes a good substitute here in the U.S.

Cognac Summit cocktailCOGNAC SUMMIT

Makes one serving

Ingredients

3-4 large slices of fresh ginger
slice of lime
1 shot (40 ml) Cognac
sparkling lemon soda
cucumber peel for garnish.

Directions

Muddle the lime, ginger, and Cognac in a chilled water glass.

Add ice to fill.

Top with lemon drink.

Garnish with cucumber peel and serve with a straw.

03

11 2014