Sunday, December 30, 2007

What I Made Today... New Year's Recipe

Lemon Risotto Cakes

2 tbsp of olive oil
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 yellow onion
1/2 stick Butter
1/2 cup parmesan
1 cup white wine
zest from 1/2 a lemon
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
4 eggs

1 can of chopped tomatoes
5 basil leaves
1/2 onion
1/4 cup carrots

Risotto Directions:

Finely dice the onion (if you want to save time do the same for the marinara). In a large pot add olive oil and cook the onions until they become glossy and aromatic. Take the pot off the burner and pour in the white wine to remove the brown parts on the bottom of the pan - this is also called deglazing. At this point add salt to the rice. Let the wine reduce until there is little to none left in the pan. (When you stir, flip the rice instead of stirring it. This will prevent it from getting mushy). Heat up your chicken stock on the stove, and slowly add it to your rice – also flipping it and scrapping the bottom. The chicken stock should incorporate into the rice slowly. (Be sure to add salt during this whole process, because it will incorporate better than adding it at the end). Continue this process until the rice is cooked (if you squeeze the grain between your fingers it should separate and you should see three small beads between your fingers). At this point you can add butter, lemon zest and parmesan. Let cool.

Next, scoop out balls of the risotto and dip into the egg mixture, and then into the bread crumbs. Form it into a ball, and lay on parchment paper for later use. After you finish all of them you can freeze them for up to a month, or you can put them into the refrigerator for up to three days. Fry them in oil and serve with Marinara and parmesan shavings.

Marinara Directions:

Dice the onions and carrots into equal size. Sautee them in a pot and add a little salt and pepper. Once glistening and soft, add the canned tomato and basil. Simmer for thirty minutes. Then blend in a blender, reserve for later use.

Happy Cooking!

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Ask Mary: Table Setting

Dear Mary,
I know this will probably seem like an obvious question to you, but I’m always wondering how to best set a table. Help!
Thanks so much, Jodi

I always had a hard time remembering how to set a table. Back in the day, without fail, right before my guests arrived, I would run to my drawer filled with placemats and tried, with no luck, to desperately remember what Emily Post would do in this situation (as my gourmet meal started to burn on the stove).

Since rule-book etiquette isn’t second nature for most of us, I decided to draw a picture of my table to keep close at hand for future setting scenarios. Take a look at the picture above to get some ideas. I suggest drawing your own picture to help you stay focused and organized during the pre-dinner planning process. This will help to make the evening stress free, and allow you to focus more on the food.

This is definitely that time of year when you are entertaining more than ever, and when you’re entertaining so frequently, it’s the little touches that make a big difference. Simple touches – like a nicely set table – are worth the extra effort. Place cards add a wonderful touch as well. With a medium to large-sized group, assigned seating in the form of a charming place card is a blessing, and will ensure a really fun night. Just like food, some people go together better than others! Enjoy!

Happy Cooking! Mary

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Holidays!

I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy Chanukah! I will be releasing New Year's Recipes and Tips this week, so be sure to check in!
All the Best,

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Ingredient of the Day: Purple Cabbage

This is a beautiful head of purple cabbage. Packed with anthocyanins, the powerful antioxidant compounds that provide the rich purple and red hues in fruits like raspberries and blackberries, purple cabbage is higher in fiber than green cabbage and chock full of vitamin C.

When I was in culinary school, my chefs told me that if you boil cabbage that you can use the remaining liquid as coloring. Another really cool thing about cabbage is that if you add an acid to it, like balsamic vinegar, the color purple becomes even more vivid and intense (when cooked with an alkaline substance, the color will turn more blue). There are a lot of different ways you can use cabbage. Chop it for salads, use it for lettuce cups, and decorate platters. Use your imagination!

Happy Cooking! Mary

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Cooking with Mary

Cooking challenges us on a daily basis. From burning and over-seasoning to creating delectable culinary delights, I have found that the best cooks make mistakes – and learn to correct them. I want to help you do the same.
By: Chef Mary Payne Moran

Ingredient of the Day...French Bread.

These are Crostini.

Crostini means “little toasts” in Italian, and that’s exactly what they are. Cut on an angle (bias) into fairly thin slices, crostini are delicious served with any number of toppings. In Italy they are mainly served with spreadable påté, but I like to be a little more creative with my sides.

To make crostini, choose a nice French baguette – ciabatta works well – and after cutting, place your slivers on a sheet tray with good olive oil, salt and pepper. Then, stick them in the oven at 350 degrees for 3 to 4 minutes. You will want them to be toasty and firm so that you can use them with dips, baked brie, bruschetta, and so much more. Delicious, crusty and light, crostini are a perfect way to step up any appetizer.

Happy Cooking, Mary

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Spilt Milk

Have you ever had one of those days where nothing seems to go right? After catering a large party the night before, I woke up this morning in desperate need of that perfect cup of coffee. So, I cleaned up my kitchen and excitedly steamed 1% milk with Ghiradelli chocolate in a pot on the stove, whipping it up to create a frothy top for my morning Café Mocha. After I poured my coffee and added the milk and chocolate, I went to set the pot on the stove to cool a little – but I missed the stove top entirely. The pot came crashing to the ground, creating a perfect little mess on my perfectly clean floor. Talk about crying over spilt milk! Every cook has bad days. This morning was mine!

Let's Not Cry Over Spilt Milk!
Happy Cooking,

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What I Made Today...

Potatoes Au Gratin

My Favorite.

3 yukon gold potatoes
1 cup of cream
1/2 cup 1/2 and 1/2
2 cups gruyere cheese
1 leak
lot's of kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Cut the leaks into long strips. Peel the potatoes, and set until all are peeled. Use a mandolin or slice really really thin. Grease a deep pan and begin by putting a little cream on the bottom. Next, layer the potatoes in a circle or spiral shape. Sprinkle salt, cheese, leak and a little half and half and cream. Continue this pattern until you get to the top. When you reach the top, add a lot of cheese. Cook at 325 for 45 minutes to an hour. If the top begins to get too brown you can cover it with foil. Enjoy!

Happy Cooking,

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Sunday, December 9, 2007

Mary in the LA Times Magazine.

December 9th, 2007
The LA Times Magazine
Gingerbread House by: Mary Payne Moran and Elizabeth Belkind

This is what I wrote about my hilarious experience making a Gingerbread House with Chef Elizabeth Belkind. It was a huge challenge because I was traveling to Oklahoma at the time, and Elizabeth was back in California. Thank goodness for the internet! Now, with these 10 easy steps, you'll be able to make a Gingerbread House too, just in time for Christmas – and no matter where you are.

10 Easy Steps to a Gingerbread House!

1. Make sure that there are two of you to share this adventure. It is more satisfying when someone else can pat you on the back. One of you should go to Oklahoma and the other should stay in California.

2. Once he/she is in Oklahoma, the process of creating a pattern begins. Take a photograph of a house (cartoon, real, or drawn) and draw the four sides on cardboard to the desired scale and proceed to cut them out.

3. Tape all four sides together. This will allow you to make sure that everything fits properly.

4. Cut out the roof and any other details necessary to make the house look like the picture, like shutters, chimneys, railings, etc.

5. Detach all pieces and trace them onto large white paper. This is now your pattern.

6. Drive to a copy store and ask an assistant to help you reduce and fax your pattern to California.

7. He/she in California will receive the fax, and it will need to be enlarged to the correct dimensions. A calculator might be necessary. (Again, assistants may be useful in this cross country scenario).

8. Both of you should be in the same city to continue. Cut out the pattern, and trace the pieces to the gingerbread. Bake.

9. Make enough royal icing (Concrete sugar) to fill a bucket and begin to construct the Gingerbread House. It is easier with four hands, as two can hold and one can pipe. This step should be done in a day.

10. Decorate, Garnish, and Admire!

View the LA Times article above and check out the website for the full recipe:,1,3816295.story?coll=la-headlines-latmagazine

Enjoy! Mary

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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Ask Mary...Presentation is half the battle!

Last night, I had the pleasure of cooking for a wonderful group of people. I cooked in their small, but serviceable, kitchen and found that, with just a little bit of planning, you can really do anything with a limited amount of space and equipment.

As I was garnishing the plates and getting ready to serve, something else occurred to me. It is so important to have a complete set of dishes. I’m often asked how many place settings one should have on hand. Dishes usually come in standard sets of eight or 12, but the reality is that you need as many dishes as you have seats around your table. If you have a limited budget, stick to salad and dinner plates as a start because they are the most essential. You can always add the extra pieces later.

Next, I implore everyone to buy simple, white dishes. White dishes really enhance the attractiveness of your food. And they can be relatively inexpensive. Chefs unilaterally prefer to serve food on white plates. Recently, while visiting a place called Bargain Outlet on Fairfax and Beverly in Los Angeles, I purchased white dishes for around $4 to $6 a piece. Not a huge investment, but what a visual improvement. Presentation is half the battle!

Happy Cooking! Mary

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