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.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Tenderloin with Pancetta Kale Pesto

New Year’s is a great excuse to dig out the barbeque and get a little decadent with some fried cured pork spooned over a thick slice of tenderloin.  Begin by frying up a few chopped up ¼” inch slices of pancetta or bacon until lightly crisped, cool down and mince them in the Cuisinart along with a few cloves of garlic and a half teaspoon of kosher salt. Devein and blanch a quarter bunch of kale and thoroughly squeeze the water out before adding to the Cuisinart with the pancetta mixture.  While running drizzle in some extra virgin olive oil until it starts to form a slightly runny paste, then salt and pepper to taste.  For the tenderloin get your barbeque as hot as possible, lightly coat your meat with kosher salt and black pepper and throw it on the grill for a few minutes until seared.  Flip, give it a couple of minutes, then turn off all of the burners except for the one furthest from the meat so it roasts at approximately 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.  Set a timer, use a meat thermometer or cut it open, whatever it takes, you don’t want to end the year by overcooking your tenderloin.  Slice and serve with the room temperature pancetta kale mixture over the top.  See you in 2014…have a happy one!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

What's in Your Pantry?

After writing this blog for more than two years I thought it was high time to go through my pantry, cupboards, and fridge and create a list of my go to ingredients, those nearly non-perishable things I always have on hand that make spending less time at the stove and more time at the table a whole lot easier. I’m a condiment junky so it’s not nearly a complete list, but in order of frequency of use here it is:  Everyday extra virgin olive oil as well as a nicer one for drizzling, kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, garlic, shallots, onions, Better Than Bouillon chicken stock, regular and white balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, Sriracha, chili flakes, parmesan, marinara sauce, sugar, fine salt, eggs, pasta, potatoes, rice, grains, canned beans, Kalamata olives, cheddar cheese, scallions, cabbage, lemons, corn tortillas, anchovy paste, panko, rice wine vinegar, flour, meat marinade, bbq sauce, curry paste, vegetable oil, ketchup, Dijon, honey, smoked paprika, maple syrup, cumin, chili powder, kimchi, feta, pecorino, couscous, capers, carrots, fresh ginger, a jalapeno, butter, salsa, nuts, bacon, clam stock, and Far East Rice Pilaf…we love that stuff.  Treat yourself or make your favorite cook’s holiday special with a nice bottle of olive oil or a tube of anchovy paste.  Have a happy one!!!!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Poached Cod and Vegetables in a Five Spice Broth

This is the kind of light meal you could eat all the time, and one of the easiest ways to prepare cod or any other firm white fish.  In a bowl mix together 2 cups of fish or chicken stock, a generous splash of soy sauce, a squirt of sesame oil, a tablespoon of sugar, and a teaspoon of five spice powder.  In a large pot with a little vegetable oil sauté some Chinese vegetables such as carrots, scallions, bok choy, cabbage, or spinach as well as some fresh garlic or ginger until soft, about two minutes.  Add the stock mixture, season a pound of cod with salt and pepper, and once the liquid starts to simmer lay the filets on top of the veggies and cover.  Immediately turn down the heat and cook for 4 to 5 minutes.  It’s a great dish served in a bowl on its own or over rice or noodles. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Gravlax with Mustard Dill Sauce

It’s officially the holiday party season and whether you’re hosting or pot lucking Gravlax is one of my favorite appetizers and rates very high on the way easy to prepare scale.  It’s important to start with two pounds of the freshest salmon available and the wide center cuts work best.  Start by cutting your filet into two equal pieces then find a straight sided dish that is just slightly larger than one of your filets.  You’ll also need a piece of wood or hardcover book that is smaller than the circumference of the dish, and something heavy that will balance on top such as a brick or large can.  Place one of your pieces of salmon in the bottom of the dish skin side down, trickle with a cap full of gin then cover completely with a tablespoon each of salt and sugar and a cup of fresh dill.  Spread equal amounts of salt and sugar on the second filet and lay it on top creating a sort of salmon sandwich with the thinner belly ends of each on opposite sides so it’s a snug fit.  Cover with saran wrap, weight it down with your plank and heavy object, then put it in the fridge for three days flipping once or twice a day.  Slice thin and serve with a sweet mustard sauce made up of sour cream, honey mustard, chopped fresh dill and a squeeze of lemon. 
 


 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Potato Latkes

It’s potato latkes for Thanksgiving this year, and not only because it’s Hanukah…but because they’re really good.  While they’re is nothing like a crispy latke right out of the hot oil, because of the logistics of putting out a huge holiday meal it is possible to fry them beforehand and reheat uncovered in the oven before serving.  Start by heating up a quarter inch of vegetable oil in a heavy skillet before peeling six baking potatoes, enough for 20 latkes.  Using a hand grater or Cuisinart coarsely grate the potatoes along with an onion and carrot before stirring together with a third of a cup of flour, three lightly scrambled eggs, a tablespoon of salt, and teaspoon of black pepper.  When your oil is hot take a quarter cup of the mixture with a slotted spoon and squeeze out as much water as you can using the palm of your hand before sliding the flattened mixture into the oil.  Cook two to three minutes per side until golden brown then transfer to a paper bag to drain.  Serve with sour cream.  And one more thing, don’t forget to turn your exhaust fan on high.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Brussel Sprouts with Slivered Almonds

This one is all about the crunch, and perfect for a casual dinner or your Thanksgiving meal.  Start by finely chopping a shallot and a couple of cloves of garlic while you heat up some butter or extra virgin olive oil in a sauté pan.  Shred your brussel sprouts by holding the base of each sprout and carefully cut into 1/8 inch slices.  When you’re well on your way sauté the shallot, garlic, and slivered almonds until they just begin to brown then add the sprouts.  They don’t take long, five minutes tops, and be sure to flip a couple of times while cooking.  Before serving add salt and pepper to taste along with a squeeze of lemon.  You could also serve it as a cold salad but don’t cook the brussel sprouts, skip the shallot and garlic, toast the slivered almonds, and add a bit of shaved parmesan.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Salmon Burger

Salmon is a great go to fish and serving it up as a burger on a perfectly toasted bun is an easy way to change things up.  You can chop everything by hand but it’s much easier to use a Cuisinart.  Start with the green ends of some scallions, fresh ginger, and lemon juice, then run until finely chopped.  Add a pound of cut up skinless salmon and pulse until coarsely ground.  In a bowl combine the salmon mixture with a lightly scrambled egg, a cup of breadcrumbs or panko, and salt and pepper.  Form into patties and cook in a medium hot frying pan with just enough oil to keep them from sticking.  This time around I served them with some grilled onions and cilantro pesto but nearly anything goes, a caper mayonnaise, aioli, some hoisin or Sriracha sauce, or simply lettuce and tomato. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Puttanesca

What I love about a puttanesca sauce, besides being an extraordinary combination of flavors, is that the ingredients are all in the pantry or the fridge…or at least should be.  While you bring your salted pasta pot to a boil sauté four chopped garlic cloves and a healthy pinch of dried chili flakes in some extra virgin olive oil.  When the garlic starts to brown add three to four anchovy filets or a generous squeeze of anchovy paste, and stir until “melted.”  Next, add three tablespoons of capers, some chopped kalamata or cured olives, and after a few minutes, your favorite marinara sauce.  Let simmer, then toss with your drained pasta and top with some grated parmesan and serve.  I highly recommend including the anchovies, but if you’re not willing to give them a chance it’s still pretty good without them.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Roast Beets with Pine Nuts and Feta

For me I find the easiest ways to cook beets is to peel them with a knife and roast them, no need to scorch your fingertips peeling boiled beets.  Preheat your oven to 375 while you cut off the ends, peel, and cube your beets and toss them with a little bit of oil and place them in your roasting pan.  While they’re cooking toast a handful of pine nuts in a medium hot sauté pan until golden, no need to oil the pan.  You could also toast them on a sheet of tin foil, either way be careful not to burn them.  Give your beets a toss after twenty minutes and test with a knife after forty, they should be soft.  Mix in some chopped scallions, maybe a squeeze of lemon, and leave in the oven for another ten minutes.  Remove and top with crumbled feta before serving.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Leek and Barley Soup

It’s soup season and there’s still a lot of fresh local veggies around.  This one is all about the leeks, quarter and slice at least six and sauté on medium low heat until they’re very soft and mushy being careful not to let them brown.  Add some chopped garlic, ground black pepper, and a sliced carrot and sauté another five minutes before adding a pound of ground turkey or pork and a few pinches of dried chili flakes.  It’s best to break up the ground meat while it’s cooking, about five minutes.  Add a cup of dried barley, stir around, and then fill up half the pot with water before mixing in several tablespoons of condensed chicken stock, I prefer, Better Than Bouillon.  Bring to a boil and let simmer for forty five minutes or until the barley is tender.  Add some fresh shucked corn, or frozen if you can’t find it, and when it starts to simmer add some more stock and salt to taste.  And there aren’t many soups that won’t benefit from some grated parmesan over the top before serving.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Glazed Turnips with Garlic Breadcrumbs

The turnips don’t get any sweeter than they are right now and together with the garlic breadcrumbs make a great Fall side dish. Put a cup and a half of water into a sauté pan with a dash of salt and sugar and while its heating peel and wedge your turnips.  Add the turnips to the simmering water and let cook covered for five minutes, then uncovered until the water has evaporated and they’re tender, another fifteen minutes or so.  Follow with a quarter stick of butter and sauté over medium heat for another five minutes.  In a separate pan heat some extra virgin olive oil and add a chopped garlic clove, after a minute add a half a cup of breadcrumbs and with a spatula stir well so the oil is evenly absorbed.  Before serving add the breadcrumbs to your turnips and mix well.  This preparation would also be great for parsnips, leeks, or fennel. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Fried Eggplant with Honey Sriracha Sauce

Vermont honey and Sriracha, an unlikely combination but the perfect two minute sauce for anything fried.  And this time of year eggplant is a great way to go…peeling isn’t necessary but salting is.  Slice and salt each piece and let sit for at least five minutes before patting off the bitter juices that appear with a paper towel.  While your oil is heating, a 1/16 to an 1/8 of an inch is all that’s required, prepare three bowls for breading, flour, eggs, and panko or breadcrumbs.  In that order bread each piece of eggplant before placing in the hot oil for about three to four minutes a side then set on a brown paper bag to drain.  For the sauce stir the Sriracha or your favorite hot sauce into the honey and form a puddle on the bottom of your serving plate.  Place the eggplant slices in the puddle, salt and serve.  In this case I added some crumbled blue cheese and chopped arugula but the dish is very tasty on its own.  Note that you can fry your eggplant ahead of time and reheat them in the oven before serving.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Pan Roasted Tomatoes

It’s October and the tomatoes are still coming.  They’re not as sweet as they were a month ago but with a little heat they still have the power to Wow!  I threw last nights’ crop of Sun Golds into a sauté pan for about seven minutes with a little extra virgin olive oil and garlic.  Once they split I added some coarse salt and white pepper then served them alongside a piece of chicken.  They would have been great tossed into a pasta with some olives, a risotto with some arugula, or into a couscous with feta and scallions.  I also could have easily turned them into a great side by adding a can of white beans.  The oven works just as well, especially for larger tomatoes.  Cut them in half, toss in a little olive and salt and place them on a baking sheet for an hour at 350.  They won’t be around for long, get them while they’re hot.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Coffee Spice Rub

Despite the leaves starting to drop here in Vermont there’s still a lot more grilling to be done and adding a bit of espresso to your spice rub adds a richness that you’ll never get with a marinade.  If you have a rub mixture you like simply add a quarter cup of ground espresso.  If not, start by combining four tablespoons of white or brown sugar with two tablespoons of salt in a bowl.  From there add varying tablespoons of the following depending on what it’s in your cupboard, chili powder, paprika, mustard, ginger, black pepper, oregano, cumin, coriander, or granulated garlic…it’s hard to go wrong....don’t forget the espresso.  Rub the mixture into your meat and grill as you would on the barbeque, it also works just as well in a cast iron skillet on high heat for a few minutes a side and then into the oven for five to ten minutes depending on your desired doneness. 

 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Kale Pesto with Caramelized Onions

The kale pesto would have been amazing enough on its own, but combining it with the sweetness of the caramelized onions put it over the top.  To start, slice a couple of onions and sauté on medium high heat with some butter or oil, and a teaspoon of sugar.  Stir the onions occasionally so they brown evenly. In the meantime heat a large pot of salted water while you’re deveining your kale, I like to use the same water for both blanching the kale and cooking the pasta.  Blanch the kale for a minute then scoop it into a colander and drain thoroughly by squeezing it like a sponge once it has cooled down a bit. 

While your pasta is cooking start the pesto in the Cuisinart with two cloves of garlic, some kosher salt, and a handful of pine nuts.  Once minced add your drained kale and with the motor going drizzle in your extra virgin olive oil until you get the desired consistency.  Grate in some fresh parmesan, salt and pepper to taste, one final pulse, and you’re ready to combine all of your ingredients for the perfect late summer pasta.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pickled Onions

Pickled onions are great to have around as they’re adaptable to so many dishes and last for weeks in the fridge, and without a lot of fuss you can be eating them in just a few days.  For this quick pickling method you need only add two tablespoons of sugar and a teaspoon of salt to a bowl of malt, cider, or white vinegar, and stir until dissolved.  I often add a pinch of cayenne or dried chili flakes for a bit of spice.  Slice an onion, stuff it into a mason jar, then fill to the top with your vinegar mixture, seal, and refrigerate.  They’re okay after a few days, and better after a couple of weeks.  Try them on a burger, in a tomato or beet salad, with pork, salmon, tacos, or on a grilled ham and cheese sandwich….they’re not so bad with vodka either.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Potato Corn Vichyssoise

Vichyssoise sounds fancy but in reality it’s just cold potato soup, and a great way to take advantage of the local harvest this time of year.   While you simmer your cubed potatoes in salted water sauté some leeks, scallions, or shallots, in a little butter or oil.  Then cut your corn from the cob and add to the sauté, after five minutes or so add three cups of chicken stock and bring to a boil, turn down and simmer until your veggies are tender.  Your potatoes should be tender at this point, drain and add them to the veggies, season with salt and pepper, and blend until smooth.  Chill for at least a few hours and before serving stir in some sour cream or heavy cream, and garnish with some scallions and, or, some fresh corn.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Clams and Chorizo

I’ve recently discovered the magic of Vermont Salumi’s chorizo, it’s got such great flavor that you really don’t need to add much else to create some very tasty offerings.  For this clam and chorizo pasta begin by sautéing some chopped shallot and garlic in a little bit of oil.  Then take your chorizo and slice them top to bottom to peel off the casing, add to your shallots and garlic and lightly break apart with the side of a spoon.  While that’s cooking bring a half inch of clam stock to a boil in a separate pot, add you clams, cover, lower heat to medium, and cook until your clams open, approximately five minutes.  Spoon the chorizo mixture into the clam pot, stir, let sit for a minute, and serve over pasta or alone with a sliced baguette.  I used clams this time around but it would have been equally amazing with mussels.  Garnish either with some chopped chives, the green tips of some scallions, or parsley.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Grilled Nectarines

Grilling fits in quite well for keeping to my mantra, less time at the stove and more time at the table, and these grilled nectarines were an easy way to jazz up an otherwise boring pork loin.  I simply made a slice all the way around the nectarine right down to the pit making sure that I ended at my starting point, then twisted the two halves so they easily came apart….same way you would halve an avocado.  Then I grilled them on the barbeque over medium heat, that’s it, no oil, no spice, no nothing.  This time around I chopped them up with some fresh mint, coarse salt, and a few drops of chili oil and served the mixture over my sliced pork.  However in the past I’ve left them whole and topped them with some crumbled feta or blue cheese, tossed them sliced in an arugula and tomato salad, or with some basil over grilled chicken. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Tomato, Fennel, and Basil Salad

The tomatoes haven’t appreciated all the rain we’ve been having this summer but better late than never, and they’ve arrived.  Don’t waste any time, a tomato a day I say, whether in gazpacho, a quick tomato sauce, salsas, or sliced on a toasted baguette with salt and olive oil, there’s nothing like a locally grown tomato.  I topped my pan fried chicken cutlets the other night with some of Gaylord Farm’s red and yellow heirlooms, fennel, basil, coarse salt, and a splash of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Last night I layered them with some mozzarella, and for breakfast laid a thick slab on my scrambled eggs with some olive oil and crumbled feta.  It’s hard to go wrong any way you slice them.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Squid with Potatoes and Scallions

I’ve really enjoyed eating squid more this summer…tasty, easy to prepare, and affordable.  I’ve been grilling and tossing it with some variation of fresh chopped tomatoes, chick peas, feta, olives, and lemon, but this time around I tried something a bit different, potatoes and scallions.  I sliced my Idaho potatoes in thirds the long way and tossed them along with my whole scallions in a little olive oil, salt, and pepper while my grill was heating up.  After placing the potatoes and scallions on the grill I turned it down to medium-low and flipped occasionally, the scallions were done after about ten minutes, the potatoes more like thirty.  I turned the grill back up to medium-high and butterflied my squid by slicing them down one side then tossing them along with their heads in some olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Once on the grill they took approximately five minutes per side depending on how crispy you like the edges. It was then as easy as tossing the squid with the cut up potatoes and scallions along with some extra virgin olive oil, and coarse salt to taste.  The lemon vinaigrette I used on my side salad was a great accompaniment. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Crispy Garlic

Sometimes the best things happen by accident, and this was one of them….at least it seemed like it at the time.  I got distracted while intending to lightly brown a couple of flattened garlic cloves in some hot oil and ended up with some crispy medium brown cloves instead.  I went with it, and set them on a brown paper bag to drain while I barbequed the steak tips and blanched the green beans for a couple of minutes before running them under cold water.  I chopped up the crispy garlic, dried and cut the beans, then tossed with some halved Sun Gold Tomatoes, my best extra virgin olive oil, ground white pepper, and coarse salt.  Not sure what possessed me, it could have been the half bottle of Chianti, but I served the veggies over the steak tips so the salt and peppered oil, garlic, and juice from the tomatoes seeped down making for an absolutely incredible combination of flavors, textures, and temperatures.  Crispy garlic is now a regular addition at our house to all kinds of vegetables, starches, and meats.  In fact, aside for a bowl of breakfast cereal not sure you can go wrong.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Cantaloupe Basil Lemon Soup

Fruit soups are a great summer treat as well as a refreshing way to enjoy all the basil and mint that is in abundance this time of year….so easy too.  Peel and seed a cantaloupe and combine in a blender or Cuisinart with the juice of half a lemon, a cup of basil, and half a teaspoon of sugar or honey.  Chill for at least an hour or even better, overnight.  You could also try spicing it up with a couple drops of Sriracha hot sauce, some fresh ginger, or a prosciutto garnish.  If you only have honeydew prepare the same way with some fresh lime juice and mint.  It’s hard to go wrong…get chillin’!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Quickie Lasagna

Lasagna, as well as two day old cold lasagna leftovers, are two of the many foods that seem to taste better in the summer, and this quickie version makes it a whole lot easier to enjoy.  Quarter and boil your dried lasagna noodles, draining about a minute before the recommended cooking time.  In the meantime sauté your burger, sausage, onions, garlic, or in this case, spinach and mushrooms, in a large pot until cooked before adding a jar of your favorite red sauce, a pint of ricotta, and a cup of grated parmesan.  Adjust your spices, stir in your drained noodles, and transfer to a baking dish rearranging any noodles that may be hanging over the lip of your dish.  Top with sliced mozzarella and bake for approximately 45 minutes.  You may never layer a lasagna again.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Cilantro Garlic Yogurt Sauce

Grilling season is in full swing and a yogurt sauce is an easy and refreshing compliment.  For this chicken dish I stirred into plain yogurt, the juice of one lime, two minced garlic cloves, chopped cilantro, and salt and white pepper to taste.  There are lots of options depending on what you’re making, try fresh orange juice with dill on your salmon, or mint, garlic, and lemon with your lamb, or how about some Indian spices, or something as easy as your favorite curry or hot sauce with your veggies.  For the best flavor I recommend preparing the sauce at least an hour ahead of time.  And it lasts for days in the fridge, so always make more than you think you’ll need.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Burrata with Basil and Tomatoes

When it comes to five minute summer appetizers this burrata with tomatoes and basil ranks high on the list, and the folks at Mablebrook Farms down in Bennington, VT, make it real easy.  Place your balls of burrata on your serving dish, slice open and split, add a generous pinch of kosher salt, a drizzle of your best extra virgin olive oil, a few chopped basil leaves, and some thinly sliced or chopped tomatoes, then serve with a sliced baguette.  For the creamiest texture pull your container of burrata out of the fridge an hour or two before serving.  Summer is here….enjoy!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Ketchup

I’m not going to jump into the fray of what makes a perfect cheeseburger, but what I will say is, don’t overlook the opportunity to jazz up your ketchup.  Last night I topped our open faced caramelized onion bacon cheeseburgers with a dollop of curry ketchup and it made it a whole lot more special without much effort.  I simply stirred in a quarter teaspoon of curry paste into a small bowl of ketchup right out of the bottle.  Think about a squeeze of Sriracha, a spoonful of your favorite barbeque sauce, or a little mayonnaise and relish for a Thousand Island burger.  Then there’s chili and cumin powder for a Mexican twist, or a bit of hoisin and soy sauce if you’re feeling Asian.  And for you purists who aren’t going to mess with it, check out Simply Heinz, it’s the classic recipe minus the high fructose corn syrup.  Happy 4th!

 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Corn, Cilantro, and Wheat Berry Salad

If you’ve never tried wheat berries you must, it’s a texture like no other and as easy as to prepare as pasta.  You do have to plan a little as they take an hour to cook so best to make more than you need so you can have some leftover for salads or another side dish.  For this corn and cilantro salad simmer your wheat berries in salted water for an hour, strain, and let cool.  Next, husk your corn and slice away the kernels before tossing with the cooked wheat berries, half a bunch of chopped cilantro, a minced garlic clove, the juice of two limes, and coarse salt and pepper to taste.  The longer it sits around before serving the better.  Tomorrow try adding your leftover wheat berries to a spinach salad with a horseradish lemon vinaigrette, or adding to a chicken salad….good stuff.

 


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Soft Shell Crabs with Lemon Aioli

Soft shell crabs may look intimidating but as long as your local fishmonger cleans them properly for you they’re actually pretty easy to prepare.  Heat up about an eighth of an inch of vegetable oil in a pan while you prepare a bowl each of flour, stirred eggs, and a half bread crumb half corn meal mixture.  Dredge the crabs individually in each and fry for roughly four minutes per side.  I served them this time with a lemon aioli I concocted by combining a minced garlic clove, lemon juice from half a lemon, and a chopped hardboiled egg in the bottom of a mason jar and stick blending while drizzling in some olive oil.  After chilling for an hour I added salt and ground black pepper to taste. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Mint and Garlic Infused Lamb Roast

Mint is everywhere and combined with abundant amounts of garlic and salt makes for a very tasty lamb roast.  For maximum flavor you really want to prep the meat the day before and refrigerate overnight.  Hand chop or Cuisinart a bunch of mint, half a head of peeled garlic, black pepper, and at least a couple tablespoons of kosher salt.  Form a paste by adding a little bit of olive oil then apply to all surfaces of your roast, wrap in Saran, and refrigerate until two hours before you plan on cooking.  I like roasting this time of year using indirect heat on the barbeque, but the oven will work too.  If you’re going to serve it with a salad or vegetable a lemon vinaigrette compliments the mint and garlic nicely. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Orange and Olive Salad

This unlikely combination of navel oranges, olives, and black pepper will leave you wondering why you’ve never had it before.  After peeling, quartering, and thinly slicing my oranges I combined them in a bowl with some pitted Kalamata olives that I halved, my best extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt, and several grinds of black pepper.  Perfect with a piece of fish or chicken and couldn’t be easier.  And even better with Sicilian blood oranges.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Grilled Shrimp with Scallion Ginger Sauce

I forgot how incredibly tasty a scallion sauce could be until I was inspired to serve this one up with grilled shrimp last week after recently seeing one on a Chinese restaurant menu.  In a Cuisinart after combining one bunch of chopped scallions, a tablespoon each of chopped ginger, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and a half a tablespoon of salt, blend and drizzle about a quarter cup of vegetable or grape seed oil to smooth and thicken.  Salt and pepper your shrimp before cooking then simply toss with the sauce.  Serve hot, warm, or chilled, great either way.  And just as amazing with chicken, pork, or fish. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Grilled Zucchini with a Balsamic Glaze


You can never have enough condiments at your disposal and I’ve recently found myself going for the ready-made squeeze bottle of Balsamic Glaze more and more these days, it works equally well for chicken, broccoli, pork chops, carrots, and these grilled zucchini .  While the grill was heating I washed, dried, and cut my zucchini into quarter inch slices before tossing with salt, pepper, and a little extra virgin olive oil.  I grilled the zucchini for approximately five to seven minutes on each side so they were soft all the way through but not falling apart…that’s always a bit frustrating.  I immediately tossed them with some fresh mint then garnished with a decorative squeeze of Balsamic glaze.  The glaze is easy enough to make on your own as well by combining two cups of Balsamic Vinegar and a half a cup of brown sugar then reducing on the stove by half.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

BBQ Roast Chicken

Spring brings dandelions, daffodils, and rum drinks.  It also brings barbeque weather….so no need to turn on the oven to roast that chicken.  While your barbeque is preheating on high, rinse, pat dry, and cut away the excess fat around the cavity of your chicken before seasoning with salt and pepper, salt and paprika, salt and garlic powder, or whatever mixture of spices you’re in the mood for.  Set the chicken in the back of the grill, drumsticks pointing to the side, and immediately turn off all the burners except for the one furthest from your chicken, leave that one on medium before closing the lid.  If you’re using a charcoal grill the briquettes should all be pushed to one side with your chicken on the other.  If you have a thermostat built in best to keep it between 350 and 400.  From here the hardest part is remembering to turn your bird a quarter turn every twenty minutes, I use a timer.  In approximately an hour and twenty minutes you will have a very moist chicken with the crispiest skin, guaranteed.  In the meantime, enjoy your rum drink.

To carve, lop off the wings, legs, and thighs at the joints in that order.  Then remove the breast whole by sliding your knife from the top between the breast meat and ribs carefully working your way down to separate and get as much meat off of the bone as possible.  It’s a cinch to slice your breast meat thick or thin with the skin intact once it’s removed whole. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Blackened Tilapia

There are a lot of ways you can go with this blackened tilapia depending on your mood, Mexican, Indian, Asian, Cajun, or in this case, Spanish.  I love the El Rey de la Vera brand of both sweet and hot smoked paprika, it’s the real deal.  And if you can buy it in East Warren, Vermont, I'm sure you can find it all over.  You may have to adjust for the amount of fish you’re preparing but one teaspoon of salt, a half teaspoon of hot, and two teaspoons of sweet paprika should take care of the family dinner.  If you don’t like your food spicy just go heavier with the sweet.  Spread the spice mixture evenly over both sides of your fillets and when your heaviest Teflon pan is super hot cook the fillets approximately five minutes on each side.  They should be good and black and cooked through.  There are no rules for this one so have fun playing around with your spices.  For Mexican try some cumin and chili powder.  Break out the Garam Masala for an Indian twist, or the Five Spice Powder for something Asian…all with salt.  Blackening isn’t just a Cajun thing.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Red Clam Sauce


This dish may be a lot quicker and easier than you would think, and if you use fresh clams it’s sure to become one of your go to favorites.  While bringing your pasta water to a boil finely chop a medium shallot and a clove or two of garlic.  Heat some olive oil in a pot and sauté both along with a sprinkling of red pepper flakes.  Before the shallots and garlic begin to brown add a half a cup of dry white wine if you happen to have a bottle open and reduce on medium heat for several minutes followed by a cup of clam juice.  If you’re not using wine then just use a cup and a half of clam juice, I prefer either the Better than Bullion concentrate or a couple of bottles of the Snow’s clam juice.  Next comes the Marinara sauce, 8 to 12 ounces of your favorite brand is all it takes….and the Rao’s is worth the extra couple of bucks.  When your linguine or spaghetti is nearly ready to drain add a quart of fresh chopped clams and a tablespoon of chopped Italian parsley to your sauce making sure the heat is fairly low so as not to let the clams get rubbery.  Once drained let the noodles bathe in the sauce for a few minutes, stir in some grated parmesan, salt and pepper to taste, and serve with some more parmesan over the top.  Bread is definitely required.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Parsnip "Fettuccine"

Here’s a great twist on parsnips , “Parsnip Fettuccine.”   To start, get some salted water on the stove for blanching and wash your parsnips thoroughly.   Next, hold the top of each parsnip and run a vegetable peeler from one end to the other to create a long ribbon.  Turn and repeat until you’re down to the tough woody core which you can compost or snack on if you’re looking for a quick fiber fix.   Place the parsnip ribbons in the simmering water for 45 seconds, drain into a colander, and rinse with cold water.  Before serving make sure your ribbons are fairly dry, patting with a towel if necessary, then simply toss with extra virgin olive oil, chopped garlic, parsley, and kosher salt.  I’ve also sautéed the ribbons with garlic and thyme instead of blanching, carrots work too.  Try it soon, won’t be long before we have some fresh greens to work with.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tuna Sashimi

I’ve never attempted to make sushi, too many components to get just right.  But sashimi, that’s another story…as long as you have super fresh fish.  Last Friday I picked up some sushi grade tuna, and while the price per pound sounds like a lot it doesn’t take much to serve up a perfect little appetizer.  This time around I stirred together just enough soy sauce, ginger, and rice vinegar to create a small puddle of sauce on the plate, you don’t want to overwhelm the tuna.  I then topped each piece with the thinnest slice of fresh jalapeno I could manage for the perfect amount of zip.  You could keep it even cleaner and serve simply with your best extra virgin olive oil and dash of coarse salt, or try salmon instead of tuna.  Anyway you do it it’s a real treat. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Put An Egg On It

Over easy, poached, or sunnyside up, putting an egg on it elevates so many dishes to new levels of satisfaction.  Remember that Sunday morning bacon cheeseburger with sautéed onions and an over medium egg back in college?  Try an over easy egg on a warm mushroom or spinach salad, or smothering a mound of leftover pasta.  How about a couple of poached eggs cradled in a pile of corn beef hash or spicy polenta.  Take your spaghetti carbonara to new levels of decadence with a sunny side egg, or lay one over a grilled steak or chicken breast.  Rice and beans, steamed asparagus, potato soup, pancakes, schnitzel, a lentil salad, or smoked salmon, there’s no end to it….go ahead, put an egg on it.  You won’t be sorry.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Lamb Shanks with Olives and Oranges

Everyone seems to have lamb on the brain this time of year and these braised lamb shanks will definitely please.  While preheating your oven to 375 salt and pepper four to six shanks and brown in a Dutch oven or roasting pan on the stove for about fifteen minutes, turning occasionally.  Set the shanks aside and add a chopped onion, carrot, a couple celery stalks, a whole orange sliced in half then into eights, and 12-15 peeled garlic cloves.  Sauté for 10 minutes.  Add a couple sprigs of chopped fresh rosemary and a cup each of black Greek olives, tomato sauce, chicken stock, and white wine if you have a bottle open otherwise just double up on the stock, then bring to a boil.  Put the shanks back in then cover tightly and cook in the oven for an hour and a half or until the lamb is tender.  Amazing family dinner and also a great dish if you’re entertaining as you can keep it on hold in the oven on low heat until you’re ready to serve.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Warm Spicy Tofu

This is one of the quickest, easiest, and tastiest ways I’ve discovered to prepare tofu...all it takes is simmering water.  Start by taking your extra firm tofu out of the package and stand it up on a plate to allow the water to drain out.  Meanwhile, fill a wide pot or sauté pan with a couple inches of water and bring to a gentle simmer.  For the sauce finely chop two garlic cloves, half a bunch of scallions, and mix in a bowl with a half cup of soy sauce, a few tablespoons of rice vinegar, a tablespoon of sesame oil, a handful of sesame seeds, a teaspoon of sugar, and some red pepper flakes or a generous dollop or two of your favorite hot sauce.  The sauce can even be made a day or two ahead of time.  Ten minutes before serving cut your tofu block in half, then into quarter inch slices before sliding them into the hot water.  After five minutes drain thoroughly then toss them gently with the sauce and serve with rice.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Warm Mozzarella


About a year ago I was buying a fresh ball of mozzarella in New York City before getting into my car to head back to Vermont.  The Italian man behind the counter who told me he had been making mozzarella for over fifty years gave me a tip.  While still wrapped, he said, put the mozzarella into a bowl of very warm water for 45 minutes before serving, maybe change the water a couple of times to keep it warm.  Did he ever know what he was talking about.  The warm bath literally brings the cheese back to the moment of its peak freshness, so soft, so perfectly chewy, and oozing all of its creamy nectars.  Go get yourself a ball of fresh mozzarella and you’ll see what I’m talking about.  Serve it with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of kosher salt, and fresh chopped basil…or just the oil and salt.  Incredible!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Tostadas

Pretty much anything tastes better when you put it on a fried corn tortilla, and with a bit of salsa and melted cheese you can’t lose.  Heat up an eighth of an inch of vegetable oil in a frying pan, slide in a whole corn tortilla, give it a minute, flip, and when slightly brown remove and drain on a paper bag.  Last night I created tostada magic from leftovers with some thinly sliced pork, caramelized onions, chopped basil, salsa verde, and a slice of mozzarella by stacking them in that order on a cookie sheet and reheating until the meat was warm and the cheese melted.  You don’t have to get that fancy, the tortillas are just as good topped with your favorite salad, scrambled eggs, sliced sweet potato, or can of beans….but that pork combo was pretty amazing!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Dijon Crusted Salmon

This surprisingly simple Dijon crusted salmon can be on the table in less than fifteen minutes.  Coat the bottom of a nonstick fry pan with oil and put over medium heat.  Cut your salmon filet into single size portions, sprinkle with more pepper than salt, dust with flour, and set on a plate skin side up.  Dollop a tablespoon of Dijon mustard onto each piece and spread evenly with a rubber spatula before placing the fillets into the hot frying pan mustard side down…tongs works best.  After five or so minutes spread the mustard the same way on the exposed side, flip, and in another five minutes remove and serve.  Add some minced garlic to the mustard for even more flavor.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Crispy Potato Slices

These crispy baked potatoes slices with a creamy center are embarrassingly simple but once you give them a try I’m certain they will become a go to favorite.  I’ve been making them for years but they got even better when I started using parchment paper a while back, I recommend it.  Preheat the oven to 450 and line a baking sheet with some parchment paper.  Wash your russets or other baking potatoes and cut them crosswise into quarter inch slices.  After tossing in a bowl with a little bit of olive oil, sprinkle with a generous amount of salt and pepper and lay them out side by side on the parchment.  Bake for twenty minutes, remove and flip, then bake for another twenty or until they start to brown.  It helps to rotate the cookie sheet after flipping so they brown more evenly.  Serve immediately with an extra dash of kosher salt if needed.
 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

My favorite pasta dish without a doubt is Spaghetti alla Carbonara, and it couldn’t be any faster or easier.  Start by cutting two quarter inch slices of pancetta into little chunks and cook along with a couple of whole squashed garlic cloves until lightly browned, turn off heat and leave the pan to cool slightly.  While your spaghetti is cooking combine three egg yolks, two cups of parmesan cheese, and a generous grind of black pepper in a large bowl.  Next, drain your spaghetti making sure to reserve about three quarters of a cup of the water.  Quickly stir the noodles into the pan with the pancetta then transfer all into the bowl with the egg and cheese mixture.  While tossing pour the pasta water in slowly to create a creamy sauce…salt and additional black pepper to taste.  The best way to visit Rome without getting on a plane.