6.25.2008

Happy Blog Mitzvah -- WE'RE MOVING!

It's our blog mitzvah -- the moment when our blog officially transitions from childhood to adulthood. We're very excited!

As you may know from your own pubescent experiences, transitioning to adulthood means undergoing many changes, and we'd like to share a few of ours with you:

1. We're moving! Our new address is http://www.twofatals.com. Please use this address in your google readers, blog rolls, etc. We'll be using our new site exclusively as of this Friday, June 27th, 2008.

2. Larger photos! We know it's your favorite part of the blog anyway. (This change only applies to new photos, not to those already posted on this site).

3. New subscription options! Not only can you read our posts through RSS, but you can also subscribe via email.

4. New sharing options! Beneath each post, you'll find ways to share on Facebook, Digg, My Space, and other favorite sites. You can also email individual posts.

5. Easier to navigate archives! Search, use categories, or visit our NEW recipes page to see all of the recipes listed by category.

Please visit the site and let us know what you think by posting comments -- we love comments. We really appreciate all of your love and support during this very special time in our blog's life. Meet us in the ballroom for pigs in a blanket and the electric slide.

The brand new TwoFatAls.com

6.24.2008

Fresh Strawberry Tartlet

Hello, city.

We're in New York on a recon mission. Just scoping out the neighborhoods (read: the food stores -- we visited about five today), poking around our new apartment buildings, visiting friends.

And, oh yes, hounding farmer's markets. Armed with a map and a schedule, we've hit two already, including the revered Union Square Greenmarket. It was everything we dreamed it would be -- bright and juicy cherries, delicately leafy greens, sleek summer squash, plus produce we'd never encountered before. We were especially enamored with the strawberries, perfectly ripened into beautiful red hearts. We took home a carton, determined to work them into a dessert worthy of their loveliness.

This strawberry tart wasn't particularly sweet, but we didn't mean it to be. We chose a not-to-sweet dough recipe, add only a touch of sugar to the strawberries, and chose to top it with a dark chocolate. It looked fabulous though, and tasted fresh and not overwhelming. This is definitely a recipe to tinker with -- we'll definitely be working different summer fruits into versions throughout the summer.

Ingredients (makes two tartlets):
(dough)
2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup butter, cut into small pieces
1/8 cup ice water

(filling)
1 pint strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup sugar
2 oz. dark chocolate
mint, for garnish

Instructions:
Make the dough by combining flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Add butter, and mix thoroughly with fingers until a coarse meal forms. Add water, and stir with a fork, then pull dough together into a ball. Divide dough in half, wrap each piece in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350. Roll out dough and press into tartlet pans, then line with foil and add pie weights (dry beans and rice work, too). Bake for 15 minutes with foil and weights, then remove and cook for an additional 7-10 minutes, until edges are golden brown. Meanwhile, mix strawberries and sugar together. Cool dough completely, then remove from tartlet pan. Fill shell with strawberries, and drizzle with melted chocolate (you can melt it in the microwave by heating for 15 seconds at a time, then stirring). Garnish with mint, and serve.

6.23.2008

Radish, Cucumber, Beet Salad

One of the best parts about becoming grown ups (that happened already, right?), is that we love more foods.

When I was younger, I gagged over asparagus, brussel sprouts or beets. Now, I adore all three. And whenever I gravitate toward beets in the grocery store, I imagine my 11-year old self casting me a scornful glare. If she were here, we would NOT be allowed to make this dish. Eye roll.

But grown up me loves beets, and really loves this salad -- in which they play a starring role. Supporting actors include radishes (it's their debut into our cooking repertoire) and cucumbers (type cast as the mild-mannered salad ingredient). We sought inspiration from this salad on Serious Eats.

Pretty as an appetizer or very light main course salad, you can serve this over lettuce as we did, or on its own.

Ingredients:
1 bunch beets
1 English cucumber
1 bunch radishes
1/2 red onion
salt to taste
pepper to taste
3 tbsp olive oil (plus more for roasting beets)
1-2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint (or more or less to taste)
1 head romaine lettuce

(balsamic vinaigrette)
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2/3 cups olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
Wash beets, and place them in a roasting pan. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and olive oil. Add a little water to the pan to prevent beets from sticking. Roast in the oven at 350 until beets are easily pierced with a knife, about an hour. Let cool, then peel off the skins and slice into quarter-inch slices. Prepare cucumber salad by removing seeds from cucumber, then cutting the cucumber into very thin slices. Place cucumber in a bowl, then thinly slice radishes (you can use a peeler for this) and red onion, and add to the bowl. Add mint, olive oil, and red wine vinegar. Make the balsamic vinaigrette by whisking together ingredients. Divide romaine among four plates, top with beets, then cucumber and radish salad. Drizzle balsamic vinaigrette over top, and serve.

6.22.2008

Coffee Bean Granita

We are both serious coffee people. I drink an extra-hot soy latte every morning, and Alex drinks a large cup of black coffee. We're grumpy if the coffee is bad, happy when the coffee is good, and we're far too dependent to consider weaning off it.

In our lives, coffee items are divided into two categories: important morning coffee and whatever anytime coffee. The soy lattes and black cups are important morning coffee -- if anyone messes with the flavor, beware. Whatever anytime coffee is more flexible -- sometimes an iced glass in the afternoon, sometimes coffee ice cream in the evenings.

This granita also falls into the category of whatever anytime coffee. It actually has a very strong coffee flavor, and it's pretty healthy as desserts go since it's just coffee, ice and sugar. We added just a touch of whipped cream on top, which worked wonders with the sharp flavor. This makes a perfect hot afternoon snack or warm evening dessert.

The recipe, which is from Epicurious, takes about 7 hours total, though only about an hour of actual work goes into it.

Ingredients:
4 cups water
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups whole coffee beans (about 6 ounces)
1/4 cup coffee liqueur (such as Tia Maria or KahlĂșa)

Instructions:
Combine water and sugar in large saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Boil 3 minutes, then stir in coffee beans and boil an additional 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat, then cover and let steep until mixture is cool, about 3 hours. Strain liquid into 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Throw away coffee beans, or reserve some for garnish. Stir coffee liqueur into liquid in dish. Freeze until firm, stirring every 45 minutes, about 5 hours.

6.19.2008

Blueberry Focaccia

First fruit cookie pizza then fig pizza, now this. Apparently, we love to eat fruit on dough.

We found this recipe yesterday, on the kitchen counter of a favorite friend and neighbor. She was planning to make it today, but we stole the recipe and made it instead. If she'd answer her phone, we'd love to give her some. And return the recipe (which you can also find online here, courtesy of Oprah)

We weren't sure what meal this dish would fit most appropriately, so we decided to start baking in the morning, and ate it for afternoon snack around 3. It was just sweet enough and the dough was incredible -- the hint of cinnamon makes it unworldly. This would make a delicious breakfast or brunch, but it makes a lot, so we predict that you'll be snacking on it all day. Plus, it looks sophisticated and beautiful.

Given our recent history of successes with fruit/dough dishes, we're thinking of experimenting with this recipe in the coming weeks. If anyone tries it other fruit, let us know how it goes!

Ingredients:

1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
2 1/4 cups warm water
6 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 large egg
6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
vegetable oil, for greasing
2 pints blueberries

Instructions:
In a small bowl, mix yeast and water; set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes. In a large bowl, combine flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Stir egg into yeast, then pour into flour mixture and mix on low speed. Mix in butter until combined. Knead dough until smooth and pliable but still relatively wet (you can use a dough hook or standing mixer for about 5 minutes). Grease a large bowl and 2 baking sheets with oil; set baking sheets aside. Scrape dough into bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Divide dough in half, and place 1 half on each baking sheet. Stretch out slightly, until dough forms a 1-inch-thick oval; cover with greased plastic wrap. Let rise again about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 400. Dimple surface of each loaf with greased fingers, then sprinkle each 1 pint berries and 1/4 cup brown sugar. Bake until golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes, rotating once. Slice and serve warm.


6.17.2008

Fontina and Fig Pizza

It's so easy to crank out blog posts that are uninteresting.

For example, a few minutes ago I typed up a quick description of the fig and Fontina cheese pizza that we made last week. I was about to click publish, but I decided to scan it one last time, during which time I discovered that the post was awfully drab. I wrote something about serving the pizza with friends, and another something about where we found the recipe, and I won't bore you with the rest because the point of rewriting is to avoid the mundane business, and to instead share something interesting.

Like, for example, pizzerias constitute 17 percent of restaurants in the U.S. Likely relatedly, the average person in the U.S. consumes 23 lbs. of pizza per year. I found those facts here. Interesting, no?

So here's the recipe. You can use pre-made pizza dough if you like, but we chose this recipe from Mark Bittman. Since we're not providing a cheesy (haha) description, you'll just have to trust that it's delicious. It is.

Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour, more as needed
2 tsp instant yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus a little more
2 teaspoons coarse kosher or sea salt
1 cup shredded Fontina cheese
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (or a little Gorgonzola works, too)
1/2 lb. black mission figs, halved

Instructions:
Combine flour, yeast, 2 tbsp oil and salt in a food processor. Process ingredients, and add 1 cup water through feed tube. Process for about 30 seconds, adding a little more water if necessary until mixture forms a slightly sticky ball. Turn dough onto a floured work surface, and knead to form a smooth, round ball. Put dough ball in a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until dough doubles in size, 1-2 hours. Divide dough in half and roll it on baking sheets. Rub a little olive oil over the doughs, and divide cheese and figs among them. Bake in the oven at 400 for 8-10 minutes, until golden. Cut into squares and serve.

6.14.2008

Fresh Pasta

If you give a mouse a cookie, he'll want a glass of milk.

If we're going to make fresh pasta, everyone will want fresh sauce. And if we're going make a delicious sauce, why not conjure up some tasty sides? Then there's wine and dessert, and before we know it, our lovely fresh pasta is no longer the star -- it's just one of the night's dishes.

Well not this time, Mouse.

We chose the best pasta recipe that we could find, and served it plain -- optional sauce on the side, fresh lemon juice and Parmesan for those so inclined. Alex and his brother rolled out the dough. Simple and beautiful.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):
2 1/4 cups flour
3 eggs

Instructions:
Put flour on your work surface, and make a well into the center. Break eggs into the well, and beat them with a fork, drawing in flour gradually. Continuing beating in flour until a soft dough forms. Lightly flour your hands, and knead dough for 10-12 minutes, until pliable. You can add more flour to your hands if the dough becomes sticky. Insert a finger into the center of the dough, if it is almost dry, the dough is ready for the machines. Cut dough into egg-sized pieces and roll through pasta machine according to pasta machine instructions (likely beginning at widest setting and moving to narrowest). If you aren't going to cook the pasta immediately and don't have a pasta rack, you can use clean clothes hangers. Boil water for pasta, and cook until done, probably about 5 minutes.

6.12.2008

Grilled Radicchio and Bean Salad

Mario Batalli and I are practically related. He dated the college roommate of the younger sister of one of my mother's childhood friends. That makes us, what? Best friends? I thought so, and I'll be sure to tell him if we ever meet. Given our close relationship, it's lucky that Alex and I find his recipes so unbelievable. I don't think I could break it to him if we didn't. But somehow, every dish that we've tried from his cookbooks or show (or restaurants) has been amazing -- and this bean and radicchio masterpiece is no exception. It comes from his recent cookbook, Mario Batali Italian Grill, which has some of the most gorgeous food photographs we've ever seen, and some of the yummiest-looking recipes too.

The recipe calls for grilling the radicchio, preparing the beans, and serving both on toasted bread slices, like a bruschetta. Though we served it this way the first time we prepared it, this time we skipped the bread since the rest of our meal was carb heavy. We served the beans and radicchio as a salad, and it was just as perfect like that. This recipe is simple, healthy, and great for low-key summer evenings. If you feel inspired, you might experiment by adding olives or tomatoes, or topping the dish with parmesan cheese. We love it as is (read: with our own minor adjustments).

Ingredients:
1 cup cannellini beans (we used canned ones, drained and rinsed)
6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
6 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 tbsp basil leaves, cut into fine strips
1 garlic clove, minced (we left this out)
2 large radicchio heads
salt
pepper

Instructions:
Preheat grill or broiler. In a mixing bowl, gently stir together beans with 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 tablespoons of the vinegar, basil and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cut the radicchio in half from top to bottom and place dry onto grill. Cook until wilted, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from grill and cut each half in half again to form wedges. Cut the core piece out and loosen each leaf from the head. Dress the removed leaves in a mixing bowl with remaining oil and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Arrange radicchio plates and divide bean
mixture over it. Serve.


6.10.2008

Giant Fruit Cookie (Pizza)

My mom's favorite token of culinary wisdom is that a good cook is someone who can identify a good recipe -- she says that technical skills matter less than the ability to forecast how ingredients will taste together before they are actually combined. We try to keep this in mind, and we've tried to train ourselves to imagine how our dishes will taste before we begin creating them. Over time, we've become not entirely awful at guessing which dishes we'll love, and which are probably worth only a weeknight dinner or two.

That said, sometimes recipes really surprise us, and this one blew us away. We first tasted a fruit cookie pizza at a brunch during our Spring Fling, and loved the concept. I found a similar recipe on All Recipes that looked worth adapting, and decided to try it out on some friends last night. Honestly, I was so convinced that the cookie had failed up until the moment we tasted it. There were some breakage issues while transferring the cookie from the baking sheet to the serving plate, so I kept envisioning the cookie separating into pieces the moment we sliced it. The cream cheese "sauce" and toppings must have held it together, however, since it sliced beautifully and tasted amazing.

The sugar cookie base absorbed some of the flavor from the topping, yet each bite was uniquely delicious because of the variety of fruit. The cookie was moist with a great vanilla flavor, and the cream cheese sauce was just sweet enough to compliment the fruit without overpowering it. Everyone went back for seconds, and we scraped the plate clean with our forks. I'll post the fruit that we used, but you can feel free to use any that you like.


Ingredients:

(cookie)
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

(topping)
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 carton strawberries, sliced thinly
1 kiwi, sliced thinly
1 carton blackberries, halved
1 mango, sliced thinly

Instructions:
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 3/4 cup sugar until smooth, then add egg. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt, then beat into creamed mixture until just blended. Chill dough until it's easier to work with, about an hour, or longer if you want. Preheat oven to 350. Press dough into an ungreased pizza pan, or form into a circle 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick on a large nonstick or greased cookie sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the edges of the cookie are golden brown. Cool cookie completely, and if the cookie was on a baking sheet, transfer carefully to serving plate (it's okay if it breaks a little, the topping will hold it together!)
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with 1/2 cup sugar and vanilla until light. Spread on cooled crust, and arrange fruit on top of filling. Keep chilled, slice and serve.

6.08.2008

Peter's Chocolate Cookies

These cookies are not Peter's. But Alex's dad requested that we call them Peter's Chocolate Cookies so that he could search his name on Google to find this delicious recipe, and we are kindly obliging. The recipe is actually from Epicurious, and it's absolutely the best chocolate cookie recipe we've ever tried. I wouldn't change the recipe a bit, and you can get a batch done in about 20 minutes.

The most amazing thing about these cookies is that they don't contain butter or flour, just chocolate and sugar. You'd think they'd end up like meringues, but they're actually incredibly fudgy and soft. Though we only found the recipe two weeks ago, we've already made them three times, including for Alex's graduation party. I loved when his great-aunt came up to us and said, "Three egg whites? No flour? These is my favorite cookie recipe."

Let's review: fudgy chocolate cookies, no flour or butter, easy to bake, unbelievable reviews. There's no reason not to make these immediately. We recommend preparing them somewhere where it's not excruciatingly hot so that the dough becomes nice and firm, and definitely recommend using Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate chips. I'll repost the recipe below, but it's close to an exact replica of the one you'll find here.

Ingredients:
nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips, divided
3 large egg whites, room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, divided
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 400, and spray 2 large baking sheets with nonstick spray. Melt 1 cup chocolate chips in glass bowl by microwaving for 30 seconds, then stirring, for about 2 minutes total. Cool slightly. Using electric mixer, beat whites in large bowl to soft peaks. Gradually beat in 1 cup of the powdered sugar. Continue beating until mixture resembles soft marshmallow creme. Whisk 1 cup sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt in medium bowl to blend. On low speed, beat dry ingredients into meringue. Stir in lukewarm chocolate and 1/2 cup chocolate chips (dough will become very stiff). Place 1/2 cup powdered sugar in bowl. Roll tbsps of dough into balls then roll balls in the sugar, coating thickly. Place dough balls on baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake until puffed and tops crack, about 10 minutes. Cool then serve.