"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, 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.