By guest blogger and New York writer Seanan Forbes
NEW YORK -- Sara Moulton, executive chef of Gourmet magazine's executive dining room, has a new cookbook coming out next year.
Last night, in New York Botanical Garden's Edible Garden, she was asked the title of the book. "Oh, I don't remember," she said, laughing, and went back to cutting plums for fruit potstickers. (Yes, fruit potstickers, as in crisp, fruit-filled dumplings. Last night's focus was on summer fruits in pastries.)
Whatever its title, next year's cookbook will be tailored for those of us who like cooking at home but who don't have loads of time.
Moulton, who cooks for a living and then cooks dinner at home five nights a week, certainly understands being in that position. She has loads of tips for the home cook:
* When you're rolling pizza dough, forget the flour. Put a little bit of olive oil - not too much, or the dough will slide all over the place - and roll it out. The dough will stay in place and roll out beautifully.
* Rolling out dough for a circle: rotate the dough in eighth-turns.
* Skinned chicken and lean cuts of pork can taste dry. Soak them in seasoned buttermilk for 20 minutes before cooking, and they'll be as tender as could be desired.
* Soak fish fillets or game in milk for 20 minutes to take the edge off the gamey or fishy scent,
* Buttermilk has two assets in tenderizing: acid and dairy.
* There are only two kinds of dairy you can boil: heavy cream and creme fraiche.
* Choosing oils for cooking: canola is healthy; grapeseed is flavorless.
* Thickeners: flour makes things opaque; cornstarch and tapioca, translucent.
* Refrigerating pastry dough relaxes the gluten (giving you more tender pastry).
* When blending pastry dough, it is better to have more, rather than fewer lumps.
* Wonton skins are a great cheat for everything from large ravioli to miniature lasagna - and nobody has to know you didn't make them yourself.
Moulton encourages people to be creative. You're not stuck with the fruit that's in the recipe. If something else looks good to you, then use that instead. See what's available at the Green City Market.
With Moulton's inclinations, you know that her recipes are going to feed your passions without consuming too much of your time.
Two of Moulton's recipes after the jump.
Fruit Pot Stickers
MAKES 4 SERVINGS (24 POT STICKERS)
4 plums or 2 nectarines
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
24 wonton wrappers (3 1/2-by-3 inches)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) unsalted butter
Cut each plum lengthwise into 3 wedges and then halve each piece crosswise to make a total of 6 pieces from each plum. (If using nectarines, cut each lengthwise into 6 wedges and then halve each piece crosswise to make a total of 12 pieces from each nectarine.) Toss the fruit with 1 tablespoon of the sugar and the lemon juice in a medium bowl.
Spread out the wonton wrappers on a work surface. Place a piece of plum, skin-side down in the center of each. Reserve any juice in the bowl. Brush the edges of each wrapper with water; lift two opposite sides of each wrapper up, and press together above the center of the piece of plum. Pinch the wrapper together very tightly at each end to completely enclose the fruit.
Heat the oil and butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until bubbly, then arrange the pot stickers, seam sides up, in the skillet. Fry them 2 to 3 minutes until the bottoms are pale golden. Add 1/2 cup water, reduce the heat to low, cover the skillet with a lid and cook 5 minutes.
Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar over the pot stickers and cook them 1 to 2 minutes longer or until the liquid has evaporated. Remove the lid and continue to cook until the bottoms of the pot stickers are crisp and golden. Gently loosen the pot stickers, and lift them out onto a serving plate. Stir 1/4 cup water into any juice left in the bowl in which the fruit was tossed. Add the mixture to the skillet, bring it to a boil scraping up the brown bits at the bottom of the pan, and drizzle the liquid over the potstickers; serve hot.
Rustic Berry Tart
MAKES 4 TO 6 SERVINGS
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut in œ-inch cubes
1 large egg yolk
3 to 5 tablespoons ice water
2 cups berries (use whatever berries are the tastiest, local, etc. such as raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, black raspberries, wild strawberries, etc., or a mix.)
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
Confectioners' sugar for dusting
Put oven rack in bottom position and preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Make tart dough: Pulse flour and salt in a food processor until combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add yolk and water, 1 teaspoon at a time; process just until dough clumps together and begins to form a ball.
Flatten dough into a disk about 6-inches wide. Roll out between 2 large sheets of plastic wrap dusted with flour into an 11- to 12-inch round. Occasionally turn round over, lift wrinkled plastic wrap, pull smooth and replace; continue rolling as needed.
Fill tart: Peel off top sheet of wrap and invert onto a 2-by-15-inch baking sheet lined with cooking parchment. Remove remaining plastic wrap and arrange berries in center of pastry, leaving about a 2-inch border. Mix sugar and cornstarch. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons mixture evenly over fruit. Gently fold edges of pastry over berries, pleating dough and leaving an opening 4- to 6- inches wide in center. Lightly brush pastry with egg white and sprinkle with remaining sugar mixture.
Bake tart on bottom rack until crust is golden on bottom and juices bubble, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool on pan at least 15 minutes. Loosen tart from pan while still warm, with wide spatula (especially where juices have leaked out). Transfer to serving platter and serve warm or cool. Cut into wedges. Dust with confectioners' sugar, if desired.