Sunday, March 31, 2013

Recipe: Skillet Tamale Pie

Based on an October 2006 recipe from Cook's Illustrated.  Prepared for dinner on March 17, 2013. Serves 6.

Instead of using buttermilk for the cornbread topping you can use a powdered buttermilk substitute. Following the directions on the can, add the powder to the flour mixture and whisk the egg together with water.


Tamale filling 


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion
2 tablespoons chili powder
Table salt
2 cloves garlic
1 pound lean ground beef
1 15.5 ounce can black beans
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes 
3 ounces (1 cup) shredded cheddar cheese 
Fresh cilantro leaves
Ground black pepper


Cornbread topping

3¾ ounces (¾ cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ cup yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons sugar
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon table salt
¾ cup buttermilk
1 large egg
3 tablespoons unsalted butter


  1. With a rack in the middle position, heat an oven to 450°.
  2. For the tamale filling: Mince the onion.
  3. Mince the garlic with a garlic press.
  4. Drain and rinse the black beans.
  5. Drain the tomatoes.
  6. Prepare 2 tablespoons of minced fresh cilantro leaves.
  7. In a 12-inch oven-proof skillet, heat the oil over medium until shimmering.
  8. Add the onion, chili powder, and ½ teaspoon salt and cook until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes
  9. Add the pressed garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  10. Add the beef, beans, and tomatoes and simmer until no pink remains in the meat, breaking up the beef with a spoon, about 5 minutes.
  11. Stir in the shredded cheese and cilantro and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  12. For the cornbread topping: Melt and cool the butter.
  13. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  14. In a second bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg.
  15. Stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture until combined.
  16. Stir in the melted butter until combined.
  17. Spread the cornbread mixture evenly over the surface of the tamale filling.
  18. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cornbread comes out clean, 10-15 minutes.
  19. Serve.

Mince the onion, garlic, and cilantro.

Rinse and drain the beans, drain the tomatoes.
Cook the onion with salt and chili powder then add and cook the garlic.
Add beef, beans, and tomatoes and cook until the beef is no longer pink.
Stir in the grated cheese and chopped cilantro.
For the topping prepare the dry ingredients, melted butter, and egg/buttermilk mixture.
Stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture.
Then stir in the melted butter.
Spread the cornbread batter evenly over the tamale mixture.
Bake at 450° until the cornbread is cooked, then serve.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Recipe: Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

Based on a March 2012 recipe from Cook's Illustrated.  Makes 20-24 cookies. Read my story about making these cookies in Sunday, Dinner for Two.


6¼ ounces (1¼ cups) raw peanuts
3¾ ounces (¾ cup) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon table salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons whole milk
1 large egg

Peanut butter filling

¾ cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces (1 cup) confectioners' sugar

Chocolate filling

½ cup creamy peanut butter
6 ounces milk chocolate
4 ounces (1 cup) confectioners' sugar


  1. Heat an oven to 350° with racks in the upper middle and lower middle positions.
  2. Toast the raw peanuts on a rimmed baking sheet for 5 minutes.
  3. Allow the peanuts to cool then remove any skins by pinching the nuts between your thumb and forefinger.
  4. Using a food processor, pulse the peanuts until they are finely chopped, about 8 pulses.
  5. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  6. Melt 3 tablespoons butter.
  7. Whisk the melted butter, peanut butter, sugar, brown sugar, milk, and egg together in a second bowl.
  8. Stir the flour mixture into the peanut butter mixture until well combined.
  9. Stir the chopped peanuts into the dough.
  10. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  11. Drop 12 mounds of dough onto each baking sheet using a 1 tablespoon measuring spoon or #60 disher.
  12. Dampen your fingers with water and flatten each mound of dough into a 2" diameter circle.
  13. Bake, switching and rotating the baking sheets half way after 8 minutes, until the cookies are deep golden brown and firm to the touch, 15-18 minutes.
  14. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack.
  15. Move the cookies from the baking sheets to a wire rack and let them cool completely before adding the filling, about 30 minutes.
  16. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  17. For the peanut butter filling: warm the peanut butter and butter in the microwave until the butter is melted.
  18. Stir in the confectioners' sugar until well combined.
  19. Put 1 tablespoon of warm filling on the bottom (flat) side of a cookie. Place a second cookie on top of the filling (flat side down) and press gently until the filling spreads to the edge of the cookies.
  20. Cool the cookies until the filling is set, about 1 hour.
  21. For the chocolate filling: follow the instructions above but chop the chocolate and add it to the melted peanut butter and stir until melted.
Toast the raw peanuts and remove the skins.

Chop the peanuts in food processor.

Whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda.

Whisk together melted butter, peanut butter, sugar, brown sugar, milk, and egg
Stir the flour mixture into the peanut butter mixture.
Stir in the ground peanuts.

Measure 1 tablespoon mounds of dough.

With moistened fingers, flatten the dough into 2-inch circles.

Bake until firm to the touch then cool.

For the filling, warm butter and peanut butter in the microwave.

Stir in confectioners' sugar.

Add 1 tablespoon filling between two cookies.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Recipe: French Silk Chocolate Pie

Based on a February 2009 recipe from Cook's CountryPrepared for dinner on March 10, 2013 and February 19, 2012.


1 cup chilled heavy cream
3 large eggs
¾ cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 9-inch pie shell


  1. Bake and cool a pie shell.
  2. Break the chocolate into pieces, carefully heat it in the microwave until just melted, then set it aside to cool.
  3. Whip the cream to stiff peaks using a hand mixer (you'll be using this a lot), 2-3 minutes on medium-high. Chill the whipped cream in the refrigerator until needed.
  4. Cut the butter into ½-inch pieces and soften, either at room temperature or, if necessary, by gently warming in the microwave.
  5. Set a large heat-proof bowl in a medium sauce pan of barely simmering water; don't let the bowl touch the water.
  6. Combine eggs, sugar, and water and beat with an electric mixer until thickened and the temperature is 160°, 7-10 minutes.
  7. Remove bowl from heat and continue to beat until fluffy and cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.
  8. Add the vanilla and chocolate to the cooled egg mixture and beat until incorporated.
  9. Add the butter, a few pieces at a time, and beat until well combined.
  10. Fold the whipped cream into the mixture.
  11. Scrape the filling into the pie crust and refrigerate until set, about 3 hours, before serving.
Melt the chocolate.
Whip the cream.
In a pan set over barely simmering water, beat the egg, sugar, and water mixture until it reaches 160°.
Continue beating off heat until it cools to room temperature.
Add the vanilla and chocolate and beat to incorporate.
Beat in softened butter.
Fold in whipped cream.
Add the pudding to the pie shell and refrigerate until set.

Recipe: Pan Fried Pork Chops

Based on a February 2009 recipe from Cook's Country and prepared for dinner on March 10, 2013. Serves 4.
This recipe can be used for up to four chops.


1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon table salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 bone-in rib or center cut, pork chops, ¾" - 1" thick
3 slices bacon
½ cup vegetable oil


  1. Cut the bacon into small pieces.
  2. Combine garlic powder, paprika, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper in a small bowl.
  3. Place the flour in a shallow dish or plate.
  4. Cut slits about 2" apart through the fat on the edge of the chops.
  5. Pat the chops dry with a paper towel.
  6. Season both sides of the chops with the spice mixture.
  7. Dredge the chops lightly in the flour and let rest on a plate for 10 minutes.
  8. In a non-stick skillet, cook the bacon pieces to render the fat, about 8 minutes.
  9. Remove the bacon pieces from the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat behind. (Do what you wish with the fried bacon: snack on it or use it to garnish a salad.) 
  10. Add oil to the fat in the pan and heat on medium-high until just smoking.
  11. Dredge the chops lightly in the flour a second time and cook until well browned, 3-4 minutes per side.
  12. Serve.
Prepare the chops by making slits in the edges, patting dry, seasoning with a spice mixture, then dredging in flour.

Rest the seasoned chops for 10 minutes.
While the chops rest, render the fat from the bacon, remove the fried bacon, then add oil.

Dredge the chops again and cook on medium-high heat, 3-4 minutes per side.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Recipe: Yeasted Waffles

Based on a March 2004 recipe from Cook's IllustratedPrepared for dinner on March 3, 2013. Makes seven 7" round waffles.

This is an easy recipe for delicious waffles. Just remember that you need to make the batter 12 to 24 hours ahead of time.


1¾ cups milk (any fat level is OK)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
10 ounces (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
1½ teaspoons instant yeast
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


12 to 24 hours before you make waffles

  1. Cut the butter into 8 pieces.
  2. Add the milk and butter to a small saucepan and heat gently on medium-low until the butter is melted, about 5 minutes. (You could also do this in the microwave.)
  3. Cool the butter/milk mixture until it is just warm to the touch.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and vanilla.
  6. While whisking, slowly add the butter/milk mixture and continue whisking until it is smooth.
  7. Add the egg mixture and whisk until combined.
  8. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.

Waffle time

  1. Following your manufacturer's directions, heat a waffle iron.
  2. Remove the now foamy waffle batter from the refrigerator and whisk it to deflate.
  3. Following your manufacturer's directions, bake waffles, using about ½ cup of batter for a 7" diameter waffle.

Gently melt butter in milk, then cool.
Whisk the dry ingredients together.
Whisk together the eggs and vanilla.
Gradually whisk the milk mixture into the dry ingredients, whisk in the egg until combined, then cover and refrigerate.
After 12-24 hours the batter will have risen and be foamy.
Whisk until smooth.
Following your manufacturer's directions, bake the waffles.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Recipe: Panfried Steak

Based on a May 1997 recipe from Cook's IllustratedPrepared for dinner on February 24, 2013. Serves 2.


1  rib eye, strip, or sirloin steak, 1 to 1¼ inches thick, 
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil


  1. Heat a heavy 12-inch skillet on medium heat.
  2. Pat the steak dry with a paper towel.
  3. Season both sides of the steak with salt and pepper.
  4. Add oil to the hot skillet and swirl to evenly coat the bottom.
  5. Add steak to the skillet, cover it with a splatter screen, and cook until well browned, about 5 minutes.
  6. Turn steak and cook 3-5 minutes until done. Use an instant read thermometer to to determine doneness.
  7. Remove the steak from the skillet, let it rest for 5 minutes, and serve.

Pat the steak dry with a paper towel and season both sides with kosher salt and black pepper. Optionally, rub the steak with garlic before adding the salt and pepper. (Yes, this two-inch steak is too thick for this recipe.)
Add oil to a heavy, pre-heated skillet and cook until brown, about 5 minutes.
Turn the steak and cook 3-5 minutes until it has reached the desired state of doneness.