"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.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Daulphinoise Potatoes

This was a staple side dish in the Grill Room at the Ritz Carlton.  Around the Holidays it makes a super side dish for roasts, lamb, steaks, etc.  It can be served family style in the dish or you can cut the finished potatoes into shapes.  I have had many friends ask for this recipe, so here it is, Enjoy!

4 medium russet potatoes
2 Tbsp. butter
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped fine
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
Grated nutmeg, to taste
1 C. heavy cream
1 C. whole milk
4 eggs
1 1/2 C. grated Gruyere cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Grease a 9x13 inch glass baking dish with half of the butter.   Sprinkle the garlic evenly into the butter dish.

In a large mixing bowl whisk the eggs, cream, milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Reserve the mixture (called a Royale) on the side. 

Divide cheese into 2 parts, a one cup measure and a half cup measure. 

Working quickly, so they don’t brown, peel potatoes and slice thinly using a food processor.   Pat slices dry using paper towel.  Line the bottom of the dish with a layer of the potatoes, overlapping the slices.  Using the one cup measure, sprinkle some of the cheese and repeat layering more potatoes and cheese until all of the potatoes has been used.  Pour the cream mixture, gently over the potatoes making sure the liquid has penetrated evenly.  Using your hand, press down on the potato mixture to compact the potatoes and liquid.  Top with the remaining half cup measure of cheese and dot the top with the remaining tablespoon of butter.

Place baking dish into hot oven and cook for 50-60 minutes.   Check after 40 minutes, if top is over browning cover loosely with foil and return to the oven to finish.  Remove from oven.  The top of the potatoes should be golden brown and a sharp knife should pass easily through the layers of potato. 

Now, comes a choice, there are a couple of different ways to serve the finished dish.  The first is family style, let the dish rest for 15 minutes and serve.  Easy and definitely a crowd pleaser.   

The second way, if you want to “kick it up a notch” and it’s how we served them in the restaurant; you chill the fully cooked dish completely.  Obviously, this method of serving will require you make this the day before or earlier in the day you want to serve it.  Once fully cooled, run a very sharp knife around the edges of the dish and loosen.  Place a large cutting board on the top of the dish and quickly flip both, so the dish is now upside down on top of the cutting board.   Carefully, using your knife, remove the entire Daulphinoise, in one piece, onto the cutting board.  From here you can cut the potatoes into whatever shape you want (we did diamonds or rounds).   Flip the cut potato shapes so the golden brown cheese side is up.  To reheat, place in 400 degrees F. oven until hot through and through.  Serve and enjoy!

Chickpea Salad with Lebanese Spices

3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses
1 tsp. honey
1 small clove garlic, crushed
Kosher salt to taste
8 large spring onions, finely sliced
squeeze of lemon juice
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered (or halved if very small)
(2) 15oz. can chickpeas, devided in half; drained and rinsed
3 Tbsp. Lebanese spice mix (recipe follows)
4 oz. soft,  goat cheese 
6 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
3 Tbsp. chopped flat leaf parsley
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
leaves of baby gem, romaine or other crunchy lettuce to serve

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Prepare the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, honey, crushed garlic and salt to taste.  Reserve on the side.

Spread one half of the chickpeas on a baking sheet and place into hot oven.  Cook for 20 minutes, shaking tray half way through cooking time.  Remove tray from oven and toss with 1 Tbsp. olive oil and 3 Tbsp. spice mix.  Spread them out again on tray and return to oven for another 10 minutes until browned and crunchy. (These also make a wonderful snack, serve either warm or at room tempurature)

Add the spring onions to a salad bowl and sprinkle with a good squeeze of lemon juice. Add the tomatoes, chickpeas (both plain and roasted), goat cheese, cilantro, parsley and dressing to the salad bowl. Toss to mix. Add coarse salt and black pepper to taste.   Scoop spoonfuls of salad onto crunchy lettuce leaves, serve and enjoy!

Lebanese Spice Mix:

Blk Pepper

Buy the ingredients in powder form (or make into powder using pestel and mortar). Mix together equal quantities of all the above. Once complete, keep in a sealed jar or container and it will last for at least six months

Weekly Menu- Dec. 31st - Jan. 6th

Saturday- New Year's Eve Appetizer Party at Martha's
Indian Spiced Red Lentil Dip with Naan and Fresh Vegetables
Warm Flat bread with Goat Cheese, Prosciutto, Fig Jam and Arugula
Lamb "Lollipops" with a Roasted Shallot Reduction
Fingerling Potatoes with Lemon Zest and Thyme
Stuffed Mushrooms
Potato Latke's with Spiced Applesauce

Butternut Squash Soup with Garlic Croutons
Oven Roasted Pork Loin with Potatoes and Root Vegetables
Baby Arugula Salad with Walnuts and Bleu Cheese, Honey Lemon Vinaigrette

Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini with Chicken and Dill
Chickpea Salad with Lebanese Spices
Brown Jasmine Rice with Sliced Almonds

Mahi-Mahi Burgers with Smoked Bacon and Caramelized Onions
Curried-Carrot Slaw
Fresh Cut French Fries with Sea Salt

Vegetable, Bean, and Turkey Burritos
Garden Fresh Salsa

Brown Rice Vegetable Pasta
Eggplant Ragu

Friday-"Smorgasbord Night" (clean out the Frig, make room for Sat.'s shop)

Oven Roasted Pork Loin with Potatoes and Root Vegetables

2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, plus 1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
1/4 C. Dijon mustard
1 (3#) boneless pork loin, trimmed and tied
3 small fennel bulbs, tops removed
8 carrots, peeled, and thickly sliced diagonally
10 small potatoes (red or white-skinned), cut in quarters
2 yellow onions, thickly sliced
4 Tbsp. olive oil
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

In a food processor, grind together the garlic, 1 tablespoon salt, and thyme leaves.  Using a rubber spatula, transfer to a mixing bowl and add the mustard.  Spread the mixture over the loin of pork and allow it to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the fennel bulbs in thick wedges, cutting through the core. Toss the fennel, carrots, potatoes, and onions in a bowl with the olive oil, melted butter, salt, and pepper to taste.

Place the pork loin in a large roasting pan and cook for 30 minutes, carefully remove pan from oven and add all the vegetables around the loin.  Place pan back in the oven and cook for another 30 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the middle of the pork reads 140 degrees.  Remove loin from the pan and loosely cover with foil, reserve warm.  At a minimum the roast needs to rest for 15 minutes before slicing.  A fork should easily pierce the potatoes and the vegetables should be tender but not over cooked.  If any of the mixture needs to be cooked longer, return vegetable mixture to oven and continue to cook until desired doneness.  

Remove the strings from the meat and slice it thickly. Arrange the meat and vegetables on a platter. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve warm.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Seafood Mofongo

Viva Puerto Rico!  We are just back from an absolutely fabulous trip to this beautiful island paradise.  While staying in the Porta Del Sol region (the north-western side) I had some of the best Mofongo and decided to make a version.  This is a staple food using plantains and can be made to complement a wide variety of meats, seafood, or vegetables.

1/2 C. vegetable oil
1# Mahi-Mahi (Called Dorado on the island)
1# mixed seafood (shrimp, calamari, scallops, octopus)
flour for dredging
1/4# thick cut bacon
3 plantains, peeled and sliced into 1" pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
fresh cilantro,  to taste- chopped
fresh flat leaf parsley, to taste- chopped
1/2 C.+ hot chicken stock or broth
1 lime, juiced
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl combine fish and other seafood, add all but 2 Tbsp of lime juice and coat thoroughly.  Reserve cold.

Heat a heavy bottomed pan.  Once hot, fry bacon until golden brown.  Remove and reserve warm.  Add vegetable oil to pan and heat.  Once hot, fry the plantains in batches until tender and golden brown.  Place cooked plantains on paper towel to drain some of the oil.  Reserve pan with oil to the side.

Move all the cooked plantains to a fresh, large mixing bowl.  Add bacon, remaining lime juice, garlic, cilantro, and parsley.  Mash using the hot stock to form the consistency of thick potatoes.  (Traditionally, the plantains and other ingredients are smashed using a pestel and mortar.)  Season with salt and pepper, reserve warm.

Bring pan with the oil used to fry the bacon and plantains back to the heat.  Drain the fish and seafood, season with salt and pepper and dredge with flour.  Shake well to remove all excess flour and then flash fry, Mahi first in batches in the hot oil.  Once fish is golden in color remove from oil and place on baking dish.  Place in the oven and finish cooking.  Now flash fry the assorted seafood in batches and finish in the hot oven.  Do not overcook the fish, everything should be cooked through but moist.

Serve family style; put the Mofongo on the bottom of a large warm serving bowl and top with the mixture of fish and seafood, top dish with some fresh chopped flat leaf parsley, serve and enjoy!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Thyme and Cheese Strata

A Christmas morning staple.  This can be made with the addition of just about anything you'd make an omelette with.  This is a basic version, but I really like to add a good pork sausage or smoked bacon to the mix.  I cook the meat first and cool, then add it to the mixture.  I make the night before and just pop it into the oven while presents are being opened.  When everyone is ready for some breakfast, voila!

2 Tbsp softened butter
8 eggs
2 C. whole milk
1 1/2 C. shredded cheese (I use a Mexican blend, but experiment, have fun with it)
fresh thyme, to taste
3 C. fresh French bread, cut into 2" chunks
kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a glass baking dish with the butter.  Add the bread pieces and sprinkle half the cheese over.  In a large mixing bowl, crack the eggs and whisk together with the milk.  Add thyme to your taste and the salt and pepper.  Pour mixture over the bread and top with remainder of cheese.

Place dish in the hot oven and bake for 40-45 minutes.  Once done, remove and let sit for 5-10 minutes, serve and enjoy!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Weekly Menu Dec. 24th- Dec. 30th

Dinner out; Chinese Food.  It's a tradition in both our families for Christmas Eve.  Go to the family Christmas Services at Orchard Lake and then Hong Hua in Farmington Hills for the some of the best Cantonese food in the area, yum!

Sunday-Christmas Dinner
Poached Jumbo Shrimp with Spicy Horseradish Sauce
Smoked Salmon served on Rye Toast with a Dill Cream
Standing Rib Roast of Beef with a Shallot-Cabernet Reduction
Roasted Red Bliss Potatoes with Sea Salt and Thyme
Baby Arugula Salad with Toasted Walnuts, Cranberries, and Gorgonzola Vinaigrette
Homemade Tiramisu with Dark Chocolate Drizzle

"Remembering Puerto Rico Night"
Seafood Mofongo
Stir-Fried Mixed Vegetables

Vegetables, Rice, and Beans Casserole
Chopped Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Red Lentil and Vegetable Stew
Warm Naan with Coriander Butter

Grilled Salmon with Mint Pesto
Quinoa Pilaf
Sauteed Spinach

Dinner out with Friends

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Restaurant Ideas in and around Detroit

Recently I was asked by a friend who lives in California to recommend a couple of places here in town.  He is giving his brother, who lives  in Michigan, a Christmas gift  and wanted to know where to send him and his wife.  I sent him the following list and though I'd share it.

Ok, now there's a ton of dynamite places round town.  Here is a list of our favorites with links.  Check them out, if you have questions or need anything just let me know.  I tried to give you a good mix of cuisines and price ranges, but let me know.

The Root Restaurant- our new favorite.  Everything is locally sourced.  Very creative menu, not too pricy, staff is excellent. 


Bacco Ristaurante- Probably the best Italian food in the area, northern Italian cuisine.  Exceptional in all areas, entrees range $20-$45. 


Andiamo's (West Bloomfield)- Another superb Italian restaurant, they have multiple locations around town.  Not too crazy pricing, but excellent. 


Jeremy- The chef's a CIA grad and used to work at Tribute (was one of the best restaurant's in the US).  Very inventive.  Great place, great food. 


Toast- In Birmingham (very upscale- great for window shopping before or after dinner).  Very reasonable, great food and service. 


Hung Hua- If Chinese is what they like, this is a gem.  Always packed, very good service and great food. 


El Barzon- This one is downtown, but awesome.  The chef's of Mexican descent, but worked for 10 years at a very upscale Italian restaurant prior to opening his own joint.  So, it's a Mexican-Italian menu (two menus) everything is great.  Very reasonably priced.

Michael Symon's Roast-  For my money, this is the best steakhouse in town.  Very cool spot at the Book-Cadillac Hotel downtown.  Pricy, but worth every penny.  Not for a vegetarian, as you can tell from the name, meat is the star of the show here! 

The Lark-  No list would be complete without the best restaurant in the region.  Set in a European style country inn, this is four star personified.  You pay for it, but it will not disappoint!

I could go on and on, but these eight are a good start.  By the way, if he loves Barbecue, we have one of the best places in the country in downtown.  It's called Slow's and it's off the hook.  http://www.slowsbarbq.com/

Monday, December 12, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup

3 pounds butternut squash, halved and seeded
·        2 tablespoons butter
·        1 medium onion, sliced
·        1 leek, sliced
·        2 cloves garlic, sliced
·        2 Qts. chicken broth
·        2 large russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
·        1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
·        1 teaspoon ground allspice
·        1 teaspoon ground nutmeg, or to taste
·        1/8 teaspoon ground ginger, or to taste
·        salt and pepper to taste
          1/2 cup sherry wine
·        1 cup half-and-half cream
 Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Pour a thin layer of water in a baking dish, or a cookie sheet with sides. Place the squash halves cut side down on the dish. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a fork can easily pierce the flesh. Cool slightly, then remove the peel. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, leek and garlic, and saute for a few minutes, until tender. Pour the chicken broth into the pot. Add the potatoes, and bring to a boil. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until soft. Add the squash, and mash with the potatoes until chunks are small. Use an immersible hand blender to puree the soup, or transfer to a blender or food processor in batches, and puree until smooth. Return to the pot.

Season the soup with cayenne pepper, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, salt and pepper, then stir in the sherry and half-and-half cream. Heat through, but do not boil. Ladle into bowls, and top with some of the chiffonade of green onion.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Crab Stuffed Deviled Eggs

8 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled
3 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1 1/2 Tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon
1 Tbsp. minced shallot
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. hot pepper sauce
8 ounces crabmeat

Fresh tarragon sprigs (optional)

Cut eggs lengthwise in half. Scoop out yolks. Place yolks from 4 eggs in medium bowl (reserve remaining yolks for another use). Mash yolks with fork.

Mix in mayonnaise, chopped tarragon, minced shallot, lemon juice, cayenne, and hot pepper sauce. Mix in crab. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Mound crab mixture in cavity of each egg-white half (about 1 heaping tablespoon for each). (Can be prepared 4 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) Place crab-stuffed deviled eggs on platter. Garnish each with small tarragon sprig, if desired, and serve.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Holiday Berry Trifle

Every year I cook an appreciation lunch for our agency's staff.  This is one of the Holiday desserts I am preparing.  Jeanne's mom used to make this at the Holidays and I think it is one of those quintessential desserts for this time of year.  It makes a beautiful presentation and tastes fabulous.  You can either make the pound cake yourself or buy it, either way this is a keeper.  Enjoy!!

1 Plain Pound Cake, recipe follows
1 cup good raspberry jam
2 half-pints fresh raspberries
1 pint fresh strawberries

Cognac Cream, recipe follows
2 cups cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
Cut the pound cake into 9 (3/4-inch) slices and spread each slice on 1 side with raspberry jam, using all the jam. Set aside.
Place a layer of cake, jam side up, in the bottom of a 2 ½-to 3-quart glass serving bowl, cutting the pieces to fit. Sprinkle with Framboise. Top with a layer of raspberries and strawberries and Cognac Cream. Repeat the layers of cake sprinkled with Framboise, raspberries, strawberries and Cognac Cream, ending with a third layer of cake jam side down and raspberries and strawberries.
Whip the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. When it starts to thicken, add the sugar and vanilla and continue to whip until it forms stiff peaks. Decorate the trifle with whipped cream. The trifle can sit for a while at room temperature

Cognac Cream:
3 cups milk
10 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons sifted cornstarch
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Cognac
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon heavy cream
Heat the milk in a medium stainless-steel saucepan over medium heat and bring almost to a boil. Remove from the heat.
Beat the egg yolks and sugar on medium-high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until pale and thick, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, sprinkle on the cornstarch. Beat on medium-low speed until combined, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula.
With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture. Pour the mixture back into the pan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, 5 to 7 minutes. (Pay attention because it will thicken and then quickly become scrambled eggs!)
Immediately, pour the mixture through a fine sieve into a large bowl. Stir in the vanilla, Cognac, butter, and heavy cream. Place plastic wrap directly on the custard and refrigerate until cold.

Plain Pound Cake

½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar, divided
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 (8 1/2 by 4 1/2 by 2 1/2-inch) loaf pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper.
Cream the butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. With the mixer on medium speed, beat in the eggs, 1 at a time.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.
When the cakes are done, let them cool for 10 minutes. Take them out of the pans, place them on a baking rack and allow them to cool completely. Wrap well, and store in the refrigerator.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Weekly Menu Dec. 3rd - Dec.9th

Elizabeth's Birthday Party (30 kids for bowling party)

Butternut Puree with Toasted Pine nuts
Oven Roasted Herb Chicken
Green Beans with Sauteed Shallots
Roasted Red Bliss Potatoes with Sea salt and Thyme

Bean and Barley Soup with Turkey and Red Mole Sausage
Chopped Salad with Oranges and Walnuts

Spaghetti and Meatballs
Romaine Salad with Creamy Onion Dressing
Garlic Bread

Chimichurri Rice with Shrimp
Sweet Peas and Pearl Onions

Smorgasbord Night

Dinner Out

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pumpkin Risotto

This recipe can be also made with butternut squash.  Just peel, dice, and roast squash with a small amount of olive oil in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes and then puree.  Make the recipe as is and substitute the squash for the pumpkin.  If substituting, instead of pumpkin seeds for garnish, I use toasted pine nuts.  This is a great side dish for those long cold winter nights.  True comfort food!

2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 C. white onions, small dice
1 C. carnaroli rice (if you can't find sub- arborio rice)
3 C. simmering hot water
1/4 C. plain pumpkin puree, canned (make sure there are no spices added)
1/4 C. grated parmesan cheese
1/4 C. pumpkin seeds, toasted
2 Tbsp finely chopped chives
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat.  Once melted, add onions and sweat 4-5 minutes or until soft and tender, but not golden or brown colored.  Add rice and stir to coat completely.  Toast for 3-4 minutes.  Add simmering water, a ladle (about 1/2 cup) at a time.  Stir rice in one direction.  Once that water has been absorbed, add the next ladle and stir.  Repeat this process until all the water has been absorbed.  The rice should be "al dente" at this point.

Add pumpkin puree, stir in one direction to combine.  Stir in cheese.  Taste and correct seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.  Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the toasted pumpkin seeds and chives.  Serve and Enjoy!

Pan Roasted Cabbage

This recipe is from Mike Isabella, Bravo's Top Chef, and is very good.  If you think you're not a fan of cabbage, I invite you to try this and change your mind.  He serves this side dish with the chicken recipe that preceeds this one.

2 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 C. shallots, diced small
1 C. pepperoni, diced small
4 C. thinly sliced savoy cabbage
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat canola oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Add shallots and sweat about 3-4 minutes until soft, stirring occasionally.  Add pepperoni and continue to cook for 3 minutes.   Add cabbage and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted (about 10-12 minutes).  Just before serving, add vinegar, olive oil, and parsley.  If needed correct seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve and Enjoy!

Spice Roasted Chicken Breast with Pepperoni Sauce

Thanks to Mike Isabella, from Bravo's Top Chef, I found this recipe.  It's definately a keeper.  Enjoy!


1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 C. yellow onion, diced small
1 thinly sliced garlic clove
6 oz. thinly sliced pepperoni
1/2 tsp fennel seeds, toasted and ground
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1/2 C. canned crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 C. chicken broth
1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic, sweat about 4-5 minutes until soft, stir occasionally.  Don't let the garlic brown, reduce heat if needed.  Add pepperoni, cook for 4 minutes.  Add fennel seed and red chili to mixture, cook another minute.  Stir in tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes,  Add chicken broth and bring to a slight boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 50 minutes.

Remove mixture from heat and let cool slightly.  Puree in a blender about 2 minutes or until smooth.  Pass sauce through a fine strainer.  Use a rubber spatula to help push the sauce through.  Discard the solids in strainer.  Stir in vinegar and correct seasonings with salt and pepper.  Reserve warm.

Note- sauce can be prepared in advance and refrigerated up to 3 days.


2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp finely chopped garlic
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 Tbsp fennel seeds, toasted and ground
3 whole chicken breasts, cut in half
2 Tbsp canola oil

In a mixing bowl, combine the first 7 ingredients to create a marinade.  Fully coat the chicken breasts with marinade and place in a large plastic bag or glass baking dish.  Refrigerate for at least 2 1/2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Remove chicken from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature, about 10-15 minutes.  Heat canola oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saute pan over medium-high heat.  Once hot, sear chicken, skin side down, approximately 6 minutes until golden brown.  Flip each breast over, place in baking pan and continue cooking for 30-35 minutes in the oven.  Remove chicken from the oven and let rest 5-10 minutes before serving.   Serve family style with sauce and enjoy!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Vegetable Soup with Turkey and Brown Rice

Stock- (You can substitute chicken or turkey broth from the store if you like)
1 smoked turkey leg
1 # chicken bones (I usually debone a whole chicken and reserve the meat for other recipes)
2 medium onions, peeled, rough chop
2 stalks celery, rough chop
1 medium carrot, rough chop
1 clove garlic, smashed
handful fresh parsley, rough chop
1 bay leaf
10 peppercorns
3 Qts. water

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 large onion, peeled and medium dice (bite sized)
1 stalk celery, medium dice
1 small carrot, peeled and medium dice
1/2 C. green beans, cut into 1/2" pieces
1/2 C. broccoli, cut into bite sized pieces
1 small can of diced tomatoes
1/2 C. brown rice
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped fine
kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste

To make the stock; place a heavy bottomed soup pot over high heat.  Add all of the stock ingredients and bring just to the boil.  Reduce heat so stock gently bubbles and then skim all the scum off the top.  After 1 hour remove turkey leg and carefully remove all of the meat, reserve and cool.  Discard the skin and bone.  Once the turkey meat is cool enough to handle, dice into bite sized pieces.  Reserve for later use in the soup.  Continue to cook the stock for a minimum of another 2 1/2 hours.  You could cook for 5 or 6 hours to really have a deeply flavored stock if you'd like.  Strain the stock into another pot and discard all the solids.  You should have roughly 2 quarts of liquid.  Once the stock has settled in the new container, 10-15 minutes, skim as much of the fat off the top as possible.  Reserve hot. 

You can make the stock up to 3 days ahead of time.  To cool; once stock is strained, place the pot into a cold water bath in the sink and chill to atleast room temperature.  Loosely cover with plastice wrap and keep in the refrigerator until ready to make the soup. 

To make the soup; in a separate pot, heat oil over medium high heat.  Add onions, carrots, and celery.  Cook until vegetables start to turn translucent.   Add tomatoes and rice, stir.  Add hot stock to vegetables and rice mixture bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and let soup cook until the rice is tender, about 40-45 minutes.  Add the beans, broccoli, and thyme.  Add the reserved diced turkey meat.   Cook until the beans and broccoli are just tender but still "al dente".  Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper.  Serve with a warm french baguette and enjoy!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Weekly Menu Nov. 27th - Dec. 2nd

Vegetable Soup with Turkey and Brown Rice
Chopped Salad with Blue Cheese Crumbles

Oven Roasted Eggplant with Fresh Tomato Sauce with Brown Rice Pasta
Caesar Salad

Mexican Three Bean, Potato, and Cheese Casserole
Baby Green Salad with Oregano and Lime Vinaigrette

Elizabeth's Birthday!!  Dinner out, her choice.

Grilled Salmon with a Chimichurri Glaze, Brown Rice
Oven Roasted Root Vegetables

Left-over night

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Lobster Mac 'N' Cheese

8 Tbsp. butter, 1 stick, divided
olive oil
1 large onion, small dice
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. sherry
1/2 C. flour
4 C. milk, hot (can heat in microwave just prior to using)
12 oz. Gruyere cheese, 4 C. grated
8 oz. white cheddar, 2 C. grated
1 # cavatappi pasta (could substitute elbow macaroni)
1 1/2 # lobster meat cut into large chunks.  You can substitute langostino, works just as well
1 Tbsp. paprika
kosher salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
1/2 C. breadcrumbs
1 bay leaf

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place a heavy bottomed sauce pan on medium heat, add 6 Tbsp. butter and small amount of oil (helps butter not get too brown).  Once butter is melted, add onions and cook for 5-7 mins. until onions are tender but without color.  Add garlic and cook for another minute.  Slowly add, while stirring, the flour (forming roux) and cook mixture for 10 minutes, stirring often.  Roux should remain white.   Add sherry and stir, cook for another minute.  Slowly add hot milk as you stir the roux, incorporate fully.  Add bay leaf and increase heat, bring the white sauce just to the boil while stirring.   Reduce heat to medium and add both cheeses, continuously stirring.  Add paprika and correct seasoning with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat and keep warm, stir from time to time.  Discard bay leaf when ready to assemble casserole.

Put large pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a rolling boil.  Add cavatappi and cook until "al dente", about 8 minutes.  Drain well and reserve.

Butter a large casserole dish.  Add enough pasta to almost fill.  Add lobster meat and pour cheese sauce over pasta, mix well.  Top casserole with breadcrumbs and dot entire top of casserole with remaining butter.  Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over and place into oven and cook for 30-35 minutes.  Casserole should be bubbling and golden brown on top.  If you want a deeper brown top, place under broiler for a couple of minutes until desired color.  Serve and enjoy!

Weekly Menu Nov. 19th - Nov. 27th

Saturday- Steakhouse Dinner Night with the Giglio's
Wedge Salad with Teardrop Tomatoes, Crumbled Gorgonzola, and Bacon
Oven Roasted NY Strip Steak, Cabernet-Herb Butter
Lobster Mac 'n' Cheese
Roasted Asparagus with Garlic
Creme Brulee

Sunday - Breakfast for Dinner Night
Vegetable Frittata
Potatoes with Red Peppers and Onions
Baby Greens Salad with a Grainy Dijon Vinaigrette

Mystery Night - The Girls are on there own

Clean out the Frig Night

Wednesday - Sunday -
Thanksgiving Holiday Dinners.  I am being treated as a guest at each dinner.  The Chef is off, very cool!!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash with Farro and Sage

This is a twist on a classic combination.  I've done the two in pasta dishes, including ravioli, but thought the nutty, chewy texture of the farro would match well.  The caramelized onions and the smoky note from the bacon brings everything together.  Obviously, the bacon can be omitted if you're looking for a vegetarian option.  

1 large Butternut squash, peeled and seeded, cut into 1" pieces
1 large yellow onion, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, peeled and slightly crushed
1/4# bacon, diced
olive oil
1 C. farro, rinsed well (3 times)
3 C. water
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp. sage, finely chopped
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 

Place a medium sauce pan over high heat.  Add 1 tbsp. oil and heat.  Add rinsed farro grain, bay leaf, and crushed garlic cloves.  Mix and heat for a minute.  Add water to grains and season with salt and pepper (liquid should taste like a soup).  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover.  Cook until farro is tender, but "al dente", about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and let steam covered for 10 minutes on the side.  Discard the bay leaf prior to serving.

While farro is working on the stove, toss the squash in a mixing bowl with a little olive oil and season with sage, salt and pepper; place the squash on a baking sheet and place into the oven.  Cook until tender and slightly golden brown in color.  About 15-20 minutes.  I like my squash "al dente", not mushy.  Once done, remove from oven and reserve warm.

Place a saute pan over med-high heat, add 1 tbsp. olive oil and get hot.  Add diced bacon and brown.  Remove browned bacon and reserve warm.  To the hot drippings add onions, reduce heat to medium and cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring often until then are very tender and a deep golden brown color.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Place a serving of the farro on a warm plate, top with a serving of the squash.  Top both with some of the onions and sprinkle some of the browned bacon dice atop the dish.  Serve and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Chicken Hash with Basil, Red Peppers, and Onions

  • 2 whole (4 split) chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on
  • 16 basil leaves
  • Olive Oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 pounds boiling potatoes, peeled and large diced
  • 2 red onions, chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, large diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 4 minced scallions, white and green parts
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh leaf parsley
  • Sour cream, Cheddar and sliced lemons, for serving


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet. Loosen the skin from the meat with your fingers, leaving one side attached. Place 4 basil leaves under the skin of each chicken breast. Pull the skin over as much of the meat as possible so the chicken won't dry out. With your hands, rub each piece with olive oil and sprinkle very generously with salt and pepper. Bake the chicken for 35 to 40 minutes, until the skin is lightly browned and the chicken is just cooked through. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones. Cut the chicken in large dice pieces and set aside.
Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large saute pan. Add the potatoes and onions, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and saute over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until evenly browned and cooked through.
In a separate saute pan, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the red peppers, garlic, thyme,paprika, tomato paste, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the edges of the peppers are seared.
Add the chicken and the pepper mixture to the potatoes and heat through. Add the scallions and parsley, toss together and place on a serving platter.

Shrimp and Grits with Spinach

3 cups low-fat milk
2 garlic cloves, pressed, divided
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup quick-cooking grits
6 slices thick-cut applewood-smoked bacon, cut crosswise into 1/3- to 1/2-inch-wide slices
1 1/2 pounds deveined peeled uncooked large shrimp
1 cup sliced shallots (about 4 large)
1 8-ounce bottle clam juice
2 5-ounce packages baby spinach
Hot pepper sauce
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Bring milk, 1 garlic clove, and salt to boil in medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in grits. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until grits are very tender, whisking often, about 8 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook bacon in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp, stirring often. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon drippings. Add shrimp to drippings in skillet. Sauté until shrimp are pink, stirring often, about 1 minute. Sprinkle shrimp with salt and pepper. Add shallots and remaining garlic to skillet. Sauté until shallots are translucent and shrimp are cooked through, about 2 minutes. Add clam juice to skillet and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Add spinach to skillet and toss just to wilt. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and hot pepper sauce.

Divide grits among 6 plates. Top with shrimp mixture and sprinkle with bacon. Garnish with lemon wedges for squeezing over and serve.

Spaghetti with Chorizo and Almonds

1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon crumbled saffron thoureads
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for drizzling
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 ounces Spanish chorizo (cured spiced pork sausage; not hot), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 medium onion, finely chopped
12 ounces fideos (dried coiled vermicelli noodles) or angel-hair pasta or thin spaghetti, broken into 2-inch lengths
1 (14- to 19-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup sliced almonds with skins, toasted

Bring broth, water, wine, saffron, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil in a small saucepan, then reduce heat and keep at a bare simmer.

Heat oil in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then sauté garlic until pale golden, about 30 seconds. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Add chorizo and sauté until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer with slotted spoon to paper towels with garlic. Add butter to pot and sauté onion until golden, about 5 minutes, then add pasta and sauté, breaking up fideos with a wooden spoon, until golden, about 4 minutes. Add broth mixture and cook, covered, until all liquid is absorbed, about 6 minutes. Stir in chickpeas, chorizo, garlic, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve pasta sprinkled with almonds and drizzled with oil.

Quinoa with Corn, Scallions, and Mint

I got this fantastic dish from Gourmet Magazine, August 2006.  It's a real keeper.  A great side dish, especially in the summer when the corn is super fresh.  I've also served it as a main for a light dinner with a baby greens salad.  The mint and lemon play off the toasted notes in the grain exceptionally well.

4 ears corn, shucked
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon mild honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups quinoa (about 10 oz)
4 scallions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint

Put corn in a 5- to 6-quart wide pot, then add water to cover and bring to a boil, covered. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Transfer corn with tongs to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, cut kernels off cobs with a large heavy knife.

Meanwhile, whisk together lemon zest and juice, butter, honey, salt, and pepper in a large bowl until combined.

Wash quinoa in 3 changes of cold water in a bowl, draining in a large sieve each time.

Cook quinoa in a 4- to 5-quart pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, until almost tender, about 10 minutes. Drain in sieve, then set sieve over same pot with 1 inch of simmering water (water should not touch bottom of sieve). Cover quinoa with a folded kitchen towel, then cover sieve with a lid (don't worry if lid doesn't fit tightly) and steam until quinoa is tender, fluffy, and dry, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand (still covered) 5 minutes.

Add quinoa to dressing and toss until dressing is absorbed, then stir in corn, scallions, mint, and salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Lemon Fusilli with Arugula

I got this one from the Ina Garten.  It is a great pasta dish and very simple to make.  You'll love it.  Lends itself very easily to add a grilled chicken breast, piece of salmon, shrimp or even a crab cake.  Enjoy!

1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 C. heavy cream
3 lemons
1 bunch broccoli
1# Fusilli pasta
1 C. Arugala greens, washed and dried
1/2 C. fresh grated parmesan cheese
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

Heat a medium sauce pan over medium high heat.  Add oil and heat until shimmering.  Add garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes, be careful not to brown.  Add cream and the zest of 2 lemons and their juice.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat.  Reduce cream until thickens, about 15-20 minutes.   Correct seasoning with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cut the broccoli in florets and discard the stem. Cook the florets in a pot of boiling salted water for 3 to 5 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain the broccoli and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the pasta, and cook according to the directions on the package, about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain the pasta in a colander and place it back into the pot. Immediately add the cream mixture and cook it over medium-low heat for 3 minutes, until most of the sauce has been absorbed in the pasta. Pour the hot pasta into a large bowl, add the arugula, Parmesan, tomatoes, and cooked broccoli. Cut the last lemon in half lengthwise, slice it 1/4-inch thick crosswise, and add it to the pasta. Toss well, season to taste, and serve hot.  Enjoy!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Rosemary Rubbed Salmon with Roasted Potatoes, Parsnips, and Mushrooms

1 1/2 C. loosely packed fresh rosemary leaves
4 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
6 Tbsp. olive oil
1# red skinned potatoes, cut into 3/4" pieces
1# parsnips, peeled and cut into 3/4" pieces
(1) 3 1/2- 3 3/4# whole side of salmon with skin
1# crimini mushrooms, quartered
Assorted baby greens
1/3 c. Pinot noir
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tbsp. olive oil

Preheat oven to 450°F
Blend rosemary, salt, and pepper in processor until finely chopped.  With machine running, gradually add 4 tbsp. oil; process to coarse paste.
Toss potatoes, parsnips, 2 tbsp. oil, and 3 tbsp. rosemary mixture in large bowl.  Transfer vegetable mixture to rimmed baking sheet, arrange evenly.  Roast vegetables for 15 minutes.  Toss mushrooms with vegetable mixture and return to oven until vegetables are tender, about 10 more minutes.
Once the vegetables go into the oven, line large rimmed baking sheet with parchment.  Place salmon skin side down on sheet.  Spread with remaining rosemary mixture.  Place salmon in oven and roast until just opaque in center, about 20 minutes.   Remove from oven and reserve warm.
In a small bowl whisk lemon juice and olive oil, season with salt and pepper.  Toss salad greens in vinaigrette and then line a platter with the greens; place salmon on top of greens.  Transfer vegetables to a serving bowl.  Place vegetable baking sheet over 2 burners on high heat.  Add wine and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits.  Drizzle sauce over salmon.  Serve both family style and enjoy!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Weekly Menu Nov. 12th - Nov. 18th

Green Lentils with Roasted Vegetables and Smoked Turkey
Basmati Rice with Green Onions

Grilled Turbot and Crab Cake with Braised Leeks
Quinoa Pilaf with Baby Peas
Sauteed Asparagus with Roasted Red Pepper Julienne

Vegetable and Bean Chili
Warm Corn Tortillas

Roasted Butternut Squash with Farro and Sage
Baby Leaf Salad with Tomatoes and Carrot Slaw, Balsamic Vinaigrette

Chicken Hash with Basil, Red Peppers, and Onions
Chopped Salad with Chickpeas, Cucumber, Red Onion, and Feta
Lemon-Honey Vinaigrette

Cioppino served with Warm French Baguette
Baby Arugula Salad with Roasted Beets, Orange Segments, and Walnuts

Dinner out 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Spaghetti Squash with Pesto and Fresh Shaved Parmesan

1 spaghetti squash
olive oil
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
pesto* (you can make your own or I found Trader Joe's has a very good prepared one)
Wedge of Parmesan

1/2 C. pine nuts, toasted
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 C. Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
fresh cracked black pepper

Pulse garlic in a food processor until finely chopped, then add nuts, cheese, a large handful of herbs, and pepper and process until chopped. Add remaining herbs one handful at a time, pulsing after each addition, until finely chopped. With motor running, add oil and lemon juice, blend until incorporated.  Reserve.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Trim each end off the squash.  Slice squash lengthwise.  Remove and discard seeds.  Season inside of the squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Place cut side down on baking sheet and place into oven.  Cook for 30 minutes, making sure squash gets a golden brown color on the side that is on the baking sheet.  Remove from oven and carefully turn the squash, return to oven and cook another 10-15 minutes or until a fork can easily be inserted and flesh is soft and tender.  Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes.  Using a towel pick up a half of squash and using a fork in the other hand scrap the insides into a large bowl.  It will look like yellow strands of spaghetti, thus the name.  Repeat with the other half.  Add 2 tablespoons of pesto (or to taste) and gently toss the squash to mix.   Plate a portion of squash and top with fresh shaved parmesan cheese. Serve and enjoy!

•For a smoother texture, make pesto in a blender, scraping down sides frequently before adding oil.
•Pesto keeps, its surface covered with plastic wrap, chilled, 1 week.
•Pesto can be frozen in sealed plastic bags (press out any excess air) up to 3 months.