Category Archives: Sunday Dinners

Poached Sole, Coconut Braised Brussels Sprouts, and Roasted Chipotle Corn

 

I want to stay home from school today. Oh right, I’m not in school anymore…I want to stay home from adult life today…

Do you know that feeling, when you just don’t feel like doing anything? except for maybe sinking into the couch with a bowl of chili, or mashed potatoes (I’m not entirely sure why those are my examples, but it makes sense to me). These are those moments that define us as grown beings. To quote Albus Dumbledore “must make the choice between what is right and what is easy”.

 

My compromise is that I am writing my next blog entry from my couch – still working, but in indulgent comfort…and there’s a caesar salad pizza on the way – lazy food with salad built-in (that’s healthier right?)

 

This posts meal is a good example of compromise. Low energy used to make it and a high quality, would-be-impressive-if-I-had-the-energy-to-entertain meal.

 

I present you with Olive oil Poached Sole, Coconut Braised Brussels Sprouts, and Roasted Chipotle Corn (thank goodness I wrote out the recipe already or I may have given up on posting today!)

 

 

 

Chipotle Roasted Corn:

1 package of frozen corn – thawed to room temperature

a couple of squirts of chipotle sauce – I used GOYA here, but have also used the Tabasco brand

olive oil

 

Line a cookie sheet with parchment and spread the corn in one layer. Give it about ten squirts/shakes of sauce – if you don’t like spicy use less. Then drizzle with olive oil and stick in the oven at 350’ F for about 20 minutes or until the pieces around the edges are really starting to brown – not burnt, just well browned.

 

 

 

Coconut braised Brussels Sprouts:

 

1 & ½ cups shredded Brussels Sprouts

¼ cup olive oil

1 tbsp lime zest

1 tbsp coarse salt

about a cup of coconut water – my fav is vita coco

 

Line a walled cookie sheet with parchment and spread the sprouts in one layer. Pour over the olive oil, zest and salt.  Mix it up a bit then flatten everything out again. Slowly pour over the coconut water until the sprouts are just about covered – obviously making sure not spill over the walls of the pan. Carefully transfer to the oven and braise at 350’ F for half an hour or until well browned – the sugar from the coconut water will basically caramelize so it can burn easily, just keep an eye on it.

 

 

 

 

Poached Sole:

4 cups water

2 cups olive oil

1 head of garlic – cut in half around the belly

2 steaks of sole – about a pound

 

Combine the water, oil and garlic in a deep but not too wide saucepan. Bring to a low boil and turn the heat to medium. Whisk the contents to combine  (…this may be pointless since it is oil and water and it will separate again). Gently place the fish in the pot and let it cook for about ten minutes until the fish is just firm – at random intervals I would carefully whisk the liquids again so that the oil gets into the fish.

 

 

 

 

Sometimes you just don’t have the energy to strive for perfection, but this doesn’t have to mean nothing gets accomplished. You know, I think I might actually do a little exercise and cleaning next…by that I mean walk the dog around the block and load the dishwasher. It’s a baby steps kind of day.

 

ENJOY!

Braised Halibut with Leeks, Tomatoes and Kalamata Olives. AND a Summer Risotto

 

Paul, Albus and I spent the week in New Lebanon, NY with my grandparents.  Complete with fields to run through, gardens to tend, a pond to swim in, and plenty to cook and eat!  Did I mention that it was a million degrees out this week.  Normally I am an anti-air conditioner kind-of person – Rise above the elements! as my grandpa says – but it’s just too damn hot and I was very, very, very grateful for the artificial relief of cold blasting into my face!

 

This is not the kind of weather for a heavy meal (it’s probably not the kind of weather to turn the oven on either, but I caved on that one and turned the AC up…my morals go right out the window when there is sweat in my eyes)

 

When I want something that’s satisfying yet light I go for a nice flaky white fish. This time I grabbed Halibut and cooked it up with leeks, tomatoes and Kalamata olives. As a side I made a quick summer Risotto.

 

 

You may guffaw when I say this, but I don’t think Risotto is as difficult as the stereotype would have you believe. Tedious, yes. but not difficult. and when you add fresh basil, lemon zest, a ton of garlic, and baby peas it makes a perfect summer side dish.

 

Summer Risotto:

12 cloves of garlic – roughly chopped

½ a large shallot (about 2 tbspn) – thinly sliced

2 tbsp butter

3 tbsp olive oil

1 ½ cups of arborrio rice – wide short grain white rice

 

17 oz coconut water

4+ cups of fish stock – may need more or less, it varies evey time

 

1/8 cup lemon juice

2 tbspn lemon zest

4 tbspn fresh basil – finely chopped

salt and pepper

 

Start by cooking the shallots and garlic with the olive oil and butter, and a heaping tsp of salt and pepper, over medium heat in a large heavy bottom stock pot/dutch oven. While these cook, heat the stock and the coconut water in a sauce pan on the stove over medium heat, bring to a simmer and then turn it to low. Once the veggies are sweaty (soft and translucent) add the rice.

 

 

Stir the rice in and allow it toast for a few minutes – this helps release the starch which creates the creamy texture later.

 

 

Now it’s time to begin adding your stock – which should never be cold, room temp is ok, but simmering is better.  Add ONLY A CUP of stock to the rice – this is clutch for risotto, if you dump all the liquid in at once it will never become creamy, just a mushy mess. Stir and cover the pot, check it after a few minutes. Once the liquid is absorbed stir the rice again and add another cup of stock, stir and cover.

 

 

This is what I mean by easy but tedious. Keep going like this until the rice is cooked through – I taste it after the third cup of stock is absorbed.

 

 

You should see the rice starting to become creamy at this point. When the rice is just undercooked uncover the pot, add a final cup of stock and stir continuously until the liquid is absorbed. It should now be especially creamy.

 

 

Now is also the time to add the last three ingredients and more salt and pepper if it needs it.

 

 

The Beauty of being a chef/cook is that you get to taste everything, including the wine. This is what I do while waiting for the stock to absorb in between stirrings…

 

 

Then on to the fish…well really the fish was in the oven first so that it all finishes at the same time…so, then on to the fish recipe!

 

 

Braised Halibut with Leeks, Tomatoes and Kalamata Olives in a white wine fish broth:

½ cup of pittied Kalamata Olives – roughly chopped

¼ cup of roughly chopped basil – I just threw in two handfulls

12 cloves of garlic – roughly minced

1 giant leek – cut into small, half-moon pieces and rinsed very well!

3 cups of cherry tomatoes

¼ cup olive oil

1+ lb of Halibut – cut into six pieces (add more fish if you’re serving more people)

salt

pepper

½ cup dry white wine

1 – 2 cups of fish stock

 

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a roasting pan, toss to combine then flatten out evenly. Press the fish pieces down into the veggies so that the sides are covered, but the top is still exposed – don’t make the fish touch each other, each piece should be surrounded by veg.

 

 

Generously sprinkle the whole thing with salt and pepper, pour over the wine followed by enough fish stock to barley cover the conents – you want enough broth so that you can see it on the surface, but not covering everything.

 

Cover the dish with tin foil and bake  at 375’ F for 40 minutes, then uncover, raise the temp to 405’F and bake for another 15 minutes. The broth will keep the fish from drying out while the veggies have the chance to brown.  Serve over rice, and be sure to spoon some of the broth over the top!

 


Alas the dog will be very depressed when we head back to Brooklyn tomorrow…me too if truth be told. Especially this time of year, I find the city is too crowded and really just too grandiose for me.  Maybe I’m just falling for the “back-to-the-land” trend of my generation or perhaps I really was a pioneer woman in another life, either way over the past few years I am moving steadily towards packing up and moving out of NY to start a farm

 

 

and my boys seem to like country living too (sickeningly cute isn’t it? This just makes me happy).

 

Maybe soon this will turn into a fresh from the farm blog, but for now I will content myself with fresh ingredients from summer farmers markets and meandering through Prospect Park :)

 

ENJOY!

Grilled Hanger Steak with Herb Butter and Baked Potato Pancakes

 

 

Wednesday was Paul’s birthday! And that means an extra special meal…or week of meals…but to start out we have hanger steak, potato pancakes, and asparagus. This actually came out of nowhere because Paul had to go to rehearsal (check out Their Planes Will Block Out The Sun), but sometimes when you don’t have time to think is when you create the best product. I’m happy to say this was one of those instances. Flying by the seat of my pants, with an hour to create a birthday worthy meal I ended up with the following:

 

Potato Pancake:

 

1 russet potato – shredded using a box grater or food processor

1 sweet onion – shredded using a box grater or food processor

salt

pepper

olive oil

 

Heat the oven to 400’F. In a bowl combine the shredded onion and potato. Dump the veg onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Press to the edges and out until it is very thin – about an 1/8 inch.  Generously drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

 

 

To save myself some dishes I left room for my asparagus.

 

 

Cut the butt end off  one bunch of asparagus and spread on the cookie sheet in as close to one layer as you have room for. Drizzle with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.

 

 

Stick the tray in the oven with the potatoes towards the back and the asparagus towards the door. Bake for about 35 minutes – keep an eye on it towards the end so that the asparagus doesn’t burn.  You’re ready to go when the potatoes are golden brown and crispy along the edges.

 

 

 

I doubt these are actually better for you than traditional fried potato pancakes, but they are just as tasty and a lot easier!

 

 

 

Grilled Hanger Steak with Herb Butter:

 

1 good sized hanger steak – not too thick with no visible grizzle

salt

pepper

extremely hot grill or griddle pan

 

There is not a lot involved in making a great steak. One is the obvious, start with good meat. Two is don’t get complicated. When I have a good steak I want to be able to taste the meat not a bunch of seasoning – save the spices for cheaper meats that need the help! Just a good sprinkling of coarse salt and fresh cracked pepper, that’s all you need.

 

Three, cook hot and fast.  Four, meat should be medium rare.

 

This time I used my indoor griddle pan. Put it on the burner over high heat and let it go for at least five minutes – stand back and flick a drop of water on the griddle, if it pops and starts freaking out then it’s ready for your meat.

 

Place the “prettier” side down first and weight it down (bacon press, clean bottom cast iron, foil wrapped brick, etc…). My weight didn’t cover the whole thing so I moved it over after about 4 minutes. Allow the steak to cook for about 8 minutes total – when you flip it there should be a beautiful deep grill marks and the steak should be nicely browned not grey. Once flipped reapply your weight and let it go for another ten minutes (again adjusting your weight halfway through if it doesn’t cover the whole thing)

 

As always, once the meat is cooked so that the bottom develops a nice crust, let it rest for at least five minutes. Slice against the grain so that it stays together, stack on top of a slice of potato pancake, then dollop with a nice amount of Herb Butter.


 

Time to gorge.

 

 

 

I have a very happy man on my hands and more feeding to to this weekend – Sunday is Paul’s BBQ Burger Bar Birthday Bash. More meat to come!

 

ENJOY!

Dinners

A Better BLT

Balsamic Steak with Onion and Garlic Relish & Coco Rosemary Potatoes

Braised Halibut with Leeks, Tomatoes and Kalamata Olives. AND a Summer Risotto

Camembert and herb Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Sunday Dinner – Short Ribs and Mash

 

It’s hot out and I’m loving it! When the weather starts creeping higher and higher my smile starts to grow bigger and bigger.  The past week has been filled with days that just keep going – I believe they are referred to as “the lazy days of summer”

I’m excited and the good kind of anxious and inspired and sweaty! So I wanted to share a meal with my friends and family that promoted the ideas of length, lazy, and fresh.

We ate Braised Short Ribs, mashed potatoes, celeriac and spinach, and arugula salad with shaved parmigiano; drank a perfectly chilled rose from a pig-labeled bottle; and discussed what type of spy each of us would like to be if giving the option…. My answer was a ‘Charlie’s Angels’ type of secret agent (I’ve always wanted to be a super genius bad-ass chick with Kung-Fu training, crazy awesome driving skills, and ever perfect hair)

I guess I should stick to what I know….

Mashed Celeriac, Potatoes, and Spinach:

1 large celeriac bulb – peeled and cubed
2 russet potatoes – peeled and cubed
3 cups baby spinach

a few tbsp’s milk

Olive Oil
Salt
Pepper

 


Place the cubed potatoes and celeriac into a saucepan, cover with water and a handful of salt. Boil over high heat. While the potatoes are cooking, heat a few tbsp’s olive oil in a large skillet. Add the spinach and cook until wilted.

Using a hand blender, puree the spinach until the consistency is similar to baby food.

When the potatoes/celeriac are ready (a fork will go in easily and pull out easily) add drain them – reserving ½ a cup of liquid – and start smashing using either a hand mixer, a masher, or a clean glass bottle with a flat bottom.

Add a little milk to help loosen then veggies, switch between adding milk and the reserved boiling water until you get a nice smooth mix. Add the spinach to the potatoes/celeriac, salt and pepper to taste.

This side is luscious and healthy tasting without being overtly veggie-esque.  The combination makes a satisfying and refreshing surprise.


Arugula with Shaved Parmigiana:

1 package of washed Baby Arugula
Long shavings of good Parmigiana cheese (use a veggie peeler and drag along the edge of the cheese to make big strips)

the juice of 1 Lemon
1/4 cup Olive oil
salt
Pepper

Toss all together. Done.

This salad is so, ridiculously simplistic, yet it is now one of my new staples.

And now for the meat!

Short Ribs:


10-12 short ribs
1 Large Onion – cut into thin slices
5 Garlic Cloves – roughly chopped
3 carrots – quartered lengthwise then cut into ¼ inch slices
2 containers (about 10 oz each) of Baby Portabella Mushrooms
1 container (about 10 oz) of White Button Mushrooms
1 container (about 10 oz each) of Shitaki Mushrooms
a handful of Fresh Thyme
a handful of Fresh Rosemary
2 cups of a dry Red Wine
2 Beef Bullion cubes
Two cups water (more or less)
1 tsp chili pepper paste
Olive oil
2 tbsp Butter
Salt
Pepper
Cheese Cloth

In a Dutchoven or large saucepot heat about four tbsp’s olive oil over high heat. Brown the short ribs on all side and transfer to a bowl.

Lower the heat to medium-high. Add the butter and another two tbsp’s of olive oil. Add the onions, garlic, carrots and chili paste. Generously salt and pepper. Cook until translucent. Add the mushroom and let them cook until dark brown and about half the size.
Wrap the herbs tightly in the cheesecloth and add it to the pot. Add the meat and all juices on top of the mushroom veggie mix. Pour in the wine and add enough water to just cover the meat.
Bring the pot to a simmer and cover with the lid slightly open. Stir occasionally, making sure the bottom isn’t burning.

Cook the meat for about two hours, or until the liquid is almost entirely absorbed. Spoon the meat onto a platter, then pour the “gravy” and veggies into a gravy boat.



I guess my spying destiny is to lure people into my kitchen. I suppose this could be useful – I could always capture people by fattening them up so they can’t leave!  Anybody with secret information want to come over for dinner next week?…

Enjoy!

 

Sunday Dinner- Grilled Lemon Tilapia and Summer “Clafouti”

This morning I woke up with lungs full of freshness, a perfect ray of sunshine coming through an ivy covered window, curtains blowing in the breeze, and the jackhammers tickling my ears just below the window.  Sigh…almost perfect….

But even the pounding away of early morning construction elves couldn’t entirely spoil my joy.  This weekend was wonderful.  I spent it down in Virginia with my grandparents, Kayaking, Swimming, walking, talking, reading and drawing. It was great. So my Sunday Dinner again had a day change and took place when I was back in the city on Monday – Memorial Day. So how better to end a weekend then to have an impromptu dinner party with the family!

We celebrated Memorial Day with Grilled Lemon Tilapia, tomato kalamata rice, mozzarella salad, and a ricotta “clafouti”.

Grilled Lemon Tilapia

1 Tilapia steak per person
½ Lemon person
1 bay leaf per person
Olive Oil
Salt

Pepper 


Cut the ends off of the lemon(s) and slice into ¼ thick slices.
  Layer the fish, bay leaves, and lemons in a large bowl, drizzle with olive oil and coat with salt pepper. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let marinate for about an hour.

Heat a griddle on the stove – or a grill – and brush with a little olive oil.  When the pan is nice and hot place the fish and don’t move it, just let it go for about 4 minutes on each side, the goal is to flip only once.  Also grill the lemon slices for about 2 minutes on each side – if you haven’t grilled lemon before you have to try this! It changes the flavor into an almost sweet and nutty, super tasty. 

Serve the fish with the lemon slices.


and on to the sides….

Basmati Rice with Tomatoes and Kalamata Olives

2 cups cooked Basmati rice – cook according to the package
3 pints of Campania Tomatoes – or 4 pints cherry tomatoes
1 head of garlic – roughly chopped
¾ cup Kalamata Olives – roughly chopped
1 tbsp butter

¼ cup Olive oil
Salt
Pepper

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and stir continuously.  After about 3 minutes add the tomatoes.  Cook them for 15-20 minutes until the tomatoes have popped and the juices have released.  Pour the tomatoes over the rice, stir, and add the olives.  Salt and pepper to taste.


Mozzarella Salad

1 ball of unsalted Fresh Mozzarella – cut into 1″ cubes

1 pint of Cherry Tomatoes
1 handful of Fresh Basil – roughly chopped
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 cup Olive Oil

Salt
Pepper


Combine all ingredients and stir well. Serve chilled.


and for dessert…

Ricotta “Clafouti” with Cherries & Raspberries

3 Eggs
1 16oz container of ricotta
½ cup tapioca flour
¼ white rice flour
½ cup sugar
½ tsp ancho chili powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 cup of fresh raspberries
1 cup pitted fresh cherries


Start by draining the ricotta – place a piece of cheese cloth around the opening of a bowl, secure it with a rubber band, pour the ricotta on top and allow it drain four at least 20 minutes.

Heat the oven to 350’ (f).

Beat the eggs in a stand mixer until foamy, about 3 minutes.  With the mixer running slowly add the rest of the ingredients – not the drained liquid from the cheese, just the stuff on top of the cheesecloth.

Butter a baking dish – I used a 13” oval. Pour the raspberries and cherries into the baking dish and spread evenly.   Next pour the batter over the top of the berries.

Place in the oven and bake until the edges are nice and brown, and the center stops shaking; approx 35 minutes. 



You can dish this one out warm or cold. I served it cold, as it was 10,000 degrees in my apartment. 




This has been a great week. What could be bad about good adventures, good company, and, of course, good food?! Quite a memorable Memorial Day.

ENJOY!

Sunday Dinner – Slow Cooked Chili Verde

There may be nothing I like to eat more than pulled pork. Everything about shredded succulent pig meat makes me smile right down to my toes (sorry vegans…).  Of course this is a food that I can’t, in good conscience, eat all the time. 

This weekend I decided it’s pork time, but instead of my normal bbq style pulled pork, I wanted to switch it up a bit and try something closer to the border.  There is a Mexican restaurant in Hawaii called Los Garcias. and, oddly enough, they have the best Chili Verde I have ever tasted! So trying to capture those flavors I fashioned a recipe for Chili Verde Pulled Pork. I believe the phrase ‘best of both worlds’ applies here – worlds being Mexico and Pulled Pork…

Chili Verde Roast Pork:


1/2

  Pork Shoulder – about 5 pounds
5 Poblano Peppers – seeded and cut into 1” pieces
5 Banana Peppers/Italian frying peppers – seeded and cut into 1” pieces
15-20 cloves of Garlic – about 1 ½ heads – roughly chopped
1 large Spanish Onion – cut in half then into 1/4” slices
2 Tomatillos – cut into segments about the size of a mandarin orange segment

1 large can of Tomatillo puree/sauce (similar to the large cans of tomato sauce)
1 Lime – cut off the ends and cut in half lengthwise
4 Scallions – cut into small pieces
1 cup fresh Cilantro – chopped

3 cups chicken stock – homemade is best, but if unavailable use a low sodium version.

1 tbsp unsalted Butter

Olive oil

Salt

Pepper

Preheat the oven 425’ (f).  Heat enough olive oil to just coat the bottom of a Dutch oven or oven ready saucepot.  Salt and pepper the pork shoulder generously on all sides. Starting with the skin side down brown the pork on high heat for 4-6 minutes on each side – a stabbing fork or a pair of tongs makes it easier to turn. Transfer the pork to a plate and set it aside.

While the meat browns prepare your peppers, onion, and garlic.  Lower the heat to med-high and add the butter to the pot (don’t clean it! You want all of the tasty burnt stuff that the meat left behind) and a splash more olive oil.  Gently scrape the bottom to loosen all of the abandoned goodness.  Generously salt the butter and oil mix so that the salt spreads throughout your veggies.  Add the prepared veggies, pepper vigorously, and let them caramelize. This takes about 20 minutes and you want to stir the pot, making sure to scrape the bottom, pretty regularly.


While you’re waiting for those guys to caramelize prepare the lime, tomatillos, scallions, and cilantro.

When the veggie mixture is nice and wilted and beginning to brown (mostly it will be sticking to the seems of the pot and browning on the bottom) it time to add your other ingredients.  Toss in the lime, tomatillos, scallions, and cilantro. Let these all stir together for a minute, then add the tomatillo puree/sauce.  Again add salt and pepper.

Place the pork back into the pot, skin side up, along with any juices it released onto the plate. Stir around a bit to loosen some of the veggies from under the meat.  Add enough water so that the pork is ¾ of the way covered with liquid. Stir again to incorporate the water – it’s ok to have the veggies and whatnot on top of the meat.  Cover the pot and stick it in the oven.  You want to baste every 20 minutes or so.  After approx 3 hours the meat should be cooked through – I check this by poking the baster in to the meat – not the skin- if it pokes in easily then you’re good to go.  At this point, I like to remove the lid and let everything brown off a bit, also giving the skin a chance to burn and become a wonderfully crunchy, salty snack.  Don’t let this go for more then half an hour though as the veggies will burn.  Leaving the veggies behind, transfer the meat to a cutting board – I like to place the cutting board on top of a few layers of paper towel to soak up any runoff juices, making clean up a lot easier.


(the pork right before I remove the skin to shred)

Carefully remove the skin.  Either eat it or discard it.  Trim off any extra fat. Using two forks pull all of the meat away from the bone and discard the bone.  Again with the forks, pull apart the meat so you are left with large bite sized shredded pieces.

Transfer the shredded pork back into the pot with the veggies and stir together.  Turn the oven down to 350’(f) and place the pot back into the oven, just long enough so all the flavors can meld together.  I gave it 20 minutes, just enough time to cook a pot of rice (cook according to the package) and prepare my toppings – serve with scallions, cilantro, sour cream, cheese, etc….

 

The word of the week is patience. When dealing with two weeks of gloomy weather everything starts moving in slow motion. Rather than lingering in the sorrow and mellow feelings which swiftly poke at me when the rain comes, I’m trying to focus the energy on tasks that require slow attention and drawn out conclusions. Focusing on the tedious and getting lost in the monotonous…and of course eating slowly prepared meals. So keep your chins and your forks up. Enjoy!

 

Sunday Dinner – Homemade Gnocchi and ‘A Whole Lotta Goodness’

The squirrels are eating my garden.  I finally get all of herbs and flowers acclimated to being outside and am able to leave them out full time, wake up the next day and my sunflowers are missing their heads, my rosemary has shriveled down to little stems poking through the soil, my zinnias resemble matchsticks more than lovely little blossoms waiting to show their glory….

…I hate squirrels.  The only plant they seem to dislike – or perhaps they left that one behind for me to use, knowing how much I love it – is my basil. I still have a nice bunch of basil and the only one eating those leaves is me!

Needless to say perhaps, but basil has been a major player in most of my cooking these days.  So Italian has become prominent.  This weeks Sunday became more important when our dinner guests – one of my best friends Shane and her boyfriend Mike – informed us that they will be moving back to the West coast….in JULY!  Talk about shock!

With a hint of sadness, but also excitement for new beginnings, Shane and I prepared fresh Gnocchi (gluten-free) – a feat neither of us had attempted before and were surprised at how simple it really is.

Potato Gnocchi:


For the Gnocchi:

2 lbs whole baking potatoes
2 beaten egg yolks
¾ cup white rice flour
¼ cup potato starch

¼ cup tapioca flour
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake the potatoes – slice into them or poke with a fork to vent.  I stuck them into a muffin tin to prevent from rolling – and my cookie sheet was dirty… when your fork poke in easily and pulls out easily them taters is ready!

Scoop out the potatoes from their skins. Pass the potatoes through a potato ricer and into a large bowl (you can mash the potatoes by hand and fluff them up a bit with a fork if you don’t have a potato rice – this way will make them more dense and less pillowy.) Don’t burn yourself, but it’s easier/better to use them warm.

Add the flours, yolks and a pinch of salt. Mix everything until a ball can be formed – don’t over mix!  Form a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for about 10 minutes, this lets it come together and rest before working with the dough.

Prepare a work area and dust it with flour. Grab a small handful of dough and roll it out gently with your hands – you want ‘snakes’ a little more than half an inch thick.

Cut the snakes of dough into pieces about one inch long, they’ll resemble little thumbs. Gently push a finger into the middle of each gnocchi and place on a parchment-lined surface/plate/tray.

To Cook the Gnocchi:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Gently drop the gnocchi, a few at a time, into the water. As soon as they rise to the surface, remove them with a slotted spoon, draining well. Transfer them directly into your sauce.  Toss in the sauce and sprinkle the fresh basil (damn squirrels) over the top. And eat!

Yet again as a sauce I used my roasted cherry tomatoes and garlic, and smushed them to further release the juices and create more of a sauce.



The Roasted Tomatoes and Garlic Sauce:
Dump six pints of cherry tomatoes into a
parchment lined
pan – or multiple pans as there should only be one layer of tomatoes,
otherwise they don’t roast properly. Peel two heads of garlic and cut
each piece in half.  Push each
piece of garlic down into the tomatoes, generously pour olive oil over
the top, sprinkle with salt and pepper and place in the 400′ F oven. 
These take about 20-25 minutes. You want the tomatoes to pop and release
their juices and have the juices almost start to burn, the tomatoes
should just start take on a nice char.
Transfer to a bowl and smash with a fork.



For the green section of this meal I made a cucumber salad with peas, mint, chili, lemon, and feta cheese. Fresh and Summery this ”salad” was a crowd pleaser – even Paul liked it, and he hates peas!




Cucumber with Minted Peas:

Two Cucumbers – hothouse would probably work, but I used regular

1 bag of Frozen Peas – thawed in a bowl of hot water

1 generous handful of Fresh Mint – cut into ribbons

1 Lemon – just the juice

1/3 cup of feta – the solid kind and crumble it yourself

½ Green Serrano Chili – minced

1/3 cup Olive Oil

Salt

Pepper

Peel the cucumbers and cut off the ends. Using either a veggie peeler or a mandolin shave the cucumber lengthwise into wide ribbons.  Drain the peas and add to the cucumber ribbons. Add all but the cheese and keep in the fridge until ready to serve. Add the feta just before serving.

Of course after eating something so overtly green you need to have a little something sweet.  and finally having a good amount of time to get things done left me with enough time to make some dessert.

Cookies. Loaded Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies to be precise. Gluten-free. Sweet. Salty. Chewy. Crunchy. Amazing.

These cookies were an experiment. An adaptation of my Grandma’s double chocolate oatmeal cookies – which are also amazing, but completely different.


Loaded Oatmeal Cookies:

The Basic Batter:
1 cup gluten-free Oat Flour


1 stick of Butter – room temperature
½ cup Brown Sugar
½ cup White Sugar
1 egg
1 Tbsp Cinnamon
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1 Tbsp Coarse Salt
1 Tsp Vanilla
1 cup gluten-free rolled Oats

The adjustables:


¾ cup Chocolate Chips
¾ cup Pecans
¾ cup Dried Currents
¾ cup Dried Tart Cherries – tart cherries are clutch in this one

1) Preheat the oven to 350’ (f)

2) Whip Butter

3) Add sugar and vanilla- cream into butter

4) Add egg to mixture

5) Separate bowl- combine flour soda salt cinnamon

6) Slowly add flour mix to butter mix


7) Stir in oats, and the adjustables – these are the ingredients to play with, i.e. different fruit, nuts, or whatever you think would work (I have a plan to try an oatmeal chocolate bacon cookie)

8) Cover the batter and put it in the fridge for about twenty minutes – especially if it’s warm in your kitchen, this is really important. Form into 1-1 1/2’’ balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheets leaving about 3’’ between cookies. Gently press each ball into the sheet to prevent rolling as they begin to cook.


9) Bake on parchment just till edges are brown – approx 5-8 minutes* – the middle will look a little undercooked, not raw, but a finger poke will not show a firm cookie.

10) Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for five minutes before moving. They need this time to solidify and almost dry out so that they don’t crumble when you pick them up.

*I’ve noticed that these cookies may take longer depending on the humidity. This week was very humid and the cookies took more like 12 minutes per batch.


Baking isn’t really my forte, which is why I love these cookies. You almost can’t mess them up!

If I had to give this week a theme it would be something along the lines of ‘simple ingredients plus a little extra love/effort equals a whole lotta goodness’.  Or something a bit more eloquent….’shrug’ you know what I mean.

Until next week.

ENJOY!

Sunday Dinner – Fish Tacos and Springtime

The rain has passed, hoorah!

That may not be a real word….

This weekend will be the last one that I spend at home for a few weeks as Paul and I continue our springtime traveling and family tour. So I wanted to make a meal that was simple and relaxing, but also fun and tasty, and healthy. I know this seems like a lot to ask of one meal. But I found the solution…

Fish Tacos!

My favorite thing about this dish is that it tastes like a farmers market.  I don’t have a proper explanation for what that means, but it’s similar to tasting something that tastes like a color, this doesn’t describe the actual flavor of the dish, it describes how the taste encompasses the feeling and texture and the essence of how that color makes you feel.  This time instead of a color it tastes like a place, or a memory, of freshness and excitement.

Fish Tacos:

The quantities below were perfect for two people…who like to eat…so adjust accordingly for your party

1lb Tilapia

1 pint Cherry Tomatoes

Corn Salad (recipe below)

4 Radishes – sliced very thin

small handful Fresh Cilantro

Large handful Baby Arugula

1 can Refried Black Beans (I like to use a low-sodium can)

Salt and Pepper

Olive Oil

Sour Cream

Lime

Corn tortillas

On a parchment lined baking sheet place the Tilapia and the tomatoes (I also made roasted asparagus, so I put them all on the same tray). Drizzle with Olive Oil, and liberally salt and pepper.


Place the tray in the oven at 400’ (F) for about 25 minutes, or until the fish starts to brown a bit.

Heat the beans either in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stove.

Optional: heat the tortillas individually in a dry frying pan for a minute on each side – just to warm through and take away the chewiness of the cold tortilla.


Create an assembly line of your ingredients and have people build their own! This is a great meal to share with friends on a warm summer day. Serve with your favorite summer cocktail and enjoy!


Easy Corn Salad:

1 package of frozen corn – just plain old corn, not soaked in sauce!

A handful of fresh basil – chopped

A handful of fresh Chiles – chopped

1 ½ tbsp’s unsalted butter

Salt and Pepper – about 1 tsp each

Heat the corn either in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stove. You really want to defrost and just heat through enough so that the butter will melt. Turn off stove/remove from the microwave and transfer to a bowl – or save a dish and keep it in the pot. Add the butter and stir to melt.  Toss in the herbs. Salt and pepper to taste.

The perfect end to this meal came when we looked out of the window and noticed a beautiful sunset exploding through the sky.  The most wonderful shades of pink, purple, golden yellow and orange permeated the air adding to the already fresh feeling of excited contentment.




It’s a rare and wonderful feeling when everything seems to be coming together peacefully. This has been by far one of my favorite Sunday dinners. So here’s to next week, and continuing traditions!

Enjoy!

Sunday Dinner – Easter Lamb Braise

It is officially Spring! Finally!

Easter has come and gone, and now we welcome 70′ weather! I feel like a kid who was just let out of school for the summer. Alas there is work to be done, but without multiple sweaters and five pairs of socks, I think I can bare it (pun intended).

This Sunday was, of course, Easter and Paul and I celebrated with his family out in Jersey. Therefor I couldn’t Sunday as my Sunday dinner, so Saturday kindly stepped up to the plate. 

Saturday my family joined us for Raw Beet and Citrus Salad, Minted Quinoa, and Braised Lamb.

This time of year is wonderful for good food and good feeling food. You don’t want a meal that is going to warm you up as it’s already warm.  You want satisfying without feeling heavy.  These recipes were inspired by this thought process.  Hearty? Yes. Delicious? Yes. Comforting in that “I want to curl up and take a nap” sort of way? Nope! Everyone had plenty of energy for games and fun after dinner. it was a great way to start the season!

Raw Beet and Citrus Salad

In an effort to eat more Veggies I am trying to be a lot more creative with my salads.  As a very visual person I need food to look good in order for me to eat it…especially when I have a preconceived notion that it will be less than palatable… and I always hated salad growing up…blech.

This week’s salad turned into a canvas filled with the best nature has to offer! 


I did commit myself to sticking with the dandelion greens, so these again became my base.  But, again, wanting to counter that overtly bitter green, I added shaved beets and citrus.  These are now my shining stars.

1/2 head of Dandelion Greens – washed, dried and torn into small pieces
1 handful of Baby Arugula – just get the pre-washed kind
1 large Beet – peeled, then using a veggie peeler shave into thin slices
1 Golden Beet – same as the other beet
1 Blood Orange – segmented
1 Pink Grapefruit – segmented

1 handful of Pomegranate Seeds
½ -1 cup Sunflower Seeds

Keep everything separate until you are ready to serve, as the red beet color will start to take over!

To serve toss everything together and add your favorite homemade dressing. I used my go-to vinaigrette and added a few tbsp of juice from the orange and grapefruit.

In line with traditions, I chose to make Lamb for my “Easter Saturday” but a leg of lamb would have cost me about 50 buckaroos. Now I love my family, but I have bills to pay!  So I decided to go for something a little cheaper pre cut Lamb stew meat.  And instead of slopping on the mint jelly I tried something a little more delicate…

Minted Quinoa

Prep two servings of quinoa according to the package. Once cooked toss with two handfuls of torn up fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced radishes, and thinly sliced zucchini. Toss with 1/4 cup of olive oil, salt and pepper and the rest of the juice from the salad citrus.


Braised Lamb

I don’t have exact measurements for this one, but the great thing about braising meat is that it’s difficult to make it bad. So use the basic idea and play around to make it your own!


1 package of Lamb stew meat – boneless
2 packages Lamb stew meat – bone-in
1 extra large Carrot or three regular sized carrots – cut into small pieces
4 stalks of Celery – cut into small pieces, the same size as the carrots
1 large Onion – minced
4-6 Garlic cloves – smashed and minced
A handful of fresh Thyme
A handful of fresh Marjoram
A handful of fresh Rosemary
One packet of sodium-free chicken bouillon
Approx 4 cups of water
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Cheesecloth

Start by heating a big sauce pan or a Dutch oven with a few tbsp’s of olive oil.  Salt and pepper your meat liberally and brown – don’t over-lap, you’ll need to do this in a few batches.  Just let each piece sizzle for about 2 minutes, then flip, wait another 2 minutes and transfer to a large bowl – now you can stack all of the meat and set aside.


Don’t wash the pot! You want to turn down the heat to medium-high add a little bit more olive oil and toss in your cut up Veggies. Scrape the bottom to incorporate all of the brown salty goodness that the lamb left behind.  Stir occasionally to prevent burning and add more olive oil as needed. These should cook down until the onions are transparent; takes about 10-15 minutes depending on how big the pieces are.

While these are cooking away prep your herbs. Gather lengthwise and wrap in the cheesecloth; use either a piece of twine or an extra strip of cheesecloth to tie it up tight. This will allow the flavors to seep into the dish without you biting into a lovely piece of branch.


When the onions and such are ready pour the meat of the top, make sure you use all of the drippings from the meat! This will enhance the flavor even more!  Stir the Veggies and meat together, and push the herb bundle down into the middle.  Dissolve the bouillon packet in a cup of water and pour over the top of the meat, then add enough liquid so that the contents are just poking through the surface of the water. 


Cover the meat off center to allow steam to release. Cook on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for about two hours. Once the meat starts falling apart turn the heat down to medium-low and fix the lid on properly.


Now EAT! and ENJOY!

Sunday Dinner – Swordfish and Spring Rolls.

Tax season is officially over!  I can breathe again!

This past Sunday called for something not overly involved with just a hint of extravagance. My inspiration came from a package of spring roll papers that I found in a supermarket uptown.  As spring is slowly but surely beginning to show it’s lovely face I decided that my own version of spring rolls would be a good way to further coax the season into bloom… so far it hasn’t really worked – it seems to be ten degrees colder today than it was yesterday – but the spring rolls were scrumptious!

I’ve dubbed them Cuban Spring Rolls because I used black beans, lime, and cilantro, which appear more in Cuban dishes than Asian.

Here’s my recipe: 

Cuban Spring Rolls:

For the Black Beans:

4 cloves of garlic – mi nced

1 onion – chopped up pretty small

1 can of black beans – rinsed and drained

2 limes – juice from two, zest from one

1 beef bullion cube

½ cup of water

Handful of fresh cilantro – roughly chopped

 

Other Roll Stuffers:

Spring roll wrappers – these are made from rice, so gluten free!

1 pint of cherry tomatoes – cut in half lengthwise

1 pint of Alfalfa Sprouts

1 Bunch of watercress

1 Avocado – pitted and sliced

2 Scallions – sliced at an angel (hold it as though you are going to make rings, angle the knife 45’ across the top and make slices all the way down)

In a medium saucepan sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil until they start to turn translucent. Add the beans, water, limejuice, bullion cube, and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat to simmer, cover and let it cook for 15 minutes – checking and stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.  When it has thickened and come together well turn off the heat and toss in the lime zest and cilantro.

Prepare all of your ingredients on the counter in an assembly line – the order doesn’t really matter, but I started with the beans.

To prepare your Spring roll wrappers, boil some wa ter and pour about a cup into a wide, shallow bowl. Working one at a time, place a wrapper into the hot water. Carefully poke the wrapper until it is softened – the package that I used has a textured pattern printed on each wrapper and once I couldn’t feel the texture anymore it was ready to use, about three minutes for each wrapper. If it seems to be taking forever you may need to re-boil the water.

Place a wrapper on your work surface – I just used a plate – gently dab off any extra water with a paper towel.  Place about a tablespoon of the beans two inches off the bottom of the wrapper – don’t go to the edges, as you need to fold them over.  Place a small amount of each of your other ingredients in close overlapping rows with the beans – see the picture. Now you’re ready to start folding. This is only really tricky for the first few; once you get the hang of it it’s pretty easy.

I’m sure you can find instructions online of how to fold, but basically you want to bring the bottom flap all the way over the stuffing and fold the edge under. Then you fold in from each side and gently roll the rest off the way up.  If your wrappers soaked properly then this will all be easier as they will stick together, if they aren’t sticking you get a chef snack and try soaking the wrappers for longer on the next one.  I also found that the access water was preventing mine from sticking, so whipping the water off is an important step.


Of course we couldn’t just have spring rolls. So in keeping with the light flavors theme we had pan-fried Swordfish.  Really easy, really quick, and really elegant!

Have your fishmonger cut however many steaks you need for your dinner – about a half pound each is plenty.  Salt and pepper each side. In a skillet heat about 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil. Do the water pop test (wet the tips of your fingers and, standing back, flick the water into the oil. If it pops and starts sizzling then your pan is hot enough) carefully place your fish into the oil – it will splash a bit so be careful.  Now DON’T TOUCH IT! Just let it brown off for about 4 minutes. The goal is to only flip the fish once, when you can just see the bottom edges start to brown. Once flipped cook for another four minutes.

That’s it.  Squeeze some lemon over the top or serve with lemon wedges.


The adventure ingredient this week was dandelion.  It’s very hardy, tangy, and robust. I actually found it to be almost too bitter. So I served it as a salad with arugula, sunflower seeds, and pomegranate seeds. The pomegranate helps to balance the bitterness that dark greens tend to have – some people love this, I can taste the health and when mixed with the fruit I loved them too, but some bites did make me feel like reverting to my little kid days of hiding Veggies in napkins.

Basic Vinaigrette:

Two cloves of garlic – minced
1 large tsp of whole seed mustard
3 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 Olive Oil
Pinch of salt

Pinch of pepper – about 5 turns of a grinder

In a jar with a lid combine all ingredients close the jar and shake the heck out of it! You can tell when it has emulsified when you stop shaking and it doesn’t separate again.

 

Next week is Easter, so Saturday will be the new Sunday, and I will be trying my hand at some new versions family Holiday traditions!  I’m thinking Braised lamb with minted quinoa salad, and Meringue “Easter Eggs” for dessert. Until Next week…


Enjoy!


Sunday Dinner – Chicken Parm

Yeah….it’s tax season….my day job is working with an accountant….I’m tired and unmotivated….but there is food to be made! and a blog to be updated!

Therefore the theme for this week is….simple and comforting.

My big go to comfort food is a big bowl of spaghetti smothered with cheese, but I have to adjust to fit Paul’s tastes too, and – though a pure-blood Italian – he’s not a huge fan of pasta. So the compromise turned into my adaptation of the classic Chicken parmigiana with spaghetti.


I inadvertently made a somewhat healthier version of the dish too – always a surprise when comfort food is actually good for you too!

The recipe is simple, you start with some roasted tomatoes and garlic, pan fry some chicken and layer along with fresh mozzarella and basil.

My Chicken Parm Recipe:

4 pints of cherry/grape tomatoes
12-15 cloves of garlic
3-4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
handful of fresh basil
3/4 lb of brown rice spaghetti

Olive oil
Salt
Pepper

The Roasted Tomatoes and Garlic:

Dump four pints of cherry tomatoes into a parchment lined
pan – or multiple pans there should only be one layer of tomatoes, otherwise they don’t roast properly. Peel a handful of garlic and cut each piece in half.  Push each
piece of garlic down into the tomatoes, generously pour olive oil over
the top, sprinkle with salt and pepper and place in the 400′ F oven. 
These take about 20-25 minutes. You want the tomatoes to pop and release
their juices and have the juices almost start to burn, the tomatoes
should just start take on a nice char.

The Chicken:

Take three or four boneless, skinless chicken breast place them in between two pieces of parchment paper – not overlapping (do one at a time if necessary). Gently tenderize…I used a hammer as I don’t have a meat tenderizer – also good for stress relief. the thinner the better, but don’t pulverize them! Salt and pepper both sides

In a skillet heat about two tbsp of olive oil on high heat. Place two pieces of chicken in the skillet at a time – again don’t overlap. cook for approx 5 minutes on each side or until lightly golden brown.

The Whole Enchilada:

In a 8×8 baking dish pour a bit of olive oil – just so things don’t stick – and place the browned chicken in an even layer on the bottom.  When the tomatoes are done pour them on top of the chicken – juices and all!  Reserve about half a cup to mix into your spaghetti – or use all of the tomatoes on the chicken and mix the spaghetti with a little store bought sauce – it isn’t cheating if you make 90% of the meal from scratch. 

Cut some fresh Mozzarella into 1/4 slices and cover the top of the tomatoes, gently pushing down into the tomato mix. Tear up some fresh basil and dot on top. Salt and pepper the top, cover with tin foil and put into the oven at 400′ F. 

Put your pasta water on to boil at around the same time that the dish goes into the oven, and cook according to the package. I used brown rice spaghetti, but whatever you prefer works here.

After about 30-40 minutes the cheese should be nice and melted, remove the tin foil and bake until the top gets nice and brown – about ten more minutes.  Toss the pasta with the reserved tomatoes or your store bought stuff.  Voila! time to eat! Serve this up with a nice red wine and dig in.

I know this week may seem a bit lackluster, but it was delicious. We didn’t miss the extra heaviness that breading the chicken normal adds, and the fresh tomatoes add a rustic texture and sweetness that can be missing from a traditional sauce. And sometimes life just makes it impossible to be luxurious and involved with cooking, but it doesn’t have to mean sacrifice.

So here’s to simple and comforting!

Enjoy!

Sunday Dinner- Camembert and Herb Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Cheese!

This weekend included a trip to upstate, NY to visit my grandparents.  It was a perfect opportunity to escape from city life for a few days and really appreciate the beauty of ‘simpler living’….which I seem to crave more and more.

My grandfather suggested that we visit the Old Chatham Sheepherding Company, which is a sheep farm about 3 hours outside of the city and twenty minutes from where we were. We did, and we loved it!  As a side note, this farm is American Humane Certified – these sheep seem to have a wonderful life and the cheese is delicious.

The Milking Barn.

This one was scratching his neck on the fence…don’t worry he’s not stuck.

I loved walking around the corner and surprise! there was a donkey!

Inquisitive sheep!

Babies!


and the cheese.

Of course we had to support the farm by buying cheese.  So the inspiration for this weeks Sunday dinner came from an amazing sheep milks Camembert.


When you use an ingredient that has such a strong flavor you want to use simple compliments.  Camembert is a cheese with an amazingly woodsy robust taste. The wonderful thing about this sheep’s milk Camembert is the way the flavors, while powerful, soften and melt in your mouth.  This product really make you appreciate the care that goes into raising the sheep and the cheese making process. 

My concept for this dish was inspired by the cheese and the farm where we bought it.  I wanted to keep things simple and maintain the ‘green’ feeling of the farm in the recipe. And above all honor the cheese.



Camembert and Herb Stuffed Chicken Breasts:

2 large chicken breasts – skin on
2 1/4” thick slices of Camembert – big enough to cover a large portion of each chicken breast
4 tbsp fresh Sage – chopped
4 tbsp fresh Tarragon – chopped
a handful of baby arugula
1/3 cup Olive oil

Heat the oven to 350′ F. Trim any extra fat and skin from the chicken. Using your pointer finger, gently separate the skin from the meat – you want to loosen the skin without poking holes or removing it completely – think of it like the pocket of pita bread, with enough room to shove all the other ingredients in there.

Insert a slice of cheese under the skin of each breast. Toss together your herbs and arugula and stuff on top of the Camembert slices.  Pour a few tbsp of the olive oil into the bottom of a 8”x8” baking dish and place the chicken on top. pour the rest of the olive oil on top of the chicken to help it brown.  Sprinkle with a generous amount of salt and freshly ground pepper.  Cover with tin foil and pop it in the oven.

After about 45 minutes – time will vary based on the size of the breasts – remove the tin foil and allow the chicken to brown.

On the side I wanted to keep with the theme of light and fresh, so we have two side dishes roasted asparagus, and quinoa with roasted tomatoes and garlic.

Roasting vegetables is not only delicious it’s super easy.

Prep the asparagus by bending them in the middle and let them snap at the natural point or cut off about and inch from the bottom. Place the spears onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet, pour a little olive oil over the top, salt and pepper, and place into a 400′ F oven.  Cook for approx 15 minutes or until the tips just start to look crispy.



For the tomatoes and garlic it’s basically the same process. Dump the cherry tomatoes into a parchment lined pan. Peel a handful of garlic and cut each piece in half.  Push each piece of garlic down into the tomatoes, generously pour olive oil over the top, sprinkle with salt and pepper and place in the 400′ F oven.  These take about 20-25 minutes. You want the tomatoes to pop and release their juices and have the juices almost start to burn, the tomatoes should just start take on a nice char.



While the tomatoes are baking, cook the quinoa according to the package.

When the tomatoes are ready, mix them in with the quinoa. Salt and pepper to taste. like I said, super easy, and super tasty!


The perfect welcome to some much needed spring weather.

Enjoy!

Sunday Dinner- Spare Me a Rib.

This weeks Sunday dinner was entirely random.  With no idea of what I wanted to attempt, I decided to check out a local farmers market called The Food Shed near the new apartment.  Much like the rest of the country I have lately been trying to consume locally grown foods, so this place is a great find!

I had been planning on photographing the market produce to give you some visuals…but in the excitement of the market I completely forgot to do so…next time, I promise.

(these were taken once I got home)


The first things I picked up were a few packets of heirloom seeds, followed by some duck sausage with dried cherries (look out for how I use that one), then some of the most gorgeous mushrooms I have ever seen – I finally settled on a bunch of Hen of the woods and Shitakis. Then some of the sweetest ginger I have ever tasted, and some farm fresh eggs which ooze with golden deliciousness with this mornings breakfast.

You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned my Sunday dinner yet…that’s because I didn’t end up buying most of my dinner ingredients at the market….I was just really excited to share this venture with you.

Onward to Keyfood!

With the new inspiration coming from meats on sale, Paul was quickly drawn into a massive slab of spare ribs…we bought two.


RECIPE:

The Rub:

1 tbsp Paprika

1 tbsp fresh ground Pepper

4 cloves Garlic – minced

2 tbsp Ginger – minced

1 tbsp Salt

1 ½ tbsp Mustard powder

2 tsp Ancho chili powder

1 tsp Ground Cloves

1 ½ tsp pimento powder

 

The Drizzle:

Honey

2 tbsp Butter

 

The Liquids:

1 beef bullion

1 cup water

½ cup red wine vinegar

Heat the oven to 400′. The steps are simple; Place the meat in a roasting pan. Work all of the rub ingredients with a mortar and pestle and rub into the meat.  Dot the top with butter. Drizzle the top with a generous amount of honey, pour the water over the top and push the bullion cube down into the liquids.  Cover tightly with tin foil and put her in the oven!  After about two hours baste- you want to wait and keep the tinfoil tight so that the steam soaks into the meat. Let them keep cooking until your baster pokes right through the meat- in between the bones- approx 3 hours total depending on the size and fat content of the ribs.

Don’t forget to let them cool a bit before you cut into them. I find it easier to cut a group of ribs and serve them that way instead of individual ribs.




As a side dish I sauteed the Hen of the Woods mushrooms with about 3 big cloves of minced garlic and two tbsp of butter, keep them on med-high heat until they start to crisp up and brown nicely.

And for dessert this week. Meyer Lemon Upside-down Cake (Gluten-free)



I had to buy these lemons from fairway last week.  The color is so amazingly vibrant. They smell is invitingly sweet and tangy. The skin is just firm enough to let you know how wonderfully juicy the fruit inside will be. Really I had no choice.

Sugary goodness:

1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup water
a few shakes of lavender

Batter:

2-3 Meyer lemons, sliced very thin, remove seeds

3 large eggs
1/2 cup (125ml) honey
1 1/2 (160gr) stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
just under a cup rice flour

just under half a cup millet flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

Preheat oven to 350F. Line the inside of a spring-form pan with parchment paper. Place the pans on a baking sheet and set aside.


For the caramel:
In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, bring the honey, water and lavender to a boil. Turn it down and let it simmer until thickened – you don’t want to walk away and have this mixture boil over… like I did.  After approx 7 minutes pour the caramel into the prepared cake pan.


For the cake:

The fun part is arranging the lemon slices in the caramel – the goal is one solid layer with little over-lapping. 

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs and honey on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Slowly add in the melted butter. Add the flours and mix until fully incorporated. Pour this luscious batter into the pan and sprinkle the bottom with cinnamon.  Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature. Turnout onto a plate. Watch out for the oozing honey caramel.

This is a dense cake so slices should be small – therefore you will have leftovers, and it makes for a tasty accompaniment to coffee!



Next week I plan to find more inspiration from fresh local ingredients and prepare more tasty meals with Spring in mind!

Enjoy!

Sunday Dinner- Roast Chicken & Caprese Crepes

It becomes increasingly important to me as I get older to sit down at the dinner table with good people and good food.  With this in mind, Paul and I have started honoring the Sunday dinner tradition.  We started two weeks ago with a romantic braised lamb dinner for two; then shared last week with my grandparents reminiscing over t-bone steaks with fried mushrooms, baked sweet and russet potatoes, and a bibb salad with strawberries, mushrooms, goat cheese and sunflower seeds.

This week I am happy to be able to share photos!



I can’t think of anything that I find more satisfying than preparing a roast chicken. It’s the kind of meal that is comforting, impressive, and full of pride…not to mention super tasty!

For this chicken I used Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme, wrapped them up in twine and stuffed them into the butt of my chicken (after using a bushel of fresh herbs to create the
braised lamb from a few weeks ago, I have started wrapping fresh herbs
and putting them in everything!)
along with lemon quarters, a handful of smashed and peeled garlic, and as much onion as would fit.  I placed the chicken on a bed of onions (1.5 large), Potatoes (4 medium russet), lemon quarters (2 lemons worth), and some more smashed garlic. Then I generously covered the top with salt, pepper, ancho chili powder and paprika. Followed by my secret to perfect poultry skin….melted butter- about four tablespoons, just poured all over the top.


Put her in a 375′ oven uncovered.  Baste the chicken and the potatoes every 10-15 minutes. Cover with a tent of tinfoil after the first twenty minutes (when the chicken begins to pick up a golden brown color).  If you find there is not enough liquid to baste with, add a half a cup of water at a time to the bottom of the pan. Baste, baste, baste.  Towards the end I baste more frequently- at least every 10 minutes.

After approx. 3 hours (depending on the size) the chicken legs will
begin to fall away from the body, now it is time to uncover again- keep
basting!  You can use a meat thermometer to make sure it’s cooked through- I
wiggle the legs, when they fall easily away you know it’s ready, also
the juices between the leg and the body will run clear- or at least not
pink. After cooking a bird a few times you will “just know” when it is done- but use your discretion and whatever tools make you the most comfortable.



The rule for any meat….

Let it sit before you cut into it!  If you cut it right away the juices will run out of the meat and you lose all that wonderful flavor…trust me the extra 5-10 minutes of waiting is entirely worth it!  and if you move the chicken to a cutting board once it’s out of the oven you can use these few minutes to plate your potato-lemon-onion-goodness

and pour your gravy into a serving boat.

But we are not done yet…

Voila! We have Crepes with arugula, bocconcini, tomato, and basil!

These were surprisingly easy- albeit a bit tedious. Oh and I forgot to mention that these- and likely all of my recipes will be Gluten-Free!

For the crepes

1 cup millet flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1/4 cup potato starch
pinch of salt

3 eggs
2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup seltzer (I used san pellegrino, you could also use beer)

In a deep bowl combine the flours and salt- I did use a sifter to help clear the lumps, I know this is an annoying step, but it does make things easier later.  In another bowl whisk the eggs, then add the milk and whisk until incorporated.  Create a well in the flour, in a steady slow stream pour the liquids into the well, mixing with your other hand to incorporate the liquids into the flour.  Remove any lumps- use a whisk if you can’t get them with your fingers.  When this is all well incorporated and the seltzer, whisk again then place in the fridge for at least an hour.


To cook the crepes use a wide skillet- or invest in a crepe pan. On medium-high heat melt a thin slice of butter in the pan then pour approx 1/4 cup of batter into the pan, tilting in a circular motion to coat the pan. flip when the edges brown just a bit.  Repeat until you have no batter left.  You need to let these brown a bit if you want to stack them without sticking.

You can fill these with pretty much anything…sweet or savory!  Can you say nuetella? Mmmmm.

This time however I was looking for a little green, and what’s green without red? and what’s red without cheese?!

I filled each crepe with a small handful of arugula, a slice or two of tomato and a few torn up balls of fresh mozzarella.  After folding and arranging on my platter, I sprinkled some basil ribbons, drizzled some balsamic and a little olive oil, and of course the essentials, chunky salt and freshly ground pepper.

Just desserts:

I have never been a big sweets person, but I want to honor this new Sunday Dinner venture with a true and full meal, so dessert is a necessity.  Also faced with the challenge of staying gluten-free (my belly is thanking me now) I searched a newly discovered fellow food bloggers site for a gluten-free, not too sweet dessert and stumbled onto this recipe for
Fiadone

This is a wonderful blog, and a wonderful dessert!


I adjusted by using a bit less sugar and topping it off with fresh blueberries.



Well, that’s everything for this past Sunday Dinner. I hope you feel inspired to begin your own traditions and share your kitchen with your loved ones.

Until next time, enjoy!