"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.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Weekly Menu May 28th - June 3rd

Ginger and Garlic Tofu Pad Thai with Spring Vegetables 

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with a Peach BBQ sauce
Sweet Potato Hash Browns
Baby Greens Salad with Daikon Slaw and Ginger Vinaigrette

"Memorial Day" - Barbecue at the Brincheck's

Vegetable Fried Rice
Wonton Soup

Grilled Vegetables with Chicken
Chickpea Salad with Lemon, Parmesan, and Herbs

Multi-grain Pasta with Eggplant, Zucchini, and Roasted Tomato Sauce
Baby Green Salad with Marinated Green Beans and Shallot Vinaigrette

Steak and Martini Night

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Weekly Menu May 21st - May 27th

"Date Night"- Dinner out with J. 

Fire Roasted Marinated Flank Steak
New Potato Salad with Smoked Bacon and Chives
Baby Greens Mix with Lemon Herb Vinaigrette -  right out of J's garden

Eggplant and Roasted Vegetable Ragu with Multi-grain Pasta
Garlic and Herb Bruschetta

Three Bean and Roasted Corn Tostadas
Avocado with Lime Cream
Chopped Salad with Oregano Vinaigrette

Grilled Salmon with Citrus Butter
Asparagus with julienne of Red Bell Pepper
Quinoa with Baby Peas, Shaved Parmesan, and Lemon Zest

Grilled Seafood Kabobs, Chimichurri Sauce
Brown Rice Pilaf

Family Dinner Out

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Tuscan Bruschetta with Pesto and Fresh Mozzarella

            Country Style Italian Bread, sliced 1” inch thick
            ¼ Cup Olive Oil
            ¼ Cup Pesto (Trader Joe’s has a fabulous product in a jar– very easy!)
            2 Plum Tomatoes, sliced ½” inch
            Squeeze fresh Lemon Juice
            ½ Cup Arugula, sliced very thinly
            4 oz. Fresh Mozzarella Cheese thinly sliced
            Salt & Pepper, to taste

Frisee Salad with a Lemon and Caper Vinaigrette
            ¾ Cup Frisee, washed and spun dry
            ¼ Cup Champagne Vinegar
            ¼ Cup fresh Lemon Juice
            1tsp grated lemon zest
            1 tsp Dijon Mustard
            1 Tbsp Sugar
            ¾ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
            1 Tbsp large Capers
            Salt & Pepper, to taste
            ½ Cup Red Bell Pepper, cut into small dice


Prepare Bruschetta by brushing sliced bread with small amount of olive oil, then Pesto.  Top with two slices of plum tomato, arugula, a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste and cheese.  Reserve this off to the side.

In a medium bowl or Cuisinart make the dressing by combining champagne vinegar, lemon juice, zest, mustard and sugar.  Mix thoroughly.  Slowly add the olive oil while briskly whisking in order to emulsify the dressing.  Once dressing is fully emulsified, season to taste with salt and pepper.  Finish by gently stirring in the capers, reserve for later.  This can be made up to a day ahead.

Turn oven to broil and wait for it to get hot.  In a bowl mix the Frisee with enough dressing just to coat lightly.   Place Bruschetta under the broiler and broil until cheese is melted.  Remove.  Arrange a small amount of the salad in the center of a plate and place the Bruschetta on top.  Sprinkle a small amount of the red bell pepper dice around the edge and if desired extra capers and serve immediately.

Venetian Crab Soup

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped
Shrimp shells from 2 pounds shrimp (reserve shrimp for another use)
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice
1 (1/2-inch) piece ginger, peeled and chopped
1 large pinch saffron threads, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 California bay leaf or 1 Turkish
2 quart chicken stock or reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 (8-ounce) Yukon Gold potato
1 small celery root (celeriac)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat

Heat oil in a wide 6-quart heavy pot over medium heat until it shimmers. Cook onion, celery, and fennel, stirring occasionally, until golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add shrimp shells and cook, stirring occasionally, until shells turn pink. Stir in tomatoes with their juice. Simmer, breaking up tomatoes slightly with a wooden spoon, 3 minutes, then add ginger, saffron, curry powder, and bay leaf and simmer 5 minutes. Add chicken stock and boil uncovered 5 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered 45 minutes.

Discard bay leaf, then purée soup (including shrimp shells) in batches in a blender until finely ground, about 2 minutes per batch (use caution when blending hot liquids). Strain soup through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean pot, discarding solids.

Peel and dice potato. Peel and dice enough celery root to measure 1/2 cup. Add potato and celery root to soup and gently simmer uncovered until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter and crabmeat. Season with salt and pepper.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Vegetable Fried RIce

15 oz. Tofu, drained for 30 minutes on papertowel, then large dice 1"
4 spring onions, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 egg, scrambled
1 C. mushrooms, sliced
1/2 C. snow peas (sugar snaps work well also)
1 C. bean sprouts
1 C. basmati rice, cooked and cooled
2 Tbsp. soy sauce, plus extra to taste
2 Tsp. sesame oil
4 Tbsp.peanut oil
1/2 C. frozen peas, thawed
2 medium carrots, small dice
1" fresh ginger, peeled and minced
Red pepper flake, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat large skillet over med-high heat, add 2 Tbsp. peanut oil and get hot.   Season tofu with salt and pepper then in batches add to skillet and cook to a golden brown.  Remove and reserve on papertowel.  Add remaining oil and sesame oil, get hot.  Add onions and 1/2 amount of spring onions, stir and cook until onions start to turn translucent.  Add carrots and mushrooms, cook for 3-4 minutes, add ginger and cook another 2 minutes.  Add bean sprouts and snow peas, cook for 2 minutes.  Add garlic, cook one more minute.  Add red pepper flakes, stir, add rice and mix well.  You may need a little more oil if mixture is sticking.  Cook until rice starts to turn golden, about 7-8 minutes.  Make a well in the center of mixture and pour eggs into it.  Stir with wooden spoon to scramble, cook until eggs are done and then incorporate the cooked egg throughout mixture.  Add tofu, peas and soy sauce, cook another 2 minutes, making sure everything is hot.  Adjust seasoning with soy sauce.  Plate and garnish with remaining spring onions, serve and enjoy.

Weekly Menu May 14th - May 20th

It's another installment of "Clean out the Freezer Week".  I am always amazed what I've got in there and it kind of gives me a vacation from the kitchen!  The secret to being able to do this is simple; I make double, sometimes triple when preparing a meal and freeze the rest.  Always date and mark what it is and you're all set.

Dinner out with Eli and Paula, Comedy Club or Dancing after

Oven Roasted Brined Free Range Chicken with Garlic and Herb Crust
Quinoa with Wild Mushrooms
Steamed Green Beans with Shallots

Eggplant Parmesan
Chopped Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Creamy Garlic Vinaigrette

Chickpea Stew with Smoked Turkey
Vegetable Basmati Rice

Roasted Vegetables, Pork, and Tomato Ragu served over Multi-Grain Pasta
Grilled Veggy and Chicken Burgers with Fresh Pineapple and Cilantro Salsa
Potato wedges tossed in a Chimicurri dressing
Spinach Salad with Strawberries and Red Onion Vinaigrette

Friday- "Steak and Martini Night"
Grilled Ahi Tuna Steak with a Garlic and Ginger Compund Butter
Asian Slaw
Buckwheat Noodles with Pickled Seaweed and Sesame Seeds

5/13/11: Restaurant Notes- Sposita's Restorante, West Bloomfield, MI

I was really excited to try this one.  I had three different people highly recommend it.  Although we had driven by this place a thousand time (on Fourteen mile rd, just east of Farmington), I never really noticed it.  Being that it was Friday night, traditionally "Steak and Martini" night in our house, we had the Chateaubriand for two.  Ordered, Medium-rare, it came with mulitiple courses; an antipasta plate, minestroni soup, and pasta bolognese.  We had a bottle of 2007 Viticcio Chianti Classico Riserva.  Don't worry, martinis were done at home before our 7:30pm seating. 
The funniest thing was entering the restaurant in the bar area, where sitting with her back to us at the bar was "mutton dressed like lamb" (older women dressed like her daughter and not pulling it off) with her thong totally hiked up (and showing some butt) over the band of her short skirt.  Hilarious! J almost took a pic to post on FB. (we didn't)  
The decor and dining room reminded me of a place that took over for a Cooney Island and tried, with very limited budget, to make it a fine dining place.  The place looked a little "tired" with it's framed posters on the wall, black table cloths and napkins, banquet chairs, etc.  Not what I was expecting.  The staff was very attentive,  but all their uniforms (white shirt, bow tie, black pants) needed pressing and most of the busser had dirty uniforms. 
The food; you get enough to feed a small village.  I have to say without a shadow of a doubt, the star of the evening was the Chateau, which was excellent.  It was cooked perfectly, sliced table side on a sizzling platter and the zip sauce made it a solid 10.  Unfortunately, they "mailed it in" on the mashed potatoes and broccoli that came with it.  The potatoes were gluey, a little salty and the broccoli, although cooked perfectly was bland. The wine complemented the Chateau well and was very good.  The bread basket was unremarkable.  I had a Caesar, instead of the house salad, which was good, J. said here salad was "a little warm, not crisp", (House).  Pet peev, both salad plates were warm, not chilled.  I know, small detail, but it definately makes a difference and is so easy to pull off.  This also helps the salad for being "a little warm".   The soup and  pasta were both ok to good, nothing to write home about.
All said and done we got out with tip for just under $150.  We were both a little disappointed with the place.  I would give the place a C+ to B-.  With so many other terrific places in town that do very similar type fare (Lelli's and Steve Lelli's on the Green, Andiamo's, etc.) I would not go back to this one.  I'm glad we tried this place because, life is all about the exploration, experiencing new things, and loving the journey.   We will continue to do all of that and can't wait to see what's up around the next bend.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Monkfish and Clam Bourride - Mediterranean fish soup

6 small (1 1/2- to 2-inch) red potatoes (3/4 pound)
2 large leeks (white parts only), cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 (1-pound) piece monkfish fillet, cut into 2-inch chunks
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large fennel bulb (sometimes called anise), stalks discarded and bulb halved lengthwise, cored, and thinly sliced lengthwise
1 cup thinly sliced shallots (4 medium)
4 garlic cloves, 3 thinly sliced and 1 halved crosswise
24 small hard-shelled clams (2 pounds) such as littlenecks (less than 2 inches wide), scrubbed well (Trader Joe's has these ready to go in their frozen food section)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
4 (3/4-inch-thick) slices crusty bread (about 4 inches wide), toasted

Accompaniments: aïoli and green olive tapenade (Trader Joe's)
Garnish: 8 whole fresh basil leaves

Quarter potatoes, then cover by 1 inch with salted cold water in a 3-quart saucepan and simmer, covered, until just tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Drain in a colander, then cool.
Wash leeks in a bowl of cold water, agitating water to loosen any sand, and lift leeks from water to a sieve to drain. Pat dry.
Pat monkfish dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a deep 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sear monkfish lightly on all sides until golden, about 2 minutes total (fish will not be cooked through). Transfer fish to a plate using tongs.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil from slow-braised tomatoes in skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté leeks, fennel, and shallots, stirring, until softened and edges begin to brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Add sliced garlic and sauté, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Add clams, wine, water, red pepper flakes, zest, and tomato halves and cook, covered, until clams are fully open, 6 to 10 minutes, checking every minute after 6 minutes and removing clams as they fully open. (Discard any clams that have not opened after 10 minutes.) Using tongs, transfer clams to a large bowl or soup tureen.
Add monkfish and potatoes to skillet and simmer, covered, until fish is just cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in basil and parsley. Season with salt and pour over clams.
While monkfish is cooking, rub one side of each toast with a cut side of halved garlic clove. Divide bourride among 4 shallow bowls. Add a garlic toast and top with a spoonful each of aïoli and tapenade.

Potato and Bean Enchiladas

  • 1 # potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 pound fresh tomatillos, husks removed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped, divided
  • 2 (12 ounce) packages corn tortilla
  • 1 (15.5 ounce) can pinto beans, drained
  • 1 (12 ounce) package queso fresco
  • oil for frying

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 

In a bowl, toss diced potatoes together with cumin, chili powder, salt, and ketchup, and place in an oiled baking dish. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until tender.
Meanwhile, boil tomatillos and chopped onion in water to cover for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, puree with half of the cilantro until smooth.
Fry tortillas individually in a small amount of hot oil until soft.
Mix potatoes together with pinto beans, 1/2 cheese, and 1/2 cilantro. Fill tortillas with potato mixture, and roll up. Place seam side down in an oiled 9x13 inch baking dish. Spoon tomatillo sauce over enchiladas, and spread remaining cheese over sauce. Bake for 20 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.  Serve and Enjoy!

Weekly Menu May 7th - May 13th

Dinner out - Andiamo's; Celebrate Mother's Day Eve

Sunday - Mother's Day
Classic Eggs Benedict
Double Smoked Bacon
O'Brien Potatoes
Smoked Whitefish Salad
Fruit Salad
Monkfish and Clam Bourride (Mediterranean Fish Soup)
Asparagus with Hollandaise
Angel Food Cake with Fresh Strawberries and Vanilla Whipped Cream
Potato and Bean Enchiladas
Chopped Salad with Roasted Corn and Avocado, Citrus Vinaigrette

Vegetable Fried Rice

Wednesday- Jeanne's Birthday
Pan Seared Salmon with Angel Hair Pasta, Garlic, Artichokes, and Sun-dried Tomatoes
Oven Roasted Herb Chicken with Root Vegetables
Wild Mushroom Quinoa
NY Strip Steaks with Zip Sauce
Smashed Yukon Gold Potatoes with Green Onions
Classic Wedge Salad with Gorganzola Vinaigrette, Tomato, Bacon and Red Onion

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Stuffed Peppers with Brown Rice and Pork

4 green peppers
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 # ground pork
1/4 # Italian sausage, remove casing
1 med. onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1/2 C. frozen corn
1/2 C. frozen sweet peas
1 C. cooked brown rice
1 C. diced tomato concasse (skin removed, remove pulp)
1 tsp. marjoram
1/4 C. chopped parsley
1/2 C. grated asiago cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
1 C. tomato sauce

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Remove tops of green peppers and remove seeds, leaving the insides hollow.  Reserve on the side.  Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, add 1 Tbsp. oil.  When oil is hot, add pork and sausage, season with marjoram, salt and pepper and cook.  Using a wooden spoon chop meat and mix the two together, continue to cook until browned, 4-5 minutes.  Remove meat from pan and reserve in bowl.  Return skillet to heat and add last 2 Tbsp. of oil to pan, once hot, saute onions for 2-3 minutes.  Add carrots and celery and cook until the start to soften, 3-4 minutes.  Add garlic and cook an additional minute.  Add corn and peas, cook for 2-3 more minutes, making sure everything is hot.  Add tomatoes and vinegar, cook another 1-2 minutes.  Add parsley and rice, mix well.  Transfer  rice and vegetable mixture to the reserved meat in bowl.  Add cheese and mix well.  Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if needed.
Stuff each pepper with rice mixture and place peppers in baking dish, cover with foil and place in oven.  Cook for 30 minutes or until peppers are fully cooked, tender and filling is hot.  
While peppers are cooking, heat tomato sauce.  Once peppers are done, pour a little sauce on the bottom of a plate and place stuffed pepper in the middle, shave a little extra asiago cheese over and serve.  I accompanied this with a baby green salad dressed lightly with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Enjoy!

Eggplant Parmesan

Olive oil
3 eggplants
1/2 C. flour
1/2 C. panko breadcrumbs
2 eggs
1/4 C. fresh basil, chiffonade (thinly slice leaves)
1 28oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1/4 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 C. grated parmesan cheese
1 C. fresh mozzarella cheese, grated
salt and pepper
1/8 tsp. red pepper flake

Heat oven to 375°F.  
Heat a pot over med-high heat.  Add 2 Tbsp. olive oil and heat until shimmering.  Add onions and cook until translucent 3-4 minutes.  Add garlic, cook 1 minute.  Add tomatoes, sugar, and basil.  Lower heat, cover and cook for 30 minutes.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat and reserve warm.
In a bowl, beat eggs.  Put flour and breadcrumbs in separate bowls.  Season breadcrumbs with garlic and onion powder, salt and pepper.  Arrange bowls to form a breading station, flour, then egg wash, then breadcrumbs.  Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add enough oil to form 1" in pan.  Start dipping eggplant in flour, shake excess off, then dip into egg wash and coat.  Transfer to the breadcrumbs, pressing so the eggplant is completely covered.  Repeat until eggplant is breaded.  
In small batches fry eggplant in the hot oil until golden brown on all sides.  Once each is done transfer to a baking dish.  You will need to add addition oil to the pan as you fry eggplant off.   Once all the eggplant is browned and in the baking dish, spoon the tomato sauce over and top with the two cheeses.  Place baking dish in the oven and cook until the cheese is starting to turn golden brown and bubbling.  Remove from oven, let rest 10 minutes and serve, Enjoy! 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Chickpea Stew with Smoked Turkey

4 C. cooked chickpeas (canned are fine)
2 C. good quality chicken stock
2 smoked turkey legs, skinned and deboned, meat cut into large dice (if desired, wings are fine)
4 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small eggplant, skinned and medium diced
1 pint portabella mushrooms, trimmed and medium diced
1 large onion, medium dice
1 celery stalk, medium dice
1 carrot, peeled and medium dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. minced ginger
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
2 C. peeled, seeded, & chopped tomato (called concasse - canned will work too)
Chopped flat leaf parsly for garnish

Heat large, deep skillet over med-high heat.  Add 2 Tbsp. oil and heat to shimmering.  Add eggplant and mushrooms, salt (will help remove excess liquid from vegetables).  Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 15-20 minutes.  Remove from skillet and reserve warm.  Put skillet back on heat, add remaining oil.  Once hot, add onion, celery, and carrot.  Cook until onions are translucent, about 4-5 minutes.  Add ginger, cook for 2 minutes.  Add garlic, cook another minute.  Add turkey and then return eggplant mixture to the skillet.  Stir well and add chickpeas, stock, tomatoes, cumin and coriander.  Cook for 15 minutes.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.  Garnish with parsley, serve and enjoy.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Chicken Cassoulet with Vegetables

4 strips good quality smoked bacon
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1# chicken, white or dark meat, deboned and cut into pieces for serving
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 leeks, trimmed, washed and sliced thin
2 shallots, peeled and sliced
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1" lengths
3 celery stalks, cut into 1/2" pieces
2 medium zucchinis, cut into 1/2" pieces
4 C. chopped tomatoes, drained (canned is fine)
4 C. cooked white beans (canned are fine)
1/2 C. white wine
1 1/2  C. good quality chicken stock
2 bay leaves
4-5 pieces of fresh thyme with stems
salt and pepper, to taste
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper or to taste (optional)

Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper.  Heat a heavy bottomed soup pot.  Add bacon and cook until browned.  Remove bacon and reserve for later.  Add olive oil to pot and heat to shimmering.  Add chicken and sear golden brown on all sides.  Remove chicken and reserve on the side.  To pot, add leeks, shallots, carrots,  and celery.  Cook vegetables for 4-5 minutes, stirring (may need small amount of additional oil if sticking).  Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute.  Add wine and deglaze bottom of pot.  Use a wooden spoon to scrap brown bits from the bottom.  Add tomatoes, chicken, zucchini, beans, thyme stems, bay leaves, and stock.  Bring to the boil and reduce heat immediately.  Cook for 20-30 minutes.  Remove thyme stems and bay leaves.  Crumble bacon and add to cassoulet.  Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and cayenne.  Serve and enjoy!