February 2011 Cookbook of the Month: THE ESSENTIAL NEW YORK TIMES COOKBOOK Chapters 13-14
Welcome to our February COTM: THE ESSENTIAL NEW YORK TIMES COOKBOOK Chapters 13-14: Breakfast, Brunch, Breads and Baking
Please use this thread for review and discussion of recipes from these chapters of THE ESSENTIAL NEW YORK TIMES COOKBOOK. Give us the name of the recipe along with the page number. Photos are welcomed.
The Chowhound Team has asked me to remind you that verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.
Bill Granger's Scrambled Eggs, p. 640
LOVE these. Simple, quick (about a minute), and luxurious. I've been making these since 2002 when they appeared in the NYT (link below). Although they contain 1/2 cup of heavy cream per two eggs, they are amazingly feather-light. I've recommended them on Chowhound and others have made them substituting milk for the cream, and then were disappointed. Make them as is - every time I do for guests, it's a repeat request when they return for a visit. I use a silicon spatula for folding. They don't seem to turn out as well if the recipe is doubled so I make this in single 2-egg batches since it's so quick. I served them this weekend with maple breakfast link sausage and jalapeno-cheddar muffins.
"They've been described as the best scrambled eggs in the world..."
Rusks p. 652 (recipe from 1877)
These are called rusks, but as explained in the book, they are pillows o' bread -- not even close to the Very crisp (hard!) biscotti-like dunkers known to me as rusks.
These are straightforward delicious rolls. A little potato in the dough, 3 rises, they have a perfect soft but substantial texture. Very good flavor -- I wouldn't hesitate to make them for any tray of sliders, ham or chicken salad, breakfast with butter and marmalade. I'm sure there are more modern applications too!
This book has been losing me a little (grumble grumble), but this recipe is a keeper.
re: blue room
re: The Dairy Queen
If (as I think you suspect and I now believe) some of the recipes were included for historical reasons (balance or pop culture significance or whatever) I'm wary now. It seems to me that a higher than usual proportion of so-far-tried recipes have problems.
I'm finding great ones! Will continue! But wish for asterisks by the recipes that are ***included for reasons other than flavor***
Unfair for this book?
re: blue room
Boston Brown Bread, Pg. 656
Well, this a bit of a do but in the end quite nice and a delicious accompaniment for the Boston Baked Beans on pg., 274. Several ingredients I hadn't worked with in some time needed to be bought, namely rye flour (Bob's Mill) and whole wheat flour (King Arthur). We already a fresh box of corn meal in the pantry. The flours, baking soda, and salt are combined in a large bowl then a mixture of molasses, raisins and buttermilk are added and all is mixed together. That was the easy part.
An empty can of Italian tomatoes, 28 oz. size, had been saved, washed and was ready for the batter after the inside was buttered. A pudding mould could have been used but I didn't have one, thus the can...which is rather traditional. The can held all except about 1/2 cup of batter. But the trick was to find a pot tall enough and wide enough to accept a trivet on the bottom, the can of batter on the trivet, and a cover since this is a steamed bread. Every pot and pan in the house was tried and found wanting so in the end I used the slow cooker. Two cups of cool water is poured into the insert, the can of batter sits on the bottom of the insert, aluminum foil is stretched across the top and wrapped down the sides, then the slow cooker cover is placed on top of the foil. This steams on high for 4 1/2 hours, then cools on a cooling rack for another hour.
From the look of the uncooked batter I was skeptical. It was a very pale beige color and decidedly unappetizing. However, when the bread was released from the can, it was very dark brown and smelled wonderful. The texture was very slightly grainy but smooth in a way too. We loved it. And truthfully, very easy to make...
German Toast, p. 621
I used this as an excuse to finally use my Pullman loaf pan (that I've had for at least 3 years and never unwrapped!). I used the Pain de Mie recipe from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook, and then my husband made the french toast a couple of days afterward. This was a good recipe for "french" toast, but didn't really seem that different from other french toast recipes. We decided what made it so good was the bread I had made (my first successful sandwich loaf, so I'm a little proud!), not really the recipe. When I was asking my husband if he noticed any difference between this and regular french toast, he thought maybe it browned a little more evenly, but otherwise, it's pretty much "french" toast! We served it with roasted potatoes, bacon, and eggs, but for dinner, not breakfast.
Lidia Bastianich’s Swiss Chard and Scallion Frittata – p. 636 – Chapter 13
I love Chard and am always happy to find new ways to incorporate it into our menus so this frittata seemed like a wonderful brunch dish and I imagined leftovers would transport nicely for weekday work breakfasts.
Since this is my “Birthday Weekend” mr bc was making his annual appearance in the kitchen to prepare these dishes. Though this is always a fear inducing process given some past results (food poisoning being the worst outcome . . . twice!) I truly needn’t have worried at all today because everything turned out beautifully!
Prep is fairly straightforward. Chard is washed, dried, stemmed and sliced, garlic is crushed and scallions are sliced. Eggs are beaten.
Garlic is sautéed ‘til golden-brown then chard is added, pan is covered and left until chard wilts. Scallions are then sautéed and then added to cooked chard which is then mixed w half the eggs and, a cup of ricotta. Oil is added to skillet and other half of eggs are allowed to set before adding the veggie/egg mixture. Once the frittata browns lightly on the bottom, it’s placed in the oven to finish. (approx 15 minutes in our case).
Mr bc reports that for the most part, the instructions were very clear and he had little difficulty executing this dish. The only bump he encountered along the way was related to the garlic. The dish calls for 2 cloves of garlic, lightly crushed so mr bc put them through a garlic press. At the stage where Hesser instructs you to “discard the garlic” from the pan, mr bc was perplexed since at that point it was inextricably mixed w the chard. It was Hesser’s intention that the cloves be left whole but, crushed slightly. Nevertheless, the dish didn’t seem to suffer at all from the infusion of garlic. In fact, we welcomed its flavour.
The frittata turned out beautifully but left both of us feeling it lacked something. Dried chili flakes perhaps, or maybe even some sliced potatoes or mushrooms. We served this w the lovely Pan Con Tomate, another COTM dish.
We’d make this again w further revisions to boost the flavour.
Link to review/photos of Pan Con Tomate if you’re interested:
Laura Goodenough’s Apple Coffee Cake – p. 631 – Chapter 13
When I first read this recipe I dubbed it a “Apple Pie Cake” as it seemed to have some similar elements. Since mr bc LOVES apple pie, I imagined this might be a hit w him so I thought I’d give it a try since I have a surplus of apples on hand.
Like most coffee cakes, this one comes together with little effort. Dry ingredients are measured and sifted together. Wet ingredients (oil, eggs, orange juice and vanilla) are mixed and apples are peeled and sliced then tossed w a cinnamon sugar mixture. A well is created in the dry ingredients so the wet can be stirred in. Hesser suggests using a wooden spoon and I’d add a “strong” wooden spoon as my batter was quite stiff!
One third of the batter is spooned into a greased tube pan and then topped w half the apples. Hesser reminds you to be careful not to let apples touch the sides of the pan. I heeded her warning imagining that they might otherwise weld themselves to the side of the pan! One third more batter is spooned over the apples then topped w the remaining apples and, the final layer of batter. I had to use a silicone spatula to spread out the batter as it was a bit of a challenge to spread so thinly . . . my pan flares outwards so the final third of batter needed to cover a fair bit more pan area than was the case in prior layers.
I put this in the oven and hoped for the best, imagining that I didn’t have the optimal pan and wondering if the batter was supposed to be as stiff as mine was. Cake bakes for 60-70 minutes – mine was done at 60. Hesser also notes you can cover the pan w foil to prevent the cake from overbrowning however I didn’t find this necessary.
Once the cake has cooled to lukewarm it can be removed from the pan, a step that went off without a hitch thankfully! Though Hesser suggests that this cake may be served w whipped cream, I simply served it w a dusting of icing sugar, which was more than adequate.
The cake has a lovely, crunchy crust and a moist, pound cake-like interior. The layers of cinnamon-sugar coated apples are a delightful, juicy touch. This cake was a hit and I’d be happy to make and serve it again. Mr bc had two pieces despite saying he had no room for cake!!
Katharine McClinton's Foursome Pancakes, p 633
Delicious, luscious, very delicate, moist texture, great tangy flavor, but be prepared, they are very sour. My husband, 1 year old, and I loved that, but the two five year olds i served them would not eat them, so keep that in mind.
Maida’s Blueberry Crumb Cake p. 632 – Chapter 13
I was sure it was a great review and lovely photo of this cake that inspired me to bake it but now I’m here to post my review as well; I don’t see anything. I must be losing it!!
In any event, I’d highly recommend this cake to anyone who loves cake, or blueberries or blueberry lemon flavours . . . this is a wonderful cake! This is also the first Maida Heatter recipe I’ve ever made and I definitely appreciated her specificity and clear instructions.
Preparation is very straightforward. The crumb topping is made by incorporating sugar, cinnamon, flour and butter until you achieve a course crumb. A dry mix of flour, baking powder and salt is sifted. Blueberries are washed and dried then tossed w a little of the dry mix then set aside. Butter and sugar are creamed prior to adding an egg, vanilla and then the dry mix and milk alternatively and finally, the zest of one lemon is stirred in. The stiff batter and blueberries are folded together then turned into a buttered pan coated w fine breadcrumbs. That was a new one for me, I’ve frequently floured a buttered pan but I’ve never seen breadcrumbs used before. I’d be interested to hear if there’s any rationale behind using these vs flour and whether they have any unique properties. Anyway, on w the prep. The recipe calls for the use of walnuts, however I left them out and simply used the crumb topping. The recipe instructs you to bake for 50 mins or until done. It took 60 mins in my oven.
There’s something to be said for the simple pleasure derived from inhaling the alluring fragrance of fresh baking and, in this case, the intoxicating lemon scent was like a breath of fresh summer air on a cold winter’s day. Glorious!
The only thing more wonderful than taking in that wonderful aroma is savouring every bite of a piece of this light and delicious cake. Everything just works together wonderfully: a tender crumb lemony cake with plump, juicy blueberries and wrapped up with a warm cinnamon embrace. Delightful.
Since blueberries are so high in antioxidants, perhaps another piece is in order . ..
Maida’s Blueberry Crumb Cake, p. 632
I was in the mood to bake something and had a lot of lovely local blueberries (about the last to be found at the farmers' market, unfortunately), so I took a spin through a few of my cookbooks and landed on this recipe from the always-reliable Maida Heatter. I made a few little tweaks. I skipped the butter and dry breadcrumbs in the pan in favor of a parchment paper sling (so the cake could be lifted out rather than having to invert) and baking spray. I used brown sugar rather than white and cardamom (a heaping 1/2 tsp) rather than cinnamon in the streusel topping, and reduced the sugar slightly in both the topping and the cake, to 1/3 cup and 2/3 cup respectively. This was a perfect level of sweetness for me. I did use the walnuts, but not lemon zest, because I didn't have a lemon handy.
Not much to add to Breadcrumbs's enthusiastic review. This is a lovely, classic crumb cake, with which you could never go wrong. I baked it in the called-for 9" pan, but it could easily be done in an 8" pan, yielding a taller cake (and in fact, that's what it looks like Breadcrumbs did, going by her photo). My one annoyance with this recipe is that, though it's a simple cake to pull together, doing so dirties a lot of dishes - mixing bowl and beater, bowl for the streusel, bowl for the dry ingredients, bowl for tossing the blueberries with flour, cutting board and knife to chop the walnuts, wet and dry measuring cups, pan, spatula...at least some of it can go in the dishwasher!
Oh, and in case Breadcrumbs sees this two-plus years later, you weren't losing it; there was a report with great photo, but it was in another thread!
Dorothy Jewiss’s Coffee Cake (page 631)
I needed a breakfast/snack cake I could throw together quickly with ingredients on hand and this seemed to hit all the right notes. It’s a fairly standard, although very thick, sour cream batter, layered and topped in a 9-inch square pan with a mixture of sugar, chopped pecans, and cinnamon. The recipe didn’t call for toasting the pecans, but I always would for a recipe such as this.
This took about 5 minutes longer to bake than the 40 to 50 minutes called for, but my ancient oven isn’t entirely reliable so that might be a personal rather than a general note.
This is quite nice, and my guests seem to be enjoying it. Not a recipe I’d rush to make again, but wouldn’t hesitate under the same circumstances. I’d file it under “good, not great.”
If anyone's still making the Amanda H almond cake (and if not, why not?) -- when I made it the last time I used buttermilk instead of sour cream, and beat the 4 egg whites (not called for, just the yolks are used in the original recipe) stiff with 1/2 c of the sugar, folding them in at the end. Gorgeous. I'm fixing to make a pistachio paste-based version soon.
Made it earlier this week for houseguests and it was polished off in less than 24 hours. A slice for breakfast, a slice to take with, just a little slice before bedtime, and poof! Not sure about the buttermilk, but the whipped whites sound very intriguing. Might I suggest, though, bt that you put a link to this post over on this http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/763223 thread where the reports on the cake are.
Spiced Pumpkin Oatmeal, page 637
This was a hit! We've been having cold mornings lately and I was in the mood for some steel cut oats. I have had a previous attempt at pumpkin oatmeal (in the slow cooker) which was labelled "gross" by the rest of the family. Unwilling to give up on what seemed like a great, seasonal breakfast idea, I luckily saw this recipe while looking through the breakfast chapter and decided to give it a go.
This recipe starts with dry toasting allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon and ground ginger in a dry pan. i actually cheated and used a Trader Joe's pumpkin pie spice that has been sitting in my cabinet since last Fall. The dry toasting helped to wake it up and I added a little extra cinnamon and fresh nutmeg. To this brown sugar and canned pumpkin are added. Then milk or water (I used a mix of almond milk and water) is added and brought to a boil. The oats are added and cooked until tender. Salt (3/4 tsp) is stirred in at the end.
I served this with chopped raw apples and maple syrup with a little milk added to the kids' bowls. This was really nice. The dry toasting the spices really helped with the flavor and I think the raw chopped apples (a suggested garnish) really added a nice contrasting crunch and tartness. I also preferred the stovetop preparation texture to the mushier texture from the slow cooker. I also think the more generous seasoning with salt made a huge difference. The other recipe I tried did not list salt as an ingredient. I did add a pinch of salt, as is my habit with oatmeal, but I think the healthier dose of salt really helped make this one stand out.
Thanks NYT for unlocking the secret of non-gross pumpkin oatmeal! I have a feeling this one will be making an appearance every fall in our house.