11 6 / 2013

Even though I can appreciate a good game, I usually like to watch sports while I’m doing something else, usually cooking. My kitchen and living room is one large space, so I can feel involved without being bored to tears. (Sorry!) Last Saturday morning, when rugby took over every TV set in the UK while the British and Irish Lions played Queensland, I attempted to keep myself busy while the boys were out of commission. I’ve made the same recipe of blueberry muffins for years (see here), as they’re truly the best, but I found this recipe in an old cookbook and decided to give it a try. Sour cream makes everything better in baking. 

For the muffins you will need:

1 to 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

2 cups flour, plus 2 tablespoons extra for blueberries

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

6 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 200 C (400 F). Toss the blueberries in the 2 tablespoons of flour. Grease a muffin tin with melted butter or cooking spray. 

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In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients including the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg and salt. 

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In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream and vegetable oil. 

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Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir just to combine. (Be careful not to overmix when making muffins, and most baked goods in general.)

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Add the blueberries to the batter and carefully fold the mixture until the berries are evenly incorporated. 

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I like to the the muffin tin on a baking sheet, just to be extra careful the bottoms don’t burn. 

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Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, about 3/4 of the way full. I like to top blueberries muffins with a bit of coarse demerara sugar, but granulated sugar works just fine. 

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Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the the blueberries are puffed and golden. 

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06 5 / 2013

People often ask me how and where I learned to cook. Even though I grew up with parents who are excellent in the kitchen, I didn’t really land on my own two feet in the kitchen until college. During my first year at St Andrews, when I was living in halls, the cafeteria would close on the weekends, and the freshers were left to fend for themselves (the horror!) Rather than eating at Subway or getting fish and chips, my group of friends all decided every Saturday night would be “family dinner” when we got together to make dinner in the hall’s kitchen (and play beer pong). When my turn came to cook, I was nervous and excited- I had always prided myself on being able to cook, and this was the first time I would do it for my new friends. I decided to make Shrimp and Lemon Linguine, a pasta I had made once before, during my Barefoot Contessa-worshipping days. I watched her instructions ruthlessly, went to Argos and bought a proper tablecloth and a big bouquet of flowers… I wanted everything to be perfect. The dinner turned out well, but you know, as first times go, there were kinks. I made WAY too much pasta- I mean there was enough to feed a team of rugby players. The shrimp was a little overcooked- but hey, just keep pouring the wine. I always remember this recipe fondly, and continue to make it over the years. It’s the perfect segue to summer eating and a great dish for beginner cooks or experienced chefs. 

For the pasta you will need:

1 lb of shrimp (about 16-20 shrimp, depending on size)

Knob of butter

Olive oil

1/2 pack of linguine (about 3/4 lb)

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tsp chili flakes

Zest of one lemon

Juice of half a lemon

1/4 cup of fresh parsley, chopped

Salt & Pepper

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Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the linguine and cook according to package directions. (This is an example of when you want your pasta to be perfectly al dente, so make sure you keep an eye on your pasta.)

Prepare your ingredients. Mince the garlic and chop the parsley.

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Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and the olive oil until it bubbles. 

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Add the garlic, making sure it doesn’t burn. 

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Add the lemon zest…

Followed by the chili flakes.

Add the shrimp, turning over to cook evenly. Add the lemon juice.

Cook until the shrimp are JUST cooked through and lightly pink. (About two minutes) Turn off the heat. 

Add slices of lemon (make sure there are no seeds!)

And almost all of the parsley, leaving some extra for garnishing.

Mix everything together

Once the pasta has finished cooking, add it to the pan and quickly toss to combine, making sure all the ingredients are evenly distributed.

Season with salt and pepper

And serve, topping with the extra parsley. 

Voila! Serve with salt, pepper, extra chili flakes and chilled white wine. The perfect summer supper. 

06 5 / 2013

I love the seasonality of cooking- the earthiness of autumn roasts, the smell of stew in the winter, the lightness of Spring when the prized produce starts to reappear again (asparagus!). Summer has to be absolute favourite though. Not just the typical notions of outdoor barbecues, but everything from corn on the cob, to visions of crab shacks and blueberry pie. Though whilst in London I don’t have the same access to the joys of summer I grew up with in Oregon and Maine, I can still try to recreate some of my favourite tastes of the season. As soon as the sun came out last week for the first times in YEARS it felt like, I made this summery salad. 

For the salad you will need:

2 cups of cooked quinoa

2 cups of corn kernels

1 cup of halved cherry tomatoes

3 cups of arugula (rocket) 

1/4 cup of basil, julianned

2 tablespoons of pepitas (pumpkin seeds) toasted

3 tablespoons of olive oil

Juice of half a lemon

Salt & pepper

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While you’re cooking the quinoa, add the cherry tomatoes, corn, and rocket to a large mixing bowl. 

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Add the pumpkin seeds and chopped basil, and toss to combine

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Add the cooked quinoa, then drizzle over the olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper.

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Toss everything to combine and season to taste.

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This is the perfect lunch or a great side dish for a barbecue. It epitomises the taste of summer with the corn, basil and cherry tomatoes. 

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09 4 / 2013

Very recently, I have become a huge brunch fan. Although it’s fun to go out for brunch, I really prefer making it at home and it opens up a whole new side of cooking I have never really dabbled in. Sure I can make eggs, but god there are so many versatile ways to make them for brunch! Fritattas are on the heartier side, so they’re perfect for crowds and even better for hangovers. I’ve made several varieties so far, but this one has to be my favourite. If you’re not a hot sauce lover I bet good money this will convert you. 

For the fritatta you will need: 

Olive oil

1 potato, cut into small cubes

1 onion, diced

1 red pepper, cut into small cubes

About 1 cup of chorizo, cut into small cubes (halved and sliced lengthwise)

Six eggs

Splash of milk

Salt & Pepper

1/4-1/2 cup grated cheese (I like cheddar, but use whatever you had lying around)

Sliced tomato tomato, green onions, avocado or other toppings of your choice

Handful of arugala/rocket

Sriracha or any other kind of hot sauce 

Preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C) 

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Heat the oil over medium-low heat. Drizzle in some olive oil, enough to coat the pan. Add the potato and cook, turning occasionally for about 15 minutes. If they start to brown or burn too quickly, lower the heat.

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You want the potatoes to be golden brown.

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Meanwhile, get the onions, red pepper and chorizo ready.

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Once the potatoes are browned and a knife can easily pierce a potato with little resistance, add in the onions, stirring until softened, about five minutes. 

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Add in the chorizo and the red pepper and cook for another two minutes. 

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Turn off the heat. Combine the eggs with the milk, whisking to break up the yolks. 

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Season the eggs with pepper and a little salt. The chorizo is quite salty so you don’t need much! 

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Pour the egg mixture over the pan of chorizo and potatoes. 

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Bake in the oven until puffed and the egg doesn’t move when you shake the pan, about ten to fifteen minutes. Make sure to watch closely after ten minutes as you don’t want to overcook. 

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Remove the pan from the oven and turn off the oven. Top with the cheese and place back in the oven for 1-2 minutes, until the cheese is melted. 

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Remove the frittata from the oven. This is where you can get creative and add toppings of your choice. I love the colour and peppery bite of rocket, but also like adding avocado and tomatoes sometimes as well. 

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Cut into portions and serve! The fritatta is best out of the oven, but can be eaten the following day. This recipe serves four. 

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Ahhh brunch. 

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19 3 / 2013

I am one of the few who openly admits my love of Baileys. I only drink it in coffee; it makes a really nice after dinner drink or breakfast treat on special occasions. I wanted to make something special for St. Patrick’s Day this year and thought- a little Baileys in the dessert, a little Baileys in my coffee cup! I’m not a huge cupcake fan, but oh my god these are insane. I will definitely be making these year round- if only as an excuse to buy a bottle of my biggest guilty pleasure. 

For the cupcakes you will need:

1 1/4 cups flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

3/4 cup buttermilk (or milk mixed with 1 tsp. of lemon juice, shaken)

3 tablespoons of Baileys (or other coffee liquor)

For the frosting you will need:

1 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter at room temperature

1 tsp. brewed coffee 

3 tablespoons Baileys

2-3 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 350° F (175° C)

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Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Whisk or sift the ingredients together until thoroughly combined. 

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Next, combine the egg, sugar and vegetable oil in a large mixing bowl. 

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In intervals, add 1/3 of the dry ingredients, followed by 1/3 of the buttermilk, stirring after each addition. Continue until all the ingredients are used up. 

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Add in the Baileys. 

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Pour the batter evenly into greased cupcake tins lined with cupcake liners. They should be a little over 3/4 of the way full. 

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Bake the cupcakes for approximately 18-20 minutes, until a cake tester or a toothpick comes out clean. 

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Allow the cupcakes to cool for about 20 minutes in the tin before releasing, using the help of a butter knife. 

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For the frosting, beat the butter using a wooden spoon or an electric mixture until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Add in the cooled coffee, Baileys and powdered sugar. Depending on the texture, you want, use about 2-3 cups of powdered sugar (the more sugar you add, the thicker the frosting will be). 

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Spread frosting over the cupcakes as liberally as you like. In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, I sprinkled each cupcake with some green crystals. 

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04 3 / 2013

I am one of those people who think appetizers are an integral part of a meal. Especially when you’re dining with friends at someone’s house, it’s a nice way to prolong the meal by having a glass of wine and a few nibbles before sitting down for dinner. My issue however, is that I often overdo it on the appetizers. I have yet to find the elegant balance of the ‘teaser’ course- though I’m seriously working on it.

I was at a dinner party at my mom’s friends’ house over Christmas and was served the most delicious gougère-esq morsel with a glass of champagne. Rather than being on the verge of satisfaction before even sitting down to dinner, I was wonderfully hungry!

Last weekend I made parmesan and black pepper biscotti to serve before dinner. These are delicious, and everyone finished their plate at dinner. I will say however, that this recipe makes a lot. Which was a plus for company, as I sent everyone home with lots of extras, and who doesn’t like having something to take home? Especially after a little too much wine! 

For the biscotti you will need:

1 1/2 tablespoons of whole black pepper corns, coarsely ground

4 cups of all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

2 teaspoons of baking powder

2 teaspoons of salt

2 1/4 cups of grated parmesan

1 1/2 cups of cold unsalted butter cut into cubes

4 large eggs

1 cup of whole milk

Preheat the oven to 350° F (175° C)  

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Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and 1 tablespoon of ground black pepper in a large bowl. 

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Add in two cups of grated parmesan cheese.

Next, add in the cold butter using your fingertips or a food processor until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

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In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs with the milk. Add to the flour mixture. 

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Using a fork or clean hands, combine the ingredients until a soft dough forms. 

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Turn the dough onto a floured surface and cut into quarters. Shape into slightly flattened 12 inch logs. 

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Whisk the remaining egg with a tablespoon of water and brush over the logs. Sprinkle with the remaining parmesan cheese and pepper.

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Bake for about 30 minutes, until the logs are golden and firm. Allow to cool, and reduce oven temperature to 300° F (150° C).

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Once the logs have cooled, using a serrated knife, slice the logs into 1/2 inch slices on the diagonal. 

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Lay the slices on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes, turning once until crisp and golden.

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Allow the cooked biscotti to cool, then serve warm or store in a sealed container for up to two weeks. 

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Perfect with a glass of wine!

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13 1 / 2013

Keeping with the detox-oriented nature of January, I thought I better do a post about something healthy. Most people hear kale and think of bunny rabbits and California hippies, but in fact there are some really great recipes out there for kale and I think it adds an interesting spin to salads. This recipe comes from 101 Cookbooks, the bible for healthy cooking. Although it is incredibly healthy, it actually tastes really good. The farro and almonds add great texture and what doesn’t avocado make ten times better? 

For the salad you will need: 

3 cups of loosely packed kale, washed, trimmed and stalks removed

1 cup of farro, cooked according to package directions

4-5 carrots, very thinly sliced

1 small bulb of fennel, very thinly sliced

1 avocado, cut into cubes

1/4 cup toasted almond flakes

For the dressing, you will need:

3-4 scallions, washed 

Juice of half a lemon

Big pinch of kosher salt & black pepper

1 tbsp. honey

2 tbsp. avocado 

1/3 cup olive oil

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Toast the almond flakes over medium-low heat, about 5 minutes or until lightly browned

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Thinly slice the carrots and fennel using a mandoline or a very sharp knife. 

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First make the dressing. In a food processor, combine the scallions, lemon juice, avocado, honey, salt, pepper and olive oil. 

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Puree until combined, then taste for seasoning. Add more salt, pepper or lemon juice if necessary. The dressing should be quite punchy to coat all the vegetables. 

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In a large bowl, pour the dressing over the kale and toss to combine.

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Add the carrots and the fennel

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And toss everything together, making sure the vegetables are evenly coated in the dressing.

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Add the farro…

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The avocado

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And stir everything together. 

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Top with the toasted almonds. 

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This salad was so surprisingly good I was eating it out of the mixing bowl, too impatient to use proper cutlery. This makes a lot, so be prepared for lots of good packed lunches.

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01 1 / 2013

Happy New Year! This year, we threw a dinner party at my house at home to celebrate New Year’s Eve. There’s nothing cosier than slow cooked meat- walking into a house that’s warm and smells good can really make you feel at home, and that’s my favorite vibe for a dinner party, even one that’s on the fancy side. This recipe came from the new Food 52 cookbook and although it’s a bit time consuming, it’s totally worth all the effort. Additionally, it takes ribs and ragu, two things not typically associated with elegance, and makes them really upscale. This recipe serves 8-10, so be prepared for a lot of meat. 

For this recipe, you will need:

1 ounce of dried porcini mushrooms

About 6-8 pounds short ribs

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

1 large onion, diced

2 carrots, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon anchovy paste

1 bottle of red wine

1 can fire roasted tomatoes

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

3-4 dashes Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon chopped thyme, rosemary

1 tsp dried oregano

3 bay leaves 

4-5 cups of chicken stock

For the gremolata, you will need:

1-2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 cup of chopped parsley

Grated zest of one lemon

Salt, pepper, and olive oil

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Thoroughly salt and pepper the ribs

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Pour boiling water over the mushrooms to soften, and let them sit for about 10 minutes

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Chop all the other ingredients in advance so you have everything ready to go

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Once the mushrooms have softened, chop those as well 

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Pour some olive oil in a big pot and brown the ribs in batches over medium high heat, about two minutes on each side. 

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This will take some time…

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…And you will have a lot of ribs. But that’s good! 

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Pour out most of the fat left over from the ribs, leaving about a tablespoon behind. Saute the onions, celery and carrots for about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant. 

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Add the tomato paste and the anchovy paste, stirring vigorously to coat the vegetables. 

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Next, add in the tomatoes…

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Followed by the mustard

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The rosemary, thyme and oregano

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The worcestershire sauce

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And the ever-important wine.

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Add the ribs back into the pot…

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And pour over enough chicken stock to cover. Bring to a boil, then add the bay leaves. 

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Take off the heat, cover with aluminium foil and refrigerate overnight. 

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The next step is a bit gross, but you’ll be thankful you did it. After the ribs have been in the fridge, remove all of the fat that will have solidified on the surface. Spoon off and discard. 

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Remove the meat from the bones and discard any large bits of fat. Set the saved meat aside, and save the bones for stock. 

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Like I said, you will have a lot of meat. 

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Remove the bay leaves from the liquid and discard. Puree the liquid. (Note: this step is optional, I was giving a fancy dinner so wanted it a bit more refined, but leaving out this step will not affect the flavour.)

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Reduce the sauce until it’s thickened, about a half hour over medium heat. 

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Add the meat back into the liquid and stir. 

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For the gremolata, combine the prepared ingredients and let sit at room temperature. 

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When you’re ready to serve, reheat the ragu over medium-low heat and prepare the polenta according to package directions. 

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To plate, add a scoop of the ragu over the polenta. Top with the gremolata. 

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01 1 / 2013

I love making cake. There’s something so satisfying about icing a cake, not to mention it’s pretty much the epitome of domestic bliss. I’ve never made flourless chocolate cake, but I have a friend who is gluten-free come for dinner so it seemed like the perfect opportunity. Besides whipping the egg whites, the recipe is incredibly easy and straight forward. 

For the cake you will need: 

1/2 lb unsweetened chocolate

1/2 lb buttersweeet chocolate

1/2 lb butter, room temperature

9 egg yolks

8 egg whites

3/4 cup of sugar

Preheat the oven to 350° F and butter a 9 inch spring-foam cake pan.

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Chop the chocolate into chunks and melt with the butter in 30 second intervals in the microwave. It’s really important you do not burn the chocolate otherwise you have to start over.

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Once it’s completely melted, set the chocolate aside to cool

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Combine the egg yolks with the sugar and beat on high for about 3 minutes until pale yellow and fluffy. 

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Once the chocolate has cooled, slowly add it to the sugar-egg yolk mixture with the mixture on slow speed. 

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Set aside. 

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Using a whisk attachment or biceps of steel, beat the egg whites until they form glossy peaks. 

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Carefully and quickly fold in the egg whites to the chocolate mixture. 

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Fold until combined.

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Pour the batter into the buttered cake pan and bake for about 25 minutes. 

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Allow the cake to cool then remove the sides from the pan. 

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Dust with confectioners sugar and serve topped with sweetened whipped cream. 

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01 1 / 2013

I have little time for unadventurous eaters, and I myself am a testament that you should always try everything at least once. I used to shy away from offal until I tried foie gras- oh my GOD. Ever since, I’ve been dying to make my own. This recipe is so easy and great for company. Definitely not an everyday food, but perfect for special occasions. I was a little weirded out handling the livers (okay a lot) but I used to be almost unable to wash a chicken, now I can butcher one!  

For the paté, you will need:

1 pound of chicken livers, large veins removed

2 shallots, thinly sliced

2 sticks of butter, chilled

1/3 cup sherry

Salt and pepper

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Heat 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat until it bubbles. Add the sliced shallots and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Make sure they don’t crisp or burn. 

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Add the chicken livers to the pan and saute until they’re cooked through, about 7 minutes. 

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Once the livers are cooked through, add the sherry and saute until the liquid is reduced by half. 

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Transfer the mixture to a food processor and puree until smooth. 

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With the food processor running, add the cold butter one tablespoon at a time. 

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Whiz until the mixture is smooth. 

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Empty the mixture into a large ramekin or several small ones. Refrigerate for about an hour until the pate has set. When you’re ready to serve, sprinkle with coarse salt. 

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We made broiche to serve toasted with the pate, however table crackers are just as good.

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