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Spring Poke Bowl

May 20, 2016



The Poke (POH-keh) bowl is on many 2016 watch lists. It’s a  dish I’ve been enjoying for a few years. Hawaiian Poke simply means “chunk.” It originated when fishermen began using the leftover cutoffs from their catch to create a snack which quickly became a staple in the Hawaiian diet. Traditionally, the Poke bowl would consist of a mixture of raw fish, Hawaiian salt, seaweed and chopped nuts. Today this healthy salad features layers of white or brown rice, seaweed, onion and raw fish (ahi-tuna, ahi-salmon, or octopus) marinated in various combinations of Asian sauces and seasonings. Be your own architect when building yours. Think of your favorite sushi roll….then deconstruct it. I rounded out my bowl with avocado, carrots, edamame, cucumbers and ginger.

Spring Poke Bowl

Serves 4

1 1/2 cups short-grain brown rice or white rice
1 1/2 pounds sushi-grade ahi tuna
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Chili paste, optional
2 green onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
3 carrots, grated
1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced, optional
2 large, ripe avocados

Edamame, handful

English cucumber, thinly sliced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
Sesame seeds

Cook the rice according to instructions.

Cut the ahi tuna into 1-inch cubes. In a large bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, minced ginger, grated garlic, vinegar, and chili paste, to taste. Add the ahi and green onions and stir gently to combine. This can be done up to 1 hour in advance. Keep chilled.

Just before serving, dice the avocado into small cubes.

Arrange your poke bowl with scoop of rice, add tuna, avocado, grated carrot, cucumbers edamame and sliced radish. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Serve with cilantro, ginger and more soy sauce on the side.

Adapted slightly from: Sprouted Kitchen







Crispy Salt and Pepper Shrimp

May 14, 2016



This recipe has been around a long time and I’m finally on the bandwagon. Right in my cooking wheelhouse, it requires just a few ingredients and is ready in 20 minutes. The traditional Cantonese dish uses the whole shrimp in the shell then gets deep-fried. Eating the whole shell is typical…well, not here. I’m using peeled, deveined shrimp that’s sparsely coated with cornstarch and quickly sautéed for a healthier version. Fresh black pepper, white pepper, salt, garlic, jalapeño and green onion add the spice. The result….a salty, slightly spicy and crunchy dish you will add to your go-to list.

Crispy Salt and Pepper Shrimp 

Serves 2

1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, diced, seeds removed if desired
1-2 stalks green onion, sliced
Grain of choice, to serve
Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels. In bowl, toss the shrimp, cornstarch (helps the shrimp crisp up), white & black pepper and salt together. Heat up a bit of oil in a heavy bottomed skilled over medium heat. Add the garlic, 1/2 of the jalapeños and 1/2 of the green onions. Cook, stirring, until crisp and fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add the coated shrimp and cook, until pink and firm, 1-2 minutes per side. Remove from the heat and toss with the remaining jalapeños and green onions. Serve with your of choice of grain. I like brown rice.

Adapted from: I am a Food Blog




Creamy Piquillo Pepper and Chickpea Soup with Chicken

May 7, 2016



Five ingredients and about 10 minutes. Done. The secret to this delicious soup is the piquillo peppers. Sweet. Smoky.

Incredibly versatile, piquillo peppers come exclusively from Northern Spain.  Their long, triangular shape resembles a birds beak. (Piquillo means beak in Spanish.)  Adding hummus to the soup creates a creamy velvety texture.  Serve with a side salad or cheese quesadillas. Leftovers??  Randy surprised me in the morning with a  fried egg on top of this bowl of YUM!

Creamy Piquillo Pepper and Chickpea Soup with Chicken

Serves 4

1 cup drained piquillo peppers (8 ounces), (1/4 cup cut into thin strips, for garnish) …..a good substitute are jarred roasted red peppers

3/4 cup hummus (7 ounces)

2 cups chicken

1/2 cup cooked white rice, homemade or store-bought (I used brown rice)

1 cup shredded rotisserie chicken


Freshly ground pepper

Garnish: avocado, cilantro sprigs, olive oil, hot sauce

In a blender or a food processor, combine the whole piquillos with the hummus and stock and puree until smooth. Transfer the soup to a medium saucepan. Add the rice and chicken, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the sliced piquillos, avocado, sprig of cilantro, olive oil and hot sauce.

Adapted from: Food and Wine









Chicken Verde Enchiladas

May 4, 2016



Here’s a festive way to celebrate Cinco De Mayo or Tuesday. This recipe pulls together in no time! The first eight ingredients are combined then simmered together for approximately four minutes. The remaining ingredients are then added to the pan. Fill and roll the tortillas, top with shredded cheese, broil to melt…..that’s it!  Easy. Healthy. DELICIOUS.

Chicken Verde Enchiladas

Makes 8

3/4 cup pre-chopped onion (I’m an onion lover….but these are not cooked…careful not to add more)
3/4 cup unsalted chicken stock
1/2 cup salsa verde, store-bought
1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro stems
2 tablespoons sliced jalapeño pepper
5 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
8 ounces shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast (about 2 cups)
3/4 cup chopped tomato
3 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
1 ripe peeled avocado, coarsely mashed
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
4 ounces reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese, shaved
2 tablespoons cilantro leaves

Place oven rack in lower third of oven, and preheat broiler to high.

Combine first 8 ingredients in a medium saucepan, stirring with a whisk. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 4 minutes. Stir in chicken; cook 1 minute or until heated. Remove from heat. Stir in tomato, sour cream, and avocado.

Stack tortillas; wrap stack in damp paper towels, and microwave at HIGH for 45 seconds. Spoon 1 cup chicken mixture into an 11 x 7-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Spoon 1/3 cup chicken mixture in center of each tortilla; roll up. Arrange tortillas, seam sides down, in baking dish. Top with cheese. Broil 3 minutes or until cheese melts. Sprinkle with cilantro leaves, dollop of sour cream and chopped tomatoes.

Adapted from: My Recipes






Kale And Hummus Salad

April 30, 2016


IMG_3807This is not your typical kale salad….it’s special. That Dressing!! Have you ever made a dressing with tahini? First time for me too. Tahini, a paste made from ground sesame seeds, adds flavor, texture (similar to peanut butter) and offers many health benefits, including macronutrients and a variety of vitamins and minerals. This hummus-like dressing hugs those sturdy kale leaves and holds up for an unlikely leftover salad. This recipe incorporates chickpeas that ALSO offer a range of health benefits that boost digestion, help to keep blood sugar levels stable, increase protection against disease and much more. This entree is easy, fast and delicious…perfect for a your weeknight dinner, workday lunch or picnic.

Kale And Hummus Salad

Serves 2-4

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, smashed
3 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, from 1 large lemon
5 cups shredded Tuscan kale (Lacinato), remove the stem and thinly slice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
One 15 1/2-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup shredded rotisserie chicken breast (or more)
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Slivered almonds or pine nuts, optional (But not really!!)
Za’atar to finish, optional

Salt and pepper, to taste

*Pita bread, olive oil and sea salt

Heat a small saute pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and garlic and cook just until fragrant, 2 minutes. Allow to cool slightly. In a large bowl, whisk together the tahini and lemon juice. Gradually whisk in the garlic oil. Add the kale, salt and chickpeas and gently toss together, bringing the dressing up from the bottom to coat everything evenly. Add the chicken and cranberries, and toss. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with za’atar if desired. Serve.

*I like to serve this salad with baked pita bread wedges. Slice the pita into wedges and brush both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake oil golden in a 350 degree oven. (about 10-15 minutes)

Adapted from: Food Network














Pancetta Wrapped Asparagus On Pasta with a Poached Egg and Lemon Butter

April 23, 2016


IMG_3754I’m turning my last post, asparagus wraps, into an entree. The season’s signature vegetable is not only delicious, it has incredible health benefits. Low in calories, fresh asparagus spears are a good source of anti-oxidants and vitamins, A, B- complex, C, K and E.

This recipe, adapted from Canal House, uses pancetta wrapped asparagus grilled until crisp to absorb that smokey flavor.  The spears are placed over pasta sheets and drizzled with lemon butter sauce. Add Parmagiano-reggiano, pine nuts and a poached egg….ohhh and when the lemon and yolk combine….you have a rich, creamy sauce. (Think Pasta Carbonara!) I’m thinking about this recipe for Mother’s Day. Other menu ideas……Eggs In Purgatory, Avocado ToastsHuevos Rancheros, Meyer Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with blueberry Compote and Caprese Eggs Benedict.

Asparagus on Pasta with a Poached Egg and Lemon Butter

Serves 2

4-6 tablespoons butter (I used 4 or a bit less)

Juice of ½ lemon and zest of 1/2 of the lemon

About 10 spears of asparagus, peeled and trimmed

10 slices of very thin pancetta

2 eggs

4 sheets of pasta, each about 4 inches long ( I used flat lasagna sheets)

1 small hunk parmigiano-reggiano

2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

Maldon sea salt, optional

Salt and pepper

Wrap asparagus tight with one slice of pancetta. Spray a grill pan with oil or lightly coat with vegetable oil. On a med-high heat crisp up the asparagus. (about 4 minutes) Place on paper towels to drain.

**Have your two pots of boiling water ready to go at the same time. (Boil when you start grilling the asparagus).

Over medium-high heat cook pasta (about 2-3 minutes). Using a slotted spatula or a long-handled strainer, divide the pasta between 2 warm plates, letting most of the water drip off before putting it on the plate.

Poach your eggs…crack the eggs into 2 small cups. Give the simmering water a good circular stir, then tip 1 egg at a time into the center of the swirling water. Simmer the eggs over medium-low heat until the whites are a bit firm and the yolks remain soft, about 3 minutes. Transfer the eggs to the dishcloth to drain.

Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium-low heat and swirl in enough of the lemon juice and zest to suit your taste. Keep warm over low heat.

To plate, start with a bit of the butter lemon sauce, add two sheets of pasta, more sauce, layer the asparagus,  sprinkle pine nuts, parmesan (using a vegetable peeler shave slices), salt and pepper. To finish, carefully place eggs on top.

Note: You can wrap the asparagus with pancetta a day ahead of time and refrigerate until ready to cook.

Adapted from: Canal House











Pancetta Wrapped Asparagus with Citronette

April 16, 2016


It’s a wrap! You’ve seen it before… sliced pancetta tightly wrapped around beautiful spears of asparagus. But have you made them? Have you made them with a tangy Citronette? NOT to be missed. This is just one way to serve the star of spring veggies. Make sure you have the deli slice the pancetta very thin so it will wrap well and crisp up. Delicious as a first course or the perfect side to salmon, roasted chicken,  burrata cheese or…that incredible egg. My next post will turn these wraps into an entree.

Pancetta Wrapped Asparagus with Citronette

Serves: 6

2 pounds medium asparagus
1/2 pound very thinly sliced pancetta
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons chopped thyme

Chopped, toasted walnuts, for garnish, optional

Tightly wrap each asparagus spear in a slice of pancetta and refrigerate until chilled, about 20 minutes.

Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. In a small bowl, stir the orange zest and juice with the mustard and olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Grill the asparagus over moderate heat, turning often, until they are just tender and the pancetta is crisp, about 5 minutes total. Transfer the asparagus to a platter and drizzle with the dressing. Sprinkle with the thyme and serve (serve immediately before the pancetta stays crisp).

Adapted from: The Bitten Word












Creamy Lemon Chicken Piccata

April 7, 2016


Piccata means “sliced, sautéed and served in a sauce containing lemon, butter and spices.”  It’s just that simple.  A quick sauté of chicken breasts followed by an easy, luscious sauce (you will want to drink!) consisting of garlic, capers, chicken broth, lemon and Parmesan that will remind you that spring has sprung. A 30 minute one pot meal that you will want to add to your weekly repertoire…..but elegant enough for a dinner party.

Creamy Lemon Chicken Piccata

Serves 4

2 large boneless and skinless chicken breasts, halved horizontally to make 4
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 teaspoon salt
Cracked pepper
Light spray of cooking oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons butter (or oil)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1¼ cup chicken broth
½ cup milk (full fat, or 2% or use reduced fat cream or heavy cream)
⅓ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice — juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons capers, plus 2 tablespoons extra to garnish
1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon of water
2 tablespoons fresh parsley

Lightly spray your skillet with cooking oil spray and heat over medium-high heat. In a shallow bowl, combine the flour and parmesan cheese. Season the chicken with salt and pepper; dredge in the flour mixture; shake off excess and set aside.
Heat the 3 tablespoon of oil and 2 teaspoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until butter has melted and pan is hot. Fry the chicken until golden on each side and cooked through and no longer pink, 3-4 minutes per side (chicken should register 165 degrees in center). Transfer chicken to a plate and keep warm.
Add garlic to the pan ( you may need to add a little oil to the pan) saute just until slightly golden. Pour in 1 1/4 cups chicken broth and bring to a boil, while scrapping up browned bits from bottom of pan. Allow broth to simmer until reduced by half, about 4 – 5 minutes. In a small bowl whisk together 1 Tbsp of water with cornstarch, then pour mixture into the broth in the skillet. Allow to simmer until thickened slightly then reduce heat to low and stir in butter and pour in milk or cream. Bring the sauce to a boil; season with salt and pepper to your taste; add in the parmesan cheese and capers and allow sauce to simmer for about 2 minutes until just a bit thicker.
Add lemon juice, allow to simmer for a minute or so to combine.
Serve over steamed asparagus or angel hair pasta drizzled with that sauce. To garnish top with extra capers, lemon slices and parsley.

Adapted from: Cafe Delites









Eggs in Purgatory

April 2, 2016


Eggs in Purgatory. There are plenty of theories behind the name of this dish. Growing up Catholic, I still get a little anxious just hearing the word Purgatory. Hangin’ out in limbo is not a place I ever want to be. I choose to think of these eggs poached in a fiery red sauce as……Heavenly.  There are many variations on this classic dish. The Middle East calls it Shakshouka, seasoned with chili peppers and onions, often spiced with cumin. Mexicans have their huevos rancheros. My radar continually goes to the Classic Italian version, a flavorful, briny take seasoned with capers, olives, oregano and Parmesan. You can certainly create your own sauce or use your leftover sauce from yesterday’s pasta. Serve as brunch, linner or dinner with a simple green salad and crusty bread.

Eggs In Purgatory

Serves 1 to 3

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra to finish
1 to 2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, plus extra for garnish
2 tablespoons pitted black olives
1 tablespoon capers, drained, rinsed
1 anchovy filet, minced, or more to taste (adds incredible flavor, melts down for a briny flavor)
1 teaspoon dried oregano or double that of fresh
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
1 (14-ounce) can diced or crushed tomatoes
Salt, to taste
1 to 4 large eggs
1/4 cup grated parmesan or pecorino cheese, plus extra to finish
Bread for toasting, I like a rustic Italian.

(*Great way to use leftover mariana sauce. To taste add additional ingredients from the above list).

Chop garlic, 1/4 cup parsley, olives, capers, anchovies, oregano and pepper and until they are finely chopped. Heat a medium size skillet over medium heat. Once hot, pour olive oil. When warm add parsley mixture to pan and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add tomatoes (carefully they will splatter) and combine. Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Make a small indentation in the sauce for each egg you’re using, and crack them in. Sprinkle the eggs with parmesan, salt and pepper and cover the pan partially with a lid. I used foil because my cast iron pan has no lid. Let the eggs cook for 5 minutes (see Note) or until the whites are set and the yolks loose. You can also finish them off in 350 oven for approx. 10 minutes). Toast (under the broiler) the bread and brush with olive oil and coarse salt.

To finish drizzle with a little extra olive oil, cheese and parsley. Serve with toasted bread.

Note: The eggs will continue to cook when you remove them from the heat.  I recommend taking them off the stove with the whites almost set.

Adapted from: Smitten Kitchen




Halibut en Papillote with Spring Vegetables

March 26, 2016



The cooking method known as En Papillote (pah-pee-YOHT) is a French cooking technique in which food is baked inside paper, typically parchment paper. The fish cooks quickly because it steams in its own flavorful juices. The papillote will puff up and the steam keeps the fish and vegetables moist. In this preparation fish is baked on a bed of seasonal vegetables. Add olive oil, lemon, crisp white wine and a dollop of butter, along with fresh herbs to produce an aromatic and light sauce. With the produce departments bursting with spring veggies there are many combinations you can explore. I liked the idea of thin slices of fennel, ramps (or scallions), asparagus, rainbow carrots and peas. The possibilities are endless. Halibut works well in this recipe, but any firm white fish will work such as cod, sole, sea bass or grouper. Serve the pappillote intact for a festive presentation. Happy Spring.

Halibut en Papillote with Spring Vegetables

Serves 4
4   4-6 ounce skinless halibut fillet

12 ramps (or scallions)

A handful of seasonal vegetables, julienned. (asparagus, purple or green/ carrots, rainbow. fennel, a few peas.)

1 lemon, cut in slices

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons butter (optional)


Freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup of dry white wine

Fresh thyme, a few sprigs

Crusty bread, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Tear out 4 (14 x 12 inch) pieces of parchment paper. Fold in half, making a crease down the middle. Using kitchen shears, cut the parchment into a heart shape.
Simple technique. Arrange vegetables on parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil and wine. Place fish on top. Season with salt, pepper and herbs. Wrap. Place on baking sheet. Bake 13-15 minutes until slightly puffed. Serve. Snip the packets open with a scissors. Prepare for an aromatic facial! Serve with crusty bread.

Note: Keep your veggies cut to similar sizes for even cooking.







Potato Pave

March 19, 2016


IMG_3335Pave, the French word for “paving stones,” is a term chef Thomas Keller uses to describe the preparation of these “scalloped-like” potatoes. Keller takes basic ingredients and uses this technique to create a flavorful and stunning dish. If you like the art of cooking (like me)… you will find this process to be fun and the result worth the effort!

Potato Pave

Serves 6
1 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 pounds russet potatoes (three 1-pound potatoes if possible)
5 tablespoons (2 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon softened and 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Canola oil
2 thyme springs
2 garlic cloves, lighted crushed, skin left on
Minced chives

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Pour the cream into a large bowl and season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Peel the potatoes. Cut a thin lengthwise slice off one side of a potato so it will rest flat on the mandoline. Lay a Japanese mandoline or other vegetable slicer over the bowl of cream and slice the potato lengthwise into very thin (about 1/16 in) slices, letting them drop into the cream. (If you can’t lay your mandoline across the bowl, slice the potatoes, adding the slices to the cream as you go.) Stop from time to time to toss the slices in the cream to keep them coated and prevent them from oxidizing. Repeat with the remaining potatoes.

Brush a 10-by 6 1/2 by 3 inch-high pan with half the softened butter. (Don’t use a shallower pan–you need the depth this size pan gives the pavé.) Line with parchment paper, leaving a 5-inch overhang on the two long sides. These extensions will be used to cover the potatoes as they cook and later serve as handles when unmolding. Brush the parchment with the remaining softened butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Trim the potato slices to form a solid even layer in the bottom of the pan and lay them in the direction that works best to fill the pan. Repeat to form a second layer. Dot with a few cubes of butter and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Continue layering the potatoes, adding butter and seasonings after each two layers. Fold over the sides of the parchment paper to cover the potatoes. Cover tightly with a piece of aluminum foil (to allow the potatoes to steam as they bake).

Bake the potatoes for 1 hour and 50 minutes, or until completely tender when pierced with the tip of a knife.

Remove from the oven and let them cool for 15 minutes. Put a weight on top of the potatoes (see Note), cool to room temperature, wrap well, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or up to 2 days.

To serve, run a palette knife around the two longer sides of the pavé to release it from the pan, or invert onto a cutting surface. Trim all sides of the pavé. Cut the pavé into 12 equal pieces and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Heat some canola oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes cut-side-down, add the thyme and the garlic, and cook, basting with the liquid in the pan, until browned on the first side, then turn carefully and brown the opposite side.

Arrange the potatoes on a serving platter, browned side up. Put a small piece of butter on each piece to melt, and sprinkle with chives or a sprig of thyme.

Note: The easiest way to weight the pavé is to cut a piece of cardboard just smaller than the top of the pan, so that it will cover the top of the pavé without resting on the sides of the pan. Wrap a cardboard in aluminum foil, set it on top of the pavé, and place a few cans or other weights on the cardboard for an even weight distribution.

Note: To serve a larger crowd, I have doubled the recipe and layered the potatoes in a casserole pan. Made earlier in the day, including browning. Then re-heated in the oven before serving.







Feta Tapenade Tarte Soleil

March 5, 2016


Tarte Soleil or sun pie. This impressive appetizer is much easier to prepare than it looks. It’s  made with store-bought puffed pastry that is defrosted overnight. In a food processor the tapenade is quickly made with sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, garlic, oregano, olive oil and salt and pepper. With some creative twists and a feta dip, you have a stunning, savory Mediterranean dish.

Feta Tapenade Tarte Soleil

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives
1 teaspoon dried oregano or 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
1 large garlic clove, peeled
1 tablespoon olive oil or reserved oil from tomatoes, plus more if needed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes to taste

2 packages puffed pastry  (thaw in fridge overnight)
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water
1 tablespoon sesame to sprinkle (optional)

6 ounces feta, crumbled
2 ounces cream cheese
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Coarse or kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper

Make the filling: Blend ingredients in a food processor until finely chopped and spreadable. Mixture will be thick. You can thin it with more olive oil if needed.  Adjust seasonings to taste. Set aside.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Assemble the tart: Roll first package puffed pastry flat on a large piece of parchment paper or reusable baking mat into a 12-inch circle; use a 12-inch round plate or bowl to mark the size for a clean cut. Repeat with second dough, setting one aside in the fridge until needed.

Place pastry on a parchment. Spread with filling to all but 1-inch from edge. Dab edges with water and place second round on top. Set a small glass upside down in the middle. Being careful not to cut through parchment paper or baking mat, cut away from glass (not through center) in quarters, or at the 3-, 6-, 9- and 12 o’clock marks. Cut through each quarter again, making 8 strips, and again, making 16 strips, and one last time so that you have 32 “rays” of pastry emanating from the center. If at any point in the cutting the pastry too soft and getting difficult to cut, place the tray in the freezer for a few minutes to firm it back up.

Remove glass. Place finger near center of each ray and gently twist each strand a few times. Beat egg yolk with 1 teaspoon water; brush it over pastry and sprinkle with seeds, if desired.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown all over.

Meanwhile, make whipped feta dip: Blend all filling ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste. Place in bowl for dipping.

Remove tart from oven, let cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes then transfer to a serving platter. Tear off rays of sun, dip in whipped feta.

Adapted from: Smitten Kitchen









Chicken Pot Pie Pizza

February 27, 2016



Who can resist a bowl of savory chicken pot pie, topped with a buttery, flakey crust? Who can resist pizza? When the two become one magic happens. I rolled out some store bought dough, made a quick béchamel, topped with diced veggies, shredded chicken and diced baby potatoes. I baked til it was crispy. Then I had my sous chef (aka Randy) give it a taste. His response was “this is chicken pot pie pizza!!.” It is honestly crazy that this simple concoction combines two family favorites into one.

Chicken Pot Pie Pizza

1 tablespoon flour

1 tablespoon of butter

1/2 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

1/3 cup shredded cooked chicken

1/4 small onion, diced

Couple of baby potatoes, boiled and diced

1 carrot, diced

1 stalk celery, diced

1 ball no-knead pizza dough or store bought pizza dough

Salt and pepper, to taste

Arrange a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 450 degrees.

If you have any cooked chicken and potatoes on hand, perfect. Shredd the chicken and cube the potatoes. OR boil a couple of potatoes and cook a small chicken breast (then cube or shredd).

In a small pan, heat up the butter over medium heat. When melted, sprinkle on the flour and stir until the flour is completely incorporated. Pour in the chicken stock in a thin stream while whisking. Whisk occasionally, on medium heat, until slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper, remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Lightly oil a baking sheet. Roll out the  dough to your desired shape.  Spread the slightly cool béchamel evenly on the dough. Top with shredded mozzarella, cooked chicken, diced onions, boiled and cubed potatoes, diced carrots, and diced celery. Season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven to bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the crust is puffy, crisp and slightly blistered.

Adapted from: i am a food blog  (A Favorite!)






Lentil Soup With Sweet Potatoes And Spinach

February 18, 2016



Lentils are small but mighty, often referred to as “the poor man’s meat.” A member of the legume family, they are an excellent source of cholesterol-lowering fiber (16 grams per cup). They are also beneficial in managing blood-sugar disorders. Lentils provide  excellent amounts of seven important minerals, our B-vitamins and protein (18 grams per cup). All with virtually no fat.

This soup is nutty and earthy in flavor and packed with yummy veggies. We incorporate this powerhouse meal about every 10 days in our house during the chilly months. It pulls together quickly with most of these ingredients on hand and also freezes well. Double up.



1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, diced      (I add about 6 or more, love, love!)
1 celery stalk, diced       (I add a few)
2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/2 cups brown lentils
4 (15 ounce) cans chicken broth (or veggie)
2 cups water
2 cans (15 ounce) diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups chopped fresh spinach

****Alternative flavor profile: Eliminate thyme and rosemary . Instead add 2 teaspoons curry and 2 teaspoons cumin. Taste to adjust.

In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic. Saute until onion is tender and garlic is light brown in color. Add carrot, celery, and sweet potatoes. Cook until vegetables soften, about 5-7 minutes.

Stir in the lentils, vegetable broth, and water. Add the diced tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme, and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper and stir. Cook on medium-low heat for about 35-40 minutes or until lentils are cooked.

Add the fresh spinach and stir. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Remove bay leaves and serve warm.





Avocado Toasts

February 13, 2016


I was at a recent brunch and tried an entrée I usually overlook. Avocado Toast. Sure I like avocados, but this idea just seemed too simple or potentially bland. Wrong.  A trendy Chicago restaurant, Bar Sienna, boasts it’s their number one brunch order. Sold. A simple concept recipe with endless possibilities. The basic idea is to grab a ripe avocado, a piece of multi-grain toast and make it your own. I mashed up the avocado and spiced it up with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. I then layered tomato, a few slices of radish and topped with a poached egg sprinkled with paprika. (A drizzle of balsamic glaze would be nice). I set the toast on a bed of greens drizzled with olive oil and salt and pepper. This is a great idea for a crowd. Speaking of crowds…as I watched order after order come out of the kitchen, I was curious how they keep making all those poached eggs. I have heard of poaching eggs days before use but was a bit skeptical that this technique would really work. Well, once again…wrong. I made the eggs the day before and reheated them in simmering water until they were warm. Genius. I now have visions of Mother’s Day brunch making Eggs Benedict for 12. I love this idea.



Herbed Shrimp Capellini with Spicy Breadcrumbs

February 9, 2016


If you’re planning a romantic evening at home this Valentine’s Day perhaps I can help. This entree is not only delicious and easy, it will certainly set the tone for this special night in. Breadcrumbs are combined with fresh herbs, lemon juice and butter, then baked for 10 minutes. You then marinate the shrimp with a similar flavor profile as the breadcrumbs then cook the pasta and combine. Pair with a side salad, finish off with chocolate and of coarse, enjoy with sparkling wine or champagne. More suggestions for the evening include…Caramelized Seared Scallops, Salmon with leeks and Beurre Blanc Sauce, Cioppino, Lobster Risotto, Beet and Cheese Napoleons, Blood Orange and Fennel Salad, SS Kale Salad, Chocolate Lava Cake, Creme Brûlée and Salted Butter Caramel Chocolate Mousse.

Bread Crumbs
1/4 pound Italian bread, torn
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped oregano
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt

20 jumbo shrimp (2 pounds), shelled and deveined
1 small shallot, minced
2 tablespoons minced parsley
2 tablespoons minced basil
1 1/2 teaspoons minced oregano
1/2 teaspoon minced thyme
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
Kosher salt
3/4 pound capellini or angel hair pasta
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Herbed Shrimp Capellini

Serves 6

Bread Crumbs
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, pulse the bread with the parsley, oregano, garlic and crushed red pepper until coarse crumbs form. Add the melted butter and lemon juice and pulse until evenly moistened. Season with salt and pepper, then spread the bread crumbs in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, until golden and crisp; let cool.

Preheat the broiler and bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. In a large bowl, toss the shrimp with the shallot, parsley, basil, oregano, thyme, crushed red pepper and 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Arrange the shrimp in an even layer on a large rimmed baking sheet (not on parchment paper, as photographed). Broil 6 inches from the heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until lightly browned and just cooked through; flip the shrimp halfway through broiling.

Meanwhile, cook the capellini in the boiling water until al dente. Drain and transfer to a serving bowl. Add the lemon juice and the remaining 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of olive oil and toss well. Season with salt and pepper and toss again. Arrange the shrimp over the pasta and sprinkle some of the spicy bread crumbs on top. Serve right away, passing additional bread crumbs and olive oil at the table.

Adapted from: Andrew Zimmern
















Super Bowl Potato Skins

February 5, 2016


Super Bowl Sunday will not be your healthiest day of the year, so just go with it. And you may not be a fan of the big game, so turn your focus to the other competition in the room…the food. These crispy boats are filled with sharp cheddar, Monterey jack and bacon. Top with sour cream and chopped scallions to finish strong. It’s one day….give the people what they want.

Potato Skins

Makes 16 wedges

4 large baking potatoes
Vegetable oil
6 slices of bacon, cooked until crisp and diced
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups grated monterey jack or other mild melting cheese
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sour cream and chopped scallions, for serving

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Wash the potatoes and thoroughly dry them. Rub the potatoes with vegetable oil and place on a lightly oiled rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Flip them over halfway through baking to even out the cooking.

Leave the oven on, and set aside potatoes until they are cool enough to handle. Carefully cut each potato into quarters, lengthwise. Use a spoon to scrape out all but 1/2-inch of potato from each wedge. Place potato skins on sheet, spacing about 1-inch apart. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Return them to the oven and bake for 10 minutes, to crisp them up.

Meanwhile, combine the shredded cheeses, bacon bits and cayenne pepper in a medium bowl.

Remove the skins from the oven and top each one with a mound of the cheese mixture. Return to the oven and bake until the the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes.

Serve hot from the oven topped with sour cream and green onions.

Adapted from: Lottie and Doof








Beef And Bacon Meatloaf… And THE Meatloaf Sandwich

January 30, 2016



IMG_3453Meatloaf. A staple on every Mother’s menu because it was an affordable meal that could feed the family for a few days. Here’s a tasty update on this little piece of Americana. Warning: this is NOT your Mother’s meatloaf. The seasoned stock keeps this meatloaf moist and full of flavor and the tasty topping adds a nice combination of sweet and spice. And the bacon, well, adds bacon!! The leftovers, if there are any, make for a delicious sandwich. Pile on the cheese, ketchup, and caramelized onions and you have a grilled cheese meatloaf sandwich that will rival any diner.

Following the meatloaf recipe…..the sandwich!

Beef and Bacon Meatloaf

Serves: 8
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, grated on large holes of a box grater
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
¾ cup ketchup
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
2 large eggs
⅔ cup fine breadcrumbs
½ cup finely grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds ground beef chuck (15% fat)
6 thin strips bacon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
Heat oil over medium in a small skillet. Add onion and cook oil soft, about 4 minutes. Then add garlic, cook for an additional 1 minute. Transfer to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, bring ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, and cayenne to a boil in a small saucepan, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced and syrupy, about 5 minutes. Transfer 2 tablespoons ketchup mixture to a blender; add broth and parsley and blend until smooth. Set remaining ketchup mixture aside.
Add broth mixture, eggs, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, salt, and pepper to onion and garlic; mix to combine. Add beef and mix well with your hands to combine. Transfer meatloaf mixture to prepared pan and form into a long log (about 12″x5″). Spread reserved ketchup mixture over top and drape bacon over loaf, tucking underneath. ( I would trim the bacon just at the bottom of the loaf and slightly tuck. My experience was the bacon does not crisp underneath and just adds fat.) Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 165° and bacon is crisp, 70–80 minutes. (If the meat is done and the bacon needs additional crisping…set under the broiler for a few minutes till desired crispiness.) Let rest 10 minutes before slicing. (The loaf needs to set up for perfect slices.)

Adapted from: Bon Appetit






Meatloaf Sandwich

Make it your own. Or as shown…..

Sourdough slathered on the outsides with butter.

Add White cheddar, meatloaf, mayo (optional), sharp cheddar, caramelized onions. Grill til all melty!! I cooked the sandwich on a grill pan TENTED with foil to help the cheese melt.

***you could save some of the ketchup from the top of the loaf to add on the sandwich.



Daube de Boeuf with Belgian Ale

January 23, 2016


In Andrew Zimmern’s words, “this is a warm hug from the inside out.” Daube de Boeuf, a classic Provencal stew, is the ultimate comfort food. This variation from Zimmern uses Belgian ale instead of the traditional red wine version. Like most braised dishes this dish is best the day after. Our experience with this bowl of hug was certainly delicious the day it was made, but outstanding the following day. Serve with crusty French bread.

Daube de Boeuf with Belgian Ale

Serves 6

3 pounds trimmed beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces (Have your butcher cut and trim beef)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons canola oil
3 medium onions, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
One 12-ounce bottle Duvel or other Belgian golden ale
4 cups beef stock or low-sodium broth
3 thyme sprigs, 3 parsley sprigs and 1 bay leaf, tied in cheesecloth
10 new potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice (or lots more)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Season the beef with salt and pepper. In a large re-sealable plastic bag, combine the beef and flour and shake well. Remove the beef from the bag, shaking off the excess flour.

In a large cast-iron casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. Add one-third of the beef and cook over moderately high heat until browned all over, about 5 minutes; reduce the heat if the meat browns too quickly. Transfer the meat to a plate. Repeat with the remaining oil and beef.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the casserole. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and browned, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add the beer and cook, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the beef back to the casserole along with the stock and herb bundle. Bring the stew to a boil, cover and bake for about 1 1/2 hours, until the meat is very tender.

Gently stir the potatoes and carrots into the stew, cover and bake for about 25 minutes longer, until the vegetables are tender. Discard the herb bundle. Stir in the Dijon and vinegar, season the stew with salt and pepper and serve.
MAKE AHEAD: 3 days

*the next day stew, I added quinoa as it was rewarming to thicken  up some of that sauce. Delicious.

***My lucky, lucky niece works for Andrew Zimmern, tests recipes and photographs his work. Thanks Madeleine for this inspiration.

Adapted from: Andrew Zimmern




Roasted Chicken with Tomato, Basil and Ciabatta

January 16, 2016


When Courtney raves and receives raves about a comfort food recipe, I listen! This recipe is simply about the layering of ingredients that LOVE hanging out together. In a large roasting pan, start with chunks of a ciabatta loaf. Then add tomatoes, olives, a whole garlic bulb, fresh basil, salt, pepper and pepper flakes. Finish with placing a cut up roaster on top and bake for an hour or so.  Something magical happens when all these yummy flavors melt together and THAT base of ciabatta soaks up all those juices, and well… words!

Roasted Chicken with Tomato and Basil and Ciabatta

Serves: The Whole Family!

1 ciabatta loaf
2 big handfuls of cherry tomatoes
1 big handful of the best olives you can afford
1 big garlic bulb
Fresh basil
One whole cut up fryer chicken (I have the butcher cut the fryer)
Good olive oil
Salt & pepper
Red chili flakes
8 slices of pancetta

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Salt and pepper the chickenn. Drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil in a pan and brown the skin side of chicken til crispy. (Just a few minutes…you don’t want to cook the chicken). You can omit this step and broil the chicken in the last step of the recipe.
In a large roasting pan, tear up a ciabatta loaf and layer the bottom. Along with it goes two big handfuls of cherry tomatoes, one big handful of good quality olives and one big garlic bulb broken into cloves, skin still on.
Tear up some fresh basil and sprinkle throughout.
Pour a generous amount of good olive oil, salt & pepper, and a sprinkle of red chili flakes. Toss with your hands and then reposition chicken or on top.
Roast for 30 minutes. Remove and reposition chicken and roast another 30. Take out and place 8 slices of pancetta on top of the chicken skin and roast 15 minutes more. (For all you pancetta experts, the photo shows prosciutto on top. That’s what I had on hand. You NEED to use pancetta for a smokey finish).
At this point your chicken will be cooked through. This is where you can turn the broiler on if you have not already browned the chicken. This will crisp up the chicken and pancetta.
Before serving, add a few fresh basil leaves for color.
Adapted from: A Life From Scratch






Crispy Buffalo Cheddar Potato Nachos

January 9, 2016


I’m very aware it’s January. New year, new starts, new body, blah, blah, blah. It’s also game month. Enjoy your kale Monday thru Saturday. Enjoy these tasty, savory, splurgy nachos while watching your favorite game or just feet up with a good book (The Past), a binge watch (Making A Murderer!) or a cozy fire!

Crispy Buffalo Cheddar Potato Nachos

Serves 4…(but really 2)

4 russet potatoes, slice in 1/4 inch rounds (I sliced them thinner)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt, divided
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup hot sauce (like…Franks Hot Sauce)
6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
4 ounces gorgonzola or blue cheese, crumbled
1 avocado, sliced
Chopped cilantro and green onion, for serving
Buttermilk ranch, for serving

Preheat the oven 425 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide the thinly sliced potato rounds among the baking sheets. Drizzle the potatoes evenly with olive oil. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and then season the potatoes to taste with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, watching closely to monitor baking. While the potatoes are baking, whisk together the butter, hot sauce and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. When the potatoes are crisp and lightly golden, remove them from the oven and drizzle with the buffalo sauce. Add the cheddar and blue cheese. Return the pans to the oven and bake for 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Remove and top with fresh cilantro, green onions and sliced avocado. Serve with ranch dressing.

Adapted from: Half Baked Harvest






A Galette of Winter Greens

January 3, 2016

IMG_3282This stunning galette combines mushrooms, leeks, parmesan and 12 cups of spinach. TWELVE CUPS OF SPINACH. Delicious way to eat your greens!!  An elegant side to a tenderloin or a simple weekend lunch.

Galette of Winter Greens


1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
pinch of sea salt
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
6-7 tablespoons ice water

12 packed cups spinach leaves
1/2 cup sliced leeks
3 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt
2 cups fresh wild mushrooms
1 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup coarsely chopped Italian parsley

Place flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir. Cut butter into pieces and add to the mixing bowl. Using a pastry cutter or two forks, cut butter into the flour mix. Keep mixing until the butter is reduced to pea-sized bits. Drizzle 5 tablespoons of ice water into the bowl and continue to mix ingredients with pastry cutter. Even though the mixture will still be quite crumbly at this point, squeeze some dough between your fingers and see if it holds together. You will probably need to add at least another tablespoon or two of ice water to get your dough to hold together. (Don’t overwork or over-wet your dough: a nice, slightly crumbly dough with smears of butter throughout will give you a great flaky crust later.)

Place a large piece of plastic wrap and lay it on the counter next to your mixing bowl. Using your hands, gently gather the dough into a ball and place it in the center of the plastic. Wrap the ball in plastic and use the heel of your hand to flatten the dough a into a thick round. Chill the wrapped dough in the fridge for at least a hour, or up to two days.

Preheat oven to 375.

Thoroughly wash and trim spinach. If you are using baby spinach, you can keep the leaves whole. If using larger spinach leaves, chop them coarsely. Set aside.

Wash leeks, making sure to get the dirt out from between the layers. Trim off the roots and slice the whites and pale greens into thin rounds.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add leeks and a pinch of salt to the warm oil, cover pan and cook leeks until tender. When leeks have softened, add spinach leaves and another pinch of salt, toss them with the oil and leeks. (Add one cup of spinach at a time til wilted.) Cover and continue to cook over medium heat until spinach is tender.

Remove spinach and leeks from pan and set aside. When the greens have cooled, squeeze out any excess water that the spinach is holding on to.

Prep your mushrooms. Using a brush, wipe all the dirt off the mushrooms. Coarsely chop.

Heat a medium cast iron or saute pan over high heat. When the pan is hot, add the mushrooms. Cook for a few minutes and add 1 tbsp. olive oil and salt. Cook until mushrooms are tender, but not well-done. Set aside cooked mushrooms.

Take your chilled dough out of the fridge. Cover a cutting board with a big piece of parchment paper. Place your dough on the parchment. Sprinkle a bit of extra flour over the top of the dough and dust your rolling pin with flour. Roll out the dough into a nice large circle or oval. Slide the rolled-out galette dough (keeping it on the parchment) onto a baking sheet.

Leaving a couple of inches of dough around the edge of your rectangle/circle and sprinkle 3/4 cup of Parmesan over the the middle portion. Then add the spinach, leeks, and mushrooms. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan over the top. Fold up the edges. Place the galette in your 375 degree oven.

Baking for 35-40 minutes until your galette is golden brown. You can eat it warm or let it cool to room temperature.

Sprinkle with parsley.
Adapted from: Yummy Supper








Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie

December 30, 2015



Mix AND bake a chocolate chip cookie all in one skillet!! This recipe had me at one skillet (and one spoon). Serve this giant baked cookie right out of the skillet with 4 scoops of ice cream and 4 spoons. Slightly under-cook for a gooey, chewy fun dessert. In the words of my kids, WHAT????!!!!!!! Indeed.

Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie
1 stick butter
½ cups granulated sugar
½ cups light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 whole egg
1-½ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoons salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate, cut in chunks (I used a dark chocolate, salted Fannie May bar!)

Flaked salt, to finish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in an 8 inch cast iron skillet set over medium-low heat. (my skillet is bigger so the cookie was not as thick as I would have liked, but still great) Stir in sugars and vanilla and remove from heat. Let rest until pan is warm, but no longer very hot, about 5 minutes.
Crack an egg onto the butter and sugar mixture, and use a fork to whisk it into the mixture. Place flour, baking soda, and salt on top, and very carefully stir into the mixture until smooth and well-mixed. Stir in chocolate chunks. Sprinkle with flaked salt. Place in the oven for 15-25 minutes, (take out earlier than later for a chewy,  gooey middle) or until starting to turn golden on the top and around the edges, but still soft in the center.

Serve with vanilla ice cream, and spoons!!

**you could also drizzle caramel sauce and chocolate shavings.








Leek Bread Pudding

December 25, 2015


My computer went to computer heaven and took along many of my December posts and photos!!! Fortunately, I had this recipe on my list from last year to try. Success with a capitol S!  This bread pudding will be present on my Christmas menu to accompany beef tenderloin. Thomas Keller (Ad Hoc) once again helps the home cook elevate their game. This savory side combines braised leeks,  herbs, cream and cheese. The result is a souffle-like dish that is rich and creamy. Move over mashed potatoes!

Leek Bread Pudding

Serves 10-12

2 cups 1/2-inch-thick slices leeks (white and light green parts only)
Kosher salt
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper
12 cups 1-inch cubes crustless Brioche or Pullman sandwich loaf
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
3 large eggs
3 cups whole milk
3 cups heavy cream
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup shredded Comté or Emmentaler (I used Gruyere)

Preheat the oven to 350°.
Put the leek rounds in a large bowl of water and soak so that any dirt falls to the bottom of the bowl. Set a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, lift the leeks from the water, drain, and add them to the pan. Season with salt and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. As the leeks begin to soften, lower the heat to medium-low. The leeks will release liquid. Stir in the butter to emulsify, and season with pepper to taste. Cover the pan with a parchment lid, and cook, stirring every 10 minutes, until the leeks are very soft, 30 to 35 minutes. If at any point the butter breaks or looks oily, stir in about a tablespoon of water to re-emulsify the sauce. Remove and discard the parchment lid.

Meanwhile, spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan about halfway through, until dry and pale gold. Transfer to a large bowl. Leave the oven on.

Add the leeks to the bread and toss well, then add the chives and thyme.

Lightly whisk the eggs in another large bowl. Whisk in the milk, cream, a generous pinch of salt, pepper to taste, and a pinch of nutmeg.

Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the cheese in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Spread half the leeks and croutons in the pan and sprinkle with another 1/4 cup cheese. Scatter the remaining leeks and croutons over and top with another 1/4 cup cheese. Pour in enough of the custard mixture to cover the bread and press gently on the bread so it soaks in the milk. Let soak for about 15 minutes.
Add the remaining custard, allowing some of the soaked cubes of bread to protrude. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup cheese on top and sprinkle with salt.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until the pudding feels set and the top is brown and bubbling. (After reading a number of reviews, the cooking time seems to come in around 45 minutes to an hour).Keep a close watch at the 45 minute mark.


Roasted Cranberries Ricotta And Honey Crostini

November 24, 2015
It’s the cranberries big season, the traditional condiment for your Thanksgiving table. These nutritional powerhouses also make a great appetizers for the big day. Roasted cranberries have a sweet tartness that make a perfect companion for ricotta or goat cheese. A drizzle of honey adds a sweet note and the sprinkle of rosemary adds an earthy finish.
Roasted Cranberries, Ricotta, and Honey Crostini
Roasted Cranberries
4 cups (12 ounce bag) of fresh cranberries
½ cup sugar
zest and juice of a lime
½ cup water
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash and pick over cranberries, making sure there’s no stems, foreign material, or shriveled berries.
In a large shallow pan, mix all ingredients. Roast 15-20 minutes.
Garnish with additional fresh rosemary if desired. Serve warm, or refrigerate and serve cold. Sauce can be frozen and thawed.
slice of peasant bread
roasted cranberry sauce
ricotta or goat cheese
fresh-ground pepper
sea salt
Toast the bread, spread ricotta over the top, spoon the cranberry sauce over the ricotta, then drizzled with honey. Finish with a tiny pinch of salt and fresh-cracked black pepper.
Adapted from: Life Currents

Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes

November 14, 2015



The Bitten Word is a highly respected food blog that scours current monthly food magazines and cooks at least one recipe from each. They are honest with their results, good or bad. So, I trust Zach and Clay when they find a winner. Every year they host a “Fakesgiving” (weeks before the actual) entertaining friends and family to showcase the year’s Thanksgiving recipes. Reading the reviews from last year’s festivities had me anxious to blog the hands-down favorite dish. The general consensus was these mashed potatoes were all that was needed for the celebration. I know, I know don’t mess with tradition!! So my suggestion is keep the old but introduce the new. This year I’m sneaking in a few dishes that deviate from the line up. These mashers are rich and creamy with a crispy Parmesan topping. They will be making it on the buffet table and will most likely to become a permanent addition.

Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes

Serves: 6 to 8

3 pounds large Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut in 3/4-inch chunks
5 garlic cloves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
7 to 8 ounces garlic-and-herb goat cheese, at room temperature, such as Montrachet
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup half-and-half or milk
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the potatoes, garlic and 1 tablespoon salt in a large pot with enough water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until very tender.

Drain the potatoes and garlic and process them together through a food mill fitted with the coarsest blade set on top of a bowl. OR use a hand mixer OR a stand mixer using paddles, be careful not to over mix to avoid the potatoes to become gummy. While the potatoes are still hot, stir in the goat cheese, butter, sour cream, half-and-half, 4 teaspoons salt and 2 teaspoons pepper until smooth.

Pour the mixture into a 9-by-12-by-2-inch oval baking dish, smoothing the top. Sprinkle the Parmesan on top and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until lightly browned. Serve hot.

Make it ahead: Assemble the dish, including the Parmesan, and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Bake before serving.

***Next time around I will use 4-6 oz. of goat chesse. And you can always add more Parmesan!! SALT and Pepper to taste. (I know my audience, Mom is not a fan of too much goat cheese).

Adapted from: The Bitten Word






Roasted Cauliflower With Crunch Butter and Pickled Peppers

November 8, 2015


One of the Stephanie Izard’s most popular and long running dishes at “Girl And The Goat” is roasted cauliflower with crunch butter and pickled peppers. She combines caramelized cauliflower with a topping that includes butter, garlic, Parmesan and panko bread crumbs. She pickles peppers and then tosses them with toasted pine nuts and mint. The recipe may seem steppy…it’s not. While you are soaking the peppers, mash together the ingredients to make the butter. The cauliflower sautes and caramelizes within 10 minutes. Then toss in the remaining ingredients to create this unforgettable side dish. I’m adding this to my Thanksgiving line-up along with Crusted Butternut Squash.

Other holiday ideas...Butternut Squash Soup, Cauliflower Soup, Shredded Sprout and Kale Salad, Roasted Butternut Squash Salad, Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds, Cauliflower and Caramelized Onion Tart, Sweet Potato Galettes, Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Bacon Brittle, Bacon Jam, Momofuku Crack Pie, Pumpkin Creme Brulee, Creme Brulee, Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Creme Anglaise, Pumpkin Roll, Apple Brandy Cider Cocktail and Brandy Alexander.

Roasted Cauliflower
Serves: 4 people
2 tbsp. canola oil
1 head cauliflower, quartered, outer leaves and core removed and cut into 1/4″ slices
2 tsp salt
3 tbsp. “crunch butter,” room temp (recipe below)
1/4 c mint, torn into pieces + 1 tbsp set aside
1/4 c pine nuts, toasted + 1 tbsp. set aside
1/2 c Parmesan, grated + 1 tbsp. set aside
1/3 c pickled peppers (recipe below) (Or buy pickled peppers)

First make pickled peppers.

Then make crunch butter.
Heat oil in a large skillet. add cauliflower and cook over high heat until caramelized and soft, 6 minutes. Season with salt and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Add crunch butter. when melted toss in mint, peppers, pine nuts, and Parmesan. cook an additional 2 minutes. Plate in a bowl and sprinkle with additional mint, pine nuts, and Parmesan.
Crunch Butter
yield: 1.5 cups (you only use a couple tablespoons!! 1/2 the recipe and freeze    the remainder)
5 oz butter, room temp
2  garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
6 tbsp Panko bread crumbs
In a bowl, mash the butter until softened with a fork (or potato masher). add the remaining ingredients and mix until fully incorporated.Freeze the remaining for the next time you make this.
Pickled peppers
yield: 1 qt. (you might want to half this recipe as you only use 1/3 cup)
I added a few baby orange peppers for seasonal color…..think red for Christmas.
3 ea. banana peppers, seeds removed, sliced into thin rings on a mandolin
3 ea. Hungarian peppers, seeds removed, sliced into thin rings on a mandolin
2 c champagne vinegar
4 tbsp salt
3/4 c sugar
In a pot, bring vinegar, salt, and sugar to a boil. While still hot, pour the pickling liquid over the peppers.Let cool to room temperature, keeping the peppers submerged in the liquid.When cool, cover and refrigerate.
Adapted from: Stephanie Izard, Girl And The GoatIMG_3057IMG_3059IMG_3074IMG_3071IMG_3083 



French Apple Cake

November 4, 2015


Dorie Greenspan, the renowned cookbook author, calls this her “back pocket recipe,” meaning it can be made without a trip to the store. This trademark apple cake needs few ingredients and just a couple of steps to produce a rustic dish which is more apple than cake. Just mix in a bowl, scrape into a springform pan and bake. The result is a custardy delicious dessert or coffee companion. Go!

Apple Cake

Makes one 8-inch cake

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 large apples (if you can, choose 4 different kinds)
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
**3 tablespoon dark rum or bourbon
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
8 tablespoons (1 stick/4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

**For a less boozy version and 1 tablespoon Rum and 2 Tablespoons of whole    milk.

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees . Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch cake pan with parchment paper.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in small bowl. Peel the apples, cut them in half and remove the cores. Cut the apples into 1 or 2 inch chunks.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until they’re foamy. Pour in the sugar and whisk for a minute or so to blend. Whisk in the rum and vanilla. Whisk in half the flour and when it is incorporated, add half the melted butter, followed by the rest of the flour and the remaining butter, mixing gently after each addition so that you have a smooth batter. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the apples, turning the fruit so that it’s coated with batter. Scrape the mix into the pan and even the top.

Slide the pan into the oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean; the cake may pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Carefully pull the parchment paper – and the cake – out of the pan and let cool on the rack until it is just slightly warm or at room temperature, then transfer to a cake plate. The cake can be served warm or at room temperature.

Serve with Creme Fraiche or vanilla ice cream.

The cake will keep for about 2 days at room temperature.

Adapted from: Dorie Greenspan: Around My French Table









Sweet Potato Galettes

November 1, 2015



My last post, Crunchy Butternut Squash from Yotan Ottolenghi, was a hit. So… I’m back in his cookbook because I love the way he combines simple ingredients to create dishes that are memorable and delicious. For this seasonal stunner start with store-bought puff pastry, add a layer of sour cream, then top with sweet potatoes and goat cheese crumbles. After these come out of the oven brush them with a gremolata of olive oil, garlic and parsley. The result …..a gorgeous savory tart. Ideal for a Fall appetizer or a light lunch paired with greens.

Sweet Potato Galettes

Makes 6 galettes 

3 sweet potatoes  (I only needed 2)

9 oz puff pastry

1  egg, lightly beaten

6 1/2 tablespoons sour cream

3 1/2 tablespoons aged goat cheese

2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds

1 medium-hot chile, finely 
chopped, (I sprinkled crushed red pepper)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic, crushed

2 teaspoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Coarse sea salt and freshly 
ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake the sweet potatoes in their skins for 35 to 45 minutes, until they soften up but are still slightly raw in the center. Leave until cool enough to handle, then peel and cut into slices 1/8 inch  thick.

While the sweet potatoes are in the oven, roll out the puff pastry 
to about 1/16 inch thick on a lightly floured work surface. Cut 
out four 2 3/4 by 5 1/2-inch rectangles and prick them all over with a fork. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the pastry rectangles on it, well spaced apart, and leave to rest in the fridge for at least half an hour.

Remove the pastry from the fridge and brush lightly with the beaten egg. Using an icing spatula, spread a thin layer of sour cream on the pastries, leaving a 1/4-inch border all round. Arrange the potato slices on the pastry, slightly overlapping, keeping the border clear. Season with salt and pepper, crumble the goat cheese on top, and sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds and chile. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is cooked through. Cook until the pastry is golden brown arounf the edges and underneath.

While the galettes are cooking, stir together the olive oil, garlic, parsley, and a pinch of salt. As soon as the pastries come out of 
the oven, brush them with this mixture. Serve warm or at room temperature.


You can keep the pastry in one sheet, layer the potatoes, bake and slice (like a flatbread)

Choose potatoes that are similar in diameter.

The sour cream is a little slippery to spread on the egg wash, so I dabbed it on.

Adapted from: Yotan Ottolenghi






Crusted Butternut Squash

October 23, 2015



Tis the season for delicious sides bursting with Fall flavors! This vibrant recipe highlights sweet butternut squash drizzled with olive oil and tossed with bread crumbs, herbs, garlic and earthy Parmesan cheese.  The quick, easy recipe is the genius of London’s Ottolenghi….he never disappoints with his perfect combinations of ingredients.

Crusted Butternut Squash

Serves 4

1 butternut squash (about 2 lbs.) (Original recipe called for pumpkin)

2 tsp. olive oil

1/2 tsp. fresh ground nutmeg

1/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 minced garlic clove

1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley

1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves

A handful of pine nuts

Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel the squash with a vegetable peeler. Slice it in half length wise and discard the seeds. Cut into 1/4” slices.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, place the squash on sheet and drizzle with olive oil and the nutmeg.  Toss to coat. All should have a thin coat of oil, amount may vary based on size of the squash. Spread them out in a single layer (for a crunchy crust) on the baking tray (you may need to use 2 trays).

In a food processor pulse together the breadcrumbs (make sure the crumbs don’t get too fine), Parmesan, garlic, both herbs, a few pinches of salt and a lot of fresh black pepper.

Sprinkle the topping on the squash. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until the tops are browned and the squash is cooked.