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Black Bean Puree

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Author note: This recipe is the perfect make-ahead dish. It can be stored in the fridge for three to four days. It is a versatile recipe — serve it as a side dish, a condiment for tacos, a dip for tortilla chips or as a soup with spicy garlic shrimp on the side. Use less liquid for a bean dip or more liquid to serve it as soup. This recipe was inspired by Food and Wine Magazine’s Sherried Black Bean Soup.

1 ½ cups of dried black beans

2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

1 green bell pepper, core removed and rough chopped

½ yellow onion, rough chopped

1 teaspoon of oregano

1 teaspoon of paprika

1 ½ teaspoon of cumin

1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt (or 2 teaspoons if you prefer beans a little salty)

½ teaspoon of red wine vinegar

½ bunch of cilantro, chopped three to four times

  1. Rinse and sort the beans to remove any undesirable pieces. Then, in a large pan, soak the beans with 8 cups of cold water for 6 to 8 hours or overnight and cover with a lid.
  2. Drain the beans and then rinse with cold water. Place the beans back into the pan and cover with 6 cups of water.
  3. Bring the beans to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer the beans with the lid tilted for 1 ½ hours or until soft. Stir occasionally and , if necessary, add water to keep the beans submerged.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a medium-sized skillet. Add the pepper, onion and salt and saute until the vegetables are softened, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  5. Once the vegetables are softened add the oregano, paprika and cumin to the pan. Stir in the spices to evenly cover and coat the vegetables. Cook for an additional 2 to 4 minutes or until fragrant.
  6. When the beans are finished cooking and are soft and tender, drain all but 1 ½ cups of cooking liquid.
  7. Add the cooked vegetables, cilantro and red wine vinegar. With an immersion blender (or a food processor or blender) puree the beans until smooth.
  8. Once the beans are smooth, add the vinegar and heat through at a low heat for five minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent the beans from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  9. Salt to taste and serve warm.

Garlic Fried Cabbage

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2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, chopped

8 cups of shredded cabbage

3/4 teaspoon of kosher salt

2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar

  1. Heat the olive oil and garlic in a large sauce over medium-low heat. Cook until lightly golden, but not browned, about 8 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  2. Add the cabbage, salt and red wine vinegar to the sauce pan. Stir the cabbage to coat well with the garlic oil.
  3. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the cabbage has slightly softened but is still crunchy. Salt to taste and serve warm.

Baked Ricotta and Mascarpone with Sugared Raspberries

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15-16 oz of ricotta

½ cup of mascarpone

1 egg

½ teaspoon of vanilla extract

pinch of salt

½ cup of sugar, plus more for sprinkling raspberries

½ cup of raspberries (or more to your liking), chopped

  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Meanwhile, place the ricotta in a sieve, and drain over a bowl for 30 minutes.
  3. Chop the raspberries and lightly sprinkle with sugar. Stir well to coat the raspberries and chill in the fridge.
  4. Add the drained ricotta, masacarpone, egg, vanilla extract, salt and sugar into a bowl. Whip until combined with a stand mixer or hand held mixer.
  5. Pour the mixture into a baking dish, like a pie pan, souffle dish or gratin dish. Cook in the oven for 50-55 minutes or until the cheese is golden and barely jiggly.
  6. Remove from the oven and cool. Once the baked ricotta has cooled, cover with the sugared raspberries and serve with vanilla wafer cookies, toasted bread or by itself. If planning on serving later, store in the fridge until ready to use and serve chilled.

Green Onion Bacon Dip

  • Servings: servings vary
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2 cups of green onions, rough chopped

½ cup of chives, rough chopped

juice of half a lemon

12 oz of cream cheese, at room temperature

1 cup of cream

zest of one lemon

½ teaspoon of kosher salt

1 pound of bacon

chives, finely chopped (for topping)

  1. In a food processor, puree the green onions, chives and lemon juice.
  2. With a stand mixer or hand held mixer, whip the cream cheese until smooth.
  3. Next, while mixing the cream cheese, slowly pour in the cream.
  4. Finally, add the onion and chive puree, lemon zest and salt to the cream cheese mixture. Mix well to combine.
  5. Line a sieve with a few layers of cheese cloth (with excess hanging over the sieve). Pour the dip into the sieve, cover with the with the excess cloth and place over a small bowl. Chill over night.
  6. The following day, cook the bacon until crispy and set aside on a paper towel lined plate.
  7. Once the bacon has cooled, chop it into bite sized chunks.
  8. Remove the dip from the fridge, and uncover. Take the desired serving plate and place it on top of the sieve (make sure to align the sieve in the center of the serving plate). Holding both pieces together, carefully flip the sieve upside down (recruit a helping hand the first time you do this, it makes it easier). The dip will fall onto the serving plate. Remove the cheese cloth.
  9. In large handfuls, cover the exposed surface of the dip with bacon. Continue this process until the entire cheese ball is coated. Sprinkle with chives. Serve chilled with tortilla chips or crackers.

Beer Braised Short Ribs

  • Servings: servings vary
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Author note: This sandwich recipe is a non-recipe. The amount it serves depends on the amount of short ribs leftovers. If you choose to create this sandwich as a meal instead of leftovers, the short ribs recipe link is provided.

beer braised short ribs (click here for recipe), fat removed

bread slices

dijon mustard

fresh arugula

manchego cheese (or whatever cheese is available), thinly sliced or shredded

sriracha (or a favorite hot sauce)

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Meanwhile, lightly toast the bread and slightly warm the short ribs.
  3. Spread the dijon on one side of one piece of bread. Place the cheese on the remaining piece of bread and melt in the oven.
  4. Once the cheese is melted, remove the bread from the oven and spread the sriracha liberally over the melted cheese.
  5. Put the warmed short ribs on the dijon side of the bread and then top with arugula.
  6. Place the two pieces together and enjoy.

Beer Braised Short Ribs

  • Servings: 5-6 servings
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4 ½ pounds of bone-in short ribs

2 tablespoons of canola oil

3 teaspoons of kosher salt

½ cup of shallots, chopped

¼ cup of carrots, chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tablespoons of tomato paste

2 12 oz bottles of light amber beer

¼ cup of brown sugar

1 tablespoon of dijon mustard

½ teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce

2 bay leaves

  1. One hour before cooking, remove the meat from the fridge.
  2. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. With 2 ½ teaspoons of salt, evenly season the short ribs on all sides.
  4. In a large dutch oven, heat the oil over high on the stove top. Once hot add the short ribs and brown for 3 minutes per side, for a total of 6 minutes, and set aside. This should be done in two batches.
  5. Lower the heat to medium low and remove the dutch oven from the heat. Add the shallots, carrots and garlic and continue to cook off the heat for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the dutch oven back to the stove top and add the tomato paste and heat for 2 minutes. While cooking the tomato paste, smash it to make sure it is all being cooked.
  7. Add ½ cup of the beer to the paste and deglaze the pan. Once the brown bits are scraped from the pan, add the sugar, dijon, Worcestershire, bay leaves and the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt. Mix well.
  8. Place the short ribs back into the dutch oven. Pour the remaining contents of the 12 oz beer plus an additional ¼ cup of the second bottle, or more if needed, to submerge the short ribs just over halfway.
  9. Bring the beer mixture to a boil, cover the dutch oven and place in the oven.
  10. Cook for 350 degrees for 3 hours. Serve warm.

Have leftovers? Click here for leftover recipe idea.

The Four Basics of Avocado Crema

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There is no exact science to avocado crema. It sounds like a difficult task, but in actuality it can be as simple as a refrigerator clean out.

What you need:

  1. avocados
  2. salt
  3. creamy dairy product (whipping cream, sour cream, crème fraiche, plain yogurt, etc.)
  4. fresh lime juice

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To make the crema, first add the avocado and mash with a fork or potato masher. Then combine the remaining three ingredients. Once the four items are thoroughly mixed, add these extras if more flavor is desired.

Optional additions:

chopped cilantro

chopped serrano or jalapeno peppers

cayenne

cumin

chili powder

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Avocado crema is a versatile condiment. It can be paired with a variety of dishes, such as:

avocado toast

leftovers taquitos

tacos

dip with tortilla chips or vegetables

cornmeal chicken pepper soup

sandwiches (turkey, chicken, vegetarian)

runny egg

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The possibilities with avocado crema are endless. All that’s left is the confidence to walk into the kitchen, combine the four basic ingredients and experiment with the components available. Taste that bad boy until you can’t stop eating it, because that’s when the avocado crema is finished.

Lavender Orange Fizzy

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Author note: This is the perfect afternoon treat. The light and sweet lavender orange syrup is a delightful partner for fizzy bubbles.

1 cup of sparkling mineral water

2 tablespoons of lavender orange syrup (click here for recipe)

1 orange slice

  1. Pour the sparkling water into a glass (with or without ice) and then add the syrup. Stir to combine. Serve chilled and with an orange slice.

Chilled Avocado and Cucumber Soup

  • Servings: 4-6 servings
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Author note: This is a refreshing and filling soup. It is packed with protein and can easily be adjusted to be dairy free. If the soup needs to be served immediately and there is not time to chill, add a few pieces of crushed ice. Add a ¼ teaspoon of ground coriander if you would like a sweet note to the soup. If you desire to add more protein to the soup, it is delicious topped with a diced boiled egg or a side of spicy grilled shrimped.

2 avocados, pulp removed

1 English cucumber, peeled and chopped

¼ of a red onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, halved

¾ cup of unsweetened coconut milk

¾ cup of plain yogurt

¼ cup of packed cilantro

1 cup of water

juice of 1 lime

½ teaspoon of cumin

1 ¼ teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon of cayenne

lime wedges, for topping

chopped cilantro, for topping

  1. Place all ingredients except toppings into a food processor. Puree until smooth.
  2. Store in the fridge until chilled. Serve cold topped with chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime.

Oven Baked Mushroom Farro Risotto

  • Servings: 6-8 servings
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Author note: While this is not the traditional process to cook risotto, it still yields a satisfying and risotto-like dish. Shiitake mushrooms are one of my favorite varieties of mushroom and they work very well. Porcini mushrooms are another variety that would make a great addition to this recipe. If there are leftovers, the risotto is delicious when reheated with a little bit of water or chicken stock and topped with a runny egg.

2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

1 large shallot, chopped

3 tablespoons of butter

8 ounces of shiitake mushrooms, chopped

1 ½ teaspoons of kosher salt

1 ½ cups of farro

½ cup of dry white wine

3 cups of chicken stock

1/3 cup of grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons of crème fraiche

10 sage leaves, chopped

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large flat bottom pan, add the shallots and cook until softened, about 3 minutes.
  3. Next, add 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan. Once the butter is melted, place the mushrooms and salt into the skillet. Saute until the mushrooms have released their liquid and have reabsorbed it.
  4. Pour the farro into the skillet and stir well to combine. Be sure to coat the farro with the oil and butter. Toast the farro for about 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Next, add the white wine and allow the farro to absorb it.
  6. Pour the chicken stock into the pan, increase the heat to high and bring to a rolling boil.
  7. Cover the pan and place into the oven and cook for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the farro has absorbed all but ½ cup of liquid in the pan. Stir once.
  8. Remove the farro from the oven, add the remaining tablespoon of butter, Parmesan cheese, crème fraiche and sage leaves. Stir well, salt to taste and serve warm.

Cornmeal Chicken Pepper Soup

  • Servings: 6-7 servings
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Author note: The addition of cornmeal makes this soup heartier than your average soup. While this soup may appear to be spicy, it has only a low heat element. This soup is a perfect make-ahead meal because it reheats nicely. If you prefer a meatless soup, omit the chicken and top with a runny egg.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 jalapeno or serrano, seeded and quartered

1 garlic clove, quartered

1 4 oz can hatch green chiles

1 small yellow onion, quartered

1 green bell pepper, seeded and quarted

2 red bell peppers, seeded

1 14 oz can of unsalted diced tomatoes

2 ¼ teaspoons of kosher salt

½ teaspoon of oregano

2 teaspoons of cumin

2 teaspoons of chili powder

1 bay leaf

6 cups of low-sodium chicken stock

2/3 cup of cornmeal

3 cups of roasted chicken, shredded and chopped

cilantro, chopped, for topping

plain yogurt or sour cream, for topping

lime wedges, for topping

  1. Place the olive oil in a large pan and bring to medium-high heat.
  2. Meanwhile, in a food processor puree the jalapeno (or serrano), garlic, green chiles, onion, green bell pepper and 1 quartered red bell pepper.
  3. Add the pureed vegetables to the heated oil and cook for 10 minutes.
  4. While the vegetables cook, seed and dice the remaining red bell pepper.
  5. Add the diced bell pepper to the pureed vegetables and cook until tender (about 3 minutes)
  6. Next add the tomatoes, salt, oregano, cumin, chili powder and bay leaf to the pureed vegetables. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  7. Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes.
  8. Remove 2 cups of the soup to a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal into the hot soup, whisk well.
  9. Slowly whisk the cornmeal mixture back into the soup. Whisk the soup until the soup is smooth and there are no cornmeal clumps.
  10. Simmer on low for 30 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent the cornmeal from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  11. With 10 minutes remaining, place the shredded chicken into the soup and heat through.
  12. Top with cilantro, sour cream and spritz of fresh lime juice. Serve warm.

Sriracha Coleslaw

  • Servings: 6 to 8 servings
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Author note: This is a spicy and satisfying vegetable side. I do not shred the broccoli stems and carrots, I use a packaged mix from Trader Joe’s. If you are feeling ambitious feel free to chop the veggies yourself.

4 cups of shredded cabbage

4 cups of shredded broccoli stems and shredded carrots

1 cup of radishes, thinly sliced and slivered

½ cup of cilantro, roughly chopped

2 teaspoons of dijon mustard

2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar

4 tablespoons of sriracha

juice of 1 lime

¾ teaspoon of salt

¼ teaspoon of granulated garlic

3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

  1. Combine the cabbage, broccoli, carrots, radishes and cilantro in a large bowl and mix well.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl add the mustard, red wine vinegar, sriracha, lime juice, salt and granulated garlic. Whisk well until combined.
  3. Next, slowly whisk the olive oil into the sriracha dressing (a few drops one drip at a time and then a steady stream). Whisk until well combined.
  4. Pour the dressing on top of the coleslaw and mix well. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Pea and Prosciutto Crostini

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Author note: This recipe makes a large portion of pea puree. There will be leftovers after the crostini are made.

2 tablespoons of unsalted butter

½ cup of leeks, thinly sliced (about 1 to 2 leeks)

3 tablespoons of celery, chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

¼ teaspoon of kosher salt

4 tablespoons of crème fraiche, at room temperature

1 ½ cups of peas (fresh or frozen)

8 oz thinly sliced prosciutto, cut or torn in half

french baguette, sliced into thin pieces

fresh lemon zest

  1. Over medium heat melt the butter in small skillet and continue to cook until its browned.
  2. Add the garlic clove to the browned butter and cook for about 1 minute, stirring frequently.
  3. Next, add the leeks, celery and salt to the skillet and continue to cook, until softened, about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once cooked, set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to a boil.
  5. Add the peas to the boiling water and cook until tender, about 1 ½ to 2 minutes.
  6. Drain the water from the peas and place the peas into a food processor.
  7. Add the crème fraiche and the cooked vegetables to the peas.
  8. Puree the peas to your desired consistency.
  9. Meanwhile lightly toast the slices of bread.
  10. Place two pieces of prosciutto on each slice of bread, spread a large dollop of pea puree atop the meat and then top with fresh lemon zest.
  11. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Salty Crispy Chicken with Balsamic Roasted Vegetables

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Author note: This recipe is the perfect weeknight meal because it takes about 20 minutes to prep and 40 minutes to cook. Bone-in and skin-on chicken breasts are mandatory for this recipe. The cook time allows for a properly cooked bone-in chicken breasts and the vegetables are flavored with the drippings from the chicken skin. This recipe was not designed for boneless skinless chicken breast and will not yield the proper results with it. If you desire just Salty Crunchy Chicken, omit the vegetables, cook as instructed and serve with chopped parsley on top.

for the chicken

4 bone-in and skin-on chicken breasts

2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

3 teaspoons of kosher salt

 

for the vegetables

2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

1 ¼ teaspoon of kosher salt

½ teaspoon of dried thyme

1 teaspoon of extra-virgin olive oil

¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes (optional)

1 red onion, cut into eighths (or yellow onion)

1 ½ cups of fingerling potatoes

1 lb brussels sprouts, ends removed and halved

1 lemon, quartered

  1. Thirty minutes before roasting, remove the chicken from the fridge.
  2. Heat the oven to 425 degrees.
  3. In a large bowl, add the balsamic vinegar, salt and thyme. Stir well to combine. Next, add the extra-virgin olive oil to the vinegar mixture.
  4. Next, add the onion, potatoes, brussels sprouts and lemons into the balsamic olive oil mixture.
  5. Separate the skin from the chicken, while still keeping the skin attached to the meat. Evenly distribute half of the salt onto the 4 chicken breasts, under the skin. Place the skin back over the meat.
  6. Next, evenly coat the chicken breasts with the olive oil and season the chicken with the remaining 1 ½ teaspoons of salt.
  7. Spread the vegetables evenly onto a large foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.
  8. Take two cooling racks and place them over the vegetables. Put the chicken breasts on the cooling rack and cook for 33 minutes (or until the thickest part of the chicken reaches 165 degrees).
  9. Remove the chicken from the oven, place onto a platter and cover with foil. Let the vegetables continue to roast for an additional 5-10 minutes while the chicken rests.
  10. Spoon the vegetables onto the platter and pour the drippings over the vegetables. Serve warm with the chicken.

Southern Sangria

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¾ cup of bourbon

2 12 oz bottles of hard apple cider

½ teaspoon of Angostura bitters

½ of one apple, cut into bite-sized pieces

½ of one orange, thinly sliced and quartered

  1. Place the fruit in a large glass pitcher.
  2. Pour the cider, bourbon and bitters into the pitcher. Stir well and place in the fridge.
  3. Let the sangria marinate for at least 6 hours before serving. Pour the sangria over over ice cubes and serve cold.

Chive and Cheese Frittata

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Author note: I used to resort to the “flip” method of frittatas until I read Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. Hazan preferred the “non-flip” method that simply leaves the frittata in the oven until it is completely cooked. I have since resorted to this method. Also, I don’t find it necessary to have a non-stick pan to have a successful frittata. With enough butter or olive oil to coat the skillet, the frittata comes out nicely. Finally, don’t be afraid to eat this anytime of the day– breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s great with crusty bread and a nice salad.

5 eggs

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ cup of chives, chopped

¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Meanwhile, place the eggs and salt in a medium size bowl and lightly beat.
  3. Next, add the chives and cheese. Lightly beat to incorporate. Set aside.
  4. In an 8-inch skillet, melt the butter on the stovetop. Once melted, swirl the butter around the pan to coat the bottom and sides.
  5. Add the egg mixture into the skillet and then place in the oven.
  6. Cook for 16 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked all the way through. Run a spatula carefully around the edges of the frittata to loosen it from the pan. Slide onto a cutting board, slice and serve.

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

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Author note: I have been making this soup for close to 10 years now. It is one of those recipes that doesn’t take much time to prep or cook. It’s the perfect weeknight soup. Serve it with a gooey grilled cheese and life will be bliss. If the 1 cup of heavy cream makes you squirm, feel free to use ½ cup of cream and ½ cup of whole milk, however, it won’t be as rich.

1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon of butter

14 basil leaves, bundled and tightly tied

1 sprig of rosemary

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 shallot, finely diced

1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes

2 teaspoons of kosher salt

1 cup of heavy cream (or ½ cup cream and ½ cup whole milk)

2 tablespoons of crème fraiche

½ teaspoon of red wine vinegar

  1. In a large pan heat the extra-virgin olive oil and butter on medium-low heat. Melt the butter.
  2. Add the basil, rosemary and garlic cloves to the pan and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Bring the heat to medium and add the shallots, cook until softened, about 1 minute.
  4. Next, add the crushed tomatoes and 2 teaspoons of salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to low. Gently simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Remove the basil, rosemary and garlic.
  6. Add the cream, crème fraiche and red wine vinegar. Stir well to incorporate the flavors.
  7. Let the soup continue to simmer on low for another 5 to 10 minutes. Salt to taste and serve warm.

Brown Sugar, Olive Oil and Red Wine Roasted Pears

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Author note: These pears are delicious as a salty and sweet dessert or, when sliced, as a nice salad topper.

½ cup of brown sugar

3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons of dry red wine

¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract

pinch of kosher salt

3 Bosc pears, peeled, halved and cored

½ lemon

Pecorino Romano cheese, sliced into thin bite-sized pieces

kosher salt, for topping

honey, for topping

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl combine the brown sugar, olive oil, wine, vanilla extract and pinch of salt. Stir well to combine
  3. Once the pears are peeled, halved and cored, rub the exposed flesh with the lemon half. This is to prevent browning.
  4. Add the pears to the sugar mixture and thoroughly coat the pears.
  5. Place the pears in a baking dish and pour half of the brown sugar mixture over the pears. Reserve the other half for after roasting.
  6. Roast for 40 minutes.
  7. Place the pears back into the sugar mixture and coat well. Remove the pears, top with a sprinkling of kosher salt, drizzles of honey and Pecorino. Serve warm.

Creamy Potato, Shiitake Mushroom and Rosemary Soup

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Author note: When cooking with shiitake mushrooms the stalk needs to be removed from the cap. Once the two pieces are separated, the cap is diced and cooked while the stalk can be boiled for a nice mushroom broth. The instructions for the broth are detailed below the soup recipe.

4 tablespoons of unsalted butter

2 leeks, halved and thinly sliced (white parts only, about 1 cup)

3 sprigs of rosemary, bundled and tied

¼ cup of finely chopped celery (about ½ a stalk)

½ cup of finely chopped carrots (about 1 carrot)

½ teaspoon of kosher salt

3 cups of shiitake mushrooms, cut into bite sized pieces

1/3 cup of white wine

8 cups of beef broth (*7 cups if also using mushroom broth)

4 parsley stems, bundled and tied

3 cups of Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks

pinch of nutmeg

½ cup of cream

1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar

½ cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

chopped parsley for topping

  1. In a large dutch oven heat 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the leeks and rosemary, cook until softened, about 4 minutes.
  2. Next, add the celery, carrots and salt. Cook for an additional 3 minutes.
  3. Add 1 additional tablespoon of butter and let melt. Place the mushrooms into the pan and saute.
  4. Pour the wine into the vegetables and and deglaze until the wine reduces by half.
  5. Pour the beef stock and mushroom broth* (if using) into the pan. Then place the parsley stems, potatoes and nutmeg into the soup and bring to a boil. Cover and cook until the potatoes are soft, about 20 to 30 minutes.
  6. Remove the rosemary and parsley stems
  7. Optional: remove 3 cups of the soup (more potato and mushroom than broth) and puree in a food processor. Pour the pureed soup back into dutch oven with the remaining soup.
  8. Add the cream and vinegar to the soup. Allow to simmer at a gentle heat for another 20 minutes.
  9. Swirl in the remaining tablespoon of butter and then add the cheese. Mix well, top with parsley and serve.

*Mushroom Broth: Remove mushroom stalks and place in a small sauce pan on the stove top. Cover with about 1 ½ cups of water, bring to a boil and lower heat to medium. Reduce liquid to ½ cup. Remove stalks from the broth. This will create a broth that will add more mushroom flavor in the soup.

Sparkling Whiskey with Lavender Orange Syrup

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Author note: Prosecco and sparkling rosé are the bubble options in this drink. I could not make up my mind which I preferred because my mood (and food) at the moment dictates what sounds good. Both are tasty. However, if you are not a fan of rosé, like my husband, then opt for the Prosecco.

4 oz of sparkling rosé  or Prosecco

1 oz of whiskey

½ oz of lavender orange syrup (or more to taste)

  1. In a glass, pour the whiskey over one large ice cube (or three to four small ice cubes). Top with the sparkling rose and lavender orange syrup. Gently stir.

Lavender Orange Syrup

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Author note: This syrup is sweet and fresh. It pairs nicely with iced tea, cocktails or sparkling water.

1 cup of water

¼ cup of fresh orange juice

1 cup of sugar

5 lavender branches

  1. In a small pan, bring the water, juice and sugar to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and add the lavender.
  3. Steep the lavender for five minutes.
  4. Strain the syrup through a sieve into bowl. Store the syrup in the fridge in an airtight container.

Seared Scallops with White Wine Lemon Pan Sauce

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Author note: Scallops do not take long to cook. However, in order to achieve a good brown sear on the scallop, they should be patted dry before cooking and the pan must be extremely hot.

6-8 large sea scallops

1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt

2 tablespoons of butter

¼ cup of dry white wine

juice of half a lemon

  1. In a large skillet, melt the butter over high heat.
  2. Pat the scallops dry and season with salt.
  3. Once the skillet is very hot, add the scallops. Cook for 1 ½ minutes on one side. Turn the scallops over and cook for an additional 1 ½ minutes.
  4. Remove the scallops to a plate and turn the heat down to medium-high. Add the wine and scrape up all the bits. Let it reduce for one minute.
  5. Next, add the lemon juice and continue to reduce the sauce by half.
  6. Place the scallops on top of browned butter, celery and leek pea puree, drizzle the scallops with the pan sauce and top with breadcrumb gremolata. Serve immediately.

Breadcrumb Gremolata

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Author note: This recipe is adapted from Food52’s Gremolata Breadcrumb.

2 tablespoons of butter

½ cup of panko breadcrumbs

zest of 1 lemon

1 small garlic clove, finely chopped

1 packed tablespoon of chopped parsley

kosher salt

  1. In a small skillet over medium low heat, melt the butter.
  2. Add the breadcrumbs and toast until golden, stirring occasionally.
  3. Next, add the garlic and cook for one minute, stirring constantly to prevent burning.
  4. Remove from the heat and add the parsley, zest and big pinch of kosher salt. Stir well to combine. Serve on top of browned butter, celery and leek pea puree or seared scallops.

Browned Butter, Celery and Leek Pea Purée

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2 tablespoons of unsalted butter

½ cup of leeks, thinly sliced (about 1 to 2 leeks)

3 tablespoons of celery, chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

¼ teaspoon of kosher salt

4 tablespoons of crème fraiche, at room temperature

1 ½ cups of peas (fresh or frozen)

  1. Over medium heat melt the butter in small skillet and continue to cook until its browned.
  2. Add the garlic clove to the browned butter and cook for about 1 minute, stirring frequently.
  3. Next, add the leeks, celery and salt to the skillet and continue to cook, until softened, about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once cooked, set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to a boil.
  5. Add the peas to the boiling water and cook until tender, about 1 ½ to 2 minutes.
  6. Drain the water from the peas and place the peas into a food processor.
  7. Add the crème fraiche and the cooked vegetables to the peas.
  8. Puree the peas to your desired consistency. Top with breadcrumb gremolata and serve warm.

Rose Meringue Cookies

  • Servings: 36-42 cookies
  • Print

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Author note: Rose extract can be found at specialty stores (like Sur La Table or Williams-Sonoma) or online.

4 egg whites

¼ teaspoon of cream of tartar

1 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon of rose extract

½ teaspoon of vanilla extract

powder sugar

  1. Heat the oven to 250 degrees
  2. With an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar with the whipping attachment on medium-high.
  3. Once the egg whites are stiff (about 10 minutes) quickly pour in the sugar and both extracts.
  4. Continue to beat for one minute.
  5. Pipe or spoon the mixture into 1 ½ inch dollops onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
  6. Next, using a sieve, sprinkle the top of the the cookies with powder sugar.
  7. Place the baking sheets in the top and bottom thirds of the oven. Cook for 30 minutes.
  8. After 30 minutes rotate the baking sheets and cook for an additional 30 minutes.
  9. After a total of one hour, turn the heat off and leave the cookies in the oven for at least 2 hours or until the oven is cooled.
  10. Remove from the oven and serve by themselves or with vanilla bean whipped cream.
  11. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.

Chicken Enchiladas

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Author note: I was introduced to these enchiladas when I began to date my husband. My mother-in-law grew up eating chicken enchiladas on Christmas Eve and passed the tradition on to her family. After getting married, my husband and I adopted the recipe and adapted it to our lifestyle. These enchiladas represent comfort food. However, they are a labor of love. To make the process less labor intensive, you can use store bought roasted chicken and salsa, however, the flavor won’t be as memorable. I implore you to use the homemade cream of chicken.

Please see the * below for reheating and individual enchilada instructions.

3 cups of homemade cream of chicken (click here for recipe)

1 ¼ cups of sour cream, at room temperature

1 ½ cups of homemade salsa (click here for recipe)

4 oz of chopped hatch green chiles (canned or fresh)

2 ½ teaspoons of kosher salt

1 teaspoon of cumin

¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper (more to taste)

2 15 oz can black beans, drained

2 cups of corn (fresh or frozen)

4 cups of shredded roasted chicken (click here for the recipe)

1 bag of shredded cheese blend

corn tortillas

paprika or cayenne, for topping

cilantro leaves, chopped

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large pan combine the cream of chicken, sour cream, salsa, chiles, salt, cumin and cayenne. I use the same large pan where the cream of chicken is made. Heat slowly on medium low.
  3. Next add the black beans, corn and chicken. Lower the heat to low and heat through.
  4. In a skillet, heat up the corn tortillas, one or two at a time, on low. Begin to layer the bottom of a 9×12 baking pan with the heated tortillas.
  5. Once a there is one layer of tortillas, add two to three hearty ladlefuls of the chicken mixture. Be sure to evenly spread the mixture over the tortillas.
  6. Next, add a generous layer of shredded cheese.
  7. Repeat steps 4-6 one more time.
  8. Sprinkle paprika or cayenne powder on top of the enchiladas and place in the oven. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and the enchiladas are heated nicely.
  9. Top with the cilantro and serve warm.

*Make-Ahead Instructions

  1. Construct the enchiladas as instructed above. Cover tightly and place in the fridge.
  2. Bring the enchiladas to room temperature before baking.
  3. Place the enchiladas in a 350 degree oven and heat through (about 30 to 45 minutes).

*Individual Serving Instructions

  1. Follow the instructions until step 4.
  2. In a skillet, heat one corn tortilla on low. Cut the tortilla into individual strips and layer the bottom of a individual sized and oven safe bowl. Use about ½ to ¾ of the tortilla.
  3. Pour a few spoonfuls of enchilada mix on top of the tortilla strips and top with shredded cheese.
  4. Repeat this process one more time. Sprinkle paprika or cayenne on top of the enchilada.
  5. Heat in a 350 oven for about 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and the enchiladas are nicely heated.
  6. Top with cilantro and serve warm.

Salsa

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3 14.5 oz cans of unsalted diced tomatoes, drained (or fresh tomatoes in the summer)

1 bunch of cilantro, leaves removed from stalks (chop the leafy head off the bottom stalks)

½ medium sized yellow onion, cut into four pieces

1 garlic clove, rough chopped

1 serrano pepper, seeded and chopped

1 ½ teaspoons of kosher salt

3 teaspoons of cumin

¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper (more for extra heat)

1 ½ teaspoon of chili powder

juice of ½ lime (or more to taste)

  1. Combine all ingredients into a food processor or blender. Pulse until the salsa is a chunky texture or the desired consistency.

Cream of Chicken

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Author note: I grew up eating many recipes that contained the obligatory canned cream of chicken. This recipe is my homemade substitution for that ingredient. I opted for garlic and onion powder instead of the actual vegetables to create a more smooth final product. Feel free to use the vegetables if you choose to. I use this recipe specifically for Chicken Enchiladas. Feel free to use it as a substitution for recipes that call for cream of chicken.

5 tablespoons of unsalted butter

¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup of whole milk

½ cup of cream

2 cups of chicken stock

¼ teaspoon of garlic powder

1 teaspoon of kosher salt

pinch of onion powder

  1. Gently warm the whole milk, cream and chicken stock. (I place mine in a large glass measuring cup and heat for 2 minutes in the microwave)
  2. In a large pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once melted, add the flour, one tablespoon at a time, constantly whisking. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until lightly golden, but not browned.
  3. Slowly pour the chicken stock mixture into the roux, about ½ cup at a time, whisking constantly. Stir the mixture until it thickens (about 10 minutes). Be sure to stir continually or the flour will stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.
  4. Remove the pan off the heat and add the garlic powder, kosher salt and onion powder. Stir well.

Chocolate and Espresso Panna Cotta

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Author note: One lovely aspect of this dessert is how the espresso settles to the bottom of the bowls for a nice smooth espresso layer.

4 cups of heavy cream (1 quart)

¾ cups of granulated sugar

1 tablespoon of gelatin (a little less than two packages)

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

2 tablespoons of instant espresso powder

2 tablespoons of cocoa powder

vanilla bean whipped cream, for topping (click here for recipe)

  1. Pour the cream into a large pan. Then, sprinkle the gelatin on top of the cream. Do not stir. Let it dissolve for 10 minutes.
  2. Next, place the pan on the stove-top and turn the heat to medium. Begin to stir the mixture.
  3. Once the cream is warm, add the sugar, vanilla extract, espresso powder and cocoa powder. Do not let the mixture boil.
  4. Continually stir the cream until the gelatin, espresso and cocoa powder dissolves completely. It will look clumpy at first, but do not fear. Continue to stir until the cream is smooth.
  5. Pour the cooked cream through a fine sieve over a large bowl (the sieve is to catch bits of cocoa powder that did not dissolve properly). Ladle the panna cotta into individual 8 oz. ramekins or keep in the bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least four to six hours before serving.
  6. Once the panna cotta is set, serve cold and top with vanilla bean whipped cream.

Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream

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Author note: About three and a half years ago I made a delicious whipped mint crème fraiche from Food and Wine Magazine. I fell in love with this topping. This recipe evolved from my love of the whipped crème fraiche. Also, if vanilla beans are not handy, feel free to just use vanilla extract. This topping is perfect for panna cotta, pudding, coffee, cakes, pies and fruit. It’s not too sweet but not too plain. This whipped cream can be made up to 24 hours in advance.

1 cup of cream

1/2 cup of crème fraiche

3 teaspoons of sugar

seeds from 1 vanilla bean

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

  1. Place a stainless steel bowl (or the preferred mixing bowl) in the fridge and let chill for 15 minutes.
  2. Once the bowl is chilled, remove it from the fridge and place all ingredients in the bowl.
  3. With a whipping attachment, whip the cream mixture on medium until peeks form.
  4. Place in an airtight container and keep in the fridge until ready to use.

Buffalo Chicken Nachos with Buttermilk Ranch Sour Cream Drizzle

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Author note: This recipe is a non-recipe. The ingredients are listed, however the amount of chicken, chips, cheese and toppings is really up to you. The buffalo sauce is adapted from Alton Brown’s Buffalo Wing Sauce. Read this article from the January 2013 issue of Bon Appetit. It perfectly explains what a plate of nachos should be like.

For the nachos:

canola spray

roasted chicken, shredded (click here for recipe)

thick tortilla chips

shredded three cheese blend

For the toppings:

fresh cilantro leaves, lightly chopped

red onion, diced

radishes, thinly sliced

buffalo sauce (see recipe below)

buttermilk ranch sour cream drizzle (see recipe below)

  1. Heat an oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray with canola oil.
  3. Make one even layer of chips on the baking sheet and top with chicken. Next, add a generous amount of cheese (and I mean a lot of cheese). Repeat this step one more time (think lasagna).
  4. Place the nachos in the oven and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is nicely melted and slightly browned.
  5. Remove from the oven and top to your liking the red onions, radishes, cilantro, buffalo sauce and sour cream drizzle.

 

For the buttermilk ranch sour cream drizzle:

½ cup of Buttermilk Ranch Dip (click here for recipe)

water

  1. In a small bowl add the buttermilk ranch dip and water (1 tablespoon of water at a time) until the dip is a nice drizzly consistency.

For the buffalo sauce:

Author note: If you love buffalo sauce, like I do, double the recipe.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

¼ cup of hot sauce (such as Texas Pete or Cholula)

½ teaspoon of kosher salt

  1. In a small bowl, melt the butter in the microwave.
  2. While the butter is still very hot, add the garlic, hot sauce and salt to it. Stir well to combine.

Buttermilk Ranch Dip

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Author note: This recipe is adapted from Food52’s Basil Buttermilk Ranch Dressing.

1 cup of sour cream

¾ cup of buttermilk

2 tablespoons of chives, finely chopped

2 tablespoons of parsley, finely chopped

2 tablespoons of shallot, finely chopped

2 tablespoons of garlic (about 3 cloves), chopped

¼ teaspoon of paprika

1 tsp of kosher salt

zest of ½ lemon

  1. Combine all ingredients into a bowl and stir well to combine. Serve with hot wings or fresh vegetables– snap peas, carrots, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes.

Spicy Garlic Roasted Broccoli

cropped-image30.jpgAuthor note: There are days I do not want to get the cutting board out and chop vegetables. The day I created this dish was one of those days. If you need a fast vegetable side, buy a bag of pre-chopped broccoli. Be aware that this broccoli side goes fast because it is so tasty. Double the recipe for leftovers. For an easy clean-up, line the baking sheet with foil.

3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp of kosher salt

½ tsp of garlic powder

½ tsp of cayenne

¼ tsp of chili powder

1 small head of broccoli, cut into florets (about 7 cups)

juice of ½ lemon

  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl combine the olive oil, salt, garlic powder, cayenne and chili powder and whisk well to combine.
  3. Place the broccoli florets into the olive oil mixture and coat the broccoli well.
  4. On a rimmed baking sheet, spread the broccoli in a single layer. Cover the baking sheet tightly with foil.
  5. Cook the broccoli for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the foil and continue to roast, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes (until browned to your liking), stirring every 10 minutes.
  6. Top the broccoli with a squeeze of lemon juice and serve warm.

Sage 75

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4 small ice cubes

1 slice of tangelo

2 oz of gin

1 oz of sage simple syrup (or more to taste)

2 oz of sparkling dry wine (Prosecco or Champagne)

1 sage leaf, for garnish

  1. Place the slice of tangelo in the glass and lightly muddle the fruit.
  2. Next, add the ice cubes in the glass and then pour the gin over the ice cubes.
  3. Add the simple syrup and top with the sparkling wine.
  4. Gently stir and top with the sage leaf.

Sage Simple Syrup

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Author note: This recipe was inspired by a beautifully presented sage simple syrup I saw on Instagram. I am unaware of the creator, however, I give them credit for this idea. This recipe is my translation of the concept of sage simple syrup. Serve in champagne, prosecco, cocktails and teas– actually, the possibilities are not limited to drinks and they are quite endless.

1 ½ cups of water

1 cup of sugar

30-40 sage leaves and stems, tied (about five branches of sage)

  1. In a small sauce pan, combine all ingredients and cook over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally. Let the syrup simmer for about 15 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat, bring to room temperature and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Bourbon Bacon Jam

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Author note: I’ve always been skeptical about the overuse of bacon. This recipe was not developed in efforts to be trendy, it was developed to satisfy a craving and it does the job extremely well. The opportunities to serve this jam are endless: crusty bread, pizza, egg sandwiches, baked potatoes (sweet or regular), mashed potatoes, crackers and cream cheese, waffle fries, turkey sandwich–be creative. This jam reheats well in the oven.

1 lb of bacon, cut into ½ inch pieces

3 tbsp of bacon grease (acquired from the cooked bacon)

1 ½ cups onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 rosemary sprig

½ cup of bourbon (whiskey)

¼ balsamic vinegar

½ cup of water

¼ tsp cayenne

¼ cup of brown sugar

kosher salt

  1. In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until the fat is rendered. Remove the bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Leave 3 tablespoons of bacon grease in the the skillet and lower the heat to medium-low.
  2. Next, cook the onion, garlic and rosemary in the bacon grease for about 5 to 8 minutes, or until the onions are softened. Stir often to prevent the garlic from burning.
  3. Add the bourbon, vinegar, water, cayenne and brown sugar to the onions and garlic. Turn the heat back up to medium and bring to a gentle boil.
  4. Place the bacon back into the skillet and let simmer for about 35-40 minutes.
  5. Pour the bacon mixture into a food processor and pulse 6 to 10 times, or until the jam is chunky but not smooth.
  6. Remove to a bowl, stir and salt to taste.
  7. Serve on top of crusty bread. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.

Herb Crème Fraiche Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Onions

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Author note: It is important to use Yukon Gold potatoes for this recipe. Out of all the potato varieties, the Yukon Gold is one of the best to boil and mash. Also, when mashing the potatoes, use a hand held masher. If there is not a hand held masher, an electric mixer with a whipping attachment will also work. Finally, these mashed potatoes are delicious and make great leftovers. They can be easily reheated in the oven up to two days after making them.* This recipe can be doubled to serve a large crowd.

For the mashed potatoes:

1 cup of crème fraiche, at room temperature

1 tablespoon of fresh thyme, chopped (dried thyme is also acceptable, use 1-2 teaspoons)

zest of two lemons

5 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut or sliced into large pieces (about 8 to 9 cups)

1 stick of unsalted butter, at room temperature

¾ tsp of kosher salt

For the caramelized onions:

2 onions, halved and sliced thin (about five cups)

2 tablespoons of unsalted butter

1 ½ teaspoon of kosher salt

 

For the Mashed Potatoes:

  1. About five hours before preparing this dish, set out the crème fraiche and butter.
  2. Next, heat a large pan of water and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook until easily pierced with a fork.
  3. While the potatoes boil, combine the crème fraiche, thyme and lemon zest in a medium sized bowl. Stir to combine and set aside.
  4. Once the potatoes are cooked, drain the water and return to the pan. Place the pan away from heat and add the crème fraiche mixture, one stick of butter and ¾ tsp of kosher salt to the potatoes. Mash until the potatoes are smooth and creamy.
  5. Finally, add the caramelized onions to the mashed potatoes and stir to combine. Serve warm.
  6. To store, place the potatoes in an oven safe container and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge up to 2 days before and reheat per the instructions below.*

For the caramelized onions

  1. Place two tablespoons of unsalted butter in a large skillet and heat to medium-low.
  2. Once the butter is melted, add one layer of onions and then top with ½ tsp of kosher salt. Repeat this process two more times for a total of three onion and salt layers (watch this video for a visual guide to caramelizing onions).
  3. Over medium-low heat, cook the onions for 20 minutes. Do not stir the onions. After 20 minutes, stir the onions well.
  4. Continue to cook the onions for an additional 15 minutes. Again, do not stir or touch the onions. Stir the onions after these 15 minutes. If the onions appear to be burning, lower the heat. If the onions have a nice brown color and flavor keep them at the medium-low temperature.
  5. Continue to let the onions caramelize for another 10 to 20 minutes. Once fully caramelized remove from the heat.

*Instructions to reheat the mashed potatoes:

  1. One hour before reheating, remove the potatoes from the fridge.
  2. Set the oven to 350 degrees and press 2 to 3 tablespoons of diced unsalted butter into the potatoes.
  3. Place in the oven, uncovered and reheat for 20 minutes.
  4. After 20 minutes, stir the potatoes and let cook for an additional 10 minutes or until warmed thru completely. Serve warm.

Smoked Salmon Puff Pastries

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Author note: This recipe makes a good amount of leftover smoked salmon mixture. Add about a ¼ cup (or more) of sour cream and a hearty spoonful or two of the horseradish dipping sauce and it becomes a smoked salmon dip. Please note that two large baking sheets are needed for this recipe due to the amount of puff pastries that are being made. This recipes makes around 18-24 appetizers.

8 oz of smoked salmon

8 oz of cream cheese (at room temperature)

1 small shallot

juice of 1 lemon

¼ cup of sour cream

pepper to taste

2 packages of prepared puff pastries

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a food processor puree all of the ingredients until smooth.
  3. Roll out the chilled puff pastry on a floured work surface and cut the puff pastry into equal sized squares per these instructions.
  4. Spoon the the smoked salmon mixture onto the pastry, following the previously linked video instructions, and seal accordingly
  5. Place the filled and sealed pastries on parchment lined baking sheets.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Remove from the oven and place the pastries on a cooling rack. Let cool for about 5 minutes. Serve warm with Horseradish Dipping Sauce.

Horseradish Dipping Sauce

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½ cup of prepared horseradish

1 tbsp of cream

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

zest of 1 lemon

juice of ½ lemon

2 tbsp of fresh parsley, chopped

½ cup of sour cream

¼ cup of cream cheese (at room temperature)

¼ tsp of kosher salt

pepper to taste

  1. Place all the ingredients into a large bowl and stir well.
  2. Serve with Smoked Salmon Puff Pastry.

Browned Butter and Bourbon Candied Walnuts

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Author note: These walnuts are perfect to eat by themselves or to top treats such as ice cream, cinnamon rolls, cakes and muffins.

2 tablespoons of unsalted butter

2 teaspoon of unsalted butter

1/4 cup of water

1/3 cup of brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1 1/2 cups of chopped walnuts

  1. In a medium sized skillet heat the butter on medium for about 10 minutes, or until it is nicely browned.
  2. Next, add the bourbon, water, brown sugar, vanilla and salt to the skillet. Bring to a boil and reduce for about two minutes.
  3. Finally, add the chopped walnuts and turn the heat to medium-high. Cook for about 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the syrup is thickened and coats the walnuts.
  4. Cook for an an additional two minutes, stirring constantly. This will help the walnuts achieve a crunchy texture.
  5. Spread the candied walnuts in one layer on a foil lined baking sheet. Let the walnuts air dry for at least four hours before serving.
  6. Store in an airtight container.

Peppermint Panna Cotta

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4 cups of heavy cream (1 quartt)

¾ cups of granulated sugar

2 tablespoons of gelatin (a little less than two packages)

½ tsp of peppermint extract

crushed peppermints, for topping

dark chocolate chips, for topping

  1. Pour the cream into a large pan. Then, sprinkle the gelatin on top of the cream. Do not stir. Let it dissolve for 10 minutes.
  2. Next, place the pan on the stove-top and turn the heat to medium. Begin to stir the mixture.
  3. Once the cream is warm, add the sugar and peppermint extract. Do not let the mixture boil.
  4. Continually stir the cream until the gelatin dissolves completely. It will look clumpy at first, but do not fear. Continue to stir until the cream is smooth.
  5. Pour the cooked cream into a serving bowl, cover and refrigerate at least six hours before serving.
  6. Once the panna cotta is set, serve cold and top with crushed peppermints or dark chocolate chips.

Mustard and Thyme Roasted Cauliflower with Garlic Pancetta Toasted Breadcrumbs


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Author note: Dry mustard and thyme are lovely additions to roasted cauliflower. If you are looking for a healthier option, omit the toasted breadcrumbs. The cauliflower alone is still very enjoyable.

For the cauliflower:

2 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp of salt

1 tsp of dry mustard

½ tsp of dried thyme

1 head of cauliflower, cut into florettes

For the breadcrumbs:

3 garlic cloves, chopped

½ cup of chopped pancetta (about two thick slices)

1 tbsp of unsalted butter

3 cup of panko breadcrumbs

zest of 1 lemon

  1. Heat the oven to 415 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, salt, mustard and thyme. Stir well.
  3. Then, add the cauliflower to the olive oil mixture. Make sure to coat the cauliflower well.
  4. In one layer, evenly spread the cauliflower on a baking sheet lined with foil. Place in the oven and cook for 25 minutes.
  5. After 25 minutes, gently stir the cauliflower to move the pieces around to make sure they brown evenly. Continue to cook for an additional 30 minutes (or until nicely browned).
  6. Meanwhile, place the butter and pancetta in a small skillet and cook over medium heat, about five minutes.
  7. Next, lower the heat to medium-low and add the breadcrumbs. Continue to cook until the breadcrumbs are golden.
  8. Remove from the heat and add the garlic and lemon zest. Stir well and set aside.
  9. Combine the cauliflower and breadcrumbs into a serving bowl and stir well. Serve warm.

Garlic Rosemary Marinated Olives

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Author note: In order for the olives to acquire the flavor from the marinade, it is critical to let the olives soak for at least eight hours. The longer the olives marinade the more delicious they become. The recipe instructs to heat the olives before serving, however the olives are also tasty at room temperature.

½ cup of extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup of chopped shallots (about one small shallot)

4 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves removed and chopped

zest of one lemon

12 oz of kalamata olives, drained

  1. Combine all ingredients into a bowl and stir well to combine. Place in an airtight container and let marinade at least eight hours before serving.
  2. Heat an oven to 250 degrees. Place the olives and marinade in an oven-proof bowl.
  3. Place the olives in the oven and warm for 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Vanilla Bean and Cinnamon Orange Candied Cranberries

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Author note: these candied cranberries are sweet and tart. The vanilla and cinnamon orange sugar give them a subtle sweetness that compliments the agressive flavor of cranberries. The technique was used from Food52’s Orange Blossom Candied Cranberries.

2 cups of cranberries
1/2 cup of cinnamon orange sugar (click here for the recipe)
2 cups of vanilla bean sugar (click here for the recipe)
1 1/2 cups of water

  1. Measure out 1/4 cup of cinnamon orange sugar and 1 cup of vanilla bean sugar. Combine the two with the water in a saucepan. Cook the water and sugar over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Remove the simple syrup from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the cranberries to the simple syrup, stir and let the mixture cool completely,
  4. Place the cranberries and syrup into an airtight container and let sit over night.
  5. Mix the remaining sugars together and place on a plate.
  6. Drain the syrup from the cranberries. While the fruit is still damp, not dried, roll the cranberries in the sugar mixture.
  7. Place the cranberries onto a baking sheet and let dry, about an hour.
  8. Store in an airtight container with the leftover sugar.

Cinnamon Orange Sugar

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Author note: This sugar pairs well with many items — teas, whipped cream and fruit.

1 cup of sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
zest of two oranges

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir well to combine. Store in an airtight container and allow to sit for one week.
  2. After one week use the sugar as desired.

Vanilla Bean Sugar

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Author note: Once you make this sugar, you will find it addictive. It has a robust flavor that is the perfect companion to coffee, whipped cream and fruit.

3 cups of granulated sugar
2 vanilla beans, halved and beans removed

  1. Combine the sugar, vanilla beans and and vanilla bean skin into a bowl. Stir well to combine.
  2. Store in an airtight container and let sit for one week. After one week, use the sugar as desired.

Wilted Arugula

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Author note: A large quantity of arugula wilts down to a significantly smaller amount. If four to six serving are desired, double the recipe. Use the leftovers with scrambled eggs or a nice frittata.

1 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil

5 oz of arugula

2 tsp of sherry vinegar

Kosher Salt

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the arugula and turn to coat well.
  2. Cook the arugula until it is slightly wilted, about 2 minutes, then add the vinegar.
  3. Continue to cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes until all the arugula is wilted.
  4. Salt to taste and serve warm.

Creamed Cabbage with Bacon

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Author note: This recipe is a combination of my two favorite cabbage dishes: Marcella Hazan’s Smothered Cabbage and Food52’s Suspiciously Delicious Cabbage. The addition of orange zest gives it an unexpected sweet bite. Depending on the size of the head of cabbage, you may have plenty of leftovers. This dish reheats nicely.

2 tbsp unsalted butter

3 thick slices of bacon, cut into ½ inch pieces

½ onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

¾ tsp of ground ginger

1 head of cabbage, thinly sliced

1/4 tsp of salt

1 tbsp of red wine vinegar

½ cup cream

zest of 1 orange

  1. Place the butter, bacon and onion into a large pan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the onions are softened, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until golden (but not browned), stirring occasionally, about five minutes.
  2. Next, add the ground ginger and cabbage. Turn the cabbage with tongs to coat with the butter and bacon. Cook until it’s wilted, about five minutes.
  3. Season with salt and red wine vinegar. Turn the cabbage again to coat well, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for at least 1 ½ hours. Stir the cabbage occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. If it begins to stick, simply add water and stir.
  4. After 1 ½ hours, add the cream and orange zest to the cabbage. Let it simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes. Taste and season with salt.

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Author note: I have made this recipe a few times with 2 lbs and 3 ½ lbs of pork shoulder. I have chosen to publish the recipe with the larger amount of meat simply because our family eats leftovers. If you need a smaller serving size, around four to five, try these measurements: 2 lbs of pork, 1 cup of wine, 1 cup of water, 2 leeks, 2 garlic cloves, 1 tsp of kosher salt, 2 rosemary sprigs.

3 ½ lbs of boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1 ½ inch cubes

2 cups of red wine (Bordeaux or Chianti)

1 cup of water

2 leeks, halved and thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tsp of kosher salt

2 sprigs of rosemary

Parsley, chopped for topping (optional)

  1. Place the pork, red wine, water, leeks, garlic, salt and rosemary into a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce the heat, bring to a simmer and cover. Cook for 60 to 80 minutes (or until pork is easily pierced with a fork).
  3. After the 60-80 minutes, stir the pork and continue to cook for an additional 45-60 minutes. (as the liquid evaporates the meat will brown) Occasionally stir the pork pieces to make sure they brown all over.
  4. Once the pork is fall-apart tender and the liquid is reduced, remove the rosemary. Serve with braising liquid on top of warm polenta and wilted arugula or by itself with chopped parsley.

Creamed Cauliflower with Garlic and Celery

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1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets

1 celery stalk, quartered

3 garlic cloves, crushed

2 cups of chicken stock

water

1 tbsp of unsalted butter

½ cup of milk

¾ tbsp of cream

½ tsp of salt

¼ cup of celery leaves, chopped

  1. Place the cauliflower, celery, garlic and chicken stock in a saucepan. Then, add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat on the stove top. Cook until softened.
  2. Drain the liquid and then add the milk, butter, cream and salt. Using an immersion blender (food processor or blender), puree the cauliflower mixture until it is creamy and smooth.
  3. Top with chopped celery leaves and serve warm.

Lemony Cornmeal Chicken Tenders

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Author note: Chicken tenders are a frequent meal at our house and I have come to believe that my children need them to survive. While the frying process is a little messy, the result is homemade chicken strips that are delicious, freezer friendly and free from the preservatives found in most fast-food and grocery store varieties. Make these chicken strips for an evening meal, or once cooked, let them cool and then place in a resealable bag and freeze. Reheat the desired amount in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 to 15 minutes. To cook more chicken tenders simply the double the recipe. This recipe has been adapted from Giada DeLaurentis’ Crispy Chicken with Rosemary-Lemon Salt.

1 lb of organic (pasture raised, if accessible) chicken tenders

½ cup cornmeal

2 tbsp of kosher salt

zest of 1 lemon (if a lemony kick is desired, add more zest)

1 tsp of favorite herb, chopped thyme, sage, rosemary, etc (optional)

oil for frying (I use extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil)

  1. Fill a medium sized skillet with ¼ inch of extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat.
  1. In a pie pan combine the cornmeal, kosher salt, lemon zest and herbs (if using) and mix well.
  1. Dredge the chicken in the cornmeal mixture.
  1. Once the oil is hot add four to five chicken tenders to the skillet and cook for four minutes. Turn the tenders over and cook for an additional four minutes.*
  1. Remove the tenders from the skillet and place on a plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt and let cool.

*Please note that if the tenders do not sizzle loudly when you place them in the skillet, the oil is not hot enough. If there is little or no sound when you begin to cook them, remove the tenders and wait until the oil has heated a bit longer.

Caramelized Onion and Basil Quinoa Salad with Roasted Chicken

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Author note: This is the perfect salad for lunch. It reheats nicely, but is also delicious served cold or at room temperature. If looking for a meatless variety or there is no chicken handy, make without the chicken and eat as a side.

2 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil

1 onion, diced

½ tsp of kosher salt

1 cup of cooked quinoa

1 cup of roasted chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces

10 basil leaves, chiffonade

zest of one lemon

In a medium sized skillet heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions and salt and cook for about 30 minutes (or until browned and caramelized). Stir occasionally to prevent burning. Once caramelized, remove the onions from the heat and let cool for about 15 minutes.

Combine the quinoa, chicken, onions, basil and lemon zest. Stir well and salt to taste.

Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin

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Author note: Pork tenderloin does best when it is cooked with a dry heat. This recipe creates a dry heat by placing the pork tenderloin into a slow cooker without any liquid. The result is an extremely tender piece of meat. This recipe has been adapted from a Food Network grilled pork tenderloin recipe.

2 1 ½ pound pork tenderloins

1 cup of orange juice (fresh or store bought)

½ cup of soy sauce

¼ cup of fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)

½ cup of green onions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

½ tsp of oregano

¼ tsp of ground ginger

  1. Combine the orange juice, soy sauce, lime juice, green onions, garlic cloves, oregano and ginger into a bowl, stir well to combine.
  2. Place the pork tenderloins in a large baking pan or a large ziplock bag. Pour the marinade over the pork, cover and place in the fridge. Marinate for at least four hours or over night.
  3. Set the slow-cooker to warm and remove the tenderloins from the fridge. Pat the pork dry and place in the slow-cooker. Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours (until tender).
  4. Pour the marinade in a sauce pan, bring to a boil for five minutes and then set aside.
  5. When the pork is finished cooking, shred the meat in the crock pot and pour the remaining sauce over the shredded pork. Turn the pork to coat and serve warm.

Leftovers Taquitos

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Author note: There are many ways to make taquitos. This approach involves no complicated steps and it gets the job done efficiently. The filling for these taquitos is not limited to meat. Leftover vegetables also make for delicious taquitos. The addition of pureed or refried beans is also quite tasty.

2 cups of leftover meat or hearty vegetables

1 ½ cups of favorite cheese blend (I enjoy a Mexican cheese blend)

corn tortillas

oil for frying

  1. Combine the leftovers with the cheese. If using meat, make sure to shred it or chop it into bite- sized pieces. Stir to combine well. If the mixture looks and feels dried out, add a tablespoon of water for moisture.
  2. Lay a few tortillas flat on a cutting board. Take a generous spoonful of the meat (or vegetable) and cheese mixture and spread in a wide line on the left side of the tortilla. Gently roll the tortilla into a tight tube. Place the taquito in a baking pan with the flap of the tortilla facing down. Continue to roll the taquitos until all the leftovers and cheese mixture is gone.
  3. Meanwhile, fill a medium sized skillet with ¼ inch of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Once hot enough, (temperature should be around 350 degrees) lay three to four taquitos in the skillet, flap side down. Fry for about 1 to 2 minutes per side or until crispy and golden. Remove the taquitos and place on a plate lined with a paper towel.
  4. Continue the process until all taquitos have been fried. Serve with an assortment of dipping sauces such as spicy lime sour cream, spicy harrisa yogurt dip, or spicy Greek yogurt aioli and top with cilantro.

Savory French Toast

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Author note: This dish is perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It pairs well with bacon for breakfast or an arugula salad for lunch or dinner. If tomato jam is handy, I suggest serving this savory french toast with it. This recipe can easily accommodate more servings. Simply add another egg and slightly increase the other components.

4 to 6 slices of day old crusty french bread or ciabatta

2 eggs, beaten

2 tbsp of cream

¼ cup of chopped shallot (onion or leek would also work)

1 tbsp of fresh sage, chopped

¼ tsp of dried thyme (if using fresh thyme, add more)

2 tbsp of unsalted butter

¼ tsp of kosher salt

pepper to taste

  1. Take the loaf of bread and cut through the center, lengthwise. Remove the crust and then slice four to six equal slices.
  2. In a pie pan combine the eggs, cream, shallot, sage, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir well to combine.
  3. Meanwhile, place the butter in a medium sized saute pan and melt over medium-low heat.
  4. Dredge both sides of the the bread slices into the egg mixture and then place into the saute pan. Cook until both sides are nicely browned. Continue this process until all the slices are cooked.

Roasted Chicken Thighs stuffed with Lemon, Parsley and Shallot Goat Cheese

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Author note: These stuffed chicken thighs can be assembled in advance and refrigerated over night. This recipe can be easily doubled to provide more than 4-6 servings. For an easy clean-up, line the baking sheet with foil. If kitchen twine is intimidating, secure with toothpicks.

1 tbsp of unsalted butter

½ cup of shallots, diced

¼ tsp of kosher salt

½ cup of goat cheese, at room temperature

zest of 1 lemon

¼ cup of parsley

3 tsp of heavy cream

2 tsp of bread crumbs

¼ tsp of red pepper flakes

fresh black pepper

kosher salt

8 boneless chicken thighs

kitchen twine

extra-virgin olive oil

  1. Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Once heated, add the shallots and salt. Cook the shallots until softened, about four to five minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  2. Combine the goat cheese, lemon zest, parsley, shallots, cream, bread crumbs, red pepper flakes and pepper to taste. Stir well to combine.
  3. On a large, rimmed baking sheet, lay the chicken thighs flat and lightly season each side with kosher salt.
  4. Heat the oven to 450 degrees
  5. Meanwhile, evenly distribute the goat cheese mixture onto each chicken thigh. Spread the goat cheese on each chicken thigh. Fold the ends of each chicken thigh together to enclose the goat cheese mixture.
  6. With the kitchen twine, wrap each thigh two to three times and then tie. Lightly drizzle the chicken thighs with the oil.
  7. Roast the chicken thighs for 35 minutes. Once cooked and browned, let the chicken rest for 10 minutes, remove the twine and serve

Spicy Harissa and Tomato Quinoa Salad with Roasted Chicken

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Author note: This salad is the ideal packed lunch. It is good cold, slightly heated or even at room temperature.

1 cup of cooked quinoa

1 cup of roasted chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces (click here for roasted chicken recipe)

2-3 generous spoonfuls of spicy harissa yogurt

½ cup of cherry tomatoes, halved

juice of ½ lemon

cilantro, for topping

  1. Combine quinoa, spicy harissa yogurt, chicken, tomatoes and lemon juice in a medium-sized bowl and stir well to combine. Top each serving with cilantro.

Spicy Harissa Yogurt 

½ cup of Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons of spicy harissa

¼ tsp of kosher salt

¼ tsp of cumin

chopped cilantro (optional)

  1. Add all ingredients in a small bowl and stir well to combine. Refrigerate 30 minutes prior to serving.

Ground Pork, Bacon and Black Bean Chili

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Author Note: This chili recipe is one that is dear to my heart. It has been a family favorite for years and is one of my go-to recipes. If you crave a little more spice to chili, add cayenne to taste. Also, before cooking the chili, measure out all the spices. This will lead to less chaos when the pork is added to the hot pan and the spices are needed quickly.

1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, diced

4 strips of bacon, cut into ½ inch pieces

1 large green bell pepper (or two small), diced

1 serrano pepper (or jalapeno), seeded and diced

2 lbs of ground pork

3 tsp of kosher salt

3 tbsp of cumin

2 1/2 tbsp of chili powder

¼ tsp of garlic powder

1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes

2 cups of beef broth (or more if simmering longer than 1 hour)

2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed

2 cups of frozen corn

click here for the Spicy Lime Sour Cream recipe

  1. Place the oil, onions and bacon into a large pan and cook over medium heat until the onions are softened, about 10 minutes.
  2. Next, add the bell pepper and serrano and cook until peppers are softened, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Once the vegetables are softened, increase the heat to medium-high and add the pork, salt, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder and optional cayenne. Stir well to incorporate the spices into the meat. Once the spices are fully incorporated and the meat is broken up sufficiently, let it cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Pour the crushed tomatoes and the beef broth into the meat mixture and stir well. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let it cook for at least 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  5. After simmering for one hour, add the beans and the corn to the chili. Stir well and heat through for another 10 minutes.
  6. Serve with tortilla chips or on top of rice. Top with spicy lime sour cream, shredded cheese and chopped cilantro.

Spicy Lime Sour Cream

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Author Note: This brightener is the perfect accessory to dishes where some diners enjoy spicy and citrus flavors, but others may not. It goes well with chili, soups and various types of dishes. Greek yogurt can be substituted for the sour cream and chopped cilantro is also a complimentary addition.

½ cup of sour cream

¼ tsp of cayenne pepper (or more to taste)

1 tbsp of heavy cream

juice of 1 small lime

pinch of salt

  1. Place all ingredients into a small bowl and stir well to combine.

Braised Green Beans with Bacon and Tomatoes

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1 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil

¾ cup onion, diced

3 strips of bacon, cut into ½ inch pieces

1 cup of small tomatoes, halved (canned diced tomatoes work as well)

16 oz of fresh green beans, ends trimmed and halved

4 cups of water

¼ tsp of dried mustard

4 parsley stems

1 ¼ tsp of kosher salt

1 tsp of red wine vinegar

  1. Place the oil, onions and bacon in a medium-sized pan and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Next, add the tomatoes and cook for 5 additional minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Then add the green beans and salt and cook for another 8 to 10 minutes (or until the green beans have slightly softened and begin to stick to the pan).
  4. Finally, add 2 cups of water (enough to barely cover the green beans), mustard and parsley stems. Bring to a gentle boil then lower the heat to medium low, cover and tilt the lid. Braise for 1 to 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally.
  5. As the green beans braise, the liquid will evaporate. Be sure to continue to add the remaining 2 cups of water throughout the cooking process. Cook until the liquid is mostly evaporated and the green beans are soft and tender. Add more water if necessary
  6. Check the green beans after an hour, if they have reached the preferred tenderness, add the red wine vinegar and heat through for another five minutes. Salt to taste.

Garlic Lemon Rosemary Roasted Chicken

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Author note: There are several ways to roast a chicken and many opinions on the correct way to roast a chicken. This recipe is basic in all ways. There are no tricks or special flavors. I roast a chicken every week using these ingredients because they are reliable and already in my pantry. Please note that extra-virgin olive oil is used to coat the chicken. I choose to use this oil because of my child who has a cow’s milk intolerance. Feel free to use 3 tbsp of unsalted butter (brought to room temperature) in place of the oil. It will add a tastier and more browned crust. Also, purchase the chicken from the butcher and ask the butcher to remove the insides of the chicken (normally in a little bag) and truss (tie) the legs. This will save you time during the cooking process.

roasting time 60 to 75 minutes

1 3-5lb whole chicken (pasture roaming chicken preferred)

3 lemons, halved

2 garlic cloves, halved

3-4 branches of rosemary

3 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil

2 tbsp of kosher salt

freshly cracked black pepper (to your taste)

kitchen thermometer

Thirty minutes to one hour before roasting, remove the chicken from the fridge and begin to bring it to room temperature. Placing a cold chicken into a hot oven will increase the cooking time as well as affect the quality of the end product.

Meanwhile, set the oven to 425 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine the kosher salt and black pepper. Mix well.

Then, remove the insides of the chicken, pat the chicken dry and truss the legs. Place in a cast iron skillet, dutch oven or small roasting pan.

Pour about half the salt and pepper combination inside the chicken cavity. Then place the rosemary, two garlic halves and two lemon halves inside the chicken. Don’t worry if all the pieces do not fit inside the chicken. Each chicken is different as are the garlic cloves and lemons. At least get the rosemary and one garlic half and one lemon half inside the bird.

Scatter the remaining garlic and lemon around the chicken.

Pour the oil over the chicken and massage it into the skin. Next, evenly sprinkle the salt and pepper mixture over the chicken. There may be some left over and that is okay. Again, each chicken is sized differently and may not require as much salt and pepper.

Cook the chicken for 60 minutes, after 60 minutes place the kitchen thermometer between the chicken leg and breast. If the internal temperature has reached 165 degrees, the chicken is done. If not, place the chicken back in the oven and cook for an additional five to 15 minutes depending on its temperature.

When the chicken is done, remove from the oven, cover the chicken tightly with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.

Break the chicken down and then serve with the pan juices. If you plan on using for later, break the chicken down (removing the bones), place in a glass container and cover with the pan juices. The chicken will keep for about 5 days.

Linguine with Roasted Chicken, Tomatoes and Garlic Oil

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 Author note: This dish is one that can made in the time it takes the linguine to cook. This recipe serves 2 to 3 but could easily feed more by increasing the amount of extra-virgin olive oil, tomatoes and chicken. Feel free to increase the amount of garlic and cheese if a more vibrant flavor is desired. Red pepper flakes and fresh spinach would also make good additions to this dish.

¼ cup of extra-virgin olive oil

1 small shallot, roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

1 cup of small tomatoes, halved (or larger tomatoes, diced)

¼ tsp of kosher salt

1 cup of roasted chicken, cut into bite sized pieces

¼ cup of pasta water

¼ cup of grated Pecorino Romano (or Parmesan)

handful of linguine noodles (enough for 2 to 3 servings)

lemon zest

kosher salt

  1. Fill a medium sized pan with water and bring to boil, pour a generous amount of kosher salt into the water and add the linguine. Cook the pasta to al dente according to the package’s directions and reserve ¼ cup of pasta water.
  2. Meanwhile, add the oil, garlic and shallots (and red pepper if using) to a medium-sized saute pan and cook over medium-low heat. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the garlic from burning.
  3. Next, add the tomatoes to the garlic oil and cook for an additional five minutes.
  4. Then, reduce the heat to low and add the chicken, pasta water and cheese. Stir well to combine and continue to heat through.
  5. Once the pasta is cooked to al dente, add the linguine to the saute pan. Stir well to coat the noodles with the garlic oil.
  6. Divide the linguine, chicken and tomatoes between 2 or 3 bowls, spoon the remaining garlic oil over each dish and then top with freshly grated lemon zest.

Softened Tomatoes and Garlic Rosemary Olive Oil Dip

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Author note: the addition of kalamata olives would give this olive oil dip a salty punch.

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 sprig of rosemary

2 large garlic cloves, chopped

1 cup of cherry tomatoes, cut into bite sized pieces

1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar

½ tsp of kosher salt

cracked black pepper

crusty bread

  1. Heat the extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, rosemary and salt on medium-low heat for about five to eight minutes. Stir occasionally in order to prevent the garlic from burning.
  2. Next, add the tomatoes and increase to medium heat. Cook for an additional three to four minutes.
  3. Pour into a bowl, add the vinegar and top with cracked pepper. Serve with warm, crusty toasted bread.

Roasted Chicken Salad with Whole Grain Mustard and Fresh Thyme

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Author note: This chicken salad has become a staple in our household. The whole-grain mustard and fresh thyme is a nice change from the typical mayonnaise based chicken salad. Chopped kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes or artichokes would be nice additions to the salad.. This recipe has been adapted from a chicken salad recipe from Food52’s Amanda Hesser.

4 cups of roasted chicken, cut into bite sized chunks

½ cup of red onion, diced

2 tsp of fresh thyme

2 tbsp of whole grain mustard

1/3 cup of toasted pine nuts (toasted optional)

1 tbsp of sherry vinegar

1 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil

¼ tsp of kosher salt.

  1. Combine all the ingredients and stir to combine. Serve on crusty bread or by itself.

Beer Braised Pork Shoulder with Hatch Green Chiles

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Author Note: This recipe calls for boneless pork shoulder. Bone in pork shoulder is also available for purchase, however be sure to select a heavier piece to account for the bone. Save and freeze the bone to use it to flavor other dishes. Also, if you have an aversion handling raw meat, enlist the help of your butcher or someone else at home to cut the pork.

3 ½ to 4 lbs of boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch pieces

1 to 2 cups of roasted Hatch green chiles (click here for Broiled Hatch Green Chiles recipe)

5 garlic cloves, crushed

12 oz of Modelo Especial (or other light lager beer), at room temperature

1 cup of water

1 ½ tsp salt

lime for topping

chopped cilantro for topping

sour cream for topping

  1. Place the green chiles, garlic, beer, water and salt into a large dutch oven and stir to combine.
  2. Place the pork in the mixture and bring to a boil.
  3. Once boiling, lower the heat, cover and bring to a simmer. Cook for 60 to 80 minutes (or until pork is able to be easily pierced with a fork) and stir occasionally.
  4. Uncover and continue to cook for about 45 to 60 minutes, stir occasionally to prevent burning. Once most the liquid is absorbed and the carnitas are browned and falling apart, the carnitas are done. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice. Oven-roasted corn on the cob with cilantro-lime butter, black beans, rice or corn tortillas are all excellent options to serve with this dish.

Oven-Roasted Corn on the Cob

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fresh corn (1 ear of corn per serving)

  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the corn, still in their husks, on the grate.
  2. Roast for 30 minutes, or until corn is softened.
  3. Peel the husks and top with cilantro-lime butter or other favorite toppings.

Cilantro-Lime Butter

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Author note: The foundation of this recipe (softened butter and salt) is an excellent base in which to experiment. If serving Italian food combine chopped garlic, chopped parsley, lemon juice and lemon zest to the softened butter. If desiring something more sweet omit the salt, add sugar and orange zest to the softened butter. Be adventurous and have fun with it.

1 stick of unsalted butter, brought to room temperature

juice of ½ a lime

zest of ½ a lime

½ tsp of kosher salt

¼ cup of chopped cilantro

  1. Place all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine.
  2. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours before serving.

Broiled Hatch Green Chiles

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Author note: Hatch green chiles typically appear in August. It is easy to preserve Hatch green chile season through freezing. Come January when you crave the unmistakable Hatch flavor, forage in the freezer, thaw the chiles in the fridge or microwave and enjoy.

Hatch green chiles

  1. First, wash and dry the chiles.
  2. Then, line the bottom rack of the oven with foil (to catch any drippings) and place the chiles on the top rack, crosswise. Broil for 6 to 8 minutes
  3. After the allotted time, check the chiles. If blackened and blistered, flip the chiles over and continue to broil for an additional 3 minutes. If not blackened enough, broil for an addition 3 minutes (or until finished).
  4. Once the chiles are well blistered (the chiles need to be blistered all over, this helps to loosen the skin) place in a zip lock bag, seal and let cool for about 15 minutes. This process captures steam and continues to loosen the skin from the meat.
  5. Once cool to the touch, remove the chiles from the bag and peel off the skin.For a more mild heat remove the seeds before chopping the chiles. To maintain their subtle heat, keep the seeds. If a little of both is preferred, keep a few seeds.*
  6. Chop the chiles, place in an airtight container and store in the fridge. The chiles will last for about two to three days.

*Freezing Hatch Green Chiles

  1. Once the skin of the chiles (and if preferred, the seeds) have been removed, let the chiles come to room temperature.
  2. Place them back into the ziplock bag and remove as much air from the bag as you can before sealing. Lay flat in the freezer.
  3. Thaw the chiles in the fridge or microwave and enjoy.

Savory Cornbread Pudding with Leeks, Bacon and Sage

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Author note: It is a North American tendency to eat eggs only for breakfast. Let this cornbread pudding persuade you to try egg dishes at any time of the day, especially dinner. Also, the cornbread can be made a few days before you plan to make the pudding.

2 leeks, white parts only

1 ½ cups of bacon (about 5 strips)

4 cups of cornbread (use this cornbread recipe or a preferred cornbread recipe)

6 sage leaves, chopped

Rosemary leaves from 1 sprig, chopped

6 eggs

1 ½ cups whole milk

½ cup cream

1 tsp of dried mustard

½ tsp of salt

2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese (or a combination of your favorite strong cheeses)

zest of one lemon

  1. First, half the leeks and then cut thin slices. Next, cut the bacon into ½ inch pieces. Place the leeks and bacon into a medium-sized saute pan and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and cut the cornbread into bite sized chunks. Place the bread and herbs into a large bowl and toss.
  3. Next, crack the eggs into a medium-sized bowl. Lightly beat the eggs and then add the milk, cream, lemon zest, mustard, salt and cheese into the bowl. Stir the bread and custard well to combine.
  4. Pour the custard over the bread mixture and mix well.
  5. Finally, grease a 9×12 baking dish and pour the cornbread pudding into it. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until the eggs are cooked through. Serve warm with a summer fresh tomato salad.

Roasted Tamarind Chicken Thighs

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Author’s note: Tamarind concentrate can be difficult to locate. Check with your local market first to make sure this item is in stock. If not, it is available online to purchase.

8 chicken thighs

1 cup of tamarind concentrate

1 cup of orange juice

juice of one lime

5 garlic cloves, chopped

¼ tsp of ground ginger

½ tsp of kosher salt

cilantro, chopped

  1. Place the tamarind, orange juice, lime juice, garlic, ginger and salt in a baking dish and stir to combine. Add the chicken thighs to the marinade, cover and refrigerate for at least eight hours or overnight.
  2. About 30 minutes before time to cook remove the chicken from the marinade and pat dry. Lay the chicken onto a rimmed baking sheet and allow to come to room temperature. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 450 degrees.
  3. Place the chicken into the oven and cook for about 35 to 37 minutes (or until the thighs are cooked through to 165 degrees). Serve with cabbage and onion couscous and a side of Greek yogurt topped with cilantro.

Cabbage and Onion Couscous

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2 cups shredded cabbage

½ onion chopped

¼ tsp of kosher salt

1 cup of couscous

1 beef bouillon cube

2 tbsp of red wine vinegar

1 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil (and more for the couscous)

kosher salt

Greek yogurt

chopped cilantro

  1. Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes, or until barely softened. Next, add the cabbage and kosher salt, turn to coat well with the oil. Cook the cabbage for about 5 to 8 minutes or until softened (but still maintains a slight crunch).
  2. Meanwhile, cook the couscous according to the packages instructions. However, use the bouillon cube to flavor the water used to cook the couscous.
  3. Once the couscous is cooked, add the red wine vinegar and a splash of extra-virgin olive oil, stir well. Next, add the cabbage and onion to the couscous. Salt to taste. Serve with roasted tamarind chicken thighs and a side of Greek yogurt topped with chopped cilantro.

Steeped Rosemary

image1 ½ cups of water

3 tsp of dried rosemary

agave sweetener (or a preferred sweetener)

  1. Bring the water to a boil and then pour over the loose dried rosemary leaves.
  2. Steep for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the desired amount of agave sweetener.

Roasted Pork Loin with Brandy Cream Sauce

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For the Pork Loin

2 lbs (or bigger) pork loin roast

½ cup soy sauce

1 cup orange juice

juice of 1 lime

5 garlic cloves, chopped

2 rosemary sprigs, chopped

3 sage leaves, chopped

1 tsp dry mustard

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

For the Brandy Cream Sauce

1 cup of reduced marinade

2 tbsp heavy cream

¼ cup brandy

kosher salt

 

Pork Loin

Combine the soy sauce, orange juice, lime juice, garlic cloves, rosemary, sage and dry mustard into a large bowl and mix well. Place the pork loin into the bowl and massage the marinade into the roast. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least eight hours or overnight.

An hour before cooking, remove the pork loin from the refrigerator to allow it to come up to room temperature.

Set the oven to 350 degrees. In a heavy bottomed skilled heat the extra-virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. Remove the pork from the marinade and pat dry (make sure it is dried well, or you will not get a good brown on the roast). When the oil begins to smoke, add the pork loin. Brown both sides for three to four minutes each.

Place the pork loin into the oven and cook for about 45 to 50 minutes, until the center reaches 150 degrees.

Place the remaining marinade into a small sauce pan and bring to boil. Reduce for five minutes and remove from heat. Reserve one cup for the the brandy cream sauce.

Once the pork loin is cooked, remove it from the oven, set aside on a plate and cover tightly with foil. Let it rest for 10 minutes. While the meat rests, make the sauce.

 

Brandy Cream Sauce

Pour the drippings from the skillet into a bowl and let the fat separate (about 5 to 10 minutes). Skim the fat off with a spoon. Reserve the remaining drippings.

Meanwhile, heat the same skillet you roasted the pork in on medium heat. Add the brandy and with a wooden spoon, scrape up all the brown bits off the skillet. Let it simmer for 30 seconds. Then add the reduced marinade and drippings to the brandy and bring to full boil, cook for about three minutes.

Reduce the heat to low and bring the sauce to a low simmer. Once the temperature has dropped, add the cream. Heat through, taste and salt to taste. Enjoy!

Spicy Greek Yogurt Aioli

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Author’s Note: This aioli is a great companion to roasted vegetables (my favorite, brussels sprouts). It also works great as a sandwich spread or even a dip for raw vegetables (carrots, snap peas, tomatoes, etc) Enjoy!

1 cup Greek yogurt

2 tbsp sour cream

1 tbsp heavy cream

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves minced

zest of 1 lemon

juice of ½ lemon

¼ tsp cayenne powder

¼ tsp kosher salt

  1. Combine all the ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl and mix well. Place in the refrigerator for at least one hour and then serve.

Gnocchi with Sausage Bolognese, Wilted Spinach and Toasted Pine Nuts

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For the Bolognese

1 onion

2 large carrots

1 celery stalk

4 garlic cloves

¼ cup of extra-virgin olive oil

kosher salt

3 strips of bacon

1 ½ lbs of pork sausage (I use half regular and half spicy) (optional chicken sausage instead of pork)

1 ½ cups of Chianti

1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes

1 beef bouillon cube

3 springs of fresh thyme, tied (or 1 ½ tsp of dried thyme)

1 cup of water

grated Parmesan cheese for toppings

 

For the Gnocchi, Wilted Spinach and Pine Nuts

1 16 oz package of gnocchi (or more, depending on how many you plan to serve)

1 package of fresh baby spinach

¼ cup of pine nuts (or more)

 

Bolognese

  1. Heat a large, heavy bottomed pan with the extra-virgin olive oil over medium high heat.
  2. Rough chop all the vegetables and place them into a food processor. Puree into a paste-like consistency.
  3. Once the vegetables are pureed and the pan is hot, add them to the pan. Season the vegetables with a generous pinch of kosher salt and begin to cook, stirring occasionally. Cook for 10-15 minutes (set a timer to keep track).
  4. Meanwhile chop the bacon into small, bite sized pieces.
  5. Once the liquid is evaporated from the pureed vegetables and the mixture is browned, add the sausage and bacon. Cook for another 10-15 minutes (again, set a timer to keep track), stirring occasionally.
  6. When the meat starts to brown and it sticks to the bottom of the pan, pour in the Chianti. Scrap any bits stuck on the bottom of the pan. Take a deep breath and smell this delicious aroma, this smells like Italy. Reduce the wine for about 3-5 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed by the meat and vegetable mixture.
  7. Lower the heat to medium and add the crushed tomatoes, bouillon cube, thyme and water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and bring to a simmer.
  8. Simmer for at least one hour, up to three hours. If simmering for more than one hour be sure to add 1 cup of water every 45 minutes to make sure the sauce does not dry up. The longer you simmer and reduce, the more flavor you will achieve.

Gnocchi, Wilted Spinach and Toasted Pine Nuts

  1. About 15 minutes before serving, place a large pot of water on high heat. When at a rolling boil, pour in a hearty amount of kosher salt (make it as salty as the Mediterranean), add the gnocchi and cook according to the directions on the package.
  2. Meanwhile, place a small saute pan on low heat and add the pine nuts. Toast until browned to your liking.
  3. Place a small handful of baby spinach leaves into each serving bowl. Place the cooked gnocchi on top of each serving of spinach, sprinkle with finely grated fresh Parmesan and then cover with the hot sausage bolognese and toasted pine nuts. Allow a couple of minutes for the heat from the gnocchi and bolognese to wilt the spinach. Enjoy!

Creamy Avocado Chicken and Bacon Sandwich

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2 avocados

juice of ½ lime

½ tsp of salt

½ tsp cumin

pinch or two of cayenne

3 tsp of cream

1 cup of small tomatoes (cherry or sweet 100s)

½ serrano pepper (optional)

1 cup of chicken, bite sized

bacon (one to two pieces per sandwich)

bread

extra virgin olive oil

  1. Seed and mince the serrano (if using) and halve the tomatoes. Next, cut the bacon in half. This helps to cook the bacon more evenly and to get more bacon into the pan.
  2. Place the bacon in a medium sized saute pan over medium heat. Cook until crispy.
  3. Meanwhile, add the avocado, lime juice, salt, cumin and cayenne to a medium sized bowl . With a potato masher, mash the avocado and other flavors into a mushy mixture.
  4. Next, pour the cream into the avocado mixture and stir to combine. Once combined, add the chicken, tomatoes and serrano (if using), mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking (remember, the bacon will add a salty punch to each bite).
  5. Lightly coat the bread with extra virgin olive oil and toast. Once lightly browned, place a hearty spoonful or two of the avocado mixture onto the bread. Spread evenly and top with bacon. Enjoy!

Herb Roasted Potatoes with Red Wine Vinegar and Lemon Zest

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1/4 c of extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp of herb salt (or kosher if herb salt is unavailable)

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary (1 tsp of dried)

5 cloves of garlic

 2 lbs of new potatoes (or other small varities)

1 1/2 tsp of red wine vinegar

zest of one lemon

1 tbsp of chopped parsley

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Pour the extra virgin olive oil into a large bowl and add the salt. Rough chop the garlic and the rosemary and place into the bowl. Stir to combine.
  3. Cut the potatoes into bite sized pieces and add to the oil mixture. Coat the potatoes well with the oil mixture.
  4. With a slotted spoon, lift the potatoes above the bowl and allow the oil to drain for a few seconds. Then spread the potatoes evenly across a large, rimmed baking sheet.
  5. Roast for one hour (or until well crisped and the oil has cooked off), stirring every twenty minutes.
  6. While the potatoes are roasting add the red wine vinegar and lemon zest to the remaining garlic, herb and oil mixture. Stir to combine.
  7. Once potatoes are finished remove from the baking sheet and place into the vinegar and olive oil mixture. Coat the potatoes well and salt to taste. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Garlicky Broccolini with Lemon Zest

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 pound of broccolini

garlic cloves, thinly sliced

zest of 1 lemon

juice of 1/2 lemon

tbsp extra virgin olive oil

kosher salt

  1. Fill a pan with water and bring to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, cut the stems off the broccolini and thinly slice the garlic cloves.
  3. Once the water is at a boil, place the broccolini in the water and cook for four minutes. After the four minutes, remove the broccolini and set aside on a plate.
  4. Add the extra virgin olive oil and garlic into a saute pan and place on low heat. Warm the garlic oil for about three to four minutes, stirring occasionally. Once fragrant turn the heat up to medium, add the broccolini and stir. Be sure to coat the vegetable well with the garlic oil. Cook for an additional three to five minutes (or until broccolini has reached your desired texture).
  5. Zest the lemon on top of the broccolini and then sprinkle the juice of 1/2 a lemon. Stir to mix and enjoy.

Tomato and Herb Salad

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Author’s Note: This is a single serving of tomato salad. Increase the ingredients according to how many you plan to serve.

handful of small ripe tomatoes (I used sweet 100s and cherry tomatoes), halved

three basil leaves, torn

leaves of 1 parsley sprig, torn

a pinch of fennel leaves (or more to taste)

extra virgin olive oil

balsamic vinegar

kosher salt

  1. Place the tomatoes and herbs in a small bowl (preferably the one from which you will be eating).
  2. Drizzle the extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the mixture. Sprinkle with kosher salt and stir to combine.

Summer Squash and Corn with Creamed Goat Cheese and Orange Zest

tablespoon butter

tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1/2 red onion

1 large zucchini

2 medium squash

2 ears of corn

1/2 cup heavy cream

4 oz goat cheese

1 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar

1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper (or a pinch if you prefer less heat)

2 ears of corn

zest of 1 orange

kosher salt

  1. Begin to prep your vegetables: dice the red onion, cut the summer squash into halves and then slice into 1/2 inch pieces.
  2. Heat the extra virgin olive oil and butter in a large saute pan over medium heat.
  3. Cook the red onion until softened, but do not brown (about 5 to 8 minutes).
  4. Add the summer squash and salt the cooking vegetables. Cook until softened (about 10-15 minutes).
  5. While onions and squash are cooking remove the corn from the cobb and measure out the cream, vinegar and goat cheese.
  6. Once vegetables are softened, and at a texture that you prefer, lower the heat to medium-low.  Add the cream, goat cheese, red wine vinegar and cayenne pepper to the vegetables and bring to a simmer. Taste the mixture and add salt if necessary.  Be sure not to bring the mixture to a heavy boil.
  7. Add the corn to the mixture and zest the orange on top of the simmering mixture. Stir to combine and heat through for a few minutes. Salt to taste and serve warm.

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