Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Prime Ribs Dinner

Perfect Prime Ribs
Prime rib” refers to the standing rib roast; “standing” because to cook it, you simply position the roast on its rib bones in the roasting pan—no need for a rack. When you order a “prime” rib, it doesn’t mean that you are getting USDA Prime. Most “prime ribs” we get from butcher are actually “USDA Choice” quality, which makes for a very nice meal. If “USDA Prime” Prime Rib is within your budget, however, go for it. It can cost up to 50 percent more; it is the absolute superior grade (top 2 percent) of beef, generally reserved for top restaurants. There is a real difference in tenderness and flavor, and it will make the meal truly memorable for beef lovers.
A standing rib roast will serve anywhere from 6 to14 people. Each rib will feed two people, and you must cook at least three ribs for it to be a Standing Rib Roast. (Less is just a very thick steak.) It is best to use a meat thermometer, inserted at the center of the meat, not too close to the bone.


1 standing beef rib roast (4 to 7 ribs; 9 to 18 pounds)
Softened butter (½ tablespoon per bone)
Salt (½ teaspoon per bone)
Fresh, coarsely ground black pepper, as needed
½ cup sliced shallots
1 quart cold beef broth
½ cup red wine
2 tablespoons flour


Remove the prime rib from the refrigerator. Use a paper towel to pat the roast dry, and place it in a heavy metal roasting pan with 3-inch sides, bone side down. Rub the entire surface of the cold roast with butter and coat evenly with the salt and black pepper. Leave the prime rib out at room temperature for two hours.
Preheat the oven to 450° F. When the oven is hot, put the roast in and cook for 20 minutes to sear the outside of the roast. After 20 minutes turn the oven down to 325° F. Roast for 30 minutes. Add shallots to the pan, scattered around the roast, allowing the juices of the roast to drip on them. After a few minutes, when they begin to caramelize, add ½ cup of the beef broth and scrape. Continue to roast for a total of 15-20 minutes per pound (including the first half hour) or until internal temperature is 110° F for rare, 120° F for medium rare, 130° F for medium and 140° F for medium-well. The roast will increase its temperature by about 10° F during its resting period. Transfer to a large platter and let the prime rib rest, loosely covered with foil, for 30 minutes before serving. Cutting into the meat too early will cause a significant loss of juice.

Total roasting time
per pound
Internal temperature
15 minutes
110° F
17 minutes
120° F
19 minutes
130° F
Medium -Well
21 minutes
140° F

To make the "Au Jus" sauce
While the prime rib is resting, place the roasting pan on the stovetop over medium heat. Add the ½ cup of red wine and reduce the liquid to about half. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for five minutes to form a roux. Pour in the rest of the beef broth and whisk into the roux, scraping all the caramelized beef drippings and shallots from the bottom of the pan. Turn heat to high and cook the sauce for ten minutes until it reduces and thickens slightly. Serve in a gravy boat alongside the prime rib.

Carving the well-rested roast:
Use a sharp knife to cut the meat off the bones by making one cut across the bottom of the roast to detach the chine bone and running the sharp edge of the knife parallel along the rib bones, to cut off the entire rib section in one piece. Place boneless portion of the prime rib roast on the cutting board with the rib bone side down. Cut slices across the grain of the roast to desired thickness. Slices are cut ¼-inch to ½-inch thick.

Yorkshire Pudding
A traditional side dish for Prime Rib is Yorkshire Pudding, a puffy, popover-like pastry that the English have contributed to culinary excellence.
Ingredients (all at room temperature)
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup water
1¼ cups flour
1 teaspoon Salt
1 large egg

1 tablespoon drippings

One hour before the meat is ready to be removed from the oven, mix the milk and water together. Sift flour with salt into a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and add the unbeaten egg and half of the liquid. Stir slowly, gradually drawing the flour into the liquid. Add half of the remaining liquid and beat well. Stir in the rest of the liquid and allow to rest at room temperature.
When you remove the beef from the oven, turn the temperature back up to 400° F. Coat a pie plate with a tablespoon of drippings from the roast (tilting the pan and turning it so the drippings coat the bottom and sides well). Pour the batter into the pie plate and bake in the hot oven for 30 to 35 minutes. (Do not open the oven door during cooking, or the popover will fall.) It will rise to a light, fluffy consistency. Serve immediately, and enjoy the crispy outer edges and the custardlike inside.

Parsley Potatoes
18 small Red or Yukon Gold potatoes
½ cup fresh parsley
½ stick butter
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Rinse potatoes and cut off any unsightly parts. Add to a pot and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until they are still firm but a fork can pierce them. Drain. Peel and slice each potato in half. Place parsley, butter, garlic, and potatoes in a saucepan over medium heat, and combine well. Cover and cook for ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Sautéed Mushrooms


2 pounds mixed mushrooms
½ cup good olive oil
1 cup chopped shallots (4 shallots)
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped garlic (6 cloves)
1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley


Wipe the cap of each mushroom with a clean sponge. Remove and discard the stems. Slice the small mushrooms thickly; cut the big ones in large dice. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the shallots and cook over low heat for five minutes, or until the shallots are translucent. Add the butter, mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook over medium heat for eight minutes, until they are tender and begin to release their juices, stirring often. Stir in the garlic and cook for two more minutes. Toss in the parsley, sprinkle with salt, and serve warm.

Horseradish Cream


½ cup crème fraîche or use half sour cream and half heavy cream, mixed
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon lemon juice


In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Timing Tips
I chose these particular side dishes because they are delicious, go well with the roast, are not time sensitive, do not require the oven, and can be mostly prepped in advance so they do not monopolize you at the last minute, when you need to be working with the roast. The following can be prepped hours before you start cooking the roast.
Prime Rib and Yorkshire Pudding: Take out the beef and the egg and milk from the refrigerator to allow them to reach room temperature.
Parsley Potatoes: Wash and boil the potatoes. Once they have cooled, peel and halve them and place them in a Tupperware container or bowl. Do not refrigerate. Chop the parsley and shallots and leave in small cups until required. While roast is out of the oven and the Yorkshire Pudding is rising, you can finish off the potatoes and leave covered until ready to serve.
Sautéed Mushrooms: You can prepare the mushrooms hours in advance up until the point of adding the garlic. Instead add a tablespoon of lemon juice, toss, and allow to rest, covered, until almost ready to serve. Then stir in the garlic and cook for two more minutes. Toss in the parsley, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve warm.
Horseradish Sauce:  The sauce can be made early in the day and refrigerated. It is served cold or room temperature.

Recipe: Christmas Goose Dinner

Goose is one of my most favorite festive dishes. You will hear people complain that it is “too fatty,” probably because they have never had goose prepared correctly. This recipe will give you moist, succulent dark meat without the excess fat or fatty flavor. It is not difficult, but you must start a couple of days before roasting.  Also, a goose should be stuffed with a bread, potato or rice stuffing that will absorb some of the delicious fat from the inside of the bird. Do not use a sausage stuffing, or it will add to the fattiness. I am including a recipe for wild rice stuffing, which I personally like. Goose goes particularly well with tart fruit flavors to complement its richness, so I have included suggestions and recipes for accompaniments for the roasted goose. Next week: recipes for Prime Ribs of Beef Dinner.

Roast Goose with Wild Rice Stuffing
One fresh goose, 8–10 pounds for 5–6 people, or 11–12 pounds for 7–8 people; if the goose is frozen, it should be defrosted slowly in the refrigerator for two full days and then brought to room temperature for a few hours before starting this process.
6 cups chicken stock
1 onion
1 carrot, sliced
1 stalk celery
Sprig of parsley
Bay leaf
1 cup wild rice
2 tablespoons butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 cup sliced mushrooms
Juice of ½ lemon
⅔ cup wine
From 24 to 48 hours before roasting, fill two-thirds of a pot large enough to hold the goose with water and bring to a boil. While water is heating up, remove the neck and giblets and set aside to make the stock and gravy. Trim excess fat from inside the body cavity, slice off the wide belly flaps covering the body cavity, and remove the fatty tail. (For the ambitious, this fat can go into a pot with a little water (about ½ cup) and be put over low heat to render out and make goose fat for frying potatoes— better than butter or oil.)
You still need to give the fat underneath the goose’s skin somewhere to go; if you don’t, the skin will never fully crisp up and the fat will stay in the meat. The best way to do this is to prick the skin with a clean, sharp sewing needle (or paring knife) from an angle, so that you are not piercing the flesh of the goose, just the skin. Do this all over the goose.
When the water comes to a rolling boil, submerge the goose, neck side down, for one minute, until goose bumps (yes, that is where that expression comes from) appear on the goose. Turn it tail side down, and repeat the process. Remove goose from the pot, and drain. Place, breast side up, on a rack in a large roasting pan. Set it in the refrigerator, uncovered, to dry the skin for 24 to 48 hours.
Early on the day of roasting, make the stock and the stuffing. For the goose stock, cut up the giblets (but not the liver) and place them in 2 cups of the chicken stock, along with one sliced onion, one sliced carrot, one stalk of celery, salt, pepper, a sprig of parsley, and a bay leaf. Bring to a simmer for about 30 minutes.
For the stuffing, simmer the rice in a covered pot with the remaining 4 cups of chicken stock for 40–45 minutes, or until all of the liquid is absorbed. (If the rice is fully cooked before all of the liquid is absorbed, uncover the pan and boil until the liquid has evaporated.) In a small pan, melt the butter and sauté the shallots until soft. Add the mushrooms and cook for another 23 minutes, or until the moisture has evaporated. Add the lemon juice and stir the mushroom mix into the rice, seasoning with salt and pepper. Allow to cool, but do not refrigerate.
Remove goose from the refrigerator two hours before roasting. 
Preheat oven to 375°F.
When the bird reaches room temperature, stuff it. Seal cavities by sewing skin together with a clean needle and thread or using a special skewer and thread bought for the purpose. Draw the thighs close to one another and tie together with kitchen twine. Rub salt and pepper all over the skin. Place the bird on its side on a rack in a roasting pan, and place in the oven. In 15 minutes turn the bird on its other side and baste with some of the stock. After another 15 minutes, turn the bird on its back, breast side up, baste and continue roasting. After a total of 45 minutes of roasting, turn the oven temperature down to 350°F and continue roasting until the bird has roasted 15 minutes per pound, or until its internal temperature, when tested with a meat thermometer, has reached a minimum of 180 degrees.
When done, transfer the goose to a carving board; remove trussing, string, or skewer and cover with aluminum foil, loosely tented over it, allowing the bird to rest before carving.
To make gravy, pour off most of the fat from original roasting pan and place it over two burners. Mix in the ⅔ cup of wine and scrape the pan with a wooden spoon. Pour a cup of giblet broth over the drippings and reduce to make a gravy.

Braised Red Cabbage
1 head red cabbage, sliced
4 tablespoons butter
1 onion, sliced
2 apples, pared, cored and sliced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1½ tablespoons sugar
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon flour
I encourage you to cook this the day before. It is even better heated up, and not having to worry about this will reduce the pressure on the day you are cooking everything else.
Preheat oven to 325°F.
In a large pot of boiling water, blanch the cabbage for one minute and drain. The cabbage will turn a deep violet color, but it will come back to its natural color later in the process, when the vinegar is added. In a flameproof casserole (large enough to later add the cabbage), melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and fry the onion until soft but not browned.  Add the apples, stir, and cook for 2–3 minutes. Remove apple-onion mixture from the pot. Add layers of cabbage and apple mixture, sprinkling each layer with vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Cover with buttered brown or parchment paper or aluminum foil and then the pot’s cover. Place in the oven and allow to braise until cabbage is soft, usually 1½–2 hours. Stir cabbage occasionally, adding ¼ cup of water if dry. Allow to cool, and refrigerate overnight. Remove from the fridge a few hours before reheating. While the goose is roasting, reheat cabbage on the stove, stirring and adding a tablespoon or two of water to avoid it being totally dry. Then take the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and knead it with the flour. Stir into the cabbage, a little at a time, to thicken the juices while reheating. Add salt and pepper.

Glazed Sweet Potatoes or Yams
This is especially nice because it can be prepared in advance and finished in the oven while the goose is resting.

8 sweet potatoes of about the same size, peeled
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ cup honey
½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Cook the potatoes in salted boiling water for 20–30 minutes, depending upon size, until potatoes are soft but still intact. Drain, allow to cool and slice. Butter a flat baking dish and arrange the slices of cooked sweet potatoes, tightly overlapping, to fill the dish.with one layer. Spoon over the lemon juice, honey.and nuts. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and dot with butter. Bake for 15 minutes, until lightly browned.

Apple Sauce
This sauce can be made the day before and refrigerated. It may be served cold or at room temperature, or heated up and served warm. You decide.
8 apples (I like to mix up the varieties)
1 pear
Pare, core and slice the fruit. Place in a saucepan and add enough water to cover about half of the fruit. Cook over medium heat, watching to see if too much water evaporates—in which case, just add more. Do not allow fruit to brown. When the fruit gets pulpy and begins to fall apart, mash and mix with a wooden spoon. You may leave this a bit chunky or strain if needed to make it smooth.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Turkey Waldorf Salad

First created in the 1890s at the Waldorf Hotel in New York City, the traditional Waldorf salad is made of fresh apples, celery and walnuts dressed in mayonnaise and is served on a bed of lettuce as an appetizer. Sometime in the 20th century, it became popular to add diced cooked chicken to make a real meal out of it. It was not a big leap from there for me and many other cooks to decide that this would be an excellent dish for turkey leftovers. After the traditional sandwich and perhaps the turkey pot pie, the turkey Waldorf is a great way to finish off the bits.
(Serves six)

½ cup plain yogurt
½ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
⅛ teaspoon salt
3 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 cup thinly sliced celery
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 cup seedless grapes, washed and cut in half lengthwise
2 cups diced cooked turkey



In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, mayonnaise, sugar, lemon juice, and salt.
Stir in the apples, celery, walnuts, grapes and turkey. Chill until ready to serve.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pumpkin Soup in its shell

I am always looking for creative ways to cook and serve the traditional Thanksgiving meal. Some years ago, I followed this recipe for a Halloween party, and this year I have decided to use it for Thanksgiving. Serving the soup in a pumpkin shell is not absolutely necessary, but it certainly makes it more festive, attractive, and fun. Use one large pumpkin shell for the table or small pumpkin shells for individual servings.

Preparing the pumpkin shell(s)

Select short, round, squat pumpkin(s) rather than upright tall, thin ones. Wash the pumpkin(s) in warm, soapy water, rinse well and dry. Using a sharp knife, insert the tip about 1/3 of the way down and cut away the top to form a lid. Scoop out the seeds and stringy mass. Lightly oil the pumpkin inside and out, and sprinkle the inside with salt. Place cleaned pumpkin(s) and lid(s) on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 325°F for one to one and one-half hours, depending on the size of the shell. Bake the pumpkin shell until the pumpkin flesh begins to soften. WATCHPOINT: You want the pumpkin flesh to be just soft enough to scoop out, but the shell must not get soft or it will not support the weight of the soup. If unsure, it is better to underbake. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Gently scoop out some of the soft, cooked pumpkin from the wall and lid, being careful not to puncture the shell. Use this for the pumpkin soup.

For 8 servings:

2 cups finely chopped onions
½ cup finely chopped leeks
½ cup finely chopped celery
½ cup finely chopped carrots
½ cup peanut oil
8 cups chicken stock 
4 cups (2 pounds) cooked pumpkin (You can add or substitute cans of pumpkin.)
2 Idaho or Russet potatoes, peeled, washed and cubed
1 bay leaf
2 cups milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan or Swiss cheese
Fresh chopped parsley
Fleur de sel

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, sauté onions, leeks, celery and carrots in oil. Cook until onions begin to look translucent. Add stock, pumpkin, potatoes and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove bay leaf. Add milk and cook over low heat for five minutes. Do not boil. Add ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. (If it is too thick, add water or more milk and cook another five minutes.) Ladle hot soup into pumpkin shell(s). Serve hot with grated cheese, chopped parsley and fleur de sel as garnish.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Eugénie’s Chocolate Cakes (Made with Salted Butter)

Photo by Eugénie Martinez

I have had family from France visiting with us for the past few weeks, and I occasionally relinquish my kitchen to them—always with good results, but this time my niece, Eugénie  produced an outstanding new dessert that will henceforth be among my staples. The use of salted butter in making individual chocolate cakes and then the sprinkling of Fleur de Sel de Guerande over them just before tasting is a stroke of culinary genius. You may use an old cupcake pan or one of the new multiple individual portion cake pans. The batter does not rise to a full cupcake, but remains flat as shown in the picture.


7 ounces dark chocolate (or semisweet), cut into pieces
8 ounces salted butter, cut into small pieces
Extra butter with which to grease the pan
8 ounces sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract)
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon flour, sifted
Fleur de Sel de Guerande (sea salt)


Preheat oven to 350° F.

Coat the inside of a pan for multiple individual cakes (cup cake or muffin mold will do) with butter.

Melt chocolate over boiling water in a separate pot or a double boiler. As soon as it is melted, take it off the fire and mix in the butter, piece by piece, adding the sugar and vanilla until well mixed, thick and smooth.

Separate the eggs. Add the egg yolks to the chocolate mixture. Add the flour. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold them into the chocolate mixture.

Fill the buttered molds halfway with the mixture. Bake for 10–20 minutes. (The actual time required depends on the size of your cakes.) Leave the oven light on and check frequently to see the cakes form. Take out of the oven once the cakes seem solid on the outside.

These can be served hot and molten inside or allowed to cool. Serve with the Fleur de Sel de Guerande or any other coarse sea salt, allowing each person to sprinkle a few grains on his or her own dessert. The cakes, of course,go well with any type of ice cream—but espresso or coffee would be my favorite. If you enjoy these as much as I do, don’t thank me. Thank Eugénie 

Mini Eggplant Pizzas

Use slices of roasted eggplant to replace the pizza crust and you have a delicious dish to please dieters, vegetarians and gourmands alike. I served it this weekend before a main course of pasta and got rave reviews.

(Serves 4–6)

1 eggplant, cut into thick slices (about ¼-inch thick)
4 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 14.5 oz can Del Monte Stewed Tomatoes, Italian Recipe
1 14.5 oz can Del Monte Stewed Tomatoes, Original Recipe
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Fresh Basil (rinsed, dried and cut up)



Preheat the oven to 425° F. Brush both sides of the eggplant slices with the oil and season with the salt and pepper. Arrange on a baking sheet and bake until browned and almost tender, 6 to 8 minutes, turning once.

Place the contents of the cans of stewed tomatoes in a mixer so that the tomatoes are mashed into the liquid to create a thick sauce. 

Spread a tablespoon of tomato sauce on each eggplant slice. Top with the shredded cheese. Bake until the cheese melts, 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle fresh basil on the top. Serve hot.

Sauteed Foie Gras on a Bed of Caramelized Onions

Many chefs cook fruit to accompany fresh foie gras, which we love, but Gerard and I have always preferred to serve it with sweet caramelized onions—a recipe we learned while vacationing in Béarn years ago. You can make the onions and slice the foie gras in advance. Keep the foie gras slices refrigerated and the onions in the pan, where they need to be warmed up before serving. Invite the guests to the table before finalizing the dish. As with a soufflé, the guests wait for the food, the food does not wait for the guests.

(Serves six.)

5 large onions, yellow, white, or red
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 Grade-A duck foie gras, in ½ inch slices
6 slices white bread


Caramelizing the onions

Slice off the root and top ends of the onions, and peel the onions. Cut them in half. Lay them cut side down and slice them lengthwise to about quarter inch thickness.
Use a wide, thick-bottomed sauté pan for maximum pan contact with the onions. Coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil. Heat the pan on medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the onion slices and stir to coat the onions with the oil. Spread the onions out evenly over the pan and let cook, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium to prevent the onions from burning or drying out. After ten minutes, sprinkle the salt over the onions and add the sugar to help with the caramelization.
Let cook for 30 minutes to an hour more, stirring every few minutes. To keep the onions from drying out as they cook, add a little water to the pan (1/4 cup). As soon as the onions start sticking to the pan, let them stick a little and brown, but then stir them before they burn. The trick is to let them alone enough to brown (if you stir them too often, they won't), but not for so long that they burn. After the first 20 minutes, turn temperature to medium-low. As the onions caramelize, scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a spatula. As the onions cook down, you may you need to scrape the pan every minute instead of every few minutes. Continue to cook and scrape, cook and scrape, until the onions are a rich, browned color. At the end of the cooking process, take the pan away from the heat , remove the onions and add a spoonful of balsamic vinegar to help deglaze the pan, and then put the onions back in to absorb the added flavor.

When the guests are seated, excuse yourself and pop the bread in the toaster. (I have Gerard serve the wine; he usually talks about the wine long enough to divert everyone’s attention while I prepare the dish—that’s teamwork.) Warm up the onions for two minutes. Spread the onions over the toast and place a slice of toast onion-side-up on each dish.

Sauté the Foie Gras

Season the foie gras with salt and pepper, and then dredge it lightly in flour. Heat a heavy bottom pan on high heat. When the pan is very hot, add the foie gras slices and lower the heat to medium-high. Sear until the foie gras slices are dark brown ( a couple of minutes). Turn them over and cook on the other side until fully cooked but still soft to the touch. Top off each toast with the foie gras. Serve all of it; if it is too abundant, add pieces beside the toasts.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Mushroom Omelet

Last night I made a delicious mushroom omelet with the fresh shiitakes Gerard bought from Matt and Kristen Anderson at the Farmers Market—the same people who make the mushroom spread that, coincidentally, I highlighted below—and some fresh eggs I bought at the market as well.  My husband and friends consider me an “Omelet Queen,” but I just have a few secrets that make it easy to make a perfect omelet every time.

Secret # 1—I make an omelet per person, never a large one to be split up. Individual omelets are fast to make, easy to handle and easy to make as “baveuse” (the French-style) or well cooked as the individual eater prefers. 
Secret # 2—I use two pans, one for the fillers (not cheese, which would go into the omelet when half cooked so as to melt into the eggs) and a 9-inch nonstick pan for the eggs.

Secret # 3—I cook the fillers first. In this recipe we are using shiitake mushrooms and shallots, but I also make chopped ham or ham, onions, and green peppers for a western omelet, and so on.
Secret #4—Heat up the plates on which you will serve the omelets (I do this in the microwave) and serve each one as it is ready, encouraging the diner to start eating immediately. 

For two mushroom omelets:


3 tablespoons olive oil
3 shallots
1 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms
Salt, pepper
3 tablespoons cream
Eggs (per person, 2 jumbo, 3 medium, or 2.5 large eggs)
3 tablespoons butter


Peel and cut off the ends of the shallots. Slice them lengthwise so as to get long, thin slices.

Wipe the mushrooms with a damp cloth. (Do not soak, or they will get soggy). Cut off and discard the stems. Slice the mushrooms.

Heat a pan. Add the olive oil and allow to heat but not burn. Add the shallots. Sauté until they become translucent, and then add the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper.  Stir and continue to cook until the mushrooms get a bit of color. Add the cream and sauté for two more minutes. Turn off the heat, cover and set aside.

Crack the eggs into a glass mixing bowl and beat them until they turn a pale yellow color. Add two tablespoons of water (one per omelet). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Then whisk vigorously.

Heat a heavy-bottomed, nonstick sauté pan over medium-low heat. Melt the butter in the omelet pan, and when hot enough to make a drop of water hiss, pour in half of the eggs. Don't stir! Let the eggs cook for up to a minute, or until the bottom starts to set. With a heat-resistant rubber spatula, gently push one edge of the egg into the center of the pan  while tilting the pan to allow the still-liquid egg to flow in underneath. Repeat with the other edges, until there's no liquid left (for well-done omelets) or until there are just a few spoonfuls of liquid left in the center for French style “baveuse”omelets.

Now spoon your filling over one half of the omelet. With your spatula, lift one edge of the egg and fold it across and over, so that the edges line up. Cook for another minute or so, but don't overcook or allow the egg to turn brown. Serve on the heated dish, and quickly make the second omelet. 

Pineapple-Coconut Tart

This wonderful recipe, inspired by one from pastry chef François Payard, has the flavor of piña colada and is one of our favorites. You need a tart pan that comes apart. I often use ready-made pie dough, but not for this tart. This sweet tart dough is one of the secrets of its success. 


Sweet Tart Dough
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
Pinch salt
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg

A 20-ounce can of pineapple chunks (packed in juice, not syrup)
7 tablespoons softened butter
1 cup sugar
2½ cups (200 grams) unsweetened dried, shredded coconut
2 large eggs
Pinch confectioner’s sugar


Preheat oven to 350°F.

Sift together the sugar, flour, and salt. Place butter in a food processor and process until soft (about 15 seconds). Pour dry ingredients over the butter, add the egg and process again, just until the dough forms a mass. Turn the dough onto the counter and divide into two parts. Shape into two discs and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least two hours, or up until 24 hours. (You will only use one if you are making just one tart, but you may freeze the other for up to a month and make any tart with it—including the chocolate tart for which I posted recipe months ago).

Bring dough to room temperature. Drain the pineapple in a strainer. Roll out the tart dough onto the tart pan. Scatter the pineapple pieces over  the tart shell and freeze for a few minutes.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, using a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed for one minute. Beat in the dried coconut and then each of the two eggs, one at a time. Spread the filling evenly over the pineapple in the tart shell.

Bake tart for 50 minutes or until top is golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack. If not serving within two hours or so, refrigerate the tart. Bring it to room temperature and then dust with a bit of confectioner’s sugar before serving. 

Summer Vegetable Tian

This is an easy recipe to succeed with if you have delicious ingredients. If not, no matter what you do, it will not be good. The exact amounts are not important. You want to cut each of the vegetables (or fruit) into slices that are as equal in size as possible, so fairly large plum tomatoes and small eggplants will work with medium zucchini. Look for glossy, brightly colored, unblemished skins. 

Butter, for greasing the baking dish

2 small zucchini
1 small eggplant
3 medium tomatoes
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium leeks, or one medium onion, rinsed, chopped, drained and patted dry
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 or 3 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 cup dry white wine


-          Cut a piece of parchment paper to the size of a ceramic baking dish. Set aside. Butter the inside of the dish and set aside. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

-          Remove the ends from the zucchini and eggplant and discard. Cut each crosswise into rounds about 1/8-inch thick.

-          Remove the stem ends from the tomatoes and discard. Cut each crosswise into rounds 1/8-inch thick.

-          Coat a small pan with two tablespoons of olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and swirl to coat. Gently add the leeks, avoiding splashing. Cook, stirring frequently, until the leeks have begun to soften and the garlic has released its fragrance, approximately two minutes.

-          Carefully spread the leek-garlic mixture across the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and a few grindings of fresh black pepper; strip the leaves from one of the sprigs of thyme and sprinkle over the mixture.

-          Layer the zucchini, eggplant and tomato on top of the leek-garlic mixture, alternating a slice of tomato between every eggplant and zucchini slice, overlapping slightly. If working with a square or rectangular dish, layer in rows; if working with a circular or oval dish, work in fans from the center. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and splash with the wine. Sprinkle with salt and a few grindings of fresh black pepper; strip the leaves from the remaining thyme and sprinkle over the casserole.

-          Butter the cut parchment paper and carefully place, buttered side down, on top of the vegetables.

-          Bake for 45 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft but not mushy while the edges are nicely crisp and brown.