Wickwood's Kitchen ... Good Resolutions
Each of us begins the year with great new resolve.
The question is how to make it stick. Our food has been hijacked by
haste, yet adopting good eating habits is paramount to all else. It
We agree with Michael Pollan author of
“In Defense of Food” when he states that the more we know
about how to eat, the simpler our eating becomes. Eat real food.
Mostly fruits and vegetables. Eat less more often. Plant a garden.
Savor every bite. Treat treats as treats. Do this 90% of the time,
then sometimes break the rules.
TOMATO AND BREAD SOUP
Once only the summer porridge of Tuscany, we’ve
learned how to make this soup all year long. Our secret, using tomatoes
from San Marzano, Italy for the utmost flavor. We love sipping this
from a mug. Serves six
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 tablespoons minced garlic
• 1 small onion, diced
• 3 cans Italian tomatoes (28 ounces)
• ¼ cup slivered fresh basil leaves or 2 tablespoons pesto
• 6-8 cups Chicken broth (to desired consistency)
• 4 cups tomato juice salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
• 5 slices day-old best quality country-style bread, ½ inch slices
• ¼-½ teaspoon smoked paprika
• Parmigiano Regginao, grated at table.
1. Heat the
olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and onions, and cook
over medium-low heat until soft and translucent, 10 minutes.
2. Add the tomatoes, basil, broth, salt and pepper. Stir, and
simmer for 45 minutes.
3. Tear the bread into 1 inch pieces and add them to the
soup. Let cook for one hour, uncovered. Add the Pimenton/smoked
paprika for the final 5 minutes. Serve sprinkled with chopped basil
and Parmigiano Reggiano.
SMOKY POTATO LEAK SOUP
For a long time, the regular evening
meal throughout Europe has consisted solely of soup. An evening meal
in a restaurant, a rare exception. Add a salad, some wonderful
bread, a glass of wine, and thou and you’re all set. You’ll sleep
well and feel light in the morning.
A note: we avoided liquid smoke for years,
thinking it artificial. It’s not, it’s natural and used far and wide
by great curers of pork, and barbeque chefs. The secret is out!
• ½ teaspoon olive oil
• 1 medium onion, finely chopped
• ½ pound leeks, well cleaned and finely chopped
• 1 shallot, finely minced
• 1 cup of Canadian bacon or ham, finely diced
• 1¼ pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
• 8 cups chicken broth
• 1 teaspoon liquid smoke, all natural
• 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
• Salt and freshly ground pepper
• 3 cups arugula, coarsely chopped
1. Heat the
oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion, leek,
shallot, and bacon/ham, and cover. Sweat for 10 minutes, stirring
once or twice.
2. Add the potato, chicken broth, liquid smoke and dill:
cover and simmer 25 minutes, or until the potato is tender. Add the
arugula and continue cooking another 10 minutes.
3. Remove the potato and place in a blender or food
processors with 1 cup of the hot broth. Puree, then whisk back into
the remaining soup to thicken. Taste and adjust seasonings.
PAN-BARBECUED SHRIMP WITH HERBS
This simple dish heralds herbs, spiced and quickly sautéed in a
hot skillet. It’s a great way to capture the sweet flavor of really
good shrimp. We have a pal who shrimps in the Gulf of Mexico and
sends twenty-five pounds north to us several times a year. If you
can’t find your own “Shrimper”, be very selective about your source.
Good sweet shrimp are hard to find and when you do celebrate! Serves
• 1 pound large or jumbo shrimp, peeled
and deveined, tails left on
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 tablespoon minced garlic
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
• ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 2 limes, quartered
1. Combine the
shrimp with the oil, garlic, herbs, peppers and salt. Let marinate
at room temperature for one hour.
2. Heat a dry nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until
hot. Lay the shrimp in the pan and cook, turning once, for 4-8
minutes depending on the size of the shrimp. Brush the shrimp with
the remaining marinade before turning. They should be pink and
cooked through. Do not over cook them, as you don’t want to toughen
or dry them out. Serve immediately with the limes alongside.
SWEET AND SPICY SHRIMP
This is our version of a classic Thai dish that is addictive. And
so very simple when modified for easy to find ingredients.
• 1 pound large shrimp in their shells
• ½ cup water
• ¼ cup light brown sugar (packed)
• 3 tablespoons Thai Fish Sauce (see Note below)
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
• 1 teaspoon white peppercorns, lightly crushed
• 4 whole cilantro sprigs, for garnish
1. Rinse the
shrimp under cold water. Drain and set aside.
2. Mix the water, brown sugar, and fish sauce together in an
8 - 10 inch wide saucepan. Cook, stirring, over low heat until the
sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes.
3. Add the garlic, minced cilantro, and pepper. Bring the
mixture to a boil over medium heat and continue to boil until the
sauce reduces and thickens slightly, 6-7 minutes.
4. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring constantly and coating
the shrimp with sauce, over medium heat until opaque and just cooked
through, 1½ - 2 minutes. Remove to a bowl and let cool to room
5. Chill the shrimp in the refrigerator up to 1 hour tossing
the shrimp twice in the sauce and removing with a slotted spoon.
Garnish with the cilantro.
Note: Fish sauce is available in Asian grocery stores or in
the Asian section of the supermarket.
“Why am I so soft in the middle
when the rest of my life is so hard?” --- Paul Simon
CHICKEN, PORTOBELLO & SAUSAGE
We love this rustic
Italian dish, this time with Chicken, and always the classical Gremolata
garnish which just makes the entire dish sparkle. It’s a good lesson
on how to perk up many stews and casseroles. You could even add more
veggies. We like this served over a mixture of wheat pilaf
and wild rice or polenta. Serves 6-8
• 1 chicken cut into 8-10 pieces
• 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 2 pounds of mixed Portobello and white mushrooms, stemmed, in
• ½ inch thick
• ½ cup finely chopped shallots
• 8 cloves garlic, sliced
• 1 cup dry red wine
• 1 cup beef stock
• 8-12 ounces of dried or pre-cooked chorizo or other spicy sausage
• 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
• ¼ teaspoon dried thyme or 1 teaspoon fresh, plus extra for garnish
• 2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
• 2 tablespoons flour
oven to 375°F.
Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a 5 quart
casserole (with top) over medium high. Add chicken and brown on both
sides. Remove and set aside. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring about
5 minutes, until they start to wilt and no longer look dry. Remove
and set aside.
2. Reduce heat to low and sauté shallots and garlic until
just starting to brown. Brown sausage. Deglaze with wine and stock.
Season generously with pepper. Stir in vinegar. Return chicken,
sausage and mushrooms to casserole, add thyme, cover and cook for 1½
hours, uncovering for the last ½ hour, and basting chicken a few
3. Meanwhile in a small bowl blend the softened butter and
flour. Place the casserole over a medium high burner, uncover and
add the butter/flour mixture, stirring with a whisk. thickening the
sauce for 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a warm platter, serving the sauce
on the side if you wish. Garnish with thyme sprigs.
LEMON DROP MADELEINES
immortalized these cookie/cakes in “Remembrance of Things Past” his
Belle Epoque memoir, but we’ve always thought there was "much ado
about nothing", even when sampled in Paris. We became intrigued upon
spying mini-Madeleine pans in W-S over The Holidays and decided to
give them one more try. Now I get it!!! They are just as magical as
Proust described, particularly when lightly glazed. Of course, they’re best
warm, but oh-la-la with tea, they’re truly heavenly. Yields 60
• 3 large eggs, at room temperature
• 2/3 cup granulated sugar
• 1/8 teaspoon salt, rounded
• 1¼ cup flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• zest of one small lemon, minced
• 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room
temperature, plus additional melted butter for preparing the molds.
• ¼ cup sugar
• ¼ cup lemon juice
1. Brush the
indentations of 2 mini-Madeleine (20 per tray) molds with melted
butter. Dust with flour, tap off any excess and place in the
2. In a medium sized bowl using electric mixer on medium
high, whip the eggs, granulated sugar, and salt for 5 minutes until
frothy and thickened.
3. Spoon the flour and baking powder into a sifter or mesh
strainer and use a spatula to fold in the flour as you sift it over
the batter. Steady the bowl on a damp towel if necessary.
4. Add the lemon zest to the cooled butter, and then dribble
the butter into the batter, a few spoonfuls at a time, while folding
to incorporate the butter. Fold just until the butter in
5. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (Batter
can be chilled for up to 48 hours.)
6. Preheat oven to 425°F.
Place the batter into the center of each indentation with enough
batter that it will fill to 3/4. Just eyeball it; you might have to
test this. You don’t want to spread the batter.
7. Bake 8 - 9 minutes until they begin to turn golden brown
around the edges. Meanwhile as the cakes bake place the sugar and
lemon juice in a small sauce pan and heat until the sugar melts.
Once you’ve removed the Madeleines onto a cooling rack, remove the
cakes with a knife point, place on a plate and brush the glaze on
lightly (onto the scalloped side) with a pastry brush. Best served
warm, or on the first day, but they’ll last 3 days. Store in a
tin or plastic container, not tightly wrapped.
DUTCH APPLE PIE
Every now and then,
particularly in Winter when there’s time for Sunday afternoon
baking I make this, Wills’ favorite with it’s streusel topping. I love
this basic piecrust with both butter for flavor and shortening for
flakiness. Truth be told I’ve also been known to cheat and use
pre-made crust, so don’t be shy about using your own favorite. It’s
still pie, which is always better than no pie. Please serve warm
with ice cream atop. Serves 6-8
One 9” Favorite Pie
Crust, defrosted if frozen
• 5-6 apples, a mix of tart and sweet if
you have, peeled, cored, cut into wedges and sliced
• ¾ cup sugar
• ½ teaspoon cinnamon
• ¼ teaspoon allspice
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
zest from ½ lemon, minced
• 2/3 cup flour
• ½ cup light brown sugar
• 1/3 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes
oven to 425°F
and place a large baking sheet on middle oven rack
2. Mix together zest, cinnamon allspice, salt and sugar in a
large bowl. Gently toss with apples and lemon juice. Set aside.
3. Mix flour, brown sugar and butter by hand or cutting
together with two knives until crumbly.
4. Place apples in pie crust, heaping if necessary
5. Sprinkle streusel atop. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce heat to
and bake 35-45 minutes until browned. Cool slightly before serving.
KEY LIME PIE
Doesn’t everyone love
this pie ... especially when you don’t have to don a bathing suit in
Key West. I’ve never favored this scrumptious pie made with
sweetened condensed milk, it tastes artificial to me. So, here’s my
year round version, any place. Serves 8
• 2 cups Graham crackers, crushed
• 8 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
• ½ cup sugar
• 1¼ cup sugar
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch
• 1 cup lime juice ( key limes preferred, but not critical)
• 6 large eggs
• 6 large egg yolks (retain whites)
• 9 tablespoons butter
• 1 teaspoon cream of tarter
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 1 teaspoon lime zest
oven to 375°F.
In a mixing bowl combine the Graham cracker crumbs, the sugar and
the butter until thoroughly combined. Using your hands, press the
mixture firmly into a 9 inch pie pan and bake until lightly browned,
about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire
rack before filling.
2. Combine the sugar and cornstarch well in the top of a
double boiler or in a large metal bowl set over a saucepan of
simmering water. Add the lime juice, eggs, and yolks and whisk for
about 5 minutes, or until the mixture thickens and holds a shape
when the whisk is lifted. Remove from the heat and whisk in the
butter bit by bit. Cool to room temperature. Strain the curd, if
necessary, through a fine-mesh basket strainer into the crust. Shake
the pan gently to distribute the filling evenly. Chill in
refrigerator for two hours.
3. Place the egg whites and cream of tarter in a clean mixing
bowl and beat on medium speed until the egg whites form soft peaks,
about 2-3 minutes. Slowly add the remaining sugar until the whites
form stiff, glossy peaks, another 2-3 minutes. Do no over mix or the
whites will dry out.
4. Spread the meringue over the chilled pie covering the top
of the pie. Use a blowtorch, caramelize the meringue or place it 3”
from a broiler to lightly brown. Sprinkle lightly with lime zest.