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March 2009

Fool Proof Pie Dough

Blue pie start  

This recipe is from Cook's Illustrated and I had my doubts when I first saw that it used Vodka. It does however produce a wonderfully flaky crust and because the alcohol adds moistness without aiding in gluten formation. I still prefer a traditional pate brisee, but this is still a delicious crust and easy to do.


2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces), plus more for work surface 

1 teaspoon table salt  

2 tablespoons sugar  

12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into 1/4-inch slices 

1/2 cup vegetable shortening , cold, cut into 4 pieces 

1/4 cup vodka , cold (do not substitute – critical to recipe) 

1/4 cup cold water   


1. Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about two 1-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogenous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds; dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour. Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.


2. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into 2 even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.


Blue pie rolled  

Blue pie shell  

Moist Raisin Bran Muffins (for 2 or 12)

Bran muffins 4  

Moist Raisin Bran Muffins

3/4 cup boiling water

1 ¼ cups all bran cereal (not flakes) divided into 2 portions

3/4 cup raisins

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup canola oil

2 ½ cups whole wheat flour

1 tsp. soda

½ tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 egg

3/4 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup orange juice

Pour boiling water over 3/4 cup of bran cereal. Mix in raisins, brown sugar and oil and set aside to cool.

Whisk together flour, soda, powder, and salt in large mixing bowl.

Beat the egg with buttermilk and orange juice in large measuring cup. Pour into dry ingredients with remaining 1/2 cup of bran cereal – mix gently to combine. Stir in brown sugar mixture and mix just to combine. Cover bowl and refrigerate overnight.

Muffin batter can be held for 1 week in the refrigerator. Bake muffins in a foil muffin tin cut into 2 muffin sections or bake in a 6 muffin tin or 12 muffin tin depending on your needs.

To Bake: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin holders with paper liners and spray liners with non stick spray. Bake muffins for 23-26 minutes until tooth pick inserted comes out clean.

Bran muffins baking pan  

Bran muffins baking  

Glazed Turkey Meatloaf

Turkey meatloaf  

This is a great alternative to meatloaf made with ground beef - I like to serve it with Mashed Red Bliss Potatoes  - http://bit.ly/cjQqcq

Download Turkey Meatloaf Recipe

Turkey Meatloaf

1 onion, finely chopped

1 celery rib, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 T olive oil

½ cup milk or plain yogurt

2 eggs

2 tsp. minced fresh thyme

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

¼ tsp. hot pepper sauce

½ tsp. black pepper

2 pounds lean (93%) ground turkey (don’t use extra lean)

1 1/3 cups fresh bread crumbs (pulse 3-4 slices hearty white bread in mini cuisinart)

¼ cup fresh Italian parsley, minced

½ cup ketchup

¼ cup brown sugar

4 tsp cider vinegar


1.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack on top. Place a 10x7” piece of foil on top of wire rack.


2.    Heat oil in saucepan over medium low heat. Add onions, celery,  garlic, and ¼ tsp. salt. Cover and cook, stirring often, 8-10 minutes, until onion is soft; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk milk (or yogurt) eggs, thyme, mustard, Worcestershire, hot sauce, pepper and ¼ tsp. of salt.


3.    In large bowl, mix turkey, bread crumbs, parsley, cooked onion, and egg mixture until combined. Press mixture into compact mass and transfer to sheet of foil on rack. Form a loaf a rectangle about 9”x6” and 2” tall.


4.    Stir ketchup, brown sugar, and vinegar together in a bowl, then brush half over meatloaf. Bake on middle rack for 50 minutes.


5.    Brush meatloaf with remaining glaze and bake until the center of meatloaf reaches 160 degrees, about 20 minutes longer. Remove and let rest for 15 minutes before slicing.

Tueky meatloaf shaped 

Turkey meatloaf with mashed

Healthy Super Shake

A recipe for the "healthiest" meal replacement on the planet with great metabolism-boosting power. You can substitute your favorite juice or skim milk for the Green Tea

Super shake  

Put everything in a blender and mix for 1 minute:

1 CUP GREEN TEA This no-calorie beverage has been shown to boost metabolism. (I brew a 1/2 cup and add 5 ice cubes so that it well chilled when I add it to the blender)

1 SCOOP CHOCOLATE (or VANILLA) PROTEIN POWDER  I like the Whey Protein from Whole Foods

1 TBSP GROUND FLAXSEED Flaxseed is a healthy fat that's been shown to lower LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure in lab animals. Buy it preground at a health-food store.

1/2 CUP FROZEN RASPBERRIES, BLUEBERRIES, BLACKBERRIES, OR STRAWBERRIES Packed with disease-fighting anti-oxidants, these fiber-filled fruits are three of the best foods known to man.

1 TBSP ALMONDS Research shows that adding one or two handfuls of nuts to your daily diet reduces your risk of heart disease without leading to weight gain.

1 TBSP GREENS+ The nutrient equivalent of six servings of fruits and vegetables a day, it's the best-kept secret in supplements Available at Whole Foods or online ($19 for 4.7 oz; greensplus.com).

1 TBSP AGAVE NECTAR  A great low glycemic index sweetner

Mock Caesar Salad with Garlic Croutons


Garlic croutons

4 garlic cloves

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 cups bread cubes, 3/4-inch, cut from a good quality baguette

1 pinch salt


3 romaine lettuce hearts, about 10 generous cups (remove any dark green outer leaves)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 ½ tablespoons mayonnaise

¼ to ½  teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

5 tablespoons olive oil

¼  teaspoon salt

fresh ground black pepper

1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for sprinkling (preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano)


To make croutons:

1.     Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat to 350 degrees.  Meanwhile, with motor running, drop garlic cloves through feeder tube of food processor to mince. (A blender works as well.) Scrape down sides of bowl and add oil through feeder tube. Continue to process so that garlic releases its flavor into oil, about 30 seconds. Strain garlic from oil through a fine-mesh strainer; reserve half of the pureed garlic for dressing and set aside remaining half for another use. You should have about 3 tablespoons of garlic oil.

2.    Raise heat under skillet to medium. Place bread cubes in medium bowl. Drizzle 2 tablespoons garlic oil evenly over bread, along with a big pinch of salt; toss to coat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil; toss again. Spread bread cubes in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet; bake, stirring occasionally until golden, 12-15 minutes. Cool on baking sheet to room temperature. The croutons can be covered and stored at room temperature for 24 hours. 

To prepare salad:

1.    Cut off bottom 1 1/2 to 2 inches of core from bottom of each romaine heart. Separate heart into individual leaves. Put leaves in large bowl.

2.    Whisk lemon juice, mayonnaise, Worcestershire and reserved garlic in a small bow (or shake in a sealed jar)  Drizzle lettuce with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss lightly, carefully, and thoroughly so that lettuce is evenly coated with oil. (Clean hands work well.)

3.    Drizzle lemon mixture over lettuce; toss again. Sprinkle 1/4 cup Parmesan over greens; toss again. Sprinkle croutons over salad, toss, and serve, sprinkling each portion with a little more Parmesan cheese.

Oatmeal Cookies with Dark Chocolate and Dried Cherries

Choc cherry cookies   

Oatmeal Cookies with Dark Chocolate and Dried Cherries

 This a great chewy buttery giant oatmeal cookie. By using large size scoops of cookie dough, the centers stay soft and chewy and the edges are nice and crisp. Tart cherries are a welcomed change to traditional raisins, and complement the dark chocolate perfectly.

Download Oatmeal Cookies with Dark Chocolate and Dried Cherries recipe

1¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (6 1/4 ounces)

¾ teaspoon baking powder 

½ teaspoon baking soda 

½ teaspoon table salt 

1¼ cups rolled oats, old-fashioned, (3 1/2 ounces)

1 cup toasted pecans (4 ounces), chopped

1 cup dried tart cherries (5 ounces), chopped coarse

¼ cup sweetened flaked coconut (optional)

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chunks about size of chocolate chips (about 3/4 cup)

12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened but still cool

1 ½ cups packed brown sugar (10 1/2 ounces), preferably dark

1 large egg 

1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

1. Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions; heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large (18 by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. In second medium bowl, stir together oats, pecans, cherries, and chocolate.

3. In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, beat butter and sugar at medium speed until no sugar lumps remain, about 1 minute. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula; add egg and vanilla and beat on medium-low speed until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl; with mixer running at low speed, add flour mixture; mix until just combined, about 30 seconds. With mixer still running on low, gradually add oat/nut mixture; mix until just incorporated. Give dough final stir with rubber spatula to ensure that no flour pockets remain and ingredients are evenly distributed.

4. Divide dough evenly into 16 portions, each about 1/4 cup, then roll between palms into balls about 2 inches in diameter; stagger 8 balls on each baking sheet, spacing them about 2 1/2 inches apart. Using hands, gently press each dough ball to 1 inch thickness. Bake both baking sheets 12 minutes, rotate them front to back and top to bottom, then continue to bake until cookies are medium brown and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will seem underdone and will appear raw, wet, and shiny in cracks), 8 to 10 minutes longer. Do not overbake.

5. Cool cookies on baking sheets on wire rack 5 minutes; using wide metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack and cool to room temperature.


Best Chicken Tikka Masala

Tikka masala



This dish is best when prepared with whole-milk yogurt, but low-fat yogurt can be substituted. For a spicier dish, do not remove the ribs and seeds from the chile. If you prefer, substitute 2 teaspoons ground coriander, 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper for the garam masala. The sauce can be made ahead, refrigerated for up to 4 days in an airtight container, and gently reheated before adding the hot chicken. Serve with basmati rice.

Download Chicken Tikka Masala recipe


Chicken Tikka


1/2 teaspoon ground cumin  

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander  

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper  

1 teaspoon table salt  

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts , trimmed of fat 

1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (see note above) 

2 tablespoons vegetable oil  

2 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons) 

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger  



Masala Sauce:


3 tablespoons vegetable oil  

1 medium onion , diced fine (about 1 1/4 cups) 

2 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons) 

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger  

1 fresh serrano chile , ribs and seeds removed, flesh minced (see note above) 

1 tablespoon tomato paste  

1 tablespoon garam masala (see note above) 

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes  

2 teaspoons sugar  

1/2 teaspoon table salt  

2/3 cup heavy cream  

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves  




1. FOR THE CHICKEN: Combine cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with spice mixture, pressing gently so mixture adheres. Place chicken on plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. In large bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, garlic, and ginger; set aside.



2. FOR THE SAUCE: Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and return to simmer. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.



3. While sauce simmers, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (about 6 inches from heating element) and heat broiler. Using tongs, dip chicken into yogurt mixture (chicken should be coated with thick layer of yogurt) and arrange on wire rack set in foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan. Discard excess yogurt mixture. Broil chicken until thickest parts register 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer and exterior is lightly charred in spots, 10 to 18 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking.



4. Let chicken rest 5 minutes, then cut into 1-inch chunks and stir into warm sauce (do not simmer chicken in sauce). Stir in cilantro, adjust seasoning with salt, and serve.