Category Archives: Dinner

Jalapeno Popper Braised Chicken with Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes.

It probably wont surprise you to learn that I’m not an avid sports fan. Can’t think of a time when I have ever, on my own, sought out to watch a “match” of any sport. I do however highly enjoy the camaraderie that surrounds a good game. It is a lot of fun to watch a football game with fanatics. I even find myself guffawing or shrieking with glee at moments that would otherwise escape my attention, if not for the excitement in the room. That spirit of fellowship and cheer is what makes it all worth while, oh and the food. You just can’t watch a game without some sort of indulgent treat.

I’m not sure if the beginnings of crisp autumn air, or the random bit of football news that have been floating into my ears lately, but I’ve been craving football food. Specifically jalapeno poppers. These little babies keep popping (pun intended) up all over pinterest, but have verred away from the traditional breaded and fried to a sophisticated stuffed with cheese and wrapped in bacon then grilled – and they are delicious this way. However, after eating ten of these or so I started regretting my choice of only poppers for dinner. So I thought, “hey, why not turn this into a full meal?” – and that’s where the chicken and mashed potatoes come in.

Now because I was cooking for my grandparents and not just me and Paul I made things a lot more mild and subbed a good portion of jalapenos for poblano chilis. It was really delicious, but if you want a more authentic popper flavor and a nice spicy dish use more/all jalapenos – I will be doing so next time around.

Jalapeno Popper Chicken with Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes: 

6 chicken thighs

salt

pepper

olive oil – a few tbsp’s per batch

 

12oz bacon – cut into smallish pieces (use scissors…trust me)

12 garlic cloves – roughly chopped

2 medium white onions – roughly chopped

2 poblano chilis – deseeded then roughly chopped

2 fresh jalapenos – remove seeds and white membrane then roughly chop

10oz frozen blackberries

½ cup chicken stock (or 6 chicken stock ice cubes)

1 ½ cups dry white wine (I used a Pinot Grigio)

 

You want to start with a heavy Dutch oven on the stove over med-high heat with a few tbsp’s of olive oil. Generously salt and pepper the oil. When it is hot – it should pop when you carefully flick a drop of water into it – add the chicken thighs, skin side down, in a single layer – I did three at a time, so two batches.

Don’t move them, don’t touch them, don’t get impatient and try to peek, don’t worry about burning. Just let them cook for 4 minutes.  You will be able to see the skin cooking around the outside edge of the chicken, once this starts to look cooked and not mushy it’s time to flip. Carefully, slowly pry each chicken thigh off the bottom – if there is a any resistance release it and let it keep going for a minute or two. This is a little tricky to describe, but the chicken will let you know when it’s done…you’ll get the hang of it. Flip each piece and cook on the other side for 5 minutes, then remove to a bowl/plate with a rim and set aside.

Next fry up the bacon until it’s just crispy and pour off ¾ of the grease. Add the onions and garlic and let them cook down a few minutes until they start to sweat. Now add the peppers and let them sweat for about five minutes – they will cook through in the oven so the exact time here doesn’t really matter.

Now pour in the blackberries and stir.

Time to add the chicken back into the pot. Place the chicken on top of the veggies in an even layer. Pour over the wine and the chicken stock (or place your stock cubes on top).

Cover the pot and put it in the oven at 385’ F for 50 minutes, then uncover and cook for another 35 minutes.

Ready to go into the oven 

Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes:

8 red potatoes – quartered to help them cook faster (I leave the skin on because I’m lazy, but it’s up to you if you want to peel them!)

4oz cream cheese

½ cup sour cream

¼ cup chicken stock

salt to taste

 

Place the potatoes in a large pot and add enough water to cover an inch above the taters.  Place over med-high heat on the stove. Let it boil and check to see if the potatoes are tender after 20 minutes – you should be able to easily stick a fork into a piece and very easily slide it off the fork.

Once the potatoes are cooked through drain them and transfer back in the pot or into a large mixing bowl. Add the chicken stock and the cream cheese and mix it in with a potato masher or an electric mixer. Once that is all melted together add the sour cream and salt – start with about a tbsp of salt then add more to taste…I love super salt mashed potatoes.

Mix until all the lumps are gone, if they are two thick add some regular milk and mix again. Keep adjusting until you are satisfied!

I like to think of this meal as gourmet comfort food, it looks classy, but it’s got the fixings of superbowl party or a summer BBQ. You could say this is a meal that describes me pretty well…sort of like a mullet…I like a bit of sophistication, but when it comes down to it, I really am just a down and dirty country girl (mud dirty, not harlot dirty)…

Hope you 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!

 

Matzo Ball Soup….I cheated in my gluten eating, but it was with good reason…

Last week sucked. I had the worst tickly, annoying sore throat that just sucked enough life out of me to make me want to curl into a ball and wrap myself in a giant comforter, but not quite sick enough to actually justify doing this. So i decided to make some soup instead and warm myself from the inside.

It has been said by many a Jewish grandmother (probably other cultures of grandmothers also…) that a good chicken broth will heal anything that ails you. I don’t know why, but I definitely believe this to be true. I had a Jewish Great Grandmother who I remember being an excellent cook… which apparently was my childish ignorance as according to my Grandmother my Great Grandmother was a vastly mediocre cook.

Either way, I was channeling the food of my Great Grandmother when I started making matzo ball soup. Now keeping in mind I was half in the land of the dead, I didn’t remotely bother to go gluten free with this recipe, so I apologize to my gluten-free readers. The good news is that this soup is 85% about the stock, which is gluten free! So for those of you who don’t cheat even when you’re feeling crappy, go as far as the stock and make a nice chicken and gluten-free noodle soup. Or just drink the warm broth. It really does do wonders.

 

Jewish Grandmother Chicken Stock:

One giant pot filled ¾ with cold water – I used my lobster pot

Three chicken carcasses

Two packages of stock vegetables – cut each into large chunky pieces – leave the herbs whole, and no need to peel anything (they sell these pre-packed at some grocery store)

–4 celery stocks, 2 carrots, 2 onions, 2 parsnips, 1 turnip, a handful of parsley and dill (per pack)

¼ cup kosher salt +more at the end to taste

fresh dill for garnish

 

Place the water filled pot on the stove over high heat and add the chicken carcasses. Let it simmer for an hour, then add the 1/4 cup salt and the chunky veggies and herbs. Cover the pot and let it simmer for 3 more hours, stirring occasionally – making sure nothing is sticking to the bottom. Remove the cover after three hours, stir again, taste and add salt if needed, then let it cook for another hour uncovered – this will let the broth reduce and concentrate the flavors. Once you are satisfied with the flavor/need to eat soup and refuse to wait any longer scoop out the veggies and chicken carcass with a large slotted spoon. I saved the carrots, cut them up and returned them to the soup for eating, but the other stuff I chucked into the bin.

Just before the stock was complete I store one cup of stock and added it to a pasta pot along with water too cook some egg noodles. I shredded the meat from a rotisserie chicken (one of my carcasses also). Then to complete the matzo ball soup I bought a box of matzo meal…and followed the instructions on the back. Lack luster, I know, but again , I was a zombie!

For each bowl I scooped the ingredients in separately, so a bunch of noodles, then some chicken, then some carrot, then a few matzo balls, then the wonderful, healing broth, then some dill for garnish and extra flavor punch.

And whatever you don’t use right away will freeze beautifully, and makes a great stock for any recipe that calls for it!

I think my Great Grandmother would have been proud of this one!

I am healed now :) and this is the kind of soup that makes me want to get sick again soon…you know what I mean.

 

ENJOY!

 

 

BBQ Sauce number 1. A Very Good Place to Start

 

As mentioned on Facebook (you should follow me on Facebook. Look over there ——>) I have been craving BBQ sauce lately. A really good, complex, thick, rich BBQ sauce. So I tried to make my own… semi-successfully.

I’ve never attempted BBQ sauce before, so I started by scouring the internet for other peoples’ recipes and was quickly overwhelmed by the vast differences from one sauce to the next – all of which claim to be the best in the world. To the point where I feel like maybe I am committing a crime by admit

ting the sauce I made, while quite tasty, was not the best sauce in the world.

After being so overwhelmed by the plethora of flavor options and what not, I decided to limit myself to what I had available in my kitchen and pantry. Which knocked off things like liquid smoke, mesquite powder, and molasses. I think this is also where I limited the chances of creating the exact flavor I was going for, but I didn’t spend any money on an experiment either – woohoo!

Here’s what I ended up with for my first ever BBQ sauce:

 

Tangy BBQ Sauce:

Wrap these in cheesecloth and set aside:

6 Cloves of garlic – whole

¼ of an onion

a handful of fresh lemon thyme

2 heaping tbsp’s dried hibiscus flowers (hibiscus tea leaves are also fine)

5 matchstick peppers – whole

1” knob of ginger – leave the skin on

 

2 tbsp’s bacon grease

2 6oz cans of tomato paste

½ stick unsalted butter

1 cup cider vinegar

1 cup dark brown sugar – loosely packed

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

¼ tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp hickory smoked salt (just use regular salt if you can’t find it – I couldn’t taste it anyway)
2 tsp’s brown mustard seed

2.5 cups of water

 

In a medium sauce pot melt the butter with the tomato paste and bacon grease. Add the vinegar and bring to a simmer.

Next add the brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, salt, and mustard seed. Stir until the sugar dissolves then add the water. Stir the pot to incorporate the water then drop in the tied off cheesecloth.

Let the sauce cook over low-medium heat for at least and hour, stirring regularly to make sure nothing is sticking or burning. The color will become a rich dark red as the sugars cook and the flavor develop the longer it goes.  There’s no real way to under or overcook the sauce (other than horribly burnt) it’s really just a matter of taste…and hunger level. I let it cook for a total of two hours.

 

The result is a tangy, sweet sauce that lends itself very well to pork in particular, but serve over your favorite meat, burgers, veggies, or however you like BBQ Sauce. I had some leftover pulled pork, so I globbed it on top of that. It’s definitely something I would make again, it just didn’t satisfy the exact craving I have had since our travels through some of the BBQ hotspots across the country.

I’ll have to try again soon!

 

For now, ENJOY!

Minnesota, Homemade Pizzas – made by little helpers. An experiment with Heritage Wheat Flour.

 

We’ve made it back to Brooklyn. Successful, but now the city lacks that adventurous vibe we grew to love on the road. Not to mention the first thing we see upon our arrival into Manhattan was 45 minutes of traffic leading up to the Brooklyn Bridge.  At one point Paul turns to me and says “You haven’t cursed this much for the entire trip”…and I wasn’t even driving.

 

Perhaps needless to say, but I am back on my kick of desperately craving a change of pace from city life and the abundant consumerism that is NYC. I want adventure. In the great wide somewhere….wait that’s Belle (from Beauty and the Beast a la Disney). What I really want is simplicity, purity, and, of course, fresh good food. I want to know how our ancestors survived without supermarkets. I want to be able to live off the land. I want to be the one friends and family gather around for survival after the apocalypse hits!

 

I am only a little bit kidding.

 

I do truly believe it’s important to bridge ourselves away from the convenience of city life and learn to fend for ourselves, at least a little bit, and at least so that we don’t just blindly follow and eat whats put in front of us.

 

Of course this sounds very familiar at this point. I know I may simply be falling into the organic, back to the earth food trend that is moving around the country, but it doesn’t change my drive.  In fact it makes me more curious and adamant about the idea!

 

It was great to see places embracing farmers markets and local products, and non-hybrid crops. When you think about the last, say, ten years and how food trends have changed, and how we buy ad eat food has changed, it almost feels as though we are all part of a crazy science experiment!  Instead of searching for good cheese, we settle for the system shock that comes with the wrong choice.  It really made me wonder about the “allergy trends” as well. Granted I have a terrible memory, but I don’t remember ever hearing the words celiac, or gluten-free, or lactose intolerant or a lot of other intolerances that people seem to have developed (including myself) over the last few years. Suddenly these words and ailments are everywhere!

 

There has to be a connection to all of the genetically modified foods we eat. This is a concept that I had been questioning for a while. Then at the Mill City Farmers Market in Minnesota I found a heritage wheat flour company – wasn’t looking for it, but happily meandered over to question the owners. Their flours are all made with non modified wheat, similar to heirloom veggies – no mutations, no splicing, no combining. Just pure mother earth made wheat.

 

So I bought a bag of pizza flour (which the woman at the booth said is the exact same thing as their all purpose flour, but they label it as such for people who refuse to believe that all purpose will work for pizza). That night Paul, Kelly (my sister), and I made pizza with Paul’s three nieces (all under 7).

 

 

 

This was the best pizza I have ever made – maybe even ever had!

 

Pizza is an indulgence for me in general. When the little fat kid in me comes up and will only be satisfied by a perfect slice of New York pizza, the adult in me caves and deals with the consequences later. This time, using the heritage flour to make our dough, there were no consequences – and I mean none! It was almost jarring to eat an abundance of pizza and not feel the pain afterwords.

 

I just ordered more flour from the Sunrise Flour Mill (I used the “Pizza or All Purpose Flour” for the pizzas)

 

 

When cooking with kids it’s best to keep things simple and colorful. I followed the pizza dough instructions on the bag (3cups flour, tsp yeast, 1cup tepid water; knead for 6 minutes until smooth, and a pinch of salt, knead for 2 more minute, cover and let double in size;)

 

 

At the farmers market I also picked up a bunch of veggies – zucchini, patty pan squash, potatoes, heirloom tomatoes, eggplant, mushrooms, bell peppers, kale – and some fresh cheese. I sliced everything very very thin and made seperate bowls of colorful veggies for the girls to stick their hands into and layer whatever they wanted onto the pizzas. I used a really simple and delicious tomato sauce from a jar – look for something with very basic ingredients, the fewer the better. Also sliced some leftover italian sausage.

 

 

I found it easiest to give each girl a cookie sheet and a ball of dough – they needed some help getting it thin, but had fun dictating different shapes. Then layer sauce, cheese and veggies – let them go crazy!

 

 

Bake at 395′ F for about 15 minutes or until the crust is brown and the veggies are softened.


 

Then for dessert…dessert pizzas! Spread some Nuetella and layer fresh peach slices, bake as above.

 

 

For the record, I am not a doctor or nutritionist or in any position to guide anyone to try this product if you have severe allergies. I would however recommend trying this flour to anyone who is mildly gluten INTOLERANT – best case, like me you’ve found a solution, worst case, you have discomfort like any other day you cheat a bit.

 

(again if you’re allergic and could have a sever reaction to gluten, maybe talk to a professional first)

 

I hope you enjoy reading my crazy tangents followed by generally useful info! More to come soon.

 

ENJOY!

 

A “Top Chef” Challenge – Balsamic Steak with Onion and Garlic Relish & Coco Rosemary Potatoes

 

If you are among my regular followers you know that I have recruited the boyfriend, Paul, to challenge my culinary creativity. If you aren’t one of my regulars you should be! But basically he shops for whatever ingredients he wants and I come up with the dishes, and I’m allowed whatever is in the fridge and pantry too.

 

This past Saturday, on his way back to Brooklyn after band rehearsal, Paul stopped at Fairway Market to shop. Keep in mind I didn’t put any limits or restrictions on what to buy. He had an entire store full of beautiful and unique ingredients….and he brings me steak, russet potatoes, an onion, and blue cheese. A beautiful steak, fresh veggies and good blue cheese but still! Where is the creative challenge?!

 

So me being me – and having put it into my head that I would have a strange combination ingredients to work with – I went to my pantry to pull out the first thing I saw. Unsweetened coco powder. Not that strange, but not something you would expect to find with steak and potatoes either.

 

I started with the onion. Rather than making traditional caramelized onions I decided to caramelize them along with a ton of garlic in balsamic vinegar. The result was a delicious tart, tangy, sweet steak topper – or really anything topper :)

 

 

Then I moved on to the potatoes. Here is where I incorporated the coco powder. I wanted the coco to add depth, and richness – something that could stand up to the balsamic in the steak and the relish. So I decided to make a sort of scalloped potato with rosemary and coco with just a hint of honey. Of course I didn’t have any cream so it wasn’t quite as creamy as I would have liked. It was good, but definitely could and will be improved.

 

 

Moving on to the meat. I have mentioned before that I am a purest when it comes to steak. Unless it’s a cheap cut, there is no need to over season. Just some salt and pepper is all you need. In this case, keeping with the creative spirit, I veered from my meat formula just a little bit and decided to add a balsamic glaze right at the end of the cooking process. this gives the meat an amazing sugary crust on the outside and enhances the built-in flavor of the meat without overpowering it.

 

 

Balsamic Onions and garlic Relish:

1 sweet onion – ¼ inch slices

12 garlic cloves – roughly chopped

½ cup balsamic vinegar

salt

pepper

 

Place all into a baking dish and stir. Bake uncovered in a 350’ F oven for about 30 minutes – stirring occasionally – until the onions are well wilted and the vinegar is a thick black sauce. Because of the sugar content it will go from perfect to burnt caramel very quickly, so make sure it doesn’t burn!

 

 

Rosemary Coco potatoes:

2 tbsp coco powder – unsweetened

2 tbsp olive oil

4 tbsp fresh rosemary – minced

1 tsp honey

1 tsp salt

½ cup plain Greek yogurt

2 russet potatoes – sliced very thin

2 tbsp cold water

extra olive oil to thin

 

In a mixing bowl whisk together the coco powder with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add the rosemary, honey and salt, whisk again. Add in the yogurt. While whisking slowly drizzle in a ¼ cup of olive oil then the water. Toss the potato slices into the mixture stir to make sure every piece is coated. Then pour it into a pie dish and place a fresh spring of rosemary ontop. Cover with tin foil and bake in a 375’ F oven for 35 minutes, then uncover and cook for another 15 minutes or until the top is extra crispy.

 

 

 

Beautiful Balsamic Sirloin – Medium Rare:

2 lb sirloin steak

salt

pepper

 

Balsamic Glaze:

 

½ cup balsamic vinegar

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

 

Heat a griddle pan on high for ten minutes. Generously salt and pepper each side of the steak. Place the steak in the center of the pan and press it down with a weight. Cook it for 8 minutes on the first side flip and cook for ten minutes. Brush a good amount of glaze onto the side you can see then flip it again for two minutes, glaze the other side and cook in the glaze on that side for another two minutes.

 

Transfer the steak to a board and let it set for at least ten minutes before cutting in.  Serve with the onion-garlic relish (see above) and crumbled blue cheese.

 

 

I don’t know if this meal (mostly the potatoes) would have one me Top Chef, but I wouldn’t have been eliminated in an early round! Next time we play this game I think Paul will come up with a bigger challenge for me so stay tuned!

 

ENJOY!

 

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!

Fourth of July Picnic and James Taylor at Tanglewood.

The past few years have brought on uneventful fourth of Julys. To be perfectly honest I don’t really remember what we did…other than eat mass amounts of some sort of meat. Though again it’s more a hazy fog of burgers, pork, and hot dogs than a specific tantalizing bite. This year was a little different.

 

There was very little meat to speak of – just a few slices of ham and prosciutto. Otherwise, Paul and I had a very relaxing fourth at Tanglewood in the Berkshires, sitting on a red, white and blue sheet, eating a random spread of foodage, and listening to the so-close-yet-very-far-away songs of James Taylor. Neither of us are particular fans of James Taylor, but my grandma gave us the tickets and the picnicking part sounded like a great way to spend an evening.
So I hastily packed our cooler with a few essentials – forks, a steak knife, a spoon, napkins, two empty Tupperware containers, and water. and we headed for the market.

 

 

There we picked up tomatoes, avocado, shallots, lemon, tortilla chips, prosciutto, ham, provolone, greek yogurt, bread (I know it’s not gluten-free this time), watermelon, basil, fresh mozzarella, and wine! I also snagged a few packets of salt and pepper – they usually have these in markets that have ready to foods. much easier than packing my shakers, and they’re free!With our strange assortment of edibles we drove on to the concert, parked on a crazy steep hill, found that everybody else had been there at least three hours before we arrived, and found a patch of grass behind two buildings to spread out, enjoy the view, and listen to the music from a far away stage. Oh and people watching! It was great.

 

 

Picnic blanket Guacamole:

1 avocado

1 shallot – cut into thin slices don’t worry about even slices if you’re in a park

½ a lemons juice

A handful of cherry tomatoes – cut in half

Two little packets of salt (about a tsp)

Two little packets of pepper (about a tsp)

 

Place all into a tuperware and shake until destroyed (in a good way)

Eat with tortilla chips or on a sandwich or just bread…or with a spoon.

 

Cut.

 

Combine.

 

Shake.

Eat.

 

A couple things to take note of from my “packing list” I forgot a cutting surface, so I ended up using the top of my Tupperware. I forgot plates, or any sort of eating surface, so we just did without. and I forgot cups, so I ended up sawing the top off of one of our water bottles after chugging the water and we drank our wine from the butt of the water bottle. I only travel and eat with class.

 

 

 

Quick awesome all-purpose dip/spread:

 

1 small container of greek yogurt

½ a lemons juice

1 little packet of salt (about ½ a tsp)

1 little packet of pepper (about ½ a tsp)

about 6 leaves of fresh basil – torn into strips/small pieces

 

combine all in a tuperware and shake until combined.

 

 

 

Park Pork Sandwich:

Crusty Bread

Provalone cheese slices

Black forest ham – nitrate free!

Prosciuto

awesome all-purpose dip/spread (see above)

Basil leaves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caprese Bites:

Fresh Mozzarella – any size is fine, if big, cut to bite sized pieces (in water is better here)

Bunch of fresh basil

Cherry tomatoes

Water – to rinse things that need it

 

Stack and eat.

 

 

 

Watermelon Salad:

pre-cut watermelon

Fresh Basil – torn into pieces

 

Open the container of cut watermelon. Sprinkle over the basil….yeah, that’s it.

 

 

 

Next time I might sprinkle just a little bit of salt on the watermelon to bring out more of the flavors. I am a big fan of salty-sweets. Otherwise this turned into a very memorable picnic! Of course you don’t have to make all of this in the park. I just enjoyed the challenge/didn’t plan ahead properly, but everything we made was very easy to put together and tasted fresher in the great outdoors!

 


It was a good day :)

 

ENJOY!

 

Parlez-Vous Francais?…yea me neither…yet

So Paul and I have been making strives to better ourselves, e.g. restarting the blog, Paul quitting a full-time job to work on other projects, cleaning, you get the idea.

 

 

One thing that I have always regretted is not being able to fluently speak another language – what’s worse is that if I had truly begun to learn a language, with any amount of dedication, when I first realized the thought to do so I would have been fluent in multiple languages by now! Alas, I am a procrastinator. Mais il y’a fini maintenant (“but that ends now” – that’s probably way off)

 

 

We are going to start french lessons, AND we are going to promote the “immersion” side of learning by hosting dinner parties at which all participants will only speak french.

 

 

I want to go back to France and speak to people with confidence. Oh, and eat lots of amazing food.

 

 

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!

Herb Butter

Butter. Butter. Butter. Butter.

 

I LOVE BUTTER!

 

And when you add greenery to butter it makes it healthy, right?… ok maybe not, but it certainly does make it extra irresistible. Now I’m not the first to create a flavored compound butter, but I will beep my own horn and say that this one is particularly tasty. The combination of herbs lightens the density and the zest brightens everything…you can almost fool yourself into believing it is healthy! Almost.

 

 

 

 

My Herby Butter:

A heaping tbsp of each – roughly chopped

Sage

Marjoram

Thyme

 

Heaping tsp each – roughly chopped:

Mint

Lemon zest

Rosemary

1 stick of unsalted butter – cut into 1” cubes

 

 

Combine all in a food processor (or smush all together with a fork) until the butter is whipped (soft, airy, and spreadable without being too melty)

 

Serve on warm bread sprinkled with coarse salt.

 

 

The herbs are fresh and summery, and the zest gives the unifying flavor that makes all these strong tastes meld together in yummy, buttery, harmony.

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

Roasted Salmon w/lovely Rosemary Potato Stacks and a Veggie Tureen w/Fresh Thyme

My garden is blooming!  Mostly Herbs and weeds, but you’ve got to start somewhere. This may sound incredibly corny, but there is something so exciting and wonderfully joyful in watching seeds begin to sprout up through the earth. It’s a raw sense of pride that I can’t seem to stop indulging in.  And until my veggies start producing I am more than satisfied to incorporate all of my fresh herbs into my meals.

 

With that in mind Paul and I had a simple, elegant, and herby supper last night. Roasted Salmon with lovely Rosemary Potato Stacks and a Veggie Tureen with Fresh Thyme.  This is an easy meal that looks beautiful and will impress everyone! Perfect for a warm evening dinner party or a romantic evening watching the first season of Game of Thrones…I know, we are way behind!

 

 

Potato Stacks on Rosemary Skewers:

 

1 large Idaho potato thinly slice
6 4” sprigs of fresh rosemary
6 tbsp’s olive oil – approx
Lemon zest
salt
pepper

 

Poke a hole roughly through the center of each potato slice (I used a sturdy straw and poked through stacks of about four potato slices – save the little potato discs!).  Line up the holes of about ten potato slices – you want the pieces to be poking out randomly, just make sure the holes are in line so you can skewer the stack with ease. Force a sprig of rosemary through the top of each potato stack pulling so that about an inch in left sticking out of the top. Cut the bottom of the rosemary so that ½ an inch is sticking out of the bottom. Drizzle each stack with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and a little lemon zest, and crack over some black pepper.

 

Bake on a parchment lined cookie sheet at 375’ F for about 45 minutes or until the potatoes are golden and crispy.

 

 

 

Veggie Tureen:

 

2 Vine tomatoes – sliced ¼ inch thick across the belly, then sliced in half
1 largish zucchini – sliced ¼ inch thick
a handful of fresh thyme – I have both lemon and yellow thyme in my garden so I used both, but any fresh thyme with work
coarse salt
pepper

 

Coat the bottom of a pie dish/tureen/casserole dish/whatever you want really with olive oil. Starting around the outside edge begin alternating layers of zucchini (I always start with zucchini) and tomato, continue around the whole dish – don’t pack them in too tightly, you want to make sure you have enough for the whole dish. For the next row continue the same pattern, but in the opposite direction (purely visual).

 

 

Once the dish is prepped to your liking decorate the “seems” between the rows and along the edges with sprigs of thyme, also jam a little bouquet in the very center – push this part down, the other sprigs can just rest on top. Drizzle the whole thing with olive oil, crack some pepper and sprinkle with salt.

Bake at 375’ F for about 45 minutes or until the veggies are nice and browned and perfectly roasted – shrunken, but not mush.

 

 

 

Baked Salmon with Rosemary, Lemon Zest and Potato Dots:

 

2 pieces boneless salmon – about ½ pound each. I keep the skin on, but either way
about a tbsp Lemon Zest
Reserved potato dots from the potato stacks
salt and pepper
a few rosemary leaves

 

Place the salmon, skin-side down, on the parchment lined cookie sheet next to the potato stacks. Generously salt and pepper each piece. Sprinkle with lemon zest. Randomly scatter the potato dots over the top. Scatter the rosemary leaves around and on top of the salmon.

 

Place the cookie sheet in the oven at 375’ F, with the salmon towards the back and the potatoes towards the door of the oven, for about 45 minutes or until the salmon is just firm and nice and crispy on top.

 

 

The beauty of this meal is that everything goes into the oven together and finishes at the same time. Easy Peasy and oh so tasty!

 

ENJOY!