August 2010


Almond cake, without question, is my favorite thing to do with extra egg whites. I’ve been making gelato lately, which leaves me with four egg whites each time. Of course, you can use them up just cooking eggs (zzzzzzzzz) or making meringues, but I like this idea much better!

Because the chocolate gelato I just made is so deep, dark, cool and chocolatey, a warm slice of almond cake underneath it or on the side balances it out beautifully. Darkness and light, fire and ice, yin and yang…and so on, and so on and scooby-dooby-doo!

This recipe comes from last year’s very tasty calendar of food!

ALMOND CAKE
½ cup butter, melted
1 cup ground, blanched almonds (almond flour)
2/3 cup powdered sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking powder
4* egg whites
½ tsp. almond extract
pinch salt

*I always made this cake with 5 egg whites; however, it tastes just fine (maybe even better!) with 4, which is the number of egg whites leftover from most of my gelato recipes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Melt butter and set aside. Combine ground almonds with sugar, flour and baking powder. Add egg whites and almond extract and stir. Add melted butter and stir.

Spread batter in buttered 8 x 8″ baking dish. Bake for 25 minutes or till slightly golden and toothpick comes out clean.

I hate to break this to you, but this cake with a scoop of chocolate gelato on top makes a damn fine breakfast. In fact, it was for me today. Let’s hear it for antioxidants and sugar in the mornin’!

Two great tastes that taste great together!

Let’s get serious about chocolate for just a moment. If you are–and you should know I absolutely am–this gelato is calling your name. Deep, dark, glossy, rich and intensely delicious…made possible by two of the best chocolate ingredients I have on hand: Valrhona cocoa powder and Callebaut dark chocolate. Yeah, baby!

Remember the key lime gelato I made recently? I was so blown away by its creaminess, I had to try a chocolate version using the same base recipe. Word on the street is it’s “f***in’ awesome” and I can’t disagree…not to mention, that may be the best feedback I’ve received to date (so thank you!). 🙂

KATTY’S DEEP DARK CHOCOLATE GELATO

1.5 cups whole milk
1 can sweetened condensed milk
4 large egg yolks
1 cup Valrhona cocoa powder (available at Whole Foods)
2 oz. Callebaut dark chocolate, chopped
¼ teaspoon salt

Heat milk on medium to  medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, till small bubbles form at edge of pan. Remove from heat and whisk in chopped chocolate till it melts.

Beat together egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk till smooth. Temper egg mixture by slowly adding to hot milk, whisking constantly. Cook over medium-high heat and continue to whisk until mixture reaches 160 degrees F and custard coats the back of a spoon. Do not let it boil! This custard will be exceptionally thick–very much like the consistency of brownie batter. Mmmm, batter!

Strain through fine-mesh sieve into clean bowl, let cool to room temperature. Stir in salt. You can make an ice bath to speed up the process. Chill custard overnight or at least four hours.

Just before turning the chilled custard into your ice cream maker, place the custard and the dasher from your machine into the freezer for up to 10 minutes. And now, into the spin cycle: process according to your ice cream machine’s directions.

I believe in miracles since this chocolate gelato came along, you sexy thing! And sexier still, serve the gelato over a slice of slightly warmed almond cake…a match made somewhere close to heaven, I am sure. I’ll be back atcha with that recipe later on–so save those egg whites and see you soon!

You know how some things you never quite outgrow? Meatloaf is one of those for me. Just because a dish is comfort food doesn’t mean it can’t be–dare I say it? I’ll whisper: sexy. Seriously. If not outright sexy, it’s certainly wearing a snazzier dress to the party.

There are so many possibilities, actually, but I’ll start with this one. Are you ready for the second installment of the Sicilian pesto saga?

The basic  meatloaf recipe is a variation on the way my mom taught me when I was a kiddo. Last year, I measured so I could share. It always comes out moist and delicious.

STUFFED MEATLOAF WITH PESTO AND FRESH MOZZARELLA

1.25 pounds of meatloaf mix (ground veal/ pork/beef combo)
¼ cup water
most of an 8 oz. can of tomato sauce (reserve small portion to top meatloaf)
½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1 egg
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
1 tablespoon grated Pecorino Romano
Ground black pepper

For Filling
3 tablespoons Sicilian pesto (or whatever pesto you have on hand)
fresh mozzarella, sliced (locally, I Liuzzi)

Line a baking sheet (I use a pizza pan) with foil. Combine ingredients in a large bowl with your hands. Use care just to combine—don’t overhandle the meat.

Split the meat mixture into two halves. Gently form the first half into a large oval and pat to flatten. Layer sliced fresh mozzarella evenly over bottom half. Top with Sicilian pesto.

Then form the remaining meatloaf mixture over the top, making sure to cover the cheese and pesto. Use remaining tomato sauce to “frost” the outer layer of the loaf.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes.

So, is this meatloaf an offer you can’t refuse? Grab a bottle of red (skip the bottle of white) and enjoy!

Got basil?

Adding tomatoes makes this pesto different and especially summery good! Small disclaimer: this kat’s not Sicilian. But I was born and raised in Melilli’s sister city, and many of those closest to me are–at least in part–so let’s say I’m Sicilian by association, thereby qualified to share this particular recipe with you.

San Marzanos from the deck

With basil blowing up outside and too many tomatoes, this recipe perfectly combines what’s fresh and plentiful in a variation on the pesto you already know and love.

Bountiful basil: lemon, cinnamon and Genovese

SICILIAN PESTO
adapted from Cooking Light

¼ cup pine nuts
3  garlic cloves
4  cups  loosely packed basil leaves (about 2 ounces)
¼  cup  extra-virgin olive oil
½  teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
¼  teaspoon  crushed red pepper (I use Penzey’s Aleppo)
½  cup grated Pecorino Romano
2  cups  chopped seeded tomato (I used a combo of San Marzanos and Cherokee Purples)

Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add nuts to pan; cook until lightly toasted, about 4 minutes, shaking the pan constantly.

Add nuts and garlic to food processor; process till minced.

Feline supervision is key!

Add basil, oil, salt and peppers; process until blended, scraping sides as needed. Add cheese; process until smooth. Spoon into a bowl; fold in tomato. Toss with pasta of your choice.

Dinner is served--dig in!

Makes about 2.5 cups of pesto. Be sure to save at least a few tablespoons ’cause I’ll be back with another way to use the pesto later this week. Till then, ciao for now!

As mentioned previously, my love for all things almondy knows no boundaries, so it should come as no surprise I’m sharing a recipe for almond vinaigrette. I found it in The Hartford Courant last year–“Taking Vanilla Beyond Sweetness.” So delicious, you’ll find yourself dipping leaves in the bowl of dressing to sample it as you’re making it. And maybe even licking the plate when you’re through with your salad…

ALMOND VINAIGRETTE
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar

Whisk mustard, syrup, salt, pepper and both extracts in a bowl. Add canola in a fine stream, whisking continuously till incorporated. This step emulsifies the dressing and keeps it from separating. Next, slowly whisk in the vinegar. Yields 3/4 cup.

I was out of white pepper–if you don’t have it handy, black pepper is fine, too. And, boy, this is particularly fab drizzled over local produce.

Have you ever seen a lemon cucumber?

The lemon cucumbers came from a friend’s garden. Tomatoes, of course, are plentiful out on the deck.

My summer salad post wouldn’t be complete without a nod to one of my favorite local farm stands, where I get whatever isn’t growing on my deck!

Berruti’s, home of the best corn I’ve had this year, as well as perfect peaches and lots of lovely lettuce!

Montauk corn from Berruti's

 Happy weekend!
>>^..^<<

I’ve made a couple of variations of this recipe, but love the addition of lemon cream clouds that melt into the soup…so that’s what I’m sharing. You can use a small Vidalia or a couple of shallots…whatever you happen to have on hand. How small an onion, you ask?

Like so!

PEA SOUP WITH LEMON CREAM

2 tablespoons butter
1 small Vidalia onion (or 2 medium shallots), chopped
1 can chicken stock
3 cups frozen peas, slightly thawed
pepper to taste

Melt butter and sautee onions over medium heat, about 5-6 minutes. Add chicken stock and peas, season with pepper. Increase heat to boil.  Peas should cook in 3-5 minutes. Once they’re cooked, take ’em for a spin in the blender.

Visualize whirled peas!

Meantime, whip up the heavy cream and grab your microplane for a little zesting. You’ll need:

½ cup heavy cream
a couple dashes of salt
1 tablespoon lemon zest

Add the lemon zest and salt to the whipped cream. Float a cloud atop each serving of soup. The lemony creaminess is a nice contrast to the peas. I liked it so much, I don’t think anyone ate this batch but me. 🙂

“Hey, Bobby! Why do you like soul food? Because it makes me haaaaaaappy! Pass the peas, like we usedta say!”

Remember my Capellini Caprese, inspired by Giada? Well, now that tomatoes are ready for the pickin’ right on my deck, I revisited this recipe and came up with yet another tasty twist–featuring native yellow pear and grape tomatoes, ricotta salata and chunks of avocado.

KATTY’S SUMMER PASTA

8 ounces capellini
3 garlic cloves, pressed (quite honestly, I think 2 cloves would be plenty next time!)
2 cups grape and yellow pear tomatoes
8 to 10 fresh basil leaves (I used cinnamon basil, do you love it, too?)
handful of fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
2 sprigs fresh oregano (leaves only)
2 sprigs fresh thyme (leaves only)
freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup ricotta salata, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 avocado, cubed

"Let me be your blender, baby, honey, I can whip, chop and puree..."

Combine all ingredients (except pasta and avocado) in a food processor. Right, not a blender, but I can’t throw Bonnie Raitt in if I say food processor! Pulse until the tomatoes are coarsely chopped. Do not puree.  Like this! Mind you, I added the pasta water here–so it looks “saucier!”

Ready for pasta!

Cook the capellini according to package directions (just two minutes for De Cecco, my favorite in a box)–also handy for summer dining as it’s quick to cook. Reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water and add to tomato/avocado mixture. Toss the pasta with the tomato/avocado sauce in a large mixing bowl.

Summer pasta is served–enjoy!