"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.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Beet Greens with Capers and Sun-dried Tomatoes

When cooked these greens become silky and delicious.  They're more tender than kale and their nutritional benefits are amazing.  Besides supplying good amounts of protein, phosphorus, and zinc, beet greens are also a great source of fiber.  These beautiful greens are packed with antioxidants, they’re high in vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese, and low in fat and cholesterol.
As if that weren’t enough, studies have also shown that the vitamin K in beet greens contains blood clotting properties, helps ward off osteoporosis, works with calcium to boost bone strength, and may also play a role in fighting Alzheimer’s disease. Beet greens have a higher iron content than spinach, and a higher nutritional value than the beetroot itself.
The vitamin A content in beet greens helps strengthen the immune system and stimulates  production of antibodies and white blood cells. The beta-carotene in vitamin A is a known antioxidant that can fight the effects of free radicals in the body along with cancer and heart disease. Doctors often recommend vitamin A to patients at risk of developing night blindness.
So, go out and buy those organic beets with the top intact and instead of discarding the tops, cook them up for a super side dish.  Enjoy!

Serves 4

2 Tbsp. Olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large bunch beet greens, stems discarded and leaves shredded
1 tsp. Capers, chopped fine
1 Tbsp. Sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Add oil, once hot add shallots and cook for 1-2 minutes, until softened.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add greens, cooks for 2-3 minutes until wilted,my hen fold in capers and tomatoes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve and Enjoy!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Couve- Brazilian Collard Greens

½# peppered Bacon, diced
1 Onion, medium diced
2# Collard Greens, rinsed, stemmed and torn into 3x6” pieces
1 C. Chicken Stock
1 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
2 Tbsp. Red Wine vinegar

Place bacon in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Cook until browned and most of the grease has been released. Stir in onion and cook until tender and glistening, about 4 minutes.

Place collards into the pot and stir to coat with the bacon drippings. Pour in the chicken stock. Season with cayenne pepper. Reduce heat to low and cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Stir red wine vinegar into the pot. Continue cooking 15 minutes, until liquid is reduced by about 1/2.  Serve and Enjoy!

The Menu: Dec. 13th - Dec. 19th

Braised Chicken with Mushrooms and Herbs
Roasted Carrots and Onions

Shredded Thai Pork Lettuce Wraps with Spicy Almond Sauce
Oven Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Garlic, Basil and Lime
Chili Vegetable Soup
Baby Field Greens Salad with Balsamic Dressing

Bison Burgers with Roasted Portabella Mushroom “Bun”, Caramelized Onions
Boston Bibb salad with Creamy Lemon-Honey Dressing

Rosemary and Lemon Grilled Chicken
Hummus with Vegetables
Chopped Romaine Salad with Oregano Vinaigrette

Seared Salmon Caesar Salad

Brazilian Steak and Caipirinhas (Traditional Cocktail)
Rice and Beans
Couve (Collard Greens)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Roasted Cod with Spinach and Clams

I really like this preparation, it reminds me of Clams Casino, one of my favorites.  Serve with a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or dry Riesling and you've got a real winner.

Serves 4

5 TBLs olive oil, divided
1/2 cup chopped shallots (about 4 small)
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz. bacon small dice
 16 small fresh clams, scrubbed
(2) 6 1/2 oz cans chopped clams in juice
3 TBLs fresh lemon juice
3 TBLs chopped fresh basil
1 1/2 TBLs chopped fresh tarragon
3 TBLs butter, room temp
4 7-8 oz cod fillets
2 6oz bags fresh baby spinach leaves
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
Preheat oven to 450 F.
Heat 2 TBLs oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook until translucent.  Add shallots and garlic and saute until golden, approx 4 min. Add wine and bring to a boil. Add fresh clams, cover and cook until clams open, approx 4 min. (discard any clams that do not open) Stir in canned clams with juice, lemon juice, basil and tarragon, then whisk in butter. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, heat 2 TBLs oil in large ovenproof skillet over high heat. Sprinkle cod with salt and pepper. Add to skillet and cook 1 minute per side. Transfer skillet to oven and roast until fish is opaque in center, about 5 min.

Heat remaining 1 TBL oil in large pot over high heat. Add spinach and crushed red pepper and stir just until spinach wilts, about 3 min.

Rewarm sauce over medium heat. Divide spinach among plates. Top with fish and sauce.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Menu: Nov. 29th - Dec. 5th

Spaghetti Squash and Chicken Meatballs
Broccoli with Red Onions

Elizabeth's Birthday, Happy 16! (Dinner out, chef off)

"South of the Border" Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Fresh Guacamole
Mixed Salad with Lime-Cilantro Vinaigrette

Seared Salmon with Caramelized Onion Jam
Chopped Salad with Carrot and Beet Slaw

Burgers with Braised Wild Mushroom Medley
Parmesan Zucchini "Fries"
Garden Salad with Garlic and Herb Dressing

Chicken, Mushroom, and Vegetable Cassoulet
Roasted Cauliflower

Grilled Flank Steak with Charred Onions, Chimichurri Sauce
Steakhouse Chopped Salad

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

So, here we are again at my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving.  The combination of the 4 "F's"; family, friends, football, and food can't be beat!  I love everything about it; especially gathering around the table, enjoying the company of those you love, sharing conversation and great cuisine.  To my daughter, I'll take this opportunity to say, don't take things to seriously today and don't stress about the meal.  Cook with love and everything will be ok, even if you burn the turkey and have to order in pizza.  Remember, this, as in all holidays, it's about sharing time with the ones you love, slow down, take your head out of your technology, and enjoy the moment.  May you all have a wonderful holiday with your families.

Roasted Corn Purée with Fried Leeks
Turkey two ways-
Brine-Roasted Turkey Breast
& Braised Turkey Legs and Thighs
Wild Mushroom Gravy
Cranberry Sauce with Citrus and Walnuts
Sour Cream and Chive Mashed Potatoes
Country Bread Stuffing with Sausage, Currants, and Pecans
Brussels Sprouts with Shallots and Smoked Bacon
English Peas and Pearl Onions, Vermouth Cream
Maple Roasted Carrots with Herbs
Assortment of Holiday Pies with Cinnamon Ice Cream
(Pumpkin, Apple, and Pecan)

The Menu: Nov. 22nd - 28th

Roast Beef with a Horseradish-Dijon Crust
Steamed Broccoli
Oven Roasted Cauliflower

Seared Salmon with Spinach and Garlic
Baby Greens Salad with Sweet Onion Vinaigrette

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Snow Pea Salad with Shiitakes and Ginger

"Breakfast for Dinner"
Spinach and Shallot Omelette
Maple Roasted Pork Belly with Cracked Black Pepper
Spaghetti Squash Hash Browns

Honey-Mustard Glazed Ham
Italian Herb and Parmesan Zucchini
Chopped Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Thanksgiving Dinner

Chef's Night Off - "Leftover Buffet"

Snow Peas with Shiitakes and Ginger

2 tsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. Asian sesame oil
1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. canola or other vegetable oil
6 medium shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and cut into 1/4-inch slices (about 1 cup)
1 heaping Tbs. finely julienned fresh ginger
3/4 lb. snow peas (about 4 cups), trimmed (break off the stem end of each pea and pull the string away from the pod)
Kosher salt
1 tsp. sesame seeds, toasted, for garnish (optional)

In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce and sesame oil with 2 Tbs. water and set aside.

Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat for about 30 seconds and add 1 Tbs. canola oil, swirling it to coat the pan. When the oil is very hot, add the shiitakes and cook, stirring once, until they begin to brown lightly, about 1 minute. Add the ginger and stir-fry until the mushrooms are golden and the ginger has softened, 1 to 2 minutes more.  Add the remaining 1 tsp. canola oil and then the snow peas and a pinch of salt. Stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the soy sauce mixture and continue to stir-fry until the peas are crisp-tender and the liquid has reduced to a glaze, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt to taste and garnish with the sesame seeds, if using. Serve immediately and Enjoy!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Roasted Cod And Spinach Gratin

Serves 4

1 1/2 10oz bags of spinach, stemmed and washed thoroughly, or 1 bag baby spinach, rinsed
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot or onion
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, sifted
1 1/2 low-fat milk (I'm lactose intolerant, so I substituted rice milk)
 Kosher salt
 freshly ground pepper to taste
1 garlic clove, green shoot removed, finely minced or pureed
 Pinch of nutmeg
2 tablespoons Pernod (a French anise-flavored liqueur)
1 1/2 pounds Cod, cut into 2 inch chunks
¼ cup fresh or dried bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil, and add the spinach. Blanch for 30 seconds, and transfer to a bowl of ice water. Drain and squeeze dry, taking the spinach up by the handful. Chop finely, and set aside.

In a bowl toss fish with 1 tablespoon of oil, salt and pepper.  Place on small baking sheet and place in oven.  Roast until fish looks opaque, 5-7 minutes.  Remove, let cool and then break fish up removing any bones as you go.  Reserve on the side.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, and add the shallot. Cook, stirring, until tender, about 3 minutes, and stir in the flour. Cook, stirring, for several minutes, until the mixture begins to color slightly. Remove from the heat. Whisk in the milk all at once. Return to the heat, and add Pernod.  Cook stirring constantly, until the mixture simmers and thickens. Turn the heat to low, and simmer, stirring or whisking often, for 15 minutes. There should be no floury taste. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, and stir in the garlic and a touch of nutmeg if desired. Stir in the chopped spinach. Taste, and add more salt and pepper as desired.

Oil a 2-quart gratin or baking dish.  Spoon a thin layer of the creamed spinach over the bottom of the dish, and top with the fish in one layer. Spoon the remaining creamed spinach over the fish. Top with the breadcrumbs. Drizzle on the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Place in the oven, and bake for 20 minutes until it is sizzling and beginning to brown.  Serve and Enjoy!

Tuscan Lemon Chicken

Just so you know, I love Ina Garten's recipes.  The Barefoot Contessa has a terrific sense of flavor, the recipes always work, and they are easy.  Even though it's 30 degrees out, I'm still grilling, I do year round.

1/2-pound) chicken, flattened
Kosher salt
1/3 cup good olive oil
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, halve

Sprinkle the chicken with 1 teaspoon salt on each side. Combine the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary, and 2 teaspoons pepper in a small measuring cup. Place the chicken in a ceramic or glass dish just large enough to hold it flat. Pour the lemon marinade over the chicken, turning it in the dish. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Turn the chicken 2 or 3 times while marinating.

When ready to grill, prepare a hot charcoal fire on 1 side of a grill (or turn a gas grill on low heat). Spread 1/4 of the coals across the other side of the grill. Place the chicken on the cooler side, skin side up, and weigh it down with the dish you used for marinating. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until the underside is golden brown. Turn the chicken skin side down, weight again with the dish, and cook for another 12 to 15 minutes, until the skin is golden brown and the chicken is cooked through. Place the lemon halves on the cool side of the grill, cut side down for the last 10 minutes of cooking. Remove the chicken to a plate or cutting board, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Cut in quarters, sprinkle with salt, and serve with the grilled lemon halves.  Enjoy!

The Menu: Nov. 15th - Nov. 17th

Oven Roasted Cod topped with a Spinach and Pernod Gratin
Braised Leeks
Baby Salad with garlic and Herb Vinaigrette

Lettuce Wrapped Carnitas, habanero-lime sauce
Spicy Corn Salsa
Mexican Vegetable Hash

Meatloaf with Wild Mushroom Gravy
Napa Cabbage with Shallots and Bacon
Ginger-glazed Carrots

Tuscan Lemon Chicken with Spaghetti Squash
Zucchini and Summer Squash with Parmesan

Chinese Vegetable Stir-Fry
Brown Rice with Scallions

Pulled Chicken with Rum Barbecue Sauce
Broccoli Slaw
Garden Salad with Creamy Garlic Dressing

"Steak and Martini Night"
Pot Roast with Caramelized Shallot Gravy
Roasted Winter Vegetables
Baby Green Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Menu Nov. 8th - Nov. 14th

Dinner out - chef's night off

Pan Seared Salmon with Citrus-Oil Drizzle
Sautéed Green and Yellow Zucchini
Arugula and Shaved Fennel Salad, Parmesan and Balsalmic Vinaigrette

Brined and Oven Roasted Pork Chops
Wild Mushrooms, Leeks, and Carrots
Red Romaine Salad with Garlic and Herb Vinaigrette

Curried Lentils and Vegetables
Ginger-Lemon Thai Rice Noodles with Green Onion

Roast Chicken with Lemon and
Spaghetti Squash

Mexican Chicken Soup
Smashed Avocados with Warm Tortillas
Chopped Salad with Jicama and a Lime-Cilantro Vinaigette

Steak and Martini Night

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Spaghetti Squash Hash Browns

Here's a riff on hash browns.  This is incredibly satisfying and a terrific substitute for potatoes.  I love the way the green pepper goes with the squash, it's a winner side dish.  Enjoy!

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeds removed
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 sweet onion, peeled and diced
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Season cut side of the squash with onion and garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Place into oven on sheet tray and cook for 30 minutes, turn over and cook another 15 minutes until squash is al dente.  Remove and let cool for 15 minutes.  Using a fork scrape out squash into a bowl (it will resemble spaghetti strands, thus the name, or in this preparation shredded potato).

Heat a sauté pan over medium high heat.  Add last tablespoon of oil and heat.  Add diced onions and green peppers.  Cook for 2 minutes then add squash to the pan.  Heat thoroughly and correct seasoning with salt and pepper.  Serve and Enjoy!

The Menu Nov. 1st - Nov. 7th

Spinach Frittata with Oven Crisped Broccoli and Leeks
Crispy Spaghetti Squash "Hash"
Baby Greens Salad with a Lemon-Honey Vinaigrette

Gluten-Free Southern Fried Chicken with a Spicy Maple Syrup Drizzle
Green Beans with Onions and Smoked Ham

Sorrel Soup with Crispy Shallots
Oven Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic Caramelized Pears
Sautéed Purple Kale

Vegetable Gumbo with Brown Rice

Miso Soup with Shiitakes, Seaweed, and Dikon Radish
Szechuan Fish with Sesame Rice Noodles

Pan Seared Chicken with Capers and Lemon
Red Romaine Salad with Red Onion, Carrots and Beets, Balsamic Vinaigrette

Grilled Aged NY Strip Steaks, Cabernet Butter
Sautéed Spinach with Parmesan
Chophouse Salad

The Yardbird's Fried Chicken

So, recently I was in Miami on business and a good friend took me to an incredible restaurant call Yardbird Southern Table and Bar.  This place is a Mecca of southern cuisine run by Executive Chef and co-owner, Jeff McInnis.  His fried chicken — better known as yardbird — is a legendary experience 150 years in the making. This is spicy, crispy, yummy.  It's served with a spicy Maple syrup (mix maple syrup and your favorite hot sauce).  At the restaurant this chicken is served on a warm waffle and drizzled with this amazing maple syrup.  I've died and gone to heaven my friends!  Enjoy.

Servings:4 to 6

For the brine
1 1/4 quarts water
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup salt
1 1/4 quarts ice water
5 tablespoons paprika
5 tablespoons cayenne
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons granulated garlic
2 tablespoons granulated onion

For the dredging flour
1 1/4 quarts all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons plus one teaspoon granulated garlic
5 teaspoons granulated onion
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper

For the fried chicken
16 pieces chicken (two whole chickens cut into 8 pieces)
vegetable shortening or lard, for frying

For the brine:

Place the water (not the ice water), sugar, salt and spices in a pot and bring to simmer over medium heat for 5-6 minutes.
Whisk to ensure that all spices and sugar has dissolved completely. Remove from heat and combine with ice water to chill. Let chill to at least 40 degrees.
Place the cut chicken in a container and pour the cold liquid brine over the chicken.
Chill in refrigerator for 24 hours.

For the flour:
Mix all spices and flour well.

To make the chicken:
Remove the chicken pieces from the brine and dredge in the seasoned flour.
Place the shortening in a 12-inch cast iron pan and melt slowly. The goal is to have the shortening about ½ inch up the side of the pan.
Heat the shortening over low heat until it reaches 325°F. Use a candy thermometer to regulate the temperature.
Place the 4 larger breasts in skin side down along with the thighs. Fry adjusting the flame to maintain the 325°F. after 8 minutes flip the pieces over. Fry for another 6 minutes. Remove from oil and let sit on a rack or paper towels.
Stick the thickest pieces with a meat thermometer. The chicken must reach 165°F internal. Season lightly with a pinch of sea salt.
Place the wings and drums in the oil, making sure to maintain 325°F, and fry these about 5 minutes on one side, then flip and fry another 4 minutes.
Check internal temperature again looking for 165°F. season with a pinch of sea salt and serve.  Drizzle with a mixture of 1/2 cup maple syrup and 3 tablespoons Frank's hot sauce. Enjoy!

Oven Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic Caramelized Pears

 makes 6 servings

1 1/2 quarts water
1 1/2 quarts ice water
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup white sugar
3 bay leaves
2 pork tenderloins, trimmed and silver skin removed

 1/2 cup olive oil
 4 cloves garlic, minced
 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
 1 tablespoon butter
 1 tablespoon olive oil
 2 Vidalia onions, each cut into 8 wedges
 2 pears, cored and each cut into 8 wedges
 1 teaspoon salt

Place the water (not the ice water), sugar, salt and bay leaves in a pot and bring to simmer over medium heat for 5-6 minutes.  Whisk to ensure that all the salt and sugar has dissolved completely. Remove from heat and combine with ice water to chill. Let chill to at least 40 degrees.  Add tenderloins to this brine, and let them soak for at least 4 hours, but not more than 8 hours.

Drain and discard the brine. Pat pork dry with paper towels. In a shallow dish, stir together the olive oil, garlic, and rosemary. Place pork in the dish, and turn to coat. Cover, and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 or 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Place a large sauté pan on high heat and get very hot.  Season pork with fresh cracked black pepper (remember the brine has infused salt into the meat). Carefully place tenderloins in pan and brown all sides.  Remove and place on sheet tray, place into the oven.  Cook for 20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 150°F.  Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes.

While pork is cooking, pour the balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, and cook until reduced by 1/2, about 10 minutes. When the vinegar cools, it should be the consistency of syrup. Melt butter with olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high or high heat. Add the onions and pears, and quickly brown being careful to keep the wedges intact. Once the onions and pears are browned, reduce heat to low, and cook for about 7 minutes, or until tender. Stir in the reduced vinegar and salt.

Slice the tenderloin into medallions and top with the pear onion sauce.  Serve and enjoy!

Porchetta Sandwich

I recently went to THE football game in Michigan, Michigan-Michigan State (State won again!). The folks I went with were part of a tremendous tailgate party prior to the main event. It got me thinking of a great sandwich to bring to a great game. This beauty is awesome with or without the cheese and sometimes I've served it with a lemon caper mayo.  It's also incredible with sautéed broccolini and the provolone.

Makes 6 servings.

1 (3 3/4 to 4-pound) boneless pork shoulder (skin on, not tied)
20 fresh sage leaves
3 leafy sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed
3 leafy sprigs rosemary, stemmed
2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flake
2 tablespoons fennel seed, crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons medium coarse sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
Ciabatta bread
Provolone cheese (optional)

Heat oven to 250°F.

With a sharp knife, score pork skin in a crosshatch diamond pattern, making 1/8-inch-deep cuts, about 1 inch apart. Finely chop thyme, sage, rosemary and garlic together (you can do this by pulsing in a food processor, or by hand). Place mixture in a small bowl. Add crushed fennel, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and stir together well.
With a paring knife, make about 10 incisions (about 1/2-inch deep) all over the pork.  Stuff with about 1/3 of the herb mixture. Tie pork with kitchen twine. Brush the oil over the skin, and rub all over with the remaining herb mixture.
Set pork in a roasting pan, fat-side up and roast for 2 hours.  Pour the wine over the pork and baste with the wine and accumulated juices. Continue roasting, basting once every hour, until the skin is well browned and the meat is spoon tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours more (internal temperature will be 170 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit). Remove from oven. Let meat rest 15 minutes.  Slice pork thinly and serve on ciabatta with some sharp provolone.  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Baby Back Ribs with Smoky Sweet Barbecue Sauce

This Friday is Halloween and I'm serving these ribs as a shout out to the "Walking Dead" and the crew at Terminus. Combining them with cole slaw and collard greens is perfect.  Nothing beats fall off the bone, tender, juicy ribs- unless of course if they're yours. Wahahahaaaaaaaa!   Enjoy!!

2 racks baby back pork ribs (4 pounds)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic salt

BBQ Sauce:
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups ketchup
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix together the brown sugar, mustard, paprika, smoked paprika, black pepper and garlic salt together in a small bowl. Reserve 1 tablespoon of rub in a small bowl for serving.

Remove the silver skin from the underside of the ribs by sliding your fingers under the thin membrane and pulling it off. Repeat with the second rack. Rub the ribs with the seasoning on both sides. Place in a single layer in a large roasting pan and cover tightly with heavy-duty foil. Place the roasting pan into the oven and bake until the ribs are tender, about 1 hour 15 minutes.

Preheat the grill to medium heat.

Grill the ribs on each side for 15 minutes, watching and flipping when necessary, for 30 minutes total. Baste with BBQ Sauce the last 10 minutes. Because the sauce is sugar based and you don't want to burn your ribs, it goes on last.

Let the racks rest 5 minutes before slicing into individual ribs. Sprinkle the cut ribs with the reserved dry rub and serve along with extra sauce.

BBQ Sauce:
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and stir until softened. Add the vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, cayenne pepper, liquid smoke, and some salt and black pepper to the saucepan and simmer on medium-low heat until thickened, about 35 minutes. Yield: About 4 cups.

Oven Roasted Cod with Crabmeat

 makes 6 servings

 3 tablespoons olive oil
 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
 3 green onions, finely chopped
 1 teaspoon minced garlic
 1 (6 ounce) can lump crabmeat, drained
 3 slices dry white bread, crusts removed and cubed
 1/4 teaspoon salt
 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
 1 egg, beaten
 1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
 2 tablespoons lemon juice
 1 tomato, seeded and diced
 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
 5 tablespoons butter, melted
 2# cod fillet

Preheat the oven to 375°F

Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.  Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add celery, green onion and garlic, and cook and stir for a few minutes until soft. Remove from heat, and stir in the crabmeat, bread cubes, egg, Romano cheese, lemon juice, and tomato. Season with salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, and mix until well blended.
Lay the cod fillets in the prepared baking dish. Brush each one with melted butter. Mound a heaping tablespoon of the crab mixture onto each fillet and gently spread out to cover the entire top of the fish. Sprinkle on any remaining stuffing, and drizzle with any leftover melted butter. Cover the dish with a lid or aluminum foil. (The dish may be also made ahead of time and refrigerated at this point.)
Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, then remove the cover and bake for an additional 10 minutes, until the top has browned and the fish flakes easily with a fork. Serve and Enjoy!

The Menu Oct. 26th - Oct. 31st

Spicy Red Curry Thai Chicken with Vegetables
Sautéed Zucchini and Onions

Cider-Brined Roast Chicken
Sautéed Kale
Romaine Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Broccoli Soup
Chinese Vegetable Stir-Fry with Brown Rice

Bison Meatloaf, Brown gravy
Root Vegetable Gratin

Braised Chicken Thighs with Wild Mushrooms
Chopped Salad with Creamy Lemon Dressing

Baby Back Ribs with Smoky Sweet Barbecue Sauce
Cole slaw
Collard Greens with Smoked Ham

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Braised Leeks with Olive Oil and Thyme

I love leeks!  They are terrific when just made simply, letting their delicate flavor deepen as they cook.  They become sweet, robust, and complex. Leeks can be gritty, so wash them well before cooking.

2 # leeks (about 5 medium), white and light-green parts only, halved lengthwise
12 small sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbs. dry white wine (like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc)
Kosher salt

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.

Arrange the leek halves cut side down in a snug single layer in a shallow 8-inch square baking dish. Nestle the thyme sprigs among the leeks. In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, wine, and 1 Tbs. water and drizzle over the leeks. Sprinkle evenly with 1/2 tsp. salt. Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil.

Braise the leeks in the oven until completely tender and easy to pierce with a fork, about 45 minutes. Uncover the dish and continue to braise until the leeks are caramelized, about 15 minutes more. Remove the thyme sprigs and serve the leeks warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!

Roast Pork Loin with Shiitake and Leek Compote

2 large leeks (white and pale green parts only)
a 3# center-cut boneless pork loin
2 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon unsalted butter or olive oil
1/2 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup dry red wine
3/4 cup beef broth
Garnish: fresh parsley sprigs

Cut leeks crosswise into 1/2-inch slices and in a bowl soak in water to cover, agitating occasionally to dislodge any sand, 5 minutes. Lift leek out of water and drain in a colander.

Trim any fat from pork. Season pork with salt and pepper and pat with 2 tablespoons chopped parsley. In a 10-inch oven-proof non-stick or cast-iron skillet heat butter or oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and brown pork loin, turning it. Transfer pork to a plate.

Preheat oven to 425°F.

In fat remaining in skillet cook mushrooms and leek with salt over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add wine and broth and bring to a boil. Put pork on vegetables in skillet and roast in middle of oven, about 1 hour, or until a thermometer inserted in center of pork registers 160°F.

Transfer pork to a cutting board and let stand 10 minutes. If vegetable compote is too liquid, cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until almost all liquid is evaporated. Stir remaining teaspoon chopped parsley into compote.

Slice pork thin and serve, garnished with parsley and with compote. Enjoy!

The Menu: Oct 11th - Oct. 17th

Meatloaf with Mushroom Gravy
Sautéed Spinach with Garlic
Baby Greens Salad with Warm Shallot Vinaigrette

Chicken with Mushrooms and Leeks
Broccoli with Red Onions
Carrots with Ginger and Honey

Vegetable Pasta with Garlic and Olive Oil
Caesar Salad

Grilled Salmon with Dill Butter
Spaghetti Squash with Parmesan and Cracked Black Pepper
Sautéed Zucchini and Onions

Roasted Pork Loin with Shiitake and Leek Compote
Butternut Squash with Cranberries and Walnuts

Lemon-Herb Roast Chicken
Roasted Root Vegetables

Roast Beef with a Dijon-Horseradish Crust, Cabernet Demi
Chophouse Salad with Gorgonzola Dressing
Green Beans with Almonds

Monday, October 6, 2014

Brined Roast Pork Loin with Spiced-Apple Chutney

The days are turning colder, the leaves are falling and this pork is a perfect answer for dinner.  Whether you've got friends coming over or just want to wow the family, it's terrific.  By brining the loin overnight it insures the pork will be extra moist and tender, while boosting up the flavor.  Enjoy!

6 cups water
1 container apple juice concentrate, thawed
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup kosher salt
1 Spanish onion, peeled and quartered
10 black peppercorns
10 mustard seeds
8 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 (5-6pound) center cut pork loin
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Spiced Apple Chutney, recipe follows

Bring the water, apple juice concentrate, salt, sugar, onion, peppercorns, mustard seeds, thyme and bay leaves to a simmer in a large stock pot and cook until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Let cool completely. Submerge the loin in the brine by placing a plate on top, then cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Remove the pork from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over high heat. Season the pork all over with salt and pepper and cook on both sides until golden brown, about 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer the pork to a baking sheet and finish cooking in the oven until cooked to an internal temperature of 150 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, about 20 minutes per pound. Remove from the oven and let rest, loosely tented with foil, for 10 minutes.

While the pork is roasting, Prepare the Spiced Apple Chutney.

Spiced Apple Chutney:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 medium Spanish onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
1 cup fresh orange juice
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
5 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute. Increase the heat to high, then add the orange juice, brown sugar, and honey and bring to a simmer. Stir in the apples, allspice, and salt and pepper, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and cook until the apples are soft and the liquid has evaporated, about 15 minutes. Serve with the pork.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

What's a "Flavor Profile?"- cooking basics

I was talking to a good friend the other day and she asked how I learned what spices, herbs, and flavors go with what foods.  She continued to say that she was at a loss in the kitchen and only relied on a very limited number of spices.  She asked if at culinary school we spent hours studying from books on the matter.

Actually, not really, my sense of flavor combinations came from years of working in the kitchen with different cuisines and different chefs who brought their experiences from around the world.  It was from that experience that I  learned "flavor profiles." Foods have these profiles, which are classifications of how they taste. People develop different tastes depending on their cultural or even economic background and the habits of their parents or whoever fed them as children.

What makes something taste Italian or Greek or Moroccan? Whether crafting vinaigrette, seasoning chicken, or developing a soup, understanding the flavors of ingredients that help to define various cuisines can be very useful.

Every cuisine has its regional variations; the cuisine of Normandy is vastly different from the classic dishes from Provence, but they’re both French. So consider this a shorthand reference to a few culinary stereotypes. Don’t overdo it. Try incorporating two to four ingredients from a cuisine group to tilt a flavor profile in that general direction. Below are several different examples of regional profiles. They are not meant to be an all inclusive, definitive work up of each, but merely a guide, to give direction.  Experiment and have fun with it and in no time you will develop your own sense of flavor.  Enjoy!


Herbs such as basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, parsley.
Tomato sauces with above herbs and aromatics like onion and garlic.
Fats such as olive oil, butter or lard.
Acids such as red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or lemon juice.
celery, pesto, prosciutto, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, mozzarella cheese, pine nuts, tomatoes, artichokes, olives, fennel, flat-leaf parsley, red pepper flakes, white beans,
Simple bean, meat, or vegetable dishes combining the above flavor elements.


Herbs such as cilantro or Mexican oregano.
Spices such as cumin, spicy cayenne or jalapeño peppers, or ground chilies or chili powder.
Onions and garlic as flavor base sautéed or mixed into a fresh salsa or sour cream.
Fats such as lard or vegetable oil.
Acids such as lime, lemon, or orange.
hot sauce, green peppers, celery, tomatoes, scallions, black beans, Cheddar cheese, avocado,
Tomatillo, Corn Masa, and Mexican Chorizo
Simple meat dishes often with tortillas of corn, and usually with beans and a fresh vegetable dish combining the above flavor elements.


Heavy on herbs such as thyme, sage, rosemary, tarragon, chervil, chives, herbs de provence, lavender, parsley.
Acids such as lemon, wine vinegars, or wine.
Fats such as butter, olive oil, animal fats, cream – and plenty of them.
Mirepoix to begin any dish: onion, celery, carrot. Shallots, truffle, soft cheeses, Dijon mustard, and mushrooms
Meat and lots of vegetable dishes combining the above flavor profiles, as well as artisan breads.

European (meaning mostly Eastern European)

Herbs such as dill, chives, and parsley.
Acids such as wine, grain, or apple cider vinegars.
Fats such as lard and sour cream.
Cold-loving vegetables such as onions, roots, and garlic.
Think Borscht, potato pancakes, cabbage rolls, sausages, sauerkraut, hearty stews, etc.

Middle Eastern

Herbs such as parsley, mint, or thyme.
Spices such as cinnamon, cloves, cumin, coriander, and fenugreek, Zaatar (Herb mix of sumac,thyme, roasted sesame seeds, marjoram, oregano, and salt.)
Acids like lemon and other citrus.
Fats like ghee and olive oil.
Meat, rice, wheat grain or bread, pulses such as lentils and chickpeas, and vegetable dishes with the above flavors. Think tabbouleh, hummus, Indian curry, and fresh herbaceous salads.


Herbs such as oregano, bay leaves, thyme, mint, dill, Basil, Rosemary
Spices such as garlic, onions,fennel seed, allspice, anise, and cardamom, cinnamon, and cumin
Acids like lemon, wine
Fats like olive oil, olives, yogurt
tuna, lamb, feta cheese, tomatoes, red onions, fish, shellfish

Latin & Caribbean

Herbs such as thyme, marjoram, basil, cilantro (know as chadon beni), green onions, Sofrito (green and red bell peppers, onion, garlic, cilantro), Jerk Spice (allspice, scotch bonnet peppers, clove, cinnamon, scallions, nutmeg,thyme, garlic, salt)
Spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, ginger
Fats like vegetable oil, pork fat but in small quantities
Rice, black beans, plantains, papaya, avocados, mangos, pineapple, garlic, onions, tomatoes, corn, lots of fish and shellfish, goat meat, pork, lime


Herbs such as cilantro and mint.
Aromatics such as spring onion, garlic, and ginger.
Hot peppers of all sorts, soy sauce and tofu.
Lime and coconut as in Thai food.
Japanese- miso, sesame seed oil, sesame seeds, rice vinegar, sake, wasabi, ginger, and soy sauce
Brothy soups made from beef, pork, or fish; rice and vegetable-heavy dishes using the above aromatics; and plenty of seafood and pork as the main meats in the region.

Central/South Asian
ginger, garlic, scallions, shallots, lemongrass, Thai basil, cilantro, fish sauce, shrimp paste, soy sauce, coconut milk, sesame seeds, sesame oil, rice or sweet wine vinegar, cilantro, lime, oyster sauce, galangal, hot chili peppers


Herbs such as cilantro, fennel, garlic, saffron, fenugreek, dried chilies,
Spices such as garam masala, curry, tamarind, cardamom, cumin, coriander, paprika, tandoori spices
Fats such as ghee, mustard oil
yogurt, coconut milk, basmati rice, coconut, chicken, peanuts, vegetables, lentils, chickpeas

Chophouse Salad

Go to any great steak house and they've got a dynamite chopped salad.  It's a perfect compliment to the big hunks of beautifully cooked prime beef (please, medium-rare at most). The blending of crisp lettuces, hint of garlic, creamy blue cheese, and crunch of a crouton makes this a star side.  I've even had some that have actually stolen the show.  Enjoy!

Serves 4

8 cups chopped iceberg lettuce (or can substitute romaine lettuce)
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
1 cup chopped radicchio
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped green olives
6 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced, washed and drained
4 eggs, hard-boiled and chopped
1 (14-oz.) can chilled hearts of palm, rinsed, well-drained and sliced
1/2 lb applewood-smoked bacon, chopped, fried until crisp, drained
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup crouton
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Garnish- Crispy fried onions

Lemon Basil Dressing:
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
To taste salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Salad:  In a very large bowl, combine lettuce,spinach,radicchio,red onions,green olives,mushrooms,eggs,hearts of palm and bacon; toss well. Add crumbled blue cheese, croutons and Lemon Basil Dressing; toss until well mixed. Divide salad among 4 dinner plates, garnish with cherry tomato halves and top salads with crispy fried onions

Lemon Basil Dressing: Combine all ingredients,add seasoned salt and pepper to taste. Mix well; refrigerate until serving. Dressing can be made a day ahead and refrigerated until ready to use.

The Menu: Oct. 4th - Oct. 10th

Grilled NY Steaks with Roasted Wood Mushrooms and Leeks
Chophouse Salad with Lemon Basil Dressing
Parmesan and Herb Zucchini

Brined and Oven Roasted Pork Loin
Spiced Apple Chutney
Caramelized Butternut Squash with Cranberry Vinaigrette

Italian Vegetable Rice Pasta with Olive Oil, Parmesan, and Cracked Black Pepper

Broccoli Purée
Perfect Roast Chicken with Pan Jus
Root Vegetable Gratin

Schezuan Vegetable Stir Fry with Brown Rice

Fisherman's Stew

Purée of Carrot
Grilled Bison Porterhouse with Cabernet Butter
Braised Wild Mushroom and Shallots with Thyme
Baby Field Green Salad with Lemon-Honey Vinaigrette
Steamed Broccoli with Citrus Olive Oil Drizzle

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Grilled Lamb Skewers with a White Bean Salad

It's late September and the weather here is staying very warm.  Cooking and eating outside is one of my favorite things to do and with our Indian summer I'm doing as much of this as possible, along with golf(of course).  One of my favorite types of cuisine is from the Mediterranean regions, around Italy and Greece.  Here is a grilled Lamb preparation that is wonderful to share with family and friends.  Enjoy!

4 large garlic cloves
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 # boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar or red-wine vinegar
2 (15- to 19-oz) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (about 3 cups)
1 celery rib, thinly sliced
1/4 cup brine-cured black olives, such as Kalamata, pitted and quartered
1/2 cup pine nuts (2 1/4 oz), toasted
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint

Special equipment:
6 to 8 metal skewers

Prepare grill for cooking over medium-hot charcoal (moderate heat for gas).

While grill is heating, mince garlic, then mash to a paste with salt and pepper using a large heavy knife. Reserve half of garlic paste in a large salad bowl.

Whisk together remaining garlic paste and 2 tablespoons olive oil in another large bowl, then add lamb and toss to coat.

Divide lamb among skewers, leaving a little space between pieces (for even cooking).

Whisk vinegar into reserved garlic paste, then add remaining 1/4 cup oil in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified. Add beans, celery, olives, pine nuts, and mint, then toss to coat.

Grill lamb, turning as grill marks appear on each side, about 6 minutes total for medium-rare. Serve with bean salad and Enjoy!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Coconut Red Lentil Curry

1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 (2 1/2-inch) fresh jalapeño or serrano chile, finely chopped, including seeds
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups dried red lentils (10 oz)
1 (13- to 14-oz) can unsweetened coconut milk
1 lb zucchini (2 medium), cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro sprigs
Accompaniment: white rice

Cook onion in oil in a 3 1/2- to 4-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until edges are golden, about 6 minutes. Add ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add cumin, coriander, turmeric, salt, and chile and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Stir in water, lentils, and coconut milk, then simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Stir in zucchini and simmer, covered, until lentils and zucchini are tender, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and serve with cilantro sprigs scattered on top. Serve and Enjoy!

Chicken Wings with a Balsamic-Soy glaze

By roasting the wings first you insure they're crispy.  This can get addicting, be warned!  I also like to add some red pepper flake to this if I'm in the mood for some burn.  Enjoy!

4 pounds chicken wings
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven. Line 2 large shallow baking pans (17 by 11 inches) with foil. Put pans in oven and preheat oven to 500°F.

Pat wings dry, then toss with oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and divide between preheated pans, spreading wings in 1 layer. Roast, without turning, until golden and tender, about 35 minutes.

While wings roast, simmer vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about 1/3 cup, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter until melted.

Remove roasted wings from oven and let stand in pans 1 minute (to make wings easier to remove from foil), then transfer with tongs to a clean large bowl.

Pour balsamic mixture over wings and toss to coat well. Let stand 5 minutes, then toss again.

Roasted Zucchini with Parmesan and Italian Spices

4 servings

4 zucchini, quartered lengthwise
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Coat a cooling rack with nonstick spray and place on a baking sheet; set aside.
In a small bowl, combine Parmesan, thyme, oregano, basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper, to taste.
Place zucchini onto prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan mixture. Place into oven and bake until tender, about 10 minutes. Then broil for 2-3 minutes, or until the crisp and golden brown.

Serve immediately, garnished with parsley and Enjoy.

Roasted Beets

12 beets
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, minced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar (can substitute Balsamic)
Juice of 1 large orange

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Remove the tops and the roots of the beets and peel each one with a vegetable peeler. Cut the beets in 1 1/2-inch chunks. (Small beets can be halved, medium ones cut in quarters, and large beets cut in eighths.)

Place the cut beets on a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil, thyme leaves, salt, and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, turning once or twice with a spatula, until the beets are tender. Remove from the oven and immediately toss with the vinegar and orange juice. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve warm. Enjoy!

The Menu Sept 27-Oct.3

Roasted Chicken with Mushroom Gravy
Spaghetti Squash with Parmesan and Cracked Black Pepper
Grilled Zucchini

Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder
Southern Succotash
Romaine Salad with Avocado and a Cilantro Vinaigrette

Grilled Salmon drizzled with a Garlic Balsamic Dressing
Baby Arugula and Radish Salad, crumbled Goat cheese

Curried Vegetable Stew
Basmati Rice

Grilled Chicken with Lemon and Herbs
Sweet Baby Corn
Green Beans

"Clean out the Frig Night"

Grilled Porterhouse Steaks
Baby Greens Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette
Oven Roasted Mushrooms and Onions
Broccoli with garlic and chiles

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Honey Cake with Almonds and Bourbon

This honey cake is extra moist and sweet, as good on the day of baking as it is days later. Like most honey cakes, it is a good keeper and can be made a couple of days ahead.

Adapted from Marcy Goldman’s Treasure of Jewish Holiday Baking

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup honey
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup warm coffee or strong tea
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup bourbon
1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds

Fits in three loaf pans, two 9-inch square or round cake pans, one 9 or 10 inch tube or bundt cake pan, or one 9 by 13 inch sheet cake.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease pan(s) with non-stick cooking spray. For tube or angel food pans, line the bottom with lightly greased parchment paper, cut to fit.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Make a well in the center, and add oil, honey, white sugar, brown sugars, eggs, vanilla, coffee or tea, orange juice and bourbon. (If you measure your oil before the honey, it will be easier to get all of the honey out.)

Using a strong wire whisk or in an electric mixer on slow speed, stir together well to make a thick, well-blended batter, making sure that no ingredients are stuck to the bottom.

Spoon batter into prepared pan(s). Sprinkle top of cake(s) evenly with almonds.  If using a bundt pan, place almonds on the bottom as this will become the top when you remove the finished cake from the pan.  Place cake pan(s) on two baking sheets, stacked together (this will ensure the cakes bake properly with the bottom baking faster than the cake interior and top).

Bake until cake tests done, that is, it springs back when you gently touch the cake center. For angel, bundt, and tube cake pans, this will take 60 to 75 minutes, loaf cakes, about 45 to 55 minutes. For sheet style cakes, baking time is 40 to 45 minutes.

Let cake stand fifteen minutes before removing from pan.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Jewish New Year 2014

Rosh Hashanah is next week and I'm so excited this year to be sharing our celebration with friends that have never been to a Seder.  It's a time of celebration, family/friends, and traditional foods.  Honey, Round Challah, Pomegranates, and Fish are just some of the staples for this Holiday table.  Here's my menu this year, "L'Shana Tova!"

Pomegranate Kir Royales

Smoked Whitefish Pate, Smoked Salmon, Matzo with Warm Butter

Matzo Ball Soup

Apples and Honey, Challah

Brisket with Wild Mushroom Gravy

Chicken with Leeks and Dates

Potato Kugel

Green Beans with Red Onions

Carrots with Honey, Shallots, and Ginger

Honey Cakes with Strawberry Compote

Potato Kugel

This was a staple dish for us growing up, it seemed that my grandmother would have this on the table all the time .  Its Jewish comfort food at its best.  Served with brisket and gravy or roast chicken the crisp potato exterior and tender interior of this casserole is to die for.  Enjoy!

 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
 10 potatoes, peeled and grated
 2 onions, peeled and grated
 5 eggs
 1/3 cup vegetable oil
 2 teaspoons salt
 1 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat an oven to 350° F.

Grease a 9x13 inch pan with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
Combine the potatoes and onions in a large bowl. Mix in the eggs, 1/3 cup of vegetable oil, salt, and pepper. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven until the top is golden brown and crisp, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Let stand five to ten minutes, then serve and Enjoy!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Let's talk Turkey- Cooking Fundamentals

How to Cook a Turkey

I'm already starting to get excited about my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving.  I know we're a couple months away, but let's talk about how to make sure the star of the show, the turkey, comes out like a rock star.  Recently, I was discussing how to's with a couple of friends of mine and realized they didn't really know how to cook the bird.  They were saying that they've always been disappointed at how the breast meat came out so dry and flavorless. Also, that they were shifting their meals more towards hams and roasts because turkey was so "bland". You can imagine my chagrin at the thought of friends of mine abandoning this fantastic bird on what I consider the best eating holiday of them all.  I said, "Ladies, let's talk turkey!"

Fundamentally, we are dealing with two very different large muscle groups, light meat and dark meat, which is why the turkey presents such a challenge to the average cook.  Most people cook the bird as a whole in the oven for hours and hours (and hours, and hours).  This is needed to cook that stubborn dark meat. Unfortunately, the white meat is cooked to death by doing this and your guests now have to eat something akin to saw dust or desert sand.  Bring on the gravy, the only way to choke it down.  By the way, I am no fan of stuffing the bird with stuffing.  I think it's either a great way to give everyone food poisoning (undercooking the center) or, since you make sure the center of the dressing reaches 155°F, a charcoal briquet of a bird.  Cook the stuffing (now called dressing) separately outside the bird.  You'll get a much tastier result and no trips to the ER for stomach pumping.  Always something to avoid with the relatives.

The solution, each type of meat needs to be cooked in a different manner and for different lengths of time in order to achieve the best results.  The "secret" to having tremendous results is quite simple: break down the bird into two parts, the breast and wings (white meat) and the thighs and legs (dark meat).  Then cook each with a separate technique to ensure each comes out moist and delicious. The white meat of a turkey (and other birds) is lean, no fat, so introducing a brine to these parts and letting them sit overnight (in the frig) is essential to infusing flavor and allowing the meat to stay moist during the cooking.  Also, because of this leanness, these parts of the bird need to be cooked at a higher temperature for a shorter length of time than the dark meat. The dark meat of a turkey and most other fowl is where the fat is.  Fat equals flavor and lends itself best to long, slow cooking methods.  Braising these parts allow the flavors to develop and more importantly the muscle fibers to breakdown, giving the meat a melt in your mouth delicious result.

I realize this idea may take away from that image of your beautifully browned whole bird coming to the table to the "oohs and ahhs" of your family and guests and the ceremonious slicing of the bird.  But, who are we fooling? Are you looking to be on a set of a TV show or serving the best damn bird they've ever had? And, by preparing the bird this way, you actually have your chance of getting those "oohs and ahhs"!   By the way, cutting the bird up and cooking it using two different methods makes serving a snap.  And, if you wish, you can still have the pomp and circumstance over the breast meat if you really want to.

What follows are two different preparations, one for each part of the bird.  The white meat requires the oven, the dark is braised on the range top.  No need for two ovens, although you can just as easily braise in the oven if you choose.  Also, the dark meat can be made a day or two ahead and just reheated the day of your meal.  I found doing this ahead of time really adds to the flavor, more time to marry, and makes the day of that much easier.

The White Meat:
The key to the brine is to keep the liquid, salt and sugar ratios the same.  Everything else can be switched up, changed, have fun with it.  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.  In a pot put the water, OJ, salt and sugar.  Heat and cook until everything is dissolved.  Remove from heat and add all the other ingredients, put a cup of ice into the mixture and cool in a cold water bath.  Once brine is cool, add breasts and place in the refrigerator, loosely covered, overnight.

The next day, 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.  Scatter sliced onion, celery, carrot, thyme sprigs, rosemary sprigs, and garlic over a large rimmed baking sheet and arrange turkey breasts, skin side up, on top. Roast turkey breasts for 30 minutes, until skin is crisp and has started to turn golden brown. Reduce oven to 300°F, loosely tent breasts with foil and continue to cook until done. (20 minutes per lb. or internal temp reaches 155°F.) Transfer turkey breasts to a platter and let rest at least 15 minutes before carving.

The Dark Meat:
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 chicken stock
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.

So, there you have it.  Two different types of meat on the same bird, two different cooking techniques, reaching one result- everyone comes running back for more and your praises getting sung.

Teriyaki-Glazed Turkey with Shallot Gravy

The holidays are coming and it's never to early to talk turkey.  Here's a great spin on the traditional.  I like to switch things up and not always do the same preparation. While there is something to be said for always having the same menu year in and year out, I like the newness and surprise of a cool spin on the familiar.  This recipe calls for mirin, a sweet rice wine used in Japanese cooking. It doesn't just flavor food, its sweetness also gives luster to sauces and glazes and can help them cling to food.

If you don't have mirin, you can just use dry sherry or sweet marsala. You can also dissolve a small amount of sugar in a little white wine or sherry, perhaps a 1/4 teaspoon of sugar to 1/4 cup wine.

1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin
1/4 cup sake
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
One 16-pound fresh turkey
1 1/2 pounds large shallots, peeled
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup water
2 cups Rich Turkey Stock
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 500°F.

In a saucepan, combine the soy sauce, mirin, sake, vinegar, brown sugar and ginger. Add the cornstarch slurry and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook, stirring, until glossy and slightly thickened, 3 minutes. Transfer the teriyaki sauce to a bowl.
Set the turkey in a large roasting pan; scatter the shallots around it. Season the turkey cavities and skin with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, blend 4 tablespoons of the butter with the olive oil and brush some over the turkey.
Roast the turkey for 30 minutes, or until golden. Baste with the butter mixture and add the water to the roasting pan. Reduce the oven temperature to 325° and roast the turkey for 1 hour, basting twice with the remaining butter mixture; loosely cover the bird with foil if the breast browns too quickly.
Pour half of the teriyaki sauce into a bowl; baste the turkey with some of it. Roast the turkey for 1 1/2 hours longer, basting with the sauce from the bowl every 30 minutes; the turkey is done when the skin is lacquered and an instant-read thermometer inserted in an inner thigh registers 170°F. Transfer to a carving board; let rest for 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, strain the pan juices into a bowl, skim off the fat and reserve the shallots. Set the pan over 1 burner. Add the shallots to the pan and cook over high heat, stirring, until browned, about 3 minutes. Add the pan juices, Rich Turkey Stock and the reserved teriyaki sauce. Bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
Strain the pan sauce into a medium saucepan, reserving the shallots. Boil the sauce over high heat until reduced by a third, 30 minutes. In a bowl, mix the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter with the flour until smooth. Whisk the flour paste into the sauce and boil, whisking constantly, until the gravy is thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the shallots, season with salt and pepper and transfer to a warmed gravy boat. Carve the turkey and serve with the shallot gravy. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Menu : 9/13-9/19

Dinner Out- The Root Restaurant

Grilled Brined Pork Chops with Grilled Nectarines
Green Beans
Chopped Salad with Chickpeas, Creamy Garlic Dressing

Oriental Vegetable Stir Fry with Brown Rice

Braised Chicken Thighs with Wild Mushrooms
Kale Salad with Red Onion, Apples, and Parmesan

Caesar Salad with Grilled Salmon

Italian Pasta Bake
Garden Salad with Italian Dressing

Steak and Martini Night

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Yucatan Chicken with Papaya-Mango Salsa

The secret to this delicious recipe is allowing the marinade to do its magic overnight.  This is very flavorful and a terrific Summer dinner for family and friends.  If you like (as I do) you can kick up the heat with Serranos or Jalapeños, just serve lots of ice cold beer and it's a winner.  I usually add some rice and spicy black beans and its a fiesta straight from the Myans!  Enjoy!!

 2# chicken pieces, skin on
1 lime, juiced
1 Tbsp. Lime zest, minced
1/2 Red onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 Btl. Beer
1/4 C. Tequila
1/4 C. White vinegar
3/4 C. Vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. brown Sugar
To taste: cumin, cayenne pepper, blk. pepper, chili powder, and kosher salt

Using a fork prick chicken pieces on both sides and then place in a large ziplock bag.  In a bowl combine all other ingredients to make marinade.  Pour marinade over chicken and seal bag. Turn sealed bag over and over to distribute marinade to all pieces.  Place in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight.
Prepare grill, and heat to medium high.  (If using charcoal, used indirect cooking method where you'll sear chicken skin side down over coals and the cook off to the side.)
Grill chicken until fully cooked, reserve warm for 10 minutes and then serve with warm flour tortillas and salsa (recipe follows)

Papaya-Mango Salsa
1 Mango, peeled & small diced
1 Papaya, peeled and small diced
1/2 Red onion, small diced
To taste- Jalapeño pepper, minced
2 ripe tomatoes, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of 1 orange and 1/2 a lime
2 Tbsp.white vinegar
2 Tbsp. Vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. Chopped fresh cilantro
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

In a large bowl combine all salsa ingredients.  Let sit for atleast 1 hour prior to serving in the refrigerator.  Bring to room temperature before serving.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Tips from America's Test Kitchen

These are some excellent tips from America's Test Kitchen.  Instant aged Balsamic vinegar, Kale chips ( done in the microwave, say it isn't so, but wow!), and others.  I love the work Chris Kimball and his team does.  Always interesting, informative, and very tasty.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Spareribs with Balsamic Glaze

It's the Fourth of July and nothing says it like ribs!  I've made these for years and they are excellent.  I found the recipe back in 2004, it was in Bruce Aidells's, Complete Book of Pork.  I love to barbecue spareribs, here you generously season the ribs with a mix of aromatic herbs and spices and slow-roast them until tender and crisp. They are finished with a simple balsamic glaze and are finger licking good.  Enjoy!

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped rosemary leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons fennel seeds
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons chopped sage
2 teaspoons chopped thyme
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
6 pounds pork spareribs
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, rosemary, kosher salt, fennel, black pepper, sage, thyme, paprika, crushed red pepper, coriander and allspice. Rub the spice paste all over the spareribs and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours or refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 325°.

Arrange the ribs on a large, rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan, meaty side up. Roast the ribs for 2 hours, or until tender.
Preheat the broiler. Brush the meaty side of the ribs with the balsamic vinegar and broil 6 inches from the heat until browned, about 2 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes, then cut between the ribs and serve.

A slightly spicy medium-bodied red with low acidity or a lighter-bodied Sangiovese-based red like Chianti.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Pork Tenderloin with Tomato-Peach Compote

Summer is about tomatoes and when ripe their natural sweetness makes a perfect pairing with that of the peach. The combination is great with juicy curry-rubbed pork.

4 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon chopped peeled ginger
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 (3/4-pound) pork tenderloins
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3/4 pound tomatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 peach, chopped
2 teaspoons chopped thyme
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)

Equipment: a mortar and pestle

Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in middle.

Mash garlic, ginger, curry powder, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to a paste using mortar and pestle. Rub all over pork.

Heat oil in an ovenproof 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Brown pork on one side, about 5 minutes, then turn over and transfer skillet to oven. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of meat registers 145 to 150°F for juicy meat, 10 to 12 minutes. Let pork rest, uncovered, on a cutting board while making compote.

Add onion to skillet (handle will be very hot) and sauté over medium-high heat until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add tomatoes and peach and sauté until just softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in thyme and, if desired, sugar.

Slice pork and serve with compote, serve and enjoy!

Smoked Brisket

I was going through the blog and realized I hadn't posted a good smoked brisket preparation yet.  Good barbecue is my favorite food, I could eat it every day.  Brisket does take some practice, but when done right it is out of this world.  I got this recipe and preparation from Grill Master Lee Ann Whippen, she has won numerous National Championships over the years.

6 cups hickory chips
8 to 9 pounds beef brisket, choice grade
Dry rub, recipe follows
Mustard Sauce, recipe follows
Beer Based Mop Sauce, recipe follows
Brisket BBQ Sauce, recipe follows

Dry Rub:
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 teaspoons ground cumin

Mustard Sauce:
1 cup yellow mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

Beer Based Mop Sauce:
3/4 cup cider vinegar
12 ounces beer
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon BBQ dry rub
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Brisket BBQ Sauce:
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup ketchup
1/3 cup chili sauce
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon allspice
1 tablespoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons chili powder
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon paprika
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons maple syrup

The first step is to trim the fat on brisket to 1/4-inch thickness. Sprinkle brisket generously with the dry rub. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat charcoal smoker for half an hour. Soak the hickory chips for half an hour in water. Drain chips.

Remove the brisket from refrigerator 1 hour prior to cooking and let stand at room temperature. Mop the entire brisket with Mustard Sauce. Place brisket fat side up in a smoker at a preheated temperature of 200 to 225°F. Add 3 handfuls of pre-soaked hickory chips to preheated charcoal (should be at the gray stage). After 3 hours, add another 3 handfuls of chips and mop with Beer Based Mop Sauce.

After 2 more hours, place brisket on 2 pieces of heavy-duty foil and pour 1/4 cup Beer Based Mop Sauce on top of brisket and seal tightly. Continue to cook in smoker another 2 to 4 hours, or until internal temperature reaches 185 degrees F.

Remove brisket from foil and let stand 15 minutes. Slice brisket against the grain into 1/4-inch thickness. Top with Brisket BBQ Sauce.

Mustard Sauce:
Mix all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Beer Based Mop Sauce:
Mix all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Brisket BBQ Sauce:
In a medium to large saucepan, sauté the onions in the butter over medium heat until soft. Add remaining ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Tapas style Clams with Chorizo, Peppers, and Potatoes

This is a spectacular dish, just great for a party.  Throw some salsa or Spanish guitar music on and you'll think you're a million miles from home.  The chorizo is spicy, so a little goes a long way, it's spice adds a nice dimension to a skillet full of mouthwatering clams and potatoes.  Serve with some crusty bread and a green salad.

Serves 6

2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 (2-inch) piece Spanish chorizo (cured sausage), cut into thin half-moons
2 dozen small hard-shelled clams, scrubbed
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

Cook onions and pepper in oil in a 12-inch heavy nonstick skillet over medium heat, covered, 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel potatoes and cut into 3/4-inch pieces.

Add potatoes to skillet and cook, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are almost tender and vegetables begin to brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

Add wine and briskly simmer, uncovered, 2 minutes.

Add chorizo and clams and cook, covered, shaking skillet occasionally, until clams open wide, 6 to 10 minutes (discard any clams that remain unopened after 10 minutes). Divide among bowls,  sprinkle with parsley, serve and enjoy!

Lamb Chops with Apples and Prunes

This lamb dish is full of French influences, serve over wide egg noodles and some sautéed spinach and it a winner.

1/4 cup brandy
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
10 pitted prunes, chopped
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
4 (1/2-inch-thick) lamb shoulder chops (about 1/2 pound each)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 Gala apple, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup finely chopped shallot
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

Combine brandy, vinegar, prunes, and bay leaf and let stand until ready to use.

Pat lamb chops dry and season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over high heat until it shimmers. Cook lamb, turning once, 6 to 7 minutes total for medium-rare. Transfer to a plate and let stand, loosely covered. Discard fat from skillet.

Add butter and apple to skillet and sauté over medium-high heat until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add shallot and garlic and sauté 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add prune mixture. Boil until liquid is reduced to a glaze. Add chicken broth and any meat juices from plate and simmer, crushing prunes with a fork, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and discard bay leaf. Serve over lamb.  Enjoy!

Lentil soup with Italian Sausage and Escarole

This is a hearty, no fuss soup that is full of healthy escarole and lentils.  The sausage gives it a terrific meaty feel with zest.  Add some fresh croutons to the top and it's good to go, Enjoy!

1 2/3 cups lentils (11 ounces), rinsed well
5 cups water
3 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped, divided
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausage links, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 pound escarole, chopped (4 cups packed)
1 to 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

Simmer lentils, water, broth, bay leaf, and half of garlic in a 4-quart pot, uncovered, 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a wide heavy 5- to 6-quart pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Brown sausage, about 7 minutes. Transfer sausage with a slotted spoon to a bowl.

Reduce heat to medium and cook onion, carrots, celery, remaining garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add sausage and lentils with cooking liquid and simmer, uncovered, until lentils are tender, 3 to 5 minutes.

Stir in escarole and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in vinegar to taste and season with salt and pepper. Discard bay leaf.  Ladle into warm bowls, serve and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Vegetarian White Bean and Thyme Cassoulet

This is a great vegetarian casserole.  Hearty, stick to your ribs without the meat.  Add a good French baguette, soft butter and you've got a winner.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 cups (1/2-inch-thick) slices diagonally cut carrot
1 cup (1/2-inch-thick) slices diagonally cut parsnip
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups cooked Great Northern beans
3/4 cup vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 ounce grated fresh Parmesan cheese (about 1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 links frozen meatless Italian sausage, thawed and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, parsnip, and garlic; cover and cook 5 minutes or until tender.
Place in a 5-quart electric slow cooker. Add beans and next 6 ingredients (through bay leaf). Cover and cook on low 8 hours or until vegetables are tender.
Combine breadcrumbs, cheese, and butter in a small bowl; toss with a fork until moist. Stir breadcrumb mixture and sausage into bean mixture; sprinkle with parsley.

Chicken Tetrazzini

If you're hitting the gym regularly and aren't worried about all the cream, this is a deliciously decadent crowd pleaser.  A slight twist on the the traditional version that has turkey (usually leftover from Thanksgiving) playing center stage.  It's a Giada de Laurentiis recipe, live large and Enjoy!

Serves 8

9 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 pound white mushrooms, sliced
1 large onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk, room temperature
1 cup heavy whipping cream, room temperature
1 cup chicken broth
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
12 ounces linguine
3/4 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup dried Italian-style breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 450° F.

Spread 1 tablespoon of butter over a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish. Melt 1 tablespoon each of butter and oil in a deep large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the hot pan and cook until pale golden and just cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate to cool slightly. Coarsely shred the chicken into bite-size pieces and into a large bowl.

Meanwhile, add 1 tablespoon each of butter and oil to the same pan. Add the mushrooms and sauté over medium-high heat until the liquid from the mushrooms evaporates and the mushrooms become pale golden, about 1-2 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, and thyme, and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until it evaporates, about 2 minutes. Transfer the mushroom mixture to the bowl with the chicken.

Melt 3 more tablespoons butter in the same pan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk, cream, broth, nutmeg, remaining 1 3/4 teaspoons salt, and remaining 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Increase the heat to high. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 10 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the linguine and cook until it is tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 9 minutes. Drain. Add the linguine, sauce, peas, and parsley to the chicken mixture. Toss until the sauce coats the pasta and the mixture is well blended.

Transfer the pasta mixture to the prepared baking dish. Stir the cheese and breadcrumbs in a small bowl to blend. Sprinkle the cheese mixture over the pasta. Dot with the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter. Bake, uncovered, until golden brown on top and the sauce bubbles, about 25 minutes.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Roasted Pears with Almond Crunch

Love this dessert, crunchy, nutty, delicious. The combination of Amaretto and warm pear juices creates a terrific syrup, and a crisp, nutty topping adds a great note to the tender roasted fruit.

For almond crunch
1 large egg white
3 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sliced almonds (preferably with skins; 2 3/4 oz)

For pears
3 firm Bosc pears (1 1/2 lb total)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons Amaretto or other almond-flavored liqueur
1/2 cup water

Accompaniment: mascarpone cheese (optional)

Make almond crunch:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Whisk together egg white, sugar, and salt until sugar is completely dissolved, then add almonds, stirring until coated. Spread mixture in a very thin layer on parchment-lined sheet, spreading almonds away from center of pan.

Bake until deep golden, 15 to 25 minutes. Cool on baking sheet on a rack, then break into pieces.

Roast pears:
Increase oven temperature to 425°F.

Halve pears lengthwise and core with melon-ball cutter or a paring knife.

Spread 1 tablespoon butter on bottom of an 8-inch square glass baking dish and sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar.

Arrange pears, cut sides up, on sugar, then dot pears with remaining tablespoon butter. Sprinkle remaining tablespoon sugar over pears, then drizzle with 1 tablespoon Amaretto.

Roast pears, uncovered, until barely tender, about 25 minutes (sugar will harden on bottom).

Add water, a pinch of salt, and remaining 2 tablespoons Amaretto to baking dish and stir (around pears) until sugar is dissolved, then baste pears with pan juices.

Roast pears, basting twice with pan juices, until tender, about 15 minutes more.

Serve pears, warm or at room temperature, drizzled with pan juices and topped with almond crunch.

Fiery Tomatillo Salsa

I love Mexican food.  I love the aromas, flavors, the celebration that Latin people put into their cuisine.  I love how the acidic, plays off the earthy and the spicy notes, yum!  This is a great spicy addition to fish, chicken, pork, you name it.  Enjoy and Olé!

 1# tomatillos, husked
 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
 1 teaspoon minced garlic
 1 Serrano chile pepper, minced (I usually do more, I love the heat)
 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
 Salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
 2 cups water

Place tomatillos, onion, garlic, and chile pepper into a saucepan. Season with cilantro, oregano, cumin, and a pinch of salt; add water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the tomatillos are soft, 10 to 15 minutes.

Using a blender, carefully puree the tomatillo mixture in batches until smooth.  Check seasoning and correct with salt and pepper.  Serve and Enjoy!

Cold Celery and Apple Coulis

This soup, served cold, is awesome for a dinner party on the patio on a hot day.  Very satisfying and a snap to throw together.

Makes about 4 cups

8 to 9 celery ribs, chopped (3 cups)
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and cored
1 1/2 cups cold water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 (3-inch) piece baguette, crust discarded
1/4 cup blanched almonds, chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Garnish: sliced thinly on the bias sliced celery

Purée celery, apple, water, lemon juice, and salt in a blender until smooth. Chill mixture in blender, covered, 1 hour. Re-blend, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Soak bread in strained soup 3 minutes. Rinse blender and pulse almonds until finely ground. Add soup with bread and blend. Then, with motor running, add oil in a slow stream, blending until emulsified.

Serve in chilled cups with thinly sliced celery as garnish and enjoy!

Chilled Zucchini and Cucumber Soup

During the heat of the Summer, this is a terrific cold soup.  I usually serve this with a thin slice of Avocado on top as a garnish or very thinly sliced lemon.  Super easy and tasty, Enjoy!

Makes about 4 cups

1 # zucchini, chopped
3/4 # seedless cucumber, peeled and chopped (2 cups)
1/3 cup chopped Vidalia onion
1/4 cup white-wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon chopped fresh hot green chile
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander

in a food processor, purée zucchini, cucumber, onion, vinegar, water, chile, and 1/2 teaspoon coriander until very smooth.  Taste and correct seasoning with salt and pepper.

Serve soup in chilled cups and Enjoy!

Veal Chops with Lobster and Artichoke Stuffing

I picked this one up while working in California at The LaQuinta Hotel and Golf Resort.  This dish does require a little more "mashing and bashing" as Jeanne would say, but it's so worth it.  A terrific meal for guests or that special occasion.  Definitely not a dish for those counting calories or worried about clogged arteries.  But, hey you only live once, so GO BIG!  Asparagus spears go especially well with the dish, but it's  It’s important not to over cook them.  They are always best served al danté, or "firm to the tooth".  Once cooked, toss with a small amount of soft butter, salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

Serves 4

4 Veal Chops, 1-1 ½” inch thick, frenched (remove all meat and sinew from the
​Extra Virgin Olive Oil
​Salt & Pepper, to taste

​1 Lobster tail, remove meat, discard shell, cut meat into large chunks, reserve in bowl in refrigerator
​1/4 Cup Olive Oil
​½ Cup Artichokes quarters
​¼ Cup Sun-dried Tomatoes, sliced thinly
​1 Tbsp Shallots, minced
​1 Tbsp Garlic, minced
​¼ Cup Cognac
​¼ Cup Heavy whipping cream
​½ Cup Arugula, thinly chopped
Squeeze of Fresh Lemon juice
​Salt & Pepper, to taste

Cognac Cream
​2 Tbsp Shallots, minced
​2 Tbsp Butter
​Pinch of Garlic, minced
​1 Cup Veal or Beef Stock (or if you can get it, Demi-Glace)
​1 Cup Heavy whipping cream
​4 oz Butter
​¼ Cup Cognac
​Salt & Pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Make the Cognac Cream first;

In a medium sauce pan melt butter over medium high heat.  Add shallots and cook until translucent.  Add garlic and cook just until you can smell garlic.  Remove pot away from the heat and add cognac, return to heat.  Add Veal / Beef stock or Demi, increase heat to high and reduce by half volume.  Add cream and reduce again by half.  Be very careful at this stage, the sauce must be watched and whisked regularly.  Do not to let the sauce boil over, this will cause a huge flare up.  Reduce the mixture to a sauce consistency.  Remove from heat and finish by adding the butter and constantly whisking until all the butter is fully incorporated into the sauce.  Season sauce, to taste, with salt and pepper.  Reserve warm until serving with veal.


Rap each chops’s bone with aluminum foil to prevent charring.  Drizzle chops with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  On a hot grill, mark each side, placing the chops at 10 o’clock for 1-2 minutes, then 2 o’clock for 1-2 minutes, in order to form diamond shapes.  Repeat on the other side.  Remove chops from the grill and place in oven, cook until medium or desired doneness. (Medium doneness - approx. 10 mins.)
Once done, remove from oven, remove foil and hold warm for 5 minutes before you serve them.


While veal is cooking make the stuffing.  Heat a large sauté pan over high heat.  Add olive oil, let it get hot.  Add shallots, cook until translucent, add garlic and cook one minute.  Add lobster meat and let cook another minute.  Add artichokes, and tomatoes continue to cook a few minutes.  Squeeze a little lemon juice over mixture.  Remove pan away from the fire and add cognac, return to heat.  Add cream and let mixture reduce slightly, add arugula and continue to cook until greens have wilted and lobster is cooked (just until flesh turns opaque).  Season the mixture with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat and reserve warm until served with the veal.

On warm platter serve the stuffing and arrange the chops on top.  Serve with Cognac cream and Enjoy!

Berry Cobbler with Bourbon Anglaise

I got this fabulous recipe when I was studying at the Culinary Institute of America in the late 80's and it's been a go to dessert ever since.  The last two weeks of our 2 1/2 year program you worked in the American Bounty restaurant on campus.  This was one of the desserts at the time and it's dynamite.  Use whatever fruit is ripe for the season and have fun.  Just be careful, the bourbon crème anglaise is addicting and you'll struggle not to drink it straight or slather it on everything in the kitchen.  Enjoy!

9 oz. All purpose flour
1/2 oz. Baking powder
12 oz. Sugar
4 Eggs
1 1/2 cup milk
1 capful Vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon
1 cup each Strawberries (medium cut) and Blueberries

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Put and even layer of fruit on a buttered and sugared Bennington casserole dish.  Reserve on the side. In a large mixing bowl, sift flour and baking powder.  Add sugar, eggs, milk, vanilla, and lemon zest. Beat together until just combined.  Pour batter over fruit and place in oven.  Bake until golden brown about 35-40 minutes.

Bourbon Sauce

4 Egg yolks
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Bourbon
1 cup whipping cream

In a large mixing bowl beat eggs and sugar very well.  Cook over a water bath, whisking constantly until thick and pale yellow(you will be able to see the bottom of the bowl when you draw a whisk through it).  Remove the bowl from over the hot bath and stir in the bourbon.  Place the bowl in an ice bath and chill down completely.  In another mixing bowl, whip the cream to stiff, fold into chilled sauce.  Serve over the cobbler and Enjoy!

The Menu: June 14th - June 20th

Dinner out - The Union Wood Shop, Clarkston

Sunday-"Father's Day"
Grilled Oysters with Shallot Butter & Champagne
Bone-in Prime Aged Ribeye Steak
Sweet Potato Fries with Green Onions
Red Romaine Salad with a Creamy Garlic Dressing
Blueberry Cobbler with a Bourbon Crème Anglaise

Fish Tacos with a Fiery Tomatillo Salsa, Warm Tortillas
Smashed Avocados
Citrus Slaw

Grilled Chicken Thighs with Lemon and Italian Spices
Zucchini and Summer Squash with a Honey-Balsamic Glaze

Vegetable and Brown Rice Stir-Fry
Romaine Salad with a Japanese Vinaigrette

Bison Meatloaf with Bacon, Mushroom Gravy
Chopped Salad with Warm Shallot Vinaigrette

"Smorgasbord Night"
If it's in the frig you can have it!