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

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'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
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 
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.

moules frites

I bought a bottle of white wine last week and decided it wasn't so hot, but it seemed a waste to throw it away. So, moules frites for dinner! (with a cold beer;-) Growing up in rhode island, mussels will always be the small black ones we used to crush on the beach as kids, but if you prefer, you can upgrade to the larger, meatier new zealand variety. A 2-lb bag of fresh local maine or connecticut black ones will cost you under 10 bucks and is more than enough for two.There are a million ways to cook them, but I like the crisp, northern french flavors in this simple recipe from Lille. 

2 lb bag fresh mussels
2 cups dry white wine
2 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small onion, diced
2 fennel stalks (or celery), chopped
1 lg sprig thyme
bunch fresh parsley, chopped to 1 cup 
sea salt & fresh black pepper

sides: french baguette, fries ('ore ida', has to be shoe string are fantastic), butter and mayo.

Scrub mussels and place in large bowl of cold water. If any shells are open, they should close when tapped with a spoon- if not, throw them away. Put the olive oil, garlic, onion, & fennel on low heat for a few minutes, then add the wine and raise heat to high. Add mussels and herbs, and bring to boil- transfer any mussels that open early to a large bowl so they don't overcook. Grate fresh black pepper (lots!) over the pot, and pour all the remaining mussels and liquid into the bowl. Serve steamy, with warm bread and frites (just right timing @ 15 min in oven).  

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

maiale al latte

This is pork braised in milk and herbs. I make it like a pot roast in a dutch oven using pork tenderloin, but you can use shoulder or chops (ask for them tied in one piece from the butcher).  

2-3lb pork tenderloin
few slices guanciale, if available
1-2 cups whole milk
1/4 c. white wine
2 T olive oil
1 small clove garlic, crushed
2 juniper berries, crushed
2 bay leaves
1 T fresh rosemary 
1 T fresh  sage 

Preheat oven to 325. In a large oven-proof pot, heat oil and herbs, and add tenderloin. Season in pot with salt & pepper, and brown lightly. Lay garlic and guanciale on top, turn and brown the other side, about 1 minute. Pour wine over roast, simmer, then turn off heat and add milk until roast is almost submerged. Cover and braise in the oven about 2 hours. The meat should come apart like pulled pork when pressed with a fork. Milk will form curds; you can leave them or run the liquid through a strainer before serving. Slice roast coarsely and serve with the juice.

asparagus, peas and basil

A nice twist on same-old asparagus. You can mix- and-match the green vegetables, using green beans, broccolini or whatever. The shallots & chopped basil add a little zest.

1 bunch (thin) asparagus, chopped every 2" diagonal
1 c. sweet peas (fresh or frozen)
1 shallot, peeled & diced
handful chopped basil (3/4 cup)
2 T. olive oil
sea salt

Boil 1 cup water in a small pot, add peas & asparagus. Cook 1 minute to bring out the bright green color, then drain water & return pot to stove. Pour in the olive oil & shallots, and saute on low-med until tender but slightly al dente, about 6 minutes. 

Thursday, April 30, 2009

rosemary lamb steak

There is a greek owned market near our house where I discovered a great new cut of lamb- the leg steak. Perfect for grilling or the broiler, the meat is as delicious as leg of lamb, without all the work. I've been on a kick using lots of fresh herbs lately so this one's got lots of rosemary.

2 lamb steaks
bunch fresh rosemary, finely chopped about 1 cup
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 c. olive oil
salt & pepper

Rinse & pat steaks dry; place in a shallow pan. Pour olive oil over steaks and add rosemary & garlic. Shuffle & turn the steaks around in the pan until they're evenly coated with oil & herbs. Sprinkle both sides generously with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Cover & refrigerate 1-2 hours. Grill or broil, about 3 minutes each side, basting frequently with the extra marinade. I like med-rare, but check after 2 minutes to gauge timing, because it varies according to thickness.

1 c. rice, or orzo
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 c. chicken broth, or water is fine
olive oil
fresh parsley
fresh mint
salt & pepper
pita bread

(**for orzo, follow adjust cook time to 8 minutes) In a small pot, add a dash of olive oil and the chopped onion. Simmer low until soft. Add rice, stir to blend, then add chicken broth or water & stir. Cover and cook low 20 minutes. Turn off burner & add olive oil, mint, parsley, salt, pepper & blend. Serve with lamb and warm pita bread.

striped bass with fennel tomato buerre blanc

terrine de campagne

Friday, April 3, 2009

salt-baked branzino

you couldn't tell, but this is the easiest fish prep i've tried- and the results are amazing! in italy they'll bring a tray with a foot-high mound of sea salt to your table; i've cut that down in size and it still melts in your mouth. to serve, i lifted out the filets and made black rice, below pic.

1-2 lb whole branzino , cleaned, head & tail intact *or similar sea bass 
1 egg white per lb of fish
coarse sea salt or kosher salt (*no additives: iodine stops salt from caking)
1 lemon, sliced in rounds
2 garlic cloves, smashed
fresh parsley sprigs
olive oil
*(you'll need 1 baking sheet w/ parchment paper, or foil on top)

Preheat oven to 400. Place egg whites in a bowl and whip until foamy. Add salt and fold in until it's like the texture of wet sand. Spread enough wet salt across your foil or parchment paper to lay the fish on. Rinse fish, pat dry, and lay on top of the salt on the baking sheet.  Put the lemon slices, parsley sprigs, and garlic in the front cavity (ok if it sticks out). Use a wooden spoon, or your hands if you like, firmly pat the salt mixture to cover the fish completely ( this seals in the moisture). I had some grape tomatoe sand tossed those on. Bake in the middle of the oven 15 minutes. (you can move it under the broiler for another 30 seconds so the crust browns a little.) Let cool for a minute, then crack salt shell, and serve with a little extra chopped parsley, olive oil, and a wedge of lemon  ;-)

orange fennel salad

1 fennel bulb, sliced thin
1 bunch watercress, stalks removed
1 navel orange, 1/2 segment supremes, 1/2 juice
lemon juice
olive oil
salt & pepper

navarin du printemps

farfalle all'alfredo e rucola

this is really just a great cream sauce. you can add whatever vegetables you like; spinach, peas, asparagus all work well. I like the emphasis on greens for spring and went a step further with spinach farfalle pasta- delicious!

1/2 lb spinach pasta, farfalle, fettucine- any shape
2 c. (large handful) greens- arugula, mesclun...
1 c. cremini mushrooms, quartered
3 T fresh chives, chopped
2 lg garlic cloves, crushed
4-6 oz goat cheese
3/4 c. cream
1/3 c. fresh grated parmesan
2 T unsalted butter
2 T olive oil
pinch of flour, 1/2 teas.
salt & pepper

Start a large pot of salted boiling water for the pasta. Heat oil in a large, deep skillet and cook the garlic 1 minute; add the greens and saute until just wilted. Set aside in a sml bowl. Reduce the heat to low and add the butter and mushrooms. Before it starts to brown, add the cream, & season with salt and pepper. Add a pinch of flour to thicken slightly, then stir in the goat cheese. When the pasta is al dente, drain and add to the alfredo sauce. Toss gently, adding the wilted greens, chives and parmesan. Grate fresh ground black pepper on top & serve.

newport clam chowder

when you're from rhode island, ordering clam chowder is almost always a disappointment.  unless you're at the black pearl on bowen's wharf in newport...this is the ultimate chowder. for the full experience, you'll need a hot dog and a cold beer on the side.

**tip: fresh clams have a tablespoon or more of delicious juice released when they open. this is really important for the stock- do not let them open in cleaning. just scrub the outside shells well under cold water and place in a bowl of ice water until they're ready to cook.

2 slices bacon
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, diced
1 lb mix red bliss/ yukon gold potatoes, diced
2 8oz bottles clam juice
2 lbs fresh littleneck clams
1 c whole milk
1/2 c heavy cream
1/2 c fresh dill, finely chopped
salt & pepper

In a deep pot, cook the bacon until seared but not crisp. Break up the bacon into pieces with a fork. Add the onion, butter and cook until soft but not browned. Add the clam juice & potatoes; simmer for 30 minutes or until potatoes pierce easily with a fork.  Turn up the heat to boiling and pour in all the clams. You want the clams to open into the stock to get the juices, but make sure they don't overcook (because the timing varies, I keep a bowl on the side and watch them closely- as soon as each clam starts to open, I pull it out and set aside in a bowl). When all the clams have opened, turn the heat on the stock to low; add the milk, cream, and dill. Stir gently until blended. Just before serving, add the clams back into the chowder (I leave half in the shells and chop the other half). Season with salt & fresh black pepper and serve ;-)

spaghetti cacio e pepe

a true roman classico. no baloney. this dish is so easy, you'll wonder why you've been sweating in the kitchen when you could be sipping wine on the terraza, italian style.
1/2 lb spaghetti, 'De Cecco'
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil, good quality
1 c. fresh grated Pecorino Romano cheese
3 T. coarsely ground black pepper
Sea salt

Boil water for the pasta with 2 Tablespoons of salt. Cook pasta al dente, stir to prevent sticking. Drain the water, making sure to save enough cooking water in the pot to coat the spaghetti. Add the olive oil, romano, black pepper and toss to blend. Basta!@
This is great with a simple salad of arugula, olive oil and fresh lemon juice.

poule au pot

3 lb whole chicken, or 4 whole legs
3 sml onions, peeled & quartered
6 sml potatoes, quartered
2 lg carrots, peeled & chopped coarsely
1/3 c. olive oil
1 c. chicken broth, homemade or low sodium
1 c. dry vermouth (or white wine)
2 heads garlic, cloves seperated, not peeled
1 bay leaf
1 lemon, grated zest only
1/2 c. fresh herbs: parsley, thyme, tarragon
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400. Rinse chicken in cold water & pat dry with paper towels. Heat 2 T olive oil in a deep non-stick pan. Lightly brown chicken on all sides while seasoning inside & out with salt & pepper. In a separate oven-proof pot (dutch oven) over med-high heat, put the remaining oil, crushed garlic, lemon, herbs, and vegetables and saute 2-3 minutes. Add the vermouth and bring to a quick boil. Turn off the heat, tuck the chicken into the pot of vegetables, then add the chicken broth, remaining garlic cloves, and cover with a lid. Transfer to the oven and bake 45 minutes, removing lid for the last 15 minutes. It's ready when juices at the thigh are clear when pierced with a knife. Season with salt & pepper and an extra pinch of fresh chopped parsley. Serve right from the pot into large bowls with lots of broth, and warm french bread.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

godfather cake 'torta di moro'

I called this one 'The Godfather Cake' and the first bite knocked me out. Rich olive oil gives it a voluptuous depth, and an unexpected crispy bite. Moros, or 'blood oranges' counter back with a spark of bright, citrus flavor. A Dio, dolce mia vita...
2 blood oranges (Moro)
2/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/3 c. kefir, or plain yoghurt
1 c. sugar
3 lg eggs
1 3/4 c. Wondra, superfine flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/2 t sea salt

the bath:
1/4 c. Aperol*, optional
2 t. clover honey
1 blood orange juiced (about 1/2 c.)
squeeze of lemon
*Originated in 1919, Aperol is an Italian orange aperitif made from a blend of spirit, rhubarb, chinchona, genziana and a secret combination of herbs.

Preheat oven to 350 & lightly butter one round 9" cake pan. Grate the zest off 2 oranges and mix in a bowl with 1 cup sugar until sugar turns a deep orange. Remove the flesh segments of one orange and place in a small bowl (this is a little tricky but a paring knife will help). Squeeze the juice of the second orange into a measuring cup. Depending on how much juice you get, add kefir until it gets to the 2/3 cup mark. Pour this into a mixing bowl; add eggs and whisk well.
In another bowl; mix flour, baking powder/soda and salt. Gradually whisk the juice mixture, sugar mixture, and then the orange segments into the flour. (segments should break into bits)
Gently fold olive oil into batter until it is evenly distributed. Pour into single pan and bake on center rack 45 minutes. When the top is light golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean-it's ready. Leave to cool and set 10 minutes.
Mix the ingredients for the bath to desired taste and sweetness; you can heat gently or simply blend at room temperature. Pour onto a dish platter, place cake in the center and dust with powdered sugar. (Adapted from NY Times Melissa Clark, 'Secrets of the Cake Stand')

Monday, March 23, 2009

ukranian borsht

Veselka, in NY's east village, is an old favorite for home-style ukranian cooking. if i can't make it there, i love recreating their borscht at home. butttered challah on the side is great for dunking. *this recipe makes enough for leftovers and always tastes better the second day*

1 1/2 lb shortribs of beef
8-10 cups water
1 T vegetable oil
1 med onion, sliced
1 bay leaf
2 cloves
6 whole blk peppercorns
5 medium beets, rinse & cut stems w/ 1" remaining
1 onion, chopped
1/2 head cabbage, thinly sliced
2 t garlic, minced
1 carrot, chopped
1 lg potato, diced
4 cups low sodium beef broth
1 T butter
2 T red wine vinegar
fresh dill
sour cream

Heat oil for the stock in large pot med-high heat. Add onion, and then shortribs; brown on all sides. Add water gradually to deglaze and put spices in the pot; bring to boil and skim any foam on the surface. Reduce heat to low & let simmer 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 and bake beets on cookie sheet for 1 hour. (this seems time-consuming but roasting the beets makes a big difference in flavor). Rinse hot beets in cold water so the skins slide off easily, then cool & dice into small pieces. Put aside in a bowl to add to the beef stock.

In another large pot, melt butter on med heat. Add onion, carrot, potato & cook 10 minutes. Add garlic, cabbage and saute another 5 minutes. Add beets, vinegar, and simmer until soft- about 20 minutes.

Take your shortribs out of the stockpot to cool, then pull beef off the bones, discarding any large bits of fat, and add the meat (and bones for extra flavor if you like) into the soup pot. Gradually transfer beef stock into the soup and simmer 10 minutes; add salt & pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls and serve with sour cream and a large pinch of chopped dill on top.

spaghetti gambas al'ajillo

like a scampi on pasta, garlic and shrimp are irresistible together. i've tried this with, and without the white wine; this is our favorite- oily and spicy with an al dente bite

1 lb med shrimp ( i keep a frozen bag on hand for this), shells and veins removed, tails on
4-5 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced 'Godfather'-style, with a razorblade or sharp paring knife 
1/2 lb spaghetti rigate or linguini fini
6 T olive oil
1 t crushed red pepper
1/2 c. parsley. coarsely chopped
sea salt & fresh pepper

Get your pasta started with a pot of boiling, salted water. Heat garlic & red pepper in a large skillet of olive oil on low; be careful to watch it doesn't brown. Add shrimp, simmer and flip with tongs as they turn pink, moving the cooked ones away from the pan's center of heat. Turn off burner just as the last shrimp as colored, and add salt, pepper and parsley. Drain pasta, saving some of the cooking water at the bottom; toss in skillet with shrimp and oil. Serve. 

bbq ribs, beans and greens

sunday dinner, southern style! indoors or out, this is one sexy mess you can sink your teeth into

3 lb baby back pork ribs
1/4 c worcestershire sauce
2 T dijon
1 T dk brown sugar
Tabasco or hot sauce, as needed

1 bundle collard greens
2 slices bacon
1 sml onion chopped
salt crushed red pepper

pinto beans, can or dry-soaked, seasoned with salt & pepper
cornbread * i cheated and made from a jiffy box ;-)

Season ribs with salt & pepper, and heat broiler or grill. Mix worcestershire, dijon, brown sugar, and hot sauce ; slather ribs and set aside. In a large pot, simmer bacon, red pepper, & onion until soft. Rinse and chop greens, then add to the pot with 2 cups of water. Cook until water is evaporated and greens are soft but bright. Season with salt & pepper as needed.

Broil the ribs about 3-4 minutes each side (15.. on the grill) until charred and cooked through.
Serve with cornbread, beans an' greens. 

tagliatelle alla boscaiola

if you can find dry porcini mushrooms or powder in your market, it's great to keep in the cupboard. a little goes a long way, and i can't think of anything that packs in the earthy, woodsy flavor like these little guys do.
1.5 c. dry porcini, soaked 1-2 hrs
1 shallot, minced
8 oz tagliatelle (i like the 'nests')
1 c. heavy cream
2 T olive oil
1/2 c. pancetta or ham, diced (optional)
grated nutmeg
grated parmagiano-reggiano
salt & pepper

Drain the mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid aside, and chop coarsely. Heat the oil, shallot, pancetta until soft. Add mushrooms, salt & pepper and cook 4-5 minutes on low-med.
Add the cream & nutmeg; cook 5 minutes then add 2 c. of the mushroom liquid.Simmer very low 25 minutes until thickened. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted water al dente. Toss pasta in the sauce, cover & let sit a minute or two to absorb the flavor; serve with grated parmesan.

*This is really great followed with simple roasted chicken breasts (bone-on); coated with olive oil, salt, juice of a whole lemon, lots of black pepper, and roasted at 400 for about 15 minutes.

bouillabaisse sans le sou

2 T olive oil
1 T garlic, minced
2 onions, chopped
2 teas fennel seeds 
28oz can crushed tomatoes
1lb white flesh fish (cod, bass or similar)
1lb littlenecks
3lb mussels
saffron (3-4 threads)
dash of turmeric 
zest of 1 orange
cayenne powder
1 c chopped parsley

Cook oil & onions in a large saucepan until soft. Add zest, fennel, saffron, cayenne & cook 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, bring to a boil, and reduce to medium and cook 15 minutes more. 
Scrub clams and mussels, and rest in a bowl of cold water. Raise heat to high, add monkfish,
then lower again & cook for 10 minutes. Raise heat again, add clams & mussels, bring to a boil, reduce to low and watch for shellfish to open. Add garlic and parsely, season with salt & pepper. Serve right away with a crusty baguette. 
*this does not reheat well, so I've taken the remaining soup, removed all shells, and put in the cuisinart for a few seconds. Then add some cream, chopped potatoes- voila seafood chowder.

Friday, February 20, 2009

campanelle with sweet peas & italian sausage

Spicy sausage and sweet peas gives this pasta great taste. i love campanelle here because they curl around and hold this hearty sauce, but you can use other large pasta shapes; orrechiete, shells, rigatoni- whatever. p.s. this is even better the day after...double the recipe if you like.

1/2 lb. campanelle or shell pasta
1/2 lb. hot italian fennel sausage
2 T. olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, smashed
32 oz can plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 c. sweet frozen peas, thawed
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/2 tsp each: dry oregano, marjoram, thyme
fresh grated parmesan 
salt & pepper

Heat olive oil and cook onions & garlic until soft. Squeeze sausage from it's casing and add to pan, breaking up the pieces with a spatula. Now add the tomatoes, herbs, salt, pepper. Cover and simmer on low 15-20 minutes. In a separate large pot, bring salted boil to boil and cook pasta until al dente. Drain and return pasta to pot, keeping a little of the cooking water to coat.
Add the cream and peas to the sauce, stir and cook one minute more, then add sauce to pasta pot. Toss, and serve sprinkled with some fresh grated parmesan. Serves 2.

Friday, February 13, 2009

swedish pea soup

this is a smoky, winter soup that is a meal in itself. swedish peas are available in the dry goods section of the supermarket; they are yellow and have a richer flavor than their green cousins. 

2 c. dry yellow split peas
7- 8 c. water
1/2 lb pork shoulder/ canadian bacon
1 large onion, thinly sliced
dash gound ginger and thyme
salt & pepper

Rinse peas and place in large saucepan with 7 cups water. Bring to a boil, add onion & herbs, then simmer 1 hour. Rinse and chop salt pork into slivers. Add to soup and simmer 1 hour more, or until peas have softened into a thick puree. Check seasoning, add a little extra water if desired, and salt & pepper. Delicious served with pumpernickel bread and butter.

Monday, February 9, 2009

shish kebob and pilav rice

my husband's mother makes the most delicious rice; this is her recipe.          the shish kebob marinade is adapted from 'Simply Armenian' By Barbara Ghazarian. p.s. there are no leftovers 
2-3 lbs. lamb, cut in 1-2" cubes *
2 red onions, quartered
2 yellow bell peppers, cut in 1-2" pieces
6 cherry tomatoes
wooden skewers (soaked in water 1/2 hour) 
1 onion, quartered 2 cloves garlic, smashed
1/4 c. parsley, chopped 2 T. olive oil
1 T. red wine vinegar 1 T. salt
dash black pepper dash cayenne /red pepper flakes

*check your grocer for lamb cuts labeled "stew", or "leg steak". these are very tender cuts trimmed from a leg of lamb that are very reasonable & and can be easily sliced for kebobs. ( or you can always substitute beef sirloin.)
In a large bowl, mix marinade ingredients above and toss with lamb cubes. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight, if you prefer. Turn on the broiler and line top rack with aluminum foil. Prepare kebabs by alternating lamb and onion, about 5 cubes per skewer. The vegetables cook more quickly, so I make a separate skewer alternating yellow pepper & cherry tomatoes. Place the lamb kebabs on the foil and cook under the broiler 3-4 minutes. Open, turn lamb and then add vegetable skewers, close and cook another 3 minutes. Keep an eye on them since ovens vary; lamb should be med-rare, and vegetables should begin to split & blister. Serve over rice with warm pita and cooled yogurt sauce, "cacik". 

1 c. rice (Uncle Ben's or similar long grain)
2 1/2 c. salted water, or chicken stock
1/4 c. olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced

Heat oil in a saucepan and simmer onions low until lightly brown. Add rice and water to onions; bring to a boil. Turn heat to low, cover, and simmer until all water is evaporated, about 2o minutes. Turn off heat and place a paper towel between pot and lid to retain moisture. Season with salt & pepper.

yogurt sauce "cacik"
1 c. plain yogurt
1/2 lemon or lime juice
1 t. olive oil
1 clove garlic crushed
dash of dill, mint, or parsley- dried herbs are fine

Mix all ingredients well and chill in the refrigerator until serving.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

avgolemono & spinach pita

this is a favorite sandwich from a still beloved, and regrettably closed, little restaurant in warren, r.i., called 'bullock's'.  the delicate, creamy lemon-chicken soup (avgolemono) is a perfect compliment.

4 c. (32 oz) chicken broth
1/2 c. orzo
3 eggs, seperated
2 lemons, juice
salt & pepper

Boil stock, add orzo, and simmer 15 minutes. In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites until peaking. Slowly add yolks, then lemon, whisking continuously. Slowly drizzle 1 cup of the hot broth into the egg-lemon mixture while continuing to whisk so mixture is smooth. Turn off heat and add lemon-egg mixture to broth, stirring to blend. Serve with fresh black pepper. (*Do not reheat)

spinach pita
1 pita per sandwich, white or whole wheat
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 c. frozen or 2 large bunches fresh spinach
1/4 lb. greek kasseri cheese, (or provolone)
1 T. olive oil
salt & pepper

Simmer garlic in a warm pan with olive oil. Add spinach and saute until bright green & soft, about 10 minutes. Slice pita in half (if it's not packaged that way) and toast lightly. Layer 2 slices of cheese, and spread hot spinach on top. Close pita, return sandwich to pan, and brown lightly, melting cheese. 

cock-a-leekie soup

from as far back as 1598, this traditional scottish soup of chicken and leeks is a great way to use up last night's leftovers. 

6 c. (42oz) chicken broth
6 green onions, or small leeks, sliced every 1" 
2 carrots, halved lengthwise then chopped
2 c. cooked chicken, torn in small pieces
1/4 c. cooked barley/ bulgar 
4 whole peppercorns
1 clove
1/4 c. parsley, chopped
salt & pepper
* add a dash of cream if desired

Thursday, January 29, 2009

chicken with fennel and thyme

this is a simple but elegant winter dish. earthy and comforting without the comfort-food fat. 

2 chicken breasts, with skin & bone-in
1 fennel bulb, sliced lengthwise (remove tops)
1 med onion, quartered &  sliced 
3 cloves garlic, smashed
5 sprigs thyme, little less if dry
1/4 c. olive oil
splash of white wine (1/4 c.)
salt & pepper

Heat oil on low in a pan & add fennel, onion and garlic. Simmer 20 minutes on very low heat. Meanwhile, rinse chicken, pat dry; salt & pepper both sides generously. When the fennel-onion is soft and lightly browned, take out and set aside. In the same pan, add a dash more oil, crumble thyme into it, and turn heat to med-high. When oil is hot, add chicken, skin side down. Cook 5 minutes, adding a splash of wine if you like. Turn and cook 4-5 minutes more. At this point, i usually flip the breasts once more so the skin turns a nice golden color and i can check from the underside if it is cooked (if it is moist but juices are clear, not pink, it's perfect.) Place on top of a bed of fennel. Serve.

yiaourti me meli

quick, easy. this dessert is not only great for digestion, it tastes wonderful.

2 c. greek yogurt
5 walnuts
3 dates, dried
olive oil & sugar

Crack the walnuts and crumble pieces in a pan. Chop the dates and toss in.  Drizzle a tsp of olive oil in the pan, simmer on low until walnuts are soft (not brittle), and sprinkle a little sugar on. Scoop a cup of greek yogurt, add honey, and sprinkle dates & walnuts on top. ( you can also use almonds and apricots, or fresh berries.) 

Saturday, January 24, 2009

nordic salad

this is a great winter salad. the components are fresh, easy to find, and taste terrific together. but the dressing is the secret ingredient.

boston or bibb lettuce
2 boiled eggs
3 boiled red potatoes
1 small red onion
1 T. mayonnaise
1 T. sour cream
1 T. dijon mustard
1 T. chopped chives, dill or parsley
1/2 lemon, juice
salt & pepper

Rinse & dry lettuce and gently place a bed of leaves on a plate. Thinly slice a boiled egg and place in the center. Quarter the boiled red potatoes and add to the salad plate. In a small bowl whisk the mayo, sour cream, dijon, herbs, salt and lemon. Drizzle over salad. Thinly slice red onion and lay on top. Ad cracked black pepper and serve.

chevre-beet salad

this salad is a meal in itself.  it's great if you feel like having a veggie lunch.

2 beets, cooked
1/2 c. goat cheese (chevre)
1 lb mesclun greens
2 T. chopped parsley
1/2 lemon juice
4 walnuts
1/4 c. olive oil
herbs du provence ( dried marjoram, thyme, or similar)
salt & pepper

Wash & trim beets (leave about 1" of stems). Cook until tender when pierced, boiled or roasted.
Cool and slide skins off; set aside. Toss goat cheese in a bowl with dry herbs and blend stir. Slice beets into 1/4" rounds. Place a spoon of goat cheese onto each beet slice and stack, or crumble chevre on top. Put olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, salt & pepper in a sealed cup and shake well. Toss with the salad greens with. Sprinkle walnuts and fresh black pepper on top.  

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

tagliatelle al nero

ok, the cellphone photo could be better...but it would be hard to improve on the pasta. the tagliatelle is made from squid ink; with the shrimp and fennel it is out of this world.

80z tagliatelle black, squid ink, pasta
1 dozen shrimp, peeled and cleaned
*(frozen shrimp are great to keep on hand- there's very little difference)
14oz can crushed tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 c. thinly sliced fennel
1/4 c. parsley, chopped
1/2 c. cream
3 T. olive oil
salt & pepper

Salt & boil the pasta water. If shrimp are fresh, clean & de-vein them; if frozen, place in a bowl of warm water to defrost. Place garlic and fennel in a deep saucepan with 2 Tbsp olive oil on low heat. Simmer until soft but not brown, then add the wine, crushed tomatoes, parsley and cook for 5 minutes. Add the cream, stir gently, and place shrimp in the pan. Cover and cook the sauce 5 minutes more (shrimp should be cooked tender, not too firm). The pasta timing is also important- check before draining to make sure it's al dente. Toss and serve right away. ** You can add a splash of white wine to the sauce with the tomatoes if you like-..I do ;-)*

Saturday, January 17, 2009

spiced pears

zero fat. sooo delicious.

2 whole pears, anjou- sliced in half
5 cardamom pods
2 bay leaves
dash black pepper
dash cinnamon
1/4 c. sugar in the raw

Fill a small pot halfway with water. Put in the sugar, spices, and heat to boiling. Place pears in the pot and reduce heat to low. Let pears simmer 20 minutes until soft but not mushy. Use a wooden spoon to gently lift pears onto a dish, and then pour the hot spice water over top.  

tuscan roast beef

tuscan roast beef

2.5 lb. eye round beef, tied with string
3 cloves garlic
salt & pepper
2 T. olive oil
4 shallots, or sml onions
1 T. tomato paste
1 c. red wine
1.5 c. water
1/2 c. mushrooms, quartered
1 tsp oregano, fresh or little less dried
1 T. heaping parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 350. Coat beef with salt and ground pepper. Heat oil on med in an ovenproof pot, and place beef in the pan. Turn over so all sides are seared & lightly browned. Add the wine, and water; it should cover beef halfway. Add mushrooms, garlic, shallots, tomato paste, herbs and bring to a boil. Take off heat, cover with a lid and transfer to oven. Cook 40 minutes, then uncover, turn and stir the beef, and check rareness of the meat. Cook a little longer to medium-rare, or as desired, and remove from oven. Lift beef immediately onto cutting board to prevent overcooking. Slice the beef thinly , lay onto plate, and ladle a little of the broth with shallots, mushrooms, and herbs over the top.
serves 2-3
You may have leftovers; great for a quick beef stew (chop the beef, add flour, potatoes, and carrot), or minced and served over egg pasta noodles (alla stracotto), or just simply sliced for a roast beef sandwich. (you can freeze the broth for later).

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

honey spice apples

a simple grown-up sweet ending.

6 lg apples, cored 1 lemon
1c. raisins, currents 1 T apricot preserves
almonds, sliced 6 T. honey
3 T dark rum or brandy whipped cream
fresh grated cinnamon/nutmeg

Pour rum into a bowl & soak raisins about an hour. Add lemon juice, honey, & stir all together. Heat oven to 375. Place apples on a baking dish and spoon rum mixture into centers. Sprinkle almonds and spice over top, and place a little water in the pan for moisture. Pierce apples with a fork and bake 30-40 minutes. Lift apples with a spatula onto plates, then stir the preserves into the cooking liquid and drizzle on top. Serve w/ whipped cream ;)


I made this for lunch today and was thrilled - it took about 20 minutes to make...and was absolutely delicious (and healthy to boot). You will need to pull out a blender or cuisinart to get the texture, but this can easily be stored, but it's well worth the effort.

fournade  (chickpea soup)

3 c. chickpeas (2 x 14oz cans, rinsed)
2-3 c. chicken stock or water
1 small onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 clove 
dash ground coriander
4 T olive oil
salt & pepper

Put 2 T. olive oil and the onion in a saucepan on med heat. Cook onion until slightly browned, then scoop 1 Tablespoon and set aside to garnish later. Add the chickpeas, stock, and spices to the remaining onion and bring to a boil. Pour into cuisinart or blender and puree until smooth. Return soup to the pot and warm on low. Add a little extra broth to desired consistency. Ladle into a bowl and top with a Tablespoon of olive oil, a sprinkle of onions, and a dash of frsh ground pepper. *To make this vegetarian, use water or vegetable broth instead of chicken stock

chicken saffron broth

in slovenia, a gostilna is a restaurant that feels like a meal at home. on a recent visit, lunch and dinner always started with a bowl of this delicious broth and warm bread. your kitchen will smell wonderful if you make this at home. On a cold day, or warding off a headcold, there's nothing like it.

chicken saffron broth  (kurja juha)

1 whole chicken, 2-3 lb.
1 lg onion, whole
cold water
1 lg carrot
2 stalks of celery
1 bay leaf, 2 sprigs thyme
pinch of saffron
1 c. fine egg noodles
fresh parsley bundle
salt & pepper

Place chicken in large pot, add water, & bring to boil. Add salt, pepper, bay leaf, thyme, onion, celery, & carrot. Simmer low 1 hour, skim surface, then strain & return broth to pot. Set aside chicken & vegetables to cool. Raise broth to high heat; add pinch of saffron. Drop noodles into broth and boil gently 5 minutes. Dice the cooked onion and large handful of parsley, & toss into soup.  Color should be golden from the saffron. Give it a stir, season with salt & pepper, and serve warm. Dober tek!

*With the chicken, I used the meat to make the rustic pie with herbs & vegetables above*

sedona oats

this first time i had this, a young cook from angel valley in arizona prepared it for breakfast.  i've been  recreating it ever since.

sedona oats

1 c. water  
dash of salt  
1 tsp tsp fresh ginger 
1 T. dried cranberries  
1 T. sliced almonds
2 T. milk or cream
clover honey
1/2 c. oats   (Silver Palate's 'thick & rough' is terrific)

Put salt, ginger & water in a sml saucepan and bring to boil. Add cranberries, almonds & oats. Reduce heat to low, simmer until oats have thickened, about 8 minutes, and turn off burner.  Stir, and spoon into bowl, top with milk and honey to taste.  Serves one, double recipe as needed.

*You can also mix ingredients in a bowl, bake 325 for 40 minutes. Cool & slice into snack bars.*

island breakfast

on a trip to the grenadines years ago, the women at the frangipani hotel would go out every morning and cut a few 'paw-paws' from the tree, slice them up and serve them for breakfast. in the middle of winter, papayas are still available and this little taste of the tropics hits the spot.

island breakfast
1 lg or 2 sml papaya             espresso or strong coffee
2 limes                               steamed milk
sea salt, or kosher              dash nutmeg, or cinnamon

Slice the papaya in quarters, lengthwise. Squeeze one whole lime on top.Sprinkle with salt. 

Throw 1 clove in the filter and brew coffee. Fill cups halfway, and top with steamed milk and a sprinkle of nutmeg.  

soupe a l'oignon

this is a great classic. i love the sweet and salty flavors of the onions and broth. you can adjust the recipe to your own taste. 

2 lg onions, yellow  
2 cloves garlic 
3 c. beef broth, stock  
2 c. chicken broth, stock
swiss cheese, gruyere   
4 T. butter
1 heaping T. flour  
1/4 apple wedge
salt & pepper  
splash cognac, brandy or wine
herbs :  2 sprigs thyme, 1 bay leaf, dash of chopped parsley 

Slice and simmer onions in butter on low heat until soft & clear. Add flour, salt & pepper; stir and allow to brown  slightly. Put in stocks, 1 garlic clove, herbs, apple & cognac and and bring to gentle boil. Leave on stove low heat for about 1 hour. Heat oven to 350'. Rub bread slices with garlic clove & and bake in oven until dry & crisp. Pour soup into bowls, put 2 baguette slices in each, and lay sliced swiss on top. Bake until cheese is melted and bubbling, 10 minutes. 

insalata romana

when i asked the caterer to make this at our wedding, they asked "how about some tomatoes in that?" nope. "avocado?" "no, thanks"... the beauty of this salad is how simply delicious it is.

insalata romana

1 bunch arugula, or baby arugula
olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
salt & pepper

Rinse leaves, tear any large pieces in half, then put in large bowl, and toss with salt. Drizzle olive oil to coat evenly, and then squeeze lemon juice over top and toss again. Using a potato peeler, shave thin slices of parmesan to cover. Add cracked black pepper over top and serve.

pasta brutti

i'm calling this one "pasta brutti" because of it's scrap ingredients and forceful flavor. if you like anchovies, this makes them the centerpiece, not the garnish. **addictive.
pasta brutti

1/2 lb pasta (perciatelli or spaghetti)
1/2 c. sicilian or italian olive oil
1 c. freshly grated 'stale bread' crumbs
1 lg. onion, chopped in small pieces
4 cloves garlic, smashed 
2oz tin of anchovies in olive oil, like 'Cento'
red pepper flakes
1 bundle of parsley, minced

Heat 1 T. oil on low. Add bread crumbs and toast until lightly browned & crisp, about 10 minutes. In another skillet, heat oil on low and add garlic & onion. Simmer 5 minutes until softened but not browned, then add anchovies to pan, pressing with a fork so the filets coat the onion & garlic mixture. Add red pepper flakes, stir, and leave on low heat. Meanwhile, cook perciatelli in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, saving a little of the cooking water, and return to pot. With a wooden spoon, stir in anchovy onion paste, bread crumbs, and chopped parsley. Add salt & pepper to taste. Serve right away. Great with an 'insalata romana', some sparkling water or a glass of vino ;-)