Outdoor grilling season is in full-swing, and celebrated chef Rick Bayless has just the right multi-purpose seasoning for you. Try his modified recipe from More Mexican Everyday for a traditional salsa negra, a sweet and smoky paste that can be used on everything from grilled meats to sandwiches.
Sweet-Sour Dark Chipotle Seasoning • Salsa Negra
Don’t think of this Veracruz specialty as a typical salsa, in spite of its Spanish name; it’s more of a seasoning paste, with deep, dark richness and smoldering heat—just right for adding depth and complexity to the simplest of dishes. The traditional version of this salsa is so involved (oil-roast the chiles and garlic, soak in raw-sugar water, puree and cook slowly in an oily pan for an hour or more) that no one really makes it at home. Which is the reason I worked on a quick cheater version, but one that, to my taste, is pretty darn close to the original.
Makes about 2 cups
Place the two cans of chiles (and their canning liquid), molasses, vinegar, sugar and ½ cup water in a blender and process until completely smooth. Scrape into a small saucepan and set over medium heat. Let the mixture come to a brisk simmer, then turn the heat to medium-low and continue simmering, stirring regularly, until the mixture is the consistency of tomato paste, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the soy sauce. If necessary, add some water, a splash at a time, until the salsa is the consistency of runny ketchup. Cool, taste and season with salt; it may not need any, depending on the saltiness of your soy sauce. (That said, keep in mind that salsa negra should be seasoned highly, both to preserve it for longer storage and to make it useful as a seasoning.) Transfer the salsa to a pint-size jar and store, covered, in the refrigerator, where it will last for a month or two.
The Simplest Uses for Sweet-Sour Dark Chipotle Seasoning
1. Spoon onto raw oysters or add to cocktail sauce for shrimp
2. Toss with nuts and a little oil and bake for a delicious nibble
3. Toss with shrimp or smear on chicken after sautéing or grilling
4. Use as a glaze for practically anything off the grill. It’s particularly good on tuna, mackerel and sardines, as well as eggplant.
5. Believe it or not, it’s good on peanut butter–banana sandwiches
6. Use instead of Worcestershire and hot sauce for a spicy bloody Mary
7. Stir into cream cheese with crumbled bacon for an amazing bagel spread
8. Stir into caramel sauce and use as a dip for apples
9. Add to the pot when braising shortribs
Copyright © 2015 by Rick Bayless. Excerped from More Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless published by Norton. Read our review of this book.
Our May Top Pick in Cookbooks is A Girl and Her Greens: Hearty Meals from the Garden by New York Michelin-starred chef, April Bloomfield! Did you know the leafy tops of carrots are actually secretly tasty? Bloomfield's recipe for Carrot-Top Pesto will completely change the way you look at this popular veg.
If you’ve never nibbled a carrot top, you have a happy surprise waiting for you. The greens are delicious: a little less carroty than the roots, and almost briny, like heartier borage. Arriving home from the market with not only a collection of sweet, colorful roots but also a big old tuft of bushy tops is like ordering pork shoulder and finding out that the kind butcher has snuck a couple of trotters into your bag.
I treat the tops as I would a tender herb, adding little sprigs to salads as I might parsley or dill. And because each bunch of carrots can bring twice the volume in tops, I make pesto. As much as I like the particular flavor of the tops themselves, I also like how they carry the flavor of basil, which comes through quite a bit considering how few leaves you use.
Makes about 1 cup
Combine the carrot tops and basil in a small food processor, pulse several times, then add the walnuts, Parmesan, garlic and salt. Pulse several more times, add the oil, then process full-on, stopping and scraping down the sides of the processor or stirring gently if need be, until the mixture is well combined but still a bit chunky. Taste and season with more salt, if you fancy.
Hugh Acheson, a James Beard Award-winning chef with four Atlanta restaurants, has compiled an inspiring cookbook, The Broad Fork. This guide to seasonal eating features recipes for more than 50 veggies and fruits, and with a harvest of summer berries coming soon, this recipe for Raspberry Cobbler with Drop Biscuit Topping is sure to come in handy.
I once cooked a guest-chef dinner at the great Atlanta restaurant Woodfire Grill, and the dessert course was made by chef Scott Peacock. Scott spent much of his professional life cooking and writing with Edna Lewis, one of my all-time favorite Southern culinary writers and one of the most important chefs in Southern food. Scott, who is himself a wildly talented man, clearly had learned some nuanced dessert skills from Edna because out of the kitchen emanated a truly scrumptious cobbler, wonderfully soupy with drop biscuits nestled into it, soaking up all of the fruit goodness from a mix of juicy berries. This recipe is an ode to both Scott and Edna, two of my favorite people ever to shape biscuits.
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. In a medium-size mixing bowl, combine the raspberries with the 1⁄4 cup sugar and set aside to macerate at room temperature for 1 hour.
3. While the raspberries are macerating, assemble the biscuit dough: In a food processor, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, remaining
1 tablespoon sugar, and ¼ teaspoon of the sea salt. Pulse to combine, and then add the butter. Pulse until the butter has flaked into small pieces. Add the buttermilk and pulse until just combined. Remove the dough from the processor and set it aside.
4. Add the lemon zest and cornstarch to the raspberries, stir to combine, and place the mixture in a 6x8 inch baking dish. Dollop spoonfuls of the biscuit topping over the raspberries. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown and the fruit is bubbly. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Chef Rick Bayless has won international acclaim for his lifelong devotion to Mexican cusine. He's back with a new cookbook, More Mexican Everyday, filled with, you guessed it, more fantastic Mexican recipes like this Grilled Salmon in Toasty Peanut Salsa.
Grilled Salmon in Toasty Peanut Salsa
Salmón a la Parilla con Salsa de Cacahuate Tostado
When the wild salmon start showing up in the late spring, this is the dish I dream of making. It’s simplicity come to life in the best possible way, one that focuses on the stunning flavor and buttery texture of the salmon, the smoky and elemental draw of the grill and the perfect, rich gilding from a spoonful of red chile–peanut deliciousness.
*If you don’t have guajillo chiles, you can substitute New Mexicos or 2 anchos
On one side of a large (10-inch) dry skillet, roast the garlic over medium heat, turning regularly, until soft and blackened in spots, 10 to 15 minutes. On the other side, toast the guajillo chiles. Use a metal spatula to press the chile pieces flat against the hot surface of the pan. When they release their aroma and change color slightly (maybe even give off a faint wisp of smoke), about 10 seconds, flip them over and press down again to toast the other side. Scoop into a bowl and cover with ¾ cup very hot tap water to rehydrate, 10 to 15 minutes.
Cool the garlic until handleable, peel it and place it in a blender, along with the
guajillo chiles (including their soaking liquid), the chipotles and the peanuts. Blend until nearly smooth, then scrape into a small bowl. Stir in a little more water if necessary to give the salsa an easily spoonable consistency. Taste and season with salt,
usually about ½ teaspoon.
Heat a gas grill to medium-high or light a charcoal fire and let the coals burn until covered with white ash and very hot. Smear the salmon fillets and green onions (or ramps) with a little oil and sprinkle with salt. On the coolest part of your grill (usually toward an edge), grill the onions (or ramps), turning regularly, doing your best to keep the green parts farthest from the heat, until soft, about 15 minutes. Lay the salmon fillets on the hottest part of the grill, placing what had been their skin side down. When the grill grate has deeply seared marks into the salmon and the salmon has begun to release itself from the grate, about 3 minutes, depending on the heat of your fire, flip the fillets and cook to your desired degree of doneness, usually a couple of minutes
longer for 1-inch-thick fillets to reach medium. Transfer to warm dinner plates.
Chop the green onions (or ramps) into small pieces. Spoon some salsa over each fillet, sprinkle with chopped onion (or ramps) and serve right away.
Copyright © 2015 by Rick Bayless. Excerped from More Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless published by Norton. Read our review of this book.
Temperatures are rising and summer peaches will be here soon! This light Italian dessert from Nonna's House has the perfect ratio of very little work with immense flavor payoff—now that's a recipe I can get behind!
Stuffed Baked Peaches (pesche al forno ripiene): During peach season, the height of summer, this dessert is light and refreshing. Be sure to look for balsamic glaze, which is different from balsamic vinegar, in the supermarket.
Position the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F.
Arrange the peaches cut side up on a large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle evenly with the brown sugar. Bake until tender but not soft, and the sugar has melted and is bubbling, about 25 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.
Place the mascarpone and confectioners’ sugar in a food processor fitted with the chopping blade. Process until smooth. Scrape the mixture into a medium bowl and stir in the almonds.
Fill the centers of the peaches evenly with the mascarpone mixture, about 2 tablespoons per peach. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Drizzle each peach with 1 teaspoon balsamic glaze to serve.
Looking for a new snack with a bit of a spicy kick? This recipe from Virgin Territory: Exploring the World of Olive Oil for Muhammara, a Middle Eastern staple, is sure to appeal to fans of hummus.
A sumptuous spread from that region of the Middle East where the finest culinary traditions of Lebanon, Turkey and Syria all blend together with a little Armenian influence as well. The best chile pepper to use in this muhammara (moo-HAMMa-rah) is coarsely ground or crushed dried Aleppo pepper, although other kinds of Turkish and Syrian chile peppers are good too. They are all available from World Spice Merchants in Seattle (www.worldspice.com) or from Kalustyan’s in Manhattan (www.kalustyans.com).
Sweet peppers are best when roasted over live fire—either a gas flame on your stovetop or charcoal embers in the fireplace or on the outside grill. Roast, turning frequently, until the skins are black and blistered. Failing gas or charcoal, you can also roast peppers under the oven broiler until they are collapsed and the skins are blistered—but they will not have the intense flavor of flame-roasted peppers. Whatever the method, put the roasted peppers in a paper bag and set aside for 15 to 20 minutes to steam in their own heat and soften. At that point, it’s easy to remove the blackened skin, using a paring knife to pull it away. Then cut the peppers open, draining any liquid into a small bowl. Discard the stems, seeds, and white inside membranes.
Roast the walnuts, the pine nuts and the bread crumbs in a 350°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes. The walnuts are ready when their thin skins start to flake off; the pine nuts and the bread crumbs are done when they are golden.
Toast cumin seeds in a small skillet on top of the stove, stirring and tossing until the fragrance starts to rise. Remove immediately and grind to a powder in a spice grinder, or pound in a mortar.
MAKES 2½ TO 3 CUPS
CHOP the peppers coarsely and transfer to a food processor. Process in pulses until you have a textured puree.
IN a mortar, pound the garlic cloves to a paste with the salt. Add the roasted walnuts and continue pounding, adding a tablespoon or two of the reserved pepper juices. Once the walnuts are quite pasty, pound in the bread crumbs. (If you don’t have enough pepper juice, use a tablespoon or two of lemon juice instead.) Transfer the ingredients in the mortar to the food processor and process very briefly, just enough to mix everything together.
WHY, you may ask, do I not just put everything into the food processor to start with? Muhammara is supposed to have a rather coarse texture from the walnuts and bread crumbs; in order to control that texture, I think it’s better to pound the walnuts, bread crumbs, and garlic in the mortar and mix them very quickly into the pepper puree.
SCRAPE the contents of the food processor into a bowl and stir in the chile pepper, pomegranate syrup, ground cumin and 4 to 5 tablespoons of the oil. Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice and taste. If necessary, adjust the seasoning with more salt, lemon juice, or pomegranate syrup.
WHEN you’re ready to serve, pile the muhammara in an attractive bowl and dribble the remaining olive oil over the top. Garnish with roasted pine nuts and serve with crostini (toasted bread crusts) or crackers or, to be most authentic, toasted triangles of Arab pita bread.
Note: Muhammara is also a beautiful relish to serve with any sort of roast or grilled lamb.
Excerpted from VIRGIN TERRITORY: EXPLORING THE WORLD OF OLIVE OIL © 2015 by Nancy Harmon Jenkins. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
Looking for a sweet treat to enjoy during these warm spring days? This adults-only recipe for Affogato with Biscotti from Twenty Dinners is perfect for your next outdoor gathering.
AFFOGATO WITH BISCOTTI
FOR THE ICE CREAM
Set up a double boiler by half-filling a large saucepan with water. Bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Place a medium metal bowl on top of the saucepan, but don’t let it touch the water. (You can pour out water until it fits.)
Add ¾ cup of the granulated sugar, wine, orange juice, egg yolks and vanilla-bean seeds to the bowl and whisk until the mixture is thick enough to hold figure eights. Take the bowl off the saucepan and continue whisking until the mixture cools.
In an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk together the cream and powdered sugar just until soft peaks form. (Or do this by hand.) Remove the whipped cream to a large, clean bowl and carefully wash out and dry the mixer bowl.
In the electric mixer, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form, then gently stir in the remaining ¾ cup granulated sugar. Don’t overmix or you’ll lose all the air from the egg whites.
Fold the cooked yolk mixture into the whipped cream, then gently fold that mixture into the egg whites.
Transfer the ice-cream base to containers and freeze overnight.
Once frozen completely, it’s ready to serve. Simply put a scoop of ice cream in each bowl or dessert cup, add a generous pinch of pistachios and a biscotti, and top with freshly pulled espresso.
Reprinted from Twenty Dinners. Copyright © 2015 by Ithai Schori and Chris Taylor. Photographs copyright © 2015 by Nicole Franzen. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Read our review of this book.
Looking for an exciting, yet traditional recipe for your family's Easter feast this weekend? Try this savory Italian Easter bread, or la tagliata di Pasqua, from our April Top Pick in cookbooks, Nonna's House.
ADELINA ORAZZO (Italian Easter breads vary from region to region, town to town, and even family to family. Some are savory, like this one; others are sweet. On Easter morning, we serve this bread on a festive platter with slices of soppressata, ricotta salata, fennel, and hard-boiled eggs.
1. Whisk the milk, sugar, and yeast in a small bowl and set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the butter, 2 eggs, and salt until uniform. Stir in the flour until a soft dough forms. Lightly dust a work surface with flour, turn the dough out onto it, and knead for 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Gather the dough into a ball.
2. Lightly butter a large bowl, set the dough in it, and turn over to coat in the butter. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set aside in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1½ hours.
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Flatten the dough; add the salumi, Pecorino Romano, and Grano Padano, and knead lightly until well incorporated. Divide the dough into two equal pieces; roll each piece into a 14-inch-long strand. Pinch these two strands together at one end, then twist them together six times lengthwise to make a single coiled strand. Form the strand into a circle and pinch the ends to seal.
4. Lightly butter a large rimmed baking sheet. Transfer the coiled ring to it. Press the hard-boiled eggs at three equidistant spots around the coil, using the natural indentations caused by the crossing of the strands.
My two favorite food groups are coffee and cake, so clearly baking Lorraine Pascal's Simply Coffee, Vanilla & Walnut Cake has jumped straight to the top of my weekend priorities. Find this and a wealth of, ahem, a bit healthier recipes in her new cookbook, Everyday Easy.
Simply Coffee, Vanilla & Walnut Cake
One of the first cakes I ever ate was a simple coffee-flavored cake. No bells, no whistles, nothing fancy, simply coffee cake with a rich coffee buttercream. I have, however, played around with the recipe a bit and added whole wheat flour, which gives a tasty, nutty dimension to the sponge cake. But if you don’t have whole wheat flour in the cupboard, then just make this up with all-purpose flour instead for an equally appetizing cake.
Prep time: 25 minutes
Time baking in the oven: approximately 25 minutes
Equipment: Kettle, two ¾ x 8-inch round cake (springform) or tart pans with removable bottoms,
large baking sheet, mug, 2 large bowls, pastry brush, wire rack, fine sieve
++Preheat the oven to 350°F, and put the kettle on to boil (with just a small amount of water). Grease the bottom of two cake or tart pans with butter and line with baking parchment. Set them on a large baking sheet and set aside.
++First make the sponge cake. Put the coffee powder into a mug, using 1 tablespoon for a subtle coffee flavor or 3 tablespoons if you want to be awake for quite some time! For me, 3 is just right. Then add 1 tablespoon of hot water from the kettle for every tablespoon of coffee and mix until smooth. Finely chop half of the walnuts and set aside.
++Put the flours into a large bowl along with the sugar and baking powder and mix a bit to combine. Then add the butter, eggs, vanilla extract, prepared coffee and chopped walnuts (reserving the halves for decoration). Beat it hard until smooth and well combined. Divide the mixture evenly between the two pans and then pop them in the oven for around 25 minutes.
++About 5 minutes before the cake is ready, put the kettle on again for the coffee syrup. Spoon the coffee powder into the mug with the sugar and 2 tablespoons of hot water from the kettle. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and set aside.
++Check that the cakes are ready. A skewer inserted in the middle should come out clean. Return to the oven for another 5 or so minutes if not. Once ready, remove from the oven and brush liberally with the coffee sugar syrup to give a wonderfully soft sponge. Then leave the cakes for a few minutes until cool enough to handle. Carefully remove from the pans, peel off the paper and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
++Cooling should take about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, make the buttercream. Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a large bowl. Add the butter and beat hard until light and fluffy. Blend the coffee powder in the mug with 1 tablespoon of hot water from the kettle and stir into the buttercream.
++Once the cakes have cooled, put one layer on a cake stand or serving plate and slather the top liberally with half of the buttercream. It will be a good thick layer. Place the other cake layer on top and slather the remaining buttercream over. Arrange the remaining walnuts on top. Totally yum.
Sometimes you just need a little bit of homemade sweetness . . . and sometimes you just want a whole pie all to yourself. Try your hand at this delightful and distinctly Southern recipe for Orange Buttermilk Pie from Savannah bakers Cheryl and Griffith Day's new cookbook, Back in the Day Bakery Made with Love. We won't judge you if you don't feel like sharing.
Orange Buttermilk Pie
I created this pie in the middle of the winter, when clementines and satsuma oranges are in season. The flavor is simple and pure, and you can use any oranges that you like. Buttermilk is the key ingredient, so use the good stuff you can sometimes find in farmers’ markets if possible. I count on the old-fashioned buttermilk that we get from our friends at Southern Swiss Dairy to give this pie the old-timey flavor I recall from childhood.
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Place the baked pie shell on a baking sheet.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer), cream the butter and sugar for 3 to 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and mix well to combine. Add the flour, orange zest, orange juice, and salt and mix until well blended. With the mixer on low, slowly add the buttermilk, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. The mixture will look curdled at this point, but don’t worry. If using a stand mixer, transfer to a large bowl. Set aside.
In the clean mixer bowl, using the whisk attachment (or in a medium mixing bowl, using clean beaters), beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Give the buttermilk mixture a quick stir just to make sure that it is well blended, then add a small amount of the egg whites and fold in. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites until completely incorporated.
Pour the filling into the baked piecrust. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until the filling is golden and puffed up at the edges and the center no longer looks wet but still wobbles slightly; it will continue to set as it cools. Remove the pie from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 2 to 3 hours.
Serve the pie at room temperature or chilled, with the whipped cream. Garnish with segments of orange, if you’d like. The pie can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 day or refrigerated for up to 2 days.