"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 30, 2013

Weekly Menu Dec. 30th - Jan. 3rd

Roasted Acorn Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas
Chopped Salad with Roasted Pumpkin Seeds and a Honey-Lime Vinaigrette

"New Year's Eve Dinner - Happy 2014"
Slow Braised Beef with Porcini Mushrooms and Red Wine
Oven Roasted Potatoes, Sea Salt and Rosemary
Asparagus with Garlic and Parmesan

New Year's Day!!
Roasted Pork Loin with Fennel-Mustard Crust
Sauerkraut with Bacon and Caraway
Great Beans and Shallots

Pan Seared Tilapia with Crab
Ratatouille Vegetables

"Steak and Martini Night"
Prime Aged Bone-in Ribeye
Crispy Shallots
Baby Arugula Salad with Gorgonzola and Tomatoes

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Weekly Menu Dec. 14th - Dec. 20th

Dinner out with Susan and Matt - Steven Lelli's on the Green

Chicken Mole Enchiladas
Chopped Salad, Honey-Lime Vinaigrette

Butternut Squash and Roasted Garlic Cassoulet
Green Beans

Oven Roasted Salmon with a Sweet Onion Glaze
Celery Salad with Dates, Almonds, and Parmesan

Beef and Black Bean Chili

Cheese Burger Lettuce Wraps
Sweet Potatoes Fries with Green Onions and Bacon

Chicken Cacciatore
Spaghetti Squash

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Pan Seared Snook with Crab & Citrus Buerre Blanc

I recently was down in Naples Florida and cooked a dinner for a couple of clients.  The host, a fabulous fisherman asked me to prepare Snook.  Truth be told, I never cooked this beautiful fish before.  I had it once about 25 years ago at a private party and just remembered that it was a firm, very tasty, meaty fleshed fish.  So, I punted and here's what came out...

4 Snook fillets (You can easily substitute Grouper, Sea Bass, or any firm white fish.)
2 Tbsp. Flour
4oz. Crab meat
1 Tbsp. Shallots, peeled and sliced
1 clove Garlic, peeled and sliced
3 Tbsp. Olive oil

Buerre Blanc-
1 Tbsp. Olive oil
8 Tbsp. Butter
2 Tbsp minced shallot
1/2 C. White wine
1Tbsp. Lemon juice
1 Tsp. Orange zest
1 Tsp. Lemon zest
1 C. Heavy cream
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Add oil to a sauté pan and heat over medium heat.  Add shallots and garlic to the oil and cook slowly to infuse flavors to the oil, about 10-15 minutes.  Do not burn.  Remove garlic and shallots from oil, discard solids and reserve oil to sauté fish.

In a medium sauce pan add 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil, heat over medium high heat.  Once hot, add shallots and sweat for 3-4 minutes.  Add orange and lemon zests and bay leaf, cook another minute.  Increase heat to high and add wine and lemon juice.  Reduce by half.  Add heavy cream and bring to a boil, stirring often.  Be careful cream will expand rapidly and if not watched will boil over and cause a fire on the stove top.  Lower heat and reduce cream by half, stirring constantly.  Once cream has thickened to the consistency of a sauce, strain through a fine sieve into another small pot.  Discard the solids.  Put sauce back on low heat and whisk in remaining butter.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Keep sauce warm, but do not boil as it will break.

Season fish fillets with salt and pepper and dust with flour.  Place sauté pan with the seasoned oil on medium high heat and get hot.  Carefully add fish, skin side up and cook to just golden brown, 5-6 minutes. Turn and cook skin side for a minute or two.  Remove from pan and place fish on a buttered baking tray and top with crab.  Put into hot oven and cook until fish is just done, depending on the fillets' size, about 8-10 minutes.  Once done, remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes.  Plate the fish and top with some of the Buerre Blanc and parsley.  Serve and enjoy.

Chilled Shrimp Served with a Jicama, Carrot, & Apple Salad

Equal parts shredded Jicama, Honey Crisp Apple & Carrot
Lemon juice
Honey, to taste (a drizzle)
Olive oil
Kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper
Garnish - chiffonade Chive

In a large mixing bowl combine all ingredients.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Reserve for shrimp.


24 large uncooked shrimp, in shells

Court Bouillon:

6 C. Water
1 C. White wine
4 garlic cloves, crushed
Equal parts onion, celery, and carrots
3-4 Thyme branches
3-4 parsley stems
Juice of 1 fresh lemon
2-3 Bay leaves
Kosher salt, black pepper, to taste

In a large pot combine all ingredients.  Taste Bouillon it should taste like a soup, very flavorful.  Bring just to a boil and reduce heat immediately.  Bring water temperature down to 145-155°F.  Carefully put shrimp, in their shells, into the bouillon.  Cook until just firm, about 6-7 minutes.  Drain shrimp mixture into a colander and spread shrimp with vegetables on a sheet pan and place into the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes.  Once cold, peel shells from the shrimp and remove veins.  Keep chilled until service.

Serve shrimp with Jicama salad and some cocktail sauce.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Roasted Acorn Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas

1 Acorn Squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1" dice
1 Yellow Onion, diced
1 clove Garlic, minced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1 can (15oz) black beans, drained
1/2 C. Salsa
1 tablespoon; onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder
1 teaspoon; cumin, coriander, paprika, oregano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Soft corn tortillas
1/2 cup Queso Fresco
1/2 cup shredded Colby Jack cheese
1 cup Enchilada sauce, plus extra for serving
Garnish with sour cream, shredded lettuce and favorite hot sauce

Preheat oven to 400°F.

To make filling:
Place squash in a large mixing bowl, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil and all seasonings (onion, garlic, chili powders, cumin, coriander, paprika, and oregano), salt and pepper.  Toss well.  Put seasoned squash on rimmed baking sheet and place in oven.  Cook for 20 minutes, stirring half way through.

Meanwhile, in a large pan heat the last tablespoon of oil.  Add onions and peppers.  Cook for 5-7 minutes until they start to soften.  Add minced garlic and black beans.  Cook for another 5 minutes.  Add salsa, mix well and correct seasoning with salt and pepper.  Mix in cilantro.  Reserve warm.  When squash is done, add to black bean mixture, mix.

Place 1/4 cup of enchilada sauce on bottom of a clean baking dish.  Take a small amount of squash filling and place on tortilla.  Add a small amount of queso fresco and roll, place enchilada seam side down onto sauced dish.  Repeat until all filling and Queso is used.  Rope enchiladas with sauce and shredded Colby jack.  Place dish into oven and cook for 30 minutes or until cheese is fully melted but not brown.  Remove from oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.  Serve with shredded lettuce, sour cream, hot sauce, if desired and additional enchilada sauce.  Enjoy!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Granola for a Paleo Lifestyle

I love this in a bowl with almond milk or straight up out of the ziplock bag. It's the easiest thing in the world to whip up and kills anything you'll buy in the store. It's also way less expensive to make yourself.  Enjoy!

1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup pecans, chopped
½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup honey
¼ cup maple syrup
1 cup dried cranberries, blueberries, raisins, or cherries
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Add all ingredients, except honey, dried fruit and maple syrup to a large mixing bowl.  Mix well.  Place on a baking sheet (use parchment paper for easy clean up).  Bake for 15 minutes, remove and carefully stir in the syrup and honey.  Return to oven and cook an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Watch carefully the last 5 minutes so as not to burn.  Remove baking sheet from the oven, mix in dried fruit. Let cool.  Serve and Enjoy!

Weekly Menu Nov. 16th - Nov. 22nd

Thai-styled Chicken Lettuce wraps
Spicy Asian Green Beans

Pot Roast, Mushroom Gravy
Roasted Root Vegetables

Roasted Acorn Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas, Quesco Fresco
Salsa Verde

Spaghetti Squash with Bolognese
Grilled Turkey Sausage topped with Gorgonzola

Butternut Squash and Roasted Garlic Cassoulet
Arugula Salad with Crispy Shallots and Honey-Lemon Vinaigrette

Grilled Garlic Shrimp, Spaghetti Squash

"B.A.S Night" (Big Ass Steak night)
Bone-in Aged NY Strip Steaks
Mushrooms with Caramelized Shallots
Sautéed Spinach with Garlic
Mashed Turnips with Green Onions

Butternut Squash and Roasted Garlic Cassoulet

1 whole garlic head
4 ounces pancetta, chopped
2 cups vertically sliced onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
4 1/2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 2 pounds)
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 (16-ounce) cans cannellini or other white beans, rinsed and drained
1 bay leaf
2 (1-ounce) slices white bread
2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Remove white papery skin from garlic head (do not peel or separate the cloves). Wrap garlic head in foil. Bake at 350°F for 1 hour; cool 10 minutes. Separate cloves; squeeze to extract garlic pulp. Set half of garlic pulp aside; reserve remaining garlic pulp for another use. Discard skins.
Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pancetta; sauté 5 minutes or until crisp. Remove pancetta from pan, reserving drippings in pan. Add onion and 1 tablespoon oil to drippings in pan; sauté 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 25 minutes or until onion is very tender and browned, stirring frequently. Stir in vinegar.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Add garlic pulp, pancetta, squash, and next 6 ingredients (through bay leaf) to onion mixture, stirring well. Place bread in a food processor, and pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure about 1 cup. Combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and 1/2 teaspoon olive oil; sprinkle evenly over squash mixture. Cover and bake at 375°F for 50 minutes or until squash is tender. Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes or until topping is browned. Discard bay leaf. Sprinkle with parsley.  Serve and Enjoy!

Spicy Asian Green Beans

Serves: 6

1 lb of Green Beans
½ lb of Carrots
1 Sweet Bell Pepper
3 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons of Lime Juice
1 Tablespoon of Fish Sauce
1 Tablespoon of Peanut Butter
1 Tablespoon of Red Chiles or Chile Paste
½ teaspoon of Tumeric
¼ teaspoon of Grated Ginger
¼ teaspoon of Coriander
½ cup of Water
2 Tablespoons of Chopped Basil
1 Tablespoon of Sesame Oil
¼ cup of chopped Peanuts
1 Tablespoon olive oil Cooking Oil

Slice the green beans at an angle. Slice the carrots into thin discs or even strips.  Core the bell pepper and slice into strips about the size of the green bean.  Combine the soy sauce, red chile paste, lime juice, fish sauce, turmeric, ginger, coriander, peanut butter, and water in a bowl.

Heat a wok to medium heat and add the olive oil (not the sesame oil).  Add the green beans and stir fry for about 2 minutes. Add the carrots.  Add the sauce mixture and continue to cook with intermittent stirring for about 7-8 minutes until the sauce reduces.  Add in the chopped bell pepper and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and fold in sesame oil and basil.  Garnish with chopped nuts, serve and enjoy!

Thai-style Chicken Lettuce Wraps

This is a really versatile recipe and without too many exotic ingredients you can really get that Thai flavor profile.  Feel free to substitute the chicken for whatever you are hankering for.  So, instead of chicken try,1/2 cup firm Tofu or pork, shredded, or 1/2 cup cooked baby shrimp.  I've even thinly sliced grilled steak, yum.  Enjoy!!

1 head fresh iceberg lettuce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 thumb-size piece ginger, peeled & grated
1/4 to 1/3 tsp. chili flakes
2 shallots, sliced finely
1/2 cup cooked chicken, cut into strips
1 carrot, grated or cut into thin strips
5-6 mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 egg
1/2 cup shredded cabbage (any type will work)
3 spring onions, sliced
approx. 2 cups bean sprouts
2 Tbsp. lime juice
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1+1/2 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 Tbsp. oyster sauce
1/4 tsp. sugar

1/3 cup fresh basil OR mint, chopped if leaves are large
1/3 cup fresh dry roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
fresh bean sprouts

OTHER: 2 Tbsp. oil for stir-frying

Drizzle oil into a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic, ginger, chili flakes, and shallots. Stir-fry one minute, or until fragrant. Stir-frying tip: add a little water or white wine if the wok/pan gets too dry instead of more oil.
Add chicken, carrot, shiitake mushrooms, cabbage, and spring onions. As you stir-fry, add the lime juice, soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce and sprinkle over the sugar. Stir-fry about 1 minute.
Push ingredients to the side of the wok or pan, and crack in the egg. Stir-fry quickly to break the yolk. Mix in with the other ingredients.
Add the bean sprouts and stir-fry briefly to mix (avoid over-looking or it will go limp). Remove from heat and correct the seasoning with adding more fish sauce if not salty enough.
Cut off the stem part of the iceberg lettuce so it's easier to separate the leaves. Now place the lettuce, sir-fried filling, and the toppings on your table in separate bowls/plates, allowing family or guests to make their own wraps.
To assemble, take a whole lettuce leaf and place 1-2 heaping tablespoons of filling in the center. Top with a sprinkling of fresh basil and peanuts plus fresh bean sprouts if desired. Then wrap up and eat! (For those who like it extra spicy, fresh-cut chili can be added as another topping.) ENJOY!

Paleo Brownies

Jeanne found this recipe at Elana's Pantry and I was excited to give them a try.  The result was really stunning.  Great cake-like texture and fabulous rich chocolate flavors.  I increased the sugar from a teaspoon to heaping tablespoon, the first batch I made wasn't sweet enough to marry with the richness of the cocoa.  I also made a couple of substitutions.  Not messing with the coconut oil, I substituted vegetable oil and instead of the stevia, used sugar.  In addition, I added 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Makes 16 brownies

1 cup blanched almond flour
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
4 ounces baking chocolate (100% cacao), chopped
7 Medjool dates (1/2-2/3 cup) pits removed, rough chop
3 large eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
1 heaping tablespoon spoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350° F.

In a food processor, pulse together almond flour, salt and baking soda.  Pulse in dark chocolate until the texture of coarse sand.  Pulse in dates until the texture of coarse sand, pulse in eggs.  Pulse in oil, sugar, and extract until mixture is smooth.

Transfer mixture to a greased 8 x 8 inch baking dish.  Mixture will be very thick, smooth with a spatula.  Place in hot oven and bake for 18-22 minutes.  Cool for 2 hours, then serve and Enjoy!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Root Vegetable Gratin

1 lb parsnips (about 4 medium)
1 medium celery root (sometimes called celeriac; 3/4 lb total)
1 lb sweet potatoes
1 1/2 lb russet (baking) potatoes
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream

Put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 400°F.
Peel parsnips and cut crosswise into 3-inch lengths with a knife, then cut lengthwise around core into 1/8-inch-thick slices with slicer (discard core). Transfer to a large bowl.
Peel celery root and all potatoes (prepare russet potatoes last to avoid discoloration) and halve lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices with slicer. Add to parsnips along with salt, garlic, pepper, nutmeg, broth, and 1 3/4 cups cream, tossing to combine. Transfer to gratin dish, spreading evenly.
Cut out a piece of parchment or wax paper to fit just inside gratin dish, then butter 1 side of parchment. Cover vegetables directly with parchment, buttered side down, then put dish in a shallow baking pan (to catch any drips). Bake until gratin is bubbling all over and vegetables are tender when pierced with a knife, about 50 minutes. Discard parchment.
Just before serving, preheat broiler. Drizzle top of gratin with remaining 2 tablespoons cream and broil 4 to 6 inches from heat until browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve and Enjoy!

Italian Parsley and Beet Salad

1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
2 1/4 pounds assorted beets with greens (such as Chioggia, white, golden, and red; 1 1/2 pounds if already trimmed)
1/4 small red onion
1 1/4 cups Italian (flat-leaf) parsley leaves (from 1 bunch), torn if desired
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

Accompaniment: fresh ricotta or farmer cheese, or grated ricotta salata

Whisk together juices, oil, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a large bowl.
Trim beets, leaving 1 inch of stems attached, then peel.
Using stems as a handle, slice beets paper-thin (less than 1/8 inch thick) with slicer (I like to wear latex gloves to avoid staining my hands), then cut slices into very thin matchsticks.
Thinly slice onion with slicer.
Toss beets, onion, and parsley with dressing and season with salt. Let stand, tossing occasionally, 30 minutes to soften beets and allow flavors to develop.
Toss again and season with salt and pepper before serving drizzled with additional oil.  Add a healthy table spoon of fresh ricotta or farmer's cheese and finish with a little extra ground black pepper.  Serve with crusty Italian bread or baguette and Enjoy!

Pumpkin Pie

With Thanksgiving coming up I thought I'd share a terrific recipe for the star dessert.  If making your own crust seems like too big a bother, just buy a pre-made one at the store.

1 Basic flaky Pie Crust for a 9-inch pie
4 (2-inch) gingersnaps
1/4 cup pecan halves
1 3/4 cups unsweetened pumpkin puree (one 15-ounce can)
3/4 cup, packed, light brown sugar, preferably raw
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 liquid cup milk
2/3 liquid cup heavy cream
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Make the dough:
Using a floured pastry cloth and rolling pin sleeve, or two sheets of lightly floured plastic wrap, roll the pastry 1/8 inch thick or less and large enough to cut a 13-inch circle. Use an expandable flan ring or a cardboard template and a sharp knife as a guide to cut out the circle. Transfer it to the pie pan and tuck the overhanging pastry under itself. If desired, reroll the scraps, chill, and cut out decorative designs such as leaves. (Bake them separately on a small baking sheet at 400°F for 6 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to a rack to cool.)
Cut the border into a checkerboard design or use a fork or spoon to make a flat but decorative border. Do not make a high raised border or extend it over the sides of the pan, as it will not hold up baked so close to the heat source. Refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap, for at least 1 and up to 24 hours.
Preheat the oven to 375°F at least 20 minutes before baking.  Set an oven shelf at the lowest level and place a baking stone or cookie sheet on it before preheating.
Process the gingersnaps and pecans until finely ground. Sprinkle them over the bottom of the pie crust and, using your fingers and the back of a spoon, press them into the dough to coat the entire bottom, going about 1/2 inch up the sides.
Make the pumpkin filling:
In a small heavy saucepan, stir together the pumpkin, brown sugar, spices, and salt. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a sputtering simmer, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 to 5 minutes or until thick and shiny.
Scrape the mixture into a food processor and process for 1 minute. With the motor on, add the milk and cream, processing until incorporated. Scrape the sides of the work bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, processing just to incorporate, about 5 seconds after each addition; add the vanilla along with the last egg.
Pour the mixture into the pie shell and place in oven on cookie sheet. Bake the pie for 50 to 60 minutes or just until a knife inserted between the sides and center comes out almost clean. The filling will have puffed and the surface dulled, except for the center. (The filling will shake like jelly when moved. This will happen before it has finished baking, so it cannot be used as a firm indication of doneness; conversely, if it does not have this jelly-like consistency, you can be sure that it is not baked adequately). If the crust appears to be darkening too much on the bottom, raise the pie to the next rack. After 30 minutes, protect the edges with a foil ring.
Place the baked pie on a rack to cool. When cool, the surface will be flat. If you have made decorative designs, place them on it now.

Chocolate Brownies

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cold large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup walnut or pecan pieces (optional)

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.

Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot.
Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Stir in the nuts, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.
Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 18-20 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.
Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Everyone needs a terrific chocolate chip cookie recipe.  This is one I found years ago in Gourmet magazine and have used ever since.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (16 ounces)

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment or wax paper.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.
Beat together butter and sugars in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Lightly beat 1 egg with a fork in a small bowl and add 1 3/4 tablespoons of it plus 2 remaining whole eggs to butter mixture, beating with mixer until creamy, about 1 minute. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low and mix in flour mixture until just blended, then stir in chips.
Scoop 1/4 cup batter for each cookie, arranging mounds 3 inches apart, on 2 baking sheets. Flatten mounds into 3-inch rounds using moistened palm of your hand. Form remaining cookies on additional sheets of parchment.
Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until golden, 13 to 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool and continue making cookies in same manner using cooled baking sheets.  Serve and enjoy!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Mashed Yellow Turnips with Crispy Shallots

1 1/2 cups light olive or vegetable oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 to 6 shallots, peeled and sliced into thin rings
2 large yellow turnips (rutabagas), about 4 pounds total
Kosher salt
1 cup whole milk
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) salted butter
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil and unsalted butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat until it reaches 220° F. Reduce the heat to low, add the shallots, and cook until they are a rich golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. The temperature should stay below 260 degrees F. Stir the shallots occasionally to make sure they brown evenly. Remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon, drain well, and spread out to cool on paper towels. Once they have dried and crisped, they can be stored at room temperature, covered, for several days.

Peel the turnips to remove the waxy skins and cut them into generous 1-inch chunks. Place them in a saucepan with water to cover and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, until easily pierced by a paring knife, about 35 minutes. Drain.

In a separate saucepan, heat the milk and salted butter over low heat until the butter has melted and the milk just begins to simmer.

Puree the turnips in several batches in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. With the motor running, add the melted butter and milk in a steady stream. The turnips should be smooth.

Return the puree to the saucepan, season with 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper, and reheat, stirring, over medium heat. Serve piping hot, sprinkled with crispy shallots.  Enjoy!

Roasted Jicama

This is a really great substitute for potatoes.  It's a little sweet and nutty, I just love it.  Serve as you would potato just with a whole lot less carbs and calories.

2 cups jicama, skin removed and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced finely
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon parsley
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Toss all ingredients together. Spread single layer on a baking pan. Put pan into hot oven and cook for 1 hour stirring every 15 minutes.  Remove, serve hot and Enjoy!

Vegetable-Leek and Chicken Soup

This is a super easy soup to throw together on a cold fall day.  If you don't feel like cooking the chicken breast in the recipe, substitute a pre-cooked one from your grocery store.  Shred the meat and replace the water in the recipe with all chicken stock.  Now, disregard the poaching step in the recipe and start by sweating the vegetables in paragraph two.  It's that easy.

4 cups water
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1 lb skinless boneless chicken breasts
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
2 medium leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced
4 medium carrots, cut diagonally into 1/3-inch-thick slices
2 celery ribs, cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

Bring water and broth to a simmer in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan. Add chicken and simmer, uncovered, 6 minutes. Remove pan from heat and cover, then let stand until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate and cool 10 minutes. Reserve poaching liquid, uncovered.
While chicken is poaching, cook onion and leeks in oil in a 4-quart heavy pot, covered, over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add carrots, celery, salt, and pepper and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add poaching liquid and simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
While vegetables are cooking, shred chicken into 1/4-inch-wide strips (about 1 inch long). When vegetables are done simmering, stir chicken into soup along with parsley. Serve and Enjoy!

Weekly Menu Nov. 9th - Nov. 15th

Soup of the week: Vegetable and Leek with shredded Chicken

Grilled Sirloin Steaks with Wild Mushrooms
Mashed Turnips
Roasted Beets and Carrots

Seared Salmon served over Caesar Salad
Oven Roasted Jicama and Sweet Onions

Thai Curried Chicken with Vegetables
Asian Spiced Spaghetti Squash

Vegetable Chili
Roasted Cauliflower with Garlic and Thyme

Turkey Meatloaf, mushroom gravy
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Pecans
Braised Carrots with Honey and Shallots

Butternut Squash and Beef Stew

Dinner Out

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Brined-Roasted Turkey Breast

How many times have you been excited about Thanksgiving's star, the bird, just to be crushed that the white meat turns out to be as dry as the Mohave desert?!  Here's a sure fire way to insure moist delicious breast meat that will have everyone racing back for more and singing your praises.

2 skin-on, bone-in turkey breasts (3 1/2–4 pounds)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

1 onion, sliced thickly
2 celery stalks
2 carrots, peeled, cut lengthwise
6 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs rosemary
1 head of garlic, cloves peeled, crushed

Brine Turkey Breasts overnight.  (3 qt. water, 1/2 C. Orange juice, 1/2 C. salt, 1/3 C. sugar, 1 tablespoon fennel seeds,1 onion sliced, 1 carrot, peeled, cut on a diagonal, 1/2 fennel bulb sliced, 8 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, 8 sprigs thyme, 2 bay leaves)

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Remove breasts from brine and pat dry. Gently loosen skin from turkey breasts and rub butter under skin and all over outside of breasts; season with salt and pepper.
Place a roasting rack in a rimmed baking sheet and scatter onion slices, celery, carrots, thyme sprigs, rosemary sprigs, and garlic on the rack and arrange turkey breasts, skin side up, on top. Put into oven and roast turkey breasts for 30 minutes, until skin starts to crisp and turn golden brown. Turn down oven to 300°F and loosely tent the breasts with foil.  Continue to cook until done. (20 minutes per lb. or internal temp reaches 155°F.) Transfer turkey breasts to a platter and let rest 20-30 minutes before carving.

Serve turkey breasts with pan drippings alongside.

Braised Turkey Legs and Thighs

I'm starting to get excited about my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving.  I really like to break the bird down into two parts, white meat and dark meat.  Cooking each with a separate technique to insure both come out moist and equally delicious.  Here's a simple braise technique for the legs and thighs.

2 skin-on turkey drumsticks (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 skin-on, bone-in turkey thighs (about 2 pounds)
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large leeks, whites and pale greens, chopped
6 celery stalks, thinly sliced
8 garlic cloves, crushed
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, plus 1/2 cup chopped leaves
4 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs sage
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
8 small carrots, tops trimmed, carrots halved lengthwise
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

Season turkey with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Working in batches, cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, 15–20 minutes per batch; transfer to a large plate.
Add onion, leeks, celery, and garlic to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5–8 minutes. Add wine, parsley, and thyme and sage sprigs; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until reduced by half, 8–10 minutes.
Return turkey to pot and add broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover pot, and simmer until meat is tender and cooked through and liquid is reduced by half, 2 1/2–3 hours. Add carrots and cook, uncovered, until carrots are soft and meat is falling off the bone, 35–45 minutes; season with salt and pepper.
Transfer turkey and carrots to a platter. Strain sauce; serve alongside. Top with chives and 1/2 cup chopped parsley.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Weekly Menu Nov. 2nd - Nov. 8th

Dinner out with Friends- Mex Restaurant, Birmingham

Garlic Chicken Stir-Fry
Rice Noodles with Black Bean Sauce

Carnitas with Salsa Fresco
Cilantro Rice
Warm Tortillas

Grilled Salmon with Five Onion Marmalade
Spaghetti Squash
Green Beans with Red Onion Confetti

Roasted Chicken
Oven Roasted Root Vegetables with Balsamic Glaze

BBQ Pulled Pork
Jicama, Carrot, and Apple Slaw

"Chef's night off", catchers catch can!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Saffron Polenta with Golden Corn

This makes a great side dish for just about anything, but really matches nicely with the veal chops in the following post.  

2 tablespoons chicken fat or olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
5 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1 cup medium-grain polenta
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed

Heat chicken fat in large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion; cover and cook 5 minutes (do not brown). Add broth, 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt, and saffron; bring to boil. Whisk in polenta. Cook, whisking constantly, until polenta boils and starts to thicken, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover; simmer until polenta is cooked through and very thick, stirring with flat- bottom spoon, about 10 minutes longer.
Meanwhile, blend corn kernels in processor until coarse puree forms; mix into polenta. Season with pepper.
DO AHEAD: can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Stir over low heat to rewarm.

Veal Chops with Sherry Gastrique and Roasted Peperonata

My favorite spot for chops when we go out is Bacco Ristorante and they serve theirs with a roasted peperonata as well. I normally don't do veal at home (Jeanne doesn't like the idea of serving baby cow).   But, this is a stellar preparation and for the Holidays, well, she'll have to let it slide.  For the record this also  works great if you substitute the veal with pork chops.

Sherry gastrique:
2 cups cream sherry
1 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
2/3 cup sherry wine vinegar
1/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
Veal chops:
6 1-to 1 1/4-inch-thick veal rib chops coarse kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
All purpose flour
2 tablespoons chicken fat or olive oil, divided
1/3 cup low-salt chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

Roasted Peperonata- see below

For sherry gastrique:
Boil all ingredients in large saucepan until reduced to generous 2/3 cup, about 30 minutes. DO AHEAD: can be made 3 days ahead. Cool, cover, and chill.

For veal chops:
Preheat oven to 425°F. Sprinkle veal on each side with coarse salt, pepper, 1/8 teaspoon allspice, 1/2 teaspoon thyme; dust generously with flour. Heat 1 tablespoon chicken fat in heavy large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 3 chops. Sear until brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with remaining veal chops.
Place chops in oven and roast until cooked to desired doneness, about 5 minutes for medium-rare (135°F). Transfer chops to plates. Reserve baking sheet.
Meanwhile, stir broth and cornstarch in small bowl to dissolve. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon drippings from skillet. Add broth mixture, gastrique, and any juices from baking sheet to skillet. Bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Boil until sauce thickens to desired consistency.
Spoon gastrique over each chop. Serve with peperonata and remaining gastrique.


5 large bell peppers (preferably 3 red, 1 orange, and 1 green)
3 tablespoons golden raisins
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, pressed
1 1/2 tablespoons drained capers
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 pinches of cayenne pepper coarse kosher salt

Char peppers directly over gas flame or in broiler. Enclose in plastic bag; steam 15 to 30 minutes. Peel, seed, and cut peppers into 1/2-inch-wide strips. Mix peppers, raisins, oil, garlic, capers, vinegar, thyme, paprika, and cayenne in large bowl. Season with coarse salt and pepper.
DO AHEAD: can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Carrot-Apple Soup with Mint and Holiday Spices

I love how the mint that finishes this soup really adds another level of flavor.  This is a terrific addition to any Holiday dinner.

2 tablespoons chicken fat or olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped white onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 pounds carrots, peeled, diced
3 3/4 cups low-salt chicken broth
3/4 cup diced peeled fuji apple plus 1/2 cup finely diced (for garnish)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger
4 1/2 tablespoons apple sauce
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
Coarse kosher salt and ground fresh black pepper, to taste
Chopped fresh mint

Heat chicken fat in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 2 minutes. Add garlic, cook another minute.  Add all carrots, broth, 3/4 cup apple, and ginger; bring to boil. Cover. Reduce heat; simmer until carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.
Puree soup in batches in blender; return to pan. Mix in apple sauce and spices. Season with coarse salt and pepper.
Ladle soup into warm bowls. Top with finely diced carrot, finely diced apple, and mint. Serve and Enjoy!

Forest Mushroom Latkes with Mushroom Salad and Chives

So were coming up on Hanukkah and I'm already thinking of what to do with the potato pancakes this year.  Since wild mushrooms are kind of an obsession of mine, this combination is an exciting one.  Enjoy!

1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 cups chopped onions, divided
1 large egg
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil (for frying)

Salad and chive cream:
1 cup nondairy sour cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
3 1/2 tablespoons (or more) white wine vinegar, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 small garlic cloves, pressed
8 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps sliced
8 ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced
3 cups (packed) baby greens

For latkes:
Combine porcini and boiling water in bowl. Soak until soft, about 30 minutes. Strain, pressing out all liquid. Chop porcini.
Blend potatoes and 1/2 cup onions in processor until finely ground and some liquid forms. Turn mixture out onto kitchen towel. Gather towel around and squeeze mixture very dry. Scrape into large bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups onions and next 4 ingredients. Stir until batter becomes moist. Add porcini.
Pour enough oil into heavy large skillet to coat bottom; heat over medium-high heat. Working in batches, drop potato mixture into skillet by scant 1/4 cupfuls. Flatten into 2 1/2-inch rounds. Cook until golden, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to large baking sheet. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Rewarm in 400°F oven until crisp, 4 to 5 minutes per side.

For salad and chive cream:
Stir nondairy sour cream, chives, and 1 1/2 tablespoons vinegar in small bowl to blend.
Season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.
Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and all mushrooms; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until brown, 6 to 7 minutes. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons vinegar; toss. Season with salt, pepper, and more vinegar, if desired.
Overlap latkes on plates. Mound greens alongside; top with mushrooms. Serve with chive cream and Enjoy!

Weekly Menu Oct. 26th - Nov. 1st

Chicken and White Bean Cassoulet
French baguette

Mahi-Mahi Tacos with Pico de Gallo
Jicama, Carrot and Apple Slaw

Beef and Butternut Squash Stew
Baby Romaine Salad with a Warm Shallot Vinaigrette

Meatballs and Spaghetti Squash, Bolognese

Pasole with Chips and Salsa

Eggplant Parmesan
Chopped Italian Salad with fresh Basil and Mozzarella

BBQ Dinner at CAYA

Curried Lentil Soup

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped, divided
2 tablespoons (or more) curry powder
1 cup French green lentils
4 1/4 cups (or more) water, divided
1 15- to 16-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained, rinsed
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
2 green onions, thinly sliced 1
lemon, cut into 6 wedges

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion and carrot; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until onion is translucent, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Add half of chopped garlic; stir until vegetables are soft but not brown, about 4 minutes longer. Add 2 tablespoons curry powder; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add lentils and 4 cups water. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Increase heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, puree chickpeas, lemon juice, 1/4 cup water, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and remaining garlic in processor.
Add chickpea puree and butter to lentil soup. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and additional curry powder, if desired. Add water by 1/4 cupfuls to thin to desired consistency. Divide soup among warm bowls. Sprinkle with thinly sliced green onions and serve with lemon wedges. Serve and Enjoy!

DO AHEAD: soup can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cool, cover, and refrigerate. Rewarm before continuing.

Honey-Mustard Glazed Salmon

By cooking the fish as an entire fillet in this preparation you'll ensure that the fish stays flaky and moist. The crushed caraway seeds in the glaze adds a really nice note to the classic honey and mustard combination, which really complements the full flavor of the salmon.

1 1/2 pound salmon fillet with skin (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches thick)
1 garlic clove
3 tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons mild honey
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds, crushed

Preheat broiler. Line rack of a broiler pan with foil and lightly coat with oil.
Pat salmon dry and put, skin side down, on pan. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Mince and mash garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt, then stir together with mustard, honey, vinegar, caraway seeds, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Spread mustard mixture evenly on top of salmon, then broil 5 to 6 inches from heat until just cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes.
Transfer salmon to a platter with 2 large spatulas.  Serve with brown rice or wild rice and Enjoy!

Creamy Sausage and Mushroom Penne

Makes 4-6 servings

1 pound dried penne
1 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound packaged sliced mushrooms
1 garlic clove, forced through a garlic press
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
8 ounces shredded whole-milk mozzarella, divided

Cook penne in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (2 tablespoons salt for 6 quarts water) until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta-cooking water, then drain pasta and transfer to a flameproof 3-quart baking dish.
Preheat broiler.
Meanwhile, cook sausage in 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat, stirring occasionally and breaking up any large pieces, until no longer pink. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl, leaving fat in skillet.
Add remaining tablespoon oil to skillet along with mushrooms and garlic, then cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are golden, about 3 minutes.
Return sausage to skillet along with cream, reserved 1/2 cup cooking water, a rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and boil over high heat, stirring once or twice, until thickened, about 4 minutes. Pour over pasta, then stir in Parmigiano-Reggiano, 1/2 cup mozzarella, and salt to taste. Spread evenly in baking dish and top with remaining mozzarella.
Broil 3 to 4 inches from heat until golden brown in spots, about 5 minutes. Serve with a green salad and Enjoy!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Virgin Margaritas

Olé, these work great with or without tequila.  Without a doubt these are a favorite amongst the kids as the adults enjoy the "high test" version.  I don't do the salted rim, but if you enjoy yours that way, go for it.  Enjoy!

Makes 8-10

(1) 1/2 gallon Limeade
Juice of one Orange
Juice of half a lemon
Glasses with lots of ice
Lime wheels for garnish

In a pitcher mix all ingredients.  Garnish glasses with lime wheels, pour over ice and serve.  Enjoy!

Weekly Menu Oct. 19th - Oct. 25th

Cuban Roasted Leg of Pork
Mashed Plantains
Dirty Rice with Black Beans

Roast Beef with Horseradish-Mustard Crust
Braised Wild Mushrooms and Shallots
Steamed Asparagus
Roasted Carrots with Ginger and Brown Sugar

Thai Red Curry Chicken with Rice Noodles
Braised Bok Choy with Garlic and Toasted Sesame Seeds

Pasole with Shredded Chicken
Tortilla Chips and Salsa

Grilled Salmon with Dill Butter
Spaghetti Squash with Tomato-Basil Marinara

"Leftover Night"

Steak and Martini Night

Blueberry- Maple Pie

If your a fan of blueberries, they're one of my favorites, this is a show stopper! The maple syrup in the recipe adds a terrific accent.  You can easily substitute a pre-made crust to save time and the results are equally as delicious.

For crust
2 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons chilled vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
7 tablespoons (about) ice water

For filling
4 cups fresh blueberries (about 23 ounces)
1 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Make crust:
Blend first 4 ingredients in processor. Add shortening and butter. Using on/off turns, process until mixture resembles coarse meal. Mix in enough ice water by tablespoonfuls to form moist clumps. Gather dough together; divide into 2 pieces, 1 slightly larger than the other. Flatten into disks; wrap each in plastic and chill 1 hour. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Keep chilled. Let soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.)

Make filling:
Place baking sheet on bottom of oven and position rack in center; preheat to 375°F. Combine blueberries, syrup, flour, tapioca and juice in bowl; toss to blend. Let stand 15 minutes.Roll out larger dough disk on floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Pour filling into crust. Roll out second dough disk on floured surface to 12-inch round. Arrange over filling. Seal crusts at edge of dish. Trim overhang to 3/4 inch; fold under and crimp edge decoratively. Using small knife, cut several slits in top crust.
Bake pie until juices bubble thickly and crust is golden, about 1 hour. Cool pie on rack. Serve at room temperature.

Watermelon Salsa

I love this one to jazz up fish or chicken, even pork.  It's especially good when the friut and tomatoes are at there best.  Use it with fish tacos for smiles around the table.  Enjoy!

1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 cups chopped seeded watermelon
1/4 cup diced green pepper
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, chopped
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup diced tomato
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons minced seeded jalapeño chilies, add more, with the seeds, to taste if you like it hotter, I do!

In a mixing bowl combine all ingredients; toss gently. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Cover and chill.)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Weekly Menu Oct. 12th - Oct. 18th

Shredded Chicken Tacos with Watermelon Salsa
Spicy Black Beans
Virgin Margaritas

Barbecue Pulled Pork
Roasted Corn Sauté

Vegetarian Chili

Turkey Meatloaf with Wild Mushroom Gravy
Green Beans

Grilled Salmon with Sweet Onion Marmalade
Spaghetti Squash with Peas and Parmesan

Red Lentil Vegetable Stew
Basmati Rice with Green Onions

"Steak & Martini Night"

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A new experience for me - Paiche

Well, I went off menu tonight, deciding since I didn't have a late night at the office to make fish.  I call Jeanne and asked her to stop by the market and pick up a pound and a half of whatever caught her eye, bring it home and I'd throw something together.  Little did I know how adventurous she would be.  

  • Stopping at Whole Foods, she picked up a beautiful piece of Paiche.  It's a fish I had never cooked before and the only time I've heard of it or seen one for that matter was when watching Jeremy Wade on the TV program, River Monsters wrestle one out of the brown swirling muck.  I was totally pumped to give it a try (cook it that is, I'll leave the wrestling to Wade).

    So, according to Wikipedia, "The arapaima, pirarucu, or paiche is a species of bonytongue native to the Amazon River in Brazil. It is the largest freshwater fish of South America."  It is considered by many to be an Amazonian superfood packed with protein and Omega-3's, low in fat and without antibiotics or mercury.  The meat tastes like a cross between Chilean sea bass, black cod or a mild swordfish. 

    To prepare the Paiche, I decided to pan sear it with lime and cilantro and serve it on a bed of spaghetti squash accompanied with a jicama, carrot, and apple slaw.  

  • For the Paiche, I preheated the oven to 400 degrees F.  Then seasoned the fish on both sides with coriander, garlic and onion powder, chili powder, salt and fresh cracked black pepper.  I heated a sauté pan over high heat, added 2 Tbsp olive oil and let it start to smoke.  Carefully seared the fish skin side up (filet was skinless).  After a minute or two gently press fish down into pan to insure a really nice sear.  Let it go for 3-4 minutes until deep golden brown.  Turn the fish, squeeze the juice of one lime and half a lemon over fish and put pan into hot oven.  Let cook until fish is medium, I cooked it about 8 minutes.  Remove from oven and rub fish with a tablespoon of soft butter, let rest for 5-10 minutes before portioning onto plates.

    For the slaw- Shred jicama, radish, and carrot in food processor.  Shred one apple (I used a sweet tango, could sub honey crisp or pink lady), add to jicama mixture.  In a small bowl combine some minced shallot, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, capers, sugar, salt and black pepper.  Drizzle olive oil into mixture and make vinaigrette.  Add to jicama mixture and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
  • Sunday, October 6, 2013

    Weekly Menu Oct. 6th - Oct. 11th

    This week is clean out the freezer week.  It's a replay of last week's hits.

    "E's sleepover"
    Girls- Spaghetti and Meatballs, Garlic Bread, Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette
    Me- Med-rare Bone-in NY Strip, Caramelized onions and peppers, salad

    Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Herbs
    Braised Leeks
    Caramelized Carrots with Ginger Glaze

    Turkey Burritos with Salsa Fresco
    Black Beans with Roasted Jalapeños and Cilantro

    Eggplant Lasagna

    Oven Roasted Pork with Garlic
    Asparagus with Shallots

    Curried Lentils with Vegetables
    Basmati Rice

    Dinner out with Friends

    Sautéed Frisée with Lemon and Maple

    Normally, I'll add Frisée to a salad.  I really like its curly leaves for texture and it's slightly bitter flavor with a peppery note as a counterpoint to the other greens and most dressings.  But, like its cousin escarole (milder) , it’s also great for cooking.

    3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
    1/2 cup coarse Panko bread crumbs
    3/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
    3/4 teaspoon anchovy paste
    1 (1-pound) head frisée, torn
    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    1/2 teaspoon pure maple syrup

    Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Cook bread crumbs until crisp and golden brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and stir in zest and a pinch of salt.
    Wipe out skillet, then add anchovy paste and remaining 2 Tbsp oil and cook 15 seconds. Increase heat to medium-high and sauté half of frisée until slightly wilted, about 1 minute. Add remaining frisée and sauté until wilted, about 2 minutes more. Off heat, stir in juice, syrup, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
    Serve topped with bread crumbs and Enjoy!

    Kale with Dijon and Bacon

    I'm in love with this super green.  It great for you and the slightly bitter notes add so much to so many dishes.  The sharp mustard adds a great depth to a classic combination of bacon and greens.

    3 pounds kale, stems and center ribs discarded
    5 bacon slices, chopped
    1 bunch scallions, chopped
    2 tablespoons grainy mustard

    Cook kale in a large pot of boiling salted water (1 tablespoon salt for 6 quarts water) until just tender, 10 to 13 minutes, then drain.
    Cook bacon in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat until crisp. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a paper towel to drain. Discard all but 2 tablespoons fat from pan, then cook scallions until soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in kale and mustard and cook over medium-low heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until very tender, about 10 minutes. Serve topped with bacon and Enjoy!

    Shallot Jam

    This jam can be served with so many things.  I recently paired it with grilled Salmon that I seasoned with Old Bay.  The sweet of the shallots played nicely with the cayenne in the seasoning.  This goes great with turkey and chicken breast.  It also plays nicely with a grilled steak.  Play around with it, but be careful, it is addicting.

    2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    4 large shallots, thinly sliced
    3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
    1/3 cup light brown sugar
    kosher salt

    In a skillet, heat the oil. Add the shallots and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, 10 minutes. Add the vinegar and sugar and cook until thick and jam-like, 5 minutes. Season with salt.

    Carrot Fennel Soup

    As the leaves are starting to change and the evenings are turning cold, this fantastic soup is just what the doctor ordered. The flavors that are released by caramelizing the carrots and fennel are rich,nutty, and sweet. Make the day before, hold the oil drizzle to right before service, and let the flavors intensify.

    2 medium fennel bulbs with fronds
    1 pound carrots, quartered lengthwise
    1 medium onion, quartered
    1 garlic clove
    5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
    1/2 teaspoon sugar
    2 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
    2 1/2 cups water
    1 teaspoon fennel seeds

    Equipment: an electric coffee/spice grinder

    Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in lowest position.
    Chop enough fennel fronds to measure 1 tablespoon and reserve. Discard stalks and remaining fronds. Slice bulbs 1/4 inch thick and toss with carrots, onion, garlic, 3 tablespoons oil, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spread in a 4-sided sheet pan and roast, stirring occasionally, until browned and tender, 25 to 30 minutes.
    Blend half of vegetables in a blender with broth until very smooth. Transfer to a medium saucepan. Repeat with remaining vegetables and water. Thin to desired consistency with extra water and simmer 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
    Meanwhile, finely grind fennel seeds in grinder and stir into remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Serve soup drizzled with fennel oil and sprinkled with reserved fronds.  Enjoy!

    Indian Braised Chicken with Fried Onions

    I found this recipe in Gourmet when they were highlighting Indian cuisine. It is adapted from Nimmy Paul, Kerala, India

    The chicken is fabulous with many warm, bright, and  exotic flavors.  Serve over basmati rice and you'll feel a million miles from home.
    The recipe calls for curry leaves which can be found at any Indian grocery store.  I realize that here in the metro-Detroit area we are fortunate that there are so many ethnic backgrounds and it's fairly easy to locate the ingredients of those cultures.   If you don't have access to or don't want to hunt them down, most commonly used substitutes are basil leaves, bay leaves and kaffir lime leaves. For dried curry leaves substitute, also try dried basil leaves or kaffir lime leaves.  Although there is really no substitute for curry leaves these can provide a pretty close effect.

    2 1/2 pounds chicken thighs with bone, skin discarded
    4 medium shallots, quartered
    5 garlic cloves, chopped
    1 tablespoon minced peeled ginger
    2 sprigs fresh curry leaves, leaves removed from stems*
    1 teaspoon cayenne
    1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
    10 whole cloves
    1 (1-inch) piece cinnamon stick
    1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
    1/2 cup water
    About 2 cups vegetable oil
    1 medium onion, thinly sliced
    3 teaspoons all-purpose flour, divided

    Toss all ingredients except water, oil, onion, and flour with 1 teaspoon salt in a wide heavy medium pot. Marinate chicken, covered and chilled, 1 hour.
    Add water and bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, until chicken is tender, 40 minutes to 1 hour.
    Meanwhile, heat 1 1/2 inches oil in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat until hot but not smoking.
    Toss onion with 1 teaspoon flour, then fry in 2 batches, stirring frequently (do not let burn), until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per batch. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels. Reserve 3 tablespoons oil.
    Remove chicken from cooking liquid, reserving liquid, and gently pat dry. 3Heat reserved oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then brown chicken all over, about 6 minutes total. Transfer to a platter.
    Add remaining 2 teaspoons flour to fat in skillet and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add chicken-cooking liquid (with aromatics and spices) and simmer, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pour over chicken. Top with fried onions.

    Avocado and Watercress Salad

    1/4 cup rice vinegar (not seasoned)
    1 tablespoon grated sweet onion such as Vidalia or Walla Walla (use large holes of a box grater)
    1/4 cup finely grated peeled Gala apple (use small holes of box grater)
    4 teaspoons soy sauce
    1 teaspoon sugar
    3 tablespoons vegetable oil
    6 cups watercress (thin stems and leaves only; from 1 large bunch)
    1 firm-ripe avocado

    Stir together vinegar, onion, apple, soy sauce, and sugar until sugar has dissolved, then stir in oil.
    Just before serving, toss watercress with enough dressing to coat. Quarter, pit, and peel avocado, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Gently toss with watercress. Serve and Enjoy!

    Sunday, September 29, 2013

    Menu September 28th - October 4th

    Cider Brined Free Range Chicken
    Micro Greens Salad with Lemon-Thyme Vinaigrette, Toasted Walnuts

    Oven Roasted Pork Loin with Braised Fennel
    Asparagus with Lemon and Shave and Parmesan

    Turkey Enchiladas
    Salsa Fresco

    Eggplant Lasagna
    Romaine with Creamy Garlic Dressing

    Curried Vegetable and Red Lentil Stew
    Roasted Cauliflower

    Grilled Salmon with Caramelized Shallot Jam
    Italian Seasoned Green Beans

    "Steak and Martini Night"

    Zucchini and Red Pepper Enchiladas

    For enchiladas:
    1 large white onion, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
    2 red bell peppers, quartered
    3/4 pound medium zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
    12 (6-to 7-inch) soft corn tortillas
    1/2 cup vegetable oil
    6 ounces crumbled queso fresco or ricotta salata

    For pumpkin-seed salsa:
    1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh serrano chile, including seeds
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1 1/3 cups raw green (hulled) pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
    1/2 cup vegetable oil
    2 cups chopped cilantro
    1 1/2 cups water

    For tomato salsa:
    2 medium tomatoes, chopped
    1/4 cup finely chopped white onion
    2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh serrano chile, including seeds
    2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
    Garnish: cilantro leaves

    Start enchiladas:
    Prepare a gas grill for direct-heat cooking over medium heat; see Grilling Procedure .
    Preheat oven to 350°F .
    Secure each onion round with a wooden pick for grilling. Oil grill rack, then grill vegetables, covered, turning occasionally, until tender (6 to 8 minutes for bell peppers and zucchini; 10 to 12 minutes for onion), transferring to a bowl.
    Wrap tortillas in stacks of 6 in foil and heat in oven, about 15 minutes.

    Meanwhile, make pumpkin-seed salsa:
    Cook chile, garlic, cumin, and pumpkin seeds in oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat, stirring, until seeds pop, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer 3 tablespoons seeds with a slotted spoon to a bowl and reserve. Purée remaining seeds and oil with cilantro, water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a blender until smooth.

    Make tomato salsa:
    Stir together tomatoes, onion, chile, lime juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

    Assemble and fry enchiladas:
    Cut vegetables into strips. Spread 2 teaspoons pumpkin-seed salsa on each warm tortilla and top with some of grilled vegetables, then roll up. Heat oil (1/2 cup) in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Fry enchiladas, seam side down first, in 2 batches, turning once, until lightly browned and heated through, about 2 minutes per batch. Transfer enchiladas to plates, then drizzle with remaining pumpkin-seed salsa and sprinkle with reserved seeds and cheese. Serve with tomato salsa and Enjoy!

    Creamed Corn with Cilantro and Queso Fresco

    3 tablespoons unsalted butter
    1 1/2 cups chopped scallions (about 6 large)
    12 ears corn, kernels cut from cobs
    2/3 cup heavy cream
    2 teaspoons cornstarch
    1 large garlic clove
    6 ounces queso fresco or mild feta, crumbled (1 1/3 cups)
    1 cup cilantro sprigs

    Heat butter in a deep 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until foam subsides, then cook scallions, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add corn and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.
    Stir together cream and cornstarch in a small bowl until thoroughly combined, then add to corn and simmer, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Transfer 1 1/2 cups corn mixture to a blender with garlic and purée until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Return to skillet and cook, stirring constantly, until just heated through.
    Transfer corn to a large shallow serving bowl and sprinkle cheese and cilantro over top. Serve and Enjoy!

    Caramelized Chipotle Chicken

    This is a really good preparation, a delicious crowd-pleaser. There's enough chipotle here to make your lips hum, but not so much as to overshadow the the other ingredients.

    1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    8 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
    2 medium onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
    1 cup ketchup
    2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
    2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
    1/4 cup chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo (from a 7-ounce can)
    1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
    2 tablespoons cider vinegar
    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    2 whole chickens (about 3 1/2 pounds each), each cut into 8 pieces

    Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Cook garlic, stirring constantly, until golden, then transfer with a slotted spoon to a plate. Reduce heat to medium and cook onions, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown, about 15 minutes.
    Add garlic and remaining ingredients, except chicken, to skillet with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is slightly thickened, about 25 minutes.
    Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in middle.
    Coat chicken with half of sauce, then roast, skin side up, in a 17-by 11-inch heavy 4-sided sheet pan 25 minutes. Remove from oven and brush with remaining sauce, then continue roasting until chicken is cooked through and well browned in spots, 20 to 25 minutes more.  Serve and Enjoy!

    Roasted Jalapeño Hot Sauce

    With the help from my lovely wife and her exceptionally grown jalapeños, I took her bounty and created a sauce that is very addicting.  Terrific by itself on tortilla chips or a great complement to meats, fish, and eggs or anything you want to add a zip to.

    Makes 2 cups

    24 Jalapeños
    1 shallot, peeled
    5 cloves of garlic, peeled
    Juice of 1 lime
    1/2 c. Rice vinegar
    3/4 c. Apple vinegar
    1/2 c. Water
    3 Tbsp. Grape seed oil
    Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

    Heat grill to hot.  Put peppers in a small bowl and add one Tbsp oil, coat well.  Put peppers on the hot grill.  Char skins very well, they will turn black, about 10-12 minutes.  Remove and return to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 10 minutes.  Wearing latex gloves, pull the stem and skin off of each pepper.  Put peppers, shallot, and garlic in cuisinart and purée.  Add lime juice, vinegars, and water.  Mix well.  Slowly add remaining oil to mixture while cuisinart is running.  Season with salt and pepper. Serve and Enjoy!

    *If desired to increase the heat, I've added drops of habanero sauce.

    Sunday, September 22, 2013

    Weekly Menu September 21st - September 27th

    Meatloaf with Wild Mushrooms
    Roasted Root Vegetables with Red Bliss Potato Medley

    Grilled Salmon with Sesame Kale Chips
    Asparagus with Shallots
    Oven Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon-Caper Vinaigrette

    Braised Chicken Thighs with Onions and Peppers
    Sweet Potatoes with Chives

    Chinese Stir Fried Vegetables
    Cilantro and Spring Onion Rice

    Vegetable Chili

    Leftover Night

    Grilled Aged Bone-in NY Strip Steak
    Wild Mushroom Sauté
    Crispy Brussels Spouts with Walnuts and Bacon
    Green Beans with Roasted Red Peppers
    Baked Potato

    Monday, September 16, 2013

    The BST

    Each Summer, on the first warm weekend, we have a party by the water with our friends.  We cook up obscene amounts of food, laugh, and enjoy the company of some really terrific people.  Its tradition that we serve three different drinks for them to sample.  We ask them to vote for the one they liked the most and the winning concoction becomes our drink for the summer.  This was our winner this year, named after its creator, Brian Scott Tepper.

    2 oz. Tequila
    4 oz. fresh Grapefruit juice
    Dash Pomegranate juice
    Simple syrup to taste
    Splash soda water

    Over lots of ice shake the first four ingredients.  Pour into glass and top with soda.  Serve with a pink grapefruit supreme.  Enjoy!

    * Supreming is a technique that removes the membrane from citrus fruit so it can be served in slices.  To supreme an orange, lemon, lime, or grapefruit, begin by trimming off the very top and bottom of the fruit with a sharp knife. Next, set the fruit on end, and carefully cut the skin from its flesh, beginning at the top and following the curves down. Then, carefully cut out each section of the fruit by inserting the blade of the knife between the flesh and the membrane on both sides. The wedges should come out easily, leaving only the membrane intact.

    Summer Beer a.k.a "Sip and go naked"

    As we start saying goodbye to summer and the trees begin to turn hues of yellow, red, and orange, I am thinking fondly of this fabulous cocktail we enjoyed by the lake this summer.  This is a tremendous concoction for a warm breezy, lazy day by the water or anywhere else for that matter.  Warning, they sneak up on you mighty fast. Enjoy!

    1 (12oz) can frozen pink lemonade
    12oz. Water
    12 oz. Vodka
    1 (12oz.) beer

    In a large pitcher mix lemonade, water, and vodka.  Add the beer and stir.  Serve over lots of ice.

    Saturday, September 14, 2013

    Chicken Thighs with Cuban Spice, Saffron Rice with Chorizo

    Serves 6

    1/4 cup fresh lime juice
    1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro stems
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 tablespoon finely grated lime peel
    1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
    2 teaspoons chopped seeded jalapeño chile
    2 teaspoons Hungarian sweet paprika
    2 teaspoons ground black pepper
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
    10 chicken thighs with skin and bone (about 4 1/2 pounds)
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1/2 pound fully cooked Spanish chorizo
    2 cups finely chopped onions
    1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
    3 garlic cloves, chopped
    2 cups arborio rice or short-grain white rice
    2 1/2 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth
    2 medium tomatoes, diced
    2 teaspoons Hungarian sweet paprika
    1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
    1 canned piquillo pepper or 1 whole canned pimiento, cut into thin strips
    1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
    Lime wedges

    Whisk first 11 ingredients in medium bowl for marinade. Place chicken in large resealable plastic bag; add marinade. Seal bag; turn several times to coat chicken. Refrigerate chicken at least 4 hours and up to 1 day, turning bag occasionally. Using tongs, transfer chicken from bag to plate, allowing excess marinade to drip back into bag. Reserve marinade.
    Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large wide pot over medium heat. Add chorizo and sauté until beginning to brown and fat begins to render, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer chorizo to medium bowl. Increase heat to medium-high. Add half of chicken, skin side down, to pot. Sauté until brown, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to plate. Repeat with remaining chicken.
    Pour off all but 3 tablespoons fat from pot; discard excess fat. Add chopped onions; sauté 4 minutes, scraping up any browned bits. Add chopped bell pepper and chopped garlic. Sauté until onions are translucent, about 2 minutes. Mix in rice, stirring to blend with vegetables. Add 2 1/2 cups broth, tomatoes with any juice, paprika, saffron, and reserved marinade. Bring to boil, stirring to blend. Return chicken, chorizo, and any accumulated juices to pot, pressing chicken partially into rice.
    Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes. Arrange piquillo pepper strips over chicken pieces. Cover and continue to simmer until rice is tender and chicken is cooked through, adding more broth by 1/4 cupfuls if rice is dry, about 10 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
    Transfer rice and chicken to large shallow bowl. Garnish with cilantro and lime wedges,  serve and Enjoy!

    Weekly Menu Sept. 14th - Sept. 20th

    Chicken Thighs with Cuban Spice
    Saffron Rice with Chorizo
    Green Beans with Olive Oil, Sea Salt, and Fresh ground Black Pepper

    Eggplant Lasagna
    Chopped Salad, Creamy Garlic Dressing

    Turkey Burritos
    Spicy Pinto Beans

    Pork and White Bean Stew
    Romaine Salad with Lemon-Honey Dressing

    Black Bean Burgers, Red Pepper and Garlic Aoili

    "Clean out the Frig Night"

    Dinner out in Plymouth- Plymouth Fish Seafood Market

    Pork and White Bean Stew

    • This is a terrific, easy dish to prepare.  Also know as Cassoulet it is a rustic French country recipe that will definitely get you raved reviews!  To get a jump start on a weeknight dinner, complete steps 1 to 7 of the recipe on Sunday and store, covered, in the fridge for up to 3 days. Then simply add the bread-crumb mixture and bake for 1 hour.

    • 2 pounds country-style spareribs (or pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch-thick slices)
    • 2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced, plus 1 whole clove
    • 2 whole sprigs fresh thyme, plus 2 tablespoons thyme leaves
    • 1 pound bacon (slab is best), cut into 2-inch pieces
    • 1 large stalk celery, chopped
    • 1/2 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
    • 4 cups chicken broth
    • 1 cup white wine
    • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with their juice
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 2 (14-ounce) cans white beans, drained and rinsed
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 cup coarse bread crumbs
    • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

    1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
    2. Place the spareribs in a heavy pot with half the onion, half the minced garlic, and the thyme sprigs.
    3. Cover with a lid or foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours.
    4. Remove the ribs; set aside.
    5. In the same pot, over medium heat, brown the bacon.
    6. Remove all but about 2 tablespoons of the fat and add the celery, carrot, salt, pepper, thyme leaves, and the remaining onion and garlic (minced and whole) and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
    7. Add the broth, wine, tomatoes, bay leaves, and beans. Bring to a simmer, then add the cooked ribs.
    8. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the olive oil, bread crumbs, and parsley.
    9. Sprinkle the bread-crumb mixture over the stew and bake for 1 hour, uncovered, occasionally pressing the bread crumbs into the mixture to thicken it.
    10. Let cool, serve and Enjoy!

    Saturday, September 7, 2013

    Menu Sept. 7th - Sept. 14th

    Low Country Catfish in a Pecan-Maple Crust
    Southern Styled Grits
    Green Beans

    Pork Chops with Grilled Bourbon Peaches
    Roasted Cauliflower

    Vegetarian Chili
    Chickpea Crisps

    Roast Chicken Breast with Fennel, Onion, and Carrots
    Wild Mushroom Rice

    Pasta with Meat Sauce
    Celery Salad

    Garden Vegetable Omelette with Cheese
    Potato Hash
    Tomato Salad with Chive Oil

    "Steak & Martini Night"

    "Happy 21st Anniversary"
    Dinner at Tre Monti Ristaurante

    Sunday, September 1, 2013

    Veal Osso Buco

    This classic veal dish is tremendous.  The veal is braised to fork tender in a luxurious sauce.  Serve with a risotto, polenta, or any potato and you've got a superstar dish!  This recipe is by Chef Gianni Scappin and was from his series, Italian Cooking at Home with The Culinary Institute of America

    1/2 cup olive oil
    4 (1 1/2-inch-thick) pieces center cut veal osso buco
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    1 medium onion, minced
    1 medium leek, white and light green parts only, washed and minced
    2 carrots, diced
    2 celery stalks, diced
    1 cup dry white wine
    4 whole fresh sage leaves
    2 sprigs fresh rosemary
    1 dry bay leaf
    3 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
    2 cups peeled and crushed plum tomatoes
    1 cup veal or chicken stock or low-sodium broth
    1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

    Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a heavy pot over moderately high heat, warm the olive oil.

    2. Generously season the osso buco with salt and pepper, then dredge completely in the flour.

    3. Add the onion, leek, carrots, and celery to the oil in the skillet and sauté, stirring frequently, until softened, about 4 minutes. Push the vegetables to the outside of the pan and add the osso buco. Sear each side of the osso buco until deep golden brown, about 8 minutes total.

    4. Add the wine, sage, rosemary, bay leaf, 2 tablespoons of parsley, tomatoes, and stock, and bring to a boil. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and transfer it to the oven. Braise until the meat is very tender and can be easily pulled apart with a fork, about 2 hours.

    5. Remove the osso buco from the pot and, if desired, reduce the sauce on the stovetop. Remove and discard the herb stems before serving. Prepare a gremolata by stirring together the lemon zest and the remaining chopped parsley.

    Serve the osso buco garnished with sauce and the gremolata, Enjoy!

    Saturday, August 31, 2013

    Shrimp and Pancetta on Polenta

    Here's a great Italian riff on a southern classic,  shrimp and grits.  You'll love it and it's a breeze to put together.

    Serves 4

    1/2 cup instant polenta
    1/4 pound pancetta, chopped
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
    3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
    1 (14-ounces) can diced tomatoes in juice
    1 pound cleaned large shrimp
    1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

    Cook polenta according to package instructions in a heavy medium saucepan until thickened and creamy, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt, then cover.
    Cook pancetta, garlic, and red pepper flakes in 2 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring, until garlic is pale golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juice and simmer until liquid is reduced to about 1/4 cup, 6 to 8 minutes. Add shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Season with salt.
    Spoon polenta into shallow bowls and top with shrimp mixture. Drizzle with remaining tablespoon oil, season with pepper, and sprinkle with parsley.  Serve and Enjoy!

    Quinoa Cakes with Eggplant-Tomato Ragù, Smoked Mozzarella

    I found this great recipe by Gourmet's then food editor, Lillian Chou.  This does require a little "mashing and bashing" as my wife says, but it has become one of my go to Quinoa recipes. Featuring a crispy crunch, a substantial rustic sauce, and gooey softened mozzarella, how can you go wrong?!

    Serves 4

    For quinoa cakes
    1 1/2 cups water
    1 cup quinoa
    1 large egg, lightly beaten
    4 to 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
    For topping
    1 1/2 pounds eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
    1 small onion, finely chopped
    2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
    1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    3 tablespoons olive oil
    1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
    1/2 cup drained bottled roasted red peppers, rinsed and chopped
    3/4 cup water
    1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
    1/4 pound smoked mozzarella, diced (1 cup)

    Make quinoa cakes:
    Bring water and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil in a heavy medium saucepan.
    Meanwhile, wash quinoa in 3 changes of water in a bowl, then drain well in a fine-mesh sieve.
    Stir quinoa into boiling water and return to a boil, then simmer, covered, until quinoa is dry and water is absorbed, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes, then stir in egg.
    Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap and lightly brush with oil. Lightly oil a 1-cup dry-ingredient measure. Pack enough quinoa into measure with a rubber spatula to fill it two-thirds full. (If spatula becomes sticky, dip in water.) Unmold onto baking sheet and gently pat quinoa into a 4-inch-wide patty with spatula. Make 3 more quinoa cakes, brushing measure with oil each time. Chill cakes, uncovered, at least 15 minutes.
    Make topping while quinoa cooks and chills:
    Toss eggplant with 1 teaspoon salt in a colander and drain 30 minutes. Squeeze handfuls of eggplant to extract liquid, then pat dry.
    Cook eggplant, onion, garlic, oregano, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, roasted peppers, and water and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is very tender and mixture is thick (if dry, thin with a little water), about 10 minutes.

    Cook quinoa cakes:
    Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Carefully add quinoa cakes and cook, turning once carefully and adding remaining 2 to 3 tablespoons oil, until crisp and golden, 8 to 10 minutes total (pat cakes to reshape with cleaned rubber spatula while cooking if necessary). Transfer to plates.

    To serve:
    Return eggplant ragù to a simmer and stir in parsley and half of mozzarella, then simmer, stirring, until cheese just begins to soften, about 30 seconds. Spoon over quinoa cakes, then sprinkle with remaining mozzarella. Serve and Enjoy!

    ·Quinoa cakes can be formed 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.
    ·Eggplant-tomato ragù, without parsley and mozzarella, can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.

    Beef Stew with Butternut Squash

    Serves 4

    3 tablespoon olive oil
    1 onion, peeled and chopped
    2 cloves garlic, chopped
    1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
    1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
    2 pounds stew beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
    1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
    2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    1 cup Marsala wine
    1 pound butternut squash, trimmed and cut into 2-inch cubes
    1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
    3 to 4 cups beef broth
    2 tablespoons fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley
    Crusty bread, for serving

    In a large soup pot heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, rosemary, and thyme and saute until the onions are tender, about 2 minutes. Toss the beef cubes in salt and pepper and flour. Turn up the heat to med-high and add the beef to the pot. Cook until the beef is browned and golden around the edges, about 5 minutes. Add the Marsala wine. Using a wooden spoon, gently stir up all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the butternut squash and sun-dried tomatoes and stir to combine. Add enough beef broth to just cover the beef and squash. Bring the stew to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Season the stew with additional salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley. Serve with crusty bread alongside and Enjoy!

    Orzo Salad with Feta, Olives, and Bell Peppers

    This is one of those perfect summer salads for a picnic, lite lunch with some grilled chicken, or a side dish with dinner by the lake. Enjoy it, we do.

    Serves 8-10

    12 ounces orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
    2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup olive oil
    1 1/2 cups crumbled seasoned feta cheese (such as basil and tomato; about 6 ounces)
    1 cup chopped red bell pepper
    1 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
    3/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives
    4 green onions, chopped
    2 tablespoons drained capers
    3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
    1 tablespoon minced garlic
    1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
    1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

    Cook orzo in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Rinse with cold water; drain well. Transfer to large bowl. Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add crumbled feta cheese, chopped bell peppers, Kalamata olives, green onions and capers.
    Combine lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, oregano, mustard and cumin in small bowl. Gradually whisk in remaining 1/2 cup olive oil. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.
    Add dressing to orzo mixture and toss to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

    Garnish salad with pine nuts; serve and enjoy!

    Grilled Lamb Chops with Porcini Mustard

    Wow, I love this one!  It's one of those perfect dishes for a summer evening on the patio.  The chops rubbed all over with a mixture of garlic, fresh rosemary, salt, and pepper, then grilled, are so good, but with a dab of the pungent porcini mustard, it's over the top!

    Serves 8

    2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms
    2 cups boiling-hot water
    2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
    1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, divided
    2 tablespoons rosemary leaves
    1 tablespoon kosher salt
    7 large garlic cloves, minced
    2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    24 rib lamb chops (about 3/4 inch thick; 4 1/2 to 5 pounds total)

    Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal (medium-high heat for gas).  Soak mushrooms in boiling-hot water (2 cups) until softened, about 20 minutes. Lift mushrooms out of water and strain liquid through a paper-towel-lined sieve set over a small saucepan. Coarsely chop mushrooms.
    Boil mushroom liquid in saucepan until reduced to about 1/4 cup, 13 to 15 minutes. Whisk in mustard, butter, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and simmer until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in mushrooms. Transfer to a small bowl and cool slightly. Stir in 2 tablespoon parsley.
    Meanwhile, pulse rosemary, kosher salt, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a food processor to form a coarse paste, scraping down sides. Rub oil all over chops, then coat evenly with rosemary mixture.
    Oil grill rack, then grill chops in 2 batches, covered only if using a gas grill, turning once, 4 to 6 minutes per batch for medium-rare.
    Sprinkle porcini mustard with remaining tablespoon parsley and serve with lamb. Serve and Enjoy!

    •Porcini mustard, without parsley, can be made 1 day ahead and chilled. Bring to room temperature, then stir in 2 tablespoon parsley and sprinkle with remainder.
    •Rosemary mixture can be made 8 hours ahead and chilled.

    Chicken Paillards with Tomato-Dill Relish

    This one couldn't be easier and it's terrific.  Paillard is an older term referring to the quick cooking of thinly sliced/thinly pounded pieces of meat. Most often this is referring to veal or chicken, but beef can be used.

    Serves 4

    4 (6-ounces) skinless boneless chicken breast halves
    1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    1/4 cup chopped dill
    3 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
    1 tablespoon grainy mustard
    1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
    1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered

    Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over hot charcoal (medium-high heat for gas)

    Pound chicken 1/4 inch thick between 2 sheets of plastic wrap with flat side of a meat pounder or with a rolling pin.
    Whisk together oil, dill, shallot, mustard, and vinegar in a large bowl. Set aside 1/4 cup. Sprinkle chicken evenly with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, then add to dill mixture, turning to coat.
    Toss tomatoes with reserved dill mixture and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
    Grill chicken, turning once, until just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes total. Serve topped with relish. Serve and Enjoy!

    Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa

    Serves 4

    2 teaspoons grated lime zest
    2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
    1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    1 teaspoon sugar
    1 cup quinoa
    1 (14- to 15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
    2 medium tomatoes, diced
    4 scallions, chopped
    1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

    Whisk together lime zest and juice, butter, oil, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4teaspoon pepper in a large bowl.
    Wash quinoa in 3 changes of cold water in a bowl, draining in a sieve each time.
    Cook quinoa in a medium pot of boiling salted water (1 tablespoon salt for 2 quarts water), uncovered, until almost tender, about 10 minutes. Drain in sieve, then set sieve in 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 over medium heat until tender, fluffy, and dry, about 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat and remove lid. Let stand, still covered with towel, 5 minutes.
    Add quinoa to dressing and toss until dressing is absorbed, then stir in remaining ingredients and salt and pepper to taste. Serve and Enjoy!