Friday, October 31, 2008

Last Supper #4: Tom Aikens

It was the starter that stole the showin this meal. Last Saturday, Project Last Suppoer continued featuring the selections of Chef Tom Aikens, an English-born chef with 3 restaurants in London. His menu was quite lengthy so I chose a selection: his recipe for Scallops with Sauce Vierge, which is featured in My Last Supper, Dover Sole in Brown Butter with Capers, Thick-cut potato wedges, a green salad with French vinaigrette and last but not least, Mom's apple pie. He probably meant his Mom's but lacking her recipe, I went with my Mom's and it never fails.
I found the biggest freshest sea scallo0ps at a local Kings supermarket. Those of you who know me are thinking, "But you don't like scallops..." I liked these! The sauce was delicious and I cooked them probably a little more than some chefs would but they were moist and perfect. Jeff claims they're the best scallops he ever had! I put the recipe below as I prepared it.
The sole was fresh caught as well and was very simple with the brown butter and capers and some lemon. The potatoes I tossed with a little EVOO and some of Penzey's 4S Seasoned Salt. The salad was a mix of spring greens with a bit of celery and fennel. I dressed with a simple French vinaigrette made from lemon juice, shallots, whole grain dijon mustard, EVOO, salt and pepper.
We finished with a slice of apple pie. For the first time I even used my Mom's recipe for crust. It's not as flaky as hers, but I'll keep practicing!
Now for those scallops:
Tom Aikens' Scallops with Sauce Vierge (my slightly modified version, but you'll have to check the book to see what I changed)
Serves 2-3
1/3 cup plus 6 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 shallots, finely diced
1 clove garlic, finely diced
1 cup fish stock
1-2 vine ripe tomatoes, chopped in a 1/2 inch dice
Juice of one lemon
1 tsp. fresh basil, finely chopped
1 tsp. fresh chives, finely chopped
Pinch of dry or fresh tarragon (you can put 1 tsp if you like, but tarragon isn't our favorite)
Coarse sea salt and black pepper
6 extra large sea scallops
1 tsp. butter
To prepare the sauce:
In a large saute pan, heat 3 Tbsp. of the oil over low heat. Add shallots and garlic and saute until tender. Add the fish stock and reduce the liquid by two-thirds. Add the 1/3 cup of olive oil, tomatoes, and the lemon juice (and if using dried tarragon, add it at this time; otherwise wait til the fresh herbs are added at the end) and simmer gently for 4-5 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the fresh herbs. Season generously withsalt and pepper.
Prepare the scallops:
While the sauce is simmering, heat the remaining 3 Tbsp. of olive oil in a saute pan over high heat. Add the scallops and cooks for 1 minute on each side, then add the butter and toss the scallops in the butter until they are golden all over and cooked to your liking.
To serve:
Spoon the sauce into the bottom of the plates or dishes and place 2-3 scallops on top.
Last Supper Count: 4 done; 36 more to go. Up next: Guillaume Brahimi or Nancy Silverton. Either way, delicious beef!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

DB October Challenge: PIZZA!!!!

Since we were travelling in September, I missed the Daring Bakers' Challenge so I was very excited to learn that the October challenge was pizza - homemade, from scratch. I've made pizza at home before but always with store bought dough.

It also worked out nicley that my husband's birthday is in October so we had pizza night on his birthday. He chose the toppings: pepperoni, homemade marinara, buffalo mozzarella from a local maker, prosciutto, mushrooms, onions, fresh basil and a little fresh grated Parmeggiano Reggiano. It was excellent although I think my dough was a bit too moist. I cut the recipe in half and it made 2 good sized pies. We at 1 and I delivered te second hot and fresh to Mom and Dad!

Here's the recipe:

Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.

Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter).

  • 4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled
  • 1 3/4 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Tsp Instant yeast
  • 1/4 Cup (2 ounces/60g) Olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but it’s better with)
  • 1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
  • 1 Tb sugar
  • Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting


  1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).
  2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough.
  3. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water. NOTE: If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time.The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour, so that it clears the sides. If, on the contrary, it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water.The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F/10°-13° C.
  4. Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.
  5. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).NOTE: To avoid the dough from sticking to the scraper, dip the scraper into water between cuts.
  6. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball. NOTE: If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again.
  7. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days. NOTE: You can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking. In that case, pour some oil(a few tablespooons only) in a medium bowl and dip each dough ball into the oil, so that it is completely covered in oil. Then put each ball into a separate bag. Store the bags in the freezer for no longer than 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough balls from the freezer to the refrigerator.


  1. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.
  2. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C). NOTE: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.
  3. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.
  4. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.
  5. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.
  6. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for abour 5-8 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and crust is golden brown.
  7. Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thai at home

We love Thai food and Green curry is one of our favorites. A couple of years ago, I found a recipe for a Thai Green Curry and Chicken Soup in Williams-Sonoma Soup. I've since adapted it for a meal served over Jasmine rice. This can be made in about 30 minutes, but for the best taste, make it the morning or day before - the flavors mix better with a little time! But note well, you might want to add some of the veggies later on so they don't get mushy. I added the Thai Basil, baby Bok Choy and Eggplant when I was reheating it. They keep their color and are cooked perfectly. I also should have added the peas at the end...

Here's the recipe. Find Thai green curry paste and fish sauce in the Asian section of some supermarkets or in Asian markets. Red Curry can be substituted as well.

Thai Green Curry Chicken

About 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
1 14 oz. can chicken broth
2 14 oz. cans coconut milk
1 Tbsp. Green curry paste or more to taste (I use about 2)
2 Tbsp. Canola or other vegetable oil
5 thin slices of fresh ginger, unpeeled
1 stick lemongrass cut into 1 inch pieces
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
Small bunch of fresh basil, preferably Thai

Vegetables of your choice; here's what I used
1 Japanese eggplant, cut into chunks
1/2 cup frozen green peas
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 can sliced bamboo shoots in water, drained
1 can baby corn, drained
About 6-8 baby bok choy

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the curry paste and stir, allowing the paste to heat until fragrant. But don't let it brun; reduce the heat if needed. Add the chicken broth and coconut milk and stir. Let it come to a simmer then add the ginger, lemongrass, lime juice and fish sauce. Let it return to a simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the raw chicken and stir. Let cook until the chicken is opaque, about 7-8 minutes. Add the basil and any other vegetables you are using. Stir and let cook until the vegetables are done to your liking. Taste it - you might want to add a bit more lime juice or if it needs salt, more fish sauce.

Serve over steamed Jasmine rice.

This serves about 4. We had it for dinner two nights and there were still leftovers for Jeff's lunch! It depends how many vegetables you add.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Last supper #3: Laurent Tourondel

On Saturday night, we tried the Last Supper of Laurent Tourondel (of BLT Steak, BLT Fish, etc.). His request was for a seared tuna BLT the way he makes it at BLT Fish Shack in New York City, accompanied by French Fries and Heinz ketchup.

This was one of the simpler Last Suppers I've made so far and it's one I'll make again... and again. There are a lot of flavors packed into this hearty sandwich: Tuna, avocado, olive, bacon, arugula, lemon, egg, Parmeggiano Reggiano, a little mayo. The list seems neverending. But pile it all on and it's absolutely delicious. I prepped the toppings ahead of time so when we cooked the fish it was still warm.

The fish was about 1/2 inch thick and we grilled it on medium heat for just 1 minute per side. Any longer and it would have been overcooked. And who wants over cooked sashimi grade yellowfin tuna???

I also made homemade fries. I used a mandolin to cut 2 Idaho potatoes into 1/4 inch thick straws. I wrapped them in a towel in the fridge fro about an hour to remove some of the starch and let them dry. I then fried them in canola oil at 325 degrees for about 4 minutes. I let them drain on paper towels and cool for about 30 minutes then fried them again in the same oil, this time for about 2 minutes at 375 degrees. Golden brown and yummy!

If rare tuna doesn't scare you off, try this sandwich! the recipe looks long but it's easy. Oh and at Laurent's suggestion, we served it with a little Sriracha - Vietnamese hot sauce. Gave it a nice little kick!

BLT Grilled Tuna Sandwich

Serves 6

1½ pounds yellowfin tuna, cut into 12 slices, about 1⁄3 inch thick
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ cup olive oil
4 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon chopped garlic
1 large bunch arugula, tough stems removed (about 2 cups)
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup Tapenade
1 loaf rustic Italian bread, cut into twelve ½-inch-thick diagonal slices, toasted
12 slices applewood-smoked bacon, cooked until crisp
1 medium red onion, sliced
2 ripe tomatoes, sliced
3 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and sliced
6 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, thinly sliced with a vegetable peeler or mandoline slicer
1 ripe avocado, preferably Hass
1 bunch fresh basil, tough stems removed

GRILL THE TUNA Preheat a grill pan or barbecue grill to high heat. Sprinkle the tuna on both sides with salt and pepper. Place the tuna on the pan or grill rack and cook 1 to 2 minutes per side, or until rare to medium-rare, depending on your preference.

DRESS THE ARUGULA In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Add the arugula and toss well.

ASSEMBLE THE SANDWICHES Spread some of the mayonnaise and tapenade on each slice of bread. Divide the bacon, onion, tomatoes, eggs, cheese, and avocado over half of the slices. Top with the tuna, basil, and the arugula salad. Cover with the remaining bread, coated-sides down.

TO SERVE Cut the sandwiches in half and serve immediately.

Project Last Supper score:
3 down, 27 to go.
Not sure which meal we will do next, but it won't be this weekend since we will be out of town for a charity walk.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Last supper #2: Daniel Boulud

Daniel Boulud's last supper graced our table this weekend. His actual menu would have kept me in the kitchen for a week (and would have fed us for a week). So, I chose a few courses from his choices: we started with a soup - his recipe for Asparagus soup with sweet pepper coulis, then we had a min course of Rack of Lamb with two sauces and crispy salad - another of his recipes. We ended the night with a cheese course. After two weeks Jeff is hooked on Project Last Supper. We've had a couple of great dinners...
Some highlights from Daniel's Last Supper:

Asparagus soup with Sweet Pepper Coulis - Find his recipe on the website for Daniel, his NYC restaurant.

Marinated Lamb chops with two sauces - This recipe is also online - it's on Daniel's section on The sauces are a warm tomate ginger sauce and a cool yogurt mint sauce. Both were delicious on the lamb, which I left in a whole rack and grilled.

And last but not least a cheese course. I finally went to the Summit Cheese Shoppe in Summit, NJ. The couple that runs this adorable shop are as nice as can be and they know cheese! I went in and explained that we wanted to do a cheese course for two and that we like firmer cheeses. I wanted 3-4 kinds - and one had to be a goat. The owner let me taste two of the cheeses and of the third, he simply said "Trust me." I did!

He gave us a Rotin Perigord Chevre from France, aged and delicious goat cheese; a Zamorano Sheep's milk cheese from Spain, and a Montasio Extra from northern Italy. I served it with a Pain Rustique from LaBrea bakery and a ripe fig. The perfect ending to the perfect meal!

Last Supper score: That's 2 done and 38 more to go. Next up: either Laurent Tourondel or Jaime Oliver
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