Results tagged Ready for Dessert from David Lebovitz

I Have 51

j'ai 51 ans

In French, if someone asks you how old you are, you respond, “J’ai 51 ans”, which translates to “I have 51 years.” It one of the quirks of grammar between the languages, which don’t always intersect. In English, we do say, “I own _______” (fill in blank with something of which you have global, all-encompassing command of), which is a popular phrase, one that I haven’t been able to translate to French friends.

(I recently said on Twitter that “…Karen Carpenter owns the Christmas carols”, which probably confused non-native English speakers, and perhaps a few English-speaking ones that aren’t wise enough to appreciate Karen’s proprietorship of Christmas music as much as I do.)

Last year when I had 50 years, I celebrated with a birthday bouillotte. But this year, I’m not going to get so crazy. When your birthday falls two days after Christmas—and an unspecified number of days after Hannukah, and during Kwanzaa, it’s hard to rouse much enthusiasm amongst friends and family. And because it’s a week where a lot of people choose to travel, most people have headed out of town. Either that, or I’ve finally done it, and managed to offend everyone I know because they’re not returning my phone calls or e-mails. (And who says I have no talents?)

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The Easiest Chocolate Ice Cream Recipe…Ever

Bailey's Banana Chocolate Ice Cream

This dessert is the result of a happy accident. I’ve been working with a liquor company on developing some recipes and after a couple furious days of recipe-testing, I had a zillion containers of various odds-and-ends lying around.

Some had banana, some chocolate. Most were spiked with various quantities of liquor and there were a number of orphans that I had no idea where they came from. And there was that bottle of dark rum that I needed to finish the last little sip of.

So what did I do?

I mixed them all up, tossed them in my ice cream machine and let ‘er rip. After 30 minutes or so, I dug in my spoon in and tasted the most delicious batch of ice cream I’d churned up in a while.

But soon after, I got to work and discovered something—the world’s easiest Chocolate Ice Cream…with no machine required!

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Chocolate-Cherry Fruitcake Recipe

‘Tis the beginning of the season for holiday baking. Years ago I gave the much-maligned fruitcake a makeover, dressing it up with plumped-up sour cherries, an overload of chocolate, and a boozy bath of liquor added at the end.

Chocolate Cherry Fruitcake

You may remember my fruitcake disaster, so I’m not about to give anyone advice on preservation techniques. And you’ll notice my cake dipped a bit in the middle since I was playing around with French flour, which is softer than its American counterpart. But in looking at it afresh, I like the graceful little dip, which I find rather appealing.

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Seville Orange Marmalade

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This time of year brings Seville oranges to the markets in Paris. For the past few years, I kept complaining they were hard to find since it’s perhaps my favorite of all jams and jellies to make and eat. But lately, they’ve been everywhere. (See? It pays to complain. Either that, or a whole lot of French produce suppliers read my blog.) And I found myself busy making a lot of marmalade, which was a whole lot easier since I came up with a brand-new, revolutionary technique which I couldn’t wait to share.

chopped oranges

Since Seville oranges are rife with seeds, which makes slicing them difficult since you have to keep moving the seeds around with your slippery fingers, while trying to cut the oranges, then finding more, and fishing around deeper inside to extract more, plucking them out, etc…Each Seville orange has perhaps twenty to thirty inside.

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So I thought, what if I was to squeeze the juice and seeds out first, strain them, then pour the juice back in? The seeds are precious commodities in jam-making, and get saved and used since they’re so high in pectin. They’re wrapped in a sack and cooked with the marmalade giving the marmalade gets a suave, jellied texture. And this simple method makes the whole process much easier.

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You might be interested to know that Seville Orange Marmalade was created because of an error. Apparently an Englishwoman in 1700, the wife of a grocer, was stuck with some sour oranges that were bought cheaply from a boat that was carrying them from Seville. Since there was a storm, they wanted to get rid of their stock or oranges quickly, so the grocer bought them. But they were inedibly sour so his wife decided to try making jam from then, and viola!…Seville Orange Marmalade was invented.

Seville Orange Marmalade

Seville Orange Marmalade

Two quarts

Adapted from Ready for Dessert (Ten Speed)

I recently updated this recipe to include a pre-boiling of the orange pieces, simmering them in water until cooked through as some varieties of sour oranges tend to be resistant to cooking, and the pre-boiling ensures they’ll be fully cooked.

  • 6 Seville oranges (see Note)
  • 1 navel orange
  • 10 cups (2.5 liters) water
  • pinch of salt
  • 8 cups (1.6 kg) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Scotch (optional)

1. Wash oranges and wipe them dry. Cut each Seville orange in half, crosswise around the equator. Set a non-reactive mesh strainer over a bowl and squeeze the orange halves to remove the seeds, assisting with your fingers to remove any stubborn ones tucked deep within.

2. Tie the seeds up in cheesecloth or muslin very securely.

3. Cut each rind into 3 pieces and use a sharp chef’s knife to cut the rinds into slices or cubes as thin as possible. Each piece shouldn’t be too large (no more than a centimeter, or 1/3-inch in length.) Cut the navel orange into similar-sized pieces.

4. In a large (10-12 quart/liter) stockpot, add the orange slices, seed pouch, water, and salt, as well as the juice from the Seville oranges from step #1. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cook until the peels are translucent, about 20 to 30 minutes.

(At this point, sometimes I’ll remove it from the heat after cooking them and let the mixture stand overnight, to help the seeds release any additional pectin.)

5. Stir the sugar into the mixture and bring the mixture to a full boil again, then reduce heat to a gentle boil. Stir occasionally while cooking to make sure it does not burn on the bottom. Midway during cooking, remove the seed pouch and discard.

6. Continue cooking until it has reached the jelling point, about 220F degrees, if using a candy thermometer. To test the marmalade, turn off the heat and put a small amount on a plate that has been chilled in the freezer and briefly return it to the freezer. Check it in a few minutes; it should be slightly jelled and will wrinkle just a bit when you slide your finger through it. If not, continue to cook until it is.

7. Remove from heat, then stir in the Scotch (if using), and ladle the mixture into clean jars. Sometimes I bury a piece of vanilla bean in each jar. (Which is a great way to recycle previously-used or dried-out vanilla beans.)

I don’t process my jams, since I store them in the refrigerator. But if you wish to preserve them by canning, you can read more about the process here.

Note: Sour or Seville oranges are called in French oranges amers and are available mid-winter in many other countries around the world as well.

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Chocolate Cake Recipe

The word ‘consulting’ always sounds like a dream job when you’re stuck working in a restaurant kitchen, slaving over a hot stove, on the line. As a consultant, it sounds like you sweep into a kitchen, where the staff welcomes you with open arm as their savior, and you magically transform the meals coming out of the kitchen into extraordinary feats of culinary magic.

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In fact, it couldn’t be more different.

Restaurants call in consultants when they’ve exhausted all other possibilities, and the kitchen is in such dire trouble that they need to get some poor sucker from the outside to come in a try to fix what they’ve screwed up. The pay seems great, until you walk in the kitchen and realize no one wants to talk to you, no one wants you there, and worse, no one wants to change anything, since it means more work for them (and if they really cared about their work, they wouldn’t have had to call in someone from the outside in the first place.)

I was once a consultant for a corporation that owned several prominent restaurants. It took me about 5 minutes to figure out that one of their major problems was that there were a lot of high-paid executives sitting in meetings upstairs, while there were a lot of low-paid people downstairs, in the kitchen, putting the food on the plate. And let’s face it: Customers don’t care about executive meetings, they care about the food.
And that’s basically it.

When I mentioned this discrepancy to the high-paid executives (who hired me to tell them things like that…right?) we had another round of meetings, discussing things for hours and hours, until I told them I couldn’t sit through any more meetings since I had work to do in the kitchen. (Stupid me! What was I thinking? Those meetings were totally cush. Why slave over a hot stove? Maybe those executives weren’t so wrong after all…)

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Coconut Chocolate Macaroon Recipe

Many people tell me this is one of their favorite recipes from my cookbook, Ready For Dessert. In addition to these fantastic Coconut and Chocolate Macaroons you’ll find my infamous recipe for Fresh Ginger Cake which makes a fantastic summertime dessert served simply with sliced, juicy-sweet peaches or flavorful strawberries and raspberries.

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I made a batch of macaroons for a Thai banquet last night here in Paris, where a happy alliance of French and American food bloggers (and food-lovers) got together for dinner. We chopped giant bunches of vivid-green herbs like cilantro, mint, and other greens with names that we learned have no English, or French translations. Jumbo prawns from Chinatown were quickly peeled and sautéed, and tiny branches of fresh green peppercorns were quickly skillet-cooked until tender.

Succulent beef was grilled and marinated in a spicy glaze then tossed with hot chilies, fresh cilantro leaves, and cooling slices of cucumbers. Things heated up as we simmered tea-smoked duck in red coconut curry sauce which was spooned over steamed rice fragrant, with aromatic pandanus leaves. And I loved the shrimp stir-fried with vivid-green garlic shoots, which mellowed considerably once cooked quickly with the plump shrimp and Thai spices.

Coconut and Chocolate Macaroons

30 Cookies

From Ready for Dessert (Ten Speed)

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2½ cups unsweetened coconut (see note)
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

In a large skillet, mix together the egg whites, sugar, salt, honey, coconut and flour.

Heat over low-to-moderate heat on the stovetop, stirring constantly, scraping the bottom as you stir.

When the mixture just begins to scorch at the bottom, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Transfer to a bowl to cool to room temperature.

(At this point, the mixture can be chilled for up to one week, or frozen for up to two months.)

When ready to bake, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Form the dough into 1 1/2-inch mounds with your fingers evenly spaced on the baking sheet. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until deep golden brown. Cool completely.

To dip the macaroons in chocolate, melt the chocolate in a clean, dry bowl set over a pan of simmering water (or in a microwave.) Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap. Dip the bottoms of each cookie in the chocolate and set the cookies on the baking sheet. Refrigerate 5-10 minutes, until the chocolate is set.

Note: Unsweetened coconut is available in most natural-food shops or you can purchase it online.

It goes under various names, such as coconut powder, medium shredded coconut, and coconut flakes. All will work well in this recipe.