Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bacon, Manchego, and Arugula Frittata

The inspiration for this frittata was a sandwich that I had at lunch in DC with a friend. The sandwich was made of Serrano ham, Manchego cheese, and arugula. With the buttery flavors of the Serrano ham and Manchego and the peppery bite of the arugula, it was such a tasty combination! Since I didn’t have Serrano ham on hand, I used bacon for this frittata.

8 slices bacon
12 extra-large eggs
¼ cup crème fraiche

¼ cup half-and-half
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, chopped
2 cups arugula
½ cup grated Manchego cheese
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Beat eggs together with crème fraiche. Whisk in salt and pepper. Set aside.

Cook bacon in nonstick oven-safe skillet over medium heat. When crispy, set aside to cool. Reserve enough fat from bacon in skillet to cook shallots over medium-low heat until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more—be careful not to burn the garlic. Add arugula and cook until just wilted. Crumble bacon into skillet. Pour eggs in skillet over the filling and mix gently. Every couple of minutes, use a spatula to raise the eggs off the bottom of the skillet, allowing more of the liquid egg to settle. Cook until eggs are set around edges, about 4 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese and then place the skillet in the oven and cook until the cheese is melted and just browned, about 10 minutes. Let frittata stand for a few minutes before cutting.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Barefoot Brownies

There are two camps of brownies—dense and fudgy, or spongy and cakey. In my mind, brownies are supposed to be fudgy, and these are the best! They are delicious, so fudgy and dense with a rich chocolate flavor that is enhanced by coffee powder in the mix.

I’ve made these brownies many times, and I must admit that I’m always a little horrified at how much butter, chocolate, and eggs go into them. I often check and re-check the recipe to make sure I didn’t read it wrong. The end result, however, is such a delicious and decadent dessert. They are a special treat!

Source: Outrageous Brownies, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

1 pound unsalted butter
1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, divided
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 extra-large eggs
3 tablespoons instant coffee powder
2 tablespoons real vanilla extract
2 ¼ cups sugar
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, divided (1 cup for batter and ¼ cup in the chips and nuts)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups diced walnut pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 13 by 18 by 1 ½-inch sheet pan.

Melt together the butter, 1 pound chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate on top of a double boiler. Cool slightly. Stir together the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla and sugar. Stir in the warm chocolate mixture and cool to room temperature.

Stir together 1 cup of the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the walnuts and 12 ounces of chocolate chips with ¼ cup flour to coat. Then add to the chocolate batter. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until tester just comes out clean. Halfway through the baking, rap the pan against the oven shelf to allow air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Do not over-bake! Cool thoroughly, refrigerate well and cut into squares.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Originally from Egypt, falafel is a Middle Eastern dish made from chickpeas or fava beans. It can be served with pita bread, stuffed inside the pocket, or eaten alone as a snack. This recipe produces beautiful and tasty falafel balls, crispy golden brown on the outside with a vibrant pistachio-color inside. Be sure to use a thermometer to help you keep an eye on the temperature of the cooking oil. Remember that the temperature will drop when you add the falafel, so you may need to adjust your burner a few times to maintain 350 degrees.

First-Rate Falafel, A Mighty Appetite

2 cups dried chickpeas (option: substitute fava beans or use a mixture of both)
6-8 scallions, minced, or 1 medium onion, finely chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup fresh cilantro or parsley (or ½ cup each), chopped
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon coarse salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
Vegetable oil for deep frying (recommend grapeseed, peanut, or safflower oil)

Cover chickpeas in water and soak for 24 hours. Drain and set aside. Using a food processor, pulverize chickpeas, but only until they form a paste—too smooth, and the batter may fall apart when cooking. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the oil) and mix to combine. Batter should be grainy, speckled with herbs, and a shade of pistachio green. Taste for salt.

Refrigerate batter about one hour, until firm.

Remove from fridge and shape batter into 1-inch balls (a tablespoon measure is helpful). Don’t fiddle too much with dough. Place on a baking tray and cover with plastic wrap. Return to fridge and chill for an additional 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the tahini sauce (see notes below).

When ready to fry, heat at least one inch of oil (you will use just shy of one quart) over medium heat until bubbling, about 350 degrees. Gently drop patties into hot oil in small batches and fry until golden brown on all sides, about three minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels for draining. Keep warm in a low-heat oven while frying remaining patties. Serve with pita and tahini sauce and any or all relishes/condiments including raw onions, cucumber, chopped parsley and tomato. Makes 24-28 falafel patties.

Tahini Sauce
In a medium bowl or a food processor, mix together the following:
1 cup tahini paste, stirred well before using
¼ to ½ cup lemon juice
1 to 2 cloves garlic, mashed
1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
½ cup plain yogurt or water

Blend until smooth; add extra water to make a pourable sauce. Keeps in fridge for a few days. Makes about 2 cups of sauce.

Chicken Stock

I like using home-made chicken stock whenever possible. Once I've saved a couple of chicken carcasses in the freezer, it's time to make the stock.

Source: Chicken Stock, Barefoot Contessa Family Style

3 (5-pound) roasting chickens (I usually use chicken carcasses)

3 large yellow onions, unpeeled, quartered
6 carrots, unpeeled, halved
4 celery stalks with leaves, cut into thirds
20 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
15 sprigs fresh thyme
20 sprigs fresh dill
1 head garlic, unpeeled, cut in half crosswise
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns

Place ingredients in a large stockpot. Add 7 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered for 4 hours. Strain the entire contents of the pot through a colander and discard the solids. Pack in containers and chill.

Favorite BBQ Turkey Meatloaf

I used to make another turkey meatloaf with more classic meatloaf flavors. After trying this recipe, this has become one of McHubby's favorite dishes. Use your favorite BBQ sauce or make your own. (Neely's recipe for BBQ sauce is available in the source link, and it's delicious!)

Source: The Neelys BBQ Turkey Meatloaf

1 tablespoon BBQ Seasoning (recommended: Penzeys)
1 teaspoon crab boil seasoning, (recommended: Old Bay)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups BBQ Sauce, reserving 1/2 cup for the top
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped red onion
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 pounds lean ground turkey
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix BBQ seasoning, crab boil seasoning, soy sauce, beaten egg, 1 cup of the BBQ sauce and Worcestershire sauce.

In a saute pan over medium-high heat, add olive oil. Add onion, bell pepper, salt and pepper and garlic. Saute until tender. Remove from heat and add to wet mix.

Pour mixture into bowl with the ground turkey. Add bread crumbs and mix all together with your hands.

Transfer the meat mixture to a cookie sheet or baking pan. Using your hands, shape the meat into an oblong or rectangular shape. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove and add the reserved 1/2 cup of BBQ sauce to the top and continue to bake for 20 more minutes.