Basic Recipes & Ingredients

BASIC INGREDIENTS

Flour
When I bake pastry, I use unbleached pastry flour because it contains less protein, thereby ensuring tender crusts.

Olive Oil
I save expensive extra-virgin olive oil for salads and finishing vegetables and use a blended oil-90% canola oil and 10% olive oil when roasting or sauteing. I made the switch from using extra-virgin for everything to a blend after reading Harold McGee’s insightful article in “The New York Times”  (November 22, 2010). A panel of judges concluded that there was no taste difference between the two when heated, and that the expensive components of extra-virgin literally “go up in smoke.”

Sugar
Unless otherwise specified, I used granulated sugar in these recipes. To make  pies or tarts sparkle, I use white sanding sugar which is available in specialty shops or online at King Arthur Flour.

BASIC RECIPES

Chicken Stock
The key to making clear, rich stock is to keep it at a simmer–boiling will make the stock greasy. I use a flame tamer,  which lifts the soup-pot above the burner, making  it easier to maintain a low temperature.  When I don’t have time to make stock, I substitute Swanson’s organic, free-range broth.

Ingredients
4 pounds chicken bones or 4 pounds chicken legs, wings, and backs
1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
1 bay leaf
Peppercorns
3 sprigs flat-leaf parsley

Directions
Wash the chicken parts, remove any excess fat or skin, and place them in a stockpot with the remaining ingredients.  Add cold water to cover by two inches.  Bring the liquid to a simmer under medium-high heat, skim any scum away, partially cover and cook for approximately two hours.  Watch the pot carefully—never let the liquid boil. Add more hot water if necessary.

Take the pot off the heat, cool the liquid and discard the solids. Refrigerate and skim off the fat. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days or freeze.

PIZZA DOUGH

This dough is really easy to make.  I use the “Saf-Instant Yeast” available on-line from King Arthur  Flour.  It seems to work better than brands available in the supermarket. In any case, be sure you check the expiration date on the package.

Adapted from Mario Batali’s “Italian Grill”

Ingredients
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
2 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup warm water (120-130 degrees)
1/4 cup dry white wine, at room temperature
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

Put  the dry ingredients in a large bowl, make a well in the center, and add the water, wine and oil. Mix it all together until a shaggy ball forms, then turn it out onto a lightly-dusted work surface. Adding additional flour as needed,  gently knead the dough for approximately five minutes until it is smooth and only slightly sticky.

Oil a large, clean bowl and add the the dough.  Turn it to coat, then cover with plastic wrap and let rise until double in bulk. Depending upon the type of yeast you use, this should take about two hours.  Dough may be stored in the refrigerator for one to two days or in the freezer for about two months. Bring to room temperature before using.

BEST EVER SALAD DRESSING
Adapted from Sam Sifton, The New York TImes

Ingredients
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar or champagne vinegar
1 shallot minced
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Place the shallot in a small bowl with the lemon juice, vinegar and salt. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes to allow the shallot to soften and loose some of its heat. Whisk in the mustard  and the oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

MISO-MARINATED GRILLED CHICKEN
Adapted from “Home Cooking with Jean-George”  by Jean-Georges Vongerichten

Ingredients

2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 lemons
2 tablespoons white (shiro) miso
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
pinch dried red chile flakes or serrano chile, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Lime wedges for serving

Directions
Wash and pat dry the chicken pieces and place them in a large ceramic bowl.  Zest the  two lemons and it to the bowl along with 1/4 cup of their juice. Add the miso, herbs, chiles, and oil. Cover the dish and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. (When you’re pressed for time, don’t worry about marinating for a lengthy period.)

Heat the grill to medium high and lightly oil the cooking grate.

Turn the chicken in the marinade again. Lightly season with the Kosher salt and be more generous with the black pepper.

Place the chicken on the grill and cook until firm to the touch (about seven minutes.) Let the chicken rest for about six minutes, then serve with the lime wedges.

GINGER MUSHROOM SIMMER SAUCE FOR SALMON, CHICKEN OR SOBA NOODLES

(Adapted from Dahlia Haas)

Ingredients
1 cup chicken stock or broth
1/2 cup mirin
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
4 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and diced*
1/2 cup fresh shitake mushrooms, caps only, diced
1 tablespoon chives, minced (optional)
cilantro sprigs for garnish (optional)

Directions
Mix all the ingredients together in a small saucepan except mushrooms and chives. Simmer the broth over low heat, partially covering the pan, for approximately 15 minutes.  Strain the broth, add the mushrooms and continue cooking until the mushrooms are soft, approximately 15 minutes. Spoon the broth over the fish or chicken and sprinkle with the chives and cilantro.
*Note: To save time, I process an entire peeled ginger root in a mini-chopper and store it in the refrigerator. It will keep for about a week. It will keep much longer stored in the freezer. I freeze mine, wrapped in foil, in 1 tablespoon packets.