Category Archives: Bookshelf Bombshells

Potato, Prosciutto & Fontina Cakes — Flippant Foodie Friday

The holiday meal: family, friends, good times and high drama all often playing out around the dressed up dining room table. Don’t you ever just wish you could set out a meal to wow them all — you could Cook Like a Rock Star, and leave them speechless, stuffed, and fully sated?

Over at the Bookshelf Bombshells I reviewed Food Network star Anne Burrells’s new book Cook Like a Rock Star. Head on over to check out the full review.

Although there were many recipes from the cookbook I was nearly dying to attempt, truffles and lobster were simply not in my budget for the week. But prosciutto I always have on hand. I paired this savory side with some juicy steaks, but it would be a perfect accompaniment for any holiday roast or turkey.  This dish would certainly impress your In-Laws and put your fussy Aunt Eunice’s plain old mashed potatoes to shame. Wouldn’t that be fun?

Potato, Prosciutto & Fontina Cakes
Serves: 4
Time: About 2 hours

Mise en Place
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
Kosher salt
¼ cup heavy cream
¾ cup freshly grated Fontina cheese
½ cup prosciutto, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 large eggs
Extra virgin olive oil

These lovely cakes need to chill for at least an hour before cooking so if you want to really streamline the operation, make the cakes ahead (even the day before) and stick them in the fridge until you are ready to eat.

  • Put the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water, season the water generously with salt.
  • Bring the water to a boil (BTB) and reduce to a simmer (RTS). Cook the potatoes for 25 to 30 minutes, or until fork-tender. Drain the potatoes well.
  • In a small saucepan, heat the cream.
  • While the potatoes are still hot, mash with a potato masher, leaving them a little lumpy: stir in the hot cream.
  • Mix in the Fontina, prosciutto, and eggs and stir well to combine. Taste and add salt if you need — you probably will.
  • Form the potato mixture into cakes about 2 ½ inches wide and ¾ to 1 inch thick. Put them on a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Coat a large nonstick saute pan with olive oil and bring to high heat. Working in batches, brown the cakes on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Place the browned cakes on a baking sheet and transfer them to the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until heated through.

–Recipe From Cook Like a Rock Star by Anne Burrell                                                           —Photos by Vinobaby

These were trickier than the recipe made them out to be; the stickiness of the freshly mashed potatoes made them hard to work with, even with the recommended refrigeration. The ingredients made a whopping 16 cakes, and could easily have been ample side dish for eight, instead of the suggested four. But they were quite tasty, and these luscious potato cakes sopped up steak juice perfectly.


Flippant Foodie Friday: Crepes {part un}

Have you checked out Bookshelf Bombshells yet?  If not, got there…now.

I have a fabulous review of Cooking For Geeks: Real Science,Great Hacks, and Good Food by Jeff Potter up on the site. Check it out. It will prove that I am a real writer and occasionally intelligent, as well.  The holidays (there are more of them than just Christmas, folks — get over it) are rapidly approaching, and I always have some guys in my life that are just impossible to shop for.  You know who I’m talking about: your techie brother who rarely looks up from a screen, the dear friend who decided to make Napalm in his backyard at age twelve just to see if he could (and still thinks dangerous things are cool) — this book is perfect for them, and perhaps you too. Read the review and see for yourself.

I  pick one recipe to “officially” review per selection, and I simply had to experiment with Jeff Potter’s formula for crepes.  I have had a secret love affair with crepes since I first discovered them at a French Club banquet in high school, but they can be tricky and time consuming to make. This recipe worked. The directions were clear and easy to follow. And they made sense.

I doubled the ingredients and ended up with 12 thin and pliant crepes. My taste testers swooned over them at dinner (with an Apricot-Dijon Chicken filling — I’ll feature THAT recipe next week). And for dessert, Nutella and banana crepes with a chocolate drizzle. {drool} Try it. Your friends and family will thank you.

1-2-3 Crepes

Whisk or puree until entirely mixed, about 30 seconds:
1 cup (250g) milk (preferably whole milk)
2 large (120g) eggs
1/3 cup (40g) flour (all-purpose)
Pinch of salt

Let rest for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, so that the gluten in the flour has a chance to thicken the batter. (Stash the batter in the fridge if you’re going to leave it for more than half an hour.)

Making crepes is like riding a bicycle: it takes practice before it’s easy. Expect to completely screw up the first few you make (training wheels!), and keep in mind that while the batter is easy and the technique simple, the error tolerances are actually pretty tight, so don’t get discouraged! Like riding a bicycle, it’s far easier to :: fast; going slow is hard.

Start with a nonstick frying pan over medium-high up the pan for about 30 seconds, or until a drop of water sizzles when dropped into it. Once your pan is at temperature, plan to work quickly: butter, wipe down, pour batter in while swirling, flip, flip again, add fillings, plate, and repeat. Because they’re fast and cheap, crepes are great for dinner parties or brunches, but you should definitely practice beforehand.

Butter: Grab a cold stick of butter with the wrapper partially pulled back, and using the wrapper part as a handle, spread a small amount of butter around the pan.

Wipe down: Use a paper towel to thin out the butter over the surface of the pan, wiping up almost all of it (and on repeats, any crumbs left behind from the previous crepe). The pan should look almost dry; you want a super-thin coating of butter, not noticeable streaks.

Pour: Pour in the batter while swirling the pan. Pour about 1/4 cup / 60 ml of batter into a 10″ / 25 cm pan, adjusting as necessary (you want enough batter to just coat the bottom evenly). While pouring in the batter with one hand, use your other hand to hold the pan in the air and swirl it so that the batter runs and spreads over the surface of the pan. If you can pour batter out of the pan after swirling, you’re using too much. If you’re short on batter, you can “spot pour” a bit in to fill in the gap. This is also the point at which you should check the heat of the pan; it should be hot enough that the batter develops a lace-like quality — little holes all over the crepe as the steam tunnels up through the batter. If your crepes come out whitish, turn up the heat.

Flip: Wait until the crepe begins to brown. Don’t poke, don’t prod; just let it cook. Once the crepe has begun to brown around the edges, use a silicone spatula (one of those folding spatulas works well) to push down the edge all around the circumference. This will release the edge of the crepe so that it lifts off the pan. Carefully grab that little edge to flip the crepe with both hands.

Flip Again: Let the crepe cook on the second side for half a minute or so, until it’s cooked. The first side should come out a uniformly brown tone, so flip the crepe again before adding the fillings. This will leave the better-looking side on the outside of the finished crepe.

Add fillings: Add whatever fillings you like. You can heat and even cook the fillings by leaving the pan on the heat during this step. Or, you can move the crepe to a plate and fill it off the heat if you’re using something cold (e.g., lox, cream cheese, dill). Crepes are a great vehicle for almost any filling, either savory or sweet. If a combination of ingredients works on pizza or in a pie, it’ll probably work in a crepe.

– From Cooking for Geeks by Jeff Potter

Bombshells and Blueberry Puppy Dogs

Have I mentioned that I am a Bombshell yet?

Bookshelf Bombshells is the brainchild of several close friends who have a few crucial things in common: they all read, they all have opinions, and they all have breasts. Clearly, the way forward would be to share all of those things with the Internet (metaphorically so, for that last bit). Thus was born Bookshelf Bombshells, book reviews and author interviews by beautiful, brainy women. Our staff of literate ladies are hot for everything between the covers, from vicious vampires to juicy memoirs, from hard science to soft romance. We lust for the well-written word.

I was tickled when I was invited to be the Food & Wine Book Reviewer.  A chance to read  cookbooks, foodie memoirs, and drink guides before they are released?  The opportunity to test new recipes before their collections hit the bookshelves? Oh, yeah…I did not have to be asked twice.  I am also the reigning Copy Kitten — which basically means I (along with several other brilliant women) get to proof everyone else’s work. Rather amusing, considering half the time I barely have the chance to proof my own words before I throw them up on this site.

Of course, I chose to test out the recipe featuring one of my all-time favorite indulgences, limoncello.

10cl limoncello
2cl lemon juice
2cl simple syrup (sugar and water mix)
1 cup of blueberries
10cl carbonated water
A delightful frozen cocktail for hot summer afternoons. In a blender or with a hand blender mix the blueberries with lemon juice, simple syrup, and limoncello until they form a rough slush. Add the carbonated water and freeze for two hours. When ready to serve thaw for twenty minutes and spoon the icy slushy mixture into tall glass. Drink with a straw and maybe garnish with a sprinkle of chopped blueberries.
-From Slippery Tipples by Joseph Piercy

Are your lips smacking yet? You know you want to read more. For the full book review (and many more spanning genres from chick lit to urban fantasy with a plethora of others mixed in) head over to the Bookshelf Bombshells site, follow us on Twitter @bookshelfbmshls, or “like” us on Facebook.