Remember when the year 2020 began? We had such hope. Such promise.
Now look at us. We are a fragile shell of our old selves, hulking silently with haunted eyes toward a tragic and unknowable mist.
On the other hand, we at the Post-Dispatch published a bunch of good recipes throughout the year. So there's that.
The Let's Eat section decided to accentuate the positive and take a hungry look back at the best recipes published in the Post-Dispatch in the otherwise best-forgotten year of 2020.
Did you make one of these recipes? Take a photo and tag us on Instagram with #pdletseat
Yield: 16 smaller muffins, 12 larger ones
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2 cups brown sugar
¾ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped pecans, divided
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease muffin tins and set aside.
2. Mix butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add milk, vanilla, egg and coffee granules, and mix well. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt and ½ cup of the chopped pecans. Add the milk/brown sugar mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just mixed, being careful not to overbeat.
3. Fill prepared muffin tins ¾ full. Mix together the remaining 2 tablespoons chopped pecans with the granulated sugar and sprinkle on top of each muffin. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 10 to 12 minutes.
Per serving (based on 16): 242 calories; 9g fat; 4g saturated fat; 27mg cholesterol; 3g protein; 40g carbohydrate; 28g sugar; 1g fiber; 55mg sodium; 83mg calcium
Adapted from “Four Sisters Inns Cookbook”
Yield: 6 large salads
9 shallots, divided
1 1/3 cups distilled white vinegar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups water
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 small clove garlic
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
¼ cup sour cream
2 pasteurized egg yolks
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1¼ cups canola oil
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
5 heads bibb or other lettuce, rinsed well and dried, then torn in bite-sized pieces
2 heart of romaine, rinsed well and dried, chopped in pieces about 1¾-inches squares
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped chervil
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped chives
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped dill
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
Notes: The pickled shallots must be made a day ahead. The shallots will keep in the refrigerator in a covered container for a month.
• The lettuces should be spun dry or towel dried for best results. Union Loafers spins the lettuces dry, then pats with paper towels if needed.
• If fresh chervil is unavailable, substitute smaller, curly parsley leaves.
• Union Loafers makes toasted bread crumbs from scratch, but toasted panko works well for this salad.
1. The day before, peel and thinly slice 8 shallots crosswise, using a mandoline or a sharp knife. Separate into rings. Place sliced shallots in a colander, rinse with cold water, and let drain. Place in a tempered glass bowl or other nonreactive bowl and set aside.
2. Combine vinegar, sugar, water and 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a 2-quart pan. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the liquid is clear.
3. Pour hot liquid over the prepared shallots and let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
4. To make the dressing, peel and roughly chop the remaining shallot. Place it in a blender then add the garlic clove, buttermilk, sour cream, egg yolks, lemon juice and remaining teaspoon of salt. Blend on high for 20 to 30 seconds.
5. Reduce blender speed to medium and stream canola oil in until the dressing is emulsified.
6. The dressing should be used within 2 days if made with regular egg yolks; within 5 days if using pasteurized eggs.
7. To pan toast the panko, wipe a 6-inch skillet with olive oil and heat over medium high until the skillet is hot. Add panko and stir until the flakes brown.
8. To assemble the salads, toss the torn bibb lettuce with the chopped romaine in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with 1 cup of buttermilk dressing and toss to coat evenly. Add toasted panko crumbs and 1/3 cup pickled shallots, drained, and toss to distribute.
9. Place half the lettuce mixture into each of 6 large salad bowls. Divide the chopped herbs in half. Sprinkle one half over the bottom lettuce layer.
10. Add remaining lettuce to the bowl and place remaining chopped herbs. Serve immediately.
Per serving: 660 calories; 52g fat; 5g saturated fat; 66mg cholesterol; 13g protein; 46g carbohydrate; 24g sugar; 17g fiber; 742mg sodium; 297mg calcium
Yield: 6 (4-inch) cookies
1¼ cups plus 1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour (190 grams)
½ cup plus 1½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (48 grams)
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, lightly packed (134 grams)
1¾ teaspoons unsulfured blackstrap molasses
½ cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
6 ounces (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature (167 grams)
1 large egg (60 grams)
²⁄³ cup chunks of 70% (bittersweet) chocolate, (107 grams)
Scant ½ cup chocolate chips (107 grams)
1. Place the flour in a medium bowl and sift in the cocoa and baking soda. Add the salt and whisk together. Place the dark brown sugar in a small bowl and stir in the molasses and granulated sugar, breaking up any lumps; the mixture will not be completely smooth.
2. Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Turn to medium-low speed and cream the butter until it is the consistency of mayonnaise and holds a peak when the paddle is lifted. Add the molasses mixture and mix for 3 to 4 minutes, until fluffy. Add the egg and mix on low speed for 15 to 30 seconds, until just combined. Scrape the bowl again. The mixture may look broken, but that is fine (overwhipping the eggs could cause the cookies to expand too much during baking and then deflate).
3. Add the flour mixture in 2 additions, mixing on low speed for 15 to 30 seconds after each, or until just combined. Scrape the bottom of the bowl to incorporate any dry ingredients that have settled there. Add the chocolate chunks and chocolate chips and turn the mixer on and off on low speed about 10 times to combine. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
4. Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
5. Divide the dough into 6 equal portions, about 140 grams each. Roll each one into a ball between the palms of your hands (at this point, the balls can be refrigerated for up to 2 days before baking or frozen for up to 1 month; defrost the cookies on a lined baking sheet in the refrigerator overnight before baking).
6. The cookies are very large; bake only 3 on each pan, as far from each other (and from the sides) as possible. Lightly flatten each one with the palm of your hand.
7. Bake until done, about 18 to 20 minutes, reversing the positions of the pans halfway through baking. (Because they are dark brown, it is tricky to tell when the cookies are done, but all areas should look baked and you should smell their aroma). Set the pans on a cooling rack and cool for 5 to 10 minutes, then transfer the cookies to the rack to cool completely.
8. The cookies are best the day they are baked, but they can be stored in a covered container for up to 3 days.
Per serving: 700 calories; 37g fat; 22g saturated fat; 99mg cholesterol; 9g protein; 90g carbohydrate; 58g sugar; 7g fiber; 340mg sodium; 61mg calcium
Recipe from “Bouchon Bakery” by Sebastien Rouxel
Yield: 3 drinks
3 tablespoons caramel ice-cream topping
¼ cup toasted chopped pecans
6 ounces RumChata
6 ounces creme de cacao
3 ounces bourbon
Whipped cream, for garnish
3 whole pecans, for garnish
1. Place caramel sauce and chopped pecans in separate bowls. Dip the rim of each martini glass first into caramel and then into chopped pecans to coat.
2. Combine RumChata, creme de cacao and bourbon in a large cocktail shaker. Fill with ice and shake until cold. Pour into martini glasses and top with a dollop of whipped cream and place a whole pecan on top of that.
Per serving: 561 calories; 16g fat; 3g saturated fat; 8mg cholesterol; 2g protein; 45g carbohydrate; 13g sugar; 2g fiber; 72mg sodium; 33mg calcium
Adapted from a recipe on delish.com
Yield: 6 servings
1 pound pasta, your choice
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano, plus more as needed for serving
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons black pepper, plus more if needed
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and stir to submerge and separate the pieces. Cook uncovered until the pasta is just tender (al dente), according to the instructions on the package. Reserve about ½ cup of the pasta cooking water for finishing your sauce.
2. Drain the pasta in a colander. Pour the drained pasta into a heated serving bowl. Add the cheese, oil and pepper. Stir until the ingredients are evenly distributed. Add about ¼ cup of the reserved cooking water to moisten the pasta slightly — it should appear creamy, not oily. If necessary, add a bit more of the pasta water.
3. Taste, and stir in more pepper if needed (pepper should be one of the main flavors). Serve immediately, with additional cheese on the side.
Per serving: 589 calories; 30g fat; 9g saturated fat; 39mg cholesterol; 22g protein; 58g carbohydrate; 2g sugar; 3g fiber; 935mg sodium; 422mg calcium
Adapted from “Pasta” by Gianni Scappin, Alberto Vanoli and Francesco Tonelli
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
6 cloves garlic, peeled, divided
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
3 to 5 cups low-sodium chicken stock or vegetable stock
½ cup heavy cream or half-and-half, optional
1 cup polenta
¼ cup goat cheese, optional
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup grated pecorino cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
2 shallots peeled and sliced into thin rings
2 ½ cups assorted mushrooms, sliced
½ cup quartered artichoke hearts in water
1 teaspoon white truffle oil
1 ½ cups roughly chopped fresh spinach
4 tablespoons coarsely shredded Reggiano Parmigiano, optional
Notes: For this recipe, it is best to prep all ingredients ahead of time to keep cooking flowing smoothly.
• For the test we used Bob’s Red Mill Corn Grits Polenta. Grits and polenta vary widely, so the cooking times and the amount of liquid added can also vary widely. Although the test grits reached a nice thick consistency at 5 minutes using the original 3 cups stock and ½ cup half-and-half, tasting a small spoonful revealed a grittiness. We ended up cooking the polenta for 18 minutes total, adding 2 cups more of hot stock in ¼ cup increments as needed, until the mouthfeel was creamy and softly granular. Other quality polentas include locally grown McKaskle Family Farms Organic Popcorn Polenta and Anson Mills Artisan Made Fine Yellow Polenta.
• For the goat cheese, we used a log cut into ½ –inch cubes. Butter was also cut in smaller cubes.
• White truffle oil is available at Extra Virgin, An Olive Ovation in Ladue and at Vom Fass in Maplewood.
1. Finely chop 4 cloves of garlic and set aside. Warm a heavy bottomed 3-quart sauce pan over medium low heat, then add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Reduce heat to low and add the 4 chopped garlic cloves. Stir to coat with oil and sauté for 2 minutes. Do not brown the garlic.
2. Add 3 cups of stock and the ½ cup of cream (optional) to the pot, reserving 2 cups of stock, and bring to a steady simmer over medium high heat.
3. Place the remaining 2 cups stock in a small saucepan on the stove and heat to a steady simmer and keep in reserve to use as needed.
4. Using a whisk, slowly pour the polenta into the 3-quart larger pan, whisking constantly for 5 minutes, until the texture is smooth.
5. Continue to cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, for 5 to 18 minutes until the polenta thickens to a creamy consistency and loses its hard granular mouthfeel. Add the reserved heated stock as needed in ¼ cup increments.
6. Remove from the heat. Add in the goat cheese and butter and push into the hot polenta with the wooden spoon. Add the grated pecorino in four additions, folding into the hot polenta after each addition. Allow the cheeses to melt before giving a quick stir to incorporate and set aside in a warm spot, such as the back of the stove, cover and vent the pot.
7. Taste, then add salt and pepper if needed.
8. For the topping, finely chop the remaining 2 cloves of peeled garlic. Peel and slice shallots into thin rings and separate. Warm an 8-inch skillet over low heat, raise heat to medium and add remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add sliced shallots and garlic and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes without browning them.
9. Stir in sliced mushrooms, chopped spinach, artichoke hearts and truffle oil, and raise heat to medium high and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring often.
11. Taste. Add salt and pepper if needed.
12. Divide the polenta evenly, then top with the sautéed mushroom mixture, garnish with Reggiano Parmigiano (if desired) and serve.
Per serving (based on 4): 534 calories; 35g fat; 15g saturated fat; 59mg cholesterol; 18g protein; 38g carbohydrate; 3g sugar; 4g fiber; 968mg sodium; 183mg calcium
Yield: 4 servings (1 quart)
½ cup granulated sugar, divided
2 cups whole milk
1 cup whipping cream
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
1. In a medium saucepan, heat ¼ cup of the sugar over medium heat until it melts and turns amber, without stirring; simply tilt the pan from time to time to encourage even caramelization. This should take a few minutes. Remove from the heat to cool for 1 minute.
2. Carefully stir in the milk and cream, return to medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring well to dissolve (it may take a minute or two for the crystallized sugar to dissolve). Reduce the heat to medium low. Whisk in the chocolate, the remaining ¼ cup sugar and the salt, and stir until the chocolate has melted. Bring to a low simmer and cook, stirring continually without allowing the mixture to boil, until the hot chocolate is thickened, 5 to 8 minutes.
3. Allow to cool to room temperature. You can speed up this process by filling a large bowl halfway with ice and water, pouring the hot chocolate into a medium bowl and placing that bowl in the larger bowl; stirring the chocolate will further quicken the cooling process.
4. Freeze according to ice cream manufacturer’s instructions.
Per serving: 657 calories; 42g fat; 26g saturated fat; 79mg cholesterol; 10g protein; 69g carbohydrate; 65g sugar; 4g fiber; 214mg sodium; 178mg calcium
Recipe by Daniel Neman, inspired by “Tasting Paris” by Clotilde Dusoulier
Yield: 4 servings
8 thin slices firm white bread
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 (¹⁄8-inch-thick) slices sweet onion, such as Vidalia or Walla Walla, about 3½ inches in diameter
¼ cup minced fresh chives
1. Using a glass, cocktail shaker or a round cutter, cut 8 circles as large as possible out of the slices of bread. Mix the mayonnaise and mustard together. Spread each bread circle with 2 teaspoons of the mustard-mayo mix. Place 1 slice of onion on 4 of the bread rounds (it should cover them to the edges). Top with the remaining bread circles. Press lightly to make them adhere.
2. Spread some of the remaining mayonnaise-mustard on the outside edges of each sandwich (this is easiest if you are holding them in your hand). Roll the edges in the chives until coated. Press lightly to make the chives adhere, and serve.
Per serving: 301 calories; 18g fat; 3g saturated fat; 9mg cholesterol; 6g protein; 29g carbohydrate; 4g sugar; 2g fiber; 513mg sodium; 89mg calcium
Recipe from “Essential Pepin” by Jacques Pépin
Yield: 4 servings
1 cup all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cold butter
¼ cup raisins
1 large egg yolk
½ cup buttermilk
1. Heat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Whisk flour, sugar, salt and baking soda together in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and work the butter into the flour using your fingers or a fork until it resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the raisins.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and buttermilk. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix with a spoon until just combined. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead very lightly and form a 4-inch circle. (Add a little more flour to the dough if the dough becomes too sticky to handle.) Do not over-knead.
4. With a sharp or serrated knife, score top of dough about ½ inch deep in an “X” shape.
5. Place dough on a baking sheet and bake until bread is golden, about 35 to 40 minutes. If the top of the bread is getting too dark while baking, place a sheet of aluminum foil over the top. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Per serving: 209 calories; 5g fat; 3g saturated fat; 57mg cholesterol; 5g protein; 35g carbohydrate; 9g sugar; 1g fiber; 260mg sodium; 51mg calcium
Recipe by onedishkitchen.com
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
2 chicken breasts
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons peanut oil
3 or more dried red chili peppers, crushed
1 green onion, minced
4 slices ginger root, minced
1 tablespoon sesame-seed paste, tahini or peanut butter
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1. Rub chicken with sesame oil and salt. Boil water in a large pot fitted with a steamer, making sure the water does not reach the bottom of the steamer. Place the chicken in the steamer, cover and steam for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to lukewarm. Remove bones if necessary and shred meat with your fingers into thin strips.
2. Heat peanut oil in a wok or skillet. Combine the peppers, green onion, ginger, sesame-seed paste, vinegar, soy sauce and sugar, and add to hot oil; stir well and immediately remove from heat. Pour over chicken and garnish with cilantro sprigs.
Per serving (based on 6): 279 calories; 14g fat; 2g saturated fat; 99mg cholesterol; 33g protein; 6g carbohydrate; 3g sugar; 1g fiber; 898mg sodium; 53mg calcium
Recipe from “Regional Cooking of China” by Maggie Gin
Yield: 1 drink
2 ounces chocolate liqueur, such as Godiva
1 ounce peppermint schnapps
1 ounce vodka, optional
Combine chocolate liqueur and peppermint schnapps. Optional vodka gives the drink more of a kick but dilutes the flavor and mouthfeel. Serve in a martini glass.
Recipe by Daniel Neman and probably lots of other people
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
½ pound shrimp with the shells on, thawed if frozen
4 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon butter
1 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 large red potato, cut in ½-inch dice
2 carrots, thinly sliced
2 ribs celery, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted tomatoes
1 cup bay scallops or langostinos, thawed if frozen
8 clams, thawed if frozen
1. Peel the shrimp and place shells in a large pot along with the chicken stock. Heat to a simmer and cook 10 minutes. Strain and reserve the stock; discard the shells. Meanwhile, chop the shrimp into small pieces and set aside.
2. In the same pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
3. Return the reserved stock to the pot and add the potato, carrots, celery, bay leaf, wine and tomatoes. Simmer until the vegetables are soft and a knife or fork easily pierces the cubes of potato. Add the chopped shrimp, scallops or langostinos, and clams. Cook until the shrimp are pink, the scallops are hot all the way through and the clam shells have opened, about 2 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and the garlic, if you can find it, before serving.
Per serving (based on 4): 347 calories; 7g fat; 3g saturated fat; 132mg cholesterol; 33g protein; 36g carbohydrate; 10g sugar; 5g fiber; 1,138mg sodium; 112mg calcium
Recipe by Daniel Neman
Yield: 3 servings
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1½ cups milk, any kind
4 ounces best-quality bittersweet chocolate (60% to 70% cacao), finely chopped
Chantilly whipped cream, for serving
1. In a small saucepan, heat the sugar over medium heat until it melts and turns amber, without stirring; simply tilt the pan from time to time to encourage even caramelization. This should take a few minutes. Remove from the heat to cool for 1 minute.
2. Carefully pour in the milk, return to medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring well to dissolve (it may take the crystallized sugar a minute or two to dissolve). Reduce the heat to medium low. Whisk in the chocolate and stir until melted. Bring to a low simmer and cook, stirring continually without allowing the mixture to boil, until the hot chocolate is thickened, 5 to 8 minutes longer (You can make this in advance; cool and gently reheat before serving).
3. Pour into cups and let rest 5 minutes. Serve with Chantilly whipped cream, either in a bowl on the side or piped onto the surface of the hot chocolate at the last minute using a piping bag fitted with a star tip.
Per serving: 326 calories; 19g fat; 11g saturated fat; 15mg cholesterol; 6g protein; 34g carbohydrate; 28g sugar; 3g fiber; 56mg sodium; 161mg calcium
Per serving (with Chantilly Whipped Cream): 448 calories; 28g fat; 17g saturated fat; 45mg cholesterol; 7g protein; 40g carbohydrate; 35g sugar; 3g fiber; 64mg sodium; 180mg calcium
Nutrition analysis calculation used whole milk. Recipe from “Tasting Paris” by Clotilde Dusoulier
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
2 tablespoons oil
1 large garlic clove, crushed and peeled
2 quarter-sized slices peeled ginger
2 pounds rump, loin or bottom round roast
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons dry sherry or Shaoxing rice wine
1 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 whole star anise
1. Heat a large, heavy pot over high heat until hot; add oil, swirl, and heat for 30 seconds. Turn heat to medium; toss in the garlic and ginger, then add the meat and brown on all sides. Add the soy sauce and sherry, turning the meat a few times to color it; then add boiling water, sugar, salt and star anise. When the liquid boils again, adjust heat to medium low to maintain a slow but steady simmer, cover, and simmer for 2 hours, turning the meat now and then.
2. Remove the roast to a chopping board to cool and firm; then slice it against the grain into the desired thickness. Skim most of the oil from the sauce and serve the sauce on the side or over the meat. This dish is also excellent served cold as appetizers or cold cuts.
Per serving (based on 4): 382 calories; 15g fat; 4g saturated fat; 134mg cholesterol; 3g protein; 6g carbohydrate; 4g sugar; no fiber; 826mg sodium; 55mg calcium
Recipe from “The Key to Chinese Cooking” by Irene Kuo
Yield: 10 to 12 servings
For the sponge cakes
6 large eggs, separated
7 tablespoons (½ cup minus 1 tablespoon) granulated sugar plus 7 tablespoons (½ cup minus 1 tablespoon) granulated sugar
1¾ cups sifted cake flour
For the lemon syrup
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup water
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the lemon curd
1 recipe lemon curd (see recipe) or 2½ cups purchased lemon curd
For the mascarpone filling
2½ cups heavy whipping cream
7 tablespoons (½ cup minus 1 tablespoon) granulated sugar
1 pound mascarpone
Note: All the parts of this cake can be made in advance.
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and position oven racks in the lower and upper thirds. Fit 2 cake pans with parchment rounds. Do not grease the pans.
2. Make the cakes: Whip the egg yolks and 7 tablespoons of the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer on high speed until thick and very light in color, 4 to 5 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. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside while you whip the egg whites.
3. Thoroughly clean the mixer bowl and whisk attachment or beaters. Whip the egg whites on medium speed to soft peaks. With the mixer running, gradually add 7 more tablespoons of sugar; continue beating until the egg whites hold firm peaks. Fold ¹⁄³ of the egg whites into the beaten yolks with a spatula, then sift half of the flour over the top and gently fold it in. Repeat. Fold in the last of the egg whites until no streaks of white remain.
4. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, until the tops are golden, firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean. Halfway through the baking time, switch the pans on the racks so they bake evenly. Transfer the cakes to a rack to cool completely.
5. Make the lemon syrup: Heat ½ cup of sugar and water in a small saucepan, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the liquid is clear. Remove from the heat and cool completely. Stir in the lemon juice.
6. Make the mascarpone filling: Thoroughly clean the mixer bowl and whisk or beaters. Place the cream and the remaining 7 tablespoons of sugar in the bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Place the mascarpone and 1 cup of the lemon curd in a large bowl and stir until blended — it should be the consistency of pudding. Gently fold in the whipped cream until the mixture is homogeneous and thick. If the mixture becomes overworked it will look grainy or separated. If this happens, stir in several tablespoons of cream and stir just until the mixture has smoothed out again.
7. Transfer 2¼ cups of filling to a medium bowl to use for piping decorations. Transfer half of the remaining filling to another medium bowl. Refrigerate all 3 bowls of mascarpone mixture. You may want to label the 3 bowls: one for piping, one for filling layers and one for frosting.
8. Unmold the cakes: Run a thin, flexible knife or spatula around the edge of a pan to loosen a cake. Turn the pan upside down and give it a sharp rap on the table if necessary to release (don’t worry, these cakes are very sturdy). Turn the cake right-side up, leaving the parchment paper attached. Repeat with the remaining cake. Level the cakes, if necessary, by cutting a thin slice off the top if it is mounded and not even. Use a serrated knife to cut each cake horizontally into two layers. Set aside one of the bottom layers to use last, and remove the parchment from the other layer.
9. Assemble the cake. Place a cake layer, cut side up, on the serving plate. Brush the cake with ¼ of the lemon syrup. Spread ⅓ of the mascarpone filling on top. Place 3 level tablespoons of the remaining lemon curd on top of the filling and spread evenly to the edge. Place a second cake layer on top, cut side up, and repeat with lemon syrup, mascarpone filling and lemon curd. Place third layer on top, cut side up, and repeat.
10. Top with the last cake layer, placing it bottom side up (cut side down). Remove the parchment paper; the surface will be crumb-free for frosting. Moisten it with the remaining lemon syrup. Spread the mascarpone reserved for frosting over the cake, spreading it quite thinly on top with more on the side.
11. Finish and serve the cake: Spoon the piping mascarpone into a pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch star tip (or a gallon-size plastic bag with a small hole in one corner, fitted with a ½-inch star tip). Pipe rosettes over the entire top of the cake, starting around the outside edge and working your way to the center. Put a few tablespoons of the remaining curd into a plastic sandwich bag and squeeze it into one of the corners. Snip off the corner and pipe a center of lemon curd into each of the rosettes. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving, so the flavors and textures have a chance to meld. To serve, slice with a thin, sharp knife. The cake will keep, refrigerated, for 3 to 4 days.
Per serving (based on 12): 590 calories; 32g fat; 19g saturated fat; 267mg cholesterol; 10g protein; 66g carbohydrate; 49g sugar; 1g fiber; 182mg sodium; 5mg calcium
Recipe from “The Art & Soul of Baking” by Cindy Mushet
Yield: 4 servings
1 chicken, 3½ to 4 pounds, cut into 8 pieces
3 whole cardamom pods
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 to 2 drops orange food coloring, optional
1 onion, thinly sliced lengthwise, for serving
Note: This recipe requires a marination time of 6 to 12 hours.
1. Rinse the chicken pieces under cold running water and remove and discard the skin. Drain and blot dry the chicken with paper towels. Place the chicken pieces in a large nonreactive bowl. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon salt over the chicken and toss to mix. Let stand for 5 minutes. Be sure to thoroughly clean the sink with plenty of soap and hot water.
2. Meanwhile, crush the cardamom pods in a mortar with a pestle, then add the garlic and ginger and pound to a coarse paste. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, combine all these ingredients in a mini chopper or spice mill and process to a coarse paste.
3. Transfer the cardamom mixture to a small bowl and stir in the yogurt, lemon juice, black pepper and cayenne. Season the marinade with salt to taste. If desired, stir in enough food coloring to create the desired tint. Pour the marinade over the chicken and turn the pieces to coat. Let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for 6 to 12 hours; the longer the better.
4. Set up the grill for indirect heat, and preheat to medium-high.
5. Brush and oil the grill grate. Arrange the chicken pieces away from the flames or hot coals. Cover and cook until done, about 45 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces.
6. Transfer to a platter and serve topped with the sliced onions.
Per serving: 475 calories; 14g fat; 4g saturated fat; 292mg cholesterol; 17g protein; 9g carbohydrate; 5g sugar; 1g fiber; 850mg sodium; 116mg calcium
Adapted from “The Barbecue! Bible” by Steven Raichlen
Yield: 12 servings
11 to 12 tablespoons butter, softened, divided
1/4 cup dulce de leche (cajeta) or thick caramel sauce
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature, divided
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup dark cocoa powder
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup caramel sauce or dulce de leche
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
4 ounces regular cream cheese
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Canned whipping cream or regular whipped cream (optional)
Chocolate sauce (optional)
Notes: Allow 20 to 30 minutes for the butter and cream cheese to soften and for the eggs to come to room temperature, depending on the warmth or coolness in the kitchen. When softened, the butter should still be cool to the touch. When gently prodded with a finger, it should leave an imprint. Both steps are important to get the best loft to the cake.
• For the pan release, use butter generously before adding the ingredients. It works better than baking spray for this cake.
• Cajeta, also known as dulce de leche, is available at Mexican grocery stores. A thick caramel sauce will work as well.
• This cake is baked in a water bath. You will need a 9-inch-by-13-inch dish and a roasting pan large enough to fit the baking dish inside.
• This cake bakes into two layers. It looks like the layers mix when added to the pan, but as it bakes the flan settles to the bottom.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, 325 degrees if using a glass pan.
2. Generously grease the bottom and sides of the pan with one to two tablespoons softened butter.
3. Coat the bottom of the pan with caramel sauce. Place the baking pan inside the roasting pan and set aside.
4. Add the remaining 10 tablespoons of butter and sugar to a large mixing bowl. Beat with a hand-held or stand mixer until the mixture is lighter and fluffy. Add one egg and beat it in.
5. Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder and baking soda into a medium bowl and whisk to blend.
6. Add the flour and buttermilk to the creamed butter and sugar, starting with 1/3 of the flour mix and half of the buttermilk. Mix until just blended, then repeat. End with the flour and set aside the cake batter.
7. Bring a kettle of water to boil.
8. To make the flan, add the evaporated milk, condensed milk, softened cream cheese, eggs and vanilla to a blender and blend on high for 30 seconds. Set aside.
9. Place the flour mixture in the prepared pan and smooth it out. Next, pour the flan mixture slowly and evenly over the cake batter.
10. Cover the pan with aluminum foil. Pull out the oven rack and place the roasting pan in the center of the oven. Pour hot water to a depth of 1-inch into the roaster. Push rack in, close door and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.
11. Carefully remove the cake pan to a cooling rack and allow the cake to thoroughly cool, which will take 45 to 50 minutes. When cooled, place a sheet pan over the cake pan and turn to invert the cake. Scrape any caramel sauce remaining in the pan out and drizzle over cake.
12. Cut into 12 pieces, top with a generous squirt of whipping cream, and criss-cross the whipping cream with a lattice pattern of chocolate sauce.
Per serving: 558 calories; 26g fat; 15g saturated fat; 131mg cholesterol; 13g protein; 71g carbohydrate; 51g sugar; 2g fiber; 282mg sodium; 318mg calcium
Yield: 4 servings
2 ears corn
2 teaspoons butter (²⁄³ tablespoon)
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
3 tablespoons sour cream
½ cup queso fresco, crumbled
½ teaspoon chili powder
1 ⁄8 teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 small chicken breasts, cooked, optional
1. Cut the kernels off the corn. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add corn and cook, stirring frequently, until most kernels have small brown spots, about 20 minutes.
2. Mix together the corn, mayonnaise, sour cream, cheese, chili powder, cayenne and lime juice. If using, cut the chicken into small pieces.
3. Place 4 portions of lettuce on plates. If using chicken, place on lettuce. Top with corn mixture.
Per serving: 368 calories; 19g fat; 7g saturated fat; 127mg cholesterol; 36g protein; 16g carbohydrate; 6g sugar; 2g fiber; 257mg sodium; 8mg calcium
Recipe by Daniel Neman
Yield: 10 servings
½ teaspoon active dry yeast
²⁄³ cup (160ml) lukewarm water
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks, 170g) unsalted butter, cold
²⁄³ cup (130g) granulated sugar
1¾ cups (230g) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon milk, any kind
1. At least 2½ hours before serving, sprinkle the yeast into the lukewarm water and let sit for 10 minutes until foamy. If it does not get foamy, the yeast is probably too old. Discard and begin again with new yeast.
2. In the meantime, grease a 10-inch cake pan (not springform) with 1 tablespoon of the butter and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the sugar.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt. Form a well in the center and pour in the yeast mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon or dough whisk until incorporated. On a clean work surface, knead the dough for 5 minutes, until smooth and springy. Let rest for 5 minutes.
4. In the meantime, put the remaining 11 tablespoons of butter between two sheets of parchment paper and bang with your fist to flatten into a 7-inch round.
5. Flour your work surface lightly and roll out the dough to form an 8-inch round. Put the round of butter on top of the round of dough and pour the remaining 9 tablespoons of sugar over the butter. Fold the bottom third up toward the center, like a letter, and press with the tips of your fingers to seal. Fold the top third down and over, making sure the layer of dough encapsulates the butter and sugar, and press to seal. Fold both sides in to meet in the center, making sure again that the butter and sugar are trapped inside, and press to seal. Put on a plate and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
6. Flour your work surface lightly again. Roll the dough out to form a rectangle about 8-by-12 inches. Fold in three like a letter. Give the dough a quarter turn, roll it out into a rectangle about 5-by-15-inches, and fold in three again, ending with a 5-inch square. Fold the four corners of the square in to meet in the center, flip, and tuck the edges under to shape into a ball. Return to the fridge for 15 minutes.
7. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
8. Flour your work surface lightly again. Roll the dough out into a 10-inch round, and transfer to the prepared pan. Brush with the milk and, using the tip of a sharp knife, score the top in a shallow crisscross pattern. Bake until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Using a spoon, scoop some of the melted butter that pools on the sides and baste the top.
9. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then lift with a spatula and transfer to a serving plate (if the caramel has already set in the pan, pop the pastry back into the oven for 5 minutes). Serve lightly warm or at room temperature. It tastes best the day it is made; leftovers can be reheated for 5 minutes in a 400-degree oven.
Per serving: 194 calories; 14g fat; 9g saturated fat; 37mg cholesterol; no protein; 13g carbohydrate; 13g sugar; no fiber; 3mg sodium; 5mg calcium
Recipe from “Tasting Paris,” by Clotilde Dusoulier
Yield: 4 servings
2 (8-ounce) catfish fillets
1 cup buttermilk
5 cups round restaurant-style tortilla chips, loosely packed
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 (6-inch) flour or corn tortillas
8 to 12 tablespoons chipotle aioli, store bought or homemade
1 cup shredded green cabbage
1 ½ cups pico de gallo, store bought or homemade
Notes: If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, place 1 tablespoon plus 1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice or white vinegar in a 2-cup measuring cup. Fill with milk to the 1 ½ cup line and let stand for five minutes.
• Don’t use baked tortilla chips for this dish; the oiliness of thicker chips sticks better to the fish.
• The Royale uses oil that is a combination of 75% vegetable oil and 25% extra virgin olive oil to pan fry the fillets.
• For the final finish on the fillets, the Royale bakes them directly on the oven rack. You may place a baking sheet under the rack to catch loose crumbs. Alternately, use a rimmed cookie sheet with a cooling rack set on top for the bake. For the test, we used the rimmed cookie sheet.
• The Royale uses flour tortillas for their tacos but you can substitute corn if desired.
1. An hour or two before cooking, cut the fillets in half lengthwise, then cut each piece in half width wise. Rinse under cold water and pat dry.
2. Pour the buttermilk into a shallow bowl and add the fillets. Cover and return to the refrigerator.
3. To make the tortilla chip breading, pulse the tortilla chips in a food processor to crumbs. Add cumin, salt and pepper to the mix and stir to blend. Place 1 ½ cups in a shallow dish big enough to hold a fillet.
4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
5. Remove catfish fillets from the refrigerator. Shake off excess buttermilk and dredge the fillets through the breading on both sides. Add more breading as needed.
6. Preheat an 8-inch stainless steel frying pan over medium-high heat for a minute or two. Mix the olive oil into the vegetable oil and add to the pan. Heat the oil until it begins to shimmer and a drop of water skitters on the surface. Add the fillets and pan fry until the coating turns light brown, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. If the breading does not adhere to the fillets, put the pan-fried fillets back in the dish with the breading and pat in place on both sides.
7. Place finished fillets on a rimmed baking sheet set with a rack and put in the oven to crisp up for about 5 to 7 minutes.
8. Spray a nonstick skillet lightly with cooking spray and add the tortillas to soften.
9. Place a tortilla on the plate and run a line of chipotle mayonnaise down the center. Top with shredded cabbage. Add a catfish fillet and top with 3 tablespoons pico de gallo.
Per serving: 821 calories; 47g fat; 12g saturated fat; 78mg cholesterol; 28g protein; 73g carbohydrate; 8g sugar; 2g fiber; 1,774mg sodium; 221mg calcium
Yield: 12 servings
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon peppercorns, see note
10 whole cloves, see note
1 bay leaf, see note
2 dried whole chile peppers
1 cooked beet, optional
12 hard boiled eggs, peeled
Note: Instead of using peppercorns, cloves, bay leaf and dried peppers, you can use 2 teaspoons of pickling spices.
1. Combine vinegar, water, sugar, salt, peppercorns, cloves, bay leaf and dried peppers (or pickling spices) in small saucepan. Add cooked beet for a beautiful magenta color, if desired. Bring to boil, stirring frequently, until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain liquid through sieve or cheesecloth, if desired.
2. Place eggs in a 1-quart jar with lid. Pour hot liquid over eggs. Cover jar with lid. Refrigerate for at least two days before using. Pickled eggs will keep for one month in the refrigerator.
Per serving: 88 calories; 5g fat; 2g saturated fat; 186mg cholesterol; 7g protein; 4g carbohydrate; 2g sugar; 1g fiber; 274mg sodium; 39mg calcium
Recipe from eggs.ca
Yield: 4 servings
1 medium seedless watermelon
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup balsamic vinegar
2 cups tahini
½ cup lemon juice
½ cup white wine vinegar
1 cup pistachio meats
1 cup garbanzo beans
1 pound baby spinach, rinsed and dried
2 to 4 plum tomatoes or 1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 ½ cup feta cheese crumbles
2 cups loosely packed fresh mint leaves, or to taste
Notes: The seedless melon we used for the test was very ripe and the slice in the center didn’t hold its shape, but it still tasted good. The other three slices held the triangle shape.
• The tahini salad dressing makes more than will be used in this recipe. Store leftovers in the refrigerator to use on other fruit dishes and salads. Remove from the refrigerator a few hours before serving to allow it to flow more freely.
• The melon-balsamic glaze shouldn’t be refrigerated.
• Both the dressing and the glaze can be placed in a condiment squeeze bottle with a narrow tip to criss-cross over the salad.
1. Cut the rind off the melon, starting with the top and the bottom, to create a base to work from. Stand the melon on end and remove the remaining rind and white from the sides.
2. Slice half the melon into 4 circles of equal size and set aside for assembling the salad later.
3. To make the juice, cut a slice about an inch thick from the remaining watermelon into small pieces and place in a juicer or blender. You will need 1 cup of juice to make the melon glaze, strained of any seeds. Add more watermelon if necessary. Stop when you reach 1 cup. Strain the juice. There will probably be leftover watermelon from this step.
4. To make the glaze, add the watermelon juice, balsamic vinegar and sugar to a 4-quart saucepan. Place on low heat and reduce until liquid is thick and viscous. Be careful not to burn, stir often and frequently. Also take care to not make caramel. If it cooks too long it will be too thick to drizzle. A good way to tell if glaze is done is by using a wooden spoon. Dip the spoon into the glaze, let cool a bit, drag your finger on the back of the spoon. Your finger should create a clear line on the spoon.
5. To make the tahini vinaigrette, add tahini, lemon juice, white wine vinegar and salt to taste in a blender. Blend until smooth, add water a little at time, if too thick. Note, you will only use a cup and a half of this dressing for the salads. Cover and refrigerate.
6. In a sauté pan dry toast pistachios until toasted brown, careful nut to burn. Rough chop with knife or in the food processor. Do not over process nuts or they will turn to pistachio butter.
7. To assemble the salads, line the bottom of 4 large plates or shallow bowls with spinach. Divide garbanzos and scatter across.
8. Cut each of the reserved watermelon discs into 4 quarters and stack in a line on top of spinach.
9. Slice tomatoes in half if using cherry tomatoes, thin slices if using plum tomatoes, then arrange around the watermelon.
10. Top watermelon with feta and pistachios. Drizzle with tahini vinaigrette, about 3 tablespoons for each plate, and with melon-balsamic glaze, about 2 tablespoons, crisscrossing the salad.
11. Garnish with fresh mint. Use whole leaves or slice the mint in a chiffonade.
Per serving: 1,158 calories; 55g fat; 14g saturated fat; 50mg cholesterol; 38g protein; 152g carbohydrate; 103g sugar; 22g fiber; 832mg sodium; 828mg calcium
Yield: 8 servings
8 cups peeled, sliced apples (from about 3¼ pounds apples)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch or instant ClearJel
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon allspice
¼ cup undiluted apple juice concentrate (frozen apple juice, thawed)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter, diced in small pieces
Double pie crust
2 tablespoons milk, optional
1 tablespoon coarse or turbinado sugar, optional
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease a pie pan that’s at least 2 inches deep.
2. Combine the sliced apples and lemon juice in a large mixing bowl.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cornstarch, salt and spices. Sprinkle the mixture over the apples and stir to coat. Stir in the apple juice concentrate and vanilla.
4. Roll the larger piece of dough (if using doughs of different sizes) into a 13-inch circle. Transfer it to the prepared pan and trim the edges so they overlap the rim of the pan by 1 inch all the way around.
5. Spoon the apple filing into the pan. Dot the top with diced butter.
6. Roll out the remaining dough to an 11-inch circle. Either cut into thin strips for a lattice or place the whole circle on top of the pie. Bring the overhanging bottom crust up and over the top crust, pinching to seal the the two and making a decorative crimp. If using the entire top crust, prick it all over with a fork to allow steam to escape, or cut decorative vent holes.
7. For extra crunch and shine, brush the top crust with milk and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Place the pie in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to firm up the crust.
8. Place the pie on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake the pie for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake 40 minutes more. You should see the filling bubbling inside the pie (and perhaps onto the parchment). Check the pie after 30 minutes of baking time and cover the edges with foil or a pie shield to keep them from browning too quickly, if necessary.
9. When the pie is done, remove it from the oven. Cool it completely before slicing; the filling continues to thicken as the pie cools and if you cut it too soon it will run out all over the place. Store lightly covered at room temperature for several days, or freeze.
Per serving: 594 calories; 29g fat; 15g saturated fat; 53mg cholesterol; 4g protein; 78g carbohydrate; 35g sugar; 3g fiber; 372mg sodium; 186mg calcium
Recipe by King Arthur Flour
Yield: 1 serving
½ cup chopped tomatoes
½ cup chopped cucumbers
¼ cup chopped red bell pepper
1 scallion, sliced thin
1 hard-cooked egg, chopped
Salt and pepper
½ tablespoon olive oil
1 wedge lemon
2 tablespoons hummus
In a bowl, mix together tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, scallion and egg. Season with plenty of salt and pepper. Add olive oil and juice from lemon wedge, and mix well. Spread 1 tablespoon of hummus on the inside of each half of the pita, and fill the pita halves with the mixture.
Per serving: 397 calories; 16g fat; 3g saturated fat; 187mg cholesterol; 16g protein; 51g carbohydrate; 8g sugar; 8g fiber; 635mg sodium; 74mg calcium
Recipe by Daniel Neman
Yield: 6 servings
1 pound asparagus
1 tablespoon butter
½ onion, roughly chopped
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1. Remove the bottom few inches from the asparagus spears and discard. Chop spears into 1-inch pieces.
2. In a medium or large pot, melt the butter and add the onions. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add asparagus and sauté 1 minute. Add stock and bring to a simmer. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 3 to 5 minutes. Pour into a blender, in batches if necessary (do not fill blender more than halfway). Blend until smooth. Serve hot or cold.
Per serving: 55 calories; 2g fat; 1g saturated fat; 5mg cholesterol; 5g protein; 5g carbohydrate; 3g sugar; 2g fiber; 319mg sodium; 33mg calcium
Recipe by Daniel Neman