A feast with friends to ring in 2011!

Our contribution to the fantastic steak dinner:

Herbed Ricotta Bruschetta — yes, I did make cheese! (and yes, it did take two tries. If you give this a whirl, please note that you should stop boiling the milk/cream once it boils. Don’t keep going. Unless you want to send your attractive nuisance to the store for more milk/cream.)

Herbed Ricotta Bruschetta (Barefoot Contessa)


  • 2 cups ricotta, store-bought or homemade (recipe included)
  • 3 tablespoons minced scallions, white and green parts (from about two scallions)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 round sourdough bread
  • Good olive oil
  • 1 whole garlic clove, cut in half


Prepare a charcoal grill with hot coals or turn a gas grill to medium-high heat.

Combine the ricotta, scallions, dill, chives, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and set aside. Cut the bread in half and cut each half into 6 thick slices to make 12 slices total.

When the grill is hot, brush the bread with olive oil and grill on each side for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from the grill and rub each slice of bread with the cut side of the garlic clove. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and spread with the herbed ricotta. Serve 2 warm slices per person with the green salad on the side.

Homemade Ricotta:

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons good white wine vinegar

Set a large sieve over a deep bowl. Dampen 2 layers of cheesecloth with water and line the sieve with the cheesecloth.

Pour the milk and cream into a stainless-steel or enameled pot such as Le Creuset. Stir in the salt. Bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar. Allow the mixture to stand for 1 minute until it curdles. It will separate into thick parts (the curds) and milky parts (the whey).

Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth-lined sieve and allow it to drain into the bowl at room temperature for 20 to 25 minutes, occasionally discarding the liquid that collects in the bowl. The longer you let the mixture drain, the thicker the ricotta. (I tend to like mine on the thicker side, but some prefer it moister.) Transfer the ricotta to a bowl, discarding the cheesecloth and any remaining whey. Use immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The ricotta will keep refrigerated for 4 to 5 days.

And the rest of the feast:

Snap Peas with Pancetta (from Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?)

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound sugar peas, trimmed
  • 1/4 pound pancetta, sliced
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Champagne or white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • 5 tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Bring 2 to 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Fill a large bowl with ice water and have a sieve or colander ready in the sink. Put the snap peas into the boiling water for only 10 to 15 seconds, drain, and put immediately into the ice water. Cool completely and drain. Cut each snap pea in half lengthwise and place in a large bowl.
Meanwhile, place the pancetta and 1 tablespoon of water in a medium saute pan and cook over medium heat until the pancetta is browned and crisp, tossing occasionally to brown evenly. The water will evaporate and the pancetta will render some of its fat. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to cool.
To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, and vinegar. Pour enough vinaigrette on the snap peas to moisten. Add the red onion, crumbled pancetta, Pecorino, 1 teaspoon salt, and the pepper.  Toss well, season to taste, and serve.

Sauteed Wild Mushrooms


  • 2 pounds mixed wild mushrooms, such as cremini, shiitake, porcini, and portobello
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped shallots (4 large)
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic (6 cloves)
  • 1 cup chopped flat leaf parsley


Brush the caps of each mushroom with a clean sponge. Remove and discard the stems. Slice the small mushrooms thickly and cut the large ones in a large dice.

Heat the olive oil in a large (11 – inch) Dutch oven or saucepan. Add the shallots and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, or until the shallots are translucent. Add the butter, mushrooms, salt, and pepper and cook over medium heat for 8 minutes, until they are tender and begin to release their juices, stirring often. Stir in the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Toss in the parsley, sprinkle with salt, and serve warm.

Roasted Onions (Momofuku)

Makes about 1 cup

Onions roasted like this will keep for a week or more in the fridge, so it’s fine to make them well ahead of time. And there’s really almost nothing that they don’t make better—eggs, a roast beef sandwich, you name it. That said, you could also halve this recipe and make half a cup.

  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 6 onions, thinly sliced (about 8 very loosely packed cups)
  • Large pinch of kosher salt

1. Heat the oil in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat for 1 to 1½ minutes, until it’s very, very hot but not smoking. Add the onions to the pan—they will be piled up high, probably to the rim—and let them cook undisturbed for 2 to 3 minutes.

2. Carefully toss the onions and, while doing so, season them with the salt. Now you’ve got 50 or so minutes of onion cookery ahead of you, and given all the eccentricities of pans and heat sources and the variables of moisture in the onions, etc., the best I can do is tell you what you’re doing and what you’re looking for:

a. For the first 15 minutes or so, you want the onions at the bottom of the pan to be slowly but steadily taking on color as they sweat out their liquid. The onions above them are helping this happen by virtue of their weight, gently pressing down the onions below. Do not press down on the onions with a spatula or jack up the heat to try and accelerate this process. Just turn the whole pile of onions over on itself every 3 or 4 minutes during the early going to help distribute the tasty, caramelizing juice the onions are oozing throughout the pile.

b. After the mass of onions in the pan has significantly reduced in volume—the onions are softer and suppler and have fallen considerably—it’s time to turn the heat to medium-low and ride this baby out for as long as it takes, stirring and turning the onions every 10 minutes or so and making sure that they don’t start to stick or burn at any point. This is the part that matters, when the onions soften and sweeten without drying out. Remember: slow and steady wins this race.

c. After 50 minutes or so, you’re going to be about there. The onions will have shrunk from a pile that threatened mutiny to the stovetop to a huddled mass that doesn’t even cover the floor of the pan. They will have a definite sweetness, a deep roasted flavor, and a texture that’s just this side of mushy. Use them straightaway, or let them cool and then store, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to a week or longer.

Lyonnaise Potatoes (Daniel Boulud, from our new cookbook, Chefs at Home)

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/2″ dice
  • 1 1/2 lb. sweet onions, cut into 1/2″ dice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar

Warm the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over a medium-high heat. Add the potatoes and cook, while tossing, for 10 minutes. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the onions are translucent and the potatoes tender, about 5-10 minutes. Pour in the vinegar and cook until it has reduced to a glaze.

In a very large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil until shimmering. Add the potatoes in a slightly overlapping layer and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden and nearly cooked through, about 8 minutes. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes longer. Add 1/2 tablespoon of the vinegar and gently toss to combine. Cover loosely and keep warm.

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