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, December 19, 2012

Roast Pork Loin

Tis the season of entertaining and I don’t think there’s a tastier bang for the buck than a large section of roast pork loin.  To impart the most flavor I have found no better way than to smear it in a flavored salt and garlic paste 24 hours before cooking.  You can make the paste with a lot of mincing but I recommend using your Cuisinart.  Start with a head of garlic, a tablespoon or two of kosher salt, and a splash of olive oil, you can add any additional ingredients once it’s finely minced.  For pork I often add rosemary or shallots, fresh mint for lamb, and a hefty grind of black pepper for beef tenderloin. The key is to cover the entire piece of meat with the paste before wrapping it in saran and putting it in the fridge overnight.  The roast meat will be amazing on its own but I often serve it with either a toned down version of the paste, more of a pesto using some sort of greens, or something complimentary such as an apple and onion chutney.  And if your entertaining all the work on this one is done ahead of time, just remember to set the timer so you don’t overcook it.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Cabbage, Mint, and Pistachio Salad

A raw cabbage salad is so underrated despite its amazing crunch, flavor, ease of preparation, and longevity in the veggie drawer.  I often eat it shredded with just kosher salt and extra virgin olive oil, sometimes a squeeze of lemon, but nearly as easy to jazz it up a bit more.  In this case in addition to the salt and olive oil I tossed it with some chopped fresh mint, pistachios, lime juice, and a generous sprinkle of my favorite Indian spice, garam masala.  Just as easy with cucumber, tomato, kalamata olives, and crumbled feta.  The point is, once you start eatting cabbage raw you’ll never be caught without one in the fridge again.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Parsley Pesto

After several days of sandwiches, turkey hash, and soup, a week after Thanksgiving the last thing left in the fridge last night was a nearly full bunch of parsley.  Instead of letting it sit there until it became one with the bag I opted for a parsley pesto.  In a Cuisinart start by mincing two garlic cloves and a teaspoon of kosher salt.  Add the washed parsley and a squeeze of lemon and while running drizzle your best olive oil in through the top until it’s finally minced and runny.  Add some grated parmesan, salt and pepper to taste, pulse, and toss with some raw vegetables.  It works especially well with mushrooms, this time around I also threw in a diced red pepper and some drained canned artichoke hearts in water.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sausage, Kale, and White Bean Soup

There’s no better reason to keep a jar of chicken stock concentrate on the fridge door than these rainy forty five degree days.  For this Kale, sausage, and white bean soup I started by sautéing a chopped onion for about ten minutes in a large pot before adding my sliced sausage along with a chopped garlic clove.  I used a D'artagnan Andouille sausage but a chorizo or other spicy sausage would do just fine.  When the sausage was nearly cooked through I added my chopped kale, tossed until wilted,  then enough water to cover by at least an inch or two.  Once boiling I added the concentrated chicken stock a teaspoon full at a time, tasting in between so as not to overdo it.  Then it’s just a large can of drained white beans, a small can of chopped tomatoes, simmer, and salt and pepper to taste before serving.  This time around I dolloped it with a spoonful of arugula pesto and served with a toasted cheezy baguette.  Let it rain.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Garlic Chicken

When I came across this garlic chicken recipe lately I was skeptical but thankfully gave it a try, it’s amazingly rich and not at all too garlicky.  Start by seasoning your cut up whole chicken or boneless thighs with salt and pepper and brown both sides in a medium hot pan for about fifteen minutes.  In the meantime peel two heads of garlic…that’s right….two heads.  After removing the chicken from the pan brown the whole coves for about six minutes, add a half cup of dry white wine or vermouth and let reduce by half, then add a cup of chicken stock.  You could use a potato masher to break up the softened cloves but I found it easiest to pour the garlic mixture in a bowl and use my stick blender.  Once pureed add to a roasting pan with the browned chicken and bake for twenty to thirty minutes. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Kimchi Fish Tacos

I’m all about kimchi, this spicy fermented cabbage is loaded with flavor, works for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and lasts forever in the fridge.  And while the jars I see in my market may seem pricey, trust me, it lasts a good long while…like one of those sponges at the bank that just keep expanding.  While I’ve been known to put it on everything from hot dogs to sardines, my favorite application is on fish tacos.  Cover the bottom of a frying pan with a thin layer of oil and while that’s heating cut your tilapia, pollock or other firm white fish into one inch strips, salt and pepper, and dust with flour.  On low, heat up a second Teflon pan on low to warm your soft corn tortillas, it just takes a few minutes of flipping.  I love the thicker home styles brands.  Pan fry your fish, place in the tortillas, and top with kimchi, cilantro, and a slice of avocado.  Chopped scallions and tomatoes are a nice touch too.  And of course your favorite salsas and a pinch of kosher salt.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Swiss Chard Pasta with Garlic Breadcrumbs

Caramelized onions make everything good but this combination with Swiss Chard and garlic bread crumbs is memorable.  Peel, halve, and slice a couple of yellow onions and sauté over medium to high heat with butter or olive oil and a pinch of sugar…scrape and turn often.  While those are cooking heat two peeled and squashed garlic cloves in a couple table spoons of olive oil so the garlic flavors the oil, if you’re an anchovy fan a couple of fillets work well with the garlic.  After a few minutes add a cup of dried bread crumbs and toss well so the oil is absorbed before setting aside.  Add some more oil to the pan and sauté your washed, deveined, and chopped Swiss Chard until it is soft.  Once the onions are browned add to the Chard, salt and pepper to taste, and combine with the bread crumbs and cooked pasta of your choice….garnish with some parmesan…a hearty and flavorful pasta, perfect for this time of year.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Delicata Squash Curry

The cold nights are perfect for a big bowl of curry, and while Delicata squash isn’t very traditional, it works nicely both for its flavor and consistency.  Wash, halve, seed, and slice a few squash into 1/8 to ¼ inch slices, toss with a little oil and salt and bake at 375 for half an hour with the skin on.  In the meantime sauté a large chopped onion in a pot until it begins to brown, then add two chopped garlic cloves and some turkey burger if a veggie curry isn’t going to do it for you.  After five minutes add your curry paste, a cup of salted peanuts, and three cups of veggie or chicken stock, I prefer the Better Than Bouillon paste that’s available locally.  If you’re using curry powder stir that in with the turkey burger in the previous step.  Once you add the squash it’s just a matter of letting it simmer for half an hour, salt and hot sauce to taste, and some scallions for a dash of color.  Works well served alongside a cold cabbage or brussel sprout salad.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Quick Tomato Soup

Saw this tomato soup recipe in my most recent issue of Saveur, it epitomizes my mantra…less time at the stove, more time at the table.  Core and quarter four tomatoes and place in a large bowl along with half a chopped onion, a smashed garlic clove, a third of a baguette cut into large chunks, and a tablespoon and a half of kosher salt.   Bring your kettle to a boil and fill the bowl with enough hot water to submerge everything.  After an hour, squeeze the liquid out of the bread and put  it into a Cuisinart with the drained vegetables, a tablespoon of sherry or red wine vinegar, and a cup of the reserved liquid.  While running the Cuisinart drizzle in a cup of your best olive oil to create some thickness to your mixture, salt and pepper to taste.  Serve at room temperature or chilled, either way with a chopped hard boiled egg….some prosciutto too if you have it.  Amazing!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Roasted Tomatoes

I love the crisp days and cool nights but it’s sad to think that tomato season is coming to an end.  And while the tomatoes may not be as incredible as they were a couple of weeks ago I find roasting them coaxes out the last of that peak summer flavor.  Simply rinse, halve, and gently toss your tomatoes with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Place them cut side up in a baking dish or cookie sheet and roast for an hour at 350, then toss with some fresh basil and an extra drizzle of olive oil.  They’re great hot as a side dish, or cold on a sandwich or piece of fish later in the week.  Enjoy them while they last!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sweet Corn

I can’t get enough corn these days…it’s been an incredibly sweet year.  So to prolong the season I spent an hour shucking and bagging thirty ears so I could savor it all winter.  To start I got a large pot of water boiling and after husking in batches of six I dropped the ears into the simmering pot for two minutes then quickly into a waiting ice bath.  Then it was just a matter of cutting the kernels from the cobs and spooning them in freezer bags.  But don’t throw out those cobs. Break them in half and put them back in the pot and boil for about three hours or until the liquid is reduced by at least three quarters.  It helps to rotate the cobs half way through.  What you end up with is a concentrated corn stock that’s unmatched for soups, risotto, or pasta sauce.  Try a corn and potato vichyssoise, or roast corn and leek risotto, only this time of year will they taste this good.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Pickled Beets...and Greens

I usually don’t think of pickled beets until mid-winter when I dig into that first jar I stored in the pantry several months before, but why wait?  Peel , halve and cut your beets into eighth inch slices then lightly boil in salted water for five minutes or so…they’re best when they still have a crunch.  When they’ve hit the desired crunchiness run them under some cold water to stop them from cooking any further.  Then it’s as easy as combining them in a Tupperware with some white vinegar for a couple of days, a thinly sliced onion or a pinch of cayenne pepper are great options.   And don’t discard those beet greens, they are so satisfying sautéed with some sliced garlic and extra virgin olive oil. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tomato Mozzarella Salad

For tomato fans in Vermont it doesn’t get any better than right now, it’s a short season but so worth the wait.  This is a twist on a classic, I call it my Milanese Caprese Salad.  Let a thick slice, about a half inch, of mozzarella sit out until it reaches room temperature.  Toss your tomatoes, fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil, and a generous amount of kosher salt in a bowl and serve over the mozzarella.  Serve with a knife, fork, and fresh baguette…it can only be described as heavenly.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cucumber Avocado Soup

The chilled soup season in Vermont is a short one, and this is it, I took advantage of it this week with some local cucumbers and mint.  In a Cuisinart, start with a generous handful of mint, half a clove of chopped garlic, a little chopped onion or white end of a scallion, and some kosher salt.  Pulse until finely chopped.  Skin and seed several cucumbers and an avocado then add to the mix.  With your Cuisinart running drizzle in about a quarter cup of extra virgin olive oil like you would for a pesto so the oil emulsifies.  Add the juice of a lime, a couple shakes of Tabasco hot sauce, pulse, then salt and white pepper to taste.  It’s best to chill for at least a couple of hours before serving.  Last week using this same approach I wowed the family with a fruit soup using a couple of ripe cantaloupes along with some basil, lemon, and honey….no olive oil on this one.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Anchovy Rubbed Lamb Chops

When barbequing meats I often use a salt and garlic rub right before grilling but decided to give anchovies a try after seeing them used this way on a menu in New York at a recent trade show.  While my lamb chops were warming to room temperature I mashed together eight anchovy fillets with a couple of cloves of minced garlic and a little bit of kosher salt.  A half hour before grilling I rubbed the anchovy paste onto both sides of my lamb chops and grilled them until medium rare.  Wow, the flavor was fantastic, salty but not fishy, really nice with the lamb.  A great change of pace, can’t wait to try it on some grilled fish.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Asian Chop Salad

You can’t really go wrong with any combination of fresh vegetables this time of year but this Asian chop salad was made especially amazing by some local Napa cabbage and shitake mushrooms I was excited to find at the farmer’s market.  Before chopping I started my vinaigrette by grating some ginger into a bowl of lemon juice, rice vinegar, and soy, with a few splashes of chili, sesame, and olive oil.  While it sat I husked the corn and sliced off the kernels into my salad bowl followed by the cabbage and mushrooms. I then chopped my cucumber, green pepper, cilantro, and jalapeno, followed by some grated carrot. I added some barbequed teriyaki marinated chicken breasts but definitely not necessary. I rarely use dried Chinese noodles but they make for a great Asian crunch, make sure to wait and add them at the end so they don’t get soggy along with kosher salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Summer Eggs

I have found that a great way to "summerize" your eggs is to top them with a tomato salad or pesto, and instead of melting your cheese within your eggs either serve it on top or not at all…in this case I did a bit of all three.  For the eggs I simply scrambled with some arugula and while still hot covered them with a slice of fresh mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, fresh pesto, then drizzled with some extra virgin olive oil.  It would have been just as refreshing with the tomato salad, pesto, or mozzarella alone…but no matter which way you choose the olive oil is critical. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Joyva Sesame Tahini

I often forget about that squat orange and brown can buried on the top shelf of the fridge, but when I stumble on it I can’t believe how I’ve lived so long without it.  Joyva Sesame Tahini, just add warm water, garlic, lemon juice and salt and you’ve got the most incredibly delicious condiment…and even after opening it lasts for months in the fridge.  The hard part is just remembering it’s there.  I love it on rice and couscous, chicken and lamb, eggplant and chick peas, or stirred into a salad dressing.  It’s even great plain with some pita bread.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Grilled Sweet Potatoes

As long as you’re grilling why not throw on some sweet potatoes.  Slice them anywhere from an eighth to a quarter inch thick then toss with a little bit of olive oil, and your spices of choice.  If you don’t want to think too hard use the Lawry’s, yes, it’s as great as you remember.  Otherwise salt and just about anything works, granulated garlic, cumin, or paprika are all good.  Because the sweet potatoes take up so much room on the grill it’s best to get them on before your main course then when they are nicely browned on both sides you can stack them to the side or on a rack above and the indirect heat will finish them off.  Great the next day in a salad too.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Mussels Marinara

One of my favorite summer dishes, Mussels Marinara doesn’t take much more to prepare than steaming the mussels.  Start by sautéing a chopped shallot and a couple cloves of garlic in a little bit of olive oil.  Add a small bottle of clam juice, clam stock, or white wine to the pot and bring to a boil.  Add the mussels and cover until they open, then cook for an additional two minutes.  If you’re going to serve over pasta add a full jar of your favorite marinara sauce, half a jar if not, then toss a bit, turn the heat down to medium, and replace the cover.  You should be ready to go in less than five minutes.  Sprinkle some chopped parsley, scallion greens, or chives over the top when serving.  And make sure you load up those bowls with lots of sauce whether for the noodles or a fresh baguette. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Fresh Corn Saute

I think this is it, corn on the cob at the market, summer is definitely close.  And it doesn’t take much effort to enjoy it.  While getting your olive oil hot in a saute pan shuck the corn making sure that when you break off the stalk you leave yourself a flat end.  Individually stand each cob up in a salad bowl stalk side down and while holding the tip slice off the kernals with a chef’s knife rotating as you go.  Once you’ve removed all the corn from the cobs pour them into your hot pan and saute for a few minutes.  Add some kosher salt, pepper, and two cloves of chopped garlic and sauté for another couple of minutes…you can’t undercook it.  You could stir in some chopped basil, cilantro, or chives, in fact this time around I added some chive pesto I happen to have around but it’s delicious simply with the garlic.  Eat it while you can, we’ve waited six months for this.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Don't Forget to Eat Your Carrots

I don't know why we don't eat more carrots? There's always a bag hanging out in the back of the veggie drawer and they're so good and easy to make. Here's a couple of quick ways to make your carrots feel more important, sauteed with garlic, and herb roasted. For the sautee, wash and slice your carrots at an angle, sautee in a hot pan with some extra virgin olive oil for five minutes stirring often, add some sliced garlic, sautee for another couple of minutes, and salt to taste.   Alternatively for the roast carrots, preheat your oven to 400, wash and cut the carrots into three inch lengths then quarter each length. Toss them together in a large bowl with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, your favorite dried herb, and some kosher salt and pepper to taste. Spread them on a piece of parchment or directly onto your cookie sheet and bake. Give them a little toss around after about 25 minutes then bake for another 25 minutes. Not bad...right?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Barley Risotto with Edamame and Artichokes

I’m not sure after this one I’ll ever use rice again for my risotto, I liked the consistency and mouth feel of the barley so much better.  I made it just as I would a rice risotto.  I started by sautéing a chopped shallot in a large pan with some extra virgin olive oil and, or, a quarter stick of butter.  Then after a few minutes, two chopped garlic cloves.  If you have an open bottle of white wine add a half a cup and cook until it is nearly absorbed, if not, use the juice from half a lemon.  Pour in some more oil and, or, another quarter stick of butter, melt, and pour in a cup of uncooked barley and stir around to coat.     

Time to add the liquid.  Along with the two and a half cups of water I like to add some vegetable or mushroom stock for flavor but it isn't critical.  Better Than Bullion is a great choice.  Turn up the heat, stir, and lower to a simmer once it reaches a boil.  It is best to stir occasionally for the thirty to forty five minutes it takes for the barley to reach the desired consistency.  This time around I added some edamame out of the pods from the frozen food section that I defrosted, a can of artichoke hearts I rinsed and chopped, some fresh chopped chives, lots of grated parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste.  However the combinations are endless, peas, scallions, sautéed mushrooms, asparagus, cooked bacon, and spinach to name a few.  I often browse for ideas, just search on risotto. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Greek Wheatberry Salad

It was about two years ago I stumbled onto wheatberries and have been a fan ever since.  They’re as simple to make as pasta, incredibly versatile hot or cold, and really good for you.  For this Greek interpretation I boiled a cup of wheatberries for forty five minutes, drained, let cool, then combined with extra virgin olive oil, sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, and Kalamata olives along with some crumbled feta and salt and pepper to taste.  Try them hot with sautéed mushrooms, onions, and garlic, or as a main course with diced chicken, capers and lemon.  Did I mention the chew…love it.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Spice Rubbed Flank Steak

A tasty way to prepare a piece of meat or fish is to use a spice rub, and it couldn’t be any easier.  No matter what spices I use I always start with about a one to five mixture of salt to sugar depending on how much rub I need.  As I was only grilling a steak flank last night it worked out to about a half teaspoon of salt to one and a half tablespoons of sugar.  I was thinking Mexican so in addition I mixed in a tablespoon of chili powder and a few pinches of cayenne pepper.  I dusted both sides of the flank steak then rubbed it in with my hands making sure that the surface of the meat was completely covered with the spice mix.  That’s it, not even any need to prepare in advance.  I served the sliced steak with my favorite salsa verde and roasted cauliflower that I rubbed with some cumin powder, celery seed, and salt after tossing with a little bit of olive oil.  No need for the sugar on the veggies.  Happy Grillin’!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Asparagus Lemon Pesto

Asparagus means spring...and an asparagus, lemon pesto.  Using your Cuisinart start with a handful of pine nuts, blend, add kosher salt and a couple of garlic cloves, then blend again.  Cut off and discard the lower inch of your asparagus spears then remove the top third closest to the tips and save for later.  Chop the remaining lengths into one inch pieces and add them to the Cuisinart with some lemon zest.  Start the Cuisinart and add a slow drizzle of extra virgin olive oil into the top opening until you end up with a creamy, not coarse, consistency.  Add the juice from about a third of a lemon as well as a half a cup of grated parmesan, pulse, salt to taste, pulse, done.  While your pasta is cooking sauté the asparagus tips in a little bit of olive oil and toss together with your cooked pasta and pesto, garnish with some more grated parmesan before serving.  BTW, tried some whole wheat spaghetti noodles for this dish and they were really good…give ‘em a try.

Fennel, Potato, Arugula Salad

I’m a long time fennelholic, and I don’t consider it a problem at all.  I love it plain, roasted, braised, or most often in a salad.  To prepare I find it easiest to first cut away any fronds from the top of the bulb, slice in half the long way, peel away the course outer layer, then slice thinly.  This time I around I tossed it with some chopped arugula, left over roasted potato slices, and a lemon vinaigrette.  Most often however I simply serve it with some shaved parmesan, extra virgin olive oil, and kosher salt.  And as summer is not far off, it’s also great combined with a sliced plum.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Guacamole Chicken

Guacamole isn’t just for chips or nachos, as a condiment it makes for an easy way to change up your grilled chicken, pork, or steak.  I prefer my guacamole clean with chopped jalapeno, kosher salt, white pepper, and lime juice.  However, a few tablespoons of your favorite jarred salsa works in a pinch.  Last night I dusted my chicken thighs with chili powder and salt before grilling.  It doesn’t get any easier to avert a boring dinner when you aren’t up for making much of an effort. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

General Tso's Tofu

I have found that no matter how I’m going to prepare tofu it’s best to start by crisping it up first.  Remove the firm tofu from the package and let it drain for at least twenty minutes by simply standing it up on a plate so the water can run out.  Heat a little vegetable oil in a pan, slice your tofu, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  When your oil is hot toss a few slices of tofu at a time in a bowl of flour knocking off any excess flour before frying.  Make sure you don’t crowd them in the pan as you want them golden brown on both sides, it should take about four or five minutes per side.  Once cooked set them on a paper bag to drain. 
Last night I sautéed some vegetables, added a jar of Trader Joe’s General Tso’s sauce, then when the sauce was hot I stirred in the cooked tofu, simmered for five minutes, and served with rice.  Black bean sauce is another favorite convenience item I buy locally.  The tofu is also great right out of the hot oil with chopped scallions and soy sauce or your favorite hot sauce.  Not sure I've ever had anything that's been fried in oil that I didn't like.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Quinoa with Tomatoes and Scallions

There’s a lot about Quinoa I really like, short cooking time, great texture, flavor, and super versatile…not to mention the fact that it’s super healthy.  You prepare it as you would rice but with one and a half cups of salted water to one cup of Quinoa.  Simply bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and cover for fifteen minutes.  Last night I stirred in some chopped tomatoes and scallions at the end and let it sit for five minutes with the heat off before serving.  It’s endless what else would have worked, mushrooms, celery, bell peppers, pine nuts, olives, dried cranberries, mint, or feta…great opportunity to get creative…and use that can of palm hearts that’s been on the shelf of your pantry for years.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mushroom Pesto

This is perfect for when you get the call saying, “we’ll be by in ten minutes for a glass of wine.”  Chop two garlic cloves with a dash of kosher salt in the Cuisinart before adding a small container of mushrooms, I like the baby bellas but white mushrooms are fine.  Also, I find it helps to chop the mushrooms first so they puree evenly.  While running the Cuisinart slowly pour a steady of stream of extra virgin olive oil into the mixture until you get a pesto consistency, not too runny.  Add some pepper, additional kosher salt, and either grated parmesan or pecorino to taste, pulse a couple of times, then cork your wine, you’re ready to go.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Roast Beets with Balsamic Fennel

I love roasting beets simply with a little olive oil and salt, but last night I got a little crazy and added some sautéed fennel and balsamic….really special.  After preheating the oven to 425 degrees cut the ends off of your beats, peel or cut away the skin with a paring knife, cube, then toss with a little olive oil and kosher salt.  Roasting takes about 45 minutes to an hour.  Twenty minutes before serving sauté a chopped fennel bulb until it’s soft and starting to brown around the edges.  Add a chopped garlic clove and a half cup of balsamic vinegar to the pan along with a couple tablespoons of sugar.  When the liquid is reduced by half and starting to get syrupy simply toss together with your roast beets.  If fennel isn’t your thing you could easily substitute an onion or use the balsamic reduction on it’s own.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Chicken Noodle Soup

Why buy canned soup when you can easily make a better and healthier soup for a lot less.  I always keep a jar of condensed Better Than Bouillon chicken stock on the door of the fridge so I don’t have to plan, you never know when you’re going to need a bowl of chicken soup. 

Start with the fresh vegetables, chop them up, and sauté in the bottom of a soup pot with a little bit of oil; Onions, celery, carrots, mushrooms, fennel, cabbage, whatever you like.  If you use arugula or escarole, or frozen corn or peas, you should add them to your soup at the end.  After ten minutes add your raw meat cut up into small pieces; Chicken, sausage, beef, pork, again, anything goes.  If you’re using leftover meat that’s already been cooked do not add it until the end. 

Add a couple of cups of water per portion of soup and figure about a teaspoon of stock for each cup of water.  Bring to a boil and immediately turn down to a simmer before adding your leafy or frozen vegetables, cooked meat, canned beans, or dry pasta.  For the pasta make sure you simmer long enough to cook through.  I broke a small handful of angel hair pasta into one inch pieces this time around.  This is also the point at which you scour the fridge for suitable leftovers, chop them up and throw them in, very satisfying.  Now all you need is some great bread…soups up.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Creamy Chicken Polenta

You know when you haven’t made something in a while and then when you do you say, “why don’t I make that more often?”  Polenta is one of those things, such a great comfort food.  In a large frying pan sauté an onion and some sliced mushrooms in a little bit of oil for a few minutes.  Slice your chicken breast into one to two inch chunks and brown them for a minute on each side in the pan with your vegetables.  Once browned add a jar of your favorite tomato sauce, I prefer Rao’s Marinara.  While your chicken mixture is simmering, in a small pot add a teaspoon of chicken stock to three cups of water, bring to a boil, add a cup of dry polenta, then turn down to simmer.  I find it definitely helps to stir the polenta often but it only takes a few minutes for it to reach oatmeal consistency.  At this point turn off the heat, add a one inch slab of butter, a generous amount of grated parmesan, and a little salt…stir then cover until you are ready to serve.  I know, “why don’t I make this more often?”

Monday, February 6, 2012

Raw Butternut Squash Salad

Who would have thought, butternut squash, raw?  The texture reminds me of a green papaya salad.  Start by soaking your raisins of dried cranberries in a small bowl of rice wine or white balsamic vinegar.  Peel and seed the squash and shred into a bowl with a box grater.  Before serving toss with your soaked fruit and vinegar, pine nuts or slivered almonds, a few splashes of extra virgin and olive oil, and kosher salt and pepper to taste.  Don’t hesitate to add additional vinegar if you think it needs it.  Crunchy, sweet, sour, and totally refreshing…a great winter salad.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Kale Caesar Salad

The kale is a nice for a change, especially this time of year.  After deveining and chopping the kale into small pieces it’s all about the dressing.  In an empty Ball or peanut butter jar add one whole egg, a chopped garlic clove, an anchovy or squeeze of anchovy paste, a dollop of Dijon mustard, and a half inch of extra virgin olive oil.  Insert your stick blender so it’s resting on the bottom of the jar and blend on high while slowly lifting the blades up through the mixture.  Once it starts to thicken add another half inch of oil, kosher salt, black pepper, and lemon juice, then blend for another ten to twenty seconds.  You could probably use the same technique in a blender or Cuisinart but I've never tried.  Regardless, it’s important to let it sit for fifteen minutes before tossing with your kale, parmesan, and croutons.  You will never buy another bottled Caesar or go to the trouble of whisking again.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Nachos Supreme

With the final two weekends of football upon us nachos should be very much on your brain.  Amazing nachos are all about the layering, you don’t want any naked chips.  Start by preheating your oven to 450 and then combine a can of enchilada sauce and a can of pinto or black beans in a small pot on low heat.  In a frying pan cook a pound of your meat of choice; ground beef, braised brisket, chili, or Italian or pork chorizo sausages.  I simply split them down the middle to remove the casing and they easily broke apart while cooking. Turn off the heat once the meat is cooked. 

There’s going to be two layers, begin by covering the bottom of a cookie sheet or large oven proof dish with your favorite tortilla chips.  Following, spoon about half of both your enchilada bean sauce and meat mixture evenly over the chips in addition to a little shredded cheese, I like the Cabot Fancy Blend of Mozzarella and Cheddar.  Pile on the rest of your chips then spoon out the rest of your sauce and meat before covering completely with the shredded cheese, and I mean completely, no skimping on the cheese.

Bake for ten to fifteen minutes then when the cheese has completely melted finish off under the broiler for just a minute.  Serve with sour cream, chopped scallions, avocado, and your favorite salsa.  If you like your nachos on the spicy side add some hot sauce to the enchilada sauce and beans, this way the heat will be spread throughout.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Smoked Paprika Fried Chickpeas

These are amazing in a salad, I tossed them with some chopped cabbage, cilantro, extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt, and rice wine vinegar…the combination of flavors and textures was fantastic.

Strain a can of chickpeas then roll and let them dry for half an hour in a dish towel.  While they are drying heat an eighth inch of veggie oil in a pan until it’s hot enough for a pea to sizzle when it hits the oil.  In a large bowl combine a half teaspoon of salt with a teaspoon of El Rey smoked paprika, half dulce and half picante if you like a bit of a zip.  They have both here at the East Warren Store and most finer food stores.  After testing your oil to make sure it’s hot enough add the peas and roll around occasionally for ten minutes or until they are slightly browned and crispy on the outside.  Remove the peas from the oil and let them sit for a minute on a brown paper bag.  Then it’s just a matter of tossing them in the bowl with your smoked paprika mixture until they are evenly coated.  I actually used two cans of chickpeas so there would be leftovers, it just took a couple of minutes in the toaster oven to crisp them up again the next day....great snack with a drink or perfect in my squash curry soup.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Egg Pizza

This one came out of no where, a pizza ball I had pulled out of the freezer two days before, and a few hungry teenagers for breakfast.  After sautéing up some onions and mushrooms and preheating the oven to 500 I cut the pizza ball up into lime sized balls.  I then rolled them as thin as I could one at a time with a rolling pin, brushed them with olive oil, covered with a little shredded mozzarella and kosher salt, and spread the mushroom and onions out making sure to leave a space in the middle for the cracked egg.  After dropping the egg I quickly and carefully transferred them one at a time to my hot pizza stone and baked for ten to fifteen minutes.  They were a huge hit, would work just as well with arugula, peppers, or just the cheese.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Lemon Caper Anchovy Chicken

Last night it was a lemon, caper, anchovy sauce but with this classic preparation it could be made a lot of different ways depending on your taste and what you happen to have on hand.  Start by cutting your boneless skinless chicken breasts in half then pound the pieces out to half their thickness by individually placing them in a clear plastic bag and flattening with a meat pounder or rolling pin.  After salting, peppering, and dusting each piece in flour brown them on both sides with olive oil in a large frying pan then set them aside before they cook through.  Turn heat down to medium then add your capers (I prefer the ones packed in salt rather than vinegar), minced anchovies or a squirt of anchovy paste, and lemon juice;  or sliced mushrooms and scallions;  or chopped olives and shallots…you get the idea.  Sauté for a few minutes then add a cup of liquid: white wine, chicken stock, marsala, or sweet vermouth.  Let the sauce reduce for a couple of minutes, salt and pepper to taste, then return the chicken to the pan long enough to heat through.  Serve with the sauce, and if you really want to get fancy garnish with some chopped parsley.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Beef Carpaccio

What can I say, I roasted a tenderloin for New Years Eve, well actually the night before New Years, but yes, I was cliché.  But there’s a reason why a tenderloin for New Years is cliché, it’s really really good every time…as long as you don’t overcook it.  So when I saw the leftover very rare tenderloin in the fridge late Sunday morning I got very excited…Carpaccio.  I put it in the freezer for half an hour to firm it up and sharpened my best knife.  After slicing the beef as thinly as I could I covered the bottom of a chilled plate carefull not to overlap the slices then topped them with some coarse salt, a little bit of arugula, a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and some shaved parmesan.  An incredible way to bring in the New Year, can’t believe I had never served it before.  Happy 2012!