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11 May 2015

Steak Salad



This post is less about a recipe than it is about a concept of a meal.  I whipped up this steak salad a few days back from a great variety of goodies in the fridge, it was the perfect meal for a warm spring evening.  Once I had everything arranged on the platter I drizzled a quick homemade balsamic vinaigrette over the whole shebang and served it up with a crispy artisan loaf fresh from the oven.  As simple as this dish was, I was amazed that so many at the table commented on how they never think to make a salad like this as a way to use up leftover meat.

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04 May 2015

Lemon Ricotta Cake with Pistachios

Lemon ricotta cake - Blog 3873


As promised, here is a recipe for all of you industrious types that went about making homemade ricotta after reading last week's post.  I made a double batch of the batter that yielded 2 loaves, and tossed one in the freezer for consuming later.  It'll be a great thing to pull out for last minute company.

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27 April 2015

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

  Bowl of ricotta - Blog 3867


Man......if I had only known how simple making my own homemade ricotta was, I would have tried it YEARS ago.  The only special pieces of equipment you need are some swaths of cheesecloth and an instant-read thermometer.  With these tools on-hand and about an hours worth of time, I'm here to tell you that if you can stir a spoon, you can make ricotta.  I can also say without hesitation, that once you've made your own you will likely never buy it from a store again.

It is SO much better than any you'll find in a market, and such a simple-magical thing to make, that I bet soon you'll be scouring the net searching for all sorts of recipes in which to use the pillows of ricotta that will be flowing like a river of lava from your kitchen.  Classic options might include using it as a stuffing for ravioli or for layering into a homemade lasagna.  

Feeling like something a little sweet instead?  

Check back next week and I'll share the recipe I found to put this very batch of ricotta to good use, its one for a delicious Lemon-Ricotta Cake.

As fate would have it, I've been assigned to make homemade ricotta for an upcoming America's Test Kitchen TV shoot (thank goodness NOT as on-air talent, but as a little kitchen drone working in the background), so I was happy to get a little at-home experience with the process before hitting it in the test kitchen. If I'm to be totally honest though, it's so simple to make, practice is hardly necessary.  Maybe that's why they gave the recipe to me, the test kitchen newbie, to swing with on TV day !  ;-) 

Now go off and make some cheese, it'll be fun!

Cheers - Steve


Homemade Ricotta Cheese

by: Cathy Whims from Fine Cooking Magazine | Issue 134

(Print Friendly Version)



  •  1 gallon whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbs. flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
  • 1/2 cup fresh, strained lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)



  1. Line a colander with 3 to 4 layers of lightly dampened cheesecloth, and set it in a clean sink or large bowl.
  2. Clip an instant-read or candy thermometer to the side of a heavy-duty 7- to 8-quart pot. Put the milk and cream in the pot and slowly warm it over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a silicone spatula, until it’s 185°F, about 20 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat, stir in the salt, and then slowly pour the lemon juice over the surface of the milk. Once all of the lemon juice has been added, stir gently for 1 to 2 minutes to encourage curds to form.
  4. Gently ladle the curds into the prepared colander. Fold the ends of the cheesecloth over the curds to loosely cover. Drain until it reaches your desired consistency, 30 minutes for a soft ricotta and up to 24 hours for a very firm, dry, dense ricotta. Refrigerate if draining for more than a couple of hours. Transfer the drained ricotta to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

Yields about 4 1/2 cups ricotta

20 April 2015

Peanut Butter Brownies

Finished brownies - Blog 3865


I'm baaaack.....

Hey gang, I'm sorry it's been a while since I've posted, but its taken me a few weeks to get my schedule organized after starting my new job to where I've been able to put some time aside for Oui, Chef.  It turns out that I started at America's Test Kitchen at the very busiest time of year, with everyone scrambling to get ahead on their magazine or cookbook work before much of the month of May is lost to filming the ATK television series.  As such, I've had the opportunity to be involved with some work that I otherwise might have had to wait months to try, and while in many ways its been cool, its also been a little overwhelming.

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04 April 2015

Honey Walnut Bars

Finished cookies - Blog 3863

Just a quick post today as I have such a busy weekend what with the Easter holiday AND a family birthday to shop-plan-cook for, but it's been a while since I posted and I'm anxious to check in with you all.

First, I had a GREAT week working my new gig at America's Test Kitchen.  Everyone I've met, and especially my teammates at Cook's Illustrated have been awesome.  They've been incredibly helpful, welcoming and PATIENT as I work to quickly learn the ropes and become a fully contributing member of the team.  After a few days of HR and IT "new hire" stuff I was in the kitchen getting started on two new recipes I'm developing.  I've got a ton to learn, but I'm already having a blast in the mix with some seriously talented cooks.  So fun!

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30 March 2015

Some Exciting News To Share ......



Those of you who have been with us for a while have heard me talk about the work I do with the Share Our Strength organization as a Chef Instructor in their "Cooking Matters" cooking classes.  The classes, which teach basic cooking skills to folks struggling with food insecurity and providing meals for their families on a very tight budget, have been a rewarding and important part of my volunteer life for years now.  Arming these families with the culinary tools that allow them to lessen their dependency on take-out or highly processed foods, and equiping them for productive time in their own kitchens, cooking for their families, has been life-changing work for me.

That said, each class touches only 12-16 families at a time, and I have long hoped to find another avenue, in addition to my teaching with Cooking Matters, where I could leverage both my knowledge of cooking, and desire to teach these important skills by reaching a wider audience.  

I've learned through my teaching that one of the most important tools for the budding home cook is a repertoire of rock solid recipes from which to draw both inspiration and confidence.  Recipes that are so well researched and written that they practically guarantee success, even for cooks just taking their first few baby steps in the kitchen.  Working from quality recipes can quickly lead to kitchen confidence, and go a long way in convincing people that YES THEY CAN cook affordable, tasty and nutritious food for their families.

As luck would have it, one of the premiere resources for such recipes is "America's Test Kitchen", located in Brookline, MA.  Through their magazine publications "Cook's Illustrated" and "Cook's Country", along with their cookbook division and radio and TV shows, America's Test Kitchen develops, tests and publishes recipes that millions have come to love and trust over the years.  Some time ago my wife suggested that I look into working there as a means of sharing my passion for home cooking with more families, and after a sustained period of hemming and hawing and dragging of feet, I decided she was probably right.

I'm excited to share with all of you today, that after a lengthy and detailed vetting process I've been offered a job within the ATK family and will be joining them starting TODAY!  To be precise, I'll be working as a Test Cook and Food Writer for Cook's Illustrated Magazine the bi-monthly flagship publication of the organization.  As a Test Cook I'll be responsible for researching, developing, and testing my own original recipes for the magazine, then writing about the ins and outs, and successes and failures of the development process in an article that will present the recipe in its final form for publication.

I'm pretty freaking excited, I must say.

What will all this mean for "Oui, Chef" you ask?  Hopefully not too much as I really enjoy our time here chatting about cooking and sharing great recipes, and have no intention of shutting down my little blog anytime soon.  I'm anticipating that my posts will be less frequent as I work to get my legs under me in the new job, and ask for your patience as I slip from two to one post a week for a stretch.

 While I'll be precluded from sharing "behind the scenes" info from my time in the test kitchen (they understandably don't want me blabbing about upcoming features in the magazine), I'll be sure to let you know how things are going once I get settled in.

I guess that's all for now.  Thank you all for being part of our Oui, Chef family and making this such a fun gig.  I'll see you back here very soon!

Cheers - Steve


24 March 2015

Quinoa Cookies

Quinoa cookies - Blog 3854


These are a slight twist on some cookies I made a couple of years back that I pitched as a perfect breakfast treat.  

I know, cookies for breakfast....what could be better, huh?  Especially if you've got kids.  I mean can you imagine the love that will be flowing your way when you tell them you've made them cookies for breakfast?

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20 March 2015

Paleo Granola

  Granola wide - Blog 3851


Paleolithic eating, or "Paleo" for short is all the rage these days.  In a nutshell, the paleo diet consists  of foods that only our most ancient ancestors would have eaten, like lean meats, fruits, nuts, and vegetables (this all prior to the advent of agrarian living).  Conspicuously absent from a paleo diet are more "modern" foods such as dairy products, wheat,  grains and legumes, and all forms of processed sugar.  As someone who is pretty careful about my sugar intake and not particularly sensitive to wheat products (no gluten intolerance here) I've never given the paleo diet much of a thought, but if this recipe is any indication, then perhaps its worth a second look. 

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17 March 2015

Haricot Vert Salad Nicoise

Haricot vert - Blog 3854


This salad was inspired by one I ate a few times while living in Paris.  While there, we occasionally grabbed lunch at a trendy little joint called L'Avenue on avenue Montaigne in the city's chic 8th arrondissement.  There was hardly anything better than sitting on the restaurant's terrace on a spring day, washing down a chilled haricot vert salad with a crisp chablis, all the while watching the beautiful people pass by on their way to spending oodles of ching on Paris' premiere fashion shopping street.

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10 March 2015

Twice Baked Potatoes

  Potato wide - Blog 3849


Every time I make twice baked potatoes I curse myself for not making them more often.  They are hardly more work than a traditional baked potato, and while the ingredients aren't really different (I usually put butter, sour cream and chives on my baked spuds) something magical seems to happen when you fully mix the topping into the flesh of the potato and send it back into the oven for a quick stay at finishing school. 

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