From the Market: Burgers & Whiskey Edition

with fontina and steak sauce
Grass-fed beef from Snoep Winkel Farm, Curly-leaf lettuce from Bialas Farms

C’est fini!

I took the last shot for the cookbook earlier this afternoon, and not a moment too soon. A house-shaking thunderclap just sent poor Ru scurrying to the guest bedroom and the skies are so dark that I couldn’t have gotten another good natural-light shot anyway. Ahhhh…it’s a great feeling to wrap up such a lengthy project!

The burger was my reward for squeezing in an extra shot yesterday. A couple of the ingredients were extras from the recipes I was working on (out-of-season tomatoes, something I’d never buy for myself, and fontina cheese), so I threw together a burger for lunch. Talk about luscious! I tossed a little garlic and copious black pepper into well-salted ground beef and cooked the patties to medium. Gary & Basia‘s grass-fed beef is so good, it really doesn’t need much fussing, but I was feeling a little indulgent and topped it with quite a lot of fontina and some steak sauce before digging in. I ate so much I nearly convinced myself I was having a heart attack. Hah! Scary, but so good, I’ll probably do it again because I just don’t learn.

rye, cognac, St. Germain

THIS. This amazing creature is the Carré Reprisé, a recipe I found while searching for drinks with rye and St. Germain, which fight for top honors on my list of favorite boozes. Normally, I’m not a coganc drinker and wouldn’t have it on hand, but I still had most of a bottle in the pantry from a shoot last summer (told you I don’t drink the stuff!), so I gave it a try and was well-rewarded for stepping out of my comfort zone. It’s a great drink for a cool, rainy day when you don’t have much to do; at the very least, it’s something you want to savor. Ferociously smooth with a slight bright finish from the lemon twist, I’ll certainly keep this in my arsenal. (And in keeping with my struggle to eat as locally as possible, I made it with Tuthilltown Spirits Rye, so yeah…points for that or something.)

But no rest for the wicked. Now it’s time to do a little more processing so I can ship the photos off to the author tomorrow! Hope you all had a great weekend; I’ll be back next week with more goodies from the market!

recipe after the jump

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Two-Ingredient Chocolate Mousse

Hervé This' Chocolate Mousse | Minimally Invasive

I’ve had this chocolate mousse bookmarked since Food52 first posted it, but I’ve never had a great excuse (not that I needed any, I suppose) to make it until now. Gil was out of town for our sixth anniversary earlier this week, so I wanted to make something special for the weekend. I mean, there’s a beef heart thawing in the sink, but that’s maybe just a tiny bit less romantic than chocolate mousse.

Hervé This' Chocolate Mousse | Minimally Invasive

This an incredibly easy and forgiving recipe with only two ingredients — chocolate and water — so how can you mess that up? Just be sure to use the best chocolate you can, since it really shines here.

Hervé This' Chocolate Mousse | Minimally Invasive

My first batch didn’t really set (which is where the forgiving part of the recipe comes in), so I added a little more chocolate to the mixture then put the pot back over a low burner to melt. Starting over gave me the opportunity to test old-fashioned whisking vs. a hand blender vs. an immersion blender. I have to say that the immersion blender was BY FAR the easiest and least messy of the three methods. Oh, the things I do for you.

Hervé This' Chocolate Mousse | Minimally Invasive

Once the mousse has thickened (which happens very quickly with the immersion blender), it sets almost immediately, so be prepared to spoon it into cups right away.

Hervé This' Chocolate Mousse | Minimally Invasive

I sprinkled the mousse with chocolate shavings, but you can add a dollop of whipped cream or just leave it plain for full-on chocolate sensation.

Get the recipe here.

Time for a Snack

Healthy, gluten-free snack

I’ve been obsessed with avocados lately, just snacking on a half straight from the shell, sprinkled with a little salt. It’s a healthy and satisfying treat. But after reading that my friend Nicole at Love Life and her son Luca add honey and lemon to the mix, I now have a new favorite way to enjoy them. So, so good.

Update: Jeannie left a comment suggesting avocado with a drizzle of soy sauce, which I’ll be trying with my very next one. So what’s YOUR favorite way to enjoy avocados? I’d love to hear more suggestions!

One Meatball (and No Spaghetti)

gluten-free recipe

Yes, it’s cold and snowy out there and I already only want to eat meat until spring, but I also work in New York, where it’s impossible to spend any time at all without having meatballs thrust upon you. (Er, “without encountering meatballs”? “Without reading about them” or “passing a restaurant that has them on the menu”?) Just off the top of my head, there’s The Meatball Shop, a recent meatball feature in The New York Times, Eataly‘s braised brisket meatballs (Woe is me, they’re across the street from my office!) and Deb at Smitten Kitchen happened to run a beautiful post a few weeks ago about Canal House Cooking‘s Scallion Meatballs. So who can blame me for having balls of meat on the brain?

gluten-free recipe

Naturally, I wanted something a little bit different (not Italian, not Asian-inspired), so I searched for lamb meatballs recipe with a middle-eastern riff, which I found from Nigella Lawson/Food Network. Shall we all take a minute here to breathe a contented sigh as we picture the lovely Ms. Lawson? (aaaahhhh)

gluten-free recipe

Her recipes have always worked for me, so tinkering was minimal, limited to replacing the semolina with quinoa flour to make these gluten-free. (Get the recipe here.)

gluten-free recipe
Please ignore the Eddie Murphy welfare burger appearance of this meatball.

I decided to add a pomegranate glaze just because I wanted a bright contrast to the earthiness of the lamb. It worked so well, it’ll become a permanent part of the rotation, I believe. If it’s not too frou-frou, maybe I’ll even make it for a Super Bowl appetizer (though it won’t go well with the inevitable cheese dip).

gluten-free recipe

But it was a late lunch for us today, so I served it with apricot and caramelized onion brown rice to make a meal of it. The rice was superfluous; we could’ve made an entire meal of the meatballs and lived happily to tell the tale.

recipe after the jump

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Chocolate Cake!

gluten-free chocolate cake

I saw this chocolate-sour cream cake on Apartment Therapy’s The Kitchn last week and simply could not get it out of my mind. A two-layer chocolate-sour cream cake! I had to make it. HAD TO. Because Gil’s birthday was just a few days ago, it gave me the great excuse I didn’t really need (because I have this here blog, you see). I used Jules Gluten-Free Flour in place of the AP flour in the original recipe.

gluten-free chocolate cake

So I got to work as soon as Gil left for for the office this morning, and it still took most of the day because I’m not much of a baker. Nor am I much of an icer, from the evidence presented above. Still, a crumb coat must be applied, no matter how messily.

gluten-free chocolate cake

I think it looked pretty nice once I was finished. And even though powdered sugar-based frostings aren’t really my thing, I couldn’t stop sampling. I think it was the sour cream that made it so irresistible.

Just to be safe, though, I decided to add a layer of poured ganache. What could it hurt?

gluten-free chocolate cake

You really should’ve seen my absurd setup for this shot: Seated on the floor, camera balanced on my right knee with auto focus engaged (I hoped), while my left hand stretched as far as possible to get the ganache close to the center of the cake. Oh, and let’s not forget the big reflector balanced on my left shoulder. It’s a wonder I ever get anything in focus at all. The things I do for you!

gluten-free

Naturally, I allowed the ganache to cool just long enough lose the completely smooth surface I made it for IN THE FIRST PLACE, so I rummaged around in the fridge till I found a visual distraction — pecans. PECAAAAANS! (Have I mentioned that I’m not much of a baker? Because I’m not. At all.)

gluten-free

See? All you notice is the pecans, right?

Happy New Year!

or, my pre-teen self is looking on with pride

I think most of us could say we’d like to believe we’ve changed for the better in some essential way over the years, whether in quality of character or by simply by growing into our selves. My husband is vexed whenever he’s immediately recognized by someone who hasn’t seen him in 20 years, but with good reason, I’d say. (Proof: Gil then, Gil now.) I have no illusions on that front, but at least the bad perm years have passed me by. Still, some things never change, and as evidence, I’ll point you to my new year’s day breakfast: pizza. If that pimply, awkward girl could’ve eaten pizza every morning for breakfast without hearing a lecture, believe me, she would’ve.

kale, smoked cheddar, prosciutto, egg

But this was a far cry from the Pizza Hut of my youth. I kept it simple, starting with dough already resting in the fridge, then adding whatever I had on hand: kale (sautéed in olive oil), smoked mozzarella, prosciutto and an egg. The egg makes it breakfast-y, you see.

from Beecher's
The smoked mozzarella of my dreams.

But a little more on the mozzarella… I’m sure you’ve been lured by smoked mozzarella at the grocery store and came to regret buying it, as I have. The prepackaged stuff is oddly insipid as part of a larger dish, while the smoke flavor overwhelmes on its own. But this was an entirely different beast, as you probably can tell from the picture above. I saw it in the case at Beecher’s last week and had to give it a try based on looks alone. It tastes of bonfires and woody, ashy smoke and winter in the best way possible, if that doesn’t sound too strange. If you’re around the Flatiron district, please make the trip to Beecher’s (and while you’re at it, Eataly) and enjoy the experience.

gluten-free pizza

The pizza started with a wonderful, complex gluten-free dough from Shooting The Kitchen that had been resting in the fridge overnight. It’s incredibly sticky right out of the bowl, but a liberal dusting of rice flour makes it easily workable. I always form the dough by hand instead of rolling it out because of counter space issues, but you’ll end up with a prettier, more uniform pizza if you take that extra step.

gluten-free

After forming the dough, you can brush it with olive oil (though I forgot to, and it was fine), then add your toppings. Here, I layered smoked mozzarella and sautéed kale before baking it for five minutes at 500 degrees. At that point, I cracked an egg over the top and baked for about six minutes longer, or until the egg was set, but still runny. Once it was out of the oven, I topped the pizza with prosciutto and shaved parmesan, added a little salt & pepper and a drizzle of truffle oil before tearing into it.

gluten-free piazza

I’ll approve of this breakfast at any age.

Another Hanukkah, Another Macaroon

Hanukkah treat

I’m heading to Louisiana tomorrow for an extra-long (and warm-weathered) Christmas visit with my family! (Cue happy dance.) Gil has to work this week, so he’ll join us after spending a few days alone with the dogfaces. Since I won’t be around for the start of Hanukkah, I thought I’d make Gil a batch of chocolate-drizzled macaroons to remember me by.

Hanukkah
I was still working on my drizzling technique with these first few, but they’re charming in a jolie laide sort of way, right?

Hanukkah

Happy Hanukkah to all who celebrate it! Next up: something savory to balance all of the sugar I’ve been posting…

recipe after the jump

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Cajeta with Crêpes and Roasted Pears

cajeta dessert

I’ll let you in on a little secret that maybe isn’t so secret: Cajeta is the food of angels. It’s essentially a milk caramel sauce, but what sets it apart from dulce de leche or confiture de lait is that it’s usually made from goat’s milk, which makes it more delicious by half, IMHO; it has a little tang and complexity the others don’t. Cajeta’s incredible on ice cream, with cookies or toast, over a simple cake, on a spoon, as a beverage (not that I’ve tried that…yet), or in a million other ways, I’m sure.

still life - pears

But because we have an abundance of pears in the market these days, I teamed the cajeta with crêpes and topped them with, you guessed it, roasted pears. AGAIN.

crepes, roasted pears and cajeta

I looked at a lot of cajeta recipes before starting, and most of them emphasized that you Must Stir Frequently, especially after adding the baking soda, or else! I liked Rick Bayless’s recipe because of his relaxed attitude to the whole thing and, you know, he’s Rick Bayless. So don’t worry too much when you’re making it; I just wandered into the kitchen every now and then (more frequently toward the end) to give it a stir.

Usually, cajeta would be a bit thicker than you see in the picture above, but I was in a hurry to wrap things up and skimped on the cooking time a little. It was still mind-blowingly good. And it would make a great homemade gift for the holidays, if you’re into that sort of thing. I’m pretty sure the recipient would be.

recipes after the jump

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Holiday Baking: Gluten-Free Gingerbread

December’s nearly half gone, so I guess that means no Advent Calendar this year! Instead, I’ll be posting some gluten-free goodness that’ll get you in the holiday spirit. First up, gluten-free gingerbread — soft, spicy and completely addictive, especially with a dollop of sweetened creme fraiche.

Gluten-free gingerbread

The instructions called for baking this in one pan, but I tried five mini loaves, thinking these could make nice homemade gifts.

Gluten-free gingerbread

I’d say it worked well.

Gluten-free gingerbread

After cooling in the pans for a few minutes, I moved them to a rack till they reached room temperature.

Gluten-free gingerbread

Even Mr. Movember approved…

Gil's 'stache

And Mr. Movember’s alter-ego (Fritz? I think he looks like a Fritz.) could barely contain himself.

recipe after the jump

Gluten-Free Sorghum Gingerbread adapted slightly from About.com’s Southern Food

I first tried a recipe that used a very precise blend of several gluten-free flours and not only was it more difficult than this recipe, it just wasn’t very good. This one is. And all I did was substitute Jules Gluten-Free AP Flour for regular AP flour. It seems almost too easy just to use an already-prepared flour blend, but I think it’ll become my default option from now on. And this recipe originally called for shortening, but I refuse to eat it, so I substituted coconut oil instead. There was no discernible coconut flavor and the texture was a beautiful thing, so I declare this an overwhelming success.

1/4 cup unrefined/organic virgin coconut oil (I buy mine at Whole Foods, but it’s pretty easy to find.)
1/4 cup butter
1 cup hot water
1 cup sorghum molasses or regular molasses
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (use Jules Gluten-Free, if necessary)
2 large eggs, well beaten

In a saucepan combine the coconut oil, butter, water, molasses, sugar, ginger, and cinnamon. Bring to a boil, stir, then remove from heat and set aside to cool.Sift flour, baking soda, and salt together. Add cooled molasses and sugar mixture; stir until well blended. Stir in well-beaten eggs.Pour into a generously greased and floured 9-x12-inch baking pan, or 5 mini-loaf pans. Bake in a preheated 350° oven for about 25 to 35 minutes.Makes 1 pan of gingerbread. Serve warm or cooled, with whipped cream or dessert sauce.