Category Archives: Uncategorized

No Reservations: Fennel, Apple and Grape Salad with Cinnamon Vinaigrette

A few years ago, I followed my boyfriend on a trip to Berlin that he had to take for work.  One night we somehow ended up in an ornately decorated Moroccan  restaurant. Neither of us speak German very well, so we sat there flipping through the menu with no idea what to order. Our very enthusiastic waiter, who spoke some English, could see that we needed some guidance. He turned to the second page of the menu, pointed passionately at something and asked with an enormous grin and raised eyebrows  “Do you like FLESH!?”

There’s a restaurant here in LA that I love called Animal. Yes, it’s named that because they serve a lot of well, flesh.  I’ve only been there once because it’s very difficult to get a reservation. Thankfully, the one time I was there my server manipulated me in to buying the chefs Jon Shook & Vinny Dotolo’s cookbook Two Dudes, One Pan. (FYI: The foie gras with biscuit and sausage gravy recipe is NOT in the cookbook, so if you’re server tells you that he’s lying.) In the end, he did me a huge favor because a) I didn’t realize at the time that I would never be able to get a reservation again and b) I use the cookbook all the time.

This salad is adapted from that cookbook. It contains no flesh and I’ve made it so many times. I usually add some greens to the original recipe and substitute almonds for pine nuts. Spring is almost here, so enjoy it before this winter special goes out of season.

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Filed under Heather Platt, In Season, Salad, Uncategorized, Winter

Saint Patrick’s Day Picks: Irish Soda Bread with Raisins

This bread is really good. I had never made Irish soda bread before. In fact, I had never tasted it either. But in honor of Saint Patrick’s Day, I made a loaf. And in doing so I realized two very important things. Number one being  that it’s the easiest bread I’ve ever made before. And number two, it’s completely delicious. It requires no yeast, no rising and no kneading. This particular recipe is slightly sweet. So even if you’re not Irish and have no intention at all of celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day, I recommend making this loaf anyway. It’s a wonderful breakfast treat with a cup of hot coffee!

Enjoy!

Heather

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Filed under Bread, Breakfast, Brunch, Heather Platt, Uncategorized

Saint Patrick’s Day Picks: Braised Red Cabbage

I’m not Irish.  But I do love an excuse to drink Guiness and  make corned beef and cabbage for dinner.  Thankfully, March is here, and as we count down to St. Patrick’s day, one recipe at a time, I have a reason to make my favorite cabbage; red cabbage braised in vinegar. Don’t be fooled by how easy this dish is to make. It has a lot of flavor and serves as a delicious and elegant side dish for fish, poultry, and this month corned beef. It’s also really light and healthy!

Enjoy!

Heather

Braised Red Cabbage

Serves 6

  • 1 large head red cabbage, quartered and sliced crosswise in to 1/2 inch strips
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sherry wine
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

In a 2-quart heavy dutch oven, melt butter and heat oil over medium-high.  Add onions and garlic and cook until fragrant, about five minutes. Add the cabbage and cook until it begins to wilt, stirring occasionally.  Add the sherry, vinegars, water, and cumin. Stir and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and let simmer until cabbage is very tender, about 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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Filed under Gluten-free, Heather Platt, Side, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Lovely Lunches: Caprese Sandwiches with Basil Walnut Pesto


Someone once asked me “If you could only eat one thing every day for the rest of you life, what would it be?”  I said, “That’s easy. A really good sandwich.” I love sandwiches. What’s more satisfying than sinking your teeth into a balanced combination of meat cheese and vegetables pressed between two slices of bread? I think the first thing I learned how to say confidently in French during my semester in Paris was “Je voudrais un sandwich au poulet, s’il vous-plait.” or “I would like  a chicken sandwich, please.” at the local boulangerie.  Obviously, the ingredients you use are important. I personally think that fresh bread is an important factor in a sandwich’s deliciousness. Also homemade condiments such as mayonnaise, aioli, or in this case, pesto make for a superior sandwich. Pesto is one of those magic foods that takes no time to make but packs so much exciting flavor. And if we all could manage to keep our basil plants alive, it’s also something that you could make without having to go to the store, toss it with some pasta and dinner is ready. This recipe will leave you with some extra pesto which can be tossed with pasta or used however you desire.

Enjoy!

Heather

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Filed under Heather Platt, Lunch, Main Course, Uncategorized

Happy Birthday, Ben! Chocolate Layer Cake

I think of myself as more of a cook than a baker. This is probably a good thing for a few reasons. Number one being, it seems  more practical to make dinner every night than to be baking dozens of snickerdoodles every day. Also, I simply can’t handle cooking dinner and making dessert. It overwhelms me. It has to be one or the other so I usually choose dinner. And finally, I would probably be 500 pounds if I baked as much as I cook. That having been said, as my sweet boyfriend’s birthday approached I was very excited for the excuse to whip up something sugary and buttery. I asked him ten times what his favorite kind of cake is and he said chocolate each time. (I think I get repetitive when I’m excited.)

I remember this one time when I was teenager in my parents kitchen. I had just cooked something and thinking I was alone in the house said out loud to myself as I tasted it, “This is delicious, if I do say so myself.” And my dad yelled down from upstairs. “It’s okay to say so yourself!” Well, I have to say that despite my lack of experience as a pastry chef, this is the most moist delicious cake I’ve ever tasted. And there’s no better way to say Happy Birthday than with a gooey, creamy and delicious homemade chocolate layer cake, if I do say so myself.

Happy Birthday, Ben!

Chocolate Layer Cake

Serves 8-10

For cake:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter (1 tablespoon for greasing pans, 7 tablespoons melted)
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups fine baking sugar
  • 3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

For frosting:

  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 350F. Using 1 tablespoon of butter, grease 2 (8-inch) round cake pans.

In a large bowl, add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix together with an electric mixer on low speed until combined. In a separate, smaller bowl, combine the milk, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the brewed coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pans and bake for 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for a few minutes until cool enough to handle then turn them upside to remove onto a rack to cool completely. If the cake is sticking in the pan, gently tap the sides and bottom of pan to loosen the cake.

While cake is baking and cooling, MAKE FROSTING.

In a large bowl, mix together with an electric mixer confectioners sugar, butter, vanilla extract, and milk. If frosting seems too thick, add more more milk. Reserve 1/2 cup of white frosting for decorating. Add cocoa powder and continue mixing with the electric mixer until frosting is smooth and creamy.

When cake is done cooling, place one layer bottom side (flat side) up on a flat plate. Using a spatula, place a heaping dollop of frosting on top of first layer. This will be the middle layer of frosting so be sure to put enough in. Carefully place the second layer of cake on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting on top and sides of the cake.

frosting the cake

Fill an empty plastic ketchup container with reserved white frosting and decorate as desired!

Enjoy!

Heather

The best part! Decorating!

Proud baker

Happy Birthday Boy

Yum!

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Filed under Cake, Dessert, Heather Platt, Super Bowl, Uncategorized

Easy, Breezy, Beautiful Rack of Lamb

The most important thing about cooking a special dinner is choosing something to make that is exciting and fancy while not going outside of your cooking comfort zone. I’ve gotten myself in trouble and in to pretty cranky moods for this reason in the past, spending entire holidays in the kitchen because I’ve decided to single-handedly cook a three course  dinner of things I’ve never made before. Or, forcing my patient boyfriend to eat dinner at 11:30pm because I’ve decided to embark on a recipe that takes longer than I presumed. So when I was asked to cook for an intimate New Year’s Eve dinner, I wanted something that would feel like a special occasion, without having to start cooking in the middle of the day. Also, I wasn’t even going to be cooking in my house, so I had to find something that I could make in a few hours or less. This rack of lamb recipe is really easy and takes less than 40 minutes.  The most important thing is being careful when flipping the lamb in the skillet. Oil spatter is extremely hot, be sure to protect your hands and use long tongs. I served it with pan roasted turnip gratin and roasted brussels sprouts. Everyone was so thrilled and impressed.  It was the perfect way to welcome the New Year.

Enjoy!

Heather

Rack of lamb after searing, before roasting

Pan-Roasted Rack of Lamb with Thyme, Rosemary, and Garlic

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:

  • 3 2 lb racks of lamb, Frenched and trimmed of access fat
  • 9 garlic cloves, crushed with a mortar and pestle
  • ½ cup fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ rosemary,  chopped
  • Kosher Salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 450˚. Have ready a large oven proof roasting pan, big enough for all three racks of lamb. Remove lamb from refrigerator  and rub with garlic, chopped herbs, salt and pepper. Let stand, covered in herbs and garlic until it has reached room temperature, approx.. 30 minutes. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a 12″ cast-iron grill pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Remove herb and garlic mixture from one rack of lamb and reserve in roasting pan.  Place first rack lamb fat side down and cook, using tongs to flip and sear the bottom and sides of the rack, until browned, about 10 minutes. Be very careful of oil splatter. Turn lamb fat side up in the skillet and scatter reserved herbs and garlic on lamb in skillet. Remove rack of lamb and place in roasting pan. Collect garlic and herbs that have fallen in to the skillet and place on top of lamb in roasting pan. Repeat with two more racks of lamb.

Roast the three racks until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of the meat reads 130˚ for medium rare, about 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before slicing into chops and serving.

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Filed under Gluten-free, Heather Platt, Main Course, Meat, Uncategorized

Grown-Up Desserts: Poached Pears with Mascarpone

Before now, I had always only fantasized about making poached pears for a dinner party. They are by far the most elegant of desserts. And I clearly remember the first time I ate one, which had been poached in red wine and filled with mascarpone, my mood changing from very cranky to extremely happy  with every bite.  This mood-altering introduction to poached pears occurred at my parents friend’s Agatha and Charlie’s house in Florida. Agatha and Charlie are the kind of food-experts I aspire to be. They have every tool for culinary success you could possible imagine. Charlie went to pastry-chef school and spends a lot of time baking bread and other perfect baked goods as well as rolling out long sheets of homemade pasta dough to make the best raviolis I’ve ever eaten.  He did show me how to make these pears years ago, and despite his encouragement, I was intimidated by trying it on my own, without a real pastry chef overseeing my work.

This past New Year’s Eve that changed. With five close friends, who I knew would like me no matter what happened to our dessert, I gave it a go. It’s really not that hard…at all. My friend Vinnie gazed happily at the first poached pear as I removed it from the simmering wine and set it straight up on it’s mascarpone-decorated plate.

“I feel so grown up.” He said. Vinnie comes from a family of serious food-experts including a Bon Appetit Magazine editor sister and a mom who works at William-Sonoma in exchange for excellent kitchen equipment rather than a pay check.  I admire both of these jobs.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because I remember my mom making these when I was a kid and thinking ‘who would want to eat FRUIT for dessert?’ but now it looks delicious!”

Needless to say, 2011 is off to a very sweet start.

Enjoy!

Heather

Red Wine Poached Pears with Mascarpone

  • 6 firm Bartlett pears, peeled with stems in tacked
  • 1 1/2 bottles red wine
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 8-oz. containers Marscapone cheese
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

In 4-quart heavy sauce pan, add wine and equal parts water. Add sugar to desired degree of sweetness, bay leaves and cinnamon and bring to a simmer. Add pears and let simmer in liquid until very tender, about 30 minutes. When pears are done, remove  the pot from heat and let the pears cool in the wine. (If you’re in a hurry, remove them from wine and let  cool at room temperature.) While pears are cooling, make the mascarpone filling. In a medium bowl, whisk together mascarpone cheese, heavy cream, a pinch of cinnamon and confectioner’s sugar until smooth and combined. When pears are cool enough to handle, slice off the top portion of each pear and reserve. Using an apple corer or long thin knife, carefully remove the stems from the pear.  Pears should remain intact with a hole in the center to fill with cheese mixture. Using a spatula, transfer cheese mixture in to a plastic sandwich or freezer bag. Using clean kitchen scissors, cut off a very small corner of a plastic sandwich bag. Pipe filling into the cored pears and place the stems on top of the mascarpone filling on top of pears. Pipe remaining filling in circles on to six dessert plates and place pears in the center of each plate.

Bring sauce up to a simmer and reduce by half. Add butter to reduced sauce and stir until combined. Pour sauce over pears and serve extra sauce on the side.

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Filed under Dessert, Fall, Gluten-free, Heather Platt, Uncategorized, Vegetarian, Winter