Wednesday, August 19, 2009

skirt steak for two

Monday, July 13, 2009

figs and creme fraiche

I used to pass right by fresh figs and pick up strawberries instead, because I had no idea how to pick them out, or to tell if they're good. Then my mother-in-law gave me a tip: First, if you see them - get them- because they're only in season a few weeks and then they're gone. Pick each one up gently by the tip, and place it in your palm. Make sure it's not bruised or dented anywhere (look closely since they're dark)- most important, the figs should feel plump and heavy- that's when they're ripe. When you've picked them out, guard them like children! They won't make it home unless they're handled with care. But it's worth it. Here, I warmed them up to bring out the flavor, and then just dipped in some creme fraiche (or whipped cream) - delicious!
fresh figs
olive oil
heavy cream
buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350. Cut the figs in half gently, and place on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, and bake for 12 minutes until they look fluffed and juicy. Cool 5 minutes to serve. For creme fraiche, (this has to be made in advance), pour 2 cups heavy cream into a glass bowl & stir in 1/4 cup buttermilk. Let stand at room temperature for 4-24 hours until desired flavor, tartness is achieved, the refrigerate and store up to 2 weeks.

grilled shrimp & greek salad

Ok, so we don't have a grill...it's a NYC apartment for god's sake! But I love my broiler. It's so quick, and on a summer night, these shrimp are delicious and you're done with the oven in 6 minutes. If you don't like oregano, you can sub parsley, but if you feel like a change of taste- I don't think you'll be disappointed. xo

1 lb fresh medium shrimp
1/4 c olive oil
1 T chopped fresh oregano* dry cannot be substituted
2 garlic cloves, med-sml
sea salt & black pepper
3 T fresh lemon juice
wood skewers, soaked in water at least 1/2 hr

1 sml head of romaine lettuce, torn
6-8 kalamata olives
1/3 c. feta cheese
2 ripe plum tomatoes, quartered
1/4 c red onion, sliced thin
dressing:
1/2 c olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar
2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
salt & pepper


Rinse & devein shrimp, leaving tail shells in place. Smash garlic with flat side of large knife transfer to a blender along with lemon juice, salt and fresh pepper and blend until smooth. With motor running, add oil in a slow stream, blending until emulsified. Transfer dressing to a bowl and stir in chopped oregano.

Prepare grill for cooking over direct heat medium-hot (you can also use the top shelf of the broiler). Toss shrimp with olive oil mixture in a large bowl and marinate 5 minutes. Place about 5 shrimp per skewer piercing twice as pic. Grill shrimp on lightly oiled grill rack (covered only if using gas), turning over once. Keep a close eye on them until just cooked through & turning pink, no more than 5-6 min. 

Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, salt & pepper to taste for the salad dressing and toss with romaine. Sprinkle feta, olives, tomato, and onion on top and serve with the grilled shrimp on skewers. Serve with warm pita & tzatziki.

poached salmon with dill sauce

A summer classic...this is so cool and refreshing. You can make it ahead of time and pack a lunch for the park, or just toss it into the fridge and you're dinner's a done deal. Healthy too!

1 lb filet of salmon, cut in 2 pcs (you can use steaks if you prefer)
2 c water
1 c dry white wine
1 lemon, cut in half
1 bay leaf
4 large sprigs of fresh dill

1/3 c plain no-fat yogurt
1/3 c sour cream
1/3 c peeled & chopped cucumber
2 t fresh dillweed & sprigs for garnish
1 t dijon
1 T fresh lemon juice
salt & pepper

Bring water to a boil in a deep saucepan and add wine, bay leaf, and juice of the lemon. Reduce heat to a simmer, add the salmon filets, toss the dill on top, cover with a lid and poach for 8-10 minutes until just done at the center. Remove filets with a spatula, and let sit room temp for a minute. Throw away the cooking water. Then cover and put the salmon in the fridge to chill.

Meanwhile, for the dill sauce: place all ingredients in the cuisinart for minute to blend and that's it. Cool in the fridge if you like and serve when ready. I sliced & tossed the leftover cucumber in a tart, swedish vinegar marinade - it made a great contrast to the richness of the salmon & dillsauce. (equal parts white vinegar + sugar+ salt and pepper to taste)...Yumm.

salade nicoise

Friday, June 12, 2009

ravioli di bergamo

Ok, so I bought the ravioli from Bruno's... but the sauce is a bit of improv inspired by a little town just south of Milan. It's made from fresh sage, parmesan, and cream and is wonderful with a sausage or other meat filled pasta as a tasty alternative from the usual suspects..

1 lb or box fresh meat ravioli, sausage or ground beef
2 T butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup light or heavy cream
8-10 fresh sage leaves, chopped
3/4 c fresh parmesan reggiano
1 T fresh grated bread crumbs
fresh black pepper & salt to taste

Cook ravioli in salted water as directed. In a small pot, melt butter and add garlic. Simmer on low, adding sage, cream, and parmesan, a little at a time, while stirring. Add salt & pepper to taste, and sprinkle with bread crumbs just before spooning sauce over the pasta. Delish!

soupe au pistou

This is a soup I love to order in the summer, at a place near our house called Nice Matin.  Pistou is essentially the french version of pesto, and turns an ordinary vegetable soup into an unforgettably aromatic and delicious meal. It really makes use of all the fresh produce out at the market and is totally vegetarian...without the sacrifice.
 2 cups dry white or flageolet beans, soaked overnight
10 cups water
2 leeks, chopped into quarter pieces
2 carrots, chopped into quarter pieces
2 celery stalks with leaves, chopped
2 zucchini, chopped in cubes
3 red potatoes, cubed
sml bunch green beans, cut into small pieces
1/4 c parsley, chopped
salt & pepper 
Pistou:
6 cloves garlic
1/4 c fresh basil
½ cup grated parmesan
½ cup olive oil
4 T parsley, chopped

In a large soup pot, bring the soaked beans and fresh water to a boil. Add all the vegetables and herbs, bring to a second boil, then reduce the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for an hour. Meanwhile, make the pistou. For the pistou, put the garlic, basil, cheese, oil, and parsley in a cuisinart until you have a rich paste. Add the salt and pepper to taste in the soup, stir well, and continue simmering uncovered for another 15-20 minutes.
When ready, ladle the soup into big bowls and add a spoonful of the pistou just before serving. A warm baguette, some good butter...that's all you need.