Persimmon Bread

3 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 to 2 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup melted unsalted butter and cooled to room temperature
4 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
2/3 cup Cognac, bourbon or whiskey
2 cups persimmon puree (from about 4 squishy-soft Hachiya persimmons)
2 cups walnuts or pecans, toasted and chopped
2 cups raisins, or diced dried fruits (such as apricots, cranberries, or dates)


Butter 2 loaf pans. Line the bottoms with a piece of parchment paper or dust with flour and tap out any excess.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift the first 5 dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Make a well in the center then stir in the butter, eggs, liquor, persimmon puree then the nuts and raisins.

Bake 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Storage: Will keep for about a week, if well-wrapped, at room temperature. The Persimmon Breads take well to being frozen, too.

Chocolate Idiot Cake

10 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
7 ounces butter, salted or unsalted, cut into pieces
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar


Preheat the oven to 350F (175C).

Butter a 9-inch springform pan and dust it with cocoa powder, tapping out any excess. If you suspect your springform pan isn’t 100% water-tight, wrap the outside with aluminum foil, making sure it goes all the way up to the outer rim.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler (or microwave), stirring occasionally, until smooth. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar, then whisk in the melted chocolate mixture until smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan and cover the top of the pan snugly with a sheet of foil. Put the springform pan into a larger baking pan, such as a roasting pan, and add enough hot water to the baking pan to come about halfway up to the outside of the cake pan.

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

You’ll know the cake is done when it feels just set, like quivering chocolate pudding. If you gently touch the center, your finger should come away clean.

Lift the cake pan from the water bath and remove the foil. Let cake cool completely on a cooling rack.

Serve thin wedges of this very rich cake at room temperature, with creme anglaise, ice cream, or whipped cream.

Storage: This Chocolate Idiot Cake can be wrapped and chilled in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.

Chocolate Toffee Matzoh Crunch

4 to 6 sheets unsalted matzohs
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 cup firmly-packed light brown sugar
big pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (or chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate)

1 cup toasted sliced almonds (optional)


Line a rimmed baking sheet (approximately 11 x 17″, 28 x 42cm) completely with foil, making sure the foil goes up and over the edges. Cover the foil with a sheet of parchment paper.

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Line the bottom of the sheet with matzoh, breaking extra pieces as necessary to fill in any spaces.

In a 3-4 quart (3-4l) heavy duty saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together, and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the butter is melted and the mixture is beginning to boil. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add the salt and vanilla, and pour over matzoh, spreading with a heatproof spatula.

Put the pan in the oven and reduce the heat to 350F degrees. Bake for 15 minutes. As it bakes, it will bubble up but make sure it’s not burning every once in a while. If it is in spots, remove from oven and reduce the heat to 325F, then replace the pan.

Remove from oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips. Let stand 5 minutes, then spread with an offset spatula.

If you wish, sprinkle with toasted almonds (or another favorite nut, toasted and coarsely-chopped), a sprinkle of flaky sea salt, or roasted cocoa nibs.

Let cool completely, the break into pieces and store in an airtight container until ready to serve. It should keep well for about one week.

Fig and Olive Tapenade

1/2 cup (about 3 ounces) stemmed & quartered, dried Black Mission figs
3/4 cups water
1 cup black olives; Nicoise, Lyon, or Greek, rinsed and pitted
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
1 small garlic clove, peeled
1/2 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
black pepper and salt, if necessary


In a medium-sized saucepan, simmer the figs in the water for about 30 minutes, until very tender. Drain, reserving a few tablespoons of the liquid.

If using a food processor, pulse the pitted olives, drained figs, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, capers, and fresh rosemary to create a thick paste. Pulse in the olive oil until you’ve achieved a chunky-smooth paste. Season with black pepper and salt, if necessary. (The spread can be thinned with a bit of the reserved fig poaching liquid.)

If using a mortar and pestle, mash the olives with the garlic, capers, and fresh rosemary. Pound in the drained figs (I like the way that sounds!). Once they are broken up, add the olive oil and season with black pepper, fig poaching liquid, and salt, if necessary.

Serve this tapenade with slices of baguette that have been lightly brushed with olive oil and toasted in the oven, or smear a layer of it on a sandwich with goat cheese, juicy-ripe summer tomatoes, and lightly dressed arugola.

Make one day ahead, if possible.

From David Lebovitz.

Oven Roasted Figs

10-12 ripe fresh black or green figs
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
2-3 tablespoons brown sugar


Heat oven to 375.

Stem and quarter figs. Place in a baking dish that will hold them in a single layer and spoon honey over them, then crumble the sugar over the top.

Toss gently, cover tightly with foil, and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove foil, gently turn figs in syrup, and cook uncovered for another 15 minutes or until tender.
figs are best if they can rest a few hours to allow the juices to thicken. They can be served as is, or with thyme, some lemon zest, or a shot of pastis.

Roast Pork with Brown Sugar-Bourbon Glaze

Brine:

5 cups water
2 tablespoons coarse salt
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
10 allspice berries, crushed
2 bay leaves, crumbled
a few thyme branches

2 1/2 pounds boneless pork roast

For the glaze
1/4 cup apricot jam
1/4 cup bourbon
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon mild flavored molasses


Make brine by heating 1 cup of the water with the salt, sugar, allspice, bay leaves, and thyme. Once sugar and salt are dissolved, remove from heat. Pour into large or plastic container. Add 1 quart water and chill thoroughly.

When brine is cold, submerge pork and top with a small plate to keep it submerged. Cover and refrigerate for 2-4 days.

To make glaze, mix glaze ingredients in a small saucepan. heat to low boil and cook 2 minutes. Let cool.

Remove pork from brine and dry with paper tow. Place in ziplock bag, add glaze, and let rest 8 hours, turning occasionally.

Heat oven to 375. Lift pork from marinade and place in a baking dish that’s just large enough to hold it.; Add water until it is barely 11/2 inch deep. pour remaining marinade into a bowl and reserve.

Roast pork 45 minutes to one hour, brushing at regular intervals with the reserved marinade. Add water to pan if it is evaporating.

Pork is done when an instant read thermometer reads 140. Let rest covered snugly with foil for 15 minutes before serving.
From David Lebovitz. Sere with oven roasted figs.

David Lebovitz’s Chocolate Cake

9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
4 large eggs at room temperature, separated
2 tablespoons flour
pinch of salt


Heat oven to 350. butter a 9-inch loaf pan and line bottom with a strip of parchment paper.

In a large bowl over simmering water, heat chocolate and butter together until just melted and smooth.

Remove from heat and stir in half the sugar, then the egg yolks, the the flour.

whip the egg whites with salt until the form soft, droopy peaks. Gradually whip in remaining sugar until the whites are smooth and hold their shape when the whisk is lifted.

Use a rubber spatula to fold one third of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then fold in remaining egg whites until mixture is smooth and no white streaks remain.

Scape batter into laof pan, smooth top, and bake 35 minutes until cake feels slightly firm in the center. Do not overbake.

Cool in pan before serving.

Cake can be stored for three days, or frozen, well wrapped in plastic, for up to one month.

From David Lebovitz.

Chocolate Mole

5 dried ancho dried chiles
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1 small onion, chopped
1-2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup raisins or diced prunes
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon each: cinnamon, ground cloves, dried oregano, powdered cumin, ground coriander, ground anise seeds
3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
freshly ground pepper
1 cup water (or more, as needed)
1 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted


Makes enough for smothering one cooked chicken or a pork shoulder.

5 dried ancho dried chiles
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1 small onion, chopped
1-2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup raisins or diced prunes
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1 clove garlic, chopped
? teaspoon each: cinnamon, ground cloves, dried oregano, powdered cumin, ground coriander, ground anise seeds
3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
freshly ground pepper
1 cup water (or more, as needed)
1 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted

Soak chiles in very hot water until soft, about 30 minutes or so. (Make sure they’re submerged by setting a lightweight bowl on top of the chiles.)

In a small skillet, saut? onion in vegetable oil until soft and translucent. Add garlic and saut? another minute. Add spices and herbs and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds, being careful not to let them burn.

In a blender, grind together the almonds, cooked onions, tomatoes, spices, raisins or prunes, sesame seeds, salt, pepper, and water. Puree until smooth.

Remove seeds and stems from the chiles and puree very finely, passing the chiles through a food mill. (If you don’t have a food mill, press the puree through a mesh strainer to make remove any skins. Some people just puree them in, but they can be tough.) Blend the chile paste into the mole and add additional water, as necessary, until the consistency is smooth and slightly pourable.

Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Makes enough for smothering one cooked chicken or a pork shoulder.

Red Wine Syrup

1/2 cup red wine
3 tablespoons sugar


In a non-reactive skillet, cook the red wine and sugar until the bubbles get thick (see photo above.) Once the syrup is reduced to half its original quantity, remove from heat and scrape into a bowl to cool completely.
From David Lebovitz:
You could add a speck of cinnamon, black pepper or some seeds from a vanilla bean to this reduction. Just remember that it’s going to cook down, so add a very small amount at the beginning, if you do. This is also a good way to use up leftover poaching liquid from fruit.

Goat Cheese Custards with Strawberries

5 ounces fresh goat cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk, cream, or half-and-half
2 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, or 1/8 teaspoon extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350F (175C).
2. Place four custard cups or ramekins in a deep baking dish or pan.
3. Blend together the goat cheese, sugar, milk (or cream), egg yolks, and vanilla for 30 seconds until very smooth.
4. Divide the mixture into the custard cups; each should be a bit more than half full.
5. Add warm tap water to the baking pan, to make a water bath for baking the custards. The water should reach to about halfway up the side of each custard cup.
6. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 15 to 20-minutes.
7. When done, remove the custards from the water bath and cool completely.

Storage & serving: Custards are best served at room temperature. They can be chilled up to two days in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap, then brought to room temperature prior to serving.


Preheat the oven to 350F (175C).
Place four custard cups or ramekins in a deep baking dish or pan.
Blend together the goat cheese, sugar, milk (or cream), egg yolks, and vanilla for 30 seconds until very smooth.
Divide the mixture into the custard cups; each should be a bit more than half full.
Add warm tap water to the baking pan, to make a water bath for baking the custards. The water should reach to about halfway up the side of each custard cup.
Cover the pan with foil and bake for 15 to 20-minutes.
When done, remove the custards from the water bath and cool completely.

Storage & serving: Custards are best served at room temperature. They can be chilled up to two days in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap, then brought to room temperature prior to serving.
Serve with strawberries and red wine syrup.

from David Lebovitz

Warm Goat Cheese

goat cheese
bread crumbs
olive oil
herbs (rosemary, thyme)


Cut you goat cheese into disks about 3/4-inch (2cm) thick. You can use anything from small crottins to a larger cheese, slicing it in half across the equator. Marinate the disks in olive oil, which can be done up to two days in advance. If done in advance, I like to add some herbs, such as fresh rosemary and thyme, as well as some black pepper, and let them rest in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 375F (180C).

Mix together fresh bread crumbs (for four servings, about 1/2 cup, 60g) with a generous pinch of sea salt, and just enough olive oil to moisten the crumbs, about 1 to 2 teaspoons.

Spread the crumbs on a baking sheet and cook the crumbs until golden brown and crispy, 5 to 10 minutes, stirring a few times during baking.

Once toasted, let cool and mix in 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon chopped parsley.

Brush the goat cheese rounds with olive oil. (Unless they’ve been marinated. In which case, pluck them from the oil and let the excess drip off briefly.)

Dredge the goat cheese in the toasted breadcrumb mixture until they’re completely coated and bake on a cookie sheet or in a gratin dish, either non-stick or lightly-greased, for 5 to 8 minutes, or until warmed through and soft when you press gently in the center.

Remove from over and use a spatula to lift the goat cheese rounds from the pan.

Serve with a green salad (dressed with hazelnut oil is great), and thin slices of toasted levain (sourdough) bread, a favorite crisp bread, or crackers. This also makes a great appetizer.
from David Lebovitz

Kir

2 teaspoons creme de cassis
1 glass well chilled Aligote or Sauvignon Blanc


Pour creme de cassis into wine and serve. If made with champagne, it becomes a kir royale.