Category Archives: Dinners – The Quick Kind

Kale Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash and Pine Nuts. Oh and Amazing Cheesy Garlic Crostini…I tried to be healthy…

Health! I need some veggies! Health! Not just any veggies! Health! I need some greens! Heeeeealth! (to the tune of the Beatles’ “Help”)

This is a dangerous time of year for me with food. The weather is crisp and cozy and my belly long for warmth and comfort – mainly hearty slow cooked cheese wonderfulness. So for the past few days…ok weeks…I have been very indulgent and neglecting the hearty warmth of good fall vegetables. It was time for salad.

“But I don’t like salad” said my inner chubette. My response to the inner daemon, “you will like this one”

Daemon = satisfied…

Kale Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash and Pine Nuts with Lemon Vinaigrette:

3 cups Kale – washed, dried and roughly chopped

2 cups Butternut Squash – cut into ½” pieces (about half a medium squash)

4 tbsp’s Herb and Garlic Infused Olive Oil (see Below)

salt

Pepper

1/3 cup of Pine Nuts

Toss the squash with the olive oil and dump onto a cookie sheet with, you guessed it, parchment paper. Sprinkle with salt and pepper then bake in a 395’ oven for about 45 minutes, or until the pieces are browned around the edges and a fork goes through easily.

Toast the Pine Nuts either in a dry pan on the stove over medium heat, or in a toaster oven on a tin foil sheet for no more than 2 minutes. As soon as you smell them they are done! Any longer and they will burn. All you want is a little bit of brown color – better to under do it than over.

Grab a platter or a salad bowl. Place the chopped kale on the bottom, then the roasted squash, then the pine nuts, then, if you’re feeling fancy, shave or grate some fresh Parmesan over the top. Serve with your jar/bowl of Lemon Vinaigrette (see below) and let people dress as they see fit and some crispy cheesy garlic crostini!

Lemon Vinaigrette:

4ish tbsp’s lemon juice (one lemons worth)

½ tbsp Dijon mustard

¼ cup olive oil

Whisk the mustard into the lemon juice, then, while continuing to whisk, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Or do the easy, cheating version and place all ingredients into a jar with a good lid, close it up and shake the heck out of it – it doesn’t emulsify the way the pro’s like it, but you can just shake the jar again if it separates!

Cheesy Garlic Crostini:

1 Sourdough baguette or your favorite Crostini bread – cut into ¼” slices at an angle

6-8 cloves of garlic – cut into thin slices

Grated Parmesan cheese

1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves

about ¼ cup of Herb and Garlic infused Olive Oil (see below)

Pour the olive oil into a wide shallow dish/bowl/plate, dip each slice of bread into the oil, coating each side, then place onto a baking sheet. Place a few slices of sliced garlic onto each piece of bread – add more if you’re a garlicoholic like me! Then cover each slice with a generous amount of Parmesan and sprinkle with a bit of the fresh thyme leaves.  Bake in a 395’ F oven for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese starts to brown just a little bit.

Herb and Garlic infused Olive Oil:

1 cup olive oil

6 garlic cloves – minced

a handful of fresh thyme stalks

Place a pan on the stove over very low heat. Add everything. Let it heat together slowly for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally and make sure the garlic doesn’t stick to the bottom – don’t let it simmer or boil, just warm it very slowly.

Turn the heat off and let it cool for a few minutes – just so you can safely transfer it without burning yourself or blowing up a jar. Remove the thyme stalks and pour into a jar (glass is better) with an airtight lid.

Use for sautéing, salad dressing, GF bread dipping, or whatever else tickles your fancy!

For some reason I have a hard time accepting that healthy food can also be incredibly delicious and satisfying. This salad, however, has helped me do away with that backwards thinking and is spawning some new recipe ideas for a less gluttonous future.

Behold the power of Kale.

Enjoy!

 

Fresh Eggs from the Backyard Chickens, and Lemony Pasta Goodness.

For the past two weeks I have been living with my grandkin in New Lebanon, NY – about three hours north of the city.

You may remember my previous rants about want to get out of the city, well I’ve finally made a move to make this goal a reality.  I have not permanently left my Brooklyn roots, but I will be staying up here for the majority of my time – three week on one week off kind of deal.

So far it’s been…

…great! I have driven the lawn mower – which as my Grandpa said, makes you feel like a fighter pilot or Luke Skywalker taking out his first TIE Fighter! I have been tending to the chickens each morning and putting them to roost at night. I have been walking the dog without a leash and letting him roam free in the fields. And of course I’ve been cooking. A lot of eggs.

I have become so spoiled by walking across the yard and plucking a fresh egg from a nest for breakfast. If you have the opportunity to buy really, truly fresh farm eggs, under a week old do it!

Grandma and her chickens – there are 11 in all, nine big ladies and two little Silkies

The shells are all different shades of white, brown, and blue! The yolks are the most gorgeous color of bright orange, you can practically see the nutrients – especially when you compare them to the supermarket eggs most of us grew up with. I had no idea what I was missing! The word for really fresh eggs is luscious. They will add richness to any dish or indulge in a perfect fried egg with a creamy runny yolk…and bacon, always bacon (I know that was random, guess I’m getting hungry…again)

 

Now rather than giving you recipes for regular egg dishes, i.e. breakfast, I decided to make something a little fancier. It’s a cross between garlic and oil spaghetti and spaghetti carbonara plus lemon.

I call it “Lemon, Garlic and Oil Carbonara”:

1lb gluten free spaghetti – quinoa pasta is my preference!

6 cloves of garlic – roughly chopped

3 tbsp’s olive oil

1 tsp coarse salt

zest from three lemons – about four tbsp’s

juice from three lemons – about ¼-½ cup

20 turns of fresh cracked black pepper

1/3 cup chicken stock (veggie is fine)

¼ cup water

2 eggs – the fresher the better!
Sautee the garlic in olive oil and salt over low heat until it’s soft, but not browned. Add the lemon zest and let it sizzle for a minute. Next add the lemon juice, pepper, stock and water stir over low heat then allow to simmer for 5 minutes.

Toss in the cooked pasta (cooked to your liking according to the package) and let the flavors meld together as you mix it in over the heat. Turn the heat off after two or three minutes.

Crack the two eggs over the hot pasta and toss to cover each bit – the heat will cook the eggs through so you don’t need to worry about salmonella. If you’re really worried, just leave off the egg and add a little bit of butter to make it creamy and rich.

Serve with grated Parmesan and another few turns of black pepper and some red pepper flakes if you like things hot.

Yum. Easy. Yum.


Disclaimer: the pasta photos are a little…crappy. I waited just a few minutes too long and lost the good light, but the pasta itself looked beautiful and was full of flavor. You’ll have to make it to see what it should look like! Here are more chickens instead.

It’s really quite wonderful here :)

 

ENJOY!

 

On the Road to Seattle. Food. Fun. Campfires. Tenting. Sightseeing. Happiness.

At 8 o’clock on Monday morning Paul and I loaded up the car, buckled the dog into the back seat, and hit the road. Our first layover was Richmond, IN – a quick 11 hour drive from Brooklyn.

As a self-proclaimed adventurous and frugal person I insisted on camping anywhere along the way that we don’t have a free place to stay. The only reason I say this with a hint of negativity is that I forgot that driving 11 plus hours (we had to stop often for the dog) means we get there in the dark.

i.e. we set up camp in the dark.

i.e. not so great lighting for setting up a tent, or building a fire, or taking good photos…

But Paul and I work well in “survival” situations and managed to get the tent set up and a nice fire going before ten pm…pretty good if you ask me!

 

For our road-food commencement dinner I cooked the first of our chicken packets. You remember those frozen olive oil and fresh herb filled ice cube trays? Well once they were frozen I assembled packets with chicken and other tasty freezable foods.

 

 

Here’s a photo of chicken with peaches and a garlic basil olive oil cube…

 

I placed the tightly folded packets on a grill surface over a roaring fire. Then as my impatience grew I placed the packets directly onto the coals for a another few minutes. The only issue with cooking this way is that it’s basically impossible to tell when it’s done. So the solution is to guess, then open the packets very carefully (there is a lot of steam involved) and check whether the chicken is cooked through. All together these took about 12 minutes – 8 on the grill and 4 on the coals.

 

Here’s a not-so-great shot of the cooked chicken – this is the tomato, garlic and basil cube.

So the verdict for freezing herbs in olive oil is definitely a big thumbs up! They may not stay frozen on the road very well, but the flavor is there even when it’s melty. Not to mention how great it has been to have a really fast meal to throw on the fire after a long day of driving and sight-seeing.

 

The next morning we drank in the surrounding beauty, packed up the car and headed to find some grub to eat on the road.

When I booked this leg of the trip, I knew nothing about Richmond, IN. Now after being there, I still know nothing of the history, but I have discovered that the old district is really charming.  You can sense the hard work that went into and took place in the buildings. A lifestyle and working-style long forgotten, but maintains a sense of pride and strength. The few people we spoke to were funny, friendly, and talkative. A skill that is lost in New York. Don’t get me wrong, people talk CONSTANTLY in NY, but the people in Richmond spoke truly , rather than of self-indulgence.

 

 

Our breakfast quest led us to a little cafe called Paulee in old Richmond, where we split a surprisingly tasty Sausage and Egg Biscuit – maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I expected greasy and convenient as opposed to the well seasoned, not at all greasy little sandwich that we had!

And onward we go to Kansas City and beyond!

ENJOY!

A better BLT

How do make the perfect indulgent sandwich a little lighter? Use portabella mushrooms instead of bread!

 

 

This open-face sandwich – though maybe not exactly healthy – is a lot lighter than your standard BLT. There’s no bread and instead of gloppy mayo I whipped up some goat cheese goodness (with bacon and horseradish).

 

 

A better BLT:

2 portabella mushrooms
2 handfuls of Arugula
4 slices of tomato
5-1,000,000 slices of bacon – cooked to your liking (I like just before super crispy)
4 tbsp goat cheese spread (see below)

 

Goat Cheese Spread:
½ goat cheese
2 slices of extra crispy bacon – crumbled
2 tbsp horseradish
Milk to thin

 

Brush the portabellas with olive oil and grill them – on a griddle or grill or use a frying pan pressing down with a weight – flipping after about 6 minutes. Cook until just cooked through – stick a knife through the thickest part, if it goes in easily without much pressure it’s ready!

 

 

Assembly:

Take your cooked portabella and spread it with 2 tablespoons of the goat cheese awesomeness. Place 2 tomato slices, then bacon, then a handful of Arugula. Eat and feel good knowing that your BLT is a little bit healthier. Then eat doughnuts.

 

 

 

 

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

Duck Sausage – as promised

Last week I mentioned the amazing duck sausage that I picked up from The Foodshed farmers market in Brooklyn and have since been debating the best way to use this sausage.  I wanted to do something that leaves the duck flavor as the star, so pasta seemed like a good choice.


This is the recipe I came up with:

Duck Sausage Spaghetti

2/3 lb of Spaghetti (I use gluten-free brown rice pasta)

1 package of Duck Sausage (the fresher the better- I used Hudson Valley Duck Farm’s Duck Sausage w/ Cherries)

2 – 3 cups of baby spinach

Put your water up to boil.  Place the sausage in a hot skillet and brown them on all sides slices – if you don’t want to eat the casings you could remove the meat from them by squeezing into the pan and use the meat more like ground duck, otherwise… When the casings tighten and are sufficiently browned move the sausage to a cutting board and cut them into slices.

By this time your water should be ready for your pasta – I broke the spaghetti in half, but this is just my preference. Transfer the meat back to the pan and brown again. When the pasta is cooked to your liking, strain it and dump it onto the sausage in the skillet. Toss together for a few spins and transfer the whole thing into a mixing bowl.  Add the spinach by the handful, stirring it as you go – the hot pasta will just start to wilt the spinach, when all of it has been added and wilting stops it from flying around pour your pasta onto a serving dish or just grab a fork.!

The sausage turned out to be full of complex flavors of clove and cherry and fennel. Making for a sweet and rich pasta dish.  Of course the flavors will be different if you use a different sausage, but any type of sausage would work very well here.

Enjoy!