Baking is science and I don't like formulas, but cooking is art and anything goes...and the simpler the better. It's all about less time at the stove and more time at the table. With a forty year passion for food I'm excited to share what I do in the kitchen nearly every day.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Gnocchi with Chicken Meatballs and Pesto

This one is all about the chicken meatballs, no frying and a nice change from the traditional beef and pork meatball.  Preheat your oven to 350 and cover two cookie sheets with parchment paper.  In a small bowl add a half a cup of milk to a cup of panko bread crumbs and let sit.  Saute a couple of finely chopped shallots and three cloves of garlic then put in your Cuisiart with approximately two pounds of chunked boneless chicken thighs and one pound of breasts.  Pulse until it is the consistency of hamburger then combine in a large bowl with a cup of grated parmesan, some chopped parsley or scallion tops, a lightly scrambled egg, ground pepper, a generous helping of kosher salt, and the soaked panko.  Thoroughly stir the mixture then roll with your hands into one to one and a half inch balls and set them on the cookie sheets.  Bake for fifteen to twenty minutes rotating the trays about half way through. 

For this dish I combined my cooked meatballs with a basil pesto and some dried store bought gnocchi that I just had to boil for ten minutes.  Other times I’ve added the meatballs to a pot of marinara and served them over ziti or spaghetti, melted mozzarella over them for a meatball sub, or added them to a chicken or potato soup.  They’re even amazing cold right out of the fridge the next day.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Open Face Tomato Melt

My lunch today exemplifies the saying that sometimes the simplest things in life are the best…or in this case, the tastiest.  In Vermont we only get tomatoes this good for a couple of months a year, but the Cabot Cheddar and artisan bread are available year around and the combination is pretty awesome just plain.  Or if you want to get fancy you could top with bacon, mushrooms, kalamata olives, or whatever leftovers you have around from last night's dinner.  After putting a little bit of oil into the pan I grilled the bread on one side, flipped it, then covered it with some shaved cheddar…that’s the secret, putting the cheese on the just grilled side so it melts before your bread burns.  Once the cheddar melted I laid down my sliced tomatoes and topped with some kosher salt.  Could have also done it in the toaster but I don’t think it’s as good.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ricotta with Basil

I had twenty minutes last night to come up with an appetizer for a potluck board meeting and pulled this one off with five minutes to spare.  In a bowl I mixed together a pint of my favorite locally made ricotta, a large handful of freshly chopped basil, and more extra virgin olive oil and kosher salt than you think you will need.  Keep tasting as it’s hard to remove the salt once you’ve crossed the line, but the salty crunch is what makes it really good.  I served it up with a sliced baguette.  It’s also nice to drizzle some additional olive oil over the top just before serving.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Roast Vegetable "Ratatouille"

It doesn’t get much easier than roasting vegetables and it’s a great way to warm up the house this time of year. This combination of cherry tomatoes, corn, and eggplant is a great one for both flavor and texture.  With the oven on 450 I cut my eggplant into quarter inch slices, cut my corn from the cobs, and stemmed my tomatoes before tossing them separately with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil and salt.  In separate dishes I roasted each for approximately 45 minutes to an hour until the eggplant was cooked through.  I quartered the eggplant slices then tossed them in a bowl with the cooked corn, tomatoes including juices, some fresh basil, a small pour of Balsamic Vinegar, and Kosher salt and white pepper to taste.  I think the tomatoes are critical but the possibilities of what you could combine them with are endless.