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May 2010

Southern Style Shrimp and Cheesy Grits for Two



Uglesich's Restaurant in New Orleans (Uglesich website) serves one of the best shrimp and grits that I ever tasted, although, just about everything there was incredible. This recipe, which follows a method from America’s Test kitchen, is pretty easy to throw together and makes a great quick dinner for two.

 Download Southern Style Shrimp and Grits for Two recipe

8 ounces shrimp (large size 31-40 per pound), peeled and deveined

1 tablespoon Olive Oil

1 minced garlic clove

pinch of Cayenne pepper

¼ - ½ tsp. Cajun Seafood seasoning

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 small onion minced (about ½ cup)

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup Heavy Cream

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup Quick Grits (Quick not instant grits is key)

4 oz extra-sharp shredded cheddar cheese, shredded

1 green onion sliced thin

 1.  Adjust oven rack to the middle and heat oven to 375 degrees

2.  Toss the shrimp with the oil, garlic, cayenne, Cajun seasoning and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate will making the grits. 

3.  Melt butter in a 10 inch skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until soften stirring frequently, 4- 5 minutes.

4.  Stir in water, cream, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper and bring to a boil.

5.  Slowly whisk in grits, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring often until grits are thick and creamy, 5-7 minutes.

6.  Remove from heat and whisk in cheddar until combined.

7.  Lay shrimp on their sides in a pinwheel (circle the skillet with tails in middle) over the grits then press on them slightly to submerge about halfway down.

8.  Transfer skillet to oven and bake until shrimp are cooked through, about 5 – 7 minutes. Sprinkle with scallions and serve.

Shrimp grits pan


Blue Ribbon Fresh Strawberry Pie

Strawberry pie 1 

Blue Ribbon Fresh Strawberry Pie

Make this pie when strawberries are at their peak – it’s a perfect summer dessert. Some recipes call for gelatin, but it can make the pie to rubbery. America’s Test Kitchen calls for powdered pectin to thicken the filling which works much better. Measuring is KEY, you must start with 1 1/4 cups of strawberry puree. Varying that amount will yield glaze that is either too thick or too thin. Pectin for lower sugar recipes is important here because this pie does not have enough sugar for ordinary pectin to set properly. Serve the pie with freshly whipped cream or use the cream cheese recipe below.

2 quarts fresh strawberries , washed and hulled; one quart halved (4 cups); remaining quart sliced lengthwise into 4 to 5 slices (4 cups)

1 cup granulated sugar 

1 Tbsp. powdered pectin for lower sugar recipes (such as Sure Jell in the pink box)

 Pinch table salt 

3 Tbsp. cornstarch 

Pinch ground cinnamon 

2 Tbsp. lemon juice from 1 lemon

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract 

1 prebaked 9-inch pie shell 

1.    Puree 1 pint (2 cups) of the halved berries in blender or food processor workbowl fitted with steel blade, scraping down sides as necessary, until smooth (you should have 1 1/4 cups; spoon off any extra). Bring puree, sugar, pectin, and a pinch salt to boil, stirring occasionally, in medium saucepan over medium heat. Increase heat to medium-high; boil hard until sugar and pectin are dissolved, about 1 minute. Off heat, skim foam from surface with large spoon.

2.    Meanwhile, mix cornstarch and 1/4 cup cold water in small bowl until absolutely smooth. Off heat, add cornstarch slurry to strawberry mixture, then return to boil, stirring constantly, over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and, continuing to stir constantly, simmer until mixture becomes thick and clear, about 3 minutes. Off heat, stir in cinnamon, lemon juice, and vanilla. Transfer glaze, reserving 1/4 cup for topping, into large bowl; cool to room temperature, at least 15 minutes. (be certain that the glaze mixture has cooled before adding the berries; if it is too hot, the berries might begin to cook and soften.)

3.    Using a rubber spatula, fold sliced strawberries into large bowl of glaze, turning several times to coat thoroughly. Turn glazed berries into pie shell; spread evenly and smooth surface with rubber spatula. As in the photo, place berry halves in concentric circles, flat side down and pointed ends toward center, starting at center and working toward the outer edge. Stir 2 tablespoons water into reserved 1/4 cup glaze to thin; brush over berry halves to finish pie. Refrigerate until cold, at least 2, and up to 6, hours. Serve.

Cream Cheese Topping:

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

3 Tbsp. sugar 

½ tsp. vanilla extract 

1 cup heavy cream 

1.    With electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until smooth, about 30 seconds. With mixer running, add cream and whip until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Serve pie with whipped cream topping.



Strawberry pie filling

Strawberry pie unglazed




Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookies

Jacques Torres cookies Stacked

Jacques Torres’ Chocolate Chip Cookies

I clipped this recipe a couple of years ago from the New York Times and never made them until the other day. They are giant cookies, loaded with chocolate, crisp on the edges and chewy in the middle – maybe the best chocolate chip cookie ever…

 From the New York Times - Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookies NYT


 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8.5 ounces) cake flour

1 2/3 cups (8.5 ounces) bread flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter

1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract

1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate discs or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content (I used Callebaut Extra Bittersweet Chocolate Discs)

Sea salt.

 1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

 2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

 3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

 4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.

 Yield: 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.

 Note: Disks are sold at Jacques Torres Chocolate; Valrhona fèves, oval-shaped chocolate pieces, are at Whole Foods.

Cookie dough  

Cookie dough balls

 Cookies baked





Lemon Chiffon Cake with Whipped Cream Frosting

Lemon chiffon slice

Lemon Chiffon Cake with Whipped Cream Frosting

 Chiffon cakes are airy, moist, and delicious. They have an interesting history too. Harry Baker, a Los Angeles insurance agent turned caterer, is credited with the original chiffon cake in 1927. For two decades he carefully guarded his secret recipe, making his special cake only for Hollywood screen stars and for the famous Brown Derby Restaurant. In 1947, he agreed to sell the recipe to General Mills. They released the secret recipe in the May 1948 Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, and it became a nationwide sensation.

Download Lemon Chiffon Cake with Whipped Cream Frosting recipe

For the cake:

2 1/4 cups (8 ounces) cake flour

1 1/2 cups (10.5 ounces) sugar (reserve 2 T)

½ tsp. soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup safflower oil

7 large egg yolks

2/3 cup water

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest

1 teaspoons vanilla

10 large egg whites

11/4 teaspoons cream of tartar


For the whipped cream frosting:

2 cups well-chilled heavy cream

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest

1/4 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

Make the cake:

1. Adjust rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.

2. In a large bowl of a stand mixer, sift together the flour, all but 2 tablespoons of the sugar, soda, and salt and mix on low for 1 minute.

3. Make a well in the center and add oil, egg yolks, water, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla and beat for 1 minute to combine.

4. In another large bowl beat the egg whites until frothy, add cream of tartar, and beat until soft peaks form when the beater is raised. Beat in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the eggs whites into the batter with a large balloon whisk.

5. Pour batter into large ungreased tube pan (9-inch diameter, 16-cup Wipe off any batter that may have dripped or splashed onto inside walls of pan with paper towel.

6. Bake cake until wire cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, 55 to 65 minutes. Immediately turn cake upside down to cool. If pan does not have prongs around rim for elevating cake, invert pan over bottle or funnel, inserted through tube. Let cake hang until completely cold, about 2 hours.

7. To unmold, turn pan upright. Run frosting spatula or thin knife around pan's circumference between cake and pan wall, always pressing against the pan. Use cake tester to loosen cake from tube. For one-piece pan, bang it on counter several times, then invert over serving plate. For two-piece pan, grasp tube and lift cake out of pan. If glazing the cake, use a fork or a paring knife to gently scrape all the crust off the cake. Loosen cake from pan bottom with spatula or knife, then invert cake onto plate.

Make the cream frosting:

1. In a large bowl, chilled, with an electric mixer beat together the cream, lemon juice, the zest, the sugar, and a pinch of salt until the mixture holds stiff peaks.Spread the whipped frosting on the top, center, and side of the cake. 

Lemon chiffon cake pan  

Lemon chiffon cake inverted

Keste Pizzeria NYC

Keste pizza

 Keste has one of the most delicious Neapolitan pizzas in NYC. My friend Chris Makos, who always knows the best spots all over the world, insisted that we share the Margherita pizza for lunch.  A few simple ingredients create a mouthwatering event -- San Marzano tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil and a perfect pizza crust. Keste is located at 271 Bleecker St (between Cornelia and Jones)

Keste Pizzeria

Prize Winning Cheesecake with Strawberries

Cheesecake strawberries  

Prize Winning Cheesecake with Strawberries 

Download Prize Winning Cheesecake with Strawberries recipe

This is my favorite classic cheesecake recipes. It’s a combination of several favorite elements from a variety of sources. I love the buttery crunch of Lorna Doone cookies, but feel free to use the traditional graham crackers. I think the mascarpone cheese gives a softer texture to the cheesecake, but all cream cheese will work just fine.

For shortbread crust
1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup finely ground Lorna Doone cookies

For cheesecake
2 pounds cream cheese
1 cup mascarpone cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs

1 tsp. lemon zest

2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla
 ½ cup heavy cream

Make crust:
Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on medium high speed for 3-4 minutes. Add flour and ground Trefoils to the mixture and blend for 3-4 seconds until fully incorporated. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake the crust at 350° F for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow the crust to cool completely. When cool, wrap the outside of pan with 2 large sheets of aluminum foil and set in a roasting pan.

Make cheesecake:
Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until light and smooth. Add the mascarpone cheese and sugar and continue to beat on medium speed about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping bowl. Blend in the vanilla, lemon zest and juice; add the heavy cream and mix just until incorporated. Pour mixture into the cooled crust.

Set the cheesecake pan into a roasting pan, and add enough water to the roasting pan to reach halfway up sides of the cheesecake pan. Place in a 325° F oven for approximately one hour or until the cake is set, but still a bit wobbly in the center and the top is golden brown. Turn off oven and prop open oven door slightly; allow cake to continue to cool in water bath for 45-60 minutes. Remove the cake from the roasting pan and place on a wire rack.

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Sour Cream Topping:

1 pt. sour cream

1/3 c. sugar

2 tsp. vanilla

Blend until smooth. Pour over the cheesecake and return to 425 degree oven for 5 minutes until sour cream is set. Cool on rack for at least 2 hours.


To Serve:

Arrange whole fresh strawberries around edge of cheesecake and let cake stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. Serve with Strawberry Topping.


Strawberry Topping

2 pounds fresh strawberries, cleaned, hulled, and cut lengthwise into 1/4-to 1/8-inch slices

1/2 cup granulated sugar 

Pinch table salt 

1 cup strawberry jam (about 11 ounces)

2 tablespoons lemon juice from 1 lemon



1. Toss berries, sugar, and salt in medium bowl; let stand until berries have released juice and sugar has dissolved, about 30 minutes, tossing occasionally to combine.


2. Process jam in food processor until smooth, about 8 seconds; transfer to small saucepan. Bring jam to simmer over medium-high heat; simmer, stirring frequently, until dark and no longer frothy, about 3 minutes. Stir in lemon juice; pour warm liquid over strawberries and stir to combine. Let cool, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours or up to 12 hours. To serve, spoon a portion of topping over each slice of cheesecake.