Friday, April 29, 2011

warm olive recipe

I don't even know where I first tasted warm olives. Did I have them on one of my culinary journeys in Italy or Provence? Or was it when I worked at Chez Panisse? Did I make this recipe up?

I'm not sure but what I do know is that they're my go-to dish when I'm having company. The two reasons,- (1) I always have olives in my fridg. When I'm perusing the olive bar, I usually take a combination of Picholine, Casalvetrano, Kalamata and Nicoise. Sometimes I even add a few of those big, meaty, jumbo black olives, each about the size of a baseball. They're huge. OK I'm exaggerating. Maybe not a baseball but at least a large walnut. I like to add a few of those too. More than that and those suckers will overflow the bowl. (2) They're easy!

They I grab a few herbs from my garden, use a vegetable peeler for a few slices of lemon or orange peel, add a pinch of crushed red pepper, maybe some sliced garlic and even some blanched fennel. Throw the lot into a frying pan with a little of your best extra virgin olive oil and warm them up on low heat for 2 or 3 minutes.


1- Yes, the olives have pits.

2- Don't heat the olives too long on a hot flame or the pits will get exceedingly hot.

3- Be careful, they're addictive.

The other night I had my neighbors for dinner. They'd never had them before so I got some oooohs and aaaahs from the warm olive virgins. Let me know what you think.


1 small bulb fennel, trimmed
2 oranges or lemons
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled, thinly sliced
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Sprigs of rosemary, oregano and thyme
3 ounces Nicoise olives
3 ounces green Picholine olives
3 ounces Casalvetrano olives
3 ounces Kalamata black olives

Cut the fennel into thin strips from top to bottom. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fennel and simmer until the fennel is tender but still crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain.

With a vegetable peeler, remove 8 strips of orange peel, 2-inches long. With a paring knife, remove any white pith from the back of the peel.

Warm the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the fennel, orange peel, garlic, red pepper flakes and herbs until they begin to sizzle, 1 minute. Add the olives and warm 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and place the olives on a small platter. Drizzle with a few tablespoons of the oil.

Serve immediately.

Serves 6

Friday, April 22, 2011

happy easter

You don't even have to color your Easter eggs when you have a basket of Araucana eggs!
Happy Easter to everyone!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

not your mother's deviled egg recipe

When I was a kid, I remember my mother had this gaudy platter with oval indentations she used specifically for serving her deviled eggs? I have to say, when I was young, I thought the whole deviled egg thing was a bit tacky, especially that platter. It seemed like an awful lot a calories to consume before starting a meal. And taking them on a picnic? As soon as that plastic container was opened, we'd all kind of laugh and snicker and look around to see who was guilty. But I also must admit, my mother's deviled eggs were pretty damn delicious.T

Then for a long time, deviled eggs were uncool. Recently though, they've became cool again. Funny how food does that! And suddenly I'm reading about deviled eggs everywhere,- food magazines, newspapers and on restaurant menus. And I find myself ordering them because I'm loving how devilish chefs and writers are becoming with their variations on a theme these days.

Years ago, I wrote a series of cookbooks called Seasonal Celebrations for Williams Sonoma. In the Spring volume, in celebration of Easter, the editor asked me to include a recipe for deviled eggs. I remember thinking how embarrassing. What if someone I worked with at Chez Panisse sees that recipe? Deviled eggs weren't exactly in my repertoire then but I said yes and included a recipe in the book. I distinctly remember tasting the deviled egg recipe I tested for the book and was so pleasantly surprised. They were comforting, nostalgic and hey, they tasted really good. I include that recipe here.


6 large eggs
2 tablespoons homemade or prepared mayonnaise
2 tablespoons non-fat yogurt
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 green onions, finely diced
1/4 small red bell pepper, roasted, 1/4" dice
1 very small pinch saffron threads
2 teaspoons boiling water
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions as a garnish

With a pin or a tack, puncture a hole in the round end of the egg. This releases pressure inside of the egg, so the shell won't crack. Fill a large saucepan 3/4ths full of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low so it is barely simmering. Add the eggs and boil 10 minutes. Remove the eggs from the water and plunge into a bowl of ice water. Let the eggs cool for 10 minutes. One by one, remove the eggs from the water and crack them slightly. Place them back in the bowl of ice water. (This will help facilitate peeling them.

In the meantime, combine the mayonnaise, yogurt, mustard, garlic, lemon juice, paprika, green onions and red pepper. Place the saffron in a small bowl and pour the boiling water over the saffron threads to moisten them. Add the saffron and water to the mayonnaise mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Peel the eggs and cut each egg in half from top to bottom. Place the yolks in a bowl and mash with a fork. Add the yolks to the mayonnaise mixture and stir to combine. Reserve the whites. Spoon the yolk mixture into the cavities of the egg white distributing evenly. Sprinkle with green onions.

Serves 6

Thursday, April 14, 2011

salmon and fennel chowder with fennel pollen creme fraiche recipe

I remember the first time I saw fresh fennel in the grocery story. I was living in Cambridge and fennel was definitely a rarity. What the heck is it, I thought! I bought a couple bulbs and brought them home but I had absolutely no clue what to do with them. I remember cutting the tops off and all I could think about was those ropes of black licorice we ate as kids and I so despised.

Those bulbs sat in my refrigerator for a few days. Every time I opened the refrigerator to get milk or butter , they stared me in the face. I couldn't let them go to waste but I didn't know what to do with them either. I had a few cookbooks and read everything I could about fennel.

OK, I'll make a soup. I sauteed some onions in olive oil, added the diced fennel and chicken stock to cover. I simmered until the fennel was soft, let it cool and then pureed the soup in the blender. A dash of salt and a few drops of lemon juice were just what it needed to bring my fennel soup to life. The soup was delicious and much more delicate than I thought. And it definitely didn't taste like a piece of black licorice.

Later when I cooked at Chez Panisse, we added fennel to lots of dishes,- braised meats, thinly sliced and tossed fresh and crunchy into salads and poached on an aioli plate. This past weekend when I was at the Farmer's Market, there were piles and piles of fennel. It's definitely the season, I thought. But I also couldn't help thinking of my days in Cambridge so I bought a few bulbs for old times sake.


3 bulbs of fennel with stalks and greens
3 leeks, white and 1-inch of the green, coarsely chopped
3 1 /2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups bottled clam juice
2 cups water
¾ cup crème fraiche
Large pinch of fennel pollen
½ teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
12 ounces salmon fillet, skin and bone removed, 1/2-inch pieces

Remove the green fennel tops. Chop coarsely and reserve. Cut the ends off the fennel and remove any outside leaves that are damaged. Chop the coarsely. Wash the chopped leeks and drain well.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium low heat. Add the fennel and leeks and sauté until the leeks are soft, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the clam juice and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the fennel is soft, 20 minutes.

In the meantime, in a bowl, combine the crème fraiche, fennel pollen, lemon zest, lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon reserved fennel tops. Season with salt and pepper and reserve.

In batches, puree the soup in a blender until very smooth. Add the cream and season with salt and pepper. Place the soup back in the soup pot and heat over medium heat. Add the salmon and simmer 2 to 3 minutes.

To serve the soup, warm over medium heat. Ladle the soup into bowls and drizzle with the crème fraiche and fennel greens. Serve immediately.

Serves 6

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

calzone recipe

Last Saturday, I made calzone (cal-zoe-knee, Italians pronounce the "e") with my students during my pizza and pasta weekend workshop in my studio kitchen. Everyone was amazed at how easy calzone is to make. And it's a real WOW dish when it comes out of the oven all golden brown and puffy!

For the calzone, we pretty much used the same as the pizza dough with the addition of a little extra bread flour and extra virgin olive oil. The addition of extra flour makes the calzone dough stiffer and more sturdy, and the olive oil is there for flavor.

If you haven't made a calzone before, it's easy. Follow these steps and you'll be a pizzaiolo before you know it.

#1 Follow the pointers for pizza dough.

#2 Make the filling.

#3 Form the dough into a 10-inc circle and place on a floured wooden pizza peel.

#4 Spread the filling on half of the circle making sure you leave a 1-inch space around the edges.

#5 Using a pastry brush, brush water around the edges of half of the dough.

#6 Fold the dough over enclosing the filling. Press the edges together tightly.

#7 Crimp the edges by rolling the edges towards the center to make sure the edges are completely sealed.

#8 Transfer onto a stone that has been heated in a hot oven.
Fill it with ricotta, spicy fennel sausage and wilted greens and make sure you tell me how it comes out!


1 cup ricotta

3/4 pound hot Italian sausage, removed from the casings
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
6 cups young greens for wilting,-- beet greens, Swiss chard, escarole, radicchio

Large pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons balsamic vineagr
½ cup Parmigiano Reggiano

1 recipe Calzone Dough

Thirty minutes before baking, place a pizza stone on the bottom shelf of the oven and set the oven temperature to 500F.

Place the ricotta in a paper towel-lined strainer. Let drain 1 hour.
Heat a large frying pan over medium high heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until completely cooked. Drain and discard the excess oil. Reserve the sausage in a large bowl.

Add the olive oil to the pan and warm over medium high heat. Add the garlic and cook
5 seconds to soften. Cut the greens into 1-inch strips and add the greens and red pepper flakes to the pan. Cook, tossing occasionally, until the greens begin to wilt. Add the balsamic vinegar and toss together. Cover the pan and cook until tender. Remove from the pan and let cool. Add to the sausage along with the ricotta and Parmigiano. Season with salt.

On a floured surface, divide the dough into two pieces and form into round balls. Roll one piece of the dough into a 12-inch circle, approximately 1/4" thick and place it on a well floured pizza peel or paddle. Spread half of the sausage/ricotta mixture on half of the dough leaving a 1 ½" border around the edge. With a pastry brush, moisten the bottom edges of the dough lightly with water and fold the dough over the filling matching the edges and pressing together well to seal completely. Roll the edges of the dough inward and press to make a tight seal. Slide the calzone onto the pizza stone and bake until golden and crisp, 10 to 12 minutes.

Remove from the oven and place on a wooden cutting board. Let rest 10 minutes and serve.

Repeat with the remaining dough.

Makes 2 large or 4 small individual-size calzone and serves 6


2 teaspoons dry yeast
1 cup lukewarm water, 110°F
3 cups unbleached King Arthur bread flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Combine yeast, 1/2 cup lukewarm water and 1/2 cup flour in a large bowl. Let it sit until it bubbles up, 30 minutes.

Add remaining 2 3/4 cups flour, salt, olive oil and 1/2 cup lukewarm water. Mix the dough thoroughly. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth, elastic and a bit tacky to the touch, 10 minutes. Place in an oiled bowl and turn to cover with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day, bring the dough at least 3 to 4 hours before making the calzone.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

asparagus, pickled onions and prosciutto pizza recipe

Take it from me, a pizza lover who headed to Naples just to eat pizza... You don't need to have a wood-fired pizza oven at home to make good pizza (though it would be nice). You need a few pointers, kind of a "pizza 101" primer and you can master great pies at home.

Let's get one thing straight! I love pizza so much that my last meal on earth will most definitely be a pizza of some sort. I don't know if it would be a pizza topped with sweet Italian stewed tomatoes and Gorgonzola, a pizza with a fresh arugula salad and shaved Parmigiano on top, or one of my all-time favorites,- a pizza topped with smoked salmon, caviar and creme fraiche. I haven't decided what kind yet but thank God, I don't have to make that decision yet.

Last weekend in my pizza and pasta workshop class, one of the pizzas that my students made had a whole bulb of roasted garlic smeared onto the top first. Then they topped that with Italian fontina, blanched asparagus, red onions pickled in red wine vinegar and thin strips of prosciutto. It had that sweet, sour, salty thing going on and it was incredible.

We served it piping hot out of the oven with Sauvignon Blanc and we were all in heaven.


1 recipe Weir Dough
1 whole bulb of garlic
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 cups red or white wine vinegar
12 spears asparagus, ends trimmed, 1/2-inch diagonally, about 6 ounces
3/4 cup grated fontina cheese, about 3 ounces
8 paper-thin slices prosciutto, torn into 1-inch strips

Make the pizza dough and let rise overnight.

Preheat an oven to 400ºF. Place the garlic in a small baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the oil and 1 tablespoon water. Cover with foil and bake in the oven until the garlic is tender 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the garlic and let cool. Puree in a potato ricer or food mill which separate the pulp from the paper. Discard the paper. Add the 1 tablespoon of the oil to the garlic pulp and stir together.

Place the onions in a bowl and add enough vinegar until they are submerged. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons salt and let sit 20 to 30 minutes.

Thirty minutes before baking, place a pizza stone on the bottom shelf of the oven and set the oven temperature to 500F.

Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook just until tender and still bright green, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and cool.

Punch down the dough. On a floured surface, divide the dough into two pieces and form each into round balls. Roll or form one piece of the dough into a 12 to 13-inch circle, ¼ to 1/8" thick. If it is difficult for you to shape the dough this large, let the dough rest for 5 minutes and try again. Use a rolling pin to facilitate the rolling process. Transfer it to a well floured pizza peel or paddle. Lightly brush the dough to within ½" of the edge with the garlic paste. Sprinkle half of the drained onions and cheese over the dough. Top with half of the asparagus, distributing evenly. Sprinkle with salt. Slide the pizza onto the pizza stone and bake until golden and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Top with half of the prosciutto, distributing evenly. Drizzle each pizza with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Serve immediately.

Continue with the remaining ingredients to make a second pizza.

Makes 2 pizzas, 12 to 13-inches diameter and serves 12