Sunday, December 22, 2013

Recipe: Quick Pork Cassoulet

Based on a recipe for "Pork Cassoulet" from The America's Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook, 2012, p. 51. Read the story behind this dish in Sunday, Dinner for TwoServes 6.


2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans (white kidney beans)
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound pork tenderloin
12 ounces kielbasa
1 onion
4 cloves garlic
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes


  1. Drain and rinse beans.
  2. Trim fat from the tenderloin and cut into ½- to 1-inch chunks.
  3. Cut the kielbasa in half lengthwise then slice into ¼-inch slices.
  4. Chop the onion fine.
  5. Peel the garlic and press it with a garlic press.
  6. In blender process 1½ cups beans and 1 cup chicken broth until smooth and set aside.
  7. Pat the pork pieces dry and season lightly with Kosher salt and black pepper.
  8. In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat the oil until just smoking. 
  9. Add the pork tenderloin and brown on all sides, about 8 minutes, then transfer the browned pork to a bowl.
  10. Reduce heat to medium,  add the onion and kielbasa, and cook until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
  11. Add garlic and thyme and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  12. Add the remaining 1 cup broth and stir, scraping up any brown bits from the pan.
  13. Add tomatoes, puree´d beans, and remaining beans, stir to combine, and simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
  14. Add browned pork tenderloin and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.
  15. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve topped with toasted croutons.

Drain and rinse the beans.
Trim pork tenderloin and cut into pieces.
Dice onion, fine, and cut up kielbasa.
Press garlic and measure dried thyme.
Process 1½ cups beans and 1 cup broth. (Yes, this should have been a blender.)
Brown seasoned pork in oil until browned on all sides.
Remove pork and cook the onions and kielbasa. Add garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant.
Add broth, pure├ęd beans, beans, and tomatoes and simmer until slightly thickened.
Add browned pork tenderloin, cook until heated through, and serve.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Recipe: Chocolate Snowcap Cookies

Based on a video recipe from Food Wishes. Read the story behind this dish in Sunday, Dinner for TwoMakes about 3½ dozen cookies.

These cookies are easy to make using pretty standard techniques. Butter and sugar are creamed together, the liquid ingredients are incorporated and then the solid ingredients. The dough is refrigerated, scooped, rolled into balls (kinda messy), rolled in powdered sugar, then baked. You'll want to plan ahead as you should refrigerate the dough overnight.



6 ounces dark chocolate (e.g. Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate)
¾ cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup cocoa powder
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon table salt
½ cup unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup powdered sugar


  1. Bring the butter to room temperature.
  2. Break the dark chocolate into small pieces and melt it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt and set aside. If necessary, press the cocoa powder through a fine mesh strainer to remove lumps.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the brown sugar and the butter until light and fluffy.
  5. Add eggs one at a time and mix into fully incorporated.
  6. Add melted chocolate and mix until fully incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl if needed.
  7. Add the cocoa mixture and mix until just incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl if needed.
  8. Transfer the dough to a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
  9. Place the powdered sugar in a small bowl.
  10. With racks in the lower middle and upper middle positions, heat the oven to 350°.
  11. Using a #60 disher (about 1 tablespoon), scoop the dough and roll it into a ball with your hands.
  12. Generously coat the ball with powdered sugar, do not remove the excess sugar from the ball, then place the ball on a rimmed baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Space the cookies about 2 inches apart.
  13. Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes until the top is cracked and the center is almost set, switching and rotating the baking sheets after 5 minutes.
  14. Cool on the baking sheets for about 3 minutes until the cookies are firm then transfer them to a rack to cool.
Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
Carefully melt chocolate.
Cream butter and sugar together then mix in the eggs one at a time.
Add melted chocolate and stir until combined.
Add cocoa powder mixture, stir until combined, then chill the dough overnight.
Roll dough into balls, coat liberally with powdered sugar, bake at 350°, cool, and serve.

Recipe: Chicken Stew

Based on a  recipe for "Best Chicken Stew" from the November 2013 Cook's Illustrated. Read the story behind this dish in Sunday, Dinner for TwoServes 6.


2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3 slices bacon
1 pound chicken wings halved at the joint (I purchased "party wings" which were already halved)
1 onion
1 rib celery
2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons anchovy paste
fresh thyme
5 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
1 pound small red potatoes
4 carrots
fresh parsley


  1. Trim excess fat from the chicken and cut the thighs in half crosswise.
  2. Lightly season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper, arrange them on a baking sheet,  cover with plastic wrap, and set aside.
  3. Chop the bacon.
  4. In a Dutch oven on medium low heat, cook the bacon until browned and most of the fat has been rendered, 6 to 8 minutes.
  5. While the bacon and chicken wings cook, prepare the vegetables. Peel the onion and chop it fine, mince the celery rib, peel and press the garlic with a garlic press, mince fresh thyme to make 1 teaspoon of minced thyme.
  6. Use a slotted spoon to move the bacon from the Dutch oven to a medium bowl and set it aside.
  7. Add the chicken wings to the fat in the Dutch oven and increase the heat to medium.
  8. Brown the chicken wings on both sides, 10 to 12 minutes, then move them to the bowl with the bacon.
  9. Add onion,  celery,  garlic, anchovy paste, and thyme to the Dutch oven and cook with occasional stirring until a dark fond forms on the bottom, 2 to 4 minutes.
  10. Add 1 cup chicken broth, soy, and wine and increase heat to high.
  11. Heat the oven to 325° with a rack in the middle position.
  12. Cook with occasional stirring, scraping the fond from the bottom of the pan, until the liquid has boiled away and the vegetables start to sizzle.
  13. While the broth cooks, cut the unpeeled potatoes into quarters; peel the carrots and cut them into ½-inch pieces.
  14. Add the butter and when it has melted sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir to combine.
  15. Slowly add the remaining 4 cups of broth and whisk until smooth.
  16. Add the chicken wings, bacon, potatoes, and carrots and bring to a simmer.
  17. Transfer the Dutch oven to the oven, uncovered.
  18. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring once halfway through.
  19. Remove the pot from the oven and use a spoon and some gravy to scrape the brown bits from the side of the pot.
  20. Add the seasoned chicken thighs and, over high heat, bring the stew to a simmer.
  21. Return to the oven, uncovered, and cook until the thighs offer no resistance to a fork and the vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes.
  22. Mince the parsley making about 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley.
  23. Using two forks or a knife, cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
  24. Add up to 2 tablespoons of wine, season with salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle with the parsley, and serve.
Trim the chicken thighs, cut in half, season lightly with salt and pepper, cover, and set aside.
Cook chopped bacon in Dutch oven.
While the bacon cooks, prepare anchovy paste, garlic, celery, onion, and thyme.
Remove cooked bacon and brown both sides of chicken wings.
Remove wings, add onion, celery, anchovy, garlic,and thyme, and cook until a dark fond forms.
Add broth, wine, and soy and, scraping the fond, cook until the liquid is almost all evaporated.
While the liquid reduces, prepare potatoes and carrots.
Add butter, when it has melted add flour and stir to combine.
Add remaining broth, vegetables, bacon, and wings and cook in 325° oven.
Scrape the fond from the sides of the pot, add the chicken thighs, and cook in the oven until done.
Cut up chicken, add chopped parsley and some wine, season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Recipe: Cranberry-Apple Crisp

Based on a recipe from the October 2006 Cook's Country. Read the story behind this dish in Sunday, Dinner for TwoMakes 8 servings.

  • The original recipe was for 13x9-inch baking dish which made too much crisp for two people. I halved the recipe (thus all the eighths) for an 8x8-inch baking dish which worked out well for two people.



3/8 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/8 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 pound fresh, or frozen, cranberries
5/8 cup sugar
1/8 cup water
1 1/4 pounds tart apples like Granny Smith (3-4 apples)
1 1/4 pounds sweet apples like Golden Delicious or Braeburn (3-4 apples)
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1 1/2 tablespoons Minute Tapioca 


  1. Cut the butter into ½-inch pieces and chill in the refrigerator.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugars, cinnamon, and butter about 12 times so it has the consistency of coarse crumbs.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and pinch it together to form peanut-sized clumps. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
  4. Heat oven to 400° with a rack in the middle position.
  5. Peel and core the apples and cut them into 1/2-inch pieces.
  6. In a Dutch oven, bring the fresh (or frozen) cranberries, 3/8 cup sugar, and water to a simmer over medium-high heat.
  7. Cook about 10 minutes until the cranberries are softened and the mixture thickens to the consistency of jam.
  8. Scrape cranberry mixture into a small bowl.
  9. Add the apples, 1/4 cup sugar, and dried cranberries to the Dutch oven over medium-high heat and cook for about 5 minutes until the apples begin to release their juices.
  10. Remove the Dutch oven from the heat and stir the cranberry mixture and tapioca into the apple mixture.
  11. Pour the mixture into an 8x8-inch baking dish, smoothing the surface with a spatula.
  12. Scatter the refrigerated topping evenly over the filling and bake (on a baking sheet to catch drips) for about 30 minutes until the filling is bubbling and the topping is golden brown.
  13. Cool on a wire rack for and serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Pulse flour, sugars, cinnamon, and butter in food processor.
Add oats and use fingers to create peanut-sized clumps. Set topping aside.
Cook cranberries with sugar and water.
Cook apples with sugar and dried cranberries.
Combine the apple and cranberry mixtures and pour into baking dish.
Add the topping, bake, cool, and serve.

Recipe: Catalan-style Beef Stew with Mushrooms

Based on a recipe from the January 2012 Cook's Illustrated. Read the story behind this dish in Sunday, Dinner for TwoMakes 8 to 10 servings.

  • Sofrito is a slow-cooked mixture of onions, tomatoes, spices, and herbs which forms the flavor base for the stew. 
  • Picada is a mixture of toasted bread, toasted almonds, garlic, and parsley which thickens and flavors the stew.
  • The original recipe called for boneless short ribs. Since these can be expensive and hard to find I suggest substituting boneless chuck. 
  • Serve the stew over boiled, mashed, or baked potatoes.



Sofrito and stew
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions 
½ teaspoon sugar
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 medium tomatoes
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 bay leaf
1½ cups dry white wine
1½ cups water
1 large sprig thyme
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
2½ pounds boneless beef short ribs or beef chuck
¼ cup whole blanched almonds
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 slice white bread
2 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
½ pound oyster or button mushrooms
1 teaspoon sherry or red wine vinegar


  1. Sofrito and stew:  Peel and chop the onions fine.
  2. In a Dutch oven over medium-low heat, heat the oil until shimmering
  3. Add onions, sugar, ½ teaspoon salt and cook with frequent stirring for 30 to 40 minutes until the onions are deeply caramelized.
  4. While the onions cook, cut the tomatoes in half through the poles and grate the pulp on a box grater, discarding the skins.
  5. Trim the beef, removing hardened fat and any silver skin, and cut it into 2-inch cubes.
  6. With rack in the middle position, heat the oven to 300°.
  7. Add tomatoes, smoked paprika, and bay leaf to the Dutch oven and cook with frequent stirring for 5 to 10 minutes until the mixture is darkened and thick.
  8. Add wine, water, thyme, and cinnamon to the sofrito, scraping up browned bits from the bottom and sides of the Dutch oven.
  9. Season the beef with 1½ teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper and add to the Dutch oven.
  10. Bring to a simmer over high heat.
  11. Transfer the Dutch oven to the oven, uncovered, and cook for 1 hour.
  12. Stir the stew to redistribute the beef and continue to cook until the beef is tender, 1½ to 2 hours more.
  13. Picada:  While the stew is in the oven remove the skins from the almonds, if necessary, by blanching them. 
  14. Peel the garlic cloves.
  15. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil and the almonds over medium heat for 3 to 6 minutes, stirring often, until golden brown.
  16. Transfer the almonds to the bowl of a food processor.
  17. Remove the crust from the bread, tear it into 1-inch pieces, and add it to the skillet over medium heat and cook 2 to 4 minutes, stirring as needed, until toasted.
  18. Add toasted bread and peeled garlic to the food processor and process for about 20 seconds until the mixture is finely ground.
  19. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl, stir in the parsley, and set aside.
  20. Clean the mushrooms and remove woody stems, separating the oyster mushrooms from their common stem.
  21. Return the empty skillet to medium heat and heat 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering.
  22. Add the mushrooms and ½ teaspoon salt and cook with frequent stirring for 5 to 7 minutes until the mushrooms are tender.
  23. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl and set aside.
  24. Remove the bay leaf and thyme from the stew.
  25. Stir in the picada, mushrooms, and vinegar, season with salt and pepper, and serve.
Cook finely chopped onion with salt and sugar until well caramelized.
Grate the pulp of two tomatoes and add to the onions with a bay leaf and smoked paprika.
Cook until dark and thick.
Cut beef into 2-inch cubes and season with salt and pepper.
Add water, wine, cinnamon, and the beef to the sofrito and cook, uncovered, in a 300° oven.
If necessary, blanch almonds to remove their skins.
Toast the blanched almonds in a skillet.
Toast a slice of bread, torn into pieces, in the skillet.

Process the almonds and bread with garlic and add parsley.
Cook mushrooms until tender.
Add the picada and mushrooms to the stew and serve.