Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Not anywhere near as difficult as people think it is to make!


1 1/4 c water
1 c sugar
2 cloves
2 inch cinnamon stick
2 t lemon juice
Small piece of lemon rind
1/4 c honey

Place syrup ingredients in a saucepan and stir over heat until sugar dissolves.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.  Strain out solids and return syrup to pot.

2 c chopped walnuts
1 c chopped almonds
1/4 c raw sugar
2 t cinnamon
1/4 t salt
1/4 t allspice
1 lb package of phyllo dough, thawed
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 c) butter, melted

Melt the butter and cut a piece of parchment for the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish.  Use a pastry brush to coat the top sheet and the sides of the dish with butter.  In a bowl, combine the nuts, sugar, and spices and set aside.

Unroll the phyllo and place on a piece of plastic wrap.  Cover with another piece of plastic wrap and a damp towel.  Place 3 sheets of phyllo in the dish, recovering the rest of the stack.  Brush with butter.  Add 3 more sheet and brush with butter, repeating until about half the phyllo is gone.  Spread 1/2 the nut mixture, top with three more sheets, butter the top, and spread the other 1/2 of the nut mixture.  Continue stacking 3 sheets of phyllo and brushing with butter until you run out.  End with butter.

With a sharp knife, cut through all layers: 6 lengthwise strips and then 6 crosswise strips.  Bake at 350 for about 35 minutes until golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack.

When the baklava is cool, reheat the syrup and pour hot over the pastry.  Let it stand for at least 3 hours at room temperature before serving.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Braised brisket or pot roast

If it's done right, you can eat it with a spoon!

Beef Brisket or Pot Roast

Beef brisket, 3-4 lbs
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil
2 - 3 lbs onions, sliced thin
1 T tomato paste
2 T brown sugar
4 - 5 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 c flour
3/4 c dry red wine
Up to 2 c broth (half beef and half chicken)
3 bay leaves
3 large sprigs of thyme
Quartered potatoes, large chopped carrots, other root vegetables
1 T cider vinegar

Set out the meat for about 1/2 hour and let it dry and warm up.  Salt and pepper it generously.  Preheat the oven to 300 with the rack in the middle-low position.  Slice up the onions and garlic and set aside.

In a Dutch oven, brown the meat over medium-high heat until well browned, about 5 minutes per side.  Place the meat on a plate and set it aside.  Lower the heat to medium and cook the onions along with the tomato paste and sugar until onions are soft and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and flour, and cook for about a minute, stirring.  Stir in the wine to deglaze the pot; cook until almost completely evaporated, and then return the brisket to the pot, on top of the onions.  Add the broth, bay leaves, and thyme, enough broth to come up 1/3 to 1/2 way up the sides of the meat.  Bring the broth to a simmer, cover with foil and with the lid, and stick it in the oven for 3 to 4 hours.  Add the vegetables around the meat, submerging them as best as possible for the last 1 1/2 to 2 hours of cooking time.

Optional serving methods:
1. Transfer the brisket and vegetables (not the onions) to a platter, tent with foil, and let it rest for at least 10 minutes.  Place the pot on the stove top, add 1 T cider vinegar and bring to a low boil to reduce the sauce somewhat, about 5 minutes, fishing out the bay leaves and thyme.  When the sauce is reduced enough, slice the brisket, arrange on the platter, and pour the sauce over.  Serve onto plates.

2. Or, transfer the brisket and vegetables (not the onions) to a platter, and tent with foil.  Let it rest for 15 minutes, and then slice.  Place the pot on the stove top, add 1 T cider vinegar and bring to a low boil, fishing out the bay leaves and thyme. Place the meat and vegetables back into the sauce and serve directly from the pot, probably into bowls.  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Amazing chicken stew

I usually make chicken soup, not chicken stew, but with winter dragging on into what's supposed to be spring, I couldn't help myself.  Last weekend, I set aside the three-plus hours it takes to make this incredible stew.  The recipe is from Cook's Illustrated, but of course they won't let you have it.  I'm perfectly happy to send you somewhere else that will: Best Chicken Stew

Monday, April 14, 2014

Cranberry-white chocolate chip monster cookies

Recently I made a batch of my monster chocolate chip cookies, shown below, and it occurred to me that some of my other recipes could probably be adapted to make over-sized delights like these.

I started my experiments with my recipe for Cranberry-White Chocolate Cookies, and it worked out so well that I think I'll probably try it again with other recipes!  Start with the basic recipe at the link above, and make these four adjustments.  Melt the butter and let it cool before beating with the sugar, add an extra egg yolk, lower the oven temperature to 325, and form and bake them according to the directions for the chocolate chip cookies.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Fried cats and rotten children

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Brown rice cakes with sauteed vegetables

When I first saw this recipe, I thought, "Well, maybe..."  And then I promptly set it aside for a couple of years and forgot about it!  Recently I found it in my "to try" file, and thought, "Well, maybe..."

I'm glad I finally got around to actually trying it.  It's really really good!  Brown Rice Cakes with Sauteed Fennel, Broccoli Rabe, and Ricotta

Monday, April 7, 2014

Cuban shredded beef

More Cuban!  Now that my taste buds have been fully enticed, I don't seem to be able to get enough!  This is another Cook's Illustrated recipe, and you can find a kind soul who posted his own version of it right here: Cuban Shredded Beef.