As a professional chef one of my skills is recipe writing. A restaurant needs standardized recipes in order to turn out consistent food day after day, but at home I am more of an assembler. Oh sure, I use recipes on occasion—when I want to make Indian, Thai or other ethnic dishes or when I am testing recipes for a cookbook or news article—but mostly I look in the fridge and see what is available. This is actually more of a skill than the recipe writing. To be able to assemble on command you need to have a myriad of flavor combinations stored in your head, ready to be called on at a moment’s notice. Read the rest of this entry »
Spring has been so cold that all my favorite spring foods are going to be late…very late. I saw rhubarb in a produce market yesterday and couldn’t resist. I grabbed the rhubarb and added strawberries and bananas to my basket and no, they weren’t local (Washington State, California and Costa Rica, respectively) but the sun was shining, the temperature was above 40°F and I was in the mood for Spring-and pie. Read the rest of this entry »
This morning I awoke early and decided to bake a cake. This is unusual behavior for me but this autumnal weather makes me want to pull something fragrant and delcious out of the oven. This cake uses simple ingredients I always have around and goes together quickly. It is not too sweet, keeps well for a few days and is equally delicious with firm-ripe pears. I like it best at warm room temperature-eaten plain-out of hand, but feel free to gild the lily with caramel sauce and vanilla bean ice cream Read the rest of this entry »
I remember my grandmother exchanging recipes with friends in Kokomo Indiana. Sometimes she would make a recipe and say “it doesn’t taste like Sally’s-maybe she left something out”. Often chefs are accused of “leaving something out” to safeguard their creations. I believe it is more a difference of technique. “Blend until smooth” might mean one thing to one cook and something else to another. “Season to taste” opens a whole can of worms. I say you can put 5 chefs in a room with the same written recipe and get 5 different results. Everyone reads, interprets and cooks a little differently. At the Tavern I get all kinds of requests for recipes. Surprisingly, one of the most common is for our pan-seared Brussels sprouts. It happens so often I put the recipe in my cookbook. I am honored and flattered when guests ask for recipes. It means they like the dish so much they’d like to serve it at home. Fine by me. So, finally, after many requests, is our Curried Butternut Squash Soup. Hope you all enjoy and claim it as your own.
CURRIED BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP
2 Tablespoons canola oil
2 cups finely chopped, peeled yellow onion
2 pieces star anise
2 Tablespoons curry powder
½ cup apple cider
2 cups heavy cream
4 cups roasted butternut squash puree
4 cups water
3 Tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup orange juice
3 drop hot pepper sauce (optional)
In a 3 quart saucepan over medium-high heat, heat oil and sauté onion until tender and translucent.
Add the anise and curry powder and stir well. Add the cider and bring to a boil.
Add the cream, squash puree, water and sugar. Stir well and bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer 20 minutes. Add salt, pepper and optional hot sauce.
Using a blender wand, puree soup and strain through a chinoise.
Serve immediately or cool quickly and refrigerate up to 5 days or freeze up to 3 months.
ROASTED APPLE GARNISH
1 tablespoon butter
1 large apple, peeled, cored and diced
In a non-stick skillet melt butter and sauté the apple until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Let cool and spoon atop portions of soup.
Drew’s favorite dessert is pumpkin pie. He loves it so much he requested it for every birthday instead of cake. His birthday is in July and his friends thought he was nuts. I don’t mind pumpkin pie but thought I could make it better. Replacing half the pumpkin with roasted apple gave it a lighter, fresher profile. Adding a jolt of lemon juice and a quick grind of black pepper made for more complex flavor and subbing roasted butternut squash for pumpkin gave me a tighter, sweeter puree. And the best part? He loves it!
APPLE-BUTTERNUT SQUASH PIE
1 9” pre-baked pie shell, cooled
2 large eggs
¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup butternut squash puree (see note)
¾ cup roasted apple puree (see note)
1 cup heavy cream
¾ teaspoon ground ginger
4 teaspoons lemon juice
1¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
4 teaspoons melted unsalted butter, cooled
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Place pie shell on rimmed baking sheet and reserve.
Combine remaining ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Strain through a medium mesh strainer and pour into pie shell, filling shell to the rim.
Transfer filled shell to oven and bake until puffed, golden brown around the edges and just slightly wobbly in the center, about 45-60 minutes.
Let pie cool on wire rack to room temperature. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
Filling may be made 1 day ahead and refrigerated, tightly sealed. Pie shell can be baked one day ahead and stored at room temperature, loosely wrapped in foil. Pie can be made 1 day ahead and stored, covered in foil at room temperature, or wrapped in plastic and refrigerated.
© Susan Goss and Drew Goss, all rights reserved
Cut a medium butternut squash in half and roast, cut side down at 350°F until soft, about 30-45 minutes. Let cool and scrape meat from the skin. Pass meat through a food mill to remove seeds and fibers and reserve. Squash puree may be refrigerated up to 3 days or frozen up to 1 month.
Cut 2 medium skin-on baking apples into large wedges and place in a medium casserole with a lid. Bake at 350°F about 30 minutes until soft. Pass through a food mill to remove skin and seeds. Apple puree may be refrigerated up to 3 days or frozen up to 1 month.
This classic American layered cheese dish may have first appeared in Juniata L Shepperd’s 1902 Handbook of Household Science in the cheese chapter. She called for slices of bread to be layered with shredded cheese and white sauce, then topped with crumbs and baked.
Cut to: 1993 in Chicago Illinois I was writing a brunch menu for the soon-to-open Zinfandel restaurant and recreated this historic recipe using aged American country ham, artisanal Wisconsin sharp cheddar and handfuls of fresh herbs. It was easy to assemble the day before and the guests loved it. We served it with a field green salad dressed with a sharp red wine-mustard vinaigrette to cut the strata’s richness and renamed it Breakfast Bread Pudding.
It is now 2012 and I only serve brunch at home-and not very often at that. However, every once in awhile I need an easy to prepare, hearty dish for a crowd. This weekend I met friends to plant daffodil bulbs in our local park gardens and had promised a dish for a pitch-in brunch afterward. I prepped the pudding the night before, refrigerated it overnight and baked it before I left. Wrapped in foil, the pudding was still hot when we returned from the garden 90 minutes later!
8 ½” thick slices brioche or other rich bread, crusts trimmed
5 ounces thinly sliced American dry-aged country ham
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
¼ cup chopped chives
¼ cup sliced basil leaves
4 large eggs
2 Tablespoons grainy mustard
2 cups whole milk
⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Spray an 8”x 8” square baking pan with pan primer spray and fit 4 slices of the bread into the pan, trimming to fit in one layer.
Layer half the ham slices evenly over the bread and sprinkle with 1 cup of cheese. Sprinkle half the herbs over the cheese.
Repeat layering using remaining bread, ham, cheese and herbs.
In a medium bowl whisk the eggs and mustard until light and frothy. Add the milk, salt and pepper and mix well.
Slowly pour the custard over the bread, filling the pan. Wrap pan in plastic wrap and refrigerate pudding 8 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 325 °F.
Bake pudding until puffed and golden brown, and a knife inserted near the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
Let pudding rest 15 minutes before slicing. Wrapped in foil, pudding will hold its heat for an hour or so.
Today is National Deviled Egg Day. Who made these days up and why would he (had to be a man) put National Deviled Egg Day on November second? I eat deviled eggs all year round but especially associate them with summer months. I have already written extensively about perfect hard boiled eggs and deviled eggs and today, in honor of the holiday, want to expand on the classic recipe.
Once vilified because of its deceivingly high cholesterol content, poor eggs have gotten a bad rep. In 2000 the American Heart Association, with new research, revised its guidelines and gave eggs its official okey-dokey. The humble hard-boiled egg is a perfect little nutrition bomb. A large egg has only 75 calories and packs 7 grams of egg-celent protein, 5 grams of fat (only 1.6 grams of saturated fat) as well as iron, minerals and carotenoids like disease-fighting lutein and zeaxanthin. Some designer eggs add omega-3 fatty acids; others are pasteurized.
Let’s take that perfect nutrition bomb and add some fat and calories! Here are a few variations on the traditional deviled egg. Use these flavor combinations to create your own traditions.
Whip yolks with duck fat and top with crispy duck skin
Make a curried filling and top with chutney or sour lime pickle
Make a crab or lobster salad and top with caviar
Mash yolks with avocado and top with crispy bacon for real Green Eggs and Ham
Fold flaked tuna into the yolks along with chopped cornichon and capers
Garnish deviled eggs with blanched asparagus tips and grilled Canadian bacon bits for Deviled Eggs Benedict. Drizzle with a lemon mayo.
Add chopped cooked shrimp, cucumber and pickled lemons
Food brings people together. A shared meal makes friends from strangers. Being in the restaurant business we meet most of our friends and acquaintances over food. Many guests become what we call “regulars” and some of them become close friends. Zinfandel Restaurant was open from 1993-2002 and enjoyed a long list of “regulars.” Norman was considered a regular and also a good friend to the restaurant. Norman had a special talent for making cookies. He would appear at the kitchen door with a shopping bag filled with his triumph: oatmeal walnut raisin cookies. After much pleading he gave me his secret recipe. We’ll make them today on Monday October 29th in his honor and in honor of National Oatmeal Day and serve them tonight at the Tavern. Interested in the recipe? It is in our cookbook, West Town Tavern: Contemporary Comfort Food. While the cookbook recipe makes a modest number of cookies, I bet Norman doubled or even tripled his recipe when he baked for his friends. That’s how it is with food. The more you share, the more you receive.
This morning was rainy and gloomy. Funny, I love this kind of fall weather as much as I do the bright, sunny days. I had planned a crab salad for lunch but suddenly the idea of chilled crab and lettuce was not so appealing. What I wanted was soup; a warming, cozy bowl of soup to take away the grey chill. A quick look in the fridge didn’t yield many prospects; after all, I had planned on crab salad. I settled on a bag of cremini mushrooms as a starting point. The mushroom chowder at West Town Tavern is always hugely popular and one of our most requested recipes. (How it didn’t end up in the cookbook is still a mystery.) At the Tavern, however, we use a flavorful mix of shiitake, oyster and cremini mushrooms. Could I make flavorful chowder with just creminis? I rely on creminis for raw texture-not for robust flavor. I knew that by deeply sautéing some onion until browned and tender I could develop a good base. A few carrots, garlic and potatoes added chunky texture and grainy mustard, Worcestershire and thyme added complexity. The chowder took a little more than 30 minutes to prep and there is plenty for lunch tomorrow as well. This also freezes well due to the fat content of the cream.
WINTER MUSHROOM CHOWDER
Makes 2 quarts, serving 8
1 Tbl canola oil
2 cups finely chopped onion
1 quart coarsely chopped cremini mushrooms, about 12 ounces
1 ½ cups coarsely chopped, peeled carrots, about 2
2 cups small dice, peeled Idaho potatoes
4 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and minced
½ cup beer, ale or dry sherry
5 cups water
2 large bay leaves
1 ½ tsps kosher salt, divided
1 cup heavy cream
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbl minced fresh thyme leaves
1 Tbl grainy mustard
2 Tbl Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp hot sauce (optional)
In a 3 quart saucepan over medium heat add the canola oil and heat until hot. Add the onions and sauté until browned. Add the mushrooms, lower heat to low and cover pan. Steam the mushrooms for 5 minutes until they soften and begin to give up their juices. Uncover pan, raise heat to medium and sauté mushrooms until they are tender, boiling away the liquid. Add the carrots, potatoes and garlic.
Add the beer and bring to a boil, stirring. Add the water, bay leaves and ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
Add the remaining 1¼ teaspoons salt, cream, pepper, thyme, mustard, Worcestershire and optional hot sauce. Return soup to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes more. Discard the bay leaves. Using a blender wand puree soup slightly if desired.
Serve immediately or cool quickly in an ice bath and refrigerate, covered, up to 5 days.
Tip: Use a mix of mushrooms if desired. You will need about 12 ounces of raw mushrooms before they are trimmed.
Serve with: take this soup to another level and top it with Blue Cheese Croutons
© Susan Goss and Drew Goss, all rights reserved
BLUE CHEESE CROUTONS
Makes about 4 cups
4 cups artisanal bread cubes, about 1-inch x 1-inch
4 Tbls unsalted butter
3 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
Preheat oven to 350°
Place bread cubes in a large bowl.
In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and cheese, stirring occasionally until smooth. Pour butter mixture over bread and toss gently to mix.
Spread bread onto a cookie sheet and separate as much as possible. Scrape any remaining butter mixture over cubes.
Bake until beginning to crisp, about 10 minutes. Turn gently with a spatula and bake until golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes more. Let croutons cool completely before using.
Use croutons in salads or float atop mushroom chowder.
Store croutons covered at room temperature up to 24 hours.
© Susan Goss and Drew Goss, all rights reserved
As a kid, I wouldn’t eat many different things. It wasn’t that I didn’t like them particularly; it was just that I really liked a few things and would rather eat them. The things I liked were: rare steak, baked potatoes, tomatoes, corn (but only on the cob), peanut butter (only Jif), Campbell’s chicken noodle soup, Ralston cereal and Del Monte stewed tomatoes. After I became a teenager I added Little Debbie’s Snack Cakes.
My palate is a lot broader now but I’ve never lost my love for stewed tomatoes. I don’t think Mom ever made her own stewed tomatoes; it was always Del Monte. Mom made broiled tomatoes from time to time, always topped with Spice Islands Beau Monde Seasoning. That was the only thing she made with Beau Monde Seasoning and I assume we had the same jar my whole childhood. I loved the broiled tomatoes too-especially when she sprinkled Kraft Parmesan cheese on top as well.
It is the end of tomato season here in Chicago. I managed to eat my fill and hope I can wait until next July to crave them again. I recently found myself with a sack of mixed yellow and red tomatoes and set out to re-create my childhood favorite-stewed tomatoes.
The name itself is not great: stewed tomatoes sounds like a soupy mess. If we think about how the mess is made, it involves the real juiciness of ripe tomatoes. I learned early on that roasting tomatoes under high heat and evaporating some of that juice could serve as a shortcut to a thick tomato sauce and also sweeten not-so-ripe winter tomatoes (see Roasted Tomato Sauce 09/13/2009 and Oven Roasted Tomatoes 02/11/2010) and thought I could apply that technique to make my stewed tomatoes chunkier with a more vivid tomato flavor.
I also thought I could make the dish a little more upscale-something I might serve as a late Sunday supper on a cool evening or perhaps for brunch on a rainy morning. Instead of the traditional onions I used leeks but I kept the usual green pepper and celery. A sweeter red or yellow pepper wouldn’t contrast with the tomato color or flavor and the slightly bitter green bell added a nice acid. A little garlic, some herbs and a jolt of grated lemon zest took my childhood favorite into the 21st century. But it was still a side dish, unworthy of center plate. Some crumbled goat cheese and crispy croutons changed that and a run under the broiler added the gratin to the name. Now my childhood favorite is an adult favorite as well!
Stewed Tomato Gratin with Fresh Goat Cheese and Croutons
4 pounds ripe tomatoes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium leek, trimmed, thinly sliced, washed, about 3 cups
3 stalks celery, sliced into ¼” slices, about 1 cup
1 medium green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped, about 1 ¼ cups
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
½ cup sliced basil leaves
¼ cup sliced flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest
4 ounces fresh goat cheese
2 slices (3 oz) artisanal bread, toasted and cut into 1/2” cubes, about 1 cup
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Core the tomatoes and cut them into medium wedges or very large dice. Arrange tomatoes on a sheet pan in a single layer and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of oil over the tomatoes and roast them until they start to concentrate and caramelize but are still juicy, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and reserve.
Preheat the broiler.
While tomatoes are roasting heat remaining oil in a large skillet and sauté leeks over medium high heat until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add celery and bell pepper and sauté until tender but still crisp, about 7 minutes more. Add the garlic and stir well.
Add the tomatoes to the skillet and stir gently. Add herbs, lemon zest and additional salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat. At this point, tomatoes may be cooled quickly and refrigerated covered, up to two days. Bring back to room temperature or gently reheat before continuing.
Spoon mixture into an 8” oval gratin dish (alternatively, leave in and serve from skillet) and crumble the goat cheese over the top. Sprinkle the bread cubes over the top and press them into the gratin gently.
Broil the gratin until bubbly and lightly browned, about 3-5 minutes. Serve.
*Gratin may also be served in 6 individual 1 ½ cup gratin pans or casseroles.
© Susan Goss, all rights reserved