The Daily Dish: French Toast

french toast

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Today we’re talking about French toast. This morning stalwart most likely got its name from the French dish, pain perdu or “lost bread”—a poetic way to say stale bread. And slightly stale bread is one of the keys to French toast that has a crunchy exterior with light and airy insides. Essentially this is bread, soaked in custard, and pan fried; perhaps the precursor to bread pudding.

Preparation Time: 25 minutes
Start to Finish Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients
1 cup milk
6 large eggs
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 (1/2-inch) slices slightly stale country loaf, brioche, or challah bread
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
Maple syrup

Directions
Heat oven to 350°. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt. Pour into a shallow pan (a pie pan works well).

Dip bread into mixture and let soak about 30 seconds on each side.

Remove to a cooling rack sitting on a sheet pan. Let sit at least 2 minutes, but not more than 3.

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt approximately 2 tablespoons butter (you want a thin layer coating the pan). Lay two or three bread slices into the pan and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side.

Remove from the pan, lay on a baking sheet, and place in oven about 5 minutes. Repeat with remaining bread. Serve immediately with maple syrup.

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Annie B. Copps is a senior editor at Yankee Magazine. Annie oversees the magazine’s food coverage, both as an editor and as a contributor of feature stories and columns.

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The Daily Dish: Shredded Potato Cake with Leeks and Cheese

potato cakes

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Who doesn’t love a potato? Who doesn’t love cheese? So how about potatoes and cheese in a crispy pancake? I snagged this recipe for a Shredded Potato Cake with Leeks and Cheese from the good people of Shelburne Farms. Right on Lake Champlain in central Vermont, this special place is a working farm, cheese maker, inn, and great restaurant.

Ingredients
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 small leeks, white and light-green parts only, cut in half lengthwise, thinly sliced
1-1/2 pounds russet or Yukon Gold potatoes
3/4 cup grated Alpine-style cheese (such as Gruyère)
Freshly ground black pepper
Kosher or sea salt

Directions
In a medium-size cast-iron frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-low heat. Add leeks and a big pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until leeks are silky and lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Remove to a plate. Wipe frying pan clean.

Rinse potatoes well, but don’t peel. Shred on a box grater. Place shredded potatoes on a clean dish towel and sprinkle with another generous pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Toss potatoes with your hands to season. Gather towel corners together and twist (over a bowl or sink) to remove as much moisture as possible.

In the still-warm frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add half of the shredded potatoes in an even layer; press them into the pan. Add leeks and cheese in even layers. Add remaining potatoes, pressing them into the pan.

Cover the pan and cook until potatoes are golden brown on the bottom (peek with a spatula), 8 to 10 minutes. Turn a plate (larger than the pan) over on top of the potatoes. Place your hand firmly on top of the plate and carefully flip the pan so the potato cake is on the plate.

Heat remaining oil until shimmering. Slide potato cake back into pan, raw side down; cover, and cook 8 to 10 minutes. Slide from pan and let rest 3 to 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe adapted from Cooking with Shelburne Farms: Food and Stories from Vermont by Melissa Pasanen with Rick Gencarelli.

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Annie B. Copps is a senior editor at Yankee Magazine. Annie oversees the magazine’s food coverage, both as an editor and as a contributor of feature stories and columns.

The Daily Dish: Basic Vinaigrette

Basic Vinaigrette

Basic Vinaigrette

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A basic vinaigrette is a whipped concoction of vinegar and oil. When done well, the vinaigrette lightly coats fresh garden greens and nudges them towards greatness. While this recipe is very easy, it is important to get it right so that you don’t end up with a glunky sauce over your delicate lettuces!

You’re going for a balanced seasoning to enhance the flavors. This dressing is best used shortly after mixing, but if it sits a day or two (covered and refrigerated), add a few teaspoons of vinegar to brighten the flavors again.

Yield: about 2 cups

Ingredients
½ cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, smooth or grainy
1 small shallot, minced
1 ½ cups extra virgin olive oil
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard, and shallot.

While vigorously whisking, pour 2 to 3 tablespoons of oil into the mix and whisk until well incorporated. Continue whisking.

In a thin, steady stream whisk in the remaining oil. Season with salt and pepper.

(Courtesy: Yankee Magazine)

___________________________________________________________
Annie B. Copps is a senior editor at Yankee Magazine. Annie oversees the magazine’s food coverage, both as an editor and as a contributor of feature stories and columns.

The Daily Dish: Chinese Dumplings with Soy Dipping Sauce

chinese dumplings with soy dipping sauce

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My favorite appetizer of all time has to be Asian dumplings, sometimes called Peking ravioli. There are more than a few ingredients to making good dumplings, but they are worth the effort. If you are making a dozen, you might as well make 100 and freeze them—once you get everything together, the assembly is fun and I have found that the little hands of kids turn this into a fun project.

Preparation Time: 90 minutes
Start to Finish Time: 90 minutes
Yield: 3 dozen dumplings

Ingredients

4 leaves Napa cabbage, finely chopped
5 garlic chives, finely chopped (substitute scallions or chives)
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger (1-inch piece)
1 pound ground pork
3/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon ground-garlic and chili sauce (such as Sriracha brand)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
8 cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1 package round dumpling wrappers (substitute square wonton wrappers)
6 tablespoons peanut oil, divided

Directions
In a medium bowl, combine first 10 ingredients. With a dumpling wrapper flat in one hand, place about a tablespoon of filling in the middle in an oblong lump. There should be enough margin left along the wrapper to close it without spilling the filling, but don’t underfill.

Wet your finger and smear a little moisture along the outer edge of the wrapper; then fold the wrapper edges up into a taco shape and pinch the edges together at the top (in the middle) so that they’re stuck together (don’t let the pork filling get caught between). Create a pleat just to the right (or left) of the center pinch. Flatten the pleat next to the middle pinch point and squeeze the dough together.

Continue to the end of the dumpling; you should have two or three pleats from middle to end. At the end, you should have a small opening.

Pinch the end of the loop in toward the center of the dumpling and squeeze together.

Return to the middle pinch point and make pleats on the same side of the wrapper but in the opposite direction. At the end, pinch in the loop and squeeze the dough sealed.

Heat a large sauté pan to very high. Add about 2 tablespoons peanut oil.

Add up to 12 dumplings to the pan (don’t overcrowd) and brown well on both sides.

Add 1/4 cup water; then cover and let steam about 3 minutes. Add another 1/4 cup water; then cover and let steam about 3 minutes longer.

Remove to a plate and continue cooking remaining dumplings in batches. Serve with Soy Dipping Sauce.

Soy Dipping Sauce

Ingredients
• 1 cup light soy sauce
• 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
• 1 teaspoon sesame oil
• 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
• 1 scallion, finely sliced

Directions for Dipping Sauce
In a small bowl, combine all ingredients.

Serve with prepared dumplings.
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Annie B. Copps is a senior editor at Yankee Magazine. Annie oversees the magazine’s food coverage, both as an editor and as a contributor of feature stories and columns.

The Daily Dish: Booma’s Revenge Chili

chili

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I am crazy for chili and make it in a variety of ways, but this recipe comes from a prize-winning chili maker and it’ll be a winner for you, too. At Yankee magazine we come across a lot of great home cooks and we write about them in the column “best cook in town.” This recipe is from Jerry Bouma, a home cook who competes and wins in chili competitions—it’s a tamed down version of the competition recipe, which is too hot for us mortals and of course he’d never part with his prize-winning secret.

Ingredients
3 pounds lean ground beef
1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium red pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
4 large garlic cloves, minced
3 serrano (medium spicy) chiles, minced
1 10-1/2-ounce can double-strength beef stock (or 2-1/2 cups beef stock boiled down to 1-1/4 cups)
6 tablespoons chili powder
3 tablespoons cumin
1/4 teaspoon dry oregano
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1 28-ounce can petite diced tomatoes
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 19-ounce can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained (optional)

Directions
In a large (7-quart) heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat, cook ground beef, breaking it up with a potato masher until it’s fully cooked. Then drain and discard most of the rendered fat.

In a separate medium-size saute pan over medium heat, add oil and cook red pepper, onion, garlic, and chiles just until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

Add cooked vegetable mixture, beef stock, spices, sugar, and diced tomatoes to the big pot and simmer 1 hour.

Add tomato paste; stir well and cook another half-hour, stirring occasionally. If you’re using beans, stir them in 10 minutes before serving.

(Courtesy: Yankee Magazine)

___________________________________________________________
Annie B. Copps is a senior editor at Yankee Magazine. Annie oversees the magazine’s food coverage, both as an editor and as a contributor of feature stories and columns.

The Daily Dish: Spaetzle

spaetzle
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If you are on your way home tonight and tired of pasta, I have a new idea for you—spaetzle! Spaetzle is a cross between a dumpling and a noodle and it’s a fast weeknight side dish that is fun to make. You can buy a spaetzle makers, but a colander with large holes works just fine.

Ingredients
2 cups flour
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 to 3/4 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Place flour in mixing bowl. Add eggs and mix until blended.

Slowly add milk, mixing constantly, to form a stiff dough. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Fill a soup kettle full of water and bring to a boil. Hold colander over kettle (wear heavy, long mitts to avoid burns from steam), pour spaetzle dough into colander, and press through the holes with a rubber spatula, forcing spaetzle into boiling water. When noodles rise to the surface, they are done.

Drain, spoon into a bowl, top with butter, and serve with stew or goulash.

___________________________________________________________
Annie B. Copps is a senior editor at Yankee Magazine. Annie oversees the magazine’s food coverage, both as an editor and as a contributor of feature stories and columns.

The Daily Dish: Fruit Roll Ups

fruit roll ups

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Kids are crazy for fruit roll-ups and you won’t believe how incredibly easy they are to make. Kids love them, and they’re perfect to pack along on any movable feast. I have found that peaches, mangos, and most berries work best (avoid bananas, melons, or citrus). They are, of course, best in the season that the fruit is growing in, but frozen fruits work well, too.

Yield: about 5 pieces

Ingredients
2 cups pureed fruit
1 to 2 tablespoons honey

Directions
Heat oven to 200.°

In a small mixing bowl, stir ingredients well to combine. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper or a Silpat mat. Ladle puree onto baking sheet and spread into a very thin (about 1/8 inch) circle, about 8 inches in diameter. Repeat with remaining puree. Place in oven 5 to 6 hours or until dried but still flexible. Cool and wrap in plastic.

(Courtesy: Yankee Magazine)

___________________________________________________________
Annie B. Copps is a senior editor at Yankee Magazine. Annie oversees the magazine’s food coverage, both as an editor and as a contributor of feature stories and columns.