"What's for Dinner?!" I'm always thinking about it, thought I'd share.

"What's for Dinner?!" I'm always thinking about it, thought I'd share.

Monday, December 31, 2018

It’s Winter, Let’s Grill! Skewer Fun!

The middle of winter is the best time to think about grilling outside. I grill year round, but it’s never too early to think about the warm weather, a chilled beverage, and some beautifully grilling meats over the hot coals. Skewers are the perfect vessel and you can be very creative. Here are a couple of really fun recipes.

 Sweet and Spicy Bacon with ScallionGinger Relish
 These beauties need to be attended to go the entire time they are on the grill to minimize the rocks. Be patient and you will be rewarded. If you try to rush them, they’ll burn to a crisp.

6 scallions, thinly slice
1 Serano chile, thinly slice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon finely grated peel ginger
1/2 teaspoon light brown sugar
Kosher salt

Bacon and assembly-

Vegetable oil (for grill)
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons sambal oelek
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sriracha
1/2 pound thick cut bacon
Lime wedges (for serving)

(8) 8”-12” long metal skewers

Relish: toss scallions, chile, lime juice, oil, ginger, & brown sugar in a medium bowl. Season with salt, mix and reserve.

Prepare grill for medium high, indirect heat (for a charcoal grill, bank calls on one side of the grill. For a gas grill, leave one or two burners off) oil grate. Combine honey, sambal oelek, vinegar, and sriracha in a small bowl. Set glaze aside.

Thread bacon onto 6 to 8 skewers, folding back and forth in accordion style. Grill over indirect heat, turning every minute or so or until browned and crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. Base with reserved glaze turning every 30 seconds or so, until lacquered and slightly sticky, about three minutes (move to and even cooler spot if needed to keep glaze from scorching). Serve bacon with relish and lime wedges, Enjoy!

Do ahead: glaze can be made one week ahead covered and chilled in the refrigerator.

Cumin-Chile Lamb with Garlic Yogurt

Garlic Yogurt:
1 clove garlic, grated
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon  black pepper corns
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sugar
Vegetable oil ( for grill)
1 1/2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Finally grated lemon zest, for serving

To make yogurt stir garlic, lemon zest, and lemon juice into yogurt in a small bowl to combine. Season with salt and pepper. This can be made three days ahead. Cover and chill.

Coarsely grind  cumin seeds, peppercorns, caraway seeds, red pepper flakes, and sugar and spice mill or with the mortar and pesto until only a few whole spices remain.

Prepare a grill for medium high in direct heat (for a charcoal grill, bank calls on one side of the grill. For a gas grill, leave one or two burners off).
Oil grates. Thread lamb on to 6-8 skewers, leaving a small gap between each piece of meat. Season with salt, then sprinkle generously with spice blend, pressing it onto the meat with your hands to help it adhere if needed. Grill lamb over direct heat, turning every minute or so, until browned and beginning to char in spots, about 4 minutes. Move to cooler side of grilling continue to cook lamb until desired doneness, about 4 minutes longer for medium rare.

Top garlic yogurt with cracked black pepper and a little lemon zest. Serve along side the lamb. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Kale, Swiss chard, and shrimp stuffing

 One of my clients was kind enough to overnight a couple of beautiful Maine lobsters to us yesterday. It was completely unexpected, but we were very excited. I decided to make the stuffing and roast them off  in a very hot oven. It was delicious and a fantastic presentation. This stuffing would be delicious by itself if you bump up the amount of shrimp or add another fish like cod or any firm white fish. The recipe can be used with any fish or even chicken or beef for a play on surf and turf. Enjoy!

1 Tbsp. Olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 shallot, peeled and minced
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 rib celery, washed and thinly sliced
1/2 # raw shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped small
1 bunch Tuscan kale, washed, ribs removed and thinly sliced
1 bunch Swiss chard, washed and thinly sliced (stems too)
1/4 C. White wine
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp fresh thyme
Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

2 live lobsters, split lengthwise

Preheat oven to 425°F

In a large sauté pan heat olive oil and butter over medium high heat. Add shallots and celery, sweat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute.  Add thinly slice kale and Swiss chard, season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook until wilted. Add shrimp, mix thoroughly and Koch just until shrimp starts turning opaque. Add wine and deglaze pan. Add thyme, mix and cook another minute.  Remove from heat and transferred to large mixing bowl. Allow mixture to come to room temperature. Add breadcrumbs Parmesan cheese and mayonnaise. With a large kitchen spoon mix to incorporate.

Place split lobsters on sheet tray, stuff body cavity and tail with stuffing. Squeeze fresh lemon over stuffing and place into hot oven for 20 to 25 minutes until stuffing  is golden brown and lobster is cooked. Remove and let sit for five minutes, serve and enjoy!

*  if I was preparing this as a meal by adding additional fish, I would grease a casserole dish, add  stuffing to dish, then in hot oven and cook for 20 to 25 minutes until the top is golden brown. I would  serve with rice or even a potato dish. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Broccoli Salad

1 C. Mayonnaise
1/4 C. White Sugar
1/4 C. Cider vinegar
8 C. small head broccoli (just break up the large head into bite-sized pieces)
1/2 C. dried cranberries
1/4 C. Green onions, sliced thin 
1/4 C. Pecans, roughly chopped 
1 # smoked bacon, cooked and crumbled 
1/2 C. shredded Cheddar and Colby cheese
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

In a large mixing bowl combine mayonnaise, sugar and cider.  Mix well with a whisk to blend.  Add all the other ingredients and correct seasoning with salt and pepper.  Serve and Enjoy!

Monday, November 19, 2018

Spicy Pulled Pork and Chile Stew

Nothing is better on a cold winter night then a bowl of warm spicy chili. My inspiration for this came from wanting to make a white chicken chili, but the chicken was frozen and I didn’t feel like going through the hassle of defrosting and cooking it. We had some pulled pork in the fridge already prepared (thanks Sam's club) and thought adding butternut squash and potatoes would be a nice addition. The result was a smoky, tender pork and mild heat of the diced green chilies provided an excellent flavor combination and really lends itself to the comforting warmth of the dish without overpowering spice.  Enjoy!

* please note that I do not measure out my spices, salt and pepper when throwing together a new recipe. I eye them out and just add a little of this and a little of that. It comes with years of experience, you may need to correct the amounts to your particular tastes.

2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. butter
1 medium Red onion, diced
1 medium Carrot, diced
1 rib Celery, diced
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 1/2# smoked pulled pork (I like Sam’s club’s)
1 cup peeled and diced butternut squash
1 russet potato, peeled and diced
1 cup chicken stock
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes

1 15 oz. can white beans
1 can green chiles

3 Bay leaves
1 Tbsp. Cumin 
1 Tbsp. Chile powder  
2 tsp. Paprika
2 tsp. Thyme
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste 

Avocado slices
Dollop of Sour cream
Tortilla chips

 In a large stock pot put olive oil and butter over medium high heat to get hot. Add onion, celery, carrots and sweat for 5 minutes. Add garlic, cook for an additional minute and then add squash and potato. Mix and cook for 5 minutes. Add pulled pork, tomatoes, stock, beans, chiles, Bay leaves, and spices. Correct seasoning with salt and pepper. (depending on personal preference, you may want to add additional spices as well)

Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes or until potatoes and squash are tender. Cover, turn off heat and let sit for 30 minutes. 

To serve, ladle into bowls, top with a couple of slices of avocado and a dollop of sour cream and serve with tortilla chips.  Enjoy!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Itailan Sunday Dinner Braciole and Sauce

I love this one.  It is one of those recipes that has become one of our family classics and will show up at many of the holidays and large family gatherings.  Yes, it's work and takes a couple days preparation, but you will be rewarded with everyone never missing a meal at your house once they've had it and know it's on the menu.  This is that good! 
The day before you want to serve this dish prep the Braciole and make the meatballs.  I have made the entire dish, sauce and all a day or two ahead (just gets better with time) and reheated for my dinner party.  Doing it ahead makes for a stress free party and you can enjoy family and friends rather than being in the kitchen. Enjoy!

Serves an army!

2 # Beef top round, sliced thin (have butcher do two 1# pieces)
1/2 C. breadcrumbs
1/4 C. chopped garlic
1/4# Soppressata, sliced thin
1/4# provolone cheese, sliced
kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
kitchen twine, to tie meat

1/2# each ground beef, pork, and veal
2 eggs
3/4 C. fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 C. milk
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/4 C. grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. chopped parsley
kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

2 Tbsp. butter
1/4 C. each diced onion, celery, and carrot
8 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and sliced as thin as you can
3 bay leaves
2 cans whole San Marzano tomatoes (crush by hand and reserve in bowl)
1 small can tomato paste
1 C. chicken stock
2 Tbsp. oregano
1/2 C. fresh basil, coarse chopped
kosher salt and pepper, to taste

At least 1# rigatoni pasta or any wide, large pasta (amount depends on the size of the crowd, good rule of thumb is 3/4 C. dry pasta per person)
1 rack baby back ribs, cut into individual ribs
1 # sweet Italian fennel sausage
1# fresh Ricotta cheese
1/2 C. grated pecorino cheese, extra for the table
1/2 C. chopped fresh Italian flat leaf parsley

Braciole- you're making a rolled up log that when cut will look like a pinwheel.

Pound out the beef to about an 1/8 of an inch thickness, thin but not too thin to rip the meat.  Season with salt and pepper.  Lay down the Soppressata, then provolone on top of the meat, sprinkle on garlic, breadcrumbs, and parsley.  Taking an edge of the meat, roll away from you to form a log.  Use kitchen twine to tie, not too tight, but to secure the roll.  Wrap each in plastic wrap and reserve in the refrigerator overnight.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a small mixing bowl combine breadcrumbs and milk.  Let absorb for 5 minutes.  Reserve.  In a large mixing bowl combine the rest of the ingredients.  Add breadcrumb and milk mixture.  I wash my hands very well and mix this all by hand, squishing the mixture between my finger to insure a really thorough mix.  I then taste test (you don't want to cook the entire batch to find they are under seasoned)  by heating a small frying pan, take a small amount of the mixture flatten to a disk and cook it until done.  I taste and correct the mixture if need be.  Portion mixture out to make 2-3" diameter (or any size you like) meatballs and place on a greased baking sheet.  Once all the mixture is balled up, place meatballs in the oven and cook for about 40 minutes or until browned and cooked through.  Remove from oven, let cool to room temperature.  Place in large ziplocked bag and reserve in the refrigerator until making the dish. (this can be done 3 or 4 days ahead if you like)


Place a large stock or sauce pot on stovetop and get hot over medium heat.  Add butter, onions, celery, and carrot.  Sweat vegetables for 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook another minute.  Add pork ribs, sausage, Braciole, meatballs, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken stock, bay leaves, salt and pepper.  Cook for 30 minutes.  Add oregano and basil, stir.  Cook sauce for another 3 1/2 hours.  Keep an eye on it that it doesn't boil, you want just a nice slow simmer, stir from time to time.

30 minutes before you want to eat, get a large pot of salted water on the fire to boil.  Once at a rolling boil, add pasta and cook for about 8-10 minutes.  I like mine al dente.  Drain well and put on a large serving platter.  Top pasta with meats and sauce, then dollop the ricotta cheese over the top.  Sprinkle over the top with pecorino and parsley. Make sure to have extra grated pecorino for the table.  Serve and Enjoy! Abbondanza!!

Prosciutto Bread

I was watching one of the cooking shows and saw this preparation, it looked amazing.  So, I went into the kitchen this weekend and copied the idea for a friends dinner, it was a huge hit.  I served alongside homemade marinara for dipping which really took it over the top.  With store bought pizza dough, it's super easy and delicious.  We loved it so much, I'm doing it as an appetizer for Thanksgiving Day. Enjoy!

1 store bought pizza dough
2-3 oz. of each of the following;
1/2# Provolone cheese
1/4C. grated pecorino cheese
1-2 Tbsp. Olive oil
Fresh grated Black pepper, to taste
chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
2 Tbsp. flour, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a food processor roughly grind the five deli meats together. Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl.  Add provolone to processor and rough grind, add to meat mixture.  Grind some black pepper to taste over mixture, mix well.  Take pizza dough and stretch it slightly to form a fat flat disk no bigger then the circumference of the bowl you're using.  Place on top of meat and cheese and press dough down into mixture.  Carefully turn dough and repeat to the other side.  You are pressing the meat and cheese into the dough, keeping it in it's disk shape. 

Sprinkle some flour on your counter (so dough doesn't stick).  Transfer dough to dusted counter.  Fold two sides of the dough towards the middle and then roll to form a log.  I stretch the log out a little for more even baking.  Transfer bread to a greased sheet tray, brush the top with a little olive oil and place into hot oven. 

Bake for 40 minutes or until crust is nicely browned.  Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes.  Using a serrated knife, slice bread and place on platter.  Drizzle with a little olive oil, grind some fresh black pepper over and sprinkle with pecorino cheese.  Top with chopped parsley and serve.  Enjoy!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Weekly Menu 11/4-11/10

Herb rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Fennel and Carrots
Chopped Salad with Fig-Thyme Vinaigrette

Oven Roasted Black Cod
Roasted Cauliflower with Kalamata Olives and Preserved Lemon
BBQ glazed carrots

Butternut Squash, Kale, and Chicken Stew, bacon crumble
Baked Sweet Potato chips

New England style Fish Cakes
Parmesan crusted Asparagus

Grilled Salmon with pesto
Steamed Broccoli and Garlic

"Steak and Red Wine night"
Medium-rare aged Porterhouse steak with herb butter
Sautéed Spinach with toasted pine nuts
Oven roasted Carrots with Harissa and Honey
Roasted Acorn Squash

Cast Iron Roast Chicken
Roasted Baby Bliss Potatoes with Sea Salt and Thyme
Root Vegetable Casserole