Monday, September 21, 2009

Roasted Fish with Achiote, Potatoes, Chile Strips, and Orange Salsa

From Things Cooks Love: Implements. Ingredients. Recipes.

Prep 30 min | cook time 50 min | serves 4

For this recipe, use achiote paste (adobo de achiote). This typical dish of the Yucatán combines the earthytasting achiote with fish, potatoes, and a pretty, refreshing citrus salsa. Serve with a green vegetable or a tossed salad.

Molcajete, 9-by-13-inch Terra-Cotta Baking Dish

Achiote Sauce
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon chopped white onion
½ teaspoon coarse salt
½ teaspoon chile powder
½ teaspoon grated orange zest
1 (½-by-¼-inch) piece achiote paste
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon flavorless vegetable oil
Rajas (Poblano Chile Strips), page 180
1 pound Yukon Gold or any potatoes, unpeeled, cut into ½-inch wedges
1 large white onion, cut into ¹⁄8-inch wedges

Orange Salsa
1 large navel orange
1 plum tomato, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
Pinch of coarse salt
1 ¼ pounds skinless firm fish fillet (such as halibut, ling cod, or red snapper), preferably in a single piece

1. Make the achiote sauce: Place the garlic, onion, salt, chile powder, orange zest, and achiote in a molcajete or other mortar and mash with a pestle until blended and the mixture becomes a paste. Gradually work in the orange juice and oil with the pestle. Alternatively, combine the ingredients in a blender or small food processor and process until smooth. Set aside.
2. Make the rajas and set aside.
3. Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a medium bowl, combine the potatoes, onion slices, and half of the achiote sauce and stir to coat the potatoes. Spread the potato mixture in a 9-by-13-inch terra-cotta baking dish or another type of baking dish. Roast the potatoes, turning once at the
midpoint, for 35 minutes, or until golden and almost tender. Remove the baking dish from the oven.
4. While the potatoes are roasting, make the orange salsa: Use a sharp, thin knife to cut the peel and all the white pith from the orange. Working over a bowl, cut along both sides of each segment to release it from the membrane, allowing the segments and the juices to drop into the bowl. Coarsely chop the orange segments and return them to the bowl with the juices. Add the tomato, onion, lime juice, cilantro, and salt, and stir gently to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt. Let stand at room temperature until ready to serve.
5. Brush one side of the fish with half of the remaining achiote sauce mixture. Push the potatoes to the edges of the baking dish, and place the fish, sauce side down, in the center of the dish. Brush the top of the fish with the remaining sauce. Arrange the rajas on top of the fish, spacing them about ½ inch apart. Rearrange the potatoes, placing some of them on top of the fish.
6. Return the baking dish to the oven and roast for 15 minutes, or until the fish is opaque when cut into at the thickest part with a knife.
7. Spoon the salsa over the fish and serve from the baking dish or transfer the fish to a platter and serve.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies

From The Art and Soul of Baking

Makes about 60 cookies

There’s a reason Realtors like to bake these cookies when showing a house to potential buyers. Few among us can resist the mouthwatering aroma of butter, brown sugar, and chocolate that reminds us of all things warm and wonderful. There are many versions of this American classic—this is a favorite, bursting with chunks of both semisweet and milk chocolate, with an extra splash of vanilla added for a deep, round flavor.

1 ½ sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, softened (65° to 68°F)
¾ cup (5 ¼ ounces) granulated sugar
¾ cup (6 ounces) firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 ¼ cups (11 ¼ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
6 ounces good-quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped into ¼-inch chunks, or 1 cup (7 ounces) dark chocolate chips
6 ounces good-quality milk chocolate, chopped into ¼-inch chunks, or 1 cup (7 ounces) milk chocolate chips
½ cup (2 ¼ ounces) chopped nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans, or hazelnuts), chopped, toasted, and completely cooled (optional)

Two or Three Baking Sheets, Parchment Paper, Stand Mixer Fitted with a Paddle Attachment or a Hand Mixer and a Medium Bowl, Silicone or Rubber Spatula, Medium Bowl, Small Ice Cream Scoop, Cooling Rack

Preheat the oven to 350°F and position an oven rack in the center. Line the baking sheets with parchment paper.
2 Place the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar in the bowl of the stand mixer and beat on medium-low speed until smooth and blended, about 2 minutes. You can also use a hand mixer and a medium bowl, although you may need to beat the mixture a little longer to achieve the same results. Scrape down the bowl with a spatula. Add the eggs one at a time and beat just until blended after each addition. Add the vanilla and blend well. Scrape down the bowl.
3 In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Turn the mixer to the lowest speed and add the flour mixture all at once. Blend just until there are no more patches of flour. Scrape down the bowl.
4 Add the semisweet and milk chocolate chunks and the nuts (if using), and blend on low just until combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir gently a few times with the spatula to make sure there are no more patches of unincorporated flour or butter lurking near the bottom of the bowl.
5 Using the small ice cream scoop or spoon, portion tablespoon-size mounds onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time, rotating the sheet halfway through, for 10 to 14 minutes, until the cookies are golden brown at the edges and still a bit pale in the center. If you want crisp cookies instead of chewy ones, bake for a couple of extra minutes. (To bake more than one sheet at a time, see page 271.) Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and let them cool completely before serving.

Keep the cooled cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 to 4 days.

Getting Ahead
You can make the dough up to 3 days ahead and refrigerate it in an airtight container. For nearly spur-of-the-moment cookies, portion the dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, putting the scoops right next to each other to fit all of them on one sheet. Place the pan in the freezer for 30 to 60 minutes, until the balls of dough are frozen. Transfer the cookie dough balls to a resealable plastic freezer bag and freeze until needed, up to 3 months. To bake, take out as many cookies as you need, space them on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake as directed, adding a couple of minutes to the baking time.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The French Pantry

From Things Cooks Love: Implements. Ingredients. Recipes.

Almost every American cook has had some exposure to French cooking, and that made the selection of cookware, tools, and recipes for this chapter an exciting challenge. The French have had an amazing impact on what Americans eat and how we talk about cooking. You can hardly look at a cooking magazine, read a restaurant menu, or step into a fast-food joint without seeing the words soufflé, fondue, crème brûlée, pâté, quiche, and, of course, French fry. Discover specialized cookware such as the cocotte, the chinois, the raclette grill, the mussel pot, and the pommes Anna pan, and rediscover familiar pieces like the crepe pan, the omelet pan, and the fondue pot. Then you can serve up these Gallic specialties using the wonderful variety of cheeses, oils, vinegars, and other specialties of France.


This rich cow’s milk cheese has a creamy, soft interior and is covered by a chalky, mildly flavored edible rind. Brie imitations are sold everywhere but, for a special meal, seek out an imported Brie de Meaux. (This is almost impossible to find in the United States because it is made from raw milk and aged less than the FDA-required sixty days. An excellent substitute is an imported knockoff called Fromage de Meaux that is almost as good as the real thing.)

The word chèvre means “goat,” and is also used to describe a pure goat’s milk cheese in France. Goat cheeses are made throughout the world, but the French probably have the widest range of types, shapes, and sizes. Typically, the cheeses have a tangy, almost lemony taste. Soft fresh goat cheeses are often melted into sauces or cut into disks, browned, and served as the enterpiece of a salad. The semiaged log-shaped Bucheron has a tangier, more complex flavor than a fresh chèvre, and a drier, chalkier texture that makes it ideal for crumbling on top of salads.

A cow’s milk cheese from the Jura in eastern France, near the Swiss border. It has a sweet, nutty taste and, although it is a firm cheese, it has a soft feel in your mouth. Sometimes compared to Gruyère, it is both a great melting cheese and eating cheese.

Check out Things Cooks Love for more on The Frech Pantry....

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Corn Tortillas Casserole

From Things Cooks Love: Implements. Ingredients. Recipes.

Prep time 30 min | cook time (sauce and chiles) 20 min | cook time (casserole) 35 min | serves 6

Known as a sopa seca, or "dry soup," this casserole is the definition of Mexican comfort food. Corn tortillas cut into strips are layered with spicy tomato sauce, roasted poblano chiles, and two types of cheese, one soft and melting and the other dry and sharp. The top is spiced with sour cream or Mexican crema, a rich, thick cream available in Mexican grocers, and then the whole thing is baked.

Large Sauté Pan, Stove-top Pepper Roaster, Tongs, Heavy 10-inch Skillet, Slotted Spoon, Round or Rectangular Terra-cotta Baking Dish


Tomato Sauce with Chipotle Chiles
2 tablespoons flavorless vegetable oil
¼ cup chopped white onion
1 clove garlic, chopped
3 cups canned tomato puree
1 canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce, finely chopped, plus 1 teaspoon adobo sauce
½ teaspoon coarse salt
1 poblano chile
Canola oil, for frying
12 to 15 day-old corn tortillas, cut into 1-inch-wide strips
1 cup (2 ounces) shredded queso Chihuahua or other semisoft melting cheese (such
as Monterey Jack or Muenster)
1 cup grated queso añejo or other sharp grating cheese (such as pecorino romano or Asiago)
½ cup sour cream, preferably Mexican sour cream, called crema

1. Make the sauce: Heat a large sauté pan or skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and onion to the pan and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add the tomato puree, chile and adobo sauce, and salt, and bring to a gentle boil, stirring. Decrease the heat to low and cook,
uncovered, for 10 minutes, or until thickened. Set aside.
2. Preheat a stove-top pepper roaster or a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a broiler. Char the skin of the poblano, turning with tongs, for 10 to 15 minutes, until evenly blackened and blistered. Place the charred poblano in a bowl, cover with aluminum foil or plastic wrap, and let stand for about 20 minutes, or until cool enough to handle and the skin has loosened. Rub the charred skin off the cooled chile with your fingertips, or use the tip of a small knife. Rinse with water, then slit the chile along its length and open it flat. Cut out and discard the stem and scrape away the seeds and white membranes with the tip of a spoon. Cut the poblano lengthwise into ¼-inch-wide strips and set aside.
3. Line a tray with paper towels. Pour oil to a depth of ½ inch into a heavy 10-inch skillet, place over medium heat, and heat until a tortilla strip dropped into the oil sizzles on contact. Working in small batches, fry the tortilla strips for 20 to 30 seconds, until they begin to crisp but not brown. Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to transfer the tortilla strips to the prepared tray. Repeat until all the tortillas strips are fried.
4. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread one-third of the sauce in a 10-by-2-inch round or an 8½-by-10½-by-2-inch terra-cotta, ceramic, or enameled cast-iron baking dish. Layer half of the tortilla strips on top. Sprinkle with one third each queso Chihuahua and queso añejo cheese. Layer half of the poblano strips on top. Spread with half of the remaining tomato sauce and layer with all of the remaining tortillas strips, half of each cheese, and all of the remaining poblano strips. Add a final layer of tomato
sauce and then a layer of both cheeses. Spread the sour cream over the top.
5. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the casserole is hot and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes and serve.