Caitlin McGrath's Profile

Title Last Reply

The secret ingredient in Geoff Beattie’s rich dark fruit cake

I love this:

"It’s not a smell, it’s a state of mind, a place where people can go. It’s a smell that conjures images of forest walks and Snow White singing to blue birds and being a kid again staining your clothes and fingers beneath a mulberry tree."

I want that. But I'd settle for a piece of his cake.

about 6 hours ago
Caitlin McGrath in Food Media & News

Unfollow not working?

Have you tried logging out and logging back in again? I sometimes find that when something I change doesn't take, doing that helps.

about 9 hours ago
Caitlin McGrath in Site Talk

ISO Fancy, elegant plated dessert

Oh, sorry if I misled you - I've never made the tarts, just remember some complaints (perhaps even on CH) about the pastry, but I don't remember what the exact issue was.

about 12 hours ago
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking
2

ISO Fancy, elegant plated dessert

One (maybe) caveat on the chocolate caramel tarts, I have some recollection from years back of hearing that the chocolate pastry was difficult to work with. I did have a mini version of it once at Gramercy Tavern when Fleming was there, and it was decadent and delicious.

about 12 hours ago
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking
1

September 2014 COTM 'Avec Eric' Chapters 4-6 (Birth of a Dish, Teamwork, Catch and Cook) Reporting Thread

California Bee Sting, p. 114

I am not, generally speaking, a vodka drinker. I keep it around mostly for use in homemade liqueurs and such, and will almost always bypass it for cocktails based on other spirits at home or out. But I was intrigued by this recipe, and I'm glad I tried it because I'm liking it a great deal, with some tweaks in proportion. The name refers to the inclusion of honey, chile, and citrus, and there is a nice balance (once tweaked) of honey flavor with tart citrus and background heat. In fact, after a few of these (not all the same night), I'm prepared to pronounce it a winner.

The components are a syrup of honey, water, and red pepper flakes that's brought to a boil, allowed to steep for 15 minutes, strained, and cooled; a combination of orange, lemon, and lime juices; and vodka, shaken with ice and strained into a glass over ice. The ratio given is 2 oz vodka, 1.5 oz honey syrup, and .5 oz of the citrus mixture, which looked to me like it would make a really sweet drink. I went ahead with it just to see, and yup: way too sweet. I adjusted that one by adding some more of the citrus, and next time around, tinkered and tasted, and settled on 2 oz vodka, 1 oz syrup, 1 oz citrus combo. And tried it that way again, just to be sure, you know. I did like the slightly greater heat I got the first time (the one with too much sweet), so next time I make the syrup - there will be a next time - I'll use more pepper flakes and/or steep longer.

ISO Fancy, elegant plated dessert

That makes me think of this recipe for poached pears with chocolate-pear sauce (you make the chocolate sauce from the poaching liquid), which I used to do as an elegant plated dessert that was always very well received, both for its looks and taste. I would put a pool of sauce on a plate, slice the pear halves and fan them over the sauce, and add a scoop of raspberry sorbet, or vanilla ice cream and a few fresh berries. You could add a couple of crisp cookies or make palmiers from excellent (e.g., Dufour) puff pastry.

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

Make-ahead appetizers/snacks to be served at room temp for 25, including vegetarians

As I mentioned, in the book she also suggests making them slice-and-bake style, cutting 1/4" thick, instead of rolling them out. which is what I have done.

Make-ahead appetizers/snacks to be served at room temp for 25, including vegetarians

To sort of marry the cheese straw/savory shortbread idea, there's a great, and easy recipe in Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table called Cheez-It-ish Crackers, which is a cheese shortbread that's mixed up in the food processor and can be done slice-and-bake style. You can make the dough well in advance and freeze, then bake at your convenience. See discussion starting from here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7758...

September 2014 COTM 'Avec Eric' Chapters 7-9 (Artisanal, Perfect Pairings, Oil and Wine) Reporting Thread

A schmear of this goat cheese spread along with some thin slices of peach makes a very nice bruschetta topping.

Sep 17, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

What are you baking these days? September 2014, part 2!

Very cute!

Voting Thread: Cookbook of the Month October 2014

I concur on Yes, Chef. An interesting and entertaining read.

Sep 15, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

The Awful Reign of the Red Delicious

"Agribusiness spent BIG bucks developing a tomato that reddened fast but ripened slow that would maximize their shipping window"

It's actually worse than that. Those pink softballs that are in supermarkets year-round, as well as in restaurants, fast food and otherwise, are picked hard and green for exceptional storage and shipping integrity, and then gassed with ethylene to change their color. They never seem remotely ripe because they don't ripen, and they were developed that way at the behest of big food companies (both grocery and franchise food service).

If you want an in depth look at the ruination of the tomato in the US and all its costs, culinary and human, as well as a fascinating look at all things tomato, I highly recommend Barry Estabrook's book Tomatoland.

http://www.npr.org/2011/06/28/1373719...

September 2014 COTM 'Avec Eric' Chapters 1-3 (Big Flavor, Star Ingredients, Farming the Sea) Reporting Thread

Stopped in TJ's today, as I was in the neighborhood for another reason. No pea shoots. At some point when I have time, I'll ask if they ever get them locally.

Sep 15, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

September 2014 COTM 'Avec Eric' Chapters 7-9 (Artisanal, Perfect Pairings, Oil and Wine) Reporting Thread

That's a very good question! I've never frozen goat cheese, either, so I couldn't say, but I'm curious.

ETA, it occurs to me that because this spread is blended smooth that it could probably be rebeaten upon thawing, so freezing might work out even if it were to separate or the texture otherwise alter?

Sep 15, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

August 2014 COTM - Diana Henry Month: A Change of Appetite

(Raspberry) and Red Wine Gelatins, p. 233

Now, this is jello for grownups. And so very good. College-kid jello shots are to this as vodka and fruit punch is to, well, a nice bottle of wine. Red wine (Pinot Noir, in my case), sugar (not a lot), water (not a lot), gelatin, and berries (the recipe calls for blackberries, but I ran into a sale on organic raspberries). That's it. The wine is only gently heated - just enough to dissolve the sugar and gelatin - so the finished dessert retains its essence, as well as its alcohol. In the eating, most of the sweetness comes from the berries, with the jelled wine a complex counterpoint. Would be a lovely finish for a warm-weather dinner party - sophisticated, light, and summery.

I had to do a bit of improvising when it came to the gelatin. Henry calls for sheet gelatin, which I gather is more readily available in the UK than in the US, where it's a specialty item. But I know sheet gelatin comes in different strengths and sizes, as well as varying by country, so how to convert "5 large or 10 small sheets" without knowing what's standard in the UK was a bit of a head-scratcher. I finally decided to scrap converting and just determine how much powdered gelatin would be needed to set the liquid in the recipe. Going from the info on David Lebovitz's site (http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2009/04/...), which says one packet (around 2 1/2 tsp) will softly set 3 cups of liquid, coupled with Henry's head note saying that you need more to set alcohol, I used 4 1/2 tsp for the 2 cups wine plus 3/4 cup water and 3/4 cup sugar, softening it in 1/2 cup of the cold water and stirring this into the rest after heating to dissolve the sugar. It worked out fine, but I'd use 4 tsp gelatin next time for a slightly softer set. I'm not sure why, but though the softened gelatin dissolved readily, when I added it the mixture got a bit cloudy. Oh, well; if the result isn't quite as nice to look at as if it were clear, it certainly doesn't detract from the flavor.

September 2014 COTM 'Avec Eric' Chapters 7-9 (Artisanal, Perfect Pairings, Oil and Wine) Reporting Thread

Garlic-Herbed Goat Cheese, p. 182

This is as simple as can be to put together. Eight ounces of fresh goat cheese, 1/4 cup whole milk (low-fat is what was in my fridge, and I used 3 T), 2 T olive oil, 2 T fresh thyme, 1 T each fresh rosemary and oregano (I had none of the latter, so I doubled up on rosemary), 1 T cracked black peppercorns, 1 tsp finely minced garlic, and salt to taste are beaten "until well blended and fluffy." I chucked it all in the mini bowl of my food processor so it took but a few seconds to get to that state.

The herbs and garlic combined with tangy fresh chevre yield a predictably delicious result, though I'd recommend halving the amount of cracked peppercorn, as with the full tablespoon, the black pepper overwhelms the other flavors a bit, and also somehow makse the mixture taste a bit saltier than it ought (I added a scant 1/2 tsp kosher salt, so not a whole lot). ER would have you spread this on toasted baguette slices; I had some on a toasted piece of a dense raisin rye bread, which paired very well, and at room temp, it's soft enough for dipping crudites, as well. I also think it'll be swell dolloped into scrambled eggs.

August 2014 COTM - Diana Henry Month: A Change of Appetite

Beet and Poppy Seed Loaf Cake, p. 80

I made this right at the end of August, and completely neglected to report. I made some adjustments (and some tweaks) from the recipe in the US edition, to good effect. Really, what's missing from the recipe title is Hazelnut, because th cake definitely tastes of hazelnut, between the hazelnut oil and the nuts themselves.

It's a pretty straightforward recipe: eggs, brown sugar, hazelnut and olive oils, vanilla, orange zest, whole-grain flour, leavening, poppy seeds, chopped hazelnuts, grated beets. With thanks to greedygirl, I used the weights she noted for the flour; I didn't have spelt flour, so used 200 g of whole wheat pastry flour. I cut the olive oil by half, using 100 ml each hazelnut and olive oil, and replaced it with 1/2 cup buttermilk. I also increased the hazelnuts from the measly 2 T called for to 1/3 cup or so. I skipped the glaze, and you can bet I skipped the candied beet slices.

The cake was extremely moist and very tender, just the right amount of sweet (I don't like things super sweet), and I loved the hazelnut flavor. The grated beets baked into moist, dark, sweet bits that were not readily identifiable as beets in either color or flavor. In fact, no one who tasted the cake guessed it had beets. A couple of people thought maybe it had dried cranberries or cherries, but couldn't really place the flavor. Made me think that I should make a cake I put together a couple of years ago again, a bundt cake with grated beets, carrot, and zucchini, with ground hazelnuts and browned butter. The beets didn't disappear so much in that one.

Sep 15, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? September 2014 edition!

I have one outstanding order, my preorder of RLB's Baking Bible, nabbed during an everything's $13 sale a few months back, which they say (not in my account info, because that would be too useful, but where the book is listed) ships starting 11/04. After that, I'm probably out. I have loaded my cookbook shelves over the past dozen years thanks to TGC, except that I've only bought a few things the past few, because they just don't have enough I'm interested in. I haven't even used my points, for that reason, and I don't really care. The immediate benefit will be not having to delete the multiple weekly emails.

Sep 13, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

September 2014 COTM 'Avec Eric' Chapters 7-9 (Artisanal, Perfect Pairings, Oil and Wine) Reporting Thread

Great sleuthing, Joan. And interesting information. I'd bet it's not that unusual for production companies to essentially function as book packagers when it comes to cookbooks associated with TV series, and I'm sure that has to much to do with their variable quality.

Sep 11, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? September 2014 edition!

Ten Speed has done squeezy covers for Plenty and Jerusalem (maybe Ottolenghi, too; haven't seen it in person). I wonder what made Ebury quit the nifty squeezy covers (which are also, handily, very wipe-downable).

September 2014 COTM 'Avec Eric' Chapters 1-3 (Big Flavor, Star Ingredients, Farming the Sea) Reporting Thread

You're right, I didn't peel the carrots. I generally don't, unless they're really filthy; I just scrub well with a brush. There are a couple of venders at the local farmers' market whose carrots we avoid because they're so dirty.

Sep 10, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

September 2014 COTM 'Avec Eric' Chapters 1-3 (Big Flavor, Star Ingredients, Farming the Sea) Reporting Thread

That's a great tip about Trader Joe's. Never noticed pea shoots there, but I don't often buy produce at TJ's, so I haven't looked that closely. I will have to see if they're available here next time I'm there.

Sep 10, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

September 2014 COTM 'Avec Eric' Chapters 1-3 (Big Flavor, Star Ingredients, Farming the Sea) Reporting Thread

Roasted Carrots with Baby Pea Shoots (Arugula) and Curry Vinaigrette, p. 55

Baby carrots are what's called for, but mine were grownups that I cut crosswise and quartered or halved lengthwise, depending on their size, to approximate baby carrots' width. They're tossed with olive oil and salt and pepper and roasted until tender.

The vinaigrette starts with making a curry oil (which is meant to sit at least 10 minutes, but can be made up to a week in advance) by stirring Madras curry powder, toasted ground cumin and coriander, and red pepper flakes into canola (sunflower) oil. This is combined with minced shallot, grated ginger, white balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. On reading the recipe, I realized that even if one were extremely liberal with the dressing, well less than half would be used, so I cut it by half and that was still more than enough. He calls for 1/2 cup oil and 3 T vinegar; I used 1/4 cup oil and 2 T vinegar and found it well balanced.

Instead of the elusive baby pea shoots, I used very delicate and small baby wild arugula. And instead of individually plating the dressed carrots, topping with the greens, and drizzling extra dressing around the plate, I gently tossed it all together and put it in a serving dish. And I only used half the half-recipe's worth of vinaigrette.

This is a really nice dish. The roasted carrots are sweet and earthy, and the spices in the vinaigrette complement them very well, but also add a subtle savoriness and a bit of spice that's a good contrast with their sweetness. The vinaigrette is fairly lightly spiced, and the effect was delicious, with the flavors not so strong that you couldn't easily serve this with a wide variety of other dishes. I'm thinking the leftover dressing would work well on green beans.

CSA Reviews

This week's Full Belly Tuesday pickup:

3 lb 6 oz pumpkin
2 lb 2 oz tomatoes
1 lb 9 oz onions
15 oz yellow peppers
12 oz grapes
11 oz green beans
8 oz eggplant
3 tiny heads of garlic

For price comparison purposes, Full Belly has one size box, which costs $16.50/week if you subscribe quarterly (12 weeks), $16/week if you subscribe yearly (48 weeks, must be consecutive with none skipped), $18/week if you subscribe monthly.

What are you baking these days? September edition, part 1! (2014) [old]

I would thaw them, so you can drain them (or pat them) of extra liquid. I'd be worried that throwing them in frozen would cause them to throw off a bunch of water as they heated, making the cake soggy.

August 2014 COTM - Diana Henry: Pure Simple Cooking

I've looked at this one, too, and never felt inspired by it - somehow it couldn't imagine being super flavorful, but glad to hear I was wrong! But I think I'd go with low-fat yogurt to counteract some of that richness.

Sep 09, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? September 2014 edition!

I think it is that Ten Speed Press decided that a cover with a food photo would sell in the US, because the UK covers are all graphic. Also, it seems that after Plenty (the first with a US edition), they wanted to keep the design consistent.

Compare UK and US covers:

Jerusalem UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Jerusalem-Yot...
US: http://www.amazon.com/Jerusalem-Cookb...

Plenty UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Plenty-Yotam-...
US: http://www.amazon.com/Plenty-Vibrant-...

UK Ottolenghi: The Cookbook has photos from the shop on the cover:http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ottolenghi-Co...
US: http://www.amazon.com/Ottolenghi-Cook...

Sep 08, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

CSA Reviews

The contents vary depending on your pickup day.

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? September 2014 edition!

Plenty More is already indexed on EYB, for further appetite-whetting: http://www.eatyourbooks.com/library/1...

September 2014 COTM 'Avec Eric' Chapters 1-3 (Big Flavor, Star Ingredients, Farming the Sea) Reporting Thread

Mussels with Tomato-Saffron Butter, p. 75

A more accurate title would be "Mussels with Tomatoes and Saffron Butter," because the tomatoes are not incorporated into the saffron butter. Regardless, this is a delicious addition to the many iterations of mussels steamed in white wine and garlic, with or without saffron. A fast dish, with little prep and five minutes on the stove, too.

I made a quarter recipe (using a pound of mussels) for my solo dinner. You start by soaking saffron in lemon juice for a few minutes, then mixing in softened butter and salt and pepper to taste. Sliced garlic is sauteed in olive oil until it turns golden (I used just enough oil to barely slick the bottom of the pot), then the mussels, chopped tomato (which I seeded but didn't peel), white wine, and the saffron butter are added, the pot is covered and all cooked for but a few minutes, until the mussels have opened. Into a bowl it goes, and is sprinkled with chopped parsley.

Mussels, garlic, tomatoes, white wine, butter, lemon, saffron - how could that be anything but good eating? Add a glass of dry white wine, plus a spoon and some crusty bread for catching all the broth, and color me a happy camper.