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 ;-)