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, 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!