"What's for Dinner?!" I'm always thinking about it, thought I'd share.

"What's for Dinner?!" I'm always thinking about it, thought I'd share.

Saturday, 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!